Subscribe To the GunsAmerica Digest and News This Week

An Everyday Carry .50? Guncrafter Industries Custom No. 3 FRAG 1911

Send to Kindle

The custom Guncrafter Industries No. 3 FRAG pistol in .50 GI makes for an ultra-powerful pistol that is still sized right for everyday carry.

To learn more, visit http://guncrafterindustries.com/.

To purchase a Guncrafter Industries pistol on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=guncrafter.

 I tested my first Guncrafter Industries pistol in 2012, their first 4.25 inch-barreled .50 GI pistol. The owner, Alex Zimmerman, and I discussed this project earlier at SHOT show. Already a long-time 1911 user, I tried several custom versions in different calibers. A long-time fan of 10mm, I had owned several Delta Elites, along with a Wilson Combat Super Grade and a Novak in the same chambering. Having dabbled with .45 Super and .460 Rowland, magnum 1911s were always interesting to me. However, the idea of a .50-caliber that was not a magnum, practical for concealed carry, controllable and usable was intriguing. Get it to work in a 4.25-inch 1911? Then I am really on board.

Alex introduced the .50 GI caliber in 2004 in full-sized 1911 pistols (No. 1), followed by a railed version (No. 2). There is also a conversion for the Glock 21, but the No. 3 was the first built in the commander-sized configuration. The cartridge itself has a rebated rim the same diameter as that of a .45 ACP. When the pistol arrived, the attention to detail in the build was immediately evident. Everything was tight, but not overly so.  Fit and finish were superb with just the right carry bevel. The safety was crisp, the trigger was predictable, and it was void of the cavalcade of markings so popular these days. It was a working pistol, designed for everyday carry (EDC) in just about any condition.

While it was not built exactly to my liking, it grew on me enough to buy it and carry it for years. Along with the equipment necessary to handload the .50 GI, I purchased a .45 ACP conversion barrel and several magazines.

A "commander-sized" 1911, the 4.25-inch barreled pistol looks just like any other .45 ACP model—except from the muzzle.

A “commander-sized” 1911, the 4.25-inch barreled pistol looks just like any other .45 ACP model—except from the muzzle.

SPECS

  • Chambering: .50 GI/.45 ACP conversion available
  • Barrel: 4.25 Inches
  • OA Length: 7.75 Inches
  • Weight: 35 ounces
  • Grips: FRAG
  • Sights: GI tritium “Ledge”
  • Action: Single-action
  • Finish: Melonite black
  • Capacity: 7+1 (proprietary magazine)
  • MSRP: $3,285.00

FRAG Time

The FRAG pistol features smooth squares rather than sharp checkering for a comfortable, yet firm grip for the shooter.

The FRAG pistol features smooth squares rather than sharp checkering for a comfortable, yet firm grip for the shooter.

Over the course of the next few years I had several opportunities to test various Guncrafter 1911 pistols. One of my favorites was the No Name pistol, a full-sized 5-inch 1911 that exemplified simplicity. Void of any markings beyond that necessary for ATF approval, it proved to be my quintessential carry/combat 1911. I dragged that pistol through mud, muck, sleet, snow and sand and it never quit.  Along with its proven reliability, its simple build and clean lines appealed to me. It became a measure for most EDC 1911 pistols I would carry.

In 2014 Guncrafter sent me their new “FRAG” 1911, another no-nonsense full-size pistol, this time using squares instead of checkering in a pattern reminiscent of a U.S.-issue WWII fragmentation grenade (hence, FRAG). While aggressive in appearance, it does not chew up your hands like some checkering can.  It proved to be rock solid in the snow, rain, and with gloved hands. Used during a three-day combat pistol course, it caused no discomfort. Later testing of the same pistol in a commander size that was completely black proved just as pleasant, prompting a request to Guncrafter from me. Given my affinity for the .50 GI, how about a custom No. 3 (commander) that is blacked out with the FRAG treatment?

The FRAG pistol also came with a set of FRAG-pattern grip panels that can be removed and replaced if the shooter so desires.

