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"Hard Use" Operator

2750 Views 19 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  shadow45

Kimber Customized by MD Labs - "Operator" Option
  • Full reliability workover
    ISMI springs, lap and tune extractor, fitted spare extractor, lap and throat barrel, check and adjust headpsace, polish chamber, dehorn and polish internal ways and tunnels, bond grip bushings, check safeties, check plunger fit, restake plunger, square and crown barrel, lap and true breechface, test fire and zero.
  • Blend gross tool marks inside frame
  • STI carbon fiber trigger
  • Trigger job with new pins
  • MD Labs composite GunGrips
  • Hex grip screws
  • Dehorn
  • Super TefCoat2 finish on slide, parts, &
  • spare extractor
  • Refinish frame and stainless parts
  • Koenig hammer Tool steel hammer and EGW sear
  • Tool steel firing pin stop
  • Heavy duty spring guide and plug
  • STI stainless firing pin
  • SVI match bushing
  • New slide stop
  • 20lpi serrations on front strap
  • New Mad Dog semi arched mainspring housing
  • Ashley Express sights with tritium front


Mainspring Housing and Bevertail


More Images at http://www.dbl-tap.com Select Gun Fun from the menu on the left.


[This message has been edited by Bubba (edited 09-08-2001).]
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Looks to be a nice pistol. Given the "hard use" concept, I would question whether that Koenig hammer is appropriate. The split that lightens (and weakens) the hammer would seem to make it susceptible to damage if the pistol were dropped or if the holstered pistol were smashed into a doorframe or similar. The beavertail will help protect it and I'm sure the part is very high quality, but given the "hard use" concept, it seems a strange choice.

Likewise, a "hard use" pistol would seem to be better off with a solid trigger, as twigs and junk could find their way into the holes in a perforated trigger. Given that a "hard use" (as opposed to "game") pistol wouldn't have an ultra-light trigger pull (probably 4-pounds, crisp), trigger bounce with the slightly heavier trigger wouldn't seem to be a problem.

Lastly (and admittedly a minor point), I question the use of torx stock screws and an allen-head mag catch lock on a "hard use" pistol. An operator afield will almost certainly have his trusty Leatherman tool or similar, but he may not have an assortment of torx and allen wrenches. I think that slot-heads would be more appropriate on a "hard use" pistol.

Understand, I am not suggesting that this isn't an excellent pistol or that Steve Morrison's work thereon is other than top-notch. Clearly, the work is superbly executed. I just think these few items cited have strayed a bit from the "hard use" marketing concept.

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I thought the Hard Use pistols didn't get the beavertail safeties. Roscoe makes some very good points.

"What most of these people need is a good slap upside the head. What I don't need is any more lawsuits." John "The Tooz" Matusak
Hi Rosco

When the huning hammer first came out it had problems, um... it cracked, and often.

turns out George's heat treater did half the heat treat and did not draw them back down. how about a 66 rc hammer, Not a good plan

Steve asked for a solid hammer and we are out, I suspect in the future they will be solid though (about 2 weeks)

we did change the cutter that does the lightning slots and generate a corner radius the whole length, also the hammer is 53 to 54 rc which is no where as brittle. (good reason to buy a rockwell tester if you manufacture parts.)

they do fall fast though

geo ><>

ps Nice clean looking gun.
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George, I agree that the Koenig hammer is a much better and longer-lived low-mass hammer than the titanium units. The one pistol I've tried with the Koenig hammer had a superb match trigger pull and lock-time was noticeably faster. I would be content and confident with one on any of my pistols (as long as it was one of the perfected units, not one of those brittle ones (RC 66 on a hammer...yikes!). Still, I was surprised to see one on a pistol that is marketed as being set up for "hard use".

By the way, I am delighted with the new top-end you put together for my old Series 70. It runs great and hits where it looks.

Nice gun bubba. I have heard of an MD Labs that makes kydex holsters but I am not familiar with this gun. Is it from the same place? If not can someone give me a link. I would like to check them out.
Originally posted by WaltherP99man:
Nice gun bubba. I have heard of an MD Labs that makes kydex holsters but I am not familiar with this gun. Is it from the same place? If not can someone give me a link. I would like to check them out.
Same company! They also make knives.


