The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Handguns: The Semi-automatic Forum

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old October 12, 2012, 08:45 AM   #1
Fishbed77
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 23, 2010
Posts: 2,712
My first 1911! Colt XSE Government

I'm no stranger to 1911s, but I've never owned one of my own... until now!

I've been looking for a stainless XSE Government locally (didn't want to buy a 1911 sight unseen) for a long time, and after 18 months of looking, finally found one! Stainless Rail Guns and blued XSEs are relatively plentiful, but for some reason, this configuration never turns up around here. It's a Colt Model #01070XSE.

I didn't come to this decision lightly, and looked at Springfield Loadeds, SIGs, Kimber Custom IIs, SW1911s, and Ruger SR1911s (which despite supposedly being made of unobtanium, turn up regularly at gun shows around here). What I really wanted was a U.S.-made 1911 with forged slide and frame (and I like the looks of an internal extractor), and the more I researched and thought about it, the more I wanted the Colt pony.

My first impression was that this thing is tight! I thought all Colts were supposed to be "rattle traps" (and many that I've handled are), but there is no perceptible movement between the slide and frame. The fitment at the back of the slide to the frame looks very nice as well. The fitment and finish of all other parts looks very nice as well, with one major exception - the ambi thumb safety (I'll get to this more later). The mix of the matte finish with the brushed finish of the flats looks amazing as well, but I do wonder how it's going to hold up.

Anyway, my first outing shooting yielded decidedly mixed (but mostly positive) results. I only had time to fire 150 rounds (all el-cheapo Blazer Brass, since I was mainly just testing function), and reliability was 100%. This is very important to me, since my brother has recently gone through a long ordeal trying to get his S&W SW1911 to function reliably. After 2 trips back to S&W, and numerous parts replaced, he still gets one or two failures to return-to-battery, every hundred rounds or so. Not so with the Colt. It just runs and runs. The slide movement is slick and satisfying. I thought the tight fit of the slide might be a problem, but it definitely is not.

And now to the not-so positive stuff. The trigger. It is TERRIBLE. I haven't taken a trigger scale to it yet, but I get a feeling that the weight is somewhere in the 8 lb. range. The take-up feels inconsistent and "clunky" for lack of a better term, and the break is not very crisp. I never bought into the Series 70 versus Series 80 hype, but maybe there something to it after all. My brother's SW1911 (whose firing pin safety is activated by the grip safety) may be unreliable, but it had a crisp trigger out of the box, and was a tack-driver from day one. I get a feeling that this Colt is very accurate mechanically, but it's hard to extract the accuracy from it due to the trigger (and probably the cheap ammo as well). The trigger pad itself is very sharp as well. By the end of my first range session, it had stripped a layer of skin off my forefinger. I know the XSE is known for its sharp edges, but seriously?

The other big issue with this pistol of the crude-looking and poorly-fitted thumb safety. It is very difficult to fully engage (and super easy to disengage). It seems to be poorly fitted to the frame. I can already see scratches forming on both sides of the frame and the plunger tube from its movement. The safety levers themselves are ugly, with very pronounced casting lines. Now I know this isn't a super-high-end custom pistol, but dang - Colt can do better than this on a $1000+ firearm. Especially when the rest of the gun looks so beautiful.

All that said, I am going to give the trigger and the thumb safety more time to break in, and I truly hope they get better. I have read the horror stories regarding the turnaround time from Colt's customer service, and I am not willing to wait 3 months to get back a firearm I just spent a year-and-a-half looking for.

I know I might sound harsh, but I really do like this pistol. Reliability is my top priority, and I have a good feeling this Colt is going to deliver. Nothing is more frustrating that a semi-auto pistol that won't cycle. I also feel that the other problems with the gun are surmountable. I also look forward to working it out with a wider variety of ammo, including JHP.