The FRAG pistol also came with a set of FRAG-pattern grip panels that can be removed and replaced if the shooter so desires.

It arrived in the usual Guncrafter nylon gun case with three .50 GI magazines. FRAG grips were installed with a set of GI-logo grips provided for when smoother surfaces were required. It had y preferred sighting system installed, where are two tritium dots—one in the front the other centered in the rear. The rear notch is wide and square with a pronounced ledge. An ambidextrous safety rounded out the package.

Fit and finish was excellent; it was smoothed out for carry, but not melted. Slide to frame fit was perfect, and the solid trigger breaks clean at 4 pounds. Grooves along the top of the slide are designed reduce glare. Cut high, the grip fits my large hands perfectly, locking it solidly in place. If needed, the extended and flared magwell can be removed easily, but had no movement when in place. High-grade steels keep the pistol super strong yet not overly heavy. Every part starts over sized from premium tool steel and is hand-fitted one gun at a time. Make no mistake, these are hand-built custom guns using many parts made to Alex’s very high standards.

Coated completely in a black Melonite finish, it is as well protected as a steel pistol can get. The look is subdued yet business like. Just like all Guncrafter pistols, it is built to last a lifetime. Tension on the thumb safety is perfect for carry; moderately stiff enough that it won’t get knocked off during carry, and it snaps in and out of place easily. There is zero play in the ambidextrous safety. FRAG cuts are added to the slide stop that’s fit flush to the frame. Cocking serrations sit at the rear of the slide, only. It’s as if Alex built this pistol based on my most desired traits in a carry handgun.

The front sight of the sample pistol was a tritium single dot unit.

The front sight of the sample pistol was a tritium single dot unit.

The rear sight of the pistol had a ledge and single tritium dot.

The rear sight of the pistol had a ledge and single tritium dot.

The top of the pistol's slide featured grooves along the top to help diffuse sunlight and improve the sight picture.

The top of the pistol’s slide featured grooves along the top to help diffuse sunlight and improve the sight picture.

.45 ACP Conversion

The .50 GI (left) and the standard .45 ACP (right) versions of the pistol both use proprietary magazines. Note the rebated rim of the .50 cartridge.

The .50 GI (left) and the standard .45 ACP (right) versions of the pistol both use proprietary magazines. Note the rebated rim of the .50 cartridge.

My first No. 3 pistol came with a .45 ACP conversion barrel, one I picked up at Guncrafter Industries during a visit. Standard bull barrels are not going to work on a Guncrafter pistol; you need their barrel. The geometry is just a tad different as it needs to mimic the .50 GI barrel already in the pistol. You are also going to need Guncrafter magazines designed for the 45 ACP. Not to worry, like the rest of the pistol they are very well built. The lips are configured to hold .45 ACP, and they fit the slightly altered frame of the .50 GI.

I decided it was best to fit the barrel myself with the assistance of master 1911 builder, Ernie Bray. Alex told me this was no “drop in barrel,” and that was correct.  Think match-grade oversized, requiring an experienced touch and some serious patience. Having fit more than a few barrels myself, this one took some work. But thanks to Ernie, it runs like a charm. Once completed, it was smooth and flawless.

For those with the time, Alex will install the barrel at the time of the build for $510.00. It includes the barrel, recoil spring, one magazine, and labor for fitting and test firing. Extra .45 ACP magazines are available for $49.95 each. Of that $510.00, labor is only $115.00. If you have the time to wait, it is worth every penny.

Range Time

The Guncrafter No. 3 FRAG pistol featured a bull barrel that was fitted directly to the slide. No barrel bushing was employed.

The Guncrafter No. 3 FRAG pistol featured a bull barrel that is fitted directly to the slide. No barrel bushing was employed.

Ammunition choices in the .50 GI are limited and only available from Guncrafters.  There is a 275-grain JHP, a 300-grain Jacketed Flat Point (JFP), along with CHP (Copper Hollow Points) designed specifically for the .50 GI. Practice ammunition is primarily a 300-grain flat point.

