Not long ago I was telling a friend that I wondered who would be next to offer a model 1911 pistol. After all, the 1911 is the pistol that seemingly will “never die.” Think about it. In less than two years, the 1911 will be a century old, yet this gun is a hundred times more popular now than it was many years ago.
Oh yes, it was indeed popular back then, because it was designed for and adopted by the U.S. Army. Just as virtually all small arms adopted by the military, the Colt Model of 1911was an instant success. Being quite arguably the finest self-loading pistol ever designed, the Model of 1911 has remained king, and it will be a long time before it gives up its crown. This is also why it so universally copied.
One of the last things I would want to do is count the number of makers of 1911-type pistols today. In addition to the attitude of most of the mainstream gun makers, that “if you can’t beat’em, join’em,” there is the far greater number of “cottage” gun companies making 1911-type pistols. While not all of these guns are on a par with the best, some of them will surprise you. One is the new “Dragon” Model .45 ACP from DoubleStar of Winchester, Kentucky.
After receiving a sample Dragon a couple of months after the company introduced it at the 2009 SHOT Show, I find it to be quite an impressive gun. Let’s take a look. Starting at the muzzle, we find (thank God) a standard recoil spring system. That is, there is no full-length guide rod here, but also a checkered recoil spring plug that will allow you to quickly field strip the pistol without need of tools. I always make my point by saying that (with very few exceptions) a 1911 pistol that comes with a full-length guide rod should also come with a hacksaw! Above the plug is a match grade bushing surrounding a match grade stainless .45 ACP barrel.
On the slide behind the muzzle is a genuine Novak dovetailed and pinned front sight with a white dot on the rear of its combat ramp; behind this on either side of the slide are well-designed forward slide-cocking grooves. These are the kind you can grasp, but that won’t scrape up your hands after a week at Gunsite. Such forward grooves are particularly valuable for doing a “proper” pressure check, to make sure the chamber is loaded without putting your finder in front of the muzzle.
Beyond the DoubleStar Dragon logo on the right side of the slide is the lowered and flared ejection port, and behind the port are matching slide-cocking grooves and a genuine Novak LoMount rear sight with two white dots on either side of the notch. That’s right, no cheap foreign-copied rear sight here, but the real American-made McCoy, just like all the other components of this pistol. Last, but not least, is that there is no firing pin safety to go wrong and prevent the pistol from being able to be fired when you need it most…Yes, some can.
Coming down from the slide we find a well-designed speed hammer and a well-proportioned and well-blended thumb safety in front of a genuine Ed Brown Memory grip safety. Below this is a flat 30 LPI checkered steel mainspring housing that leads to a beveled magazine well and then to a fully 30 LPI machine-checkered front strap. An extended magazine release has an extra power spring and the pistol’s aluminum Greiger trigger is drilled for extra weight reduction. The letoff, incidentally, is a smooth four pounds on my sample.
Forward of the trigger guard is a finely designed and executed M1913-type accessory rail on which to mount the tactical light/laser combination of your choice, and no, I didn’t forget the grips. These are the famous “Gunner” G-10 grips designed by the late Rob Simovich and adopted by the USMC’s Detachment 1, the first USMC contingent of SOCOM. These grips are now made by Strider Knives, of San Marcos, California. Machined from super tough, black G-10, “Gunner” grips come with their deeply cut “golf ball” style dimples. The surface of these grips is a matte black that matches almost perfectly the rest of the pistol, except for its stainless steel barrel.
OK, I did forget the magazine, but the DoubleStar 1911 comes with a Novak magazine made by ACTMAG. Designed with input from Wayne Novak, this 8-round magazine is as fine a magazine as any I have ever used, and is my favorite 1911 magazine. I have about a dozen of these magazines, most of which I have used extensively, firing hundreds of rounds from each during the past 6 or 7 years from a variety of 1911 pistols. What’s more, I have never had a magazine-induced failure when using them. The only difference is that this Novak magazine is also finished
in matte black to match the pistol, while all of mine are bright blue or nickel.
