Guns America reviews the PRO Series™ 1911s from Accuracy X, Inc.

1″/25yd Groups Guaranteed 1911- Accuracy X –New Gun Review

We’re back again with another installment in our continuing coverage of mind-blowing 1911s. If you’re looking for a rock solid gun made from the best American made components, you should check out Accuracy X. The brand is well known on the competition circuit. The gunsmiths at Accuracy X have dozens of National, Regional and State level championship titles to their credit. Just last year, an Accuracy X gun won the Bianchi Cup Metallic Championship and the .45 Caliber National Championship at Camp Perry (Master Class). Their new Pro Series takes the company’s legendary competition expertise and packages it pistols meant for daily carry.

If I had to choose one of the three, it would be the Guardian.

If I had to choose one of the three, it would be the Guardian.

Accuracy X

For this review, I’ve been working with Steve Huff, President of Accuracy X. He has a long history of competitive shooting. As a competitor, Huff continually ran across 1911s with personality issues. Some didn’t like to get dirty. Others hated the cold. Some  shooters consider the venerated Browning design to be a divine gift, perfect in every way. Not Huff. His practical experience with guns that were supposed to be the best-of-the best showed him there was still room to improve on the 1911. And now he has his chance with Accuracy X.

Huff’s first concern was quality control. Companies that make their own parts can keep tabs on quality more easily. Accuracy X makes their own slides and frames and machine them from drop forged steel. There are no cast parts in their guns. All of the parts for the guns, even the ore itself, comes from the United States.

And Accuracy X isn’t churning out guns, either. At this point in the review, you may have noticed that the Buy-Now-On-GunsAmerica link at the top of the page takes you to Accuracy X. There are no pistols for sale with GunsAmerica stocking dealers (at least none that we could find on the site). Accuracy X makes a limited number of guns per year, and those guns sell. The guns are all made by hand and none of the process is rushed. If the pistols don’t meet the performance expectations in the Accuracy X guarantee, the guns go back to the workbench.

And though they proof test guns (something that I would recommend for all gun makers), they don’t stop there. They do long term testing, too, and monitor the way their design innovations and materials wear over time. If parts wear unevenly, they’re reexamined. If accuracy begins to degrade–back to the bench. They’ve got a gun now that they’ve put more than 10,000 rounds through in just a couple of months. All of this allows them to do what I only wish I could do in a review like this.

The Guardian.

The Guardian.

The Pro Series

Unlike some 1911 manufacturers that dress up their pistols, the Accuracy X Pro Series guns are meant to serve. These aren’t designed to be safe queens. In executing the tedious machinations of my Editorial role, I’ve run across some expensive guns. Most of them are beautiful, but not ones I’d want to carry on a daily basis. They seem like dress guns–meant to be worn with a tuxedo and a Rolex. I’m on the other end of that spectrum. I don’t accessorize. Ever. I don’t even own a watch. I’m a bluejeans and boots sort of guy, and if I have to dress up, there might be buttons on my shirt. There are not very many high-end 1911s that fit with that aesthetic. And if I’m crawling up under my jeep to work on something, I’m likely to take off my gun and put it in the toolbox. As I’m often driving around with my holster on, I’ll tuck my gun between the console and the seat. You see where I’m going with this. Daily carry means wear and tear. I tend to baby the expensive things I own, and you can’t baby a daily carry pistol. You can’t. You carry it. It doesn’t carry you.

These new Pro Series pistols are clearly not meant to be babied. They’re meant for daily use. Not that they look like your average Filipino Mil-Spec. They still manage to look good–but I think that is a far secondary consideration. The grips fit perfectly, the checkering is precise. The slide serrations are well cut–sharp enough for a good traction, but not so aggressive that they eat you up. All of these details are about function, not looks.

So if you’re looking for a 1911 with competition accuracy and daily carry ergonomics, check out these single actions.

