I’ve tested numerous 1911 pistols, many of them custom builds. I’ve carried, modified, deployed with and even built 1911s, which has given me a bit of a different perspective. While I carry polymer-framed guns on occasion, the 1911 remains my favorite for concealed carry. My first duty 1911 was a full-sized .45 ACP, and I carried a Commander-sized version off-duty and in plainclothes. That was the case until I was introduced to the Colt Delta Elite in 10mm. The .40 S&W was becoming all the rage at the time, but I never jumped on that bandwagon. Unfortunately, my chief wanted me to carry a “.40 caliber,” so I complied—sort of.
See, I had written the personal-carry policy for my police department and listed the 10mm as being a viable .40-caliber round. Hunting Shack Munitions (HSM) loaded up some 10mm ammo for me using the same bullets as our duty-issued ammo along with 1,000 practice rounds. Then I took the ammo to the range and tested it by firing it through a variety of barriers into ballistic gelatin, with stellar results. Since then, a Delta Elite of some sort has always been nearby or on my hip, making the 10mm my first choice in chambering when asked to test a custom-built Republic Forge 1911 pistol.
New American Classic
I recently attended a writer’s event where I got the chance to meet the owner of Republic Forge, Benny Deal, along with the company’s primary builder, Jeff Meister, and wring out some of their custom pistols. Jeff has been building custom 1911 pistols since the early 1980s, and Benny brought him on to oversee the process at Republic Forge and ensure each pistol is built to exacting standards. Benny was already dedicated to using top-notch American-made parts, and Jeff makes sure they get put together correctly. Republic Forge is also determined to produce pistols in a timely fashion and to your liking. The company’s website allows you to build a 1911 virtually, with all of the components you could want, and after you buy it, Republic Forge’s gunsmiths will get to work making it a reality. You might experience a wait time, but that’s only because the company’s reputation is becoming well known. Republic Forge offers a number of unique options, too, including Damascus steel slides and mammoth ivory grips.
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The event provided a chance to get to know some of Republic Forge’s pistols, including a Long Slide variant with a Trijicon RMR mounted on top of the slide. And then I was offered an incredible, rare opportunity: Republic Forge would build a 1911 to my specifications—whatever I wanted. After wiping the giant grin off my face, I got to work.
The idea was to build a 1911 that covered all the bases—tactical, home defense, self-defense, hunting, even concealed carry if needed. I wanted one 1911 that could do almost anything a 1911 could. Since the 10mm is so versatile, with proven hunting and self-defense loadings, I started there. I also knew that a longer 6-inch barrel would soften the recoil for stouter loads while enhancing the accuracy and terminal performance.
I needed a Picatinny rail to mount my SureFire X300 Ultra flashlight or X400 Ultra light/laser unit for home defense, tactical operations and even hunting. Think about it: Adding a light to your handgun gives you a big advantage when it comes to night hunting.
Next on the list was a reflex sight. It’s become a lot more popular to mount a reflex sight on top of your pistol because of the inherent advantages, especially at long range. So Republic Forge added a Trijicon 1911 mount and a dual-illuminated RMR with a 9-MOA green dot. The dot is crisp, easy to see and easy to find. With no batteries, the RMR is pretty foolproof and as rugged and reliable as current technology allows. To back up the RMR, Republic Forge added some taller tritium sights that could be co-witnessed with the reflex sight.
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The rest of the pistol is pure Republic Forge, with a forged slide and frame. The slide features front and rear cocking serrations as well as finer serrations along the top to reduce glare. The 6-inch, match-grade, stainless steel barrel has a reversed crown and is held in place with an oversized, match-grade bushing.
An extended beavertail is expertly blended into the frame, and the triggerguard is undercut to ensure a high hold on the pistol. Checkering adorns the frontstrap, black grip panels and mainspring housing for enhanced control. Integral to the mainspring housing is a perfectly blended magazine well. All of the controls, including the ambidextrous thumb safety, slide release and magazine release are hand-fitted and made of tool steel. The trigger is crisp and predictable with a 4-pound pull and no overtravel.
Every surface is rounded/dehorned for easier carry, and the slide and frame feature a black Cerakote finish. Finally, Republic Forge shipped my complete pistol in a nylon range bag with three 9-round Cobra magazines from Tripp Research.
Since I wanted to test the 1911 for concealed carry and tactical uses, I needed two holsters. For concealment, I chose a black leather belt holster from Simply Rugged Holsters that looks good and holds the pistol close to my body, even with the RMR attached. For range and operational gear, I used a tan JM Custom Kydex holster.
At the range, the Republic Forge 1911 was extreme accurate—more accurate than me right now. I recently injured my wrist, so I’m not exactly a perfect marksman at the moment, but the RMR helped a ton. My groups at 25 yards were all in the 1.75-inch range, with DoubleTap’s 135-grain JHPs creating a cluster closer to 1.5 inches. This round is very soft-shooting out of the longer barrel, even with a velocity exceeding 1,600 fps.
Moving back to 50 yards and using the hood of my truck for support, Sig Sauer’s 180-grain V-Crown JHPs took the prize, producing a 2.5-inch group. At 100 yards, the 155-grain DoubleTap ammunition produced the best group, with Barnes’ 155-grain TAC-XPs right on its heels. Both groups were tighter than 5 inches using a bench and a bag for support. This demonstrates why the 155-grain TAC-XP is my preferred 10mm Auto carry round. It’s incredibly flat-shooting out to 100 yards with superb terminal ballistics anywhere within that range.
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It was easy to draw and fire from both holsters—there wasn’t any sort of snagging at all. Firing rapidly took a stronger grip than you’d need for a 9mm, but shooting from a stationary position or on the move, my doubles and triples all fell inside 3 inches at 15 yards.
Concealing this large pistol was actually pretty easy. After a couple of days, it wasn’t noticeably heavier than my usual Colt Delta Elite. I even used a modified IWB carry holster for a few days with solid results. Clearly this is not this pistol’s strong point, but it can do the job with a little bit of prep time. What it gives up in terms of concealability it makes up for in pure power and accuracy. I plan to use this 1911 on some hogs in Texas very soon.
My custom Republic Forge 1911 was flawless using the supplied Tripp Research magazines as well as some Colt factory models. None of my Wilson Combat magazines worked consistently, but every 10mm is a little finicky about the magazines it prefers. Of course, the pistol was tuned to use the Tripp Research magazines that came with the gun, and they are honestly the some of the finest magazines you can get anyway.
As a longtime 10mm Auto user, the recoil is manageable with most loads. If you use ammunition loaded for velocities of 1,200 fps or less, shooting is downright pleasant. Everything from 135 grains to some hard-cast 200-grainers worked, but the latter was pretty stout. The longer slide helps, but I would probably install a different spring if I planned on consistently shooting these rounds.
All in all, this Republic Forge 1911 proved to be an excellent custom pistol built to exacting standards. It is easily the most versatile 1911 I’ve tested, and I plan to use it as often as I can off the square range over the next few months. I love my 1911, and now it’s your turn to get to Republic Forge’s website and build your own.
For more information, visit republicforge.com or call 806-648-1911.
This article was originally published in ‘Combat Handguns’ March 2017. For information on how to subscribe, visit outdoorgroupstore.com