This week, I went to the range with two stainless 5" Wilson 1911s, a Classic and a Classic Supergrade. Upon returning home, I noticed that it was also time to deep clean both guns (I use an ultrasonic cleaner). Later, seeing all the parts on the table, I thought that I would wait before reassembling everything and use the time to take some additional and final photos of all the parts and conduct a comparison.
The idea of a photographic comparison between a standard and a "supergraded" Wilson is not new. I have thought a lot about that since my first "Supergrade unplugged" thread, but needed to wait until I had two very similar guns. Both should be stainless, which is better suited for taking pics of small parts (doesn't work as well with blued guns).
Why only a photographic comparison? First of all, because I was not able to notice any difference by shooting the guns. Both feel and shoot as you would expect from a high-end 1911. Nor I was able to measure any relevant difference when testing with a Ransom Rest at 25 yards using quality ammunition. Another reason is because it has always been said that the difference between a Supergrade and a non-Supergrade is revealed by comparing the aesthetic details. And last but not least, because photography is another of my hobbies.
For the sake of honesty and transparency let me just say that, as you all know, I like the Wilson Combat brand and I also like Supergrades. But make no mistake, I'm not biased. I own and like other brands, and can easily make the distinction between good and not-so-good. Wilson Combat’s 1911s are no exception.
The Wilson Classic 1911 was a very agreeable surprise. The gunsmiths working on it must have been having some very good days during its genesis.
In all honesty, however, when I received the Classic Supergrade I was disappointed that it did not match the level of excellence of my first three Supergrades. There were some cosmetic and functional flaws and I had to send it back to Wilson two times. The customer service has been friendly and kudos to Tressa who personally took charge of this case. Some defects have been addressed, but some have not. I got the word that what I consider defects are within Supergrade specs. There has been a discrepancy of opinion between Wilson CS and me about what a Supergrade standard should be; they have "tolerances" and according to Wilson, this Supergrade is within those tolerances. Since I own three other Supergrades, my opinion on that matter was slightly different. So, even though I'm only partially satisfied with the outcome: "alea iacta est".
What you will see here (the side by side pics) is from the Supergrade as it exists today. Depending on how this thread evolves, I may add some additional photos of the 2012 9mm Supergrade (the one in the "Supergrade unplugged" thread).
The photos have been taken on different days during a period of three months.
Some of you may remember the broken slide stop thread. Some photos here are with the first slide stop (before it broke). Some other photos are with the second slide stop.
Now, for the experiment. I have always wanted to know how far Wilson Combat has progressed with CNC tolerances: which parts are CNC’d and assembled, and which parts require additional hand fitting on their guns.
The idea was to swap all parts between the two guns and see how they fit. With only these two guns, it's not really an empirical approach, but at least I can say it was fun to try and see what happened. As you probably noticed, I also have a Cabot Guns 1911 and it's no secret that I like the idea and concept of exchangeability.
Note: I never forced any part inside the "other" gun, nor have I shot the guns with swapped parts.
Another very important note: Please understand that I'm comparing these two guns, not all Classics vs. all Supergrade Classics. It's a random sampling - no more, no less. So feel free to comment but also be careful about drawing many conclusions. Unfortunately for this comparison, the Classic is top notch and the Supergrade is not their best effort. It is what it is.
The specifications of the contenders
Let’s start with the pics.
On single photos: First is the Classic, second is the Classic Supergrade.
On combo photos: Left (or top) is the Classic, right (or bottom) is the Classic Supergrade.
Hopefully I never swapped the positions, but for your reference you can look for this:
The slide has FCS and a green FO front sight. The frame is naked with Challis grips hex bushings. Bushing barrel.
The slide has carry and ball cuts and gold bead front sight. The frame has "Supergrade" and "Wilson Combat" markings. The grips bushings are slotted. Bull barrel.
This thread is episode 3 of a trilogy.
Click here for episode 1 and click here for episode 2.