Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Not worth it, IMHO.

I've generally been pretty impressed with guns of the Thunder Ranch-endorsed line.

Today I found one that I didn't care for, because of one feature: the tolerances were too tight.

I had to deal with a Les Baer T.R. Special 1911 .45 acp that one of my cohorts had seized for evidence, today. It's a very nice looking gun, with a decent satin blue and rosewood stocks. It had no full length guide rod, which made me happy. It had an extended thumb safety, which made me happy. It had a nice ski-jump tang/grip safety, which made me happy. It had good high-profile tritium sights, which made me happy. It had good 30 L.P.I. checking on the frontstrap and on the mainspring housing, which is nice. I could accept the flat mainspring housing. The trigger was a bit heavy for a custom 1911 at 5 lbs [not 4 as advertised (I measured, with weights)], but I could deal with that, because it was crisp.

No, what pissed me off about it was that, even with a bushing wrench, the damned thing was almost too tight to get apart. Good LORD it was tight. It took me a few minutes to take it apart.

Look, I'm impressed with the things that Les Baer has been able to make. I'm impressed at the accuracy of the pistols. I like the touches that I saw on the pistol. And, yes, I noticed that the barrel is matched by serial number to the slide, which is matched to the barrel bushing, which is matched to the frame. But if I can't easily take it down when I want to, then I'm out.

If this is representative of the breed, then I'm a little surprised that Clint Smith endorsed them as a fighting pistol.

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16 Comments:

At Monday, August 17, 2009 10:17:00 AM, Anonymous Billy Sparks said...

Which is the reason I got rid of my one and only Les Baer pistol. It was sooo tight it turned me off of 1911's for a couple of years.

 
At Monday, August 17, 2009 10:55:00 AM, Blogger Marc B said...

So the question that then arises is: What do such tight tolerances do to the reliability of the gun? What happens to the lubrication when it's been sitting for 4-5 weeks since it was last cleaned & lubed? What happens if it gets a little dry on an intense training course where you shoot 300 rds/day?

This gun is intended to be a carry gun, right? not a cherished bulleye pistol stored in a velvet-lined mahogany box.

 
At Monday, August 17, 2009 12:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can tell you from personal experience that if you tear down the pistol hundreds of times, shoot the snot of it at gun school and your local range, after 7 or 8 years, the Les Baer TRS will eventually slightly loosen up. :-)

If the pistol runs like a sewing machine, I care not if it takes 30 seconds extra to strip or reassemble.

Shootin' Buddy

 
At Monday, August 17, 2009 12:52:00 PM, Blogger James E. Griffin said...

While I agree completely that too-tight mechanical tolerances are anathema for a carry gun, I've found after a couple thousand rounds of hardball class ammo, a tight custom gun wears in enough so you don't need excessive force to pull it apart.

Better yet, just give Les' shop a call and tell them you want a carry gun, and you don't want to use a 4 foot long brushing wrench to take it apart.

All that said, on my current 1911 .45 carry gun, locked and loaded, there's just a scosh of play in the slide-frame/receiver fit. The bushing can be turned with finger pressure. The barrel fit with the lugs on the slide is tight. Cocked and locked, press down enough times on the barrel chamber near the hood, and you can convince yourself there's the perception of movement.

When the rear of the barrel locks up like that, the bushing fit can have much greater tolerances, and still keep superb accuracy.

 
At Monday, August 17, 2009 1:00:00 PM, Blogger Rabbit said...

That's a pet peeve of mine as well. I had the misfortune of handling a modestly nice stainless Springfield a couple of years ago that required not only a good bushing wrench but two mules and a little boy to rotate and it still resisted all efforts.

It makes me leery when tolerances are so tight that you can't get one apart or back together without a comealong and a solid stump to mount it to. I get skittish about reliability in such instances, too. If it's too tight to strip, will it be too tight to feed?

Regards,
Rabbit.

 
At Monday, August 17, 2009 5:43:00 PM, Blogger staghounds said...

Unless you seized it as stolen, you have a WAY better class of criminal's guns there than we do here.