The Defender

  • Full-sized stainless .45 ACP.
  • Mag capacity: 8 rounds
  • Barrel Length: 5 inches
  • Overall length: 8.7 inches
  • Sight radius: 6.6 inches
  • Adjustable sights
  • Height: 5.6 inches
  • Width: 1.3 inches
  • Weight: 38 oz.
  • Accuracy guarantee: 1.5 inches at 25 yards
  • MSRP: $2,995.00

The Defender.

The Defender.

The Recon

  • Full-sized black .45 ACP.
  • Mag capacity: 8 rounds
  • Barrel Length: 5 inches
  • Overall length: 8.7 inches
  • Sight radius: 6.6 inches
  • Tactical Sights
  • Height: 5.6 inches
  • Width: 1.3 inches
  • Weight: 40.4 oz.
  • Accuracy guarantee: 1.5 inches at 25 yards
  • MSRP: $3,195.00

The Recon.

The Recon.

The Guardian

  • Short commander length stainless .45 ACP.
  • Mag capacity: 7 rounds
  • Barrel Length: 4 inches
  • Overall length: 7.6 inches
  • Sight radius: 5.6 inches
  • Tactical Sights
  • Height: 5.1 inches
  • Width: 1.3 inches
  • Weight: 40.4 oz.
  • Accuracy guarantee: 1.5 inches at 25 yards
  • MSRP: $3,198.00

The Guardian.

The Guardian.

The differences between the guns are subtle. Grips, sights, length, finish. The Guardian stands out, mainly because of its short barrel and bobtail grip. The Recon’s Blackout finish is a chemical process and not a superficial coating. As all three are made of domestic 416 stainless steel and the Blackout finish can be applied to the Guardian or Defender.

Performance

I’m hard on single action pistols. We regularly get 1911s in the door that never falter. Ever. We’ll put the guns through a pretty typical battery of tests, and run 1,000 rounds through some of them, and they won’t hiccup. So how do you tell if something is actually amiss? The answer is you push them. You get them dirty. You get them really cold. You run them dry. You feed them anything and everything, and run all of your old beat up 1911 mags through the gun. Sometimes, we’ll go so far as to drop the guns in the sand or dirt, rinse them off in puddles, shake them out and put them back on the line.

While most 1911s will run fine under optimal conditions, once you add an element of chaos, they falter. They stovepipe. Rounds nosedive. The mags stick in tight mag wells. I’m going to say something here that is going to piss off a bunch of die-hard 1911 fanatics, but here it goes–I can make a 1911 fail in circumstances that most polymer framed pistols just shrug off like nothing.

This was the one and only malfcuntion of the whole review process, and it was likely human error and no fault of the Guardian.

This was the one and only malfunction of the whole review process, and it was likely human error and no fault of the Guardian.

So after all of the rigamarole about Accuracy X being the most reliable 1911s ever, I had super high expectations for the performance of these guns. Could this be the Holy Grail of 1911s?

In all of the testing, we only had one problem. The Guardian (the shorter bobtail) threw up a live round as the slide dropped on the last round. The picture is included here not as an indictment of the pistol, but as a weird testament of an malfunction that I’ve never seen before–ever–in all of the thousands of rounds I’ve fired from 1911s.

My bet is it was due to a mix of circumstances. The Metalform mag has an oddly shaped follower (photo below). We had no issues with the mags, and found them to be bomb-proof. It was damn cold the day we unboxed these guns, below freezing, and we’d been shooting for the better part of the morning. So my wrist was getting sore and my grip was influenced by the fact that I couldn’t feel my fingers. I think it may have been an odd wrist movement and a loose grip. Maybe the mag. It was so odd that I took a picture of it.

After, and on at least five separate range trips, I tried to replicate the problem. I couldn’t get it to do it again. That was the only problem from three guns. The guns can flat out run. They run dirty. The run cold. I wouldn’t hesitate to carry any one of these three guns, and that’s not a pronouncement I make about most 1911s.

