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Old 06-08-2003, 01:21 PM   #1
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Quick Take: AMT Hardballer .45 ACP (Conclusion)

A good friend of mine loaned an AMT Hardballer to me to "tide me over" until I get my Delta Elite back from Ted Yost. On one hand, I was very appreciative, since it takes one heck of a friend to pull a spare gun out of his sock drawer to loan to you. On the other hand, every AMT I've ever seen was either unbearably crude or an unreliable pile of scrap, so I was kind of skeptical. But I figured I'd give it a fair shot, since in guns as in everything else, it doesn't pay to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Initial impressions: The gun is TIGHT. Slide-to-frame play is virtually nil in any direction. It felt very rough and gritty at first, but a good cleaning and some FP-10 made it feel more reasonable. The barrel-to-slide and barrel-bushing-slide fit were nice and tight, too. The trigger was a pleasant surprise; I'd guess that it is under 5 pounds with no discernable creep. On the other hand, the gun is full of sharp edges (the cocking serrations and thumb safety being particular culprits).

At the range, the gun actually performed very well. Though I was woefully out of practice, it was clear that the gun is capable of quite respectable accuracy. When I could pull my head out of my butt, I was able to put several bullets into creditably tiny clusters at 7 yards. There were no malfunctions, with feeding, extraction and ejection being subjectively very smooth. The mags used were 1 old GI mag and 1 CMC PowerMag-8, and neither one had any issues. I'd never used the PowerMag-8 before, but it seemed very well made and worked fine... I'd put it on par with the Wilson for about $15 less at the corner shop.

Downsides? Well, the gun has several. It doesn't exactly have hammer bite like my 01991 had, but it will give you a bit of a sore spot after the first 100 rounds or so. The hammer needs a bit of a bob, and the sharp edges toned down a bit, for this to be a really comfortable weapon to shoot. Furthermore, it seemed like the gun gave my finger an unusual degree of "trigger slap," and I quickly developed a blister on my trigger finger. Not a big deal, but oddly more noticeable than my 01991 (or any other 1911 I've shot) did. That might just be from the fairly sharp edges on the trigger pad, though.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised. I half expected the thing to incurably jam after the first magazine, but it turned out to be a respectable performer, if a bit on the crude side. I'm not prepared to unconditionally recommend it as a first-string weapon or competition piece, but it should admirably serve its purpose of giving me a 1911 to practice on until Ted can get my King of All Delta Elites done. 8)

More info on the way once I get some more ammo...

(small note: the target above is actually just one I had lying around as a background)
 
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Old 06-08-2003, 03:56 PM   #2
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Re: Quick Take: AMT Hardballer .45 ACP

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Smith
I'm not prepared to unconditionally recommend it as a first-string weapon or competition piece, but it should admirably serve its purpose of giving me a 1911 to practice on until Ted can get my King of All Delta Elites done. 8)
Nice writeup as always Sean, appreciate the information that you are able to share with us with your reviews!

But I think Ted should be finished with my "King" Delta pretty soon now Maybe I should send it to you for a review? :wink:
 
Old 06-08-2003, 04:35 PM   #3
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Jeez... custom Deltas are trendy now! I never would have guessed. :P
 
Old 06-08-2003, 06:12 PM   #4
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Hello, sir. Just as you note, the Hardballer's quality seems to vary from one example to another. I do not have much experience with them, but have a shot a few over the years. Some worked great and others not so well.

Thanks for the review.

Best.
 
Old 06-09-2003, 12:57 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Smith
Jeez... custom Deltas are trendy now! I never would have guessed. :P
LoL, I don't think they will ever be trendy. But mine was in line since December.
 
Old 06-09-2003, 02:16 AM   #6
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The AMT's that I have seen have been poor copies of the 1911 pattern, this one must be one of the exceptions.
 
Old 06-25-2003, 10:37 AM   #7
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Well, I took the AMT out and put a total of 200 rounds of S&B ball ammo through it. No malfuctions, and accuracy seems pretty good. Unfortunately, it has a bad habit of randomly throwing about 1 in 20 pieces of ejected brass square at my head!

That disconcerting issue aside, it still continues to run well and has smoothed out considerably. For some reason, I don't get hammer bite with it like I did from my 01991. That said, I still can't wait to get my real gun back from Ted Yost.
 
