Guncrafter Industries is hardly a household name. In the wide wide world of guns, the brand is known more for its audacious .50 G.I. rounds than their exquisite level of custom craftsmanship, but that’s the way things go. The .50 G.I. round (more on that below) is something you have to experience. Guncrafter’s custom line of 1911s, though, are revered by their owners, shooters who seem content to keep the secret to themselves.
Not me. When I see a gun that runs like this, I feel the need to stand up and crow about it. I’m here today to preach the Guncrafter faith, and I’m offering as an example this Concealed Carry Officer 1911 in 9mm–easily the best 9mm 1911 I’ve ever fired.
The Guncrafter Industries CCO in 9mm
This is a review, after-all, so let’s get on with it. This process began after SHOT last year. Guncrafter agreed to send us a review gun. At the time, I’d had little experience with the brand, and had never even handled a Guncrafter. For me, the conversation was like one of many I have after SHOT show every year. A few weeks later, we spoke again. This time I was down in central Florida, massacring swine. I barely had any cell reception, and I wasn’t familiar enough with the Guncrafter nomenclature (not that it’s that complicated) to understand the questions I was being asked. So when the CCO arrived a few weeks later, I was just as surprised as anyone.
First impressions are important. The unboxing was a strange experience for me. I’ve seen more than my fair share of expensive 1911s, and most justify their price points by making the guns look like show ponies. Their grips are made of this or that fossilized prehistoric unicorn horn, or their Damascus slides have been etched with the tears of fallen angles.
Not so with the CCO. Every aspect of the gun is meant for service and durability. The Melonite finish is a flat eggshell black. The sights are actually built for concealed carry. The grips are thin. The checkering is aggressive. In all aspects the CCO is a gun that’s meant to be carried. In fact, I’d call its looks modest. Unassuming.
Fit and Finish
So how do you justify the price of a Guncrafter pistol? The first thing you must know is that this isn’t a safe-queen. These guns are meant to be carried, everyday. If you spend this much on a gun, would you carry it? This is a philosophical question. Only you know the answer. My guess is that if you can buy a 1911 in this class on a whim, and do not have to justify it to your wife or husband, then you’d be likely to carry it. If, like me, you spent less buying your latest car than you would buying a Guncrafter, than you may have second thoughts about taking it out in the real world.
Yet that’s what this gun is meant for. It doesn’t need to stay behind to protect the safe. You have plenty of heirlooms to do that. This is meant to be on your hip. The CCO is a gun that is easy to carry. It functions flawlessly. Every aspect of the build is designed for hard, unfailing use. Even then magazines have been tuned to the specific gun.
Pull the slide back, and you’ll begin to see what I mean. It glides with no hitches. There’s no grit in the trigger. It has a clean break right above 3 pounds. The reset is short and crisp. The magazines slide in and out like they’ve been greased, but don’t have any rattle or play. The slide stop is easy to thumb up and down. Even the mag drop button is perfect. It extends a fraction of an inch farther than is typical, which gives you a lever that is easy to find and easy to depress.
The deeper into the gun I got, the more impressed I became. All of the controls are perfect. The function in harmony. And the tolerances are very tight, but so well tuned that the gun (even after hundreds of rounds with no cleaning) can still be disassembled by hand. And the internals are just as well finished as the exterior. I kept looking for something, anything, I could point to as a flaw or a blemish. Nothing. Not one thing. The slide, frame and barrel are milled from forgings. The fire control group is cut from tool steel, and even then most basic controls are milled from bar stock. Nothing is overlooked, and they take no material shortcuts.
So how does a gun like this run? Quite well. I’ve known some whack-jobs who will try to convince you that a gun needs a break in period, or that a gun will wear into a groove that will increase reliability. I’m more accepting of this when low-priced guns are rolling off of assembly lines, but I refuse to accept that a quality firearm needs to be broken in. If it does, it damn-well better get broken in at the factory, before they sell it.