Working on the square range from 15 yards and closer, the factory 300-grain JFP was pleasant enough to shoot all day while staying inside a 4-inch circle. This ammunition measured just under 750 fps; pretty impressive for a JFP. For those familiar with the IPSC power factor, it is just under 225. Using 230-grain .45 ACP at the same velocity, you only get 189.75.

Accuracy using .50 GI was as expected and exactly like the first pistol I tested. The 230-grain CHP was the most accurate for me. It was also the most recoil intensive. My best description of it would be “stout,” but not uncomfortable. A 1.75-inch group shooting from a bag at 25 yards was the best I could do. Moving to 7 yards shooting slow fire from offhand resulted in a .60 inch five-shot group. Groups using my 185-grain CHP loads were at or just outside 2.0 inches. Recoil with this load has more in common with a 10mm pistol. Loaded to make 1,200 fps at elevation (5,500 feet) out of the commander, they are a solid CCW load for those willing to deal with just a bit of recoil. There is a bit less push, more snap, but not a ton of difference.

The author was able to get good groups at 25 yards with the factory .50 GI ammo he was using.

The author was able to get good groups at 25 yards with the factory .50 GI ammo he was using.

Set up with the .45 ACP conversion, the pistol also shot quite well with the Sig Sauer Elite Performance V-Crown ammo.

Set up with the .45 ACP conversion, the pistol also shot quite well with the Sig Sauer Elite Performance V-Crown ammo.

PerformanceInstalling the .45 ACP conversion barrel, the accuracy did not suffer by any means. My best group was with Sig Sauer 200-grain V-Crown JHP at 1.5 inches. At 7 and ten yards it was just made one big hole. Similar accuracy occurred with some of Browning’s new  230-grain BXP  (Browning X Point) ammunition. Everything was under 2.0 inches at 25 yards and just made rather large, ever-growing holes in the target at closer distances. It was also a bit faster on doubles, triples and Bill drills.  It’s just easier to hold the pistol in place during rapid fire strings.

Practice ammunition ran just as well. No issues during reloads when using the Prime Ammunition 230-grain FMJ or Browning BPT. Browning designs the BPT practice round to match their BXP carry round, and it did just that in this pistol. Point of impact was exactly the same at 7, 10 and 25 yards. Recoil was the same; even the ejection pattern matched.

Final Thoughts

Guncrafter pistols are true hand-built custom 1911 pistols with prices ranging from three to four thousand dollars. Given the quality and attention to detail, they are a flat-out bargain in my opinion as similarly built pistols can cost an extra grand or more. All are built for hard use. You can certainly add bells and whistles as needed, but the intent for these pistols is personal carry, duty use or anything where a reliable and strong fighting pistol is needed.

The extended and flared magazine well made rapid reloads a cinch for the author.

The extended and flared magazine well made rapid reloads a cinch for the author.

A matte-black melonite finish keeps the pistol very low-key looking and unobtrusive.

A matte-black melonite finish keeps the pistol very low-key looking and unobtrusive.

Over the last few years I have tested several Guncrafter pistols and they have all been excellent. Attention to detail, build quality, and consistent accuracy has always been there—no exceptions. Guncrafter makes all kinds of pistols in calibers ranging from .38 Super to .50 GI, and I think all of them are excellent. If you are looking for a solidly built custom 1911 designed to be taken to work every day, make sure you include Guncrafter in the list.

To learn more, visit http://guncrafterindustries.com/.

To purchase a Guncrafter Industries pistol on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=guncrafter.

For those looking for .50-caliber punch in their EDC carry 1911, the custom No. 3 FRAG is an intriguing option.

For those looking for .50-caliber punch in their EDC carry 1911, the custom No. 3 FRAG is an intriguing option.

{ 47 comments… add one }
  • Travis Santelmann January 24, 2017, 9:48 pm

    I love the .50GI, Guncrafter Industries is a beast!

    I’m working on getting my first 1911, it is a Guncrafter Industries NO.5 CCO, in 50GI. Its all Melonite, with shredder grips!

    It has a officer frame, round butt, and a commander slide at 4.25″, chambered in the legendary 50GI, it has a flush cut slide stop and chamfer frame, and deep reverse crown barrel.