Old 06-25-2003, 06:31 PM   #8
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Sean,
Thanks for the review. Good job.......gave the facts without a lot of "wordy filler". I found it interesting, in that I have two Hardballers. I ordered the Government size when they came out because they were the FIRST stainless 1911s (to my knowledge). Despite all the bad press that followed their introduction, I never had a failure to feed, fire, or eject. I did find, as you did, many sharp corners and edges. I also found as you did, that the trigger bow was a tad short, contributing to trigger slap. When I wanted to replace the trigger, my good friend and gunsmith pointed out that SEVERAL of the Hardballer parts are woefully out of spec from a true "1911 clone", and that the trigger on the Hardballer was wider than a standard 1911 trigger, but more narrow than a Gold Cup trigger! I decided to just keep it for a "toss-around" gun and not spend any money on it. I later got a deal on a closeout on a Longslide Hardballer, and decided, "Why not?" It has also performed flawlessly, but I didn't like it because the cycle rate was painfully slow. I could pull the trigger, set the pistol down, go make a sandwich, have a soda, B.S. with friends, and come back to see the piece finish cycling :P (Well, maybe a LITTLE exaggeration!!). That was probably 20 years ago. About a year ago, was going through my gunsafe, and came upon it, and decided to take it to my gunsmith friend to see what he could do with the cycle rate. I told him I didn't want to spend a lot on it, but that if he was willing to experiment with it, I was willing to let him. He said, "Just throw it on the bench, and I will play with it when I feel like it." About a month later, he called and said to come pick up the gun. He had lightened the slide with several large holes milled into (through) the sides, lightened the rear of the breach area, and drilled some lightening holes into the top of the flat of the slide, and milled a window into the recoil spring plug area of the slide. The bottom line was that the slide now weights about an ounce LESS than the government slide. It cycles FAST, has the long sight radius, and is still reliable and accurate. Really fun to play with, but still, like yourself, wouldn't "depend" on it for much else. Interestingly, one of the areas that removed a LOT of reciprocating weight was in the RECOIL SPRING PLUG. The Longslide uses a standard-length recoil spring, but makes up the two inches difference with a SOLID, STAINLESS STEEL PLUG that is over two inches long!! In standard configuration, the plug weights about 46 pounds (give or take :roll: ). My 'smith hollowed it all out and got rid of about 44 pounds of the excess reciprocating mass from the plug alone. I asked my 'smith what I owed him, and he told me, "Nothing, just don't ever bring a piece of S__T like that into my shop again.... that is a P.O.S!!!!!"
It is a great fun gun, but as you said, crude. Just thought I would give you my experiences with them.
Jeffro (Jeff)
 
Old 08-15-2003, 11:53 AM   #9
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Test Conclusion:

At this point, I have fired a total of 625 rounds through this gun, broken down as follows…

500 rounds S&B 230gr FMJ
100 rounds KEAD 230gr LRN reloads
25 rounds Remington Golden Saber 230gr BJHP

Magazines used were 1 old GI magazine and 1 CMC Powermag-8. The gun was cleaned 3 times (once when I got it, once after about 300 rounds, and once when I was done shooting it).

There was exactly 1 malfunction, a failure to eject with the S&B, sometime around the 400 round mark. Accuracy was decent but not great, with my inconsistent shooting factored in I’d “guesstimate” it as capable of about 3” groups at 25 yards with the ammo I was using. It also continued to throw brass in random directions, including at my noggin.

The gun subjectively improved a great deal with shooting, the slide-to-frame fit got much smoother and the trigger now breaks very cleanly and has no creep, although it is still too heavy for my taste at somewhere north of 5 pounds. I also learned that I deeply dislike wide triggers.

One oddity was that this “stainless” gun is very prone to rusting. The gun was kept in a fairly clean, dry environment and developed prominent spots of rust in a matter of days. It seems to be more prone to rusting than the last BLUED gun I owned, let alone stainless.

So what’s the bottom line of all this? Well, I have to admit that the gun worked. Contrary to what I’ve heard from AMT owners, or seen myself on the range, this gun is reliable and has passable accuracy. It is also crude and unpleasant to use, and I wouldn’t recommend one to anybody I actually liked… it can easily make a CZ-75B seem like a $2,000 custom gun by comparison.
 
Old 07-09-2005, 05:37 AM   #10
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In the early 90s I bought an AMT Hardballer. I installed a beavertail safety, match hammer, sear, barrel bushing, carry beveled all the sharp edges, and throated and polished the barrel/feedramp. That gun could shoot! It was extremely accurate and I never had any malfunctions. I never should have sold it.
 
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