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Christian Sandklev
27th October 2017, 09:37
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Doublestar PHD Review

Reviewed by Christian Sandklev for M1911.ORG

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Winchester, Kentucky, based firearm manufacturer Doublestar Corporation originally began life in 1977 as J&T Munitions. Eventually becoming J&T Enterprises, the family-owned and operated business formed the Doublestar Corporation in 2001. After years of offering parts and accessories for the AR-15 platform rifle, the company began offering complete builds of high quality firearms. The modern, 64,000 square-foot facility boasts a machine shop with lathes, mills and CNC machinery, producing high quality AR-15 Rifles, 1911 pistols, and parts.

M1911.ORG had contacted Laura Burgess from Laura Burgess Marketing to arrange sending me a Doublestar PHD (Personal Home Defense) 1911 pistol for testing. Literally within a few days, the pistol arrived at my FFL for my review.


What you get:


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The pistol comes in the typical clam shell plastic case with owners manual, one magazine, an Allen tool for sight adjustment, and instructions for the XS Express Sight System.

The Doublestar PHD pistol is a 5 inch Government model sized pistol which features a cast steel frame, carbon steel slide and stainless steel match barrel.

Before continuing, let me go over what I perceive as the intended use of this pistol.

In event of a home intrusion, where one is forced to defend himself/herself or family, a defense has to be employed that can quickly and efficiently neutralize the threat. My first line of defense is my 12 Gauge pump shotgun, and my second choice is any one of my 1911 pistols. Until very recently, I thought that my pistols with Novak sights were among the best choices for this task ... I was wrong. What is offered here is a pistol that is meant for home defense. The time-proven 1911 design with its inherent safeties in both the grip and thumb plus .45ACP stopping power is a great start. The best enhancement is the use of the XS® Express Sights System.

XS® Express sights explained:


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The XS® Express Sights system simply centers an oversize dot on the front sight post above a V-groove rear sight that is enhanced with a single, vertical line.


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There is no “equal light centering” for front post / rear aperture. Few of us can ever know if we will be able to align the front post with the rear aperture of a conventional sight system during the extreme stress of a gun fight. The oversized front dot and rear V channel of the XS® Express Sights remove the necessity and give a faster alignment of the pistol's sight radius. Our pistol came equipped with a Tritium insert for the front sight.


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Under the unimaginable stress of a shootout, the quickest way to get on target with primary and follow-up shots can mean the difference between life and death. The XS® Express Sights system puts you on target fast and accurately.

Other common sense enhancements:

The pistol offers Magpul grips with a thumb relief cut on the left grip panel to facilitate access to the magazine release. They have a tactile, stippled surface instead of the traditional serration pattern.


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The top of the slide has been flat topped with serrations to reduce glare and also sports a Browning High-Power cut nose.


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Large and wide rear cocking serrations give a good purchase when racking the slide. The lightweight aluminum mainspring housing is made “in house,” and the rounded butt eliminates a sharp edge for those with big hamburger hands. The obligatory lowered and flared ejection port ensures spent cases clear the weapon reliably. A Wilson Combat high ride grip safety with memory bump is employed over a standard grip safety. The pistol offers a durable Parkerized Manganese Phosphate coating to inhibit rust and corrosion.


Build quality and other standard features:

The lightened aluminum three-hole trigger broke smoothly with very little take-up. My RCBS trigger gauge measured the trigger at 3¾ pounds. There is an over-travel adjustment screw in the trigger pad, should the need arise to adjust follow through and reset. Our pistol seemed to be set up just the way I like it.


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The Storm Lake barrel comes fitted with a National Match bushing and is fitted perfectly. The representative that I spoke with at Doublestar said that the barrel is manufactured to Doublestar's specifications.


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The Ed Brown thumb safety had a positive engagement/disengagement with no sloppy or loose feeling. Cylinder and Slide provided the forged slide stop. A lightweight "Commander type" hammer ensures reliable ignition. A lightly beveled magazine well aids in magazine changes.


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An additional safety measure is the use of a "Series 80" type firing pin block to reduce the possibility of a discharge if the pistol is dropped.


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The fit and finish are excellent for the price point. The slide and frame are mated flawlessly, with no vertical or side to side play, and the action cycles like it's on ball bearings. The frame and mainspring housing fitting is nice and even from top to bottom with no gaps whatsoever. An interesting thing is that Doublestar deviates from the standards of mainspring housings, their MSH is neither a flat nor an arched one (as we know them), instead if is a "rounded bottom" MSH. It helps a lot when carrying the pistol for extended duration.


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In the pictures below, you can see how the frame is machined to match the curved MSH.


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With the pistol in battery, the barrel locked up solidly with only the slightest vertical movement when the barrel hood is pressed down. I found the sights snug and nestled tightly in the dovetails. The trigger had no vertical or side-to-side movement in the frame.

