|Home - Volume 3 (2008) - Issue 1 (Winter '08) - Pistol Review: Charles Daly EFS|
Charles Daly EFS Field 1911 A-1 .45 AC
A Gun Test by Steve Clark (Rio Vista Slim, )
This photograph reflects the results of 16 shots fired at the initial targets of the day, from a distance of 15 yards. Pistol was fired from a seated position, with my forearms resting on my knees. The left hand target was engaged with the Charles Daly EFS Field .45 ACP, while the right hand target was the result of firing my personally owned Series 70 Colt.
This gun test begins with an anomaly!
One of the first things I do when I get a new test pistol home, is dry fire the weapon to check the trigger pull. I then measure that pull with a Lyman Digital Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge, and follow up with my tried and true RCBS spring operated gauge. Something was definitely amiss. My manual squeezing of the trigger revealed some take-up, then a crisp release. The gauges, however, wouldn't operate the pistol! Grasping the gun again, I couldn't get the trigger to move enough to release the sear without applying a great deal of pressure. Since I also clean the test pistols before firing them, I field stripped the gun, thoroughly cleaning the exposed parts. I reassembled the EFS, lubricated it, and tried the gauges again. Trigger pulls averaged 4.75 pounds with both gauges. Manual operation revealed no difficulties, so I loaded up eight rounds of Winchester/Wally World 230 gr. full metal jacketed cartridges, and went outside to do some preliminary shooting.
The target pictured at the start of this review reveals what happened. My first shot went dead center, as did the second and third shots. Somehow, I must have shifted my grip slightly before attempting the fourth shot, as the trigger became difficult to operate. The resulting jerk threw that bullet high to the right of the bullseye. Shot number five was jerked to the lower left of the bull when I anticipated a hard pull, but the gun fired normally. The remaining three shots hit the bullseye. I fired my own pistol at the second target, to prove to myself that I wasn't suffering from one of my all-too-frequent "Lousy" shooting days!
I believe my hand position on the pistol caused this problem, and I'll report further on this issue in the "Evaluation" portion of the review.
The Charles Daly EFS Field 1911 A-1 arrived at Great Guns in Burleson, Texas shortly after a letter and follow-up phone call had been placed to Michael Kassnar, the president of KBI, Inc., the parent company of Charles Daly "The Shooting Sports Specialist". Mr. Kassnar's administrative assistant had told me I would be receiving one of the pistols due in the next shipment, and she was as good as her word.
The pistol arrived in a black plastic clamshell case, lined with black egg-crate foam. In addition to the gun (wrapped in a plastic bag), the case also contained two extended base 8 round Novak magazines, the instruction manual, the Charles Daly warranty card, and a coupon worth a $10 discount for joining the National Rifle Association. Two fired cartridge casings in a separate envelope and two safety circulars were also in the case. While the clamshell case is lockable, no lock was included.
The EFS is manufactured for Charles Daly by Arms Corporation of the Philippines, also known as Armscor. The finish on the entire pistol is a satin matte blue, with the exceptions of the barrel and trigger.
The left side of the slide features the "Charles Daly" name, with six slanted cocking serrations on the front, and seven slanted cocking serrations to the rear. The right side of the slide has only the front and rear cocking serrations. The slide is rounded, with fixed combat-style sights dovetailed to the muzzle and breech ends. The rear sight's back face is recessed into the unit, and horizontally serrated to help eliminate glare. The front sight has a ramped, non-serrated blade, and the unit is not contoured to the roundness at the top of the slide.
The ejection port is lowered and flared, and extraction of fired cartridge casings was positive, with empties landing 5 to 10 feet to my right, and slightly behind my firing position. None of these casings was dented or damaged in any way.
The polished five inch barrel is solidly mated with the corresponding lugs in the slide. No unexpected movement was detected during the duration of the tests.
The rear of the slide blends well with the frame. The extractor seems to disappear, a further sign of quality manufacturing. The black elongated Commander-style hammer is likewise well fitted, and has a true half-cock notch.
