September 18, 2013
With the liberalization of concealed carry laws in many states, the demand for small, lightweight, concealable handguns has ballooned, and many people with CCW permits choose to carry a 1911 pistol, which has resulted in a number of manufacturers offering subcompact versions of this venerable design.
One of the newest to hit the market is the FX45 Fatboy LW. Built by the Philippine firm of Shooters Arms Manufacturing and imported by American Tactical Imports, the FX45 Fatboy LW (LW stands for lightweight) is an amalgam of traditional 1911 features with a number of refinements to produce a practical concealed-carry pistol.
With an overall length a tad under seven inches, 5.5 inches high and only 1.33 inches at its widest point, the FX45 is easy to conceal even under light clothing. But it's a true 1911 and has all of the excellent features John Moses Browning designed into his original pistol: single-action trigger, excellent ergonomics and well-placed controls that are easy to operate. And all true 1911 lovers will be happy to know that it's chambered for the iconic .45 ACP cartridge.
The machined steel slide has dual sets of grasping grooves, and the ejection port has been lowered and flared to ensure that spent cases get out of the way surely and quickly.
But the most modern feature is that it uses a bushing-less barrel with a flared muzzle section. Another departure from the original is a telescoping, dual-spring recoil system on a full-length guide rod. Both of these features ensure tight and consistent barrel/slide lockup for improved accuracy and functioning. It also greatly simplifies disassembly.
The low-profile rear sight has a large, easy-to-acquire square notch and is angled to prevent it from hanging up on clothing on the draw, and its rear face is serrated to reduce glare. The front is a square blade with a white dot insert although I would like to see a fiber-optic front sight as an option.
The alloy frame pares the Fatboy LW's unloaded weight to a mere 22 ounces, and the frame is undercut at the trigger guard to permit a high grip on the gun.
The ambidextrous thumb safety levers are smaller than normally seen on a 1911 but can still be operated positively. An extended beavertail grip safety with a palm swell provides superior handling while ameliorating recoil—a nice feature on a .45 pistol weighing so little. Aggressively checkered, polymer grip panels allow a secure grip.
As you may have ascertained from its Fatboy moniker, the FX45 is a high-capacity 1911. It uses a double-column magazine that holds a comforting 12 rounds of .45 ammo (10-rounders are available for states where capacity is limited).
Because it's a subcompact, test firing was performed from an MTK K-Zone rest at 15 yards. I tested four different brands of factory ammo, all of which shot close enough to point of aim to please me and produced groups in the three- to four-inch range with the fast-moving Federal Guard Dog load taking honors.
I also set up a combat target and ran the pistol through a series of offhand drills, firing it from five and seven yards with both two- and one-hand holds. The wide grip, checkered grip panels and beavertail safety provided a lot of control for such a lightweight .45 ACP. The sights came on target quickly, and the rounds went where I wanted them to go—well-centered groups in the nine and 10 rings of the target. All in all, I was impressed.
I experienced a few failures to feed with the Black Hills lead wadcutter loads, but other than that the pistol ran with an almost boring, albeit pleasing regularity.
The magazines were a bit difficult to load to capacity, and I think ATI should provide a magazine loading tool with the pistol. But the wide-mouthed magazine well made for fast, fumble-free reloads, and the pistol proved reliable with everything I could stuff into the magazines except as noted above.
My only complaint with the gun is that the rear of the magazine base pad has rather sharp corners that galled my hand quite a bit by the time I was done test firing. The manufacturer should bevel these so as to provide a more user-friendly pistol.
Other than that, I believe ATI's FX45 Fatboy LW is a viable choice for the licensed civilian, police officer or armed professional who is looking for a lightweight, compact, high-capacity 1911 pistol for concealed carry.
Ruger SR1911CMD and Ruger SR45
Ruger is coming out with new handgun models almost faster than I can test them and certainly faster than I can buy them. If you haven't cracked open a Ruger catalog recently, you may be surprised.
The striker-fired SR45 and the single-action, hammer-fired SR1911CMD have Patrick Sweeney's complete review.
