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Old February 23, 2008, 07:42 AM   #1
1911rocks
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Auto-Ordinance General

I'm looking for a historical view/opinion. We all are aware of the history of the AO Gov't. models of the 1980's. But, what about the General, the Combat Commander sized Weapon ( all steel ). I've seen (2) of these, one in 45acp and one in 38 super. They both were tight and well fit. They both had High vis. 3 dot sights (looked like King Tappan Sights), flat mainspring housing. The only oddity about these is the "2 tone" Blue Job. The Slide looked like a Plum blue job and the Grip Frame was a "Colt" Blue. Opinions, memories, observations welcomed.
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Old February 23, 2008, 09:07 AM   #2
Sarge
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I'm an old LE instructor, handgun nut, and 1911 tinkerer with better than 30 years at those distractions. Every agency I 'gunnied' for allowed the troops to furnish their own sidearm. Few of those folks had unlimited disposable income and many had been bitten by the tsetse fly that carries the 1911 sickness. Suffice it to say that I have seen my share of Auto Ords at qualifications.

Many of them wouldn't run- and they weren't just Auto Ords. As the resident '1911 guy & shop mechanic' it fell to me to get them running.

The following applies to the old 'West Hurley' guns-

When I got inside them, I often found poorly-cast and undersize hammer/trigger pins, disconnectors, plunger tube components, slide locks and magazine catches. The extractors were soft and improperly beveled; ejectors were improperly mounted and poor castings at that. Magazine catches and components were pitiful. Now here's the deal-breaker- the magazine catch port in the frame was occasionally oversized. Replacing the junk parts effected no improvement in those gun, or at best a temporary one as even good parts would wear and break quickly from flopping around in the frame.

'Making Auto Ords run' became a personal crusade- I was not going to let the damn things beat me! Excepting the magazine catch port problem described above, I learned that a 'frame-out rebuild' would make them into an entirely satisfactory pistol. I even rebuilt several Pit Bulls and made them run. The Pits would usually bust the bushing & plug in the first 500 rounds, so I'd gut the slide and rebuild it with Ed Brown stuff, including his match bushing and 'reverse plug' for the Colt Officers ACP. The last one I rebuilt in this manner shot a sub-1", 5-shot group at 25 yards with Wolf hardball.

On to the Worchester guns... Kahr Arms announced their purchase of Auto-Ordnance in '99 and eventually moved their 1911 operation to Worchester, MA. Veteran gunwriters made much of this acquisition and favorable reviews of the 'new Auto Ordnance' guns began to spring forth. Now I learned a long time ago that you are not going to see unfavorable reviews in any publication that sells advertising- they simply don't make print. So I held off awhile.

Eventually A/O did the one thing I had been waiting for them to do- they started making a 'pure GI' gun without those damn 60 degree rear serrations. The WWII Model is, inside and out, the reincarnation of the old WWII contract guns we used to buy for a song and throw behind the seat of our pickups in a surplus web belt and flap holster. A/O has assured me that they are building these guns directly from the last US Ordnance Dept blueprints (1936?).

I have now been all over the insides of one of the Worchester guns, and I am inclined to believe them. Pin holes, ports etc. are now dead-on and the frames will accept max-dimension USGI surplus parts. That's the good news...the bad news is that as of two years ago, they were still loading them with substandard small parts. The whole story on that rebuild is here if you care to read it, but the gun has proven itself (4000 rounds) to the extent that I carry it daily as my duty/defense piece.

The key to getting along with these guns is to
1) be a 1911 mechanic and
2) buy them dirt cheap so you can afford to rebuild them.
There's no way I'd pay anything approaching their retail prices unless the gun had already been rebuilt by someone who knows what 1911's are all about. I would view the General in that same light, with all the cautions that go with A/o's earlier West Hurley guns. I really like Commanders, and the General is a true Commander with the 4 1/4" slide that will accept Colt Commander parts. I would jump at one of it was cheap, secure in the knowledge that I'd spend some money making a gun out of it.
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Last edited by Sarge; February 23, 2008 at 01:01 PM. Reason: typo- four THOUSAND rounds, not 400!
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Old February 23, 2008, 10:25 AM   #3
1911rocks
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Thank you

Sarge:
Thank you for your reply. These two Generals were priced at $300 & $350 (38 super). I had heard that some of the AOs were assembled by a company in Illinois. Thanks again Sarge
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Old February 23, 2008, 10:35 AM   #4
kenjs1
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Thanks for asking this question. Sarge, that is the most informative, complete and useful response to any post I have ever seen on any forum. Bad news for you my friend as I may likely be hitting you up for more. Thanks for the info.
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