by B.B. Pelletier
This series has gone on longer (over 2 years) than any other I’ve written for this blog, and it isn’t even about an airgun. However, the main reason I wrote this piece to begin with, was so I could share with you what I did when I bought something that turned out very differently than I supposed it would. Given my experience with airguns, it’s hard for me to be surprised by them anymore, but I thought if I could give you a window into what I do when life hands me a lemon, you might be more encouraged the next time an airgun surprises you.
To briefly summarize, I bought the Taurus PT1911 firearm because it was advertised as such a great value. I handled one at the SHOT Show, but of course couldn’t shoot one until I bought it. That’s not unlike many of you who shop online for airguns, except you may not get the chance to handle before you buy.
When I shot the gun the first time, I was devastated to see it fail to feed 8 times in the first 84 shots! I was angry, disappointed and frustrated all at the same time. I wished the person who wrote that ad about the pistol could have been there to get an earful. After time passed, though, and I calmed down, I decided to make some lemonade from my lemon, so I documented the experience for you readers.
In the beginning of this project, I took one huge fork in the road by deciding to fix the gun myself instead of sending it back to Taurus. Many readers advised me to do that, but I kept it and did the work so I would know for certain all that was wrong with the gun, but even more because in the 1970s I had been a hobby gunsmith for the 1911 pistol. I knew the design pretty well–to the point of building a match pistol from GI parts with a few aftermarket such as a barrel bushing. I installed match bushings for others, did match trigger jobs and stippled the frames of many 1911s for a fee. I felt I knew the gun well enough to take this risky step.
I’ve documented things that happened to this pistol at every step along the way so you could see how things were proceeding. And the pistol did improve once I isolated the problems, which stemmed from a faulty extractor that made the gun fail to feed. That part made the Taurus magazines, which have weak springs, faulty in this gun. But after I installed a new extractor, those magazines performed very well. However for 100 percent reliability, I rely on a special set of Wilson Combat magazines that are truly 100 percent reliable. Or at least they have been for over 600 rounds.
I also cooked up a handload that functions reliably all the time. It has slightly more energy than a .45 ACP factory load. It uses a 200-grain lead bullet instead of a 230-grain full-metal jacketed bullet and it goes faster than the heavier bullet while delivering less recoil.
Based on the bullet I like, I bought a 6-gang bullet mold so I can cast my own lead bullets from now on. That cuts me free from everything but powder and primers which I buy in bulk. I can now shoot my pistol for about $8.00/100 instead of paying $80-90/100 for factory ammo. So, I shoot a lot more. In the approximately 1,500 rounds I’ve shot through just this pistol, the savings have amounted to no less than $1,050, or almost double what my reloading press, bullet mold and sizing press cost–combined. An airgun analogy would be buying the best pellets by the sleeve of 10 tins. One-time high cost brings huge savings downstream.
For Christmas my wife got me a Dillon reloading press that cranks out 400 rounds an hour, so now that my load is fixed and the bullet is fixed, I’m ready to crank out thousands of rounds of ammo for this gun. And the gun is ready to accept them.
All the problems I had seem to be in the past. The Taurus now seems to be as reliable as my Wilson Combat CQB I told you about in Part 4. It’s not as accurate as that custom gun, though I’ve learned how to hold it for the best accuracy it can give. And the difference between the $500 for the Taurus and $2,200 for a new Wilson buys a lot of anything!
I received some negative comments while telling this story. People seemed mad because I was speaking against a gun they either owned or thought a lot of. They didn’t understand that I was just pointing out the flaws that I encountered with my gun in the hopes that others would see them and know what could be done. For me, this was an educational journey, but some people thought I was out to crucify Taurus. Nothing of the kind! This is a success story, but we have to examine the failures to recognize it.
In fact, now that I’ve seen the project through to what I hope is a successful end I don’t mind telling you that when I need a .45, the Taurus always gets the nod. I trust the gun implicitly because I was there to see the transformation. No, I made the gun transform, so I know exactly what it can do and where it came from. Out of the box it had faults but today I would put it up against any other reliable semiauto.
So, what’s this got to do with you and airguns? Well, for starters, how about that next airgun you buy that doesn’t live up to expectations? You can trade it away or send it back if you like, but I hope this report has shown you another less-travelled path. You can take your lemon and make lemonade!
And perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate some of those old closet queens that you never shoot. Maybe with the right touches, they could become your favorite airguns. That’s the real point of this entire report.