The DoubleStar PHD 1911 .45 ACP – Full Review.

The PHD pistol from DoubleStar is a .45 ACP 1911 pistol designed to offer a lot of gun for a reasonable price point.

For more information, visit https://star15.com/phdtm-1911-pistol.html.

To purchase a DoubleStar firearm on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=doublestar.

While the 1911 has been around for a long time, having a wide range of parts and accessories for customization is a relatively new phenomenon. Sure, the 1911 has been a gunsmith’s favorite for decades, but the full breadth of today’s options for the design just simply were not around during much of that time.

Exploding over the last several years, the choices are astounding with features galore. Factory-built pistols can rival full boat custom guns of old. True customs retain an attention to detail and personal touch, but many factory pistols are excellent fighting tools right out of the box. It has resulted in a bit of a paradigm shift, and one that is not always positive. Features once considered extra are now all but mandatory, features that add cost and complexity. While it was once possible to get into a solid American-made 1911 for around $500.00 all day long, that number has almost doubled in many cases. If you are looking for some of the most popular features you may get closer to twice even that. Move up to semi-customs and full customs and the price can reach the stratosphere. For all but a few it’s just too much, prompting a return to basics, and more than a few companies are starting to do just that, including Doublestar.

The pistol is dubbed the “PHD”, which stands for “Personal Home Defense.”

Just What You Need

Doublestar has been manufacturing and building US-made ARs for years. Based in Winchester, Kentucky, they build innovative products that are often unique. In 2009 they decided to bring that innovation to the 1911 market with their first pistol ever, a full-sized 1911 chambered in 45 ACP. Since then they have continued to grow the line. Many are built on forged lower receivers, all with high-quality parts and great attention to detail.  Every pistol is fully assembled in Kentucky with US-made parts. They include full-sized pistols with and without rails (C2G), the C2S using a full-sized grip (standard or bobtailed and officers slide with a 3.5-inch barrel), and their commander-sized pistols (C2). Most of these pistols hover around $2,000.00 depending on the features, and all are chambered in .45 ACP. Making a move back to more simplicity, their latest addition is the PHD (Personal Home Defense).

The author ran the pistol on the range with good results.

SPECS

  • Chambering: .45 ACP
  • Barrel: 5 inches
  • OA Length: 7.375 inches
  • Weight: 39 ounces
  • Grips: Magpul MOE TSP
  • Sights: XS Sight Systems Express front and rear
  • Action: Single-action
  • Finish: Matte black
  • Capacity: 8+1
  • MSRP: $1,346.06

The PHD is the first in a new line of pistols designed specifically for home defense or personal carry. It’s a production pistol designed with many of the most popular features seen in more costly pistols.  Doublestar wanted to bring a solid performer to the market with all the features you need minus the lengthy wait time and higher price. Make no mistake, this is a high-quality pistol, but it saves several hundred dollars on things most looking for a defensive pistol just don’t need or want.

The PHD starts with a cast lower. Many purists shudder at the thought, but today’s castings are nothing like those of a few decades ago. While early castings were problematic, that is seldom the case today. Quality castings will outlive its owner and several generations following. They are less costly to machine, taking the price down a bit.  Each PHD has a forged slide expertly fitted to the frame. It houses a 5-inch stainless steel match barrel using a standard feed ramp. It’s mated to the slide with a match barrel bushing and standard return spring and plunger. Aggressive cocking serrations sit at the rear with a nice front cut that matches the frame nicely. Grooves top the slide between the XS Express front and rear sights.

The rear sight is an XS Sights unit with a vertical line.

The front sight is a matching XS Sights unit with a tritium-powered dot that is designed for fast target engagement.

An aluminum trigger activates the commander-style hammer and pistol features a Series 80-style firing pin safety. A Wilson Combat extended grip safety is matched to the frame with no sharp edges. The mainspring housing is moderately bobbed for carry and uses grooves to assist with grip. The front strap is smooth but cut high for a stronger purchase on the pistol. The magazine release is checkered and moderately extended with a ledged slide stop. Grips panels are Magpul MOE reinforced polymer using a TSP texture for use in wet or adverse conditions. There is a mild bevel on the magwell. The entire pistol is coated in Manganese Phosphate and Parkerization resulting in a dull flat black. It shipped in a hard plastic case with a Doublestar-marked ACT eight-round magazine.

Hands On

Designed as a carry pistol, it was initially tested for operation with Remington 185 grain HTP (High Terminal Performance). Designed for reliable expansion, penetration, and weight retention, this round is excellent carry ammunition in my opinion. It has proven to be very accurate in other tests, making it a solid carry round. After 200 rounds to confirm my POI at 5, 15 and 25 yards, it was carried as an EDC for a few weeks. Nestled in my U.S. Gunleather Model 1 inside the waistband holster, it was comfortable to carry for long hours. Dry fire practice was smooth and the pistol presented no issues snagging clothing or the holster on the draw. Carry magazines were two DL Sports units that hold eight rounds and use his followers and super strong base pads. These are some of the most reliable and strongest magazines on the market.