Shooting

No problems to report here. Check the accuracy results. The company guarantees 1.5 inch groups at 25 yards. These guns do exactly what Accuracy X claims they can do, and maybe a bit better. So this section is going to be ridiculously short.

The Guardian.

A full mag through The Guardian form 25 yards.

The Recon.

Eight rounds from The Recon.

The Defender. I dropped that last shot.

Eight from The Defender. I dropped that last shot. The sights on this one allow for better accuracy, but I couldn’t ever get all eight in the same hole!

The Guardian again. My choice, easily.

The Guardian again. My choice, easily. With this kind of accuracy from a short barrel, why not?

Conclusions

Reviews like this are sometimes painfully hard to write. I sit down at the computer with all of my notes, batches of photos, and the guns, and I start plugging away at the draft. When a gun is terrible, the review writes itself. When there’s a philosophy of use at play (like the smallest .380, etc.), the review is easy enough. But when a gun works and does exactly what it promises to do? What then?

Recoil is easy to tame, even with freezing cold hands and a breakdown of good form.

Recoil is easy to tame, even with freezing cold hands and a breakdown of good form.

I can wax poetic about the experience of shooting. I can talk about how easy the guns are to carry. If you’re a single action fan, you’ll already be sold on this one. I can tell you what sets the guns apart from the others in their class, though when you’re talking about a pattern (like the 1911) with customizable features (like grips, sights, finishes, etc.), what typically sets the guns apart lies deeper in the craftsmanship. But at this price range, the craftsmanship better be damned good. So even that flies out the window.

Accuracy X is making a solid gun. The gun is very well built. The craftsmanship is above reproach. The fit and finish is superb and, like much of their competition, the closer you get to the gun, the better the workmanship looks. The price for this level of performance is also exactly what you’d expect, and right in line with the majority of the high-end shops.

I’m impressed with the company’s dedication to quality. They’re going out of their way to source from American suppliers–down to the ore itself. They’re not just building guns, they’re testing their own designs so the guns evolve as the institutional knowledge builds. And they’re pushing what is already a celebrated design to new levels of unfailing perfection.

Read on. Look through all of the photos below, and watch the videos I’ve linked in at the end. It’s worth it.

There is one more thing that sets Accuracy X apart. Because they’re a small shop, the smiths at Accuracy X can pay very close attention to every detail of construction. There are no corners cut to meet quotas. There is no rushing the process at all. And if there’s ever a problem with the way a gun runs, there’s no corporate bullshit standing between you and an immediate solution.

In the end, at least for me, this review is going to come down to this–as the reputation of Accuracy X continues to grow, these guns are only going to be harder to find. And the price may climb, too. There are just two spokes to this wheel: supply and demand. As demand increases–which it will–Accuracy X can increase supply. This is the typical path, and the one that often leads to lax quality control. My bet is that demand will increase and Accuracy X will keep doing what they’re doing. So now’s the time. Get in on the proverbial ground floor of the Pro Series guns. If our experiences with these pistols is any indication, you won’t be disappointed and the purchase price will be a sound investment.

Editor’s Note: Accuracy X pistols are currently sold through the company. There are not very many on the secondary market, as those who own them aren’t inclined to sell. They’re currently looking for dealers interested in carrying the Pro line of 1911s. If any of you FFLs out there want more information, contact the company and get some details.

The ambi safety on the Recon.

The ambi safety on the Recon.

The rear sight on the Guardian.

The rear Novak sight on the Guardian.

The trigger on the Guardian breaks at XX pounds.

The trigger on the Guardian breaks at 4.5 pounds.

The trigger on the Defender breaks at XX pounds.

The trigger on the Defender breaks at 5 pounds.

The top side of the Defender's Kensight sight.

The top side of the Defender’s Kensight sight.

The back of the Defender's sight is a clean, flat black.

The back of the Defender’s sight is a clean, flat black.