    At $3,334 it is a great bargain brand new in BAG.

    I love this caliber! Some hand loads can be using a 375Gr slug at 675-720fps.

    It’s a POWERFUL EDC!

  • Capacity Gear September 21, 2016, 11:03 pm

    I have a Rolex and a Panarai, I love top notch kit but this is over the top ridiculous! Nobody even said how much the rounds cost! For another grand you could buy a Title 2 machine gun (granted an M-11 Ingram or Sten or Reising but still) the only thing missing on this brick is diamond encrusted grips…

  • Jack September 5, 2016, 7:16 pm

    If you can afford it GOOD BLESS YOU

  • Archangel August 30, 2016, 10:43 pm

    $3285.00, are they serious?
    And another $510 for the .45 barrel?
    The barrel alone cost more than EITHER of my 1911’s and they throw the lead just as well!
    I’ll bet it’s an additional $1500 for the extra 3/4″ to make it a full 5 inches!
    OUCH!

    • david September 1, 2016, 10:17 am

      You said it best OUCH….. Apparently not made for the average Joe.

  • Larry Abrams August 30, 2016, 10:01 am

    Sorry,, Don’t own a oil well, Will stick with my Gold Cup.. What the Hell??

  • Altoid August 30, 2016, 8:35 am

    Insane amount of money and the .40, 10mm, or .45 ACP will work just as well. I can only imagine the cost of the magazines and the ammo on top of the already outrageous price of the pistol.

    You could have a .50 Browning rifle for that.

    • Paul August 30, 2016, 12:12 pm

      Americans sure have a lot of spare cash & spare time to come up with a weapon that few will ever buy or use. That being said there are a lot of European collector pistols from the 19th century that are selling for a lot more on Rock Island Auctions.

  • Beachhawk August 29, 2016, 8:55 pm

    It’s a nice curiosity and a nice pistol for someone with enough disposable income to pay for a nice curiosity. Is it for EDC or hunting? It’s probably overkill for EDC and probably not enough gun for hunting. It’s a solution in search of a problem, unless you want a nice conversation piece at the range.

  • Barry August 29, 2016, 8:44 pm

    There is no pistol on the planet as far as I’m concerned that’s worth the money they’re asking. The objective of a pistol is to put holes in things and there’s many, many less expensive, just as accurate, just as well made versions of the 1911 on the market today. I understand it when someone wants a classic- gold plated, engraved piece of art but this common pistol will never be a classic and therefore is a poor investment.

  • BRASS August 29, 2016, 5:14 pm

    Why any sane mature adult would choose the over amped, too loud, screaming, stupid noise track at the beginning and ending of the video is beyond me. It makes me wonder about the capacity and judgement of those who make the pistol.

  • Paul W. August 29, 2016, 2:28 pm

    And some years and years ago, one Robert Pauzer did this.
    Called his the .50 acp.
    And company went under when Barret got the .50 Browning rifle
    contract for military, and left Pauzer out.
    Houston, Texas

  • Mike August 29, 2016, 2:26 pm

    $3200+ for a 1911???

    Really ?

    I can have a 9×23 Winchester STI built up that has .357 magnum ballistics with an 18 round capacity and much less muzzle flip.
    Argument over.

  • Oaf August 29, 2016, 1:55 pm

    Try explaining to a jury why you “needed” a custom cartridge .50 cal concealed carry handgun for self defense. The prosecutor or shooting recipient’s attorney will make you look like some kind of vigilante out looking for victims. Stick with commercially available calibers for carry and leave the custom stuff for the range or hunting. It may be the difference between you sleeping in your own bedroom, a cardboard box on the street, or prison cell.

  • Daniel Flowers August 29, 2016, 12:15 pm

    A novelty for those with more money than us peasants. I gave up 1911s for carry ages ago.

  • Fred Gasparino August 29, 2016, 12:09 pm

    Is it cool? Sure thing. It looks like a solution in search of a problem. I agree larger diameter equals more damage, but a 180-230 gr 45 acp in hollow point or flat point at any velocity should be enough for a carry weapon. Let the free market prevail and see what happens w/this one.

