SHOT Show 2020

Photo courtesy of National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF)

Reported by Harwood Loomis for M1911.ORG

As has happened in the past, John Caradimas (a.k.a. Fearless Leader or El Comandante), wasn’t able to make the trip to Las Vegas this year so he asked me if I could cover the SHOT Show for in his place. I missed the show last year due to illness and I felt that this year I owed myself a vacation, so I accepted and agreed to go in his stead.

Three years ago I wrote, “The show gets bigger every year.” That’s still an accurate statement. The 2017 SHOT Show had 1,600 exhibitors. The media kit distributed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) reports that the 2020 SHOT Show has 2,545 exhibitors. To be clear: these were not all firearms exhibitors. The SHOT Show is widely perceived as a “gun” show but, in reality, it’s a lot more than that. The name itself is an acronym for Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trades. There were an awful lot of firearms makers and manufacturers of firearms parts and accessories represented, of course, but there were also exhibitors who make and/or sell camping gear, hunting equipment and clothing, police equipment, first aid kits and supplies, and any number of other things relating to outdoor activities and sports.

That said, I was there for the guns, and for the 1911s in particular. Not that it helped much. The Sands Convention Center is a huge facility, and the SHOT Show takes over the entire venue. Not only are the two main exhibition floors filled with exhibits, several upper floors also have exhibitors using smaller conference spaces, and lining the corridors. It’s a mad house. A couple of years ago someone told me that there were twelve miles of aisle in the show. I have no way of measuring that, but I absolutely believe it; my legs wouldn’t lie. Some statistics from a display in the show’s press room:

● 12.5 miles of aisle
● 2,545 exhibitors
● 656,000 square feet of display space (13 acres)
● 2,400 journalists and media professionals cover the show
● To visit every exhibitor in the show, you would be able to spend 22 seconds at each (with no time out for food, drink, or bathroom breaks)

In a word … it’s BIG

Obviously, the show is far too large for one person, or even two or three, to visit every exhibit. Although I’m interested in a number of different types of firearm, my assignment for this show was to visit every exhibitor I could find who makes or sells 1911s, and report back for the readers of this publication. I endeavored to carry out the assignment faithfully.

In a few weeks, the M1911 will officially be 109 years old (from date of adoption by the U.S. Ordnance Department. After more than a century, it’s probably safe to say that the 1911 is a “mature” design. Over the years, mostly the past 25 or so years, various manufacturers and custom pistolsmiths have made tweaks to the 1911 in the name of improvement. But it’s hard to improve the work of a genius. Some of those tweaks may have had merit; others were not particularly successful, and some were outright disasters. Going into the show, therefore, I didn’t anticipate seeing much real innovation. Over the past couple of years, in fact, it seemed that what some manufacturers were proclaiming as new models were nothing more than standard models with custom (sometimes rather garish) paint schemes applied. However, I was surprised to find a couple of examples of real innovation. Stay tuned – I’ll discuss them when I get to their makers.

Reviewing my notes and recollections after I had departed Las Vegas, I realized to my dismay that I had overlooked both STI and Ruger. I have no explanation for how or why I missed STI. In the case of Ruger, it was my fault. I walked past the Ruger exhibit probably half dozen times. The problem is that I am a long-time owner of a Ruger Single Six revolver and a Ruger Blackhawk revolver. My mind simply associates Ruger with single action revolvers, and I completely forgot that they also make 1911s. My apologies to STI and to Ruger. If I missed any other manufacturer of 1911 pistols, I also apologize. It definitely wasn’t intentional.

In order not to slight or favor any 1911 maker over another, I’ll go through those we visited in alphabetical order:

American Tactical (ATI)

American Tactical is perhaps best known for being the importers of the popular German-made GSG 1911 pistols. From what began as a simple .22 rimfire copy of standard, full-size 1911 pistol, this line has expended to include compact models and models with tactical rails, as well as cosmetic finish options.

In addition to the GSG 1911 line of .22 rimfire pistols, ATI also imports a line of centerfire 1911 pistols manufactured by Shooters Arms Manufacturing in the Philippines. The line includes full-size (5-inch), Commander-size (4¼-inch), and Compact-size (3⅛-inch).

Armscor (Rock Island)

First off, kudos to Armscor for being in the 21st century. Out of all the exhibitors we visited, Armscor was one of only two who had their media package ready to hand out on a thumb drive. It was simply mind boggling to find that, in this digital age, most companies were still handing out printed catalogs and promotional literature. I don’t get it.