In summary:

PROS
-Reliability.
-Excellent slide-to-frame fit.
-Great sights. I am a big fan of three-dot ramped sights in general, and the sight picture is excellent.
-Beautiful finish on slide and frame.
-Mechanical accuracy (?)

CONS
-Unacceptable and inconsistent trigger feel. I really hope it breaks in and feels markedly better.
-Shoddy quality of ambi thumb safety.
-Razor-sharp trigger pad.


Anyway, on to the pics!






Note the rather tight (for a production-line gun) tolerances between the rear of the slide and the frame:




Here is my best target of the day. This was shot at 10 yards. On almost every magazine, I was putting the first shot way low and to the left. As I began to compensate for and adjust to the stiff trigger, my groupings got better.


Last edited by Fishbed77; October 12, 2012 at 08:55 AM.
Fishbed77 is online now  
Old October 12, 2012, 09:53 AM   #2
Creeper
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 9, 2008
Location: Woooooshington
Posts: 1,797
Congrats on the XSE...

You probably know all this already, but...

Series 80 firing pin safety parts are seldom the issue with a heavy trigger pull... and as they came with the gun, I'd not be removing them unless the gun is to be used purely for target shooting.
You might try detail stripping the gun, cleaning and applying proper lubrication to all fire control parts. With some guns, this will make for a very noticeable improvement. If you lived in the Puget Sound area, I'd be happy to show you how to do this, if you don't.

If you are mechanically inclined, you can, relatively easily install a "drop-in" fire control kit, such as the one sold by Cylinder and Slide for the series 80. If you're really mechanically inclined... you can read up on (there's tons of DIY guides with photos on the internet) and do your own trigger job. If you can't pound sand into a rat hole... then get to know a good 1911 gunsmith.

Same deal with the safety... although in reality, there is no such animal as a drop-in safety, unless you just get really lucky. It's not really difficult to fit one, but you do need to understand the relationship of the safety and sear.

Thanks to John Holbrook/THR forums for the excellent cutaway photos. The secondary sear angle is nicely visible here as well.



Cheers,
C
__________________
Shoulder Drive Nicholson Club
Creeper is offline  
Old October 12, 2012, 10:11 AM   #3
crazy charlie
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 29, 2008
Location: PA
Posts: 166
Thanks for the report.
I wouldn't try any 'self fixes' for warranty reasons.
8lb. trigger? I couldn't/wouldn't tolerate that. That's about double what I'd expect from a Colt.
Nice looking pistol, though.
crazy charlie is offline  
Old October 12, 2012, 02:33 PM   #4
RickB
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 1, 2000
Location: Western WA
Posts: 5,714
Colt has bought their safeties, both thumb and grip, from a number of different vendors. Your gun appears to have the "current" beavertail grip safety, but a thumb safety that was superceded three or four years ago. Colt doesn't let anything go to waste, so they may have had to substitute the older design.
RickB is offline  
Old October 22, 2012, 05:11 PM   #5
dgludwig
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 12, 2005
Location: North central Ohio
Posts: 5,182
A really good trigger is one of the best reasons to have a 1911 pistol. A 1911 pistol having an 8 pound pull is simply unacceptable, imo, and, unfortunately, I don't believe any amount of "break-in" shots is going to make that much difference in making a trigger "smoother"; much less ending up with a significantly lighter pull. Any decent gunsmith familiar with the 1911 trigger/sear design should be able to change a mediocre pull into a good one. Otherwise, if the pistol were mine, a trip back to Colt would be in order.
__________________
ONLY AN ARMED PEOPLE CAN BE TRULY FREE ; ONLY AN UNARMED PEOPLE CAN EVER BE ENSLAVED
...Aristotle
NRA Benefactor Life Member
dgludwig is offline  
Old October 25, 2012, 02:58 PM   #6
Fishbed77
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 23, 2010
Posts: 2,712
Last week, I took the time to fully detail strip the frame and give everything a good cleaning and lubrication. I was a little apprehensive about stripping due to the Series 80 parts, but I shouldn't have been. It really wasn't difficult at all.

