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Review: Ed Brown Special Forces Stealth Grey 1911

by J. Scott Rupp   |  August 10th, 2011 10

By James Tarr 

Ed Brown Special Forces Stealth Grey 1911 pistol

The new Special Forces Stealth Grey features the company’s proprietary Gen III finish, a non-glare thermoset polymer coating that offers excellent wear resistance and corrosion protection. Black Gen III on the slide and gray on the frame.

Ed Brown offers 1911s in several different configurations, and the Special Forces is one of its most popular models. A new version of this model, the Stealth Grey Special Forces, is now available. A five-inch Government model in .45 ACP, the Special Forces is built to withstand rough use in extreme conditions.

The pistol starts with a hand-fitted single-stack frame and slide to which is added one of Ed Brown premium match-grade hand-fitted barrels. There was absolutely no play between the frame and slide, and the barrel locked up tight. The Special Forces has a standard bushing and unramped barrel, and no extended guide rod.

All the sharp edges are gently beveled. The frame under the trigger guard is slightly undercut, and one of Ed Brown’s justifiably famous Memory Groove beavertail grip safeties is

Ed Brown Special Forces Grey 1911 controls and grip

The Ed Brown Memory Groove beavertail grip safety puts the user’s hand higher on a 1911 than any other grip safety. The grips are carbon fiber.

installed. The Ed Brown beavertail puts the hand higher on the gun than any other design, and choking up on the gun is one of the most important things you can do to tame recoil and get back on target quicker. The raised Memory Groove section helps make sure the grip safety is fully depressed even if you have a less-than-ideal grip on the gun.

The frontstrap and mainspring housing are treated to Ed Brown’s interesting Chainlink pattern instead of traditional checkering. Checkering (especially when it is hand-cut as opposed to EDM machined) can be very rough on the hand. The Chainlink pattern is not as rough, but consequently it does not provide as aggressive a gripping surface as checkering. Laterally it does a good job of keeping the pistol from twisting in the hand, but vertically the pattern doesn’t do nearly as much as checkering to lock the pistol from moving

Ed Brown Special Forces Stealth Grey 1911 Chainlink frontstrap

Ed Brown’s Chainlink pattern is on the frontstrap and mainspring housing. While not as aggressive as checkering, it is functional.

up in the hand under recoil.

Stealth Grey is Ed Brown’s new Gen III finish color, Gen III being the firm’s proprietary severe-use finish. It is a thermoset polymer coating that provides exceptional corrosion protection. Wear is significantly improved over standard bluing, and it has the appearance of finely finished bead-blast bluing. The frame of the new model is finished in the new Stealth Grey color while the bushing, trigger and slide are treated to black Gen III.

The Stealth Grey comes with distinctive carbon fiber grips that are charcoal gray in color. They are “smooth,” but with the layers of carbon fiber the end result is not quite smooth. I prefer this, as completely smooth grips can make a 1911 quite slick in the hand. The serrations on the rear of the slide are square cut, which means they are very effective.

The Stealth Grey SF’s single-sided thumb safety clicks up and down with authority, just the way I like it. The pistol comes with snag-free white outline night sights, which were quite bright in the dark, and the mag well is beveled to facilitate smoother reloads.

Shooting the SF Stealth Grey brought no surprises. First, the pistol’s trigger broke at a very consistent 3.25 pounds, making accuracy testing easy. Sub-two inch groups were the norm, and at 25 yards the rounds were hitting exactly at point of aim. I had no reliability issues with any kind of ammo I fed it.

My only complaint with the Stealth Grey Special Forces isn’t with the gun; it’s that it is only supplied with one seven-round magazine. While that mag is an excellent Ed Brown complete with base pad, Ed Brown Products does make an eight-round magazine as well. For a suggested retail of $2,345, I would think the gun should come with at least two mags—at least one of which should be an eight-rounder.


