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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have been reading this site for a bit and trying to absorb everything but I have a question. I currently have a Colt Light Weight Commander that has been worked over and I love the pistol. It has been 100% and has given me faith in a good 1911 that is a first time for me. Had a few 1911's by a major manufacture in NY that never worked correctly. But I have become hooked on the 1911 now!

I would like to purchase one of the following brands: Les Baer, Ed Brown or Wilson Combat. I have friends that have all 3 brands and they all swear by their pistol. I have shot a Wilson CQB and a Les Baer but have not shot the Ed Brown.

So my question is what really is the difference between all of these pistols?

A buddy of mine has a Les Baer with the accuracy package and swears by not only that pistol but the entire Les Baer line. I shot his Baer right along with his Springfiled Armory custom shop pistol and I will say there is a difference. I did notice when reading the Ed Brown website they state that their 5" guns will shoot 1.5" at 50 yards standard when shooting match quality ammo. Les Baer charges an extra $300 for the pistol to do this. Is this true? Any real world experience with this?

I have liked the looks of the Ed Brown and it seems that the finish and fit of the Ed Brown seem to be a bit nicer than a Baer but the Baer seem to work which is the most important thing for me. My intention is to shoot IDPA and bowling pin matches with it but would like a pistol I can carry as well. I do not want target sights, I want fixed tritium sights.

So with all that said what really is the difference between the 3 brands? The prices tend to be close when comparing apples to apples.

Thanks for the input guys!

PS No brand wars please, just trying to wrap my head around all the manufactures claims and if any of it really is better than the other.

David
 

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I read up on forums for nearly two years prior to my first semi-custom purchase.
I rented a couple and fondled a bunch first. I helps to get your hands on them but you can sure learn from others on these forums as well in the mean-time.

I have a Nighthawk (purchased new) and a Wilson (purchased used). I have had problems with both guns but one is fixed (after the first trip to the factory) and the other needs to go back to the factory for the second time. That being said, I like the guns a lot for different reasons and was willing to resolve the problems. Nighthawk and Wilson have very good customer service. At some point it's a crap-shoot and you just need to pick the one that has the features you want and that feels good in your hands. They do feel different from manufacturer to manufacturer.
 

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Don't overlook Fusion.
L.
 

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So my question is what really is the difference between all of these pistols?
Good luck. My guess is every visitor who's read the forum threads in the categories of the Big 3 you ponder over is searching for the same answer--which is best, what's the difference... on and on.

I think PShooter got it right when he said "At some point it's a crapshoot..."

My personal answer--I like Wilson best of the three; next Brown, and I'd never ever recommend Baer because of personal experiences with their "customer service" (or lack of it). Second from the last post:http://forums.1911forum.com/showthread.php?p=1327178&highlight=baer+grind+marks#post1327178
 

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I have been reading this site for a bit and trying to absorb everything but I have a question. I currently have a Colt Light Weight Commander that has been worked over and I love the pistol. It has been 100% and has given me faith in a good 1911 that is a first time for me. Had a few 1911's by a major manufacture in NY that never worked correctly. But I have become hooked on the 1911 now!

I would like to purchase one of the following brands: Les Baer, Ed Brown or Wilson Combat. I have friends that have all 3 brands and they all swear by their pistol. I have shot a Wilson CQB and a Les Baer but have not shot the Ed Brown.

So my question is what really is the difference between all of these pistols?

A buddy of mine has a Les Baer with the accuracy package and swears by not only that pistol but the entire Les Baer line. I shot his Baer right along with his Springfiled Armory custom shop pistol and I will say there is a difference. I did notice when reading the Ed Brown website they state that their 5" guns will shoot 1.5" at 50 yards standard when shooting match quality ammo. Les Baer charges an extra $300 for the pistol to do this. Is this true? Any real world experience with this?

I have liked the looks of the Ed Brown and it seems that the finish and fit of the Ed Brown seem to be a bit nicer than a Baer but the Baer seem to work which is the most important thing for me. My intention is to shoot IDPA and bowling pin matches with it but would like a pistol I can carry as well. I do not want target sights, I want fixed tritium sights.

So with all that said what really is the difference between the 3 brands? The prices tend to be close when comparing apples to apples.

Thanks for the input guys!

PS No brand wars please, just trying to wrap my head around all the manufactures claims and if any of it really is better than the other.

David
I'm not an owner of any of the 3, but the Baer is the best value out of those. I will say Baer's tend to be rough around the edges, but you said what matters most isn't fit and finish so I assume you already notice that. As plenty here have experienced Les Baer's customer service is seriously lacking, but Brown and Wilson seem to be on target with theirs.

Also, yes, Baer does charge extra for his 1.5" package, but even with the added money it will still be cheaper than the other 2 you mentioned.

If I had to choose between those three, with your needs, I'd get a Baer.

And as someone else has already said, don't overlook Fusion.
 

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"Top Gun"

Here again .... it's a matter of personal preference.