I was exceptionally fortunate to arrive at the Armscor booth at a time on Wednesday morning when Lisa Tuason wasn’t in a meeting. I didn’t have an appointment, but Lisa graciously spent a quarter of an hour with me to bring me up to speed. They didn’t have any new semi-automatic pistols to announce this year, but Lisa explained that since the introduction of the double stack .22 TCM pistols there has been a lot of confusion over the fact that it ships with both the .22 TCM barrel and a 9mm barrel. To address this, Lisa told me they are “relaunching” the .22 TCM platform for 2020. The full explanation is found in their press release dated January 3, 2020:

Rock Island Armory has announced changes to its TCM line of 1911 firearms. Effective immediately, all TCM pistols will feature a double stack 17-round magazine to save time in reloading. In addition, the line was trimmed to the three most popular pistols.

The most notable change to the TCM line is that they will no longer come with a 9mm conversion barrel, meaning all TCMs will now exclusively fire the proprietary 22TCM round from Armscor. For shooters still wanting versatility in a firearm, 22TCM9R conversion barrels will be available on select Rock Island Armory 9mm pistols.

For those who own a .22 TCM pistol (or rifle), Lisa confirmed that reloading dies are available from Lee Precision.

The only addition to the Armscor / Rock Island handgun lineup for 2020 is a line of revolvers chambered in .357 Magnum and 9mm. Readers may recall that we reviewed the Armscor M200 and M206 revolvers several years ago. However, those are chambered in .38 Special and the design isn’t robust enough to lend itself to adapting it to fire .357 Magnum. To fill this gap in their lineup, Armscor has partnered with a Czechoslovakian gun maker to import and sell a series of high-quality, affordable revolvers. The AL3.0 is finished in a high-polished blue, and the AL3.1 is stainless steel. In addition, the companion AL9.0 is chambered in 9mm Parabellum.

Cabot Guns / Alchemy Custom Weaponry

When I arrived at the Cabot Guns booth I found Rob Bianchin, the President of Cabot Guns, at a rare moment when he wasn’t in discussion with a customer about configuring a Cabot 1911 for custom purchase. My question for Rob was, “What’s new for Cabot Guns this year?” The answer surprised me. Rather than show me a striking new Cabot pistol made from some exotic material like a meteorite (okay, how can you top that?), Rob took me to the other end of the booth and introduced me to Rob Schauland and Alchemy Custom Weaponry. Cabot Guns has acquired Alchemy Custom Weaponry as a way of expanding their line of 1911 pistols. The Alchemy Custom offerings will be top quality, but not manufactured using the CNC grinding techniques that make Cabot Guns so unique. Rob (Schauland) showed me several of the guns Alchemy produces, and explained that they put a lot of effort into producing extremely fine finishes.

The Alchemy Custom lineup is based on three standard size configurations: A “CCO” size (a Commander–length slide and barrel mounted on an Officers ACP compact frame); a standard Commander model on a full-size frame; and a full-size (5-inch) pistol. Since Rob (Schauland) is a master gunsmith who worked for some of the best-known 1911 makers in the industry before branching off, the Alchemy pistols are hand-fitted in the traditional manner, as opposed to the Cabot method of machining the critical parts to tolerances that would make an aerospace engineer green with envy. In addition, Alchemy pistols come with an accuracy guarantee. All the pistols are guaranteed to shoot 1.5 inches at 25 yards with quality ammunition. As an option, an upgraded accuracy guarantee of 1 inch at 25 yards is available.


Citadel isn’t a manufacturer, they are an importer who sells firearms made by other companies and branded under the Citadel name. Their 1911 pistols are manufactured in the Philippines by Armscor but finished in the U.S. by Citadel. As a result, the basic configurations of the pistols are similar to those in the Rock Island lineup, but the finishes may be different. Most of Citadel’s 1911 models are done in Cerakote.

Citadel added a new model to their lineup this year, a model that they call the M1911, chambered in .380 ACP. Unfortunately, this isn’t really a 1911 at all. It’s a sort of “1911-ish” pistol copied from the defunct Llama Micromax 380. It’s a nice little pistol; I just wish the marketing people would stop calling it a scaled-down 1911.


Colt has revamped their lineup, dropping the 1991 series designation and now making most of their models with more “modern” looking slanted cocking serrations. Rich Churchill has rejoined Colt and was at the show. Rich told me that some models are still available with traditional, vertical cocking serrations, but not under the designation 1991.

