"The 1996A2 is the base gun for all our models. On the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) log books, it will say 1996A2 no matter what the model is.
In 1996 we first came out with our own guns. The first ones said 1996A2 on one side and on the other it said whatever the model was Protector, CQB etc.
Note: On the right side of my gun is imprinted: Wilson Combat.
On the left side of my gun is imprinted :1996A2 .45 cal auto.
We also sold a basic model called the 1996A2. It was very close to a CQB, but did not have checkering or serrations on the front strap and had rubber panel grips. It came in Parkerize or blue and later was available in hard chrome frame/black Polymer top or in all Polymer (forerunner of our Armor Tuff.) (Then) At this time our Protectors & Classics were marked Service Grade. Later this name was dropped (about the time we started the CQB.) You might still find CQB's or some of the other models marked 1996A2 or Service Grade.
Also, to clear up another question, the CQB and carbon steel Protectors are identical except in color and that the Protector comes with a full length guide rod and the CQB comes with a short guide (this is now a steel short guide rod. Originally it was in polymer to work as another form of buffer, but was being knocked because people did not understand the principal. We here, including Bill Wilson still use the polymer type.)
The short guide is used in the CQB because ordinally designed for the military, a long guide rod is a little harder to disassembly/reassembly in a field environment.
This year (2002), we have dropped the carbon steel Protector and Protector Compact. The customer can now order the CQB/CQB Compact in all black, all grey (new color Armor Tuff), all OD Green, or Black over Green or Black over Grey. And if desired, a full length guide rod. Because of this, there is no need for the carbon steel Protectors, however we will still make the all stainless steel and Black over Stainless steel Protectors.
I hope this helps everyone to understand our products and some of the reasons behind them.
Frank Robbins Wilson Combat
One other thing I forgot to address. MIM parts. A company that I will not name gave the MIM parts a bad name because they had a bad batch of MIM parts. This was many years ago. Since then remarkable things have happened.
MIM parts are extremely dense and very exact. They are much less prone to wear and breakage than a factory Colt, Spfg. etc. part. This is why we use them in our CQB's, etc. Although not quite as hard as our tool steel parts, they will last a very long time. This is why we can still quarante our total gun, including the MIM parts, for life.
The tool steel parts are actually overkill. The MIM parts last for life (I know of one gun that has over 100,000 rounds thru it and the trigger pull feels the same as it did when new) therefore I guess you could say the tool steel parts lasts for a lifetime and ½.
We use the tool steel parts in our full custom guns. (These are the ones that cost from $2800.00 up) Our full custom guns, Stealth, Tactical Elite, Super Grade and Tactical Super Grade, are not for everyone because of price. They are intended for someone that can afford the very best we can do.
They [tool steel] actually won't last any longer, shoot any straighter or be more dependable than our CQB's, Protectors and Classics, but we spend many extra hours in fitting and prepping them for a perfect cosmetic handgun as well as a great shooter. And because of this, we use the tool steel parts that take longer to fit.
Again, all of us guys here, including Bill Wilson use the very same MIM parts in our guns. And we shoot a bunch! Once installed and fit, no one can tell the difference in the feel of the trigger pull with either type of parts.
Ok, I'm done with my book. Hope this helps too. Just didn't want you all to believe everything you read from self appointed experts.
Frank Robbins Wilson Combat"