Let me address your concerns as I understand them. Steve certainly does not need me to defend his work. But since what turned out to be a prototype was originally build for me personally and then later adopted as a "Hard Use" variant, I have a little insight.

The hammer, as George mentioned, was my fault. Steve wanted a solid hammer. The remaining pistols under contract will have those. I was impatient and wanted my pistol back. I agreed to this compromise in order to get the pistol to me in my time frame. My compromise, not Steve's.

The STI trigger. Steve does excellent trigger work. But this one is exceptional. There is VERY little take up in this trigger. It breaks so clean and crisp that everyone who has tried it looks up in amazement. You are right, I specified a 4 lb break and it is right on the money. While on the surface it might look like the holes could cause something to bind, in fact there is so little movement in the trigger that NONE of the hole in the trigger goes back into the frame. The solid portion of the trigger is flush with the frame when fully depressed. No chance for anything to bind.

The hex screws? Ok.. maybe there is a point there. But even you admit this one is a minor thing. For me, it will be a non-issue. I don't take the grips off in the field. They have been put on with blue loctite. The mag catch is the only one where I can see a potential for a field use problem. But like I said. This was the prototype. If that turns out to be the only issue, I'd say its a pretty good first effort.
Most of the issues you have taken will be addressed in the production units. And if the torx/allen screws are an issue for someone, they can certainly be specified as flathead on order.

While I don't have a large number of rounds through it yet, (Weather issues here in central Texas) the 100 or so the first morning were flawless. While I have trained with a few of your contemporaries, I still consider myself an advanced beginner.
But it shot a great group for me first mag; just under an inch for 5 rounds at 7 yards. And it continued to do so all morning. So far I am very happy with it. I still need to really wring it out. But right now, I feel it is in a class with any of the other top smiths.

You may take issue with some of the comments from MD Labs. You have been almost as vocal in your comments about MD Labs as Kevin has been with his. But the bottom line is, Steve does outstanding work. And that is ALL that matters to me.

Best Regards.


(Edited for typos)

[This message has been edited by Bubba (edited 09-09-2001).]
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How does Steve adjust headpsace on a factory barrel if the chamber is cut too deep?

Out of curiousity, how does one lap an extractor?

One minor suggestion, shouldn't a 'hard use' gun have a soldered plunger tube instead of being 'restaked'? Lastly, was the MIM part changed to barstock? Kimbers have MIM plunger tubes.

I'm not bashing MD Labs' work, just curious on how they perform certain operations. I have a set of his GunGrips and they work great. However, they'e currently being borrowed by a Spec Ops operator. He said they fit nice in his hand.
Originally posted by TimW:
Same company! They also make knives.


Thanks Tim. I am familiar with Mad Dog Knives, just didn't know they had branched out into 1911 'smithing. After reading the rest of the posts I realized that Bubba's gun is first in a line. Hope to see more from these guys. If they make guns like they do knives and kydex, should be real good for going in those "ugly" places
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Hi Rosco. You make some good points. A rebuttal on my part if you don't mind.

With regards to the Koenig low mass hammer I normally use the solid version.

I have tested the low mass hammer (like everything else we use) extensively and have no reservations about them breaking. The amount of abuse the Koenig hammer can take from a ball pein hammer far exceeds anything incurred from banging into steel door jambs or being dropped onto concrete or steel. Even IF the spur were to break, and it does not, the function is not impaired. The design, material, machining and heat treat of the hammmer are nothing short of superlative.

We use the Torx screws for several reasons.
Our grips, either with or without the steel locating bushing, do not compress like most other grips on the market. The compression rate and durometer of conventional materials helps keep the screws from coming loose. GunGrips require that a greater amount of torque be applied in order for the screws to stay set. We do not intend for the grips to be removed in the field, and there is no need for that under field conditions anyway. If neccesary a slotted screwdriver can be engaged in the Torx head.

I specify the STI trigger for several reasons. The quality of design, materials, and manufacture are excellent. The STI trigger is the lightest available which provides a safety margin, even on 4# trigger pulls. The finger piece is self lubricating and highly corrosion resistant, as is the titanium bow.

We are not worried about twigs and debris clogging the lightening holes. Any good holster completely covers the trigger guard.
Like Bubba said, the trigger does not move far enough back for that to be an issue. We have received nothing but positive feedback on this trigger from guys who regularly dive and crawl in the mud. I also feel there are certain ergonomic advantages to the contour of the fingerpiece.

