If it seems like there are more 1911s on the market today than ever before, that’s because there are. The fundamental design, pioneered by John Moses Browning and Colt, and finalized in 1911 as the “Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911” has endured for more than a century. It has been improved, modernized, retro-styled, lengthened, shortened and modified in every conceivable fashion, and for modern tactical use it has been redone by everyone from Colt (with the Close Quarters Battle Pistol) to the Philippines-based manufacturer Armscor.
One of largest manufacturers of 1911s in the world, with over 30 different models covering virtually every variation of the design, including Government and compact models, Armscor’s latest tactical versions with durable Cerakote finishes are offered by Taylor’s & Co. Armscor can truly build a quality 1911 and tailor its features to the specific requirements of its retailers, which means you get what you pay for. Its top-end models are built to perform muzzle to muzzle with more expensive 1911 models on the market.
The Taylor’s Tactical line of Armscor-made 1911 models features the 1911-A1 FS Tactical, with a 5-inch barrel, and the recently added Taylor’s Tactical 1911 Compact Carry, with a 3.6-inch, tapered bull barrel. Taylor’s has more than a dozen different 1911 models, from early-style GI versions to deluxe, hand-engraved presentation models. The Taylor’s Full Size comes with two Italian-made, eight-round magazines with extended base pads and anti-tilt followers. The Compact Carry comes with two seven-round magazines. The Full Size model shown is finished in Cerakote’s Dark Earth and the Compact Carry (without dustcover rail) in Cerakote’s Gun Metal Grey, both of which are custom finishes offered by Taylor’s & Co. The 1911s are also available in Cerakote Coyote Tan, OD Green, and Nitride black, with matching or contrasting G10 grips.
The overall length for the Compact Carry is 7.5 inches. It has a height of 5.25 inches, a width 0.875 inches (1.18 with grips) and a carry weight of 37.5 ounces. The Full Size tips the scales at an even 40 ounces, with an overall length of 8.75 inches on the Full Size model, a height with the extended magazine basepad of 5.5 inches and an overall width of 1.18 inches. Suggested retail in Cerakote finishes is $799 for the Full Size model and $814 for the Compact Carry. The standard 1911-A1 FS Tactical with Parkerized finish starts at just $570.
Based on Colt Series 70 designs, Taylor’s 1911s are built to the company’s exact specifications and exhibit fine fit, finish and sturdy build quality. The guns have exceptionally close tolerances between the outer dimension of the slide and the inner dimension of the frame rails for a solid fit that goes beyond the price point. Shake a Taylor’s 1911 and there isn’t a sound. You can’t say that for every 1911 on the market today. The Tactical models also come with heavy-duty recoil springs and full-length guide rods, two features that are generally add-on options on 1911s. Although the recoil spring makes chambering the first round, clearing the action and field stripping the guns more demanding, the extra effort is well rewarded through less felt recoil and improved handling for higher-velocity defensive rounds.
The Compact Carry’s slide has nine deeply cut rear slide serrations; the Full Size has 10 on the front of the slide and 10 at the rear for chambering the first round or clearing the gun. Some question the advantages of front slide serrations, but if you need to push the slide back just enough to check the chamber, they quickly earn their keep, especially with Taylor’s recoil spring!
The dovetailed Novak-style rear sights are adjustable for windage and elevation, and the front is an interchangeable, dovetailed, green, fiber-optic blade. The rear sights have rounded edges to prevent them from snagging on clothing, but those rounded edges also save hands and tactical gloves from the minor cuts occasionally received from straight-edged adjustable rear sights. The slide releases are deeply checkered for solid purchase when dropping the slide on the reload (even with tactical gloves); the Compact Carry has a single, 1911-A1 GI-style thumb safety, while the Full Size comes with an elongated, ambidextrous safety. Both models have six vertical grooves in the frontstrap. The Compact Carry has eight vertical grooves on the flat mainspring housing and the Full Size has 20-lpi checkering. Both models feature a serrated palm swell safety and extended beavertails, skeletonized/grooved triggers and Commander-style hammers. Overall, these two specialized Taylor’s Tactical models have the majority of the upgrades found on custom-grade 1911s costing well over $1,000.
