Auto-Ordnance 1911 BKO review

Auto-Ordnance 1911BKO review

When I buy guns, I rarely keep them factory.  Normally new firearms serve as the base for a custom project.  Often, I’ll buy a gun with the express purpose of customizing it, many times, before it is even shot.  Take this pistol, an Auto-Ordnance 1911BKO, I bought it because I was looking for a base for a custom build.  Once I got it and shot it, I really began to appreciate it as a US made entry-level 1911.

I’m very much a plastic pistol guy.  But seriously, how much customizing can you do on a Glock?  Extensive milling of the slide and melting plastic with a wood burning kit aren’t going to give it a soul.  On the other hand the 1911 is pure panache.   The classic hundred-something year old design combines classical elegance with a platform that begs for personal customization.   When I was looking for a complete 1911 pistol to build on, my criteria was simple; I wanted an inexpensive gun that wasn’t enhanced from the factory and it had to be made in the USA.  The 1911BKO fit the bill nicely.

Why start with a complete gun rather than parts?  Well for one, you can see how it shoots before you start playing with it.  And while there are few things more impressive than a well fit, hand-built from the ground up 1911; you can complete a pretty cool semi custom pistol on a budget when starting with a gun like this.

If you take a look around you’ll notice my love/hate relationship with a wide variety of firearm designs.   Some of my 1911 comments may be on the snarky side, but in fairness, I think they are pretty much spot on.   A few years ago when I wrote my review of the Colt USMC M45A1 (which I feel is the best written review of the M45A1 to date), I discussed my personal history with the 1911 and many of the problems I’ve had with the platform. That doesn’t mean I’m not a fan, just a realist.  Despite some pretty awful 1911 experiences, I haven’t given up. You’ll note the extensive 1911 projects I’ve worked on so far were built on Remington and Colt pistols.  These guns all have one important quality.  They were built in the USA.   No Pacific rim sweat shop pistols here.

Enter the Auto-Ordnance 1911.  This 5″ pistol is made in Massachusetts and available for a very reasonable price, making it an ideal candidate for a first time customization (no sense butchering a Colt if you are learning).  At the time of this post (2/2017), MSRP is $588 with a considerably lower street price!

The 1911BKO looks very similar to an original matte black 1911. Most notably the ejection port isn’t lowered and flared, just like the original.  Some features are incorrect to the period, including the grip safety which is slightly over sized, serrated front sight and series 80 firing pin block- but no complaints here.

Fit and finish is excellent for the price point and both are much nicer than a current production Remington R1 (the earlier R1s seemed to be a bit nicer).  Slide to frame fit is decent and the barrel fit is acceptable.  Pushing down on the chamber end of the barrel does give a small amount of play.

There has been some discussion as to the construction of the Auto-Ordnance 1911 frames. Years ago they were supposedly machined from Spanish castings, this is no longer the case.  They are now machined from bar stock, just like the slide.

The almost period correct sights are low profile and bring you back to the old days.  The serrated front sight is staked not dovetailed, something I view as a plus because I like to machine my own dovetails for aftermarket sights. The brown plastic grips give the gun an issued look.  Each 1911BKO comes with one 7-round magazine.

The trigger wasn’t particularly smooth (gritty) and broke at a little over 6 pounds.  For a 1911 the trigger wasn’t great, however it certainly was serviceable (dude, I shoot Glocks).  I’m sure with a little work you could clean it up nice.

Heading to the range with a some factory Winchester 230 grain hardball I was looking forward to putting the 1911BKO through its paces.  To test the pistol I used a Safariland paddle holster and a mix of 7 and 8 round magazines.  During normal one and two-handed shooting, reliably was 100% when a magazine was inserted into the pistol.  The only issues that I encountered occurred when I fired it ten times without a magazine to check the extractor tension.  It failed to completely cycle 9/10 times. Traditionally this indicates inadequate extractor tension.  Besides that one series of shots, it functioned flawlessly.

Above is my 7-yard five circle drill target.  All things considered (small sights, rough trigger, Glock shooter) the pistol handled very well.

Raising the stakes a bit, I shot a qualification course from a target distance of 50 yards all the way to point-blank range.  The pistol never missed a beat.

I bought the Auto-Ordnance 1911BKO to customize it.  Turns out, it is a nice little pistol on its own.  With this gun you have a US made 1911 that functions well for a street price of less that $500 (2/2017). I don’t see many down sides to it!

Want to buy an Auto-Ordnance 1911BKO, check out Brownells!

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