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Old 10-17-2002, 07:45 AM   #1
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Handgun Review: Colt 1991A1 .45 ACP

Overall: 4/5
Reliability: 5/5
Accuracy: 4/5
Durability: 4/5
Rust Resistance: 3/5
Ergonomics: 3/5 (4/5 with bobbed hammer modification)
Trigger Pull: 4.5/5

This is a review of the new production Colt 1991A1 .45 ACP pistol with the factory blue finish. It represents a significant upgrade over Colt's earlier versions of the 1991A1, which came with plastic grips, plastic triggers, a coarse bead blasted finish and a reputation for spotty quality. My pistol set me back $579, and came with a long aluminum trigger, 3-dot sights, rosewood grips and 2 seven round magazines standard.

Subjectively, this gun was much nicer than I expected. Not that I ordered it expecting a dog, just that it exceeded my expectations significantly. The finish is a nice, deep black color, evenly applied with brush polished flats and matte rounds. All of the lines on the gun are crisp and straight, as are the markings, which are much more attractive than the old "COLT 1991A1" that used to be roll marked on earlier versions of the pistol in huge block letters. Slide to frame fit, while not as tight as a Kimber, isn't sloppy and is very smooth. The edges on the gun aren't as rounded as a Kimber, but aren't excessively sharp and uncomfortable like some older Colt or Springfield Armory guns have been in the past. Bushing-slide-barrel fit is very tight. Like most current 1911 pistols, the 1991A1 has a plastic mainspring housing, which I dislike. My only other negative impression at first was that the trigger is loose, and rattles if you shake the gun.

But... this gun also has the best trigger pull of any factory standard 1911 I have ever come across. It is about 4.5 lb., with no creep, grit, or stacking of any kind. It is literally on par with $1,500+ guns in the trigger department, which shocked the heck out of me when I first tried it. Amazing!

Like most 1911 pattern pistols, the Colt 1991A1 has excellent ergonomics. Its slim, single stack grip and short trigger reach make it a very handy gun for most people, and I had no problem manipulating any of the controls without having to shift my grip. However, I had to subtract a full star from its ergonomics rating because the traditional long spur hammer on this gun hit my hand when I fired it, leaving a sore spot after the first 50 rounds. This problem is not unique to the Colt1991A1, and could be expected on any "mil spec" style 1911, especially if you have larger hands. Fortunately, it only costs about $30 to have a pistolsmith bob the hammer slightly to make this problem go away completely, which leaves you with an (almost) ideal gun. I say "almost," because the ergonomics can be further improved somewhat with an extended thumb safety (which is a bit easier to manipulate) and a beavertail grip safety (which allows a higher, slightly more comfortable grip on the gun). However, these modifications will also set you back about $200, for only a minor gain in comfort and ease of use.

Colt 1991A1 with bobbed hammer. Note how little material needed to be removed to prevent "hammer bite."

On to the important part: the shooting. Colts have a mixed reputation for reliability in some circles, but this gun ran perfectly with a wide variety of ammo. A total of 275 rounds were fired through this gun with no malfunctions of any kind. The ammunition used was:

50 Winchester USA "White Box" 230gr FMJ-RN
25 Remington Golden Saber 230gr JHP
100 Speer Lawman 230gr FMJ-RN
100 Incredibly foul, cheap rounds of range supplied ammo with flat point FMJ-TC bullets

Both the stock Colt 7 round magazines and Wilson Combat #47DC 8 round magazines worked perfectly. Subjectively, the Colt ran with exceptional smoothness with all types of ammo. The ultimate accuracy of the gun remains to be seen, since I did my best shooting with the absolute worst ammo at short distances, but since the maximum spread averaged about 1/2" at 7 yards (which works out to about 2.5" at 25 yards) it has to be considered quite good. I'll update my accuracy assessment once I do some more shooting at longer ranges with better ammo, but is certainly more than adequate for a practical weapon. The stock 3-dot sights were surprisingly good, the large white dot on the front sight was easy to pick up, and the sight picture was on par with most new semi-autos. There are nicer aftermarket sights, but the stock Colt sights are very usable, and much better than the tiny GI-style sights on the old military issue guns. Recoil with all loads was very manageable, though of course more pronounced than a 9 mm gun of comparable size. Shooting this gun, I'm again baffled by the brutal reputation of the big .45 ACP cartridge for "kicking like a mule." It just isn't so.

The only thing that prevents me from unconditionally recommending this gun is the issue of hammer bite that I mentioned earlier. As long as you know that this is an issue that you might have to fix at modest cost, it is a fine weapon.
 
