From John Moses Browning’s first design to the original
Model 1911 the future was already written
By Dennis Adler
Swiss Arms introduced its 1911A1 (which they simply refer to as a 1911 even though it is the early 1911A1 configuration) several years ago, but it has not received the degree of attention the Swiss Arms 1911 Rail Guns get because they are the more popular 1911 variants. Swiss Arms, which licenses its name to the 1911 line (and I’ll explain why shortly), is a very old company, but you might not recognize it until you know that prior to 2000, Swiss Arms was Sig Arms, and is now part of a larger conglomerate that includes independently operated Sig Sauer GmbH, Mauser, J.P. Sauer & Sohn GmbH, Sig Sauer, Inc. (in the U.S.) and Swiss Arms, among other companies. The Swiss Arms name on a 1911 air pistol is equivalent to the Sig Sauer name on a 1911, and Sig Sauer makes some of the finest centerfire 1911 models in the world (over 20 different models) including the new “We the People”1911 in .45 ACP and new blowback action .177 caliber version, which we will be unveiling in Airgun Experience next week!
Swiss or Sig – an excellent 1911
Product branding means there has to be some level of quality that justifies the maker’s name and involvement, thus Colt’s name on the Peacemakers and 1911s, Beretta’s and Walther’s name on a variety of models, Sig Sauer’s on CO2 pistols and rifles, and the Swiss Arms name on this 1911A1. Most of the current 1911 CO2 models are of later (Series 70, Series 80) designs, while some measure of effort has been expended to give this 1911 a look that is closer to earlier Colt pistols from the pre-WWII era. The Swiss Arms model really has only one significant issue and that’s the modern finish (and of course the Swiss Arms name on the slide). Even a black Army finish, as used by Colt’s for 1917-1918 military models, would have been closer.
As for working features, the disassembly follows general 1911 field stripping, (after removing the magazine, clearing the gun and making certain it is empty), by depressing the recoil spring plug and rotating the barrel bushing 90 degrees counterclockwise (on the CO2 model) and removing it. The recoil spring on a centerfire (or rimfire) pistol is under great pressure and you have to maintain pressure on the recoil spring plug and let the plug and spring come forward slowly. This isn’t an issue with the CO2 model, which also has a secondary large coil spring around the barrel (like a traditional blowback action pistol). The slide is then pushed back to align the disassembly slot with the frame and slide stop. Push the slide stop pin from the right side and remove the entire slide stop from the left. Invert the gun and pull the slide off the frame. This is as far as the CO2 model goes, but is more than ample for any type of cleaning.
Working the action
The Swiss Arms model has the early spur hammer design so it is a very easy pistol to manually cock. The slide locks back on an empty magazine and the slide release is identical to .45 ACP models. The original short thumb safety clicks on and off with ease, but the most important of all is that the grip safety is 100 percent operational and like a centerfire (or rimfire) 1911 must be fully depressed for the pistol to fire. Trigger shape and size is also very close to a centerfire 1911A1. Rack the slide and this pistol is ready to be put on safe (cocked and locked) or fire.
The CO2 model measures up closely to 1911A1 specs with an overall length of 8.5 inches, height of 5-1/2 inches from the top of the slide to the base of the magazine well. You can add another ¼-inch for the lanyard loop. Overall width, including grips and slide release, is 1-1/2 inches (slide width is 0.875 inches). A Model 1911A1 weighs 39 ounces, the Swiss Arms CO2 model tips the scale at a still hefty 32 ounces.
Saturday in the Part 3 conclusion, sighting, velocity and accuracy, as well as holsters and magazine pouches.