Firing the new Dragon brought few surprises. With an excellent (although less important) slide-to-frame fit, the pistol’s barrel-to-slide fit appeared to be as perfect as any I’ve seen, so I anticipated as much accuracy as I could use. This brings to mind one of the favorite sayings of my buddy Ed Head, Operations Manager of Gunsite Academy in Paulden Arizona. When asked his definition of combat accuracy in a pistol, Ed says, simply, that it’s a pistol’s ability to make headshots at 25 yards. While I’d hate to have to make a head shot at that distance in a crisis situation, I agree with Ed. I quickly found that the Dragon lived up to it by printing nice, little 5-shot groups of 2- to 2-1/2 inches at that distance from the bench. The pistol also digested more than a half-dozen types of .45 ACP ammunition, including semi-wadcutter, lead target ammo.
From standing using modified Weaver, I could hit the 6-inch “head” of my Action Target Hostage Target most of the time from 50 yards, and I could hit the target’s smaller “bad guy” swinger reliably from 25 yards. This target offers a great training scenario with fast action from various distances and while moving with a handgun. It can also be used as a rifle target at ranges of 100 yards and beyond.
OK, I said the gun brought few surprises, but there was one and that was its failure to go to slide-lock when the last shot was fired. When this occurred, the magazine also had to be pulled from the pistol, indicating that the lip of the slide stop did not extend quite far enough into the magazine well, even though the slide would lock automatically with the empty magazine when retracted by hand. I tried the magazine in three other 1911s and it did go to slide lock after the last shot. This satisfied me that the slide stop was indeed the problem and would be simple to replace, but I’ll let DoubleStar examine the gun when it is returned.
This gun is well made with the right stuff and is nicely finished inside and out. However, as with virtually all such pistols, I found that I could not reliably depress the grip safety when shooting high thumb, and for me, shooting low thumb with an extended safety can result in bumping the safety ON while shooting… Not so safe in a gunfight. To correct this for me, I would file the release point in the grip safety to unlock the trigger sooner. I also found the top rear corner of the ejection port a little sharp for my liking, especially if I have to “wipe” a stovepipe malfunction. I’d “Swiss file” this point and then place fine grit emery paper on it and tap it lightly with a brass hammer to match the matte finish of the gun’s surface. I would then apply a dab of good gun blue. If done properly, it will look fine.
Otherwise, leave it alone. When I present and shoot a pistol, I like it to be “glued” to my hand, but the Dragon’s G-10 “Gunner” grips may prove too sharp for some hands. To fix this, simply take that emery paper and go over them where needed. Take your time and you almost can’t make a mistake.
When they feel right, shoot the gun and then see how they feel. If you prefer smoother grips, have at it, as there are countless brands and styles available, but I like “Gunner” grips and use them on several of my 1911s.
Not forgetting about the DoubleStar 1911’s M1913 rail, I mounted a SureFire X300 Tactical Weapon Light on this rail for some low-light shooting. The X300 made fast identification of targets infallible out to 25 yards and beyond, making fast accurate hits easier than using a handheld light. However, I like to use a hand-held light in addition to one on my pistol, and BlackHawk’s Gladius is an excellent choice with its strobe function.
For a tactical duty holster, I found that BlackHawk’s Tactical SERPA Light Rail 1911 holster worked perfectly with the DoubleStar 1911. Accessory rails alongside this rig can hold the SureFire X300 (or most other lights), a spare magazine pouch or other accessories. My Rusty Sherrick 1911 “Rail” holster also worked perfectly for off duty concealment, but there are dozens of light rail holsters out there that work equally well, such as those from Blade-tech.
All in all, the quality of DoubleStar’s new 1911 pistol is far beyond what one would expect from a company new to the 1911 market. This pistol retails for $1,199.00. For information, contact DoubleStar, PO Box 430, Dept. SOF, Winchester, KY 40391, (888) 736-7725 (jtdistributing.com). To keep your Dragon 1911 and the rest of your guns, JOIN THE NRA…DO IT NOW!
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