A Special 1911

A Special 1911

I have to admit I was worried. I'm pretty tight with a buck, and ponying up the money it takes to buy an Ed Brown 1911 for a model I'd only handled but never actually fired was a stretch for me. But over the years it's been my pleasure to chat with Ed at trade shows, and I was able to borrow an excellent rifle from his company for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Tanzania for Cape buffalo. (Not buying that .375 H&H after the trip ranks as one of my great firearm blunders of all time, especially since Ed's now out of the rifle biz, and I regret it to this day.) Plus, of course, I'm well aware of his company's reputation as a top-flight gun builder.

No, what worried me was that I'd get my usual case of buyer's remorse, the feeling that I'd foolishly spent too much money for something I didn't really need. But as my fellow Californians know, time is slipping away. 1911s don't lend themselves to the features the state requires in order for a new handgun to be on the "approved" list—particularly the magazine disconnect requirement. Therefore, it will soon be nearly impossible to purchase a new 1911 in this state.

Time is running out on me as well, or at least as I look at 50 years old I feel that way. So I told myself, "Dammit, buy yourself a really good 1911 before it's too late," and for the reasons I mentioned previously—as well as thinking back on all the 1911 reviews I'd edited over the past several years at Guns & Ammo and now Handguns, along with what I'd learned from firing various 1911s at press events or those belonging to friends—I sent in my deposit for an Ed Brown California-approved Special Forces model.

No sooner had I done that than I read Jim Tarr's review of the brand new Special Forces Grey in the August/September issue of Handguns—the same gun I'd ordered but with a gray Gen III finish. In his article, Tarr was slightly critical of Ed Brown's Chainlink pattern, saying it provided great lateral control but perhaps not as good vertical control as traditional checkering.

Funny how seeds of doubt grow in direct proportion to cash outlay, and I worried that maybe I wouldn't be as happy with the gun as I'd hoped. Then I got the call from Turners gun shop that the pistol had arrived, and 10 days after filling out the paperwork, I rushed home with my prize. And the moment I pulled the pistol out of its soft case, I was pretty sure buyer's remorse was not going to be a problem.

For one, the gun is just beautiful, from the matte black Gen III finish to the tasteful "Ed Brown" on the slide, to the gorgeous checkered wood grips. Every line on the gun perfectly executed. I belted on a holster and did a few draws and some dry-firing. Smooth—-no issues with the grip safety as I occasionally have with other 1911s. The ambi safety snicks on and off with precision, and the trigger…well, it's exquisite.

The next day I headed to Angeles Range to start breaking it in. No accuracy test, no serious function firing, no drills. Just hang a target and shoot my new gun. It was awesome. Any reservations I had about the Chainlink were gone, and there wasn't a single "new-gun" malfunction.

I think I did good.

Recommended for You


SIG P365 Review

James Tarr - October 31, 2018

The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all...


SIG P210 Standard Pistol: Legendary and American Made

Handguns Online Staff - April 23, 2019

SIG SAUER has introduced the American Made P210 Standard pistol to the U.S. Commercial Market.


Perfecting the One-Handed Draw

Richard Nance - July 02, 2019

Learn the keys to a successful one-handed draw.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

All About Handgun Ammo

Rich and Jim get into the nitty gritty of the FBI ammo protocol, firing into various barriers to illustrate what can happen to a bullet.

Teaching New Shooters

Julie Golob of Team Smith & Wesson guest stars, joining Jim and Scott for a discussion of how best to introduce new shooters to the sport.

Performance Center M&P Shield M2.0

From Smith & Wesson, the M&P Shield M2.0 is a great option for a carry gun with optics option.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


8 Popular Drop-In Glock Mods

Dusty Gibson - July 17, 2013

While some modifications require an experienced gunsmith, the average shooter can install most...


Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander 9mm Review

J. Scott Rupp - May 08, 2019

Available in .38 Super, 9mm and .45 ACP, the Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander offers a...

2nd Amendment

Judge Postpones Oral Arguments to Stop California Microstamping Law

Handguns Online Staff - May 07, 2014

According to a recent report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a lawsuit...

See More Stories

More 1911


Review: Wilson Combat CQB

Patrick Sweeney - April 01, 2019

Wilson Combat has tweaked its CQB to create what is an essentially new pistol.


Review: Rock River Arms Basic Limited

Jeff Chudwin - August 16, 2018

Rock River's Basic Limited 1911 is a finely crafted gun that's also a solid shooter.


Review: Dan Wesson ECP - A Bushingless 1911 Commander in 9mm

Jeff Chudwin - February 13, 2019

Dan Wesson's ECP is an excellent example of the Commander- size 1911 pistol.

See More 1911

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.