That said, the big news at the Colt booth wasn’t a 1911 model, it was the reborn Colt Python. That’s the gun everyone has been talking about and writing about, and that’s where the action was at the Colt Exhibit. Since it isn’t a 1911, I won’t devote a lot of space to discussing it. I will say that the show samples looked beautiful, and the triggers felt very good. In fact, I overheard someone exclaiming that the trigger felt better than on his “old” Python – and the Python was noted for having an excellent trigger.

Dan Wesson

Dan Wesson, as some readers may already know, is owned by CZ USA. Even knowing that, I was completely unprepared for the answer I received when I asked a Dan Wesson rep at the CZ USA exhibit what was new for 2020 that they would like us to discuss in our on-line magazine. I hope everyone is sitting down, because the answer was this:

That’s right – those deviously ingenious folks developed a completely new, hybrid frame that uses the CZ-75 grip frame design mated to a 1911 fire control system. The new hybrid pistols will be available in two sizes and accept CZ-75 magazines. The full-size model will have a steel frame and will only be offered with a light rail. The Compact will have an aluminum alloy frame and will offer models both with and without the light rail. The magazine catch for both sizes will be reversible for left- or right-handed operation. In addition, the Compact will also have an ambidextrous thumb safety. The mainspring housing is removable.

The full-size will be offered in 9mm and .40 S&W, while the Compact will only be offered in 9mm. For 9mm, the capacity will be 19 rounds for the full-size, and 15 rounds for the Compact.

In other news, for 2020 Dan Wesson is revamping their 1911 lineup. Dan Wesson fans should be happy to learn that the V-BOB is back!

Eagle Imports

Eagle Imports is, as the name implies, an importer rather than a manufacturer. They currently sell a number of 1911 model pistols under the names American Classic, MAC, Llama, and S.P.S. The first three are manufactured in the Philippines by Metro Arms. S.P.S. is a Spanish gunmaker who manufactures 1911-ish pistols styled after the double-stack, polymer-framed pistols created by STI in the United States.

For 2020, Eagle Imports introduces a competition-oriented pistol that takes the polymer, double stack S.P.S. frame and mates it with an upper slide-barrel assembly made by Metro Arms in the Philippines.

The remainder of their lineup remains pretty much the same, including the small Llama pistol chambered in .380 ACP that is a recreation of the former Spanish-made Llama Micromax 380.

Ed Brown Products, Inc.

Ed Brown is a long-established and well-known maker of top tier 1911 pistols. For this year’s SHOT Show the Ed Brown representative wanted us to mention their EVO series pistols. This series includes six standard models, configured with no options as a way of making it more affordable to own an Ed Brown pistol. The EVO pistols are made in batches and feature fluted bull barrels with no barrel bushing.

Ed Brown Products also wanted us to mention their Jeff Cooper commemorative pistol. For this pistol, Ed Brown approached six of Jeff Cooper’s most prominent students and asked them how they thought Colonel Cooper would have wanted a 1911 configured. This pistol is the result—except that the grip safety is not pinned (for what should be obvious liability reasons). The Cooper pistol comes in a handsome, fitted case that Ed Brown refers to as a “bound book gun case.” Inside the case are the pistol, a spare magazine, a Jeff Cooper Legacy Foundation patch, a challenge coin, a pin, and a hardcover edition of Cooper’s book, Yankee Fist.

The Jeff Cooper Commemorative pistols will be built to special order. A portion of the proceeds from each sale will go to the Jeff Cooper Legacy Foundation.

Ed Brown offers a special series of three standard models that are approved for sale in California. Under California’s strict rules, there can be no deviations from the standard specifications when the guns are sold. However, according to the manufacturer, once purchased these guns can then be returned to Ed Brown for custom options and modifications.


Turkey has had a robust firearms manufacturing industry for many years but, for much of that time, most of the Turkish firearms coming into the United States were shotguns being sold under the names of various importers. It’s only comparatively recently that Turkish handguns have been imported to and marketed in the United States. Girsan is one of several Turkish gun makers who now offer 1911-type pistols to the U.S. market. Their guns are being sold through a couple of different importers and distributors.

Girsan offers a complete lineup of 1911s, ranging from full-size through Commander-size to Officers size, some with or without a light rail, and a couple of models are also offered with an optional red dot optical sight as a factory option. Girsan either makes the reflex sights themselves or has them made for them under contract; the reflex sight bodies carry the Girsan logo.