 
At Monday, August 17, 2009 6:16:00 PM, Anonymous TBeck said...

Ummm...how to ask this delicately...what happens to the guns seized as evidence if a conviction is obtained?

wv: nizeness

 
At Monday, August 17, 2009 6:18:00 PM, Blogger JPG said...

I fully agree with your premise. That Baer TR Special you describe currently lists at $1990 - - Really not TOO out of line for a high-grade "premium name brand" .45. For such a price, you'd think a pistol would be pretty much "ready to roll."

Raminds me of shooting a friend's new Ed Brown .45, which was also 'WAY too tight.

 
At Monday, August 17, 2009 6:54:00 PM, Blogger Old NFO said...

I had a chance to buy a Les Baer, and turned it down for that very reason. I was scared it would get enough dirt in it in the course of carrying that it would lock up. I also had a chance to shoot one alongside an Ed Brown, a Yost, and a C&S. The Baer had the hardest trigger (definitely NOT 4lb). I ended up with an Ed Brown and have run a max of 300 rounds in one setting without a problem (AND I can break it down with NO problems).

 
At Tuesday, August 18, 2009 2:36:00 AM, Blogger Josiah said...

Not to be argumentative, but I do not see what tearing down has to do with defensive carry.

I am a novice carrier and would like to know about defensive problems. I apologize to Shootin' Buddy, but I too would like to know how good it is aside from maintenance.

 
At Tuesday, August 18, 2009 8:04:00 AM, Blogger Tam said...

Marc B,

"What happens to the lubrication when it's been sitting for 4-5 weeks since it was last cleaned & lubed? What happens if it gets a little dry on an intense training course where you shoot 300 rds/day?"

Well, Shootin' Buddy brought his newest one to class this weekend, and it never malf'ed.

 
At Tuesday, August 18, 2009 6:45:00 PM, Blogger John B said...

With the exception of a Star Model B in 9mm -originally made for 9mm largo- I've yet to be better than the gun I was carrying. That said, the Les Baer reads like a gun to live up to. If you still have that take down problem call me.

In adolescence I learned to gently turn off valves and faucets lest the next person had to call for a breaker bar.

Of course I'm only half that strong now, and I'd hazard a guess from your pictures, that you're the go-to guy on your block for stubborn bolts, nuts, and jar lids.

If for some reason I get where I don't want to take down a gun, it's gone, period. Auctionarms and gunbroker are as easy to use as ebay, easier for selling, and I don't keep guns around I'm afraid to work on.

 
At Sunday, August 30, 2009 3:05:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mine was very slightly used when I got it. Very tight. still failed to feed the last round in magazine ( seldom mentioned but a frequent feature.)

After a few hundred rounds, it fed the last round every time. A few hundred more and the bushing, while still tight and requiring a bushing wrench, became entirely manageable. I keep mine clean and lubricated and it is most reliable. Also very accurate with frequent groups in the 1.4" range /25 yards. I like it so much that I sent it back to Baer for Hard Chrome. May end up having to break it in again.

 
At Monday, August 31, 2009 5:03:00 AM, Blogger P said...

Why do you have to strip down a gun seized into evidence? Frankly I can only see the need to unload it or at most pop the slide release out and split it into top and bottom half. Anything more is messing with somebodies property until it's adjudicated.

 
At Monday, August 31, 2009 11:26:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

"Why do you have to strip down a gun seized into evidence? Frankly I can only see the need to unload it or at most pop the slide release out and split it into top and bottom half. Anything more is messing with somebodies property until it's adjudicated."

An understandable stance, until you find yourself investigating a shooting in which the actor claims that the pistol went off due to mechanical error. In such a circumstance, it would behoove the investigating officer to strip the pistol to verify that the parts are in order, and the actor is blowing smoke.

 
At Tuesday, January 19, 2010 8:18:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you want a gun that is super accurate...Get a LES. If you want something not so accurate and easy to take apart, get a Colt, Taurus, etc. Tight tolerances = accuracy. I don't know, but the last time I field dressed a weapon while under fire...Ummm, never.

 

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