    • Nolan Raborn August 30, 2016, 7:01 pm

      It will die like a gutshot hog!

  • Chained August 29, 2016, 11:53 am

    I don’t see any advantage over the 45 or the 10mm. If ya have a need for a 50 cal handgun go with the Desert Eagle 50AE. I would bet my last dollar that this 50GI cartridge is already dead.

  • BJG August 29, 2016, 10:51 am

    .50 cal. 1911 for over $3,000. Really? If I can’t stop it with a .45 do I need a .50? Thought I needed a .50-110 Win. a few years ago. after I had it built, I decided I didn’t Really no need for it. and at that price I could get a very nice O/U shotgun.

  • Tommy Barrios August 29, 2016, 10:22 am

    PHOOEY!
    I’ll just keep carrying my venerable S&W Model 15 Combat Masterpiece with 158 gr Hornaday meat mashers and screw all these expensive unrealistic toys!
    If I can’t get’em with six rounds, then I don’t deserve to carry!

    • carter August 29, 2016, 5:17 pm

      as long as there’s only one of them and hold still, right? carry what you’re comfortable with and shoot the best, but there’s a reason LEO’s switched over to semi autos. too many of them got smoked while reloading a six gun.

  • Kim August 29, 2016, 10:00 am

    After they sell about 10 to those who can afford them, I am pretty sure their business will dry up and they will be sucked up into some other Mfg and then the outrageous price will somehow be justified. Remember we are the prey, we are not the seller. Dont buy one, the price will come down or they will disappear?? Either way, do you really need a .50 for Carry?? Come on.

  • Tom August 29, 2016, 9:26 am

    Makes me nervous enough to carry my Les Baer Custom Carry Commanche. Just remember, if you ever have to use your carry gun there’s a good chance you’ll lose it, whether the shooting was justified or not.

    • Paul August 29, 2016, 11:18 am

      Finally! Someone that thinks like me.

    • Myles August 29, 2016, 11:35 am

      That is a great point Tom very seldom talked about. Why carry a big expensive gun like that when no doubt about it you will lose it if you use it

    • Steve August 29, 2016, 12:18 pm

      If your shooting is justified, you shouldn’t loose your weapon. At worst it may be tied up in evidence for a time (maybe a year) but it is also very possible that it never gets taken. Each case is different. I was the detective responding to a shooting. It was justified. I collected evidence and documented the event. The home owner was never charged with a crime and he kept his firearm (cheap 22 rifle).

    • carter August 29, 2016, 5:21 pm

      Its why i carry something that i can shoot well, and functiona reliably, but is economical enough that i have two of them. if its ever stolen or taken into evidence, i can just pull the other one out of the safe and be carrying the same familiar sidearma the very next day.

  • Roscoe August 29, 2016, 9:25 am

    Make in it .50 AE (action express) and you might have something to talk about. Otherwise it’s like the .32 Winchester Special vs. a .30-30, useless and no point in making it in the first place.

    • Bisley August 29, 2016, 10:57 am

      The point is that a fatter, heavier bullet makes a big hole and penetrates well without high velocity. It provides increased killing-power at the distances where a defensive pistol is ordinarily used, without the vicious recoil and devastating blast of a .50 AE. This is something that would give improved performance as a defensive, or military sidearm, without being unshootable for most people — it’s not intended for shooting moose and bears.

      I’d like to have one, but in a $500 pistol, not a $3000+ custom (I can’t afford a Rollex either).

      • Dep August 29, 2016, 12:55 pm

        I agree, and you can’t spell Rolex either lol

        • John August 31, 2016, 3:43 am

          LOL guess if you can afford it why worry about spelling it

      • Robert J Weber August 29, 2016, 2:25 pm

        Rolex, dude, not Rollex. No offense intended, Sir.

