It seems pretty clear that as handguns go, there are two categories: 1911s and non-1911s. Within the 1911 category, there seems to be, again, two categories - Kimber 1911s and non-Kimber 1911s.
After all the Kimber bashing I've heard, and all the problems claimed, I thought maybe I should try another brand - a non-Kimber 1911. I liked the look of the S&W E series and figured to try one. I did some reading up on the S&W 'E' series and guess what I found? A review by Hilton Yam that was not all that positive about the E series The problem was the recoil springs and mag springs were not necessarily compatible. I won't go into details, but it seems the right thing to do is replace the stock springs with Wolff springs.
But, gee, two springs how bad is that? So I go to my safe to see what I can trade. Well there were plenty of options, and I must trade - I don't want more, I want to downsize if at all possible and I'm not sure that is possible.
So I call around and this one S&W 'E' series was available in one gunshop, so off I go. I wanted an aluminum frame, but one wasn't available. I wanted a 4 - 4-1/4" bbl, but one wasn't available. I didn't want the rail, but one was available. So what the heck, don't be so picky I think. I did get one thing I wanted - the traditional squared off butt instead of the rounded one.
So I wind up with a S&W 'E' series 1911TA. As I understand it, the 'E' series is supposed to be S&Ws bridge between their entry level series and their top series. Here's what I acquired:
right side by ron.0000, on Flickr
and the other side:
left side by ron.0000, on Flickr
So I get this thing home, so very proud of myself, and measure the trigger pull - 5.5 lbs!!! Can that be right? So I measure it again - yep 5.5 lbs. Well, so far my Kimber clobbers that at 4.25 lbs (out of the box - they're not that now of course) - any three of them in fact. Oh well, like they claim, trigger weight doesn't matter as long as there's no creep and it breaks cleanly. I guess an 8 lb trigger would be just as good as a 3.5 lb trigger - for those that don't shoot a lot.
So I field strip it to de-factorize it and I notice when I put the barrel in the slide and engage it in the locking lugs, the barrel can move back and forth about a 1/16". My Kimbers don't do that. At least I've never noticed it. Hmmm, can that be good?
And then to get completely shallow about it, I can't stand the way the ambi safety has that lever-looking thing that goes under the grip panel - in simple words, I think it's very distracting from an otherwise pretty nice looking gun.
Anyway, I start shooting it and notice how great it is that trigger weight doesn't matter at all or I'd probably blame the trigger for it not shooting as well as my Kimbers. But it's not bad, in fact honestly, pretty decent accuracy. Wait until I adjust the trigger weight to 3.5 lbs that doesn't matter anyway!
Several times I noticed I couldn't break the shot at all. I realized what was happening was even a 1/16" of thumb safety motion would block the trigger, or more accurately, the sear. So a thumb-riding-the safety is a must for this gun. Not so with any of my Kimbers.
Please don't waste time explaining why the thumb over the safety is 'the' way to grip a 1911. I've had so many grip safety blocks with that grip, I quit using it.
What else? OH! The grip safety. It has only about a 1/16" of over-travel after clearing the trigger. IOWs, it has to be depressed almost fully to release the trigger. That's not good for guys like me that experience grip safety trigger blocks. I know, I know, you've never had one so nobody else can either - heard it before.
Hmmm...oh yeah, the mag release. This is bad; I will correct this. If you press too hard/far on the mag release, it will prevent the mag from releasing. Even read about that before I got it. And to be fair, Kimbers do that too - at least mine do. Not quite to the same degree though.
Another thing - the recoil spring feels unusually stiff - when you rack the slide - you know you just did something! I have just a bit of degeneration at the bases of my thumbs, not much, just something that happens with age - I cannot sling-shot the slide from a hammer down condition! Can't even start to. I can over-hand it readily.
This extra 'stiffness' comes from two sources, one, it does seem to have a bit heavy recoil spring, which makes me wonder if it has to be 'extra' to make up for the lighter slide due to the ugly (my gun, my opinion) flat top and grooving on top of the slide. But the main contributor is the extra strength hammer spring. The 'E' series doesn't have a FPB per se. Instead it relies on a titanium firing pin (low mass) with probably a bit heavier FP spring to resist a muzzle drop inertial discharge (which is stupid in the first place), so it has to have an extra strength hammer spring. With the hammer down, it is hard to rack the slide - not that you'd have to do that in a SD situation, but there are range and home situations it may come up in.
I really don't like the heavy recoil/racking weight. If it's between a Swartz FPB and the S&W et al, I'll take the Swartz without a second thought.
I can't stand the serated flat top on the slide - it's not the way JMB designed it! I don't like it!
What else??? Ahhh, the external extractor - kinda ugly but I love external extractors on 1911s. They are bigger, yielding more positive extraction, they should never have to be tuned and they have a much wider range of motion, and rely on a coil spring instead of a 'leaf' spring (internal type).
The S&W external extractor is far better and far different than the contraption Kimber came up with a while back that proved problematic. One thing you can do with most external extractors is top off the gun easily. Lock the slide open, drop a round in the chamber, veeery gently lower the slide to contact, press in on the rear of the extractor and it gently hops right over the rim! No slamming, no bagging, very clean and gentle. Engage the thumb safety and then insert a fully loaded mag.
I also love the look of the grip panels - very cool looking.
And those fish scales, snake scales, dragon scales, or whatever you need to call them, are great! They look great and work great! Again, my gun, my opinion.
The magazines are a step up. You can see from the pics, the mag has a skirted follower and can not contact the frame. The SW1911TA comes with, you better sit down, TWO, EIGHT round ACT mags with a big base pad, ugly though the pad may be. A black, 8 round, flat bottom mag would look great in this gun - base pads for the spare mags for more reliable reloading.
The mag release is slightly extended for better access.
It has more recoil than I expected in a 1911 this heavy. Seems like I noticed the recoil more on it than I do my AL frame Kimbers, but, of course that can't be.
So having said all that, I'll just be candid - I like my Kimbers better - my guns, my opinion. Your opinion, of course is just as valid as mine. And guess what? Kimbers cost no more - $1089 for my Kimber Tactical Pro with the same features.
Sooo, if I have to replace some springs in my Kimbers, or send a mag back because it won't lock the slide back, that's fine by me. Just so I have the Kimber(s). I'd rather not have to do that, but to have a Kimber, I'm more than willing to.
That's not to say, in any way I don't like the S&W - I do - I like it a lot. But for my money, it's not a Kimber.
Oh, almost forgot - I only had one mal from the S&W out of 200 rounds. Haven't had any out of my Tactical Pro in 800 rounds - hmmm, time to replace the recoil spring.