The pistol is designed to be simple, robust, powerful and reliable. The author found it to possess all these qualities.

Doublestar’s PHD line of pistols will all be equipped with XS Sight Systems Express sights. Designed for fast target acquisition, they are frequently seen on self-defense pistols. The large white front dot is easy to see in daylight while the small tritium tube keeps you on target in low light. The rear sight uses a bar to align the sights, but instead of encompassing the dot it sits on top of the bar. After a few tries they work well for me.  My preference remains a notched rear using a wide notch and centered tritium tube (or no dots), but the front sight is one of my favorites. Used at typical self-defense distances, they are very fast and plenty accurate.  However, when it comes to testing they are anything but ideal for shooting groups. It certainly can be done, but it takes some time and practice.

Accuracy testing occurred at 25 yards using a bag as a rest on top of the front bumper of my FJ Cruiser.  Since benches seldom present themselves during self-defense encounters, it is better representative of the real world. On the range most every day much of my time is spent in that vehicle and it provides a very solid platform. My best group considering vertical placement and size was accomplished using Black Hills Ammunition 185-grain +P using a Barnes TAC-XP bullet. My group measured just over 1.5 inches.  Winchester’s 230-grain PDX1 Bonded produced the tightest clusters for three out of the five rounds. Everything else fell into the 1.75- to 2.00-inch range. My guess is the PHD is more accurate than that, just not with me using those sights. From offhand at 7 yards I was able to stack them on top of each other. Using an IPSC steel silhouette at 50 yards, all of the self-defense ammunition rang close to the middle with a shoulder high hold from a rest, about all you need in a self-defense pistol, probably a bit more.

The pistol like the Black Hills load the best, achieving this tight group at 25 yards.

Several magazines were range tested along with the DL Sports heavy duty units.  Wilson Combat Elite Tactical and  #47 magazines were tested without failure. Most held eight rounds, a few seven, but they all worked without issue. CMC Power Magazines using 10-8 Performance based pads performed fine. Tripp Research magazines were used without issue along with some factory Colt and the supplied ACT magazines that came with the pistol. All locked the pistol open with no failures to feed or problems in general.

Doublestar uses a high cut and does not checker the front strap. It’s a never-ending discussion in the 1911 world with proponents and detractors on both sides. Some will never own a 1911 without checkering, while others hold the opposite view. Aggressive checkering of some sort remains my preference but it is no deal breaker; the high cut is a different story. My large hands need that extra space and the PHD has it. Not only does it provide space, it puts your hand closer to the bore line allowing for better control of muzzle rise.  Coupled with the high cut Wilson Combat grip safety, there was no issue controlling the PHD during rapid fire strings.

The pistol also did quite well with the Sig Sauer ammunition, posting this group at 25 yards.

Series 80 trigger systems are almost as controversial amongst purists as checkering. It is the same love/hate relationship. Haters cringe at the Series 80, but many agencies require it. My two most-often carried 1911 pistols are split between the two. My custom Delta Elite is a Series 80 and it presents no issues for me now, nor did it when stock. Moving back and forth between it and the Series 70 Guncrafter Industries pistol is seamless.  The PHD’s trigger broke at about 4 pounds consistently. Take up past the plunger activation to the wall was consistent with a clean break and no perceptible over travel. It’s right up there with most 1911 pistols in this price range, better than some.

Takedown was possible without the use of a barrel wrench or tools, a nice touch. Many prefer that in a self-defense pistol. For me, single piece guide rods are not as evil as many make them, but especially on a .45 ACP a standard guide rod and plunger are preferred by me. This pistol was easy to take down for cleaning and maintenance and just as easy to get back into service.

Thumb safeties on 1911 pistols are critical and this one is well done. It snapped on and off with just the correct pressure. It’s also just the right size for carry; not too long or wide so as to snag on clothing. Plunger tension was about perfect for me, crisp but not so loose you will deactivate it inadvertently. Same thing with the slide stop. Lined up, it removed easily with no need for tools to get it started. Insertion was stiff but manageable.

The top of the slide is grooved to diffuse light and improve the sight picture.

Final Thoughts

The grips on the pistol are a set of Magpul 1911 MOE grips with a TSP texture.

There is a ton to like about this pistol. It is well built, accurate and equipped with all you would need in a self-defense 1911. Parts are fit well with attention to detail that is clearly evident. The trigger is crisp, a bit stiff, but about what you expect in this price range using a Series 80 design.

With a retail price of $1,364.06, it’s right there with comparable pistols from other manufacturers. You get some of the most common custom features at a more reachable price. Fit and finish are excellent as well as operation. If you are looking for a 1911 in this price range (and want something more than a stock pistol), this is a good one to take a close look at.

