October 02, 2019
In the 1970s and ’80s, few if any 1911 handguns were ready for competition. Les Baer and Bill Wilson were yet to come. Some of the finest work ever accomplished on 1911 handguns was the work done by Army gunsmiths between 1918 and 1935, but the best examples were turned out by shops run by craftsmen who mixed art and mechanics.
Pennsylvanian George Madore worked on many handguns prior to his death about 15 years ago. Among these were Hammerli 208 handguns and quite a few 1911s. I have seen several 1911 .45s he modified, and the one in my hands is an exceptional example of the gunsmith’s trade.
Among his innovations was a tab on the barrel to snug up the barrel fitting. He also figured out a way to mount an Aimpoint sight on a 1911—not on a rail or a mount but fitted directly to the slide.
My Madore 1911 is a Bullseye Colt. The piece features what is probably a GI slide and a Series 70 frame. As I looked more closely, I found modifications that were popular in the era. For instance, shooters often failed to hit the standard GI or Colt commercial grip safety or didn’t depress it sufficiently to release the trigger, and competition shooters therefore often blocked the grip safety. Sometimes the guns were modified by running a thin wire through a hole drilled in the frame and grip safety. Sometimes they were simply taped shut.
The Madore guns, on the other hand, were sometimes modified by cutting the leaf spring that controls the grip safety. This eliminated the grip safety’s lock on the trigger. While I strongly prefer an operating grip safety for a carry 1911, for Bullseye the Madore solution is fine.
The slide features a nicely scalloped ejection port. The square front post was possibly hand cut—but it may be a King’s. The rear sight is the rugged Bomar.
The stainless steel barrel bushing is tight and so difficult to turn it required a large bushing wrench with plenty of leverage and a bit of tapping to remove. The slide and frame are a tight fit. Since they are a mismatch, he had to do at least some fitting of the frame to the slide to eliminate play.
The trigger action isn’t light, but it is smooth, with a pull right at four pounds and no creep or backlash. The grips are a set of Pachmayr double diamonds.
Madore’s handguns were not particularly expensive at the time, costing perhaps twice as much as a factory Gold Cup. Compared to the present price of today’s custom 1911s, they were a bargain. However, a word to the wise when investing in older custom guns: Be certain you know your way around the 1911 and its safeties. There is no guarantee someone not up to Madore’s workmanship hasn’t had their hands on the gun in the interval since he built it. In this case, the workmanship and function remain flawless. Also, if you expect a custom gun like this to bring a fair price, it should have the original build list outlining the parts used. This one did not.
But it shoots well. I took it to the range with some handloads worked up with the classic accuracy load for the .45 ACP: a 200-grain semi-wadcutter over Unique for 850 fps. From a solid benchrest firing position, I put five rounds into 1.5 inches at 25 yards. Factory Remington 230-grain Black Belt produced a five-shot group of 1.75 inches.
The G. Madore pistol has a sense of history and emotional attachment combined with excellent performance. I am proud to own this well-turned-out pistol.