May 02, 2016
By James Tarr
I recently examined reproductions of John Browning’s patent application drawings for what ultimately became the 1911 and was reminded that his original design did not feature a thumb safety, which was added later at the request of the Army (the cavalry, I believe). What I did not realize was how rounded the butt of the pistol was in his original drawing—much more so than the sharp corner you see on “traditional” 1911s.
While it was not as abbreviated as modern “bobtail” versions of the 1911, such as the Ed Brown Special Forces Carry 1911, it was interesting to see that John Browning himself knew the obvious: Sharp metal edges in the palm of your hand are not necessarily a good thing on any gun, much less one chambered in .45 ACP.
- The Special Forces Carry features the firm’s Bobtail frame and the new Chainlink III pattern, which while not overly aggressive does a good job of securing the gun in your hand.
The Ed Brown Special Forces Carry features his Bobtail butt. In addition to turning a sharp corner into a more comfortable curve, this modification to the frame does two other things. It shaves a little weight, about an ounce, but more importantly, it makes the gun more concealable. The butt of any handgun is the part most likely to print against a covering garment, and by removing the corner, the Bobtail modification makes the pistol surprisingly easier to conceal.
Between the modified frame and the shorter, Commander-length slide, this is about as concealable as you can make a full-frame 1911. It is amazing just how much smaller a Bobtail 1911 frame feels in the hand when compared to a standard grip. It slightly changes the grip angle, but unless you’re going back and forth regularly between guns, this shouldn’t make any difference.
Weighing in at 35 ounces with an empty magazine in place, the new Ed Brown Special Forces Carry has a 4.25-inch barrel. For testing I received a stainless steel version, but this pistol is also available with Ed Brown’s matte black Gen III coating.
- The pistol features a Novak-style rear sight, Commander-style hammer, three-hole trigger and single-side safety as well as Ed Brown’s famous beavertail that permits the highest grip you can get on a 1911.
The pistol above the trigger guard is pretty traditional: round-topped slide, rear flat-bottomed cocking serrations, standard recoil spring guide rod and original design non-ramped barrel. The barrel has been throated and polished to a mirror finish, as has the ramp in the frame. There was the tiniest bit of play between the slide and frame, but the barrel locked up tight. It has a single-sided thumb safety.
This pistol comes with white outline, three-dot night sights, a post front matched to a Novak-style no-snag rear. Both front and rear are dovetailed into place. The edges of the slide have been subtly dehorned.
It is equipped with a skeletonized Commander-style hammer, which nestles nicely into the Ed Brown Memory Groove grip safety. The Ed Brown beavertail grip safety allows the highest grip of any gun on the market, which why so many shooters like it.
- The Special Forces Carry has a standard-length guide rod, and the barrel is mated to one of Ed Brown’s match bushings for excellent accuracy.
The original Chainlink frame texturing looked a little bit like links of chain running down the frontstrap of the gun. It looked cool but wasn’t as aggressive as checkering. The Chainlink II pattern looked a lot like a chainlink fence, and the new the Chainlink III pattern found on the Carry is the same as the Chainlink II, only smaller.
I counted 23 dimples down the length of the frontstrap versus 18 for the Chainlink II. As a result, it is slightly less aggressive but still effective. Think of Chainlink II as being the equivalent of 20-lpi checkering and Chainlink III as 30-lpi checkering.
The Bobtail section of the frame/mainspring housing is not given the Chainlink III treatment. This part of the gun presses firmly into the shooter’s hand, so you would think it should have the Chainlink III texturing on it. However, the bottom half of the Bobtail mainspring housing is purposely left smooth so that clothing doesn’t catch on it.
The trigger is a long, three-hole aluminum version (you’ll have to look far and wide to find a pistol that doesn’t have one these days.) Trigger pull on my sample was a crisp, consistent four pounds, like every other Ed Brown 1911 I’ve had the pleasure to get my hands on.
The pistol was accurate and reliable with the provided magazine as well as the other 1911 magazines I had on hand. And as usual, I will criticize Ed Brown for shipping the Special Forces Carry with just a single seven-round magazine. For a pistol that sells for $2,945, I expect two magazines, preferably eight-rounders.