Thursday, January 20, 2011

Full Size .45

Guns are like tattoos. Once you get one, you want another one, the closer you are to a purchase of one, the more you want another one... So, what I want is a full size pistol. Mainly as a toy, because I likely won't be carrying it. There would be no advantage to carrying a full size, as my Glock 30 gives me all the capacity that a full size model would give, and I don't really care if I can hit a target at 25 yards with my subcompact. That is not its mission. Full size pistols are just cool. They are big, heavy and just all around awesome. Let's take a look at some choices.

Here is my criteria: The pistol has to be auto loading, and it has to be in .45. I don't want to mix ammo, and .45s are just cooler than any other caliber.
I want at least a 4 inch barrel. This is a full size pistol, I want to shoot groups at 25 yards.
Really, that's it... I would like a modern design, with a polymer frame, but that is not a firm requirement. I would like a double stack magazine with more than 10 rounds, but that is not a firm requirement.

Before we go in to the guns we have to talk about actions. Large caliber auto loading pistols have specific ways to operate them, and these ways are classified in to how many things happen when the trigger is pulled.
All pistols have a hammer, even if you don't see it, the action that the hammer does is there. All pistols have a trigger, duh. A single action pistol, only releases the hammer to drop on the firing pin. A double action pistol will, with the pull of the trigger, pull back the hammer, and release it on to the firing pin.
A single action pistol needs to have its hammer cocked back before it will fire. Each trigger pull is short and soft.
A double action only pistol typically will not have a visible hammer, and will have a long heavy trigger pull, every time.
A Double/Single action pistol will, the first time the pistol is fired, if the hammer is not cocked, have a long heavy trigger pull, and you will see the hammer move backward as you pull. Each shot after that, will have a light short trigger pull, and the hammer will be cocked.
Got it? Rock on.

PX4 Storm

Beretta... It is tough to find a maker of more aesthetically pleasing firearms. The PX4 Storm is no different. This was Beretta's entry in to the Joint Combat Pistol program. For a moment the US Military had come to its senses and was looking for a duty pistol in .45. Then they realized that something with that much stopping power and reliability would just not belong in the hands of the US Military. Anyway...
The one main complaint about a .45 is the recoil. You are sending quite a chunk of metal down range with a large powder charge, so the .45 does have a recoil issue. People not used to shooting have a hard time with it, and people not used to shooting is who the military is getting these days.
Beretta solved the excessive recoil problem by designing a rotating barrel. How does that work?
Well, it is inside baseball. Essentially it is this, a typical "Browning" style short recoil device will have the barrel tilt downward during unlocking to eject the spent cartridge, and to receive the new one, as the slide moves forward the barrel will move back in to place and the breech locks for the shot. This directs the recoil downward, bringing the muzzle of the pistol up.
The rotating barrel uses the recoil to drive the slide backward, and the barrel rotates, like a cam, to open the lock. Because the action is all in line with the pistol, the upward force of the shot is greatly reduced. This makes it much easier to bring the pistol back on target.
Some good vids here

Anyway, the thing is super cool looking, has all the new features of a modern pistol and fun to shoot.
Length8.2 in
Height5.7 in
Barrel Length4.6 in
Weight28.6 oz
ActionDouble/Single Action
External SafeYes

Heckler & Kotch
HK 45

HK's entry in to the Joint Combat Pistol program was the HK45. This pistol uses a modified "Browning" system described above, with a twist. HK put a little polymer buffer in the action to soften the recoil, and the tilt is not a severe as in the traditional Browning style action. Softer recoil, but still rises more than the rotating Beretta.

Length7.52 in
Height5.83 in
Barrel Length4.53 in
Weight27.68 oz
ActionDouble Action Only
External SafeYes


Glock's full size .45 is just like my G30 only bigger... Meh.

Length7.59 in
Height5.47 in
Barrel Length4.6 in
Weight26.28 oz
ActionDouble Action Only
External SafeNo

Smith & Wesson

This is Smith & Wesson's full size polymer .45. It uses the standard Browning lock system.
It is a Glock clone with a little better ergonomics, and a three round disadvantage. Meh, Smith & Wesson, very meh.
Length7.55 in
Height5.5 in
Barrel Length4.5 in
Weight29.6 oz
ActionDouble Action Only
External SafeNo

1911 Custom II

Be still my heart! Kimber is just about the world's finest producers of 1911 pistols. They are beautiful, works of art. They are so good looking, you would almost not want to shoot them!
The 1911 is the first real practical design of the auto loading pistol. This pistol, designed by John Browning in 1911 for Colt, was carried by the US military from 1911 to today. Sure it is not the standard pistol, but you can bet that many Special Forces, and others still carry this .45. Kimber just turns the design in to something very special.
The 1911 models are still some of the most accurate pistols in existence, and the Kimber manufactured ones are no exceptions.
The Custom II is an all steel and wood pistol. It is very heavy. It is also the only single action pistol in the group. Going "cocked and locked" is an expression that the 1911 coined. To carry this pistol, it is recommended that you carry it with a round in the chamber (locked), and the hammer cocked all the way back (cocked). The trigger pull is very light and very short. The model has an external safe, and a grip safe as well to prevent from negligent discharges.

Length8.7 in
Height5.5 in
Barrel Length5 in
Weight38 oz
ActionSingle Action Only
External SafeYes

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