Slide to frame fit on the Charles Daly EFS is quite good, and no side-to-side movement was felt throughout the duration of the test. The grip safety (with palm swell) blends in nicely to the rear of the frame. The serrated main spring housing aligns perfectly with the magazine well. The Charles Daly web site states the magazine well is slightly beveled, but that was not the case on my example.
The ambidextrous thumb safety is reminiscent of the safety found on the Rock Island Armory Tactical model, in that the right side safety is held in place by a groove in the sear pin, which corresponds to a shelf on the safety. Both the left and right sides have serrated, long extensions, and functioned with a crisp, positive "click". The slide stop is of standard dimensions, with serrations running its length.
The double diamond hardwood stocks fit the grip portion of the frame very well. These stocks are secured with 3/32 inch blue hex head screws.
The front strap is smooth. The dust cover is stamped with the country of origin (Philippines), as well as the United States distribution point in Nevada.
The shiny metal trigger is grooved on its face, and other than the barrel and wooden stocks, is the only contrast to the blue surface treatment of the firearm. The magazine release is vertically serrated.
The Charles Daly EFS field strips in the classic manner of the Colt Government models. The barrel bushing was tightly fitted to the barrel, but a bushing wrench was not needed to turn this part. While the insides of the gun showed some minor tool marks, nothing was present to cause any concern, or adversely affect the functioning of the pistol.
(NOTE: The ambidextrous safety caused me to do a little "head scratching", in that the sear pin holds the right side safety in place. Although most folks won't detail strip their guns immediately after purchase, there are good instructions in the Model 1911 Pistols Organization Home Page that cover this procedure, should one so desire.)
In spite of my initial trigger difficulties with the Charles Daly EFS, I found the pistol to be a distinct pleasure when actual shooting began. Prior to serious accuracy and chronographic tests, I like to fire rounds downrange to determine functional reliability, combat-type accuracy, and the intangible "fun factor" of the weapon. I used Winchester White Box 230 gr. FMJ ammunition for these exercises, and the pistol burned up 84 rounds without a hitch. The sights are very well regulated, placing the bullets precisely where aimed. If you will recall the targets at the beginning of this article, you'll notice the EFS was grouping its shots dead center on the target. This degree of accuracy was apparent whether the target was paper, aluminum cans, steel plates, or swinging plastic milk jugs, filled with water.
Most of this "fun" time was conducted at ranges from 5 to 10 yards, with an occasional longer shot taken at cans that had "walked" away after repeatedly being hit. With this initial shooting out of the way, it was time to give the gun a slight cleaning and wipe down, and proceed to the scientific portion of the test.
Chronograph and Accuracy Readings
My Competitive Edge Dynamics Millennium Chronograph has been a reliable tool for every one of the gun tests I have written. When set up correctly, the readings are reliably accurate. For this portion of the test, I was blessed with a beautiful late winter day. Light variable wind, clear skies, and an ambient temperature in the low 70s contributed to an outstanding experience. The diffuser screens were set up 12 feet from the muzzle of the EFS, while the targets were 25 yards from the firing line.
Although the owner's manual states Charles Daly doesn't guarantee reliable feeding of jacketed hollow point ammunition, I tried a couple of different brands in the EFS. The pistol not only functioned well with these loads, it seemed to "love" the Hornady 200 gr. JHP. This was the fastest round tested in the gun, and it also delivered accuracy equal to the Federal Gold Match 185 gr. FMJ/SWC ammo. In fact, the pistol reliably functioned throughout the shooting tests, delivering a degree of accuracy that rivals some of the high-end pistols I have tested. Due to increased costs of ammunition, I did not fire my usual 500+ rounds. One hundred WWB 230 gr. FMJ, one hundred Federal American Eagle 230 gr. FMJ, fifty Winchester 230 gr. JHP, twenty-five Federal Gold Match 185 gr. FMJ/SWC, and forty Hornady 200 gr. JHP cartridges were fired during the duration of these tests.
There was, however, one notable issue!