Aesthetically, my draftsman’s eye immediately noticed that there is a lot of real estate between the forward edge of the grip panels and the line where the flat sides of the grip frame break into the rounded surface of the front strap. This means that the radius on the front strap is incorrect. Girsan is not the first 1911 maker to get this wrong; Springfield Armory and Auto-Ordnance both had a similar, “flatter” radius on their front straps a number of years ago, and I’m sure there are others.

This led to noticing that there’s also a lot of space on the frame flat beneath the slide stop. Closer examination suggested that the trigger window appears to be slightly too small, or out of proportion. It appears that Girsan also used too flat a radius for the underside of the frame at the top of the trigger window, resulting in a somewhat awkward-appearing trigger window.

Such details do not, of course, in any way affect function, and we couldn’t shoot the guns at the SHOT Show so we can’t bring you a report on how any of them shoot. The model I, personally, would most like to try out is the 9mm Officers-size MC 1911 SC 9. It looks like it might be a dandy little carry pistol.

Inland Manufacturing

During World War 2, the Inland Division of General Motors contributed to the war effort by manufacturing M1 Carbines for the U.S. military. A number of years after the war, General Motors reorganized, the Inland Division was absorbed into other divisions of General Motors, and GM dropped the Inland name. In 2013, a new company was formed, taking on the name Inland Manufacturing, LLC. Inland Manufacturing is located in Dayton, Ohio, not far from the former location of the GM Inland Division.

Historically, the Inland Division produced only M1 Carbines for WW2, not 1911s. The new Inland Manufacturing makes reproductions of several models of the M1 Carbine:

  • The 1944 model has a full wood stock and wood heat shield, with no bayonet. Inland offers this model for states that prohibit or regulate firearms with bayonet lugs
  • The 1945 model is a reproduction of the last version of the M1 made during WW2, and it incorporates a bayonet on a carbine with a full, wood stock
  • The M1 Jungle Carbine is basically the same as the 1944 model, but it has a flash hider and comes with a 15-round magazine
  • The M1 Scout model is the same as the M1 Jungle Carbine, except that instead of a wood stock and heat shield over the barrel it is equipped with a polymer stock and an aluminum hand guard that incorporates a Picatinny accessory rail.
  • The M1 Advisor model is basically a 1944 model with the barrel shortened and the butt stock cut off and replaced with a downward-projecting wood pistol grip. Inland says this model was inspired by the way U.S. military advisors modified M1 Carbines during the Vietnam conflict.
  • The M1A1 Paratrooper is a reproduction of the WW2 version that had a pistol grip stock and a folding wire butt stock.

Although the Inland Division did not make any 1911s during WW2, it appears that the new Inland manufacturing wants to be a source of weaponry for those interested in WW2 small arms so, in addition to their M1 Carbines, the new Inland manufacturing also offers two models of 1911 pistol. The 1911 A1 Government is a copy of the WW2 M1911A1, complete with Parkerized finish and full-checkered grip panels.

The 1911 Custom Carry is a more modern-appearing rendition of the 1911, with slanted cocking serrations front and rear, Novak sights, and a stainless steel finish.

Iver Johnson

We have covered Iver Johnson before, and we have reviewed some of their 1911 pistols on our on-line magazine. Consequently, when we had a chance to chat up Chad Holwerda, Iver Johnson’s marketing director, we asked the usual question: “What’s new for this year? What would you like our readers to know about?”

Like many of the 1911 makers, Iver Johnson has embarked on an effort to differentiate their 1911 pistols from other that occupy a similar price point in the 1911 market by offering a variety of unique finish schemes. There is nothing mechanically special about these pistols, they are simply unique in appearance.

Beyond the unique finishes, though, Chad also pointed out Iver Johnson’s six-inch 1911 models. These include a couple of compensated models, and a couple of models with a lightened slide but no compensator. They are available in .45 ACP and in 10mm.

Somewhat curiously (in my opinion), the only 1911 Iver Johnson offers in .40 S&W is their 3-inch Thrasher model. Given that many shooters find the .40 S&W to be a rather “snappy” round to shoot, mating that to a 3-inch pistol seems like an off combination. But … perhaps that’s what their customers asked for.