While I had her apart, I used the opportunity to lightly polish the trigger bow and remove a few burrs from the trigger track, which was surprisingly rough, considering the excellent finish of the rest of the frame. I also broke (very slightly) the razor edges of the aluminum trigger pad. I know my limits, though, and I made absolutely no alterations to the disconnector/sear/hammer engagements.

I also used the opportunity to stone the very rough "inside" face of both sides of the ambi safety (not the engagement surfaces!); I smoothed out the areas that were making marks on outside of the frame. Using 1200-grit sandpaper and a polishing cloth, I was able to completely remove the scratches from the frame (but not the matte-finished plunger tube). The end result on the frame looks impeccable - as if the scratches were never there.

The end results were fantastic - the thumb safety now works perfectly, with a satisfying "click" into both the fire and safe positions. The trigger is now breaking at a consistent 5lb, 2oz. Not very light, but I can live with this, since it's consistent. Maybe I've get a trigger job down the road - maybe not.

But right now I can say I'm VERY happy with my new Colt!
Fishbed77 is online now  
Old October 30, 2012, 10:10 AM   #7
solitude127
Member
 
Join Date: December 5, 2011
Location: Southern California
Posts: 74
Quote:
The mix of the matte finish with the brushed finish of the flats looks amazing as well, but I do wonder how it's going to hold up.
Fishbed,
In what ways do you feel the finish will not hold up? I just bought the same firearm and really like it.
solitude127 is offline  
Old October 30, 2012, 10:27 AM   #8
loose_holster_dan
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 5, 2011
Location: NE Ohio
Posts: 2,420
that's a real nice first!
__________________
Favorite range gun for the money - CZ 75B or STI Spartan V 9mm
Go-to carry setup - Walther PPS or PPQ in FIST kydex holster 1AK
Favorite semi-auto design - HK P7
"A Sig is like a lightsaber - not as clumsy or random as a Glock."
loose_holster_dan is offline  
Old October 30, 2012, 02:21 PM   #9
Fishbed77
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 23, 2010
Posts: 2,712
Quote:
Fishbed,
In what ways do you feel the finish will not hold up? I just bought the same firearm and really like it.
It seems to me like the matte finish of the heavily bead-blasted areas might be easily prone to scratching. For example, look how quickly the matte-finished plunger tube was scratched by the thumb safety in the photos above.

I've since corrected the thumb safety fit, and was able to easily buff the scratches it had created on the polished flats of the frame, but there's no easy way to remove the scratched/worn area from the plunger tube.
Fishbed77 is online now  
Old October 30, 2012, 02:50 PM   #10
Constantine
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 5, 2010
Location: Miami, Florida
Posts: 5,188
Yeah, they have that finish on the Colt's. I think to handle glare for one reason. Don't know the rest of the reasons.

Amazing pistol. Enjoy love my Colt GC
__________________
Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium. Ímperet ílli Déus, súpplices deprecámur: tuque, prínceps milítiæ cæléstis, Sátanam aliósque spíritus malígnos, qui ad perditiónem animárum pervagántur in múndo, divína virtúte, in inférnum detrúde. Ámen
Constantine is offline  
Old October 30, 2012, 04:15 PM   #11
solitude127
Member
 
Join Date: December 5, 2011
Location: Southern California
Posts: 74
Quote:
It seems to me like the matte finish of the heavily bead-blasted areas might be easily prone to scratching. For example, look how quickly the matte-finished plunger tube was scratched by the thumb safety in the photos above.