Introduced at the 2013 NRA Convention
last May, Beretta's
is a very small concealed carry semi-auto initially chambered for the .380 ACP, with a .32 ACP version scheduled to follow. A caliber conversion can be accomplished by merely swapping barrels, which will be offered by Beretta as accessory items. Like many recent guns of its type, the double-action-only Pico has a polymer frame and a stainless steel slide and barrel, but it also provides several features not commonly found Beretta Pico review
Colt M45A1 CQBP Marine Pistol
The M45A1 Close Quarters Battle Pistol (CQBP)
was announced Colt
, Springfield Armory
, and Karl Lippard Designs
offered a replacement for the age-old rebuilt .45s, and thus, a variation of the Colt 1911 Rail Gun
renewed its enlistment in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Like the M45 CQBP issued to Marines, the commercial version features the flat, Desert Tan-colored Cerakote finish over a stainless-steel slide and frame; under-barrel Picatinny rail; fixed Novak three-dot night sights; a flat, serrated mainspring housing with lanyard loop; an enhanced hammer to guard against hammerbite; a long, solid aluminum trigger; and an ambidextrous safety lock. As you inspect the obvious, be sure not to overlook the stainless-steel, 5-inch National Match barrel and bushing.
Read Eric R. Poole's complete review.
Colt Mustang XSP
Colt could have introduced a polymer-frame Mustang without changing anything in the design, and they would have people lining up to buy them simply because it says 'Colt ' Colt Mustang XSP review
Glock 29 SF
The Model 29 SF's 'SF ' designation stands for short frame. Glock's .45 ACP Model 21
and the full-sized Model 20 10mm
have notoriously large grips. The SF variants reduce the circumference of the grip by reducing the length of the grip between the backstrap and the trigger. The result is a smaller grip that makes Glock's most powerful auto pistols more appealing to shooters with average-sized hands. Please note the word 'average. ' If you have small mitts, even the SF variant is probably still too big for you.
Read the full story here.
For a few years now, enterprising shooters who happened to own both Glock G36s
have been mixing and matching, mating their G36 slides to their G30 frames. Their goal was to create a more compact .45 ACP without sacrificing magazine capacity. Most of the resulting pistols worked just fine, but their owners were left with a slim G36 slide parked G21
-size slide. And the G36 was never the single-stack Glock many had hoped for. But by teaming that lighter G36 slide to the just-big-enough G30SF (SF is short for Short Frame) frame, I think Glock has a very attractive carry gun Find the full G30S review here
Heckler & Koch HK45 Tactical
Along with the HK45 Compact
, the HK45 was developed as a possible candidate for the Joint Combat Pistol and Combat Pistol programs administered by the U.S. military in its search for a new service handgun to replace the 9mm Beretta M9
. These programs were suspended before completion, and no pistols were selected.
The HK45 is assembled in the United States from U.S.- and German-made components at Heckler & Koch's new manufacturing facility in Newington, N.H. It is a big gun, a 10+1 shot .45 ACP pistol that's almost six inches tall and more than 7.5 inches long with a standard-length barrel.
Read more about the HK45 Tactical here.
Iver Johnson Eagle LR Zombie
is a pretty good example of new-breed, chopped-down 9mm 'pocket pistols. ' It's a polymer-frame, hammer-fired DAO auto with an unloaded weight of about 12½ ounces, an overall length of just over 5½ inches and a width of just under an inch (thanks, in part, to its single-stack [7+1] magazine). Bear in mind that the company's original groundbreaking .380, the P3AT, weighs 8.3 ounces and has a 5.2-inch OAL. That's not a big-enough difference, dimensionally, to work up a lather about. And if it does concern you, the power differential should more than compensate for your misgivings.
Read Payton Miller's Kel-Tec PF-9 review here.
Les Baer Custom Hemi 572
Among precision 1911 builders, Baer has always been particularly known for his bullseye pistols, which are the preferred tools of many champion shooters. Not that his 1911s are not also renowned in the tactical trade, as witnessed by the fact that Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch chose Baer Custom to build the Thunder Ranch Special Home Defense Pistol line of 1911s
, citing Baer's outstanding accuracy and reliability. The new Baer Hemi 572 embodies both those characteristics.
Read Dick Metcalf's Custom Hemi review here.
Desert Eagle Mark XIX .50 AE
Now, I have to admit that I never was much of a fan of the Desert Eagle
. And most of you regular readers of Shooting Times
know that I have always had a penchant for traditional handguns (1911s, DA and SA revolvers, and such), so a gold, tiger-striped, mammoth hand cannon is just about the last thing I wanted to shoot. But that's the newest version of the Desert Eagle
, and I have to be honest here, after unpacking the new pistol, the more I handled this big, flashy boomer, the more excited I got about taking it out and shooting the heck out of it.
So, even if this isn't your usual interest in handguns, give this report a read.