Kahr Arms / Auto-Ordnance / Desert Eagle

In their Auto-Ordnance lineup, Kahr Arms/Auto-Ordnance has done the same as some other 1911 makers and introduced some models that are mechanically unremarkable but which have unique finish schemes to set them apart from everyone else. In the case of Auto-Ordnance, they still offer their basic GI Spec model, which I still think is perhaps the most authentic-appearing current clone of a WW2 M1911A1. Not surprising from a company that until recently was located in Massachusetts, these pistols are Massachusetts-compliant.

Building on the basic GI Spec 1911A1, Auto-Ordnance also offers several models with unique finish schemes, based on WW2 themes. I asked Frank Harris, Kahr’s director of marketing, how these special theme pistols were selling, and he responded that they sell remarkably well.

Aside from the special theme pistols, Frank wanted us to talk about Kahr Arms’ acquisition of Desert Eagle. Kahr Arms actually acquired Magnum Research, makers of Desert Eagle firearms, about a decade ago. Magnum Research is most famous for their Desert Eagle pistols, but they also offer a line of 1911 pistols under the Desert Eagle name.

The Desert Eagle 1911s are made for Desert Eagle by BUL in Israel. I asked Frank if it was okay to print that, and he responded in the affirmative. BUL has made excellent quality firearms for many years, so the fact that the Desert eagle 1911s are made by them should (in my opinion) be viewed as a positive and not as a demerit. The Desert Eagle line is completely different from the Auto-Ordnance line. In the Desert Eagle lineup there are eighteen models, ranging in size from full-size (5-inch) through Commander-size and down to some 3-inch sub-Officers size models. All three sizes are available in .45 ACP and in 9mm, and selected versions of each model come packaged with a fixed-blade, Magnum Research skinner-type knife.


I never know what to write about Kimber, other than that they sell a lot of 1911 pistols and that they offer a dizzying array of models and confiurations. Unfortunately, when I stopped at the Kimber booth all the representatives were tied up speaking with other people. I took a few photos but I didn’t learn anything. I intended to return on another day, but I regret to admit that I didn’t make it.

Les Baer

Les Baer remains one of the best known names in custom 1911s. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to spend much time speaking with the staff at the Les Baer booth, but I was able to take a few photos to capture their workmanship.

Les Baer builds a few standard models, but each pistol is built to a customer’s order; they don’t make pistols for inventory. The model they wanted to feature for 2020 is the American Handgunner model, which is a model configured in association with American Handgunner magazine, and bearing the publication’s name on the slide.

Nighthawk Custom

We can’t begin to cover the entire lineup from Nighthawk Custom. Their current catalog includes a whopping 53 standard configurations: 29 full-size, 15 Commander-size, 5 CCO-size (Commander slide on an Officers frame), and 4 Officers-size. That’s a lot of different models. Fortunately for this reporter, the big news from Nighthawk Custom this year wasn’t any of their 1911 configurations. At the start of this article I mentioned that at the SHOT Show this year I encountered a couple of examples of real innovation. One of those was at the Nighthawk Custom exhibit.

Readers who follow firearms much probably know that “modular” is one of the current buzzwords in firearms. The United States military was been engaged in a multi-year competition to select a new, “modular” handgun platform. Other firearms have, for many years, had drop-in “modular” fire control groups or trigger groups. (Google “Timney trigger” to see what I mean.) By contrast, like most firearms from the 19th and early 20th centuries, the 1911’s fire control system is an assemblage of individual parts, which are assembled into the receiver one piece at a time (disconnector, sear, sear pin, hammer, hammer pin, sear spring) and whose proper function is dependent on the locations of the various pin holes all being within specification. Even if all the pin holes are within specification, though, those specifications are all subject to tolerances. Typically, both the pin hole locations and their diameters are subject to a tolerance of +/- .002”. This means that tolerance stacking could result in the pin holes on one pistol being off by as much as .004 from those of another, and both would be within spec. This can affect trigger pull.

It seems that an individual several years ago set out, on his own, to “modularize” the 1911 fire control group. He took it as far as he could and, when it was time to fine-tune the concept and put it into production, he approached Nighthawk Custom and they took on the challenge. The end result was unveiled at the SHOT Show this year, and my impression is that at least 75 percent of the traffic at the Nighthawk exhibit was over this revolutionary new doohickey (pardon my use of technical jargon).

