Texas is synonymous with serious guns and a firebrand attitude. People who live there are, above all things, proud to be Texans and Americans. While friendly and open, Texans are serious about what they do and take pride in their work. I had all of this in mind when I attended an event with a relatively new 1911 builder based in northern Texas. Republic Forge could easily be called the biggest little gun builder in Texas. [Editor’s note: Republic Forge has since relocated to New Mexico]. The company has already earned a solid reputation as a builder of serious guns after launching only three short years ago. That is a pretty incredible climb in such a short time.
I had the pleasure of talking in detail with Republic Forge’s master gunsmith, Jeff Meister, and it quickly became apparent why the company had had become so well known. The name Republic Forge isn’t the product of a random company name generator. The owners and staff are hardcore Texans and patriots. The company was founded by Benny Deal, who is very proud to say that his pistols are “made by Americans, for the Republic.”
While some companies throw around “American made,” few have gone to the extent that Deal did in laying out the company. Even the equipment and components that are used to make the guns are American made. This proved to be a challenge when forming the company in 2013. It took over a year to find the right equipment and components to make the plan a reality. Benny Deal says, “We’re an American company making American-made guns on American-made benches with American-made tools, and we’re not sacrificing quality for anything.”
Have It Your Way
To add an even more unique twist on what it does, Republic Forge has created a very interesting way to order a gun. The company has a “Build Your Own 1911” interface on its website. This allows you to get the specific build that you really want in a classic high-end 1911.
The site allows you to choose from dozens of options. There are eight different models, 10 frame colors, 10 grip styles, five different calibers and two different sight options, to name just a few. Once you decide what you want, the gunsmiths go to work. Everything is hand-fitted to ensure that the gun is perfect. Almost all of the pieces that hit the gunsmiths’ benches are oversized to allow them the ability to create the best fit possible. The result is a silky-smooth action with no wiggle or looseness. The minute you pick the finished gun up, you’ll know that it is a serious pistol. And while Republic Forge is primarily a custom builder, the company does provide a few models for dealers that reflect the most popular options.
With all of that as a backdrop, Jeff Meister was quick to get a gun into my hands for testing.
Behold The Monolith
The model of choice would be Republic’s Monolith Stryker 1911 in .45 ACP. This would prove to be an interesting choice because it might be considered a bit of a departure from the company’s “regular” guns.
The Monolith Stryker is what I would consider a weapon with a tactical application. It is a bridge between what John Moses Browning originally conceptualized and the needs of a modern tactical environment. The pistol has a “working gun” feel to it thanks to its design features. It has a strong carbon-steel frame and slide, and the latter has front and rear cocking serrations. This is important for a gun designed to protect its user while in harm’s way. The serrations make the slide easy to manipulate even with hands wet from water or even blood. It also has a squared triggerguard and 25-lpi checkering on the frontstrap and mainspring housing, creating a good grip surface without becoming a cheese grater.
Staying in the fighting realm, the Monolith Stryker is fitted with an ambidextrous thumb safety. This is a solid feature that makes it a little easier to shoot from your support side if needed. To help feed the gun as quickly as possible, it also comes with a blended Smith & Alexander magazine well.
Like most people, I am quick to see what the trigger is like on a gun. With the Monolith Stryker, I found the trigger to be firm but not overly so. It broke at a very nice 3.5 pounds according to my trigger pull gauge. While this isn’t a competition weight by any means, it is perfect for what is essentially a duty weapon. You simply don’t want a feather- light trigger on a fighting gun. There was no slop or wiggle in the trigger, and it offered a very nice, short reset.
While the gun has a very tactical look, the inclusion of Republic Forge’s iconic hammer with a Texas star cut into the head screamed, “Remember the Alamo.” Wrapping it all up is a good-looking bronze Cerakote finish to offset the pistol’s black controls.
One of the design features of this specific gun is its ability to be run suppressed. The gun came with a Jarvis threaded barrel and XS suppressor- height night sights. The obvious task at this point would be getting a suppressor worthy of installation on this attractive Texas blaster.
I looked no further than Palmetto State Defense and its new Stak 45 suppressor. This South-Carolina-based company is a premium rifle and silencer manufacturer that specializes in the AR platform and sound suppression units. It takes pride in not mass producing any of its products, and the Stak 45 is the pinnacle of that work ethic. In addition, it’s the lightest .45 ACP can on the market, and it’s by far one of the most unique looking. It is constructed of aluminum with stainless steel baffles and weighs only 8.55 ounces. Furthermore, it has a unique open-tube design that cools faster with a highly efficient, user-serviceable baffle design. It would prove to be a solid addition to the Monolith Stryker.
In The Field
I’m generally not a fan of bench-testing a handgun for accuracy. I believe it takes the gun out of its element, and yet I found myself at a bench. Curiosity had gotten the best of me, and I wondered just how well the gun would perform. So, with a variety of ammo in hand, I started putting rounds downrange.
The groups quickly became just what I expected they would be—a collection of cloverleaves and ragged holes. I found the gun equally accurate and easy to run in a free-hand fashion. Moving from two-handed to single-handed and even support-hand shooting, the Monolith Stryker kept pushing rounds downrange on command.
The Stak 45 suppressor only made things nicer. While the .45 ACP is pokey and runs well under the supersonic 1,126-fps threshold, it can be quieter. The Stak 45 proved that as I heard several people at the range mimicking the sound of the suppressor with pew, pew sounds. The can was light and did an exceptional job of taking the edge off a long day of shooting. It is also simply a cool-looking suppressor. You are lying if you say that aspect doesn’t matter.
During all of the testing, I did not experience a single failure. Granted, I did lubricate the pistol as suggested. Which brings up a point that most people miss regarding 1911s. They require oil, plain and simple. Even a high-end gun, like those emerging from Republic Forge, need proper lubrication. This is shocking to those who have only cut their teeth on striker-fired guns. You take care of your guns, and they will take care of you.
The 1911 is an iconic gun worthy of some serious consideration. Yet it’s not for everyone. Larry Vickers expressed it best when he explained how to decide if you should buy a 1911. His formula is simple: Go outside and look at your lawnmower. If it is dirty, covered in grass and exposed to the elements, then a 1911 may not be for you. If, on the other hand, you take care of your mower by cleaning, maintaining and storing it correctly, you get a pass into the John Browning club.
Rarely is a purchase from Republic Forge a person’s first 1911. Owner Benny Deal says that “Republic Forge pistols are not built for beginners. They are built for shooters.” Republic Forge also subscribes to the one-gun/one-gunsmith philosophy. That means there will only be one person working on your gun. This commitment to building your perfect gun includes the gunsmith calling you to discuss the details of your gun. The result is a beautiful gun worthy of your investment and the Republic Forge name. These smiths get their hands dirty every day to make custom pistols that will give you the thrill of a lifetime.
Republic Forge Monolith Stryker Specs
|Caliber: .45 ACP|
|Barrel: 4.25 inches|
|OA Length: 9.25 inches|
|Weight: 40 ounces (empty)|
|Sights: XS suppressor night|
|Finish: Burnt bronze Cerakote|
Republic Forge Monolith Stryker Performance
|Federal 230 HST||890||1.50 (average), 1.25 (best)|
|Hornady 185 Critical Defense FTX||1,000||1.25 (average), 1.00 (best)|
|Remington 230 FMJ||835||1.75 (average), 1.50 (best)|
*Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity measured in fps by chronograph and accuracy measured in inches for three 5-shot groups at 15 yards.
For more information, visit republicforge.com.
This article was originally published in the March/April 2018 issue of “Combat Handguns” To order a copy, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.