Nighthawk Falcon Commander
Remington R1 Carry
The R1 Carry comes in a lockable Remington-green case, complete with the owners manual, lock, fired case and — hallelujah — a pair of eight-round magazines. Not everyone expects a pistol to come with a complete set of carry magazines (in the case of the 1911, three magazines), but it gets tiresome to open a firearms box and find... Read the full review here
Rock River Arms Poly 1911
On top, the Rock River Poly is your normal 1911
: match barrel, Novak sights, a refreshing lack of forward serrations, and a normal (i.e., the way John Moses Browning designed it) recoil spring assembly.
A lot of the features of the frame are normal in appearance, too. The grip safety is the now-normal design — upswept with a speed bump — the trigger is aluminum with three lightening holes and an overtravel stop. Mag catch? Right where you'd expect it to be and working just as it has since March 1911.
The frame is polymer, cast to the shape of a 1911 metal frame, complete with frontstrap checkering and a heavily beveled mag well. It is designed to accept all the customary 1911 accessories. If you don't like the flat mainspring housing... check out our full review.
— pronounced 'sky ' — new CPX-2
, is a compact carry 9 with a 10-shot magazine. Both versions of the slide are machined from stainless steel bar stock. The black version carries a black nitride finish; the two-tone version is a stainless steel that's been ceramic bead-blast finished by hand. The barrel is also stainless and machined from bar stock. The receiver, internal to the polymer frame, is 7075-T6 aluminum (the same heat-treatment that mil-spec ARs get) and is also machined from billet.
Read the full review here.
SIG Sauer 1911 Fastback Carry
entered the highly competitive 1911 market in 2004 with the 1911GSR
, the Fastback Carry
The frame and slide are machined from stainless steel with a Nitron finish. The ejection port has been lowered and flared so spent cases get out of the way reliably, and the low-mount Siglite night sights provide a fast sight picture and target acquisition in any light.
Read Paul Scarlata's complete review.
SIG Sauer M1911 Spartan
As the expression 'Molon Labe ' appears prominently no less three times SIG Sauer
M1911 Spartan pistol, let's take a more detailed examination of this phrase. The first word, 'molon, ' is the aorist active participle — masculine, nominative, singular — of the Greek verb 'to come, ' meaning in this instance 'having come. ' The word 'labe ' is the aorist active imperative — second person singular — of the verb 'lambano, ' translated as 'take [them]. '
Learn more about this unique 1911.
SIG Sauer P224
Unlike many of the newer additions to the reduced size, lighter weight concealed carry pistol market, the new SIG P224
is a throwback in more ways than Read the full review here
SIG Sauer P290RS
The SIG Sauer P290RS (Re-Strike)
is a somewhat improved version of the earlier caliber 9x19mm Parabellum P290, a DAO (Double-Action Only) handgun that's larger than the immensely popular SIG Sauer P938
, but smaller than Glock's
smallest nine, the Model 26
The method of operation is a modified Browning-type: short recoil, locked-breech and a conventional cam-dropped barrel system, but with a squared-off area above the barrel chamber locking into the slide's ejection port and additional locking with the bell-shaped muzzle end of the barrel locking into the front end of the slide.
Peter Kokalis reviews the P290RS here.
Smith & Wesson Model 647 Varminter
Smith & Wesson Performance Center 1911
Springfield XD-S 9mm
— is a wake-up call to the world of carry guns — Springfield Armory intends to own it all. I've been a fan of the Springfield striker-fired pistols for some time. When the original, the XD
, was the offering from Geneseo, Ill., I had Irv Stone III of Bar-Sto build me a multi-use XD. Originally a .40, when he was done with it, it was a .40, a .357 SIG
and a 9mm. And while fun and versatile, it was not exactly a carry gun you'd want to have lashed to you all day long.
Read Patrick Sweeney's full review here.
STI Lawman Series
Among the newest of STI's single-stack Model 1911s is the Lawman series
, available in five-inch full-size, 4.25-inch Commander size, and 3.25-inch Officer's size — all in either .45 ACP or 9mm chamberings. STI has long been well-known in the world of M1911 IPSC/USPSA competition shooting due to the high-capacity advantages of the 2011 series and competition-oriented semi-custom packages, but it is not as familiar to single-stack Model 1911 owners in general, and some confusion exists due to the company's history. So some background is in order.
Read more about the Lawman Series here.
With the production of the PPQ
, a striker-fired pistol made in 9mm and .40 S&W, Walther proved it was concerned with ergonomics along with all of the other fine attributes of Walther firearms.
The PPQ was immediately successful, but the company didn't sit still... PPQ M2. The PPQ features a high-capacity magazine (15 rounds in 9mm), yet the gun feels good in the hand. Obviously, the complaint with many high-capacity auto pistols is that the grip is shaped like a 2x4. Not the Walther's... Bart Skelton reviews the Walther PPX.