The Nighhawk Custom drop-in fire control group consists of a sheet metal housing that incorporates a disconnector, sear, hammer, and sear spring into a single, drop-in module. The hammer and sear do not rotate on solid pins; they rotate on hollow axles that are precisely located such that the center locations are all held to tight tolerances, while the open centers through these axles are slightly larger than the standard 1911 hammer and sear pin diameters. This allows the module to be dropped into any 1911 frame and retained by the standard hammer and sear pins, even if the pin hole locations in the frame are somewhat out of spec.

In concept, that’s all there is to it. It sounds simple, in retrospect, but it’s an ingenious development—one of the few actual new developments to the 1911 platform in the 109 years since the 1911 was first adopted by the United States military.

Here’s a link to Nighthawk’s video introducing the new system:

According to the Nighthawk Custom representative, the drop-in trigger system gives any pistol a clean, crisp 3-3/4-pound trigger with no adjustment or tinkering by the installer. Just install it, and go. To borrow an Irish phrase from one of my favorite writers, I was gobsmacked when I saw it.

Oriskany Arms

Oriskany Arms is another of the smaller 1911 makers that aren’t widely known. In fact, I had never heard of them until John Caradimas and I stumbled across their booth at SHOT 2018, two years ago. Located in up-state New York, the company has existed since 1947 as a manufacturer of small arms parts. In 2013 they started making and selling semi-custom 1911 pistols. Today, according to their staff at the show, they sell 600 1911 pistols per year. They are definitely not mass producers; each of their 1911 pistols is hand-assembled and hand-fitted.

Their line-up is focused on three basic pistols as a starting point: the full-size 500FP, the Commander-size 425FP, and the Officers-size 350FP. Each is available in .45 ACP, 9mm, and 10mm. As shown on their web site, once you have selected which of the three basic pistols you want, you can then configure the pistol pretty much any way you want. Options can include a squared-off trigger guard and/or a tactical rail.


In addition to offering semi-custom 1911 pistols, Oriskany also sells 1911 parts for those who want to actually build their own pistols, including barrels, slides, and frames.

Remington Arms Company

I was disappointed when I arrived at the Remington exhibit to learn that Travis Tomasie had left the show because he was ill. I was there Tuesday morning; I checked back on Wednesday and Thursday and Travis didn’t make it back, so he must have been really under the weather. Travis, we hope you’re back on your feet by the time this article goes to “press.”

What we learned at the Remington exhibit was that Remington does not have any new 1911 models for 2020. Instead, they wanted us to let readers know that they have a custom shop, which can perform custom work ranging from purely cosmetic to installation of red dot, holographic reflex sights. As a long-time Para-Ordnance owner, I naturally asked why Remington seems to have once again dropped the double stack 1911s from their lineup. The response was that they haven’t dropped the double stack models, but that they aren’t producing them at the moment due to production capacity limitations. The Remington rep I spoke with said we should expect to see the double stack models starting production again in the third quarter of 2020.

I also asked for clarification regarding whether or not Remington’s double stack magazines are compatible with earlier Para-Ordnance and ParaUSA double stack pistols. Sadly, the answer was “Probably not.” I was informed that Remington had tweaked certain aspects of the magazines, with the result that they will lock into Para-Ordnance pistols but they probably won’t feed reliably.

Republic Forge

It seems I can’t go to a SHOT Show without finding at least one more 1911 maker I have never heard of. This year was no exception, as I found myself talking to the staff at the Republic Forge exhibit. Not just the staff, in fact. Once the representative realized that I was from, he introduced me to the founder and President of the company, Bob Maw.

Mr. Maw was kind enough to spend quite a bit of time speaking with me. He told me that Republic Forge had started as a marketing company and then evolved into making custom 1911s. He told me that, as a result of his own long history shooting 1911s, Republic Forge makes only mechanically-original pistols, without a firing pin safety. He also said that they do not use any MIM parts in their pistols. Most of their pistols use barrels with a Wilson-Nowlin ramp, but they will make pistols with original configuration barrels and frame feed ramps if that’s what the customer prefers.

Mr. Maw said his priority is that each and every pistol should be reliable. Barrels are made for them by Jarvis, and each barrel is hand-fitted. They don’t use drop-in barrels. Their barrels don’t “ride the link”; they make each gun so the lower barrel lugs ride into battery on the slide stop pin. This is to assure proper lock-up, which he said is set for .040” in every pistol.

Republic’s frames and slides start as rough forgings, not investment castings. They had two rough forgings on display at the exhibit. There’s not much to say about those—a rough forging looks a lot like a rough forging.