The sight from the side.

The sight from the side.

The tactical sight on the Recon is low drag. While I like the back side, I'd rather have a shelf on the front to help in one handed racking.

The tactical sight on the Recon is low drag. While I like the back side, I’d rather have a shelf on the front to help in one handed racking.

The view along the sight radius.

The view along the sight radius.

The rear sight on the Guardian.

The rear sight on the Recon.

The Recon broken down.

The Recon broken down.

The rifling in the Recon's barrel.

The rifling in the Recon’s barrel.

The Accuracy X.

The Accuracy X engraved logo is sharp and attractive.

The Recon in a Bravo Concealment holster.

The Recon in a Bravo Concealment holster. It is perfect for the gun.

The backside of the Bravo Concealment holster.

The backside of the Bravo Concealment holster.

The grips on the defender are very aggressive.

The grips on the defender are very aggressive.

The mags fit flush on the defender.

The mags fit flush on the defender.

The black finish on the hammer adds a nice accent.

The black finish on the hammer adds a nice accent.

The grips on the Guardian are far less aggresive, but they still offer a solid texture.

The grips on the Guardian are far less aggressive, but they still offer a solid texture. They’re cut like a single-cut file.

check out the serial number. We're getting a very early look at these.

Check out the serial number. We’re getting a very early look at these.

Check out the fit.

Every aspect of the gun is mated together for a perfect fit.

The solid aluminum triggers are a nice touch, too.

The solid aluminum triggers are a nice touch, too.

The checkering on the backstrap stops at the bobtail.

The checkering on the backstrap stops at the bobtail.

The Recon has a flared mag well, but came with a typical 8 round mag. I think it was a simple oversight.

The Recon has a flared mag well, but came with a typical 8 round mag. I think it was a simple oversight.

The finish on the Recon isn't an overlay. It is the product of a chemical reaction...

The finish on the Recon isn’t an overlay. It is the product of a chemical reaction that turns the stainless black.

The Recon's rail.

The Recon’s rail.

The checkering on the front strap is very fine.

The checkering on the front strap is very fine.

Side view of the Recon's frame and slide.

Side view of the Recon’s frame and slide.

Black on black at the back of the Recon.

Black on black at the back of the Recon.

Checkering detail.

Checkering detail.

Backstrap checkering.

Backstrap checkering.

Slide serrations on the Recon are on the rear and the front of the slide.

Slide serrations on the Recon are on the rear and the front of the slide.

The fit is exacting, even on the slide stop.

The fit is exacting, even on the slide stop.

Full length guide rod and matched barrels.

Full length guide rod and matched barrels.

The logo and serrations on the front of the Recon.

The logo and serrations on the front of the Recon.

My OCD wants the bevels on the grip to match the angles on the frame.

My OCD wants the bevels on the grip to match the angles on the frame. But check out how perfectly the outside row of checkering is cut in half. That is good work.

The Guardian's rear sight.

The Guardian’s rear sight.

The front sight on the Guardian.

The front sight on the Guardian.

Having all three on the range .

Having all three on the range .

I love the way the Guardian balances and I'm a sucker for a bobtail grip.

I love the way the Guardian balances and I’m a sucker for a bobtail grip.

The Metal Form mags work well, though the shape of the follower will leave you scratching your head at first.

The Metal Form mags work well, though the shape of the follower will leave you scratching your head at first.

The rounded follower pushes the last round up a bit higher.

The rounded follower pushes the last round up a bit higher.

The oddly shaped follower is one piece of steel, and doesn't tilt.

The oddly shaped follower is one piece of steel, and doesn’t tilt.

The Guardian again.

The Guardian again.

The xx.

The Defender. One round slightly out.

Seven in, one out again.

Seven in, one out again.

The Recon.

The Recon.

Even from the holster, the Recon puts rounds right on the spot.

Even from the holster, the Recon puts rounds right on the spot.