How do you make a good 1911?
That’s a good question, and one I sadly can’t answer. I’m in no way a 1911 expert or even an aficionado. I’m merely a guy who thinks it’s a neat platform.
My own experiences are more or less marred by cheaper 1911s and in general, those experiences lead me to the plastic fantastic that rule the modern handgun market. I couldn’t find a normal 1911 platform that captured me.
Double stacks are fun, I also like the longer slide 10mm variants, but your average everyday 1911 never did anything for me.
You see, while I don’t know what makes a 1911 good there are people that do. These people include industry titans like Larry Vickers, major manufacturers like Springfield Armory, and custom shops like Wilson Combat.
These guys know 1911s, and it turns out when they all get together some magic can happen.
Table of Contents
The Who: Springfield, Larry Vickers, and Wilson Combat
Springfield Armory is a major manufacturer of 1911s, and famously provided 1911s to the FBI’s Elite Hostage Rescue Team (and even a limited number to the USMC’s Force Recon Operators).
They have the experience and know-how to manufacture quality 1911s.
Larry Vickers is a major figure in firearms media today, but way back when he served as a Delta Operator, was a Green Beret, and served under HK advising on guns like the 416 and HK 45. He’s also a firearms instructor and a 1911 expert.
Outside of firearms classes, he even teaches classes on how to turn a box of parts into a functioning weapon. He even knows a thing or two about the Browning Warhorse.
Wilson Combat is a custom firearm manufacturer who made their name with the 1911 platform. While they extended out to the Beretta and even Glock and P320s, their heart and soul is the 1911 game.
They make some fantastic guns, but also parts, pieces, and more. This makes them a natural choice when choosing off the shelf 1911 upgrades.
When you combine these three what you get is the Vickers Tactical Master Class 1911–and it’s one helluva gun.
1911s are a versatile platform for just about anything you could want in a gun–hunting, competition, and defensive use. The Vickers Tactical Master Class 1911 is designed for the latter of those three.
It’s a handgun designed with combatives in mind. The Master Class is most certainly a gun designed with a mission. From the sights to the trigger and beyond, the gun is modernized and perfected for combat.
The Vickers Tactical Master Class is, at its heart, a classic 1911. It’s a .45 ACP model; with a 5-inch barrel and G.I. style recoil system. It’s simple, but it works–and when it comes to reliability, often simple is better.
Breaking It Down: The Details
Where this gun differs from your plain old 1911 is in the features, which are also what pushes the gun to a combative design.
The first notable features are the Wilson Combat safety and hammer. The hammer is a Wilson Stainless Steel Commander hammer. The smaller commander hammer pokes less for concealed carry and is lighter weight.
This lighter hammer helps with a better trigger pull. The safety is a single-sided safety with an extended shelf. The shelf is very easy to reach and accessible with a natural grip on the gun.
The beavertail is also extended and ensures you can get a nice and high grip on the gun. A high grip translates to more control over the Vickers Tactical Master Class.
The sights are perfect for combat. The rear sight is a Vickers Elite blacked-out rear sight and the front is a high visibility day and night sight. It’s quick to acquire and easy to get on target.
The grip redefines the term aggressive. The G10 grip panels have the custom LAV logo, but more importantly, they are very roughly textured. The same goes for the front and backstrap of the gun. The texturing is stupid aggressive, but it makes sure the gun stays put.
The magazines are also Wilson Combat mags with Vickers metal base plates. The base plates are pyramid-like in design and they serve three purposes.
First, the extra weight makes sure the magazines drop free when empty every single time. The metal base plates allow the magazine to hit the ground over and over without durability worries.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
Lastly, the long pyramid style design allows the user to grip the baseplate and rip the magazine from the gun should you run into a complicated malfunction.
The Vickers Tactical Master Class is also outfitted with a match grade 5-inch stainless steel barrel and a match-grade trigger with a medium weight. Both the frame and slide are the superior forged steel designs.
It’s finished with Springfield Armory Black T, which looks excellent if you like black guns and is rather tough. The slide serrations are a woven design that clings to the fingers but doesn’t rub your hands raw.
Now you know all about it, but how does it handle?
Testing Ammo Used
As of this writing, the COVID-19 has wiped out a lot of my local ammo spots and online prices have risen to meet the demand. I typically like a variety of ammo to test a gun out, but for now, my only supply is Winchester White 230 grain FMJs.
So… sorry, I guess. Hopefully things will change soon!
The best time is range time and shooting the Vickers Tactical Master Class is a lot of fun. I can get why the 1911 guys are so hardcore about their guns. They are rather pleasant to shoot.
The trigger, the sights, the grip, and controls are still classic 1911 like and that means the ergonomics are spot on. Like any other 1911, everything is easy to reach and access. Most noticeably the safety is very easy to access and your thumb sits on the shelf naturally.
The recoil is the mild thump the .45 ACP is known for. It’s far from snappy or uncomfortable.
The accuracy of the gun is absolutely outstanding. It’s outfitted with all the necessary goods to ensure it’s an accurate blaster. From the match-grade trigger and barrel to the single-action design and excellent sights, this gun can’t help but be laser-like.
Accuracy can be judged in two different ways, slow, traditional shooting, and the more practical up close and fast shooting.
Obviously, we had to try out both!