Sig Sauer

I very recently went through Sig Sauer’s 1911 Armorer’s course at the Sig Academy in New Hampshire, so I was naturally curious to find out what Sig Sauer had waiting for me at their exhibit. My instructor from the armorer’s class wasn’t working the SHOT Show this year, so I wasn’t able to take advantage of prior association to press for inside information. Not that there’s any inside information to be had.

The Sig representative told me that for 2020 Sig Sauer has discontinued some of their 1911 pistols. I quickly noticed that a lot of the pistols on display (did I say “a lot”? Yeah – I meant “A LOT”!) seemed to be equipped with red dot, holographic reflex sights. The rep agreed. He said Sig’s view is that 2020 will be the “year of the red dot optic.” (And, from what I saw at the exhibits of many other 1911 makers, I am inclined to agree.) Sig Sauer makes their own reflex sights, so it’s almost a no brainer for them to pair up their red dot sights with their pistol. As of now, red dot optics are a custom shop item, but I was informed that later this year there may be a production 1911 model with a mini-red dot sight.

When Sig Sauer first jumped into the 1911 pond one of the things they insisted on was to use a slide profile that’s more squared-off than the traditional 1911 slide with its rounded top. Eventually Sig added some models with the traditional slide contours, and they now sell both styles. I was curious, so I asked which style sells better. The answer was that the Sig contour outsells the traditional. (Of course, it has to be recognized that Sig is the only source for a 1911 with a Sig contour slide, whereas those who want a traditional 1911 have dozens of makes to choose from. Nonetheless, I thought it was interesting; to be honest, I expected the opposite result.)

Smith and Wesson

My visit to the Smith & Wesson booth was, for me, a disappointment. S&W is obviously heavily pushing their M&P line of firearms, and I wasn’t able to find anyone to talk to me about 1911s. They only had two 1911s on display, and I came away with the understanding that they aren’t making any changes to the 1911 line-up for 2020.

Springfield Armory

I had better luck finding someone to discuss 1911s at the Springfield Armory booth than I did at Smith & Wesson. Springfield Armory told me they will be revamping their 1911 line-up over the course of the next two years. The big news for 1911 advocates this year is the introduction of a new series, the Ronin. The Ronin series of 1911 pistols will be aimed at being more competitive in price with some of the lower priced brands. The series will have basic configurations, with no options. As of the show, the Ronin line-up will include a 4-1/4” and a 5” model, both on aluminum alloy frames. Stainless steel models are expected to follow later this year.

I was interested to note that the smaller Ronin has a 4-1/4” barrel rather than the 4” barrel that Springfield has previously used on their mid-size 1911s. I didn’t really get an explanation for this, other than that the Ronan series is a new line that’s not a carryover from any of their previous models.

Tisas Trabzon

Tisas Trabzon is one of a number of Turkish firearms makers who now bring firearms into the United States. We became aware of the brand several years ago when we reviewed one of their first models to come into the United States, the Regent 100. At that time, Tisas was imported by Umarex USA. John Caradimas and I encountered them again at the 2018 SHOT Show, at which time we talked directly with people from Tisas and it wasn’t entirely clear to us who the importer was. For 2020, the situation has changed yet again, and I ended up talking to a representative from SDS Imports, who now have the Tisas account.

When I mentioned that I had reviewed the Regent 100, Jeff Whittle told me they no longer use that model name, but he showed me their baseline model and said that was probably the nearest thing in the current line to the Regent 100. But Tisas is not a one-trick pony any more – they now offer a number of different models and configurations. And their 1911 pistols (as well as others – Tisas makes more than just 1911s) are very price competitive.

Related Exhibitors

Check-Mate Industries

Check-Mate was at the show, as always, and I was able to talk to all the key people at once: Jackie Santoro, Regina Vieweg (Jackie’s mother), Joe DeBello, and Brandon Vitulli. Their news wasn’t an announcement of any new products, but a discussion of the future plans for Check-Mate Industries.

We have previously announced the fact that Check-Mate has bought a manufacturing facility in Georgia, as well as the fact that since toured their factory on Long Island in New York they have moved to a new, larger location on Long Island. They told me that when they moved to the new Long Island facility they were sure they would never outgrow it. You know how that works—they’ve outgrown it already, after a relatively few years. Their long (or intermediate) term plan, then, is to gradually migrate all the magazine manufacturing to the Georgia factory, freeing up the Long Island factory to focus on making medical equipment (which Check-Mate makes in addition to firearms magazines).