Fast Specs: Ed Brown Special Forces Stealth Grey

  • Caliber: .45 ACP
  • Capacity: 7
  • Barrel: 5 in. match-grade, non-ramped
  • Overall Length: 8.5 in.
  • Overall Height: 5.5 in.
  • Weight: 38.5 oz.
  • Grips: carbon fiber
  • Finish: frame, Stealth Grey Gen III; slide, black Gen III
  • Trigger: single action, 3.25 lb. pull
  • Price: $2,345, includes soft case, one 7-round magazine
  • Manufacturer: Ed Brown Products


  • Smallest group: Wilson XTP 230 gr.—0.9 in.
  • Largest group: Remington UMC 230 gr.—2.2 in.
  • Average of all ammo tested—1.42 in.
  • Accuracy tested at 25 yards. Four five-shot groups.



  • W.L. Lovett

    For @ $2345.00 don't you could add a 2nd mag for this weapon?!

    • Knightinbrightarmor

      For $2,345 you should get an extra gun.

  • Nam Marine

    For $2,345. it should also go to work and pay your bills!

    • Jpc

      No way to get this pistol in France What a shame

  • Dennis Adamson

    I also own a Special Forces 1911 but I truly got a "Lemon" ! Too bad that Ed Brown does not recognize that all mechanical things are prone to problems…Ed's customer service representative(Justin) is less than customer oriented. He believes that after a customer spends a fortune for an Ed Brown handgun—the customed should then PAY to send the defective gun back to Ed to fix any problems with that gun !——Yes, I was disgusted too ! You can bet that I'll never read the Ed Brown web without wondering who wrote the warranty claims ! ? ! ?

  • Dutch

    That's why you should have bought a Wilson Combat 1911 Dennis! I own several Wilson combat 1911 pistols, & yes they are in the $2500+ range, but Wilson Combat treats their customers like gold! Ever have a problem w/ a Wilson 1911 they pay for overnight shipping back to them & promise to ship the gun fixed & running like new within 48 hrs! I've never had to use their warranty service because their guns are built like tanks but I have several friends who have…Wilson Combat fan 4 life!!!…Dutch

    • garanduser

      I met Wilson in 2001 at Texas IDPA championship. He was standoffish and rude so I left him off the list when I set out to purchase a high end 1911.

  • Dr. Chandler

    I bought an Ed Brown Special Forces 1911 several months ago. It is a dream pistol. Flawless in every way. I have found the service staff at Ed Brown to provide outstanding service and advice. It is the finest gun I have ever owned.

  • MARC

    Ya know its funny cause I handled an Ed brown 1911 in Las vegas and loved it. However when i started talking to customer service I found them to be blah. what i mean is they just had no enthusiasm whatsoever. you figure for money like this they would be right there. not to mention I have read that the workmanship at Ed brown is beautiful but aurgue to high heaven when you complain about anything. I also made several requests for some custom features and I wa denied. I wish Ed brown wouldnt make a claim of a full custom shop when you ask for 8 custom and atleast 4 of them refuse to do. Therefore Iw ent to wilson combat and they are just flawless and beautiful weapon. customer service is on top of it all. If you have a problem or just have a question they call you back in a timely fashion. MY ADVICE DONT DEAL WITH ED BROWN PRODUCTS.

  • garanduser

    I have an Ed Brown SF in 4 inch stainless and I love it. I also have a Colt Custom Shop Gold cup which I have tweaked and on a good day it shoots a bit tighter then the Ed Brown but not much. The beveled mainspring housing is what steered me to the Brown and I really like that feature. I had only one call to their service reguarding what weight spring I should use for a light wad cutter load and talked to Mr Brown himself. He was very helpful and answered my question. A 13lb spring with 185 gr wad cutter and 3.2 gr of Bullseye runs just fine and will hold x ring when I do my part. Kimber now makes a copy of this gun but in my opinion Kimber is not in the same league with Ed Brown and company.

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