For the range test, the Compact Carry was holstered in the latest Galco Combat Master belt rig (3.5-inch CM218). One of the most established CCW holster designs in the world, the Combat Master features double-stitched pancake construction for durability and a pouch contoured to the gun’s profile to provide solid retention. Although offering Level 0 retention (Level 1 would be a thumb-break safety strap), this is one of my personal favorites for 1911 concealed carry use, as it gives the gun excellent cover and the closely contoured fit around the pistol keeps it securely in place until drawn. The Taylor’s Compact Carry was a perfect fit with this holster.
While familiarizing myself with the gun before the range test I found the checkered magazine release very easy to operate, as were the slide releases, even without a loaded magazine. The elongated, ambidextrous safety on the Full Size was very easy to operate and locked/unlocked with a firm click. This also applied to the single, GI-style thumb safety on the Compact Carry. The smooth operation of the safeties and slide releases provided further signs of each gun’s quality of fit. The G10 grips and grip strap serrations provided a solid, tactile surface for bare hands and tactical gloves. Overall, these are two 1911s that look and feel like custom-built guns.
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Ammunition choices for the test were three brands of defensive .45 ACP: HPR 185-grain jacketed hollow point (JHP), Barnes TAC-XPD 185-grain +P and Sig Sauer Elite Performance V-Crown 200 grain JHP. As previously noted, the guns have very tight frame-to-slide fits that, when combined with their heavy recoil springs, can cause issues with lighter-recoiling ammo, as I discovered while firing the new Barnes TAC-XPD 185-grain +P, which is specifically engineered to reduce felt recoil. It does, and noticeably so, but unfortunately the Taylor’s Full Size experienced a trio of stovepipes as the Barnes load occasionally failed to drive the slide fully to the rear. The Full Size functioned smoothly with Sig Sauer and HPR. The Compact Carry also experienced a single stovepipe with the Barnes load. Any failure to feed is important to note in a gun test, but this was truly a peculiarity with the lighter-recoiling ammo, one of the random characteristics of guns with heavy-duty recoil springs. Regular use would most likely lessen the occurrence, but the Taylor’s Tactical 1911s seemed to like full-bore loads.
Looking downrange, the Novak-style, white-dot rear and green fiber-optic front sights were very easy to acquire; they were similarly easy to reacquire when firing the heavier-recoiling Sig Sauer 200-grain JHP rounds. Trigger pull was excellent on both guns, with each providing a very quick reset. The skeletonized trigger averaged a smooth 4.16 pounds for the Compact Carry and 4.14 pounds on the Full Size. Both had a short 0.125-inch take-up and a crisp break. The tactile surfaces of the G10 grips provided a solid meld of hand to gun, and the magazine and slide releases functioned flawlessly throughout the range tests. There is nothing here not to like.
Firing off-hand using a two-handed hold and a Weaver stance, five-round strings were fired at regulation Law Enforcement Targets B-27 cardboard silhouettes. Rounds clocked 983 feet per second (fps) with HPR 185-grain JHPs from the Full Size and 886 fps from the Compact Carry. With Barnes TAC-XPD 185-grain +P ammo, the Full Size reached 936 fps and the Compact Carry 878 fps. Sig Sauer Elite Performance V-Crown 200-grain JHPs produced 948 fps and 876 fps, respectively.
From a distance of 25 yards, the 5-inch-barreled Full Size averaged 2.75 inches with the HPR load, 4 inches with the Barnes ammo and an impressive 1.93 inches with Sig Sauer Elite Performance. At 15 yards, the Compact Carry, with its 3.6-inch tapered bull barrel, placed five rounds of Sig’s Elite Performance at 2.75 inches and five rounds of Barnes in 4.5 inches. HPR’s load won the round, however, with a best five-shot group measuring just 2.5 inches.
Overall, both Taylor’s 1911 models performed admirably on the test range, and for the price, feature for feature, they are a hard combo to beat.
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