The Georgia factory is 168,000 square feet (approximately four acres), and the site occupies 13 acres, so they have plenty of space to expand. has been intending to visit the new Check-Mate facility in Long Island, but it now appears that we should probably just plan on a visit to Georgia. The Check-Mate crew told me that they are currently using maybe a tenth of the capacity of the factory in Georgia, so it makes sense to move the magazine production there—plus that should allow increased magazine production.

They said they have found an interesting contrast between workers in New York and workers in Georgia. Where the New York workers are hard workers, their focus is on working fast and churning out as much work as they can. By contrast (I was told), the workers in Georgia seem to work slower, but they are intent on getting things right the first time. The result is that the Georgia plant may see more setup time but, once tings are rolling, there are fewer problems and quality is top shelf.

We’re looking forward to getting someone to tour the Georgia facility for us ASAP.

Lyman Products

Lyman Products has been a mainstay of the reloading industry for many years. In addition to manufacturing top-quality reloading dies, presses, tools, and accessories, Lyman also publishes one of the most comprehensive and authoritative books or reloading data available. toured the Lyman factory and headquarters in Middletown, Connecticut, in 2017. The tour report was in our Fall 2017 issue.

As I approached the Lyman booth at this year’s SHOT Show, even from a distance I saw a lot of things that didn’t look familiar—things such as automated reloading machines (I just don’t think “presses” adequately describes what I saw) churning away with no human intervention. The situation called for investigation, so I waited until Liz Friedman, Lyman’s director of marketing, was free and I asked her what all the big equipment was.

The back story is that Lyman has been expanding through acquisitions as well as by increasing sales of their core products. For example, at the time of our factory tour in 2017, we reported that Lyman had bought Pachmayr. Last year, in May of 2019, Lyman bought a company that makes powered, automated reloading equipment: Mark7 Reloading. Immediately after completing the acquisition, Lyman revamped the Mark 7 production to improve quality control, and several of the Mark 7 machines were prominently featured at the Lyman exhibit. Starting at the bottom (which is probably still more machine than many hobby reloaders will ever need) is the all manual Evolution model. It’s ambidextrous, supports calibers from .380 ACP through .308 Winchester, and has a mechanical, drum-type powder measure.

One step up from the Evolution, but still in what Lyman classifies as a “Consumer” machine, is the Evolution®+AutoDrive. This is the basic Evolution machine, equipped with a powered drive system that automates all the functions and is controlled by a digital control screen. This machine would be perfect for high-volume shooters, such as professional or semi-pro competitors who shoot thousands of rounds a week for practice. The Evolution®+AutoDrive can produce up to 3,500 rounds per hour.

Beyond the Evolution®+AutoDrive, the products get into what Lyman considers to be Commercial press line. First up in this series is the Mark 7® Titan XL. This machine is aimed at users who need to reload longer cartridges, up to .338 Lapua. This machine comes in a base configuration that allows up to 3,500 rounds per hour, with several options to handle specialized tasks.

An alternate version of the above is the Mark 7® Titan DF (for Double Feed). This is essentially two 5-station presses running simultaneously, from the same motorized controller and power source. Throughput is estimated to be up to 7,000 rounds per hour.

The top of the line is the Mark 7® Revolution, which is also rated for up to 3,500 rounds per hour but which includes more automation, and more sensors to control and to check each step and operation in the process of producing loaded ammunition.

Lyman also had some less formidable tools for the reloader at the show. One is their new BorecamTM Pro Wireless Borescope. This is an improved version of a previous borescope Lyman offered. The new model will work for barrels up to 24 inches in length, .20 caliber and larger. It’s equipped with Bluetooth technology, so the camera displays in real time on a cell phone or tablet. It can record still photos and videos, and the app is available for both Android and iOS.

Liz also showed me Lyman’s new Case Trim Express case trimmer. It’s a motorized case trimmer for bottle-neck rifle cases. It comes with ten different bushings that accommodate the most popular cartridges, and fifteen other bushings are available from Lyman. Once the unit has been adjusted, just push each case in until the case shoulder seats on the bushing, and the trimming is complete. The motor is variable speed, so it can be adjusted to suit the user’s preferences. Lyman has a video of it here

The new product I lust for is Lyman’s new universal sight pusher, which they call the AccuSight. It’s adjustable to work with almost all semi-automatic handguns, and has a pocket pre-machined specifically for 1911 slides.

Please go to this thread on the M1911 Pistols Organization discussion forum to discuss this article:

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