    • Pseudo August 30, 2016, 3:26 pm

      Well it is each their own, if one has the funds, the time and also is interested reloading, I say go for it. But, for myself I prefer to stick with currently available ammunition.
      I agree with Roscoe, if it would use 50AE ammo, then I might have some interest. Otherwise I will just modify my conceal carry wardrobe, shoulder holster, and lightweight coats and pack either the Desert Eagle 50AE or S&W 500 magnum.
      If I really wanted this 50 GI I guess I could come up with the funds, but with basically having to reload, and the cost of this I will stick with the HK Compact 45, Kimber Uktra Carry II 45, Springfield Armory XDs or XDm 45. Hell I would even consider packing the FNC FNX full size double stack 45.
      But hey “it’s you’re thing, do what you wants do!”

      Lastly I agree with the comment about the intro music, God awful, dissuades me from viewing any further.

  • David R Medina August 29, 2016, 9:16 am

    All I have to say in 10mm, high capacity 10mm, and oh yea and 10mm. If you can take any animal in North America to include Moose and Grizzly. Use an appropriately light load and any two legged animal is perfect medicine for a 10, and for the 3 grand cost you could carry one on your right, you’re let and on your ankle.

    • Ricky Price August 29, 2016, 9:41 am

      Good comment.

  • Ken August 29, 2016, 8:03 am

    Me want one me want one.
    I’ll never get to touch one.
    It’s like the ‘ol lady use to tell me, “You always say you’ll just touch “it” but it always leads to more than just touching”.

  • flintman50 August 29, 2016, 7:55 am

    what’s the point…I guess to say it can be done. Buy a Coonan commander 357 mag (less than half the price) and use some full house like buffalo bore or Nugent and be done with it…..

  • ToddB August 29, 2016, 7:39 am

    WTF, $3900 for a carry pistol? Guess they don’t plan to sell very many of them. And a quick google found zero ammo to buy, except a place selling single rounds to collectors for $3.95 ea. Maybe a carry gun thats actually possible to afford and be able to shoot.

    • hey August 29, 2016, 8:24 am

      I would rather have a 50. Cal rifle for that price!

  • REM1875 August 29, 2016, 6:11 am

    Well of course I want one but I am going to wait for Rock island to puts one out at a lower price and Starline starts making the brass.
    Yes I am cheap.
    On the list of “just this last gun, Honey I promise” it goes.

    • Luap August 29, 2016, 4:18 pm

      Your not cheap in any way. You are ether practical, realistic, or have just the right amount of commen sense. If this gun was given to me, say I won it some how, I would sell it and buy something that has common Ammo and then one or two other things. All in all, this handgun is just a glorified dressed up “1911”. I’d rather carry my FNX 45 with its’ 15+1 capacity, came with 3 mags, and it was less than 1/4 the cost.

  • Josh August 29, 2016, 5:22 am

    Personally, I couldn’t justify spending 3 to 4 grand on a mere sidearm but, as they say, “different strokes”.
    As far as priorities go, I would have much more fun taking $4,000 and buying three (fill in the blank- gun) that has the capacity to shoot more (fill in the blank- tango).
    But for the civilian who already has everything and has the disposable income (and no family, obviously), this would be the perfect gun for you.

  • Martin B August 26, 2016, 6:55 pm

    WTF is with that horrible death/thrash metal intro to all your videos? It makes you all sound like juvenile morons, and totally lacking in musical taste as well. If I encountered anyone playing that form of aural torture I would remove the threat to my hearing and sanity immediately and with extreme violence. Don’t do it. Please.

    • Ryan August 29, 2016, 6:57 am

      I’ll second the motion on death metal music intros, but yes conversely we will also break your balls for if you show up with any other extreme, try some Clutch!

      • Dep August 29, 2016, 1:02 pm

        I’ll third that motion, if you knew your client base (all 15 of them), they’re likely listening to Bach. Perhaps you test fired too many times and you didn’t know what awful metal music you’re playing?

  • Paul August 26, 2016, 3:45 pm

    Um, “Commander size frame?” Slides and barrels are commander sized. Frames are either full sized or officer sized.

    • Mike August 28, 2016, 12:20 am

      Paul, there are differences in the dust cover and slide stop hole location between commander and government frames.

Leave a Comment

Send this to friend