If one had to nitpick, the bottom edges of the slide showed some tool marks but this doesn't present any detriment to the function of the pistol at all and can't even be seen. The mainspring housing has rather wide vertical serrations that are just three shallow ball cuts oriented vertically. I feel they are there for appearance rather than functionality. I would prefer something a little finer, sharper cut, and closer together. Like so many other manufacturers these days, only one magazine is supplied. It escapes me why they do this, given the low relative expense of magazines. The Parkerized finish is intended to be low maintenance but I would like to see the pistol finished in a black nitride or something similar. This is my personal preference and is for appearance only. If the pistol is going to be kept in a nightstand or dresser drawer, the occasional wipe down is all that's needed for the Parkerized finish.

The Doublestar PHD strips just like any other Series 80 pistol.


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First Range test

I employed the help of some family and friends to help get their impressions and opinions of the PHD. My daughter, Ashley, was most familiar with the 1911 platform and has a commander-sized pistol as her everyday carry. My friend, Tim Carter, shoots with me often and, although he doesn't own a 1911, he shoots mine quite well. The last person I called upon is my colleague, Alexander Jestness ( who accompanied me on the second day range test), who has never shot a 1911 and who is most familiar with his Sig 9mm.

With the intended purpose of personal defense in mind, we agreed that typical defensive distances of 7, 10 and 12 yards was a good start. Law enforcement qualification silhouettes were used, in order to concentrate on center mass type hits and to press our abilities for rapid fire.

Before loading her up, as a precaution I ran a lightly oiled patch down the barrel to ensure it was clean. To provide as much seamless shooting as possible, I used a few magazines from my personal arsenal. I added two ACT magazines that are identical to the magazine provided, as well as five Mec-Gar 8-rounders and two Chip McCormick Power Mags. Each magazine was loaded with five rounds of Winchester 230-grain full metal jacket ammo.

I suggested we start with slow fire to acclimate ourselves with the XS Express sight system, as none of us had used it before. My daughter, Ashley, was first up and she shot a few five-shot strings, all hitting a bit low and left. I took note of how she managed the recoil and muzzle flip, and felt that this pistol was no different than the many 1911s she has shot before. After a slight adjustment on her part, she started hitting center mass very consistently but still favored the left side of the target. Tim Carter was next up to the line. After his first magazine, he started making tight groups with the next three magazines but they, too, were about three inches left of center. It was clear to me that he thought he was bullseye shooting. His modified Weaver stance seems to favor his ability to align the XS Express Sights system well. I was last up to the line and, after running through the first magazine and making left side deposits, the pistol's slide failed to lock open on the last round. I reloaded and went back to work just to see if the lock open was a fluke. After five more down the tube, she again failed to lock open. It was clear to me that the rear sight had to be drifted to the right a little and that the pistol needed to be inspected. I retreated to the bench and did a quick field strip and realized the pistol was very dry inside. I added a few drops of oil to the slide stop pin, barrel link and slide rails before I pressed it back into action. I elected not to move the sight because I could get my results with the pistol as it was. The rest of my round went without a hitch. The pistol performed with boring consistency and the slide locked open after every final shot. I found that the XS Express Sight system came up to sight very easily and came back on sight quickly after every round fired. I must confess that after seeing these sights offered online at all the big part retailers, I discounted them as a gimmick and never gave them a second thought. I've been wrong before and this was no exception. I couldn't wait to put the pistol through some rapid fire drills!

To properly evaluate and judge the function and reliability of the PHD, I wanted to use personal defense hollow point ammunition. I brought along some Federal Hydra-Shok 165 grain rounds, Hornady Critical Defense 185 grain FTX, hand loads of Hornady XTP 185 grains over 5 grains of TiteGroup, and Montana Gold 230 grain JHP over 4.9 grains of Bullseye. The magazines were refilled and we went back to business.


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My daughter, Ashley, stepped up to the line with four fresh magazines loaded with the 185-grain XTPs and started laying down some rapid fire shooting. The silhouettes showed good center mass hits through the first magazine, with one “flier” hitting the left of target or the target's right shoulder area. Her remaining three magazines were all good, boiler room hits that averaged about 3 to 5 inches or so. Tim Carter loaded up with the Hornady Critical Defense loads and started his rapid fire drill. Now, Tim is a great shot (better than me) when it comes to slow fire but his groups open up quite a bit when he's asked to shoot fast. His silhouettes had decent center mass hits but his groups were a tad larger than Ashley's through the first two magazines. Taking a few deep breaths before the final two magazines, Tim went back to work. His final two magazines showed me that he could get it done. His groups tightened up to around 3½ to 4 inches and he proved his worthiness, albeit grouped a little to the left of center.

My round consisted of two magazines of the Montana Gold JHPs and two magazines of the Federal Hydra-Shok. I don't consider myself a “ringer” but I do try to shoot at least 100 rounds a month, shooting strong hand, weak hand and rapid fire as often as I can. My groups were a bit better than I usually do with my 1911s that I normally practice with. Leaving names aside, one of those pistols is a $3800 custom. My groups were all about 3 inches and the Federal Hydra-Shoks really performed well, as they are reduced recoil loads. All rounds were well placed, left center mass hits and I was thrilled how fast I was able to get back on target! The Express Sight system is, in my opinion, so much easier and so much faster than the familiar two humps and a bump or the well-known sights of Heinie and Novak.