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Old 10-18-2002, 01:38 PM   #2
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Part II:

At this point the round count for this gun is somewhere around 1,000 without a malfunction. Being a moron :roll: I lost my more impressive test target, so this will have to do... 8 rounds of Remington Golden Saber 230gr BJHP at the stunning distance of about [size=7]10 yards[/size]. :lol:



Most of the rounds -- and the fun -- were expended at an outdoor range with a couple of friends doing some more "practical" blasting for the better part of a day... incorporating drawing, moving, multiple targets, reloads, "hostages" and so forth. Shooting the 1991A1 alongside other guns in this context really shows how good it (and by extension, the 1911 design in general) is as a practical weapon. The best way I can think to describe it is that it doesn't put obstacles in the shooter's way... good ergonomics and a short, consistent trigger make a world of difference when you need accuracy and speed. It is enough to make you wonder if double column, double action autoloaders aren't some kind of big mistake.

If this gun could be winning any bullseye matches remains in doubt :P , but as a practical weapon (to borrow a cop-out from the gun magazines) it has done all I could ask of it.

Footnote: this gun really likes the Remington Golden Saber 230gr load; it seems to feed even smoother than ball. 1911 shooters should give it a good, hard look if they are looking for a hollowpoint that won't be prone to feeding problems.
 
Old 01-16-2003, 09:56 AM   #3
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Old 01-16-2003, 06:57 PM   #4
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Damn it Dane it looks like you were right again. These New Colt's sure look fine. I havent handled one yet though, I dont know if Colt paid the extortion to have them "tested" in Ca. but have not seen one yet. ops:
 
Old 01-16-2003, 07:17 PM   #5
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Even a blind hog gets an acorn once in awhile Gordon The new Series 80 guns have been tested and are legal. And exceptional guns as you can see. Not yet on the new Series 70. California is still the largest consumer of guns in the country so I suspect it will happen at some point.
 
Old 06-22-2003, 09:50 AM   #6
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Colt 1991A1 GovernmentModel

I have recently purchased the Colt and was also pleased with its accuracy. I have fired around 1000 rounds of ammo from all different manufacturers and have not had one problem with feeding, firing of ejection. I have also been bitten by the hammer. I have replaced the factory Rosewood grips with a wrap around rubber grip with 2 finger grooves and found that it gave me better control and eased the feeling of recoil. I have had a gunsmith look at the gun and he was accually impressed with the fit of the slide. He recomened having the barrel and frame cryo accurized along with replacing thr short guide rod with a full length Wilson Combat guide rod. I am also having the hammer bobed. Those are the only improvements I am planning.
 
Old 06-26-2003, 12:29 AM   #7
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If it ain't broke, don't fix it. In your case, the most I would do is bob the hammer or have it changed out to a commander style hammer. I have a stainless NRM and think it is just right as is..
 
Old 06-26-2003, 04:08 AM   #8
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Re: Colt 1991A1 GovernmentModel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Cicero
He recomened having the barrel and frame cryo accurized along with replacing thr short guide rod with a full length Wilson Combat guide rod. I am also having the hammer bobed. Those are the only improvements I am planning.
Here is what I recommend replacing: your gunsmith. Then have somebody bob the hammer.
 
Old 06-26-2003, 07:33 AM   #9
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Some more specific thoughts...

Bob the hammer if it bites you, definitely. That's a cheap mod... and probably the only must-do mod on the gun.

The stock trigger pulls are usually very good, though I personally would want a new trigger installed simply because the stock one is fitted kind of loosely and rattles around. BCP or Casull are good choices for this part.

The stock sights are OK, but not ideal. There are more sight choices out there than you can shake a stick at. If you want to keep a simple and traditional look but still get a better sight picture, Ted Yost has a really neat rear sight that he makes. Otherwise, Heinie, Novak and Bo-Mar all make good sights.

The plastic mainspring housing is actually an OK part, but I like steel better. Any good brand (Ed Brown, Baer, etc.) part should be fine here.

Unless the accuracy is totally buggered, you can get a nice improvement at low cost by having an oversized bushing fitted and having the muzzle re-crowned. No need for Unobtainium parts or exotic nonsense here.

Colts often have fairly sharp edges, a good dehorn job will make the gun feel nicer and more comfortable overall. Again, not an expensive mod. Having the mag well beveled is useful, but not mandatory.

There is always more stuff you can do to a gun, but this is the stuff I'd consider the easiest ways to get the most improvement for the least money.
 
Old 07-17-2003, 11:25 AM   #10
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Right on About the M1991A1 Liking Remington 230 GS HP

Sean,

I was reading your test report on the M1991A1 and was surprised with your statement:

"Footnote: this gun really likes the Remington Golden Saber 230gr load; it seems to feed even smoother than ball. 1911 shooters should give it a good, hard look if they are looking for a hollowpoint that won't be prone to feeding problems."

I bought my Colt second hand just a few months ago and put it through the usual range paces. I used Remington Golden Saber 230 HP also and at 10 yards they were tight and in the black. Glad to find out that my experience may be the norm as far as the M199A1 and Rem GSHP 230 are concerned.

By the way, the M199A1 is my best shooter.

Grant
 
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