At a Distance
At 50 yards I can ring a 10-inch rifle gong over and over and over and it’s a blast. Keep in mind this is a traditional slow fire setup where I took the time to ensure each shot was as perfect as it could be.
At 25 yards accurate and precise headshots were easy to do. Not just perfect slow fire, but from the low ready and in under 1.5 seconds.
This isn’t just a matter of luck, but a product of the gun’s design and its features.
Up Close and Fast
For a combative handgun, up close and personal is its domain. The Vickers Tactical Master Class excels when things get close and fast.
To test how a gun handles up close and personal I put it against a timer and conducted several different drills.
The first drill I ran was the iHack, which is a modified Hackathorn Headshot standards drill that involves three small targets, nine rounds, and three runs. On my very first try, I scored a 9 out of 9 within the time limit.
Typically it takes me a few runs to warm up and perfect the drill so I was tickled when I ran 100% the first time.
I shot the iHack three more times and only dropped one round between all four runs. The drill stresses proper shot placement on a small target, but to be accurate and fast you have to be able to track your sights.
The bright front sight and the blacked-out rear sight create a stark contrast that makes it easy to follow the front sight. This is what makes the drill so much easier to do.
Honestly, this makes me want to mimic this sight setup on my P365 EDC gun. Like, dang.
Other drills included fun ones like the Collateral drill, named from the film. This involves drawing and shooting one target twice in the chest and then utilizing a failure to stop drill on the second target.
I carried my Vickers Tactical Master Class in a Crossbreed rig for the drill.
The end result was fun but challenging. I passed, maybe not on the first try, but after a couple of practice runs, I split wigs like Tom Cruise.
Sight tracking and cadence were important here, as was control. The aggressively textured grip and high and long beavertail give you an excellent degree of control over the gun.
The Vickers Tactical Master Class never tries to wiggle its way out of your hand, even when you are passing out double taps.
I also found myself liking the magazine design quite a bit. The Vickers baseplates are perfect and when reloading they offer a very sure grip on the magazine. You’ll have no issues retrieving them from your magazine pouch, even if it’s an IWB design.
This is a very fun gun to shoot. Part of the fun is the fact it does a lot of the work for you when it comes to shooting well. I appreciate that and the ego boost it gives me.
The Vickers Tactical Master Class is a full-sized 1911 that pulls no punches. At well over 40 ounces fully loaded it may feel like a boat anchor with the wrong belt and holster. In the Crossbreed Hybrid ST2 it felt supported and comfortable to me.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
The gun is a full size cannon so the challenges of concealing it are very apparent. The good news its the 1911 design is inherently thin and this does make it a bit more comfortable to carry and to conceal.
It’s not my first choice for concealed carry, but I wouldn’t feel under armed with it.
What I Would Change
There has to be a touch of narcissism in me to assume I know better than Larry Vickers, Springfield Armory, and Wilson Combat when it comes to 1911s.
That being said I would make one change.
I’d prefer a railed model. A light rail is a must-have for me, and on a full-sized gun, I don’t see a reason why I wouldn’t want one. I’d prefer the option to carry a WML.
(Check out the Best Pistol Lights for all your WML-supporting guns!)
By the Numbers
No issues at all throughout 600 rounds. I have yet to clean the gun, or even add lube.
The majority of these rounds were fired in a single day without much of a break. The Vickers Tactical Master Class was designed for combat and if a gun isn’t reliable it hardly has a place in a combative realm.
As far as handguns go it’s hard to beat a 1911. The excellent single-action trigger is even more refined in the Master Class which leads to a very accurate firearm.
Add in an excellent set of sights, and a match grade barrel and you get a gun that’s hard to beat. Hard, but not impossible. Running the Master Class side by side with the Springfield TRP Operator Longslide showed that a little extra barrel goes a long way.
It’s a 1911. The gun defines excellent ergonomics. It scores 5 out of 5 easily. Hell, it’s one of the few guns in which my fat thumbs don’t pin down the slide lock.
As much as I was never a fan of the 1911 I can’t deny it’s not one of the best looking guns to ever exist. The clean lines and design speak for themselves.
Add in the Black T finish and you have a refined and professional looking firearm.
A 1911 can be customized almost any which way you want it to be. You can slap on any arrangement of parts so the market is wide open. I knocked a point off because while I can swap the controls and externals I can’t easily add a light.
Bang For Your Buck 3/5
Any gun that costs more than a thousand bucks in a world where you can get world-class reliability and function from 500 dollar polymer pistol is a tough sell. Although, as far as semi-custom 1911s go, this is a rather affordable model and the price will likely be lower than the 1,500 dollar MSRP.
The Vickers Tactical Master Class 1911 is a very well made and well-designed pistol that’s full of features that push a centennial forward. It’s accurate, reliable, and a helluva lot of fun to shoot.
The Vickers Tactical Master Class is a very fine weapon and it’s given me a little more insight into the realm of 1911 guys and their beloved handgun. It gets everything right at a decent price even if it doesn’t have a rail.
Larry Vickers has a resume that’s tough to beat and his knowledge and appreciation of the 1911 handgun certainly show through here.
I may not be a convert yet, but I can definitely appreciate just why 1911s are so well loved.
What say you? Are you a 1911 fan? If so does this gun appeal to you? If you aren’t a 1911 fan what do you think? Let me know below. And hey, while you’re here, why not check out the Best 1911s for Your Money!