We repeated our drills until the ammo was used up. We varied the distances from 7 to 12 yards We also took note that during magazine drops, they came free of the pistol without any hang-ups, and reloads were quick and seamless. The four different hollow point rounds went through that pistol perfectly and cycled flawlessly. It made no difference which bullet profile or which magazine was used, she ate them up.


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Second Range Test (accuracy)

Initially, I didn't consider testing the PHD for accuracy. I felt that the large oversized front sight and simple V-notch rear sight wouldn't lend easily to consistent measurable groups but I put it through the accuracy test all the same. I tried to procure the same ammo that was used for the first range test and was successful in doing so. I also shot some Winchester White Box 230-grain FMJ for good measure as well.

My friend, Alexander Jestness, accompanied me on the second range day to see how the PHD would shoot off the sand bags. A small card table was set up at 15 yards and smaller, small bore rifle targets were set up on the back stop. The targets had two 6-inch circles with 4-inch orange centers to provide good references and contrast.

Once again, the Winchester ammunition was loaded up to provide some warm up shooting before we went on to the more expensive hollow point ammunition. Xander (as he's known to his friends) shot several magazines off-hand first to acclimate himself with the pistol. Even having never shot the 1911 platform, he shot quite well. In spite of the defensive nature of the sight system, he said he can shoot the PHD more accurately than his Sig 9mm. I told him that after shooting off the bags I would like to see him shoot it rapid fire and see how he does. As you would guess, he was all about that idea!

I set up for the first round with four magazines filled with Federal Hydra-Shok, Hornady Critical Defense, hand loads of the XTPs and Montana Golds that I used in the first test. The first magazine full shot a bit low and, as expected, to the left also. A slight adjustment on my part started printing them where they needed to be. Throwing away the results from the first magazine, I recorded my data through my remaining three magazines. Xander and I switched places and ran the same drills back and forth three times.

Accuracy results


Doublestar PHD

Ammo|Avg. Group (inches)|Avg. Group (mm)|Best Group (inches)|Best Group (mm)

Hornady Critical Defense 185-gr JHP|
2.55"|
65 |
2.28"|
58

Hand-load Montana Gold 230-gr JHP|
1.90"|
48 |
1.65"|
42

Hand-load Hornady XTP 185-gr JHP|
1.86"|
47 |
1.61"|
41

Federal Hydra-Shok 165-gr JHP|
1.78"|
45 |
1.59"|
40

Winchester White Box 230-gr FMJ|
2.88"|
73 |
2.25"|
57




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And here is a small video from our testing of the Doublestar PHD 1911 pistoll.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuxWdHrbLsE&t=11s


Conclusions

Upon my tests and observation of the Doublestar PHD Pistol, I conclude that this pistol is very well suited for home defense and should not be ruled out as a personal defense pistol either. As I stated earlier, I always felt that any number of my 1911s that I posses would be adequate for home defense, BUT ... I just found something that will do the job better. Through the decades, many custom manufacturers and pistolsmiths have modified, adjusted and added to the 100+ year old design of the 1911 to enhance its fighting ability but failed to realize something as obvious as the sight system. Sure, they have made the gun among the most accurate to shoot in competition, but they kind of forgot about its original purpose and that's defense. Doublestar has offered a purely “purpose built” 1911 pistol that will do the work that it's intended to do and do that job quite a bit better than most others. Our test pistol fired 250 rounds of various ammunition without a single stoppage or failure to fire. In my circles, we usually run at least 250 rounds through a pistol before we decide to use it for carry, I felt very good about this one.

The impressions of my daughter and friends were about the same as mine. Overall they were very impressed with the speed and recovery for follow-up shots and the general handling of the pistol. My daughter thought the grips were a little too aggressive for a day's worth of shooting but would keep one on her nightstand if she had one.

Both men who helped me loved it and want one of their own!


Specifications


{colsp=2}Doublestar PHD
Caliber:|.45 ACP
Overall Length:|7.38" (187 mm)
Overall Height:|5.75" (146 mm mm)
Barrel Length:|5" (127 mm)
Sights:|XS® Express Sights
Weight w/o magazine:|33 oz (0.94 kg)
Magazine Capacity:|8 rounds
Grips:|Magpul rubber grips
Finish:|Manganese Phosphate
MSRP:|$1369.99



You may discuss this review, in our Forums Site (https://forum.m1911.org/showthread.php?109949-Doublestar-PHD-Review-discussion-thread&p=994292#post994292).

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Sources

Pistol

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DoubleStar Corp.
USA
Tel: 859-745-1757
https://star15.com


Acknowledgments

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Laura Burgess Marketing
P.O. Box 13978
New Bern, NC 28561
USA
Phone: 252-288-5805
Fax: 252-288-5806
http://lauraburgess.com/


Toby and Brenda Simmons
B & T Grocery
Address: 5730 Us Highway 17 S # A, New Bern, NC 28562
Phone: (252) 633-0590

Timothy Carter
Alexander Jestness
Ashley Sandklev