I've since corrected the thumb safety fit, and was able to easily buff the scratches it had created on the polished flats of the frame, but there's no easy way to remove the scratched/worn area from the plunger tube.
Thank you for the explanation. If you don't mind me asking another question (hopefully you may know the answer), what's the best way to add a basepad to the factory magazine?
solitude127 is offline  
Old October 30, 2012, 04:52 PM   #12
8t6gt
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 27, 2008
Location: The land of wolverines
Posts: 120
Awesome! I can't wait until I can afford my own 1911. But finance's for a thousand dollar pistol just aren't there right now unfortunitly.
8t6gt is offline  
Old October 30, 2012, 10:48 PM   #13
Fishbed77
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 23, 2010
Posts: 2,712
Quote:
Thank you for the explanation. If you don't mind me asking another question (hopefully you may know the answer), what's the best way to add a basepad to the factory magazine?
I don't think that will be possible on the flush-fit 8-round Colt magazines, since the baseplate is integral to the mag body and is not removable.

If you are just looking for a way to avoid scratching up the stock mag base plates from repeated mag drops, you would probably be better off just buying Chip McCormick Power Mags or Wilson 47Ds with their chunky plastic baseplates.
Fishbed77 is online now  
Old October 31, 2012, 06:21 AM   #14
Kreyzhorse
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 12, 2006
Location: NKY
Posts: 11,482
Very good post Fishbed.
__________________
"He who laughs last, laughs dead." Homer Simpson
Kreyzhorse is offline  
Old October 31, 2012, 07:29 AM   #15
Hal
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 9, 1998
Location: Ohio USA
Posts: 7,435
Nice!
Nice to see also you went with "the best" 1911 (Colt).
.
Hal is offline  
Old October 31, 2012, 02:22 PM   #16
solitude127
Member
 
Join Date: December 5, 2011
Location: Southern California
Posts: 74
Here's a pic of mine which is my first 1911 as well. Great minds think alike.
uploadfromtaptalk1351711330515.jpg

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy S III
solitude127 is offline  
Old October 31, 2012, 04:27 PM   #17
Fishbed77
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 23, 2010
Posts: 2,712
Quote:
Here's a pic of mine which is my first 1911 as well. Great minds think alike.
uploadfromtaptalk1351711330515.jpg
That certainly looks familiar!

One thing I've noticed about my particular pistol is that the rosewood grips look much darker (they have a very tight grain and appear less red) than those on your pistol, the photos shown on the Colt website, or pretty much any other XSE I've seen.

I'm not complaining. I personally prefer the darker look and the grips are actually very nice.
Fishbed77 is online now  
Old October 31, 2012, 06:56 PM   #18
RickB
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 1, 2000
Location: Western WA
Posts: 5,714
Quote:
Thank you for the explanation. If you don't mind me asking another question (hopefully you may know the answer), what's the best way to add a basepad to the factory magazine?
I like the Pachmayr pads. They come with a jig for drilling the baseplate for mounting screws, or you can use contact cement. I've done it both ways, and never had a problem. http://www.brownells.com/magazines/h...-prod9768.aspx
RickB is offline  
Old October 31, 2012, 07:16 PM   #19
Mystro
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 26, 2004
Location: Central Pa.
Posts: 1,165
I have owned 4 Colt 1911's, 2 for IPSC Limited and two for carry. All of them required a talented gunsmith to make them right. Today, I can buy a low-mid grade Kimber for the same money as a Colt and it will run circles around the Colt as a finished product. If you must have the name "Colt" on the side of your gun, then you are gonna need to put some money into it. That's just the way it is.
Just some food for thought.