My favorite and probably the most perfect 1911 .45 I've ever (30 yrs. of shooting ) had the pleasure of owning is an Ed Brown Massad Ayoob Signature edition. I had planned on a Kobra Carry, but couldn't turn down this special model. Although a little pricey, this pistol would compare with a Wilson Combat Bill Wilson Carry model. I tried both, and after lenghty research, my final decision was the Ed Brown. It has precision and balance beyond measure.
Again ...... it's a personal preference based on the type of 1911 you wish to purchase, and remember to take into consideration if it will be used for carry, range, overall weight, quality, customer service, and finally the price you wish to pay.
There are many quality 1911's in the 800-1000 dollar price range. I also have a Smith & Wesson 1911 ES, which has been perfect, and has top- notch quality and precision out of the box, for it's price.
Enjoy your decision making ........... :D
 

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I have one each, of the listed examples plus a Springfield Pro, all purchased new. Have to agree that at this level, its a "crapshoot" and it boils down to personal preferences and availability. It should go without saying that all four have excellant fit and finish, as they should for the price. Some specific comments on the four:

Wilson CQB: Nice trigger out-of-box. The most pricey of the three.

Ed Brown SF: Nice trigger out-of-the-box.

Springfield Pro: Aggressive grip checkering which some might object to.
Trigger pull a lb heavier than the CQB or EB, but as-
advertised. Hard to find.

LB: Not any tighter than any of the other three. Blued finish which probably
isn't as durable as the painted finish of the others. Trigger had a bit
of creep and was a lb heavier (although as-advertised) than the CQB
or EB, both conditions easily rectified.

Value-wise, it would be pretty hard to beat the LB. Haven't had to test the Customer Service on any of them. Beyond that, you really can't make a wrong choice. It appears that with the exception of the Pro, all can be had with whatever special order features (ambi safety, no FCS, etc) with little or no delay.

Good luck.
 

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After 40 years of buying 1911's, I finally stopped buying from the general market and went to a 1911 gunsmith and started to have them built for me.

My last two cost me $1400 each. One was made with a STI slide and frame I bought and the other was made with a Remsport frame, barrel and slide that I bought.

I picked out and bought almost all the parts and used a mixture of Ed Brown, Wilson, EGW, Cylinder and Silde and other high end parts and took them to my gunsmith Dave Santurri.

I kept the pistols Stainless steel and series 70. I eliminated every thing that adds extra cost that I didn't want any way. Things like the Front grab serrations, french cut, front grip checking that I never liked.

When I got them I buffed the SS on each pistol and then used Mothers Mag wax and to be honest I really had a lot more fun and enjoyment doing it that way and I got exactly what I wanted.

Find a good 1911 gunsmith and sit down and talk to him.
 

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After 40 years of buying 1911's, I finally stopped buying from the general market and went to a 1911 gunsmith and started to have them built for me.

My last two cost me $1400 each. One was made with a STI slide and frame I bought and the other was made with a Remsport frame, barrel and slide that I bought.

I picked out and bought almost all the parts and used a mixture of Ed Brown, Wilson, EGW, Cylinder and Silde and other high end parts and took them to my gunsmith Dave Santurri.

I kept the pistols Stainless steel and series 70. I eliminated every thing that adds extra cost that I didn't want any way. Things like the Front grab serrations, french cut, front grip checking that I never liked.

When I got them I buffed the SS on each pistol and then used Mothers Mag wax and to be honest I really had a lot more fun and enjoyment doing it that way and I got exactly what I wanted.

Find a good 1911 gunsmith and sit down and talk to him.
That could be a very good way to get a quality gun, if your smith knows what he is doing with 1911's, or you could go to Fusion and have one built for $1,300 to $2,000 and get great custom gun made to your specs and with an Ion Bond finish if you prefer... These guy's put alot of "Love" into their builds.
 

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I've owned one Wilson and three Baers.

The Wilson was definitely built a little looser, but it was still accurate and reliable. There was a bit more attention paid to polishing out the toolmarks, but they were present on both guns. The Wilson also had a bit more attention given to softening the sharp corners on the gun.

But I never could reconcile myself to the style of the CQB, especially the paint job. In the end I traded it off for another Baer, and have no regrets.

I've never run across a Brown I felt compelled to buy, so I can't comment on them past the impressions I've gained by handling them in a few shops. They seem well built and I have no doubt they're of similar quality. Like Wilson, I generally exclude them from consideration because of their features and appearance.
 

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I have a Wilson and a Baer. I prefer the Baer for two reasons, one valid and the other probably baloney.

First the baloney. The fit of my slide to frame on the Baer is very tight, and I like that. By comparison, the Wilson has some detectable movement. I have no good reason to complain because the Wilson came with a test target showing 1" at 25 yards, and from my shooting of it I believe it's capable of that. I shouldn't care, but it nags at me. Stupid.

The second reason is due exclusively to Wilson's painted finish. It's touted to be durable, and that might be true in a functional sense, but it's not in a cosmetic sense. Mine started showing significant holster wear almost immediately. Worse, I find the painted finishes slippery. By comparison, my blued Baer feels rock solid in my hand. The Wilson is so slick to me that I'm considering replacing the stock slim grips with something with some grit. That may fix it enough to eliminate my objection, but I haven't tried it yet.

