“Ol’ Reliable” Not?

I was surfing Internet shooting forums over the weekend and came across one with a video link that purported to demonstrate why the 1911 pistol is unsuited for self defense. The video—which lasts about a minute—shows a Kimber Ultra Carry with a failure-to-feed problem during a formal training event. Apparently, the instructor—who is a well-known shooting TV personality—has some issues with the 1911 platform and takes great pleasure in knocking it as a self-defense pistol. He is a dedicated devotee of the Glock platform and offers to refund the fee and ammo cost of his training to anyone who can go through it with a 1911 pistol that does not fail during the training. Hmm.

Anyone who has read even a few of these occasional diatribes of mine knows that I have been fooling around with 1911 pistols for several decades, and this brash statement intrigued me. So this morning I took my Kimber Ultra Carry and some ammo to the range for a workout.

After 150 rounds I called it done—mostly because I got tired of picking up brass. I had no failures of any kind. Several things come to mind; the first being that most problems with guns can be traced to the nut behind the trigger. The identity of the shooter was not revealed, and because I wasn’t there to see it first hand I cannot say with certainty what the problem was. I suspect that it was a cleanliness and/or lubrication issue.

All so-called micro-pistols operate on the edge of their engineering parameters. It simply goes with the territory. You want a featherweight micro big-bore thumper that is accurate and handles as much as possible as the parent design? Fine, but don’t expect it to be as robust as the parent design. In order to get the accuracy, tolerances and fitting have to be close, and closely fitted guns require more frequent and thorough cleaning and lubrication. Put simply, modern guns need to be run wet if they are to be reliable.

No one in their right mind would choose a micro-pistol as a primary sidearm in some prolonged social upheaval. We choose micros when the threat is minimal, our primary objective is not to engage in combat and, perhaps, our clothing choices prevent the carrying of a full-sized pistol.

Consider this: As a concealed carry citizen, how many times will you be involved in a fight where you will be called upon to shoot 400 rounds (a typical amount on a training facility day) without access to cleaning and lubrication supplies? The multi-day training courses are great venues to discover any weaknesses in your firearm. But those guns need significantly more attention to maintenance that they do for just a day of casual shooting. Even a Glock needs some lubrication to maintain its reputation for reliability.

Brand loyalty is largely a personal decision. I’m sure that manufacturers have a love-hate relationship with it. It’s great when folks are promoting your brand and wearing hats and T-shirts touting the brand. On the other hand, it not great when someone has it in for your brand (or design) and uses contrived scenarios to make his or her case.

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1 Response to “Ol’ Reliable” Not?

Doug from AK wrote:
September 16, 2012

Well stated. I've just found another reason to continue reading your column.