Comedy routines aside, I was more than pleased with the accuracy and reliability of the Charles Daly EFS Field .45 ACP. After replacing the destroyed part, I finished the chronograph portion of the test, and fired a final 20 rounds of Hornady JHP ammo at some "politically incorrect" targets.
I received the Charles Daly EFS .45 ACP pistol shortly before the beginning of the annual SHOT Show. Mr. Michael Kassnar was, of course, in Las Vegas when I discovered the problem with the trigger on this weapon. Since this is not my personally owned gun, I didn't feel right about a detail strip of the pistol without Mr. Kassnar's blessing. As long as I maintained a good grip, the trigger released the sear after about four and one-half to five pounds of pressure. Through the firing of 315 rounds of ammunition, I only experienced the hard trigger pull twice while actually shooting the weapon. Adjusting my grip alleviated whatever the difficulty was. Most of the aforementioned hard trigger pulls were associated with trying to gauge the weight of the pull. I am NOT a gunsmith, and an explanatory letter will accompany the pistol on its return to KBI.
With that issue out of the way, I'll continue with my summation.
I never tested a gun manufactured by Armscor in the Philippines that I didn't like, and I have tested all of the Armscor guns for the M1911.ORG E-zine. The Armscor manufactured guns are well built, exceedingly reliable, and as accurate as most shooters would demand. The EFS is no exception. In fact, the similarities between the Charles Daly EFS and the previously tested Rock Island Armory Tactical .45 are obvious. But while sharing some of the same parts, there are differences that can be seen when comparing the two. I prefer the hardwood double diamond stocks on the EFS. I also appreciate the satin matte blue appearance of the EFS over the parkerized finish of the Tactical. These are mostly aesthetic preferences, but the role of any reviewer is to assess the pros and cons of a product as objectively as possible, offering personal opinions where warranted.
The EFS balances in the hand as well as any Government model size pistol I've ever fired. Targets are quickly acquired through the combat-style sights, and the excellent ejection of fired casings means you don't have to duck flying brass while rapidly emptying the magazine. As an aside, the 8 round Novak magazines with extended base plate functioned flawlessly during the shooting tests. While I would have preferred to try a wider variety of JHP ammunition, several of the gun stores in my area were sold out of my favorite brands and loads. I have no doubt the EFS would have been able to shoot them all.
Michael Kassnar's dedication to quality service and customer support has been apparent since he took over the reins at KBI. That level of commitment means the buyer of a Charles Daly gun can rest assured the company will stand behind its products.
An economically priced 1911 sometimes gives something up in fit, finish, or function. It is quite refreshing to take a Charles Daly gun out of the box, wipe it down, and fire faultless rounds, with no "manufacturer's suggested break-in" involved. As stated previously, the pistol digested a variety of ammunition without stoppages of any kind. This pistol would be a welcome addition to anyone's collection, and I urge those shopping for a 1911 to give serious consideration to the KBI/Charles Daly line-up of pistols, particularly the EFS Field .45 ACP.
Although Mr. Michael Kassnar of KBI, Inc. and I have been playing unsuccessful phone tag since the end of the SHOT Show, he was the man behind my prompt receipt of the EFS test pistol. I do look forward to speaking with him soon, to express my gratitude in the professional way the gun was shipped to my FFL, and to thank him for allowing the M1911.ORG E-zine the opportunity to evaluate his product. Should I miss you again, Mr. Kassnar, please accept my sincere thanks.
Speaking of FFLs, were it not for Bill Lamb's diligence in tracking me down, I might have caused a delay in the testing of the Charles Daly EFS. As Bill will be moving onward into newer endeavors, I can only say a heartfelt "THANKS, BILL". You are a true friend.
Finally, Charles Hardy at Competitive Edge Dynamics deserves my thanks as well. Keep an eye on your incoming orders, Charles, as I shot up another one!!!!!!!
Charles Daly EFS Field 1911 A-1 .45 ACP
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Web site: http://www.charlesdaly.com
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|Home - Volume 3 (2008) - Issue 1 (Winter '08) - Pistol Review: Charles Daly EFS|