Taurus Model 1911SS

I've been in the shooting sports for a long time, and I can remember that in Bullseye 2700 matches (.22, centerfire and .45), the .45 auto was the gun of choice for two of the three stages--even though it lacked many features that some considered mandatory for shooting at paper targets.

Folks who made serious target shooting a passion had to spend extra money accurizing their 1911s with heavy-duty barrel bushings, trigger jobs and adjustable target sights.

It couldn't be more different today. Modern manufacturing techniques such as CNC machining have made accurate 1911s the norm--at a cost that makes many of them accessible to all. However, there are always shooters who want more, and to answer that demand, companies such as Taurus are turning out what I call custom-production guns at a reasonable cost.

Case in point is the Taurus Model 1911 line--with 19 custom features in a half-dozen variations and in the case of the 1911SS retailing for less than $900.

All the Taurus Model 1911s are full-size, single-action pistols with five-inch barrels. Within that platform your choices include with or without Picatinny rail; standard or alloy frame; blue, stainless steel, duotone blue and a blue/gray combination on the alloy frame; and checkered black or Bull's Head walnut grips.

They range in weight from 33.6 ounces for the alloy version to 39.4 ounces for steel gun with Picatinny rail. All come with two eight-round magazines.

The stainless-steel version I tested checked in at 38 ounces with its hammer-forged ordnance-grade steel frame, slide and barrel--all of which carry matching serial numbers.

The matte-finished slide has a Novak twin-dot rear sight assembly and a single-dot front sight blade, and it sports front and rear grasping grooves. The pistol employs a full-length guide rod and reverse plug for dependable operation. The barrel is custom fitted and is matched up with a gauged bushing, and like the rest of the gun the slide-to-frame fitting is done by hand.

It just keeps getting better. For flawless feeding, the barrel has a polished feed ramp and barrel throat. The ejection port is lowered and flared, and the gun incorporates a massive internal extractor and ejector. In testing, the Model 1911 fed and ejected various ammunition designs and power levels with aplomb.

Taurus' Model 1911 has an extended tang and a large, positive ambi safety that extends halfway the width of the checkered black grips.

The trigger guard, mainspring housing and frontstrap are all checkered at 30 lines per inch. I would have preferred the front of the guard be checkered instead of the bottom.

The gun comes with an ambi safety that is somewhat larger than most (which I like); it extends toward the muzzle almost half the width of the grips. Both sides of the safety had a solid feel to them and had adequate detents that tell the shooter when the safety is engaged.

The magazine release has been extended for easy access over the grip panel, and it drops the magazine with quite a bit of enthusiasm. The magazine well has been beveled, and all magazines come standard with a sizable bumper or pad, assuring positive seating within the gun.

The beavertail safety incorporates a memory pad, although I found that it required a little more pressure to deactivate than most. All of the models come with a skeletonized and serrated trigger, which on my sample broke at four pounds with just a hint of slack. On a run of the mill gun, it would cost you about $200 to tune up a trigger to get it to the performance of the Taurus trigger.

The custom tuned trigger broke at four pounds, and the extended magazine release dropped mags from the funneled mag well smartly.

Ejection from the lowered, flared port was flawless, thanks to a robust extractor. The Model 1911 frame, slide and barrel have matching numbers and are hand-fitted.

The hammer is what they call "target" but looks like a variation of the Commander bobbed hammer. This hammer also has a neat secret. Incorporated within the hammer spur itself is the Taurus Security System, which upon engagement (just a turn of the key) prevents the hammer from being pulled back into the firing position--thus locking the gun from unauthorized use.

On the range, I was more than pleased. Combined with its weight, the gun handled a morning's shooting with ease, leaving this shooter and his hand relaxed on his way home. I especially enjoyed shooting the Winchester 185-grain full metal-jacket ammunition simply because its low velocity and lack of bite made this shooter look good over a solid rest.

So there you have it. Nineteen custom features (a $1,600 street value without the gun), and according to Taurus each gun is "hand-assembled, hand-mated and hand-fitted for a flawless fit, finish, functionality and accuracy." In the short time I've had the gun, that says it all.

The barrel on the Model 1911 is hand-fitted to a gauged bushing; the gun features a full-length guide rod.

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