For those who prefer a solid trigger, we offer a trigger with similar characteristics which features a solid synthetic fingerpiece and a stainless steel bow.

The mag catch lock we used was that supplied by the customer and could easily be changed out.

Obviously we can easily change screws and fingerpieces. I'll be sure and spec those when we build one for you.

MD Labs/Mad Dog Knives

[This message has been edited by strider (edited 09-09-2001).]
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If the headspace is too deep, we just throw a little weld in there and recut the chamber.

Seriously, if the headspace is too deep, we install a new barrel.

Lapping an extractor is done with abrasives to shape and true the hook.

MIM plunger tubes are fine and I am unaware of any problems with them being made via Metal Injection Molding. No need to replace things just for the sake of replacing them.

We offer the brazed plunger tube as an option. The customer in this case did not opt for it. Even Bubba has a budget.

MD Labs/Mad Dog Knives
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Originally posted by strider:
If the headspace is too deep, we just throw a little weld in there and recut the chamber.
LOL if that was the case, Bubba has a HUGE budget!
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Originally posted by Bubba:
Let me address your concerns as I understand them. Steve certainly does not need me to defend his work. (snip)

You may take issue with some of the comments from MD Labs. You have been almost as vocal in your comments about MD Labs as Kevin has been with his. But the bottom line is, Steve does outstanding work. And that is ALL that matters to me.

I hope that neither you or Steve feel the need to "defend" against my comments. Believe it or not, I have no ax to grind with MD Labs. I just saw a few things that didn't seem to fit the "hard use" concept, as promulgated by MD Labs, and I commented on them. Steve and you offered explanations for each of the areas on which I commented that make sense.

I haven't tried to be particularly "vocal" about MD Labs. MD Labs has chosen to take a marketing approach that promotes their products and services as being markedly superior to those offered by their competitors. From time to time postings from or about MD Labs, which reflect this approach, have caused me to ask "exactly HOW is it markedly better?"

I don't apologize for asking that (something about heat and a kitchen comes to mind). I think Steve and Kevin (and Bubba too) can take the heat, as your well-reasoned and informative responses on this thread demonstrate. If I were having a pistol built, Steve would be on my short list of those I would trust to do it.


[This message has been edited by Rosco Benson (edited 09-09-2001).]
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No hard feelings here.

Those are legitimate questions. I am more than happy to explain the "whys" of any modification we make or part we use. Actually I thank Roscoe and Son for giving me the opportunity to do so.

MD Labs/Mad Dog Knives
old post, i know. just wondering how that mad dog wonder super finish is holding up on the slide. is it any better than Armor-tuff or gunkote over park? seems mad dog labs says its the greatest most durable stuff ever, how does it actually hold up?
Yes, you have to love Kevin's marketing hype. Not too long ago he came out with a crowbar and a nylon belt that would cost over $500 for the pair. Oh, they were indestructible and would last a lifetime I am sure (come to think of it, I don't think I have ever worn out a crowbar) but $500? I am sure someone bought it too.
Agreed. It was the "hard use" hype that prompted my criticisms of how the pistol was spec'd out in this old thread. Steve Morrison has since left "Mad Dog" McClung's employ. The reasons for the split were alluded to over on Mad Dog's forum, but I suspect that there's another side to the story.

There's always another side to any story.

Steve is now back in UT, in business for himself, and we're glad he's here, as his 1911 work is simply top-notch, and he's a very personable guy who is quite receptive to customers' ideas and requests, and obviously LOVES the 1911 design and loves to work on it.

He knows what works and what doesn't and why.

If something on a 1911 doesn't work as it should, he can fix it, and does it right.
The quality of his work is superlative.
He can and will do work from the most minimal, like just contouring a sharp edge, all the way up to building "full-house" guns.

He's working on three different 1911s for me, and he's always very interesting to talk with, as well as being willing to talk, which is more than can be said for some other 'smiths.

His enthusiasm for his work is obvious.

Since his shop is immediately adjacent to a shooting range, it's even possible to get sighting-in work done on the spot sometimes.
(He just successively whittled down a front sight for me till POI equalled POA, for instance.)

I recommend him and his work highly.

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Steve Morrison

Make that one for me too.
Steve is good to go....very good guy.
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