Last edited by Mystro; October 31, 2012 at 08:23 PM.
Mystro is offline  
Old October 31, 2012, 08:35 PM   #20
solitude127
Member
 
Join Date: December 5, 2011
Location: Southern California
Posts: 74
Quote:
I have owned 4 Colt 1911's, 2 for IPSC Limited and two for carry. All of them required a talented gunsmith to make them right. Today, I can buy a low-mid grade Kimber for the same money as a Colt and it will run circles around the Colt as a finished product. If you must have the name "Colt" on the side of your gun, then you are gonna need to put some money into it. That's just the way it is.
Just some food for thought.
What kind of gunsmithing work needed to be done?
solitude127 is offline  
Old October 31, 2012, 08:50 PM   #21
Mystro
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 26, 2004
Location: Central Pa.
Posts: 1,165
Thats a can of worms but here are a few....Trigger job, barrel/bushing, tighening the slide, extractor/ejector tuning, springs/guide rod, custom sights, etc. the sky's the limit. A competent gunsmith will be able to go over the entire gun and break it down for you as far as your needs and your expectations. I had a very notibale gunsmith known for his IPSC guns. With gunsmithing, you get what you pay for and you will get on a waiting line to have work done. For me it's all about accuracy and reliability. I shoot out to 50 yards and if I can't stack bullets with a 1911 at 15 yards there is a problem. These are the most enherantly accurate automatic pistols and they really can sing with the right nip and tuck.
Mystro is offline  
Old November 1, 2012, 09:59 AM   #22
Fishbed77
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 23, 2010
Posts: 2,712
Quote:
I have owned 4 Colt 1911's, 2 for IPSC Limited and two for carry. All of them required a talented gunsmith to make them right.
All I can say is that my Colt has been 100% reliable from the first shot. That seems pretty "right" to me.

That's a LOT more than I can say for a lot of 1911s I've encountered (including Kimbers, S&Ws, and SIGs).

I agree that the sky's the limit for improvements/modifications, though. My two main issues with my particular pistol described above (poorly-fit thumb safety and stiff trigger) have been adressed at this point, however, and I am very happy with this Colt.
Fishbed77 is online now  
Old November 1, 2012, 11:20 AM   #23
Constantine
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 5, 2010
Location: Miami, Florida
Posts: 5,188
Now that you mention it...My grip safety on my Gold Cup is loose and rattles like a champ. My others aren't like that.
__________________
Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium. Ímperet ílli Déus, súpplices deprecámur: tuque, prínceps milítiæ cæléstis, Sátanam aliósque spíritus malígnos, qui ad perditiónem animárum pervagántur in múndo, divína virtúte, in inférnum detrúde. Ámen
Constantine is offline  
Old November 1, 2012, 11:56 AM   #24
Fishbed77
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 23, 2010
Posts: 2,712
Quote:
Now that you mention it...My grip safety on my Gold Cup is loose and rattles like a champ. My others aren't like that.
A slight adjustment to the grip safety spring angle will fix that.
Fishbed77 is online now  
Old November 1, 2012, 12:28 PM   #25
RickB
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 1, 2000
Location: Western WA
Posts: 5,714
Quote:
Thats a can of worms but here are a few....Trigger job, barrel/bushing, tighening the slide, extractor/ejector tuning, springs/guide rod, custom sights, etc. the sky's the limit. A competent gunsmith will be able to go over the entire gun and break it down for you as far as your needs and your expectations. I had a very notibale gunsmith known for his IPSC guns. With gunsmithing, you get what you pay for and you will get on a waiting line to have work done. For me it's all about accuracy and reliability. I shoot out to 50 yards and if I can't stack bullets with a 1911 at 15 yards there is a problem. These are the most enherantly accurate automatic pistols and they really can sing with the right nip and tuck.
Since Colt has never made a hi-cap, your experiences with Colts in Limited competition must be almost twenty years ago?

I bought a new Colt in 2004, for IDPA competition, but the gun is also legal for USPSA Single Stack, and other than installing an ambi safety and a fitted bushing, it's good to go. And it's the cheaper "1991", not an XSE. I wouldn't trade any of my Colts for anything Kimber makes.

Kimber fills their $1500 guns with $5 parts, and stamps "Custom" on them. If they spent as much money on their guns as they do on full-page color ads, I might be interested. I will give Kimber credit for making other 1911 makers up their game, but that was ten-fifteen years ago.
RickB is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:53 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.13854 seconds with 8 queries