The CCO ran perfectly. The unassuming exterior and flawless interior combine to make a gun that shoots exactly to point of aim. The flat black rear sight has enough real estate to be used for accurate, well aimed shots. Yet it is rounded over for snag-free carry. The front edge of the rear sight has a shelf for one handed manipulation. The front sight is also black, but has a small brass bead. It is this tiny bead that makes the combination good for extraordinary accuracy and fast target acquisition. The bead is small, which makes precise shots easy. It is also brass, and it reflects light. Against the black of the CCO, it is easy to pick up–even in low light.
I’ve been carrying the gun now for three months, and I have no complaints. I’ve put more than 1,000 rounds through it. I’ve tried to induce failure. Steel cased Tula? No problem. Hot +P loads? Check. Heavy subsonics? Yes. I couldn’t find an ammo that it wouldn’t run. I couldn’t find a case material it didn’t eject. I shot the gun on multiple range trips, and at a recent training class. I shot it in the rain, wet. I still haven’t cleaned it. It is as accurate today as it was the day I got it, and just as likely to work.
This is what you pay for. The gun works, it is accurate, and every piece of the build is as solid as it can be. It is a finely tuned machine, perfect for those who want single-action concealed carry.
How much does this perfection cost? It varies by the options, obviously. The CCO starts around three grand. Buying a Guncrafter is easy enough. There are a very select few dealers who stock the occasional pistol, but most are ordered directly from Guncrafter. As of the writing of this review, there is one for sale on GunsAmerica (link at top of the review).
There are many more pictures of this gun below, after the next two sections, so keep on scrolling down.
Inside Guncrafter Industries
When I began this review, I was in Virginia. Now I live about two hours from Guncrafter’s shop, which is tucked up in the hills east of Fayetteville, Arkansas. When I say tucked in, I’m not exaggerating. I don’t know what preconceived notions you may have about the Diamond State, but this will probably cement stereotypes. I turned off of a paved road an drove down into a densely wooded gulley and forded a creek. Upstream from the makeshift bridge, a log jam in the creek had been set on fire in an attempt to get it clear. I instantly began a chorus of Smoke on the Water.
As I wound my way out of the bottom land, I found a small collection of buildings parked precariously on a hill side. There were no signs to let me know I was where I needed to be. I drove well past it and turned back around. I rolled down the window and asked a motley assortment of ruffians who were perched up on the porch if they knew where Guncrafter was. Turns out this group of ruffians was also one of the finest collection of gunsmiths I’d ever had the pleasure of watching work. And this humble compound was the Guncrafter shop. Inside, there were guns in various stages of completion, and it all seemed surprisingly relaxed and informal.
While we were there, we got to see a wide variety of models moving through the various stages of production. This is almost always my favorite part of any shop tour, as I can see behind the scenes. I pick up on corners that are being cut, and ways some try to work around production difficulties. It isn’t always good for the manufacturers who invite me in.
But not here. This trip left me wanting to put down my pen and pick up my file. If I can go off on a tangent for a minute–this is what I miss about what I do for a living. When you watch someone file off a thin ribbon of steel, then fit a slide back on, then pull it off and remove an even smaller sliver, then put the slide back on–over and over until it is perfect…. It makes me want to build something. I get that itch. I want to be a part of it. There’s that feeling here, in the Guncrafter shop, that this team is building something that matters. They’re not building ornamental guns that are meant for shelf displays in ornate man caves. They’re building guns that are going to ride on their owner’s hips and defend life and liberty and loved ones. It’s damn inspiring, honestly, and you can see that the people building these guns believe in what they’re doing.
The .50 G.I.
While we’re on it, let’s talk a bit about the elephant in the room. Guncrafter made news with the .50 G.I. This is a big round. The numbers on the .50 GI are interesting. It was designed by Vic Tibbets and Alex Zimmermann, founder and head honcho of Guncrafter Industries, to provide better terminal ballistics while offering felt recoil similar to the .45 ACP. It isn’t supposed to compete with the biggest, fastest magnum loads. In fact, shooters shouldn’t even notice much of a difference.
On the receiving end, though…. Bullet weights range from 300 grains down to 185 grains. And speeds vary accordingly from 700 FPS up to 1,200 FPS. That’s a decent spread. The round hasn’t caught on like some of us would like, though, so finding ammo can be difficult. A box of 20 185 grain solid copper hollow points runs $50.70–which is more a reflection of the price of copper.