For more information, visit https://star15.com/phdtm-1911-pistol.html.

To purchase a DoubleStar firearm on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=doublestar.

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Gene March 6, 2017, 12:49 pm

    I can’t believe that any company would be so clueless about the market place when introducing a “new” product. They’ve put their price point directly in line with some proven heavy hitters, namely Colt and Springfield Armory. Yet they chose to use a cast frame. Yes, I agree that there’s nothing wrong with a good quality casting, but in this price range buyers expect forgings. The RIA guns also use cast frames, but their price point is about half that of the test gun. RIA also offers rails, but Doublestar chose to market this gun for home defense while ignoring the need for some way to attach a light.

    They’ve also chosen to equip the gun with a controversial sighting system. I really like XS sights, but there is a lot of people who don’t. If you don’t believe that just look at any internet thread where these sights are being discussed.

    Finally, the finish. Parkerized? In this day and age? That may be fine for a bottom end shooter, but not for a gun with this MSRP.

    I predict we’ll see the DS gun being sold at “blow out” prices by some big distributot after they fail to make a dent in the very crowded 1911 marketplace.

  • Steve March 6, 2017, 12:48 pm

    My Sig TacOps is stacked with features and came in almost $200 under this offering from a company I’ve never heard of. I love my Sig but that purchase still hurt for months. If you’re looking solely at price (which apparently this author still thinks $1350 is a bargain basement price) I have seen Auto Ordinance (American made) and Rock Island (Phillipines?) starting around $450 and have heard nothing bad about either of them.

  • TommyG March 6, 2017, 12:19 pm

    Why would I possibly spend that much for a unproven no name, when I can get a we’ll know, proven pistol for the same money? It doesn’t make much since to me!

  • Henry S. March 6, 2017, 11:30 am

    duh, think I’ll just keep my “cheap but never fails” Rock Island….yeah , I’d like to own American made, I just can’ justify that price…. besides a Colt would be cheaper….

    • Steve March 6, 2017, 12:49 pm

      How do you like your Rock Island? As far as cheap American made, I have a buddy who just bought an Auto Ordnance (Tommy gun fame, American made) for $513 delivered!

      • Lopaka Kanaka March 7, 2017, 11:11 am

        I have 3 Rock Island and they are Awesome for the money. My 1st is a 45 ACP with a 6 inch barrel, 2nd 38 Super with a
        5 inch barrel and my 3rd is a 400 Corbon with a 6 inch barrel. They are best buy for your money and for a low cost gun it
        does hit where you point all day long. I have 2 Springfields SS 1st a 460 Rowland 5 1/2 inch barrel and the 2nd in a 6 inch
        long slide 45 ACP Target. The Springfieds are twice the price of the Rock Island guns. My 38 Super and 45 ACP were $368
        and $450 out the door.

  • Frank Engle March 6, 2017, 9:56 am

    Home defense without a rail for a light? Do they think strangers only come knocking in the daylight? You better be on your game when 4 perps kick in your door and you only have 8+1. With any luck you drop the first two and the others take off, but I want more than luck on my side. On the plus side, I am glad to see another offering with a grip safety.
    Personally, I will keep my $600. XD 45 Tactical, with a two rd extension, (15+1) and a rail light.

  • robert redford March 6, 2017, 9:13 am

    Way over priced , they won’t sell many,I would walk over a pile of them to get to a colt or ruger.They must have given the author a free pistol.

    • Ben March 6, 2017, 11:40 am

      I agree

    • Ben March 6, 2017, 11:42 am

      I agree….at least a free pistol

  • Gs March 6, 2017, 8:23 am

    If Armscor made this exact gun, which they probably do, it would be $600. And that’s because it has night sights. Nothing about this gun justifies a $1300+ price tag EXCEPT MADE IN AMERICA.

    • Michael Keim March 6, 2017, 9:13 am

      Yep. Another cheerleader piece about an overpriced pistol .

  • Will Drider March 2, 2017, 11:32 pm

    This was a very good detailed Review. The info provide does not does not support the high price point IMHO. A noted in the article there are a lot of 1911s on the market to fit any budget. There is a price for quality, reliability and above service grade enhancements out of the box. Without getting mired down, cast is cheaper to manufacture yet not reflected in the cost or offset by higher quality parts (“Match” can mean anything or nothing without a name and long good reputation behind the part) or features. The sum of this 1911 and its servicability, put it in the 8 to $900 range with stiff competition in value, servicability and name recognition. iMHO.
    Looking at the front strap, trigger guard and mag release: I just can’t see any indication the front strap is cut high?

    A good read, thanks.
    WR

    • joe March 6, 2017, 8:26 am

      Well said. This price range is creeping up into the semi-custom territory like STI.

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