I chose my Wilson due to their reputation for customer service, and I have been more than satisfied. I'd buy another if the need presented itself, but I'd opt out of the painted finish and go stainless.
 

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I've only been able to handle a Les Baer and Ed Brown at a local gun show. Neither vendor would cut the zip-tie so I could rack the slide. The Baer looked OK, but rather pedestrian. The Brown Kobra Carry was black -- I presume their GenIII finish -- and it looked like it'd been spray painted with a can of Testor's model car paint. I decided on a Wilson Professional and couldn't be happier. Their ArmorTuff finish is outstanding. At this tier, it really is a matter of personal preference. Either way, I'm sure you'll come out a winner.
 

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I own two Baer pistols and they are more business than beauty. Very well made with high quality parts.

The couple of Ed Brown pistols that I have shot and handled are just sweet shooters, the Executive was the nicest 1911 I have ever shot.

I have only handle a few Wilson pistols but have never shot one. They seem to be very well made and finished.
 

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I'm not expert but have been doing a lot of research in the last several months.

Let's face it you are asking which semi-custom pistol to get. Well my research led me to the following conclusion: That all of them are going to work exceptionally well and the only real difference between them will be their look.

Every person I talk to (online/at the range/ at the gun stores) swears by what they bought. There is no ONE prevailing company that produces a better semi-custom than all the others. Sure they all claims theirs is the best but lets be real, when a company has the balls to charge you $2,500.00 + for a pistol, they have to claim that theirs come second to no none.

The true list you should be consider is: EB, Wilson, Nighthawk, Les baer (cheaper than the rest), Fusion(you will need to wait longer to receive your gun – at least that’s the consensus online, I wouldn’t know because they can not be bought in CA), Springfield Custom, and like others before said … building your own from a Colt or other 1911 base.

I have handle most of them and I would say that you will find the best finish on the EB and the Nighthawk.

One more thing to consider is the options of the 1911. If you are interested in the following options: like flat serrated slide with checking on the back, crown barrel, beveled slide, different sights, bobtail, a specific trigger and so on, I would get the 1911 that had all or at least the majority of your wants /needs. A trip to the gunsmith is not cheap and after spending $2,500.00 + the last thing you want is to start fixing it.

Most importantly set a budget. If you want to spend no more than 2K, a Les Baer would be great but if you don’t mind spending the extra cash ……….than get the one you fall in love with. Trust me it is always a love in first sight

Good luck
 

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4th option for me

I vote with Bugs100 and JefferyJ. Find a GOOD 1911 smith, talk to him. Take your time to decide on every detail. Shop for a base gun based on where you and your smith want to start and where you want to go. Afford him/her the opportunity to make it like YOU want it. Make everyone after that with the same smith and with the same features. I am not personally familiar with Fusion, but I think they might come close to what I am saying and have done. This is YOUR pistol. Have it done the way you want. It's worth it!

YMMV

Best Regards,
Tapper
 

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I own 7 Browns. But all makes are fine.

Baers tend to be a little too tight for my comfort level. He likes to take significantly over-sized parts and fit them extra tight. Honestly...they are probably the most accurate, but that is to be expected when they are that tight. And you have to decide if you can even shoot to that level of accuracy by hand. HINT: Unless I know your last name from the competition circuit, you probably can't. :biglaugh:

Brown only makes one pistol: fit, tightness, parts, etc. The ONLY differences are cosmetic. This has a lot of appeal to some people (like me). There is no "upgrade" or holding back with them. They make "their best" every time.

Wilson is the most customizable of the semi-customs. I call them the Kimber of the customs! But I mean that in all of the positive ways. They will make just about any caliber you wish, with any finish you will pay for, and any tightness you can stand. They also tend to be the most expensive feature for feature.

Hope this helps.

You won't dislike any of them.

Regards,
Greyson
 

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All else being equal..WILSON HAS FANTASTIC SERVICE!!!! Wilson help is beyond great. No where in the gun industry will you get this type of help if needed. You can always talk to someone there. They are always willing to listen and take it back for repair and make it right if needed.
Good luck:)
 

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Never cared for Baer's tight slide - frame fit. Ed Browns, Nighthawk and Wilson are comparable in my opinion. Customer Service with Wilson is excellent, so that is what sells me on Wilson.
 

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I am in the exact same spot as the OP. I am looking for an accurate 1911 on the high end side (Been eyeing the SA TRP PRO). I want to start IDPA USPSA and use it as a carry gun for self defense. I have been reading and reading and reading. The main thing that I saw from the above posts is that the feel is important to you all.

What is the difference in the feel for all of these guns? They are all 1911s.

P.S. I am new to the 1911 world. Just got my first one this summer (SA Mil-Spec fitted with Ed Brown Mainspring housing, Beavertail, Hammer, Trigger and Extended Thumb Safety. Looking for sights for it but dont know what the rear sight cut is.).
 
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