Gratuitous Gun Pic: Ed Brown Special Forces 1911 (.45 ACP)

I must confess to having mixed feelings about this offering from Steve Barnett:

I know all about Ed Brown’s 1911s:  they’re fantastic bits of machinery, reliable to a fault, engineered way up the quality curve, and so on.

But the problem I have is that “way up the quality curve” thing:  at the end of the day, it’s still a 1911.  And just how much better is a quality offering like this one than, say, a Springfield Loaded 1911?

Four times better?  (Because that’s the price difference between the two models.)

Like I said:  mixed feelings.  As any fule kno, I love me my quality guns, most especially shotguns of the H&H / Abbiatico genre.  But those are hand made (which the Ed Brown isn’t), which has to count for something.

And maybe it’s just because it’s a 1911 — yes, essentially the same as a 1911 Government as used by Our Brave Boys in France, the Pacific, Vietnam and so on.

Finally, I have no issue with super-quality 1911s of the Nighthawk / Ed Brown ilk — several of my Readers own such pieces, I’ve been lucky enough to have them let me shoot their guns, and without exception, they’re wonderful to shoot.

But I have to confess to y’all:  even if I won a lottery, I’m not sure I’d buy a premium 1911 — note, I said “not sure” because hell, I might just indulge myself, much as I might indulge myself with an Omega wristwatch for about the same money.

And maybe it’s because I’ve just been so well served by my plain ol’ Springfield Mil-Spec 1911 (and yeah I know, it’s far from standard issue, with a widened ejection port and polished trigger group).  Maybe it’s because I just don’t see how much better an Ed Brown would work for me.

I must be getting old, for such common sense to have crept into my life.


  1. I have an Ed Brown Executive Elite. I also have a Kimber Plain Old 1911 standard model. The Kimber shoots just as nice, for me, as the EB. I love the EB and am glad to have it, but it’s really not 4x the Kimber.

    And for bumps in the night I grab my $350 (2002 bucks) Springfield GI model (which has EB parts :))

  2. I will stick with my Colt Government model. I think I paid about $825 for it about 6 years ago. A new one is still less than a grand.

  3. I would assume the price difference is one goes bang most of the time and one goes bang all the time, assuming the same ammo and operator.

    FYI My Springfield Fully Loaded was a steaming pile of dog shit. Multiple trips to the factory before Jim Gathwaite made it reliable. Ended up a safe queen. The Kimber was a third more costly but no issues.

    Go for it, you are worth it.

  4. Spot on. Another reason we got on so well.

    I have handled and shot a few Ed Browns. Slides move on buttered roller bearings with ZERO play. Verily it doth stir my loins, and for a time I did lust for one, but could never quite reach for my wallet. That said, my Springfield Range Officer (the one you shot) checks all my boxes and is superbly accurate. Which reminds me, it has sat in the safe for too long.

  5. The high end 1911 pistols sure are tempting but I asked myself what I would do with it. It would be a safe queen or I’d just take it out to the range from time to time. I wouldn’t want to risk its finish with regular carry. I’m not going to the governor’s barbecue so I have no need for a fancy handgun. I think the daily carry is just fine being a no frills handgun that I won’t be heartbroken if it is confiscated by the police if I need to use it for self defense.

    The Wilson Combat pistols sure do look tempting thought.


  6. I owned a Springfield Range Officer Compact once. Hated it. Grip screws kept backing out under recoil (later discovered that the bushings apparently *should* have been loctited into the frame at the factory but the loctite was just applied to the frame below the screwholes), the tool they provided to help compress their funky dual-stage recoil spring system didn’t work, so stripping the pistol for cleaning was a PITA, and the slide rusted if you so much as looked at it crossways. My friend bought himself a first-gen Ruger SR1911 Commander shortly after I got my Springfield; fit & finish were MUCH better than the Springer, it only cost him maybe $100 more, and it ran like a champ except when he used that one Remington-marked 8-round 1911 mag that I specifically warned him not to buy.

    That said, I’ve handled several Dan Wesson firearms. They look to be about 80-90% as good as a Wilson Combat, but at maybe 50% of the price. I plan on adding a DW Specialist to the collection one of these days…

  7. I’ve got a Nighthawk GRP Recon and it is wonderful. I got my son a Springfield Armory Marine Corps Operator (black/OD) and did some (unnecessary) smithing to it, because, well I was proud of him, but it really wasn’t needed.

    For a reliable defensive sidearm, I’d go with any of the Springfield offerings and recommend them heartily to anyone. Get some premium magazines (I favor Cobra Mags, but Kim’s McCormick or Wilsons are good choices), shoot 500 rounds of hardball through it, and I’d bet you have a superbly reliable gun. Tight enough, not stupid tight, accurate enough, very reliable, and I must say. Handsome. The Garrison is a very handsome gun. I’d recommend it unequivocally.

    I’ve thought of selling my Nighthawk several times, but … can’t do it. What was that about “stirring in the loins?” Truth be told, I should sell it and get a Springfield, but I got it for myself for my own 50th birthday party, and I can’t bring myself to part with it.

  8. And I can say, with authority, John Harrison’s guns are not just gorgeous. They run. Like a scalded dog. If I could only own one defensive pistol (heaven forfend!), That Harrison Commander would be it. I’d die a happy one-gun man when my time comes.

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