Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Few Words on an Old Debate: Glock vs. 1911

I know this one's been hashed out on blogs and Internet gunboards perhaps an infinite number of times, but a couple of posts from Porta's Cat and JR got me to thinking yet again, most notably PC's reference to the "1911 Kool-Aid drinkers."
Glocks are no doubt great pistols. Reliable straight out of the box and will eat just about anything you put through them, reasonably accurate, and you can't ask for much more from a combat pistol than that.
Now, you'll notice I did NOT say, "you could not ask for ANYTHING more than that." Because, well, you can, and that's where the 1911 slams the ball out of the park. What are those things? Ergonomics and a good trigger -- although if you think about it, I guess a good trigger IS part of the ergonomic package. Glocks are great pistols indeed, but they feel like bricks in my hand and with that striker-fire system, the trigger feels so damned spongy it feels like shooting a water gun. Perhaps that package is an acquired taste, something to get used to (no doubt it would be worth it with the plastic pistol's reliability), but I do so tire of the Glock fanboys who pooh-pooh the 1911 design simply because it's "old" and "unreliable." As PC points out, the 1911 is a pistol designed for ball ammunition and is noted for feeding issues (although I've heard here and there that issue is at least mitigated with a ramped barrel). I know very well that buying a 1911 can be a dicey endeavor; my Springfield GI had to go back to Geneseo for a new extractor and my Kimber Tac Ultra II had feeding issues with ball ammo (I eventually found out the problem was a weak spring in one of the three mags I got). Knock on wood, my Stainless Target II 10mm has yet to hiccup and I've just about it gotten it broken in with around 370 rounds through it so far, though, once again, with that one the real test is gonna come when I start putting real 10mm ammo through it instead of this slightly-hotter-than-.40Short&Weak through it. It handled the Silvertips (at about 1240 fps) with nary a problem. But I digress. People raise hell about the 1911's issues, and rightly so, but I would be willing to bet that outside of magazine-related issues, the vast majority of the problems that spring forth with modern-day 1911 pistols are due to deviations from JMB's original design...varying barrel lengths, external extractors, alloy frames, tighter tolerances, etc. Now, that's not to say that a stock 1911 built to JMB's original specs with a ramped, throated and polished barrel is going to be a Glock-reliable weapon, but it'd be interesting to see how close it came. As for me, right now, though, I'll admit that it's my Ruger P90 sitting in the nightstand loaded for goblin with 230-grain Hydra-Shok. That's more due to money issues than anything else, though, i.e., I don't have the money to run ~500 rounds of quality hollowpoints through any of my 1911s like they say you should to be reasonably enough sure that it works. I didn't even run that much through the P90, though...I've put perhaps 100 rounds of HS (and maybe 100 more of Winchester 230-grain JHP) through it and it works fine. But then, the P90 has a hell of a reputation for durability, one I'll surely vouch for -- and have before. I've heard it said that if it won't feed in a Ruger, it just won't feed. Back to the 1911, though, I know that getting one to work right can indeed be a trial-and-error process, and many people don't have the time for that. Such is the nature of the beast, I suppose, but it doesn't have to be like that. I would absolutely love to see how widespread these reliability issues are -- and not just going by anecdotal evidence on Internet gun boards. They can be reliable to an extent, but then, the bashers (of both the Glock AND the 1911) will come out of the woodwork always; that's the nature of THAT beast, and it can't be avoided. As for right now, I know I wouldn't have any problem carrying that little Kimber with 230-grain ball ammo (again, haven't tested it with JHPs), never mind the plastic pistol worshippers.
(Oh, and Porta's Cat? If you read this, I don't mean to sound like I was calling you out or calling you any derisive names. I don't worship at the altar of John Moses Browning...I just think his pistol is the best design for me.)