American Tactical’s Polymer-Framed 1911 Pistol, the FXH-45 — SHOT Show 2016

ATI Polymer 1911 18

The full-size FXH-45 is half 1911, half space gun.

ATI Polymer 1911 11

It has a hybrid polymer frame for reduced weight without compromised handling.

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American Tactical Imports, or ATI, has a great reputation for bringing affordable firearms to the U.S. A few years ago they started working on polymer AR-15 receivers here in the States, with one pretty noteworthy feature that sets an ATI receiver apart—they’re hybrid receivers, with a polymer body and metal sub-frame to support the buffer tube extension—metal reinforcements where other receivers have failed.

Now the maker of Omni-Hybrid Polymer AR-15 receivers has leveled their expertise using the very same technology to take on an American institution: the iconic 1911.

ATI Polymer 1911 19

The pistol has integral fingergrooves and an ambidextrous thumb safety.

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As well as a Picatinny accessory rail.

The result is the FXH-45, with a 5-inch 416 stainless steel match-grade barrel and a futuristically-styled black nitride stainless steel slide and lightweight hybrid polymer frame. The frame has some modern upgrades like stippling on the trigger guard, a dust cover accessory rail and ergonomic finger grooves.

The slide has three fashionable ports on either side with low-profile front and rear sights. The front sight sports a fiber-optic rod for fas acquisition. the FXH-45 slide is cut for Glock sights, which are some of the most popular and easy-to-find on the market. One very welcome feature is that the slide is machined to accommodate Trijicon RMR and Burris Fastfire mini red dot sights with adapter plates.

Like the frame, the grips are black polymer, and along with a lot of other parts on the FXH-45, can be swapped with standard 1911 components. The gun comes in a plastic hard case with an instruction manual and one 8-round ASC magazine.

ATI Polymer 1911 37

It weighs around 10 ounces less than an all-steel 1911.


• Caliber: .45 ACP
• Height: 5.4 inches
• Length: 8.7 inches
• Weight: 27.5 ounces unloaded without magazine
• Magazine Capacity: 8 rounds
• MSRP $659.95

First Impressions

The first question that comes to mind is “Is this really a 1911?”

Field strip the gun and you’ll find the guts of it are for the most part what your granddad had in his pistol—with the exception of the polymer frame and its metal inserts. Unfortunately, due to differences in critical frame dimensions, the FXH-45 will not fit in a standard molded 1911 holster. This will change when holster manufacturers get their hands on their own FXH-45 pistols—there are no blanks available at this time.

Given the countless 1911 variants that have materialized since John Browning invented the pistol more than a hundred years ago, a better question should be, “What kind of 1911 is this?”

ATI Polymer 1911 16

The front fiber optic sight.

ATI Polymer 1911 15

The plain rear—both are Glock-pattern sights.

In my hand it feels like a 1911 should, though not as heavy as you would expect, weighing just 30.3 ounces unloaded including the magazine. At the range a 1911 traditionalist said it felt a little top heavy, however to me it still felt balanced.

I was immediately impressed with the sleek, modern design of the slide. It looks like the armorer from “RoboCop” had a hand in the design—the gun definitely looks more at home in 2016, not 1916. The fingergrooves fit my hand naturally along with the upswept beavertail grip safety. The rear slide serrations offer a solid grip and the ports on the slide add character to the overall sci-fi look.


ATI Polymer 1911 8

Ball, steel-cased, hollow points—it ate all the ammo.

ATI Polymer 1911 30

No doubt the large ejection port helped.

ATI, like a lot of companies, states in the manual not to use reloaded, factory reloaded or steel case ammo. So of course we did exactly that, and the FXH-45 spit out round after round without a hiccup. No feeding issues, magazine problems or failures. There is nothing I appreciate more than a firearm that can perform with any ammo. When the zombie apocalypse happens—or in the event of an ammunition shortage—I want the comfort of knowing that I will be able to protect myself with a firearm that will shoot whatever kind of ammo is readily available.

One of the few problems that I encountered was the slide stop worked intermittently, possibly due to the magazine. I’m not a fan of the quality of the ASC magazine it comes with, so for our testing we also used a Wilson Combat magazine and found it to be more reliable.

ATI Polymer 1911 2

The trigger pull is a little heavy but in-line with entry-level 1911s.

ATI Polymer 1911 34

Though it made a fine suppressor host.

The trigger pull measured an average of 5 pounds 14 ounces. The break was crisp though the reset was bit a…squishy. The trigger is adjustable so it’s possible to improve the reset. Recoil was on par with pretty much every other 1911 I’ve ever fired, which is a testament to the polymer frame design.

Closing Thoughts

ATI Polymer 1911 6

Once you get past the frame, it’s all 1911.

ATI Polymer 1911 9

The included magazine was temperamental.

To answer the question I previously asked I would say, “This is the kind of 1911 your kids can appreciate without rolling their eyes as you go on about the good old days.” Twisted a little bit from the classic, yes, but a new and welcome variant just the same.

As a sci-fi buff and tech junkie I welcome innovation and commend manufacturers that are thinking outside the box. ATI has shown that they are not afraid to try something different with their FXH-45 and are working hard to changed opinions about guns.

Built here in the U.S., this handgun may not immediately appeal to the 1911 aficionado, however the affordably-priced FXH-45 is a definite contender for buyers looking for a lightweight 1911. American Tactical has plans to produce Commander-sized versions, as well as subcompact, and not just .45 models but also in 9mm.

At this price the ATI FXH-45 is not only competitive with more upscale lightweight 1911s, it packs a set of features that many more expensive 1911s can’t even hope to match.

ATI Polymer 1911 17

Despite the gun’s futuristic style, the engravings are simple and minimalist.

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It’s also future-proof: the slide can be adapted to use red dot sights.

ATI Polymer 1911 7

Whether or not you’re on a budget, the ATI FXH-45 has a certain appeal.

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About the author: Max Slowik is a writer with over a dozen years of experience and is a lifelong shooter. He has unwavering support for the Second Amendment and the human right to self-defense. Like Thomas Paine, he’s a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination.

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  • glenn schantz October 29, 2018, 8:09 am

    They need to make a double stack in 45, 40 10mm and 9mm so the poly concept has more shooters wanting to try them, plus a ton of shooters only like 9mm so a double stack 9mm with say 17, 18 or 19 rounds would be very appealing with the smooth single action trigger of a 1911. Personally I would want a 45 with say 14 -15 rounds and be very happy, lol. Glenn, shooter for over 60 years and a 1911 Owner and lover.

  • pigpen51 July 8, 2018, 8:49 pm

    I love it when haters on the 1911 get started. Things like, the 1911 is a piss poor self defense gun. Tell that to the very large percentage of military spec ops people who choose to use the 1911 in .45 ACP as their duty weapon, and also as their carry weapon on the street.
    It only comes in a close second to those who say that the 1911 is no good due to a lack of rounds on board, and then say that they themselves carry a revolver. Um, huh?
    To quote a fine American, Why can’t we all just get along? Carry what you want, don’t put down a proven design that has not suddenly become obsolete, and embrace change.
    By the way, if you are in a gunfight on the street, and have to shoot around a corner, by bending your wrist, in an odd manner, and cannot shoot your gun due to the extreme angle of your arm in relationship to the pistol and the safety, etc. then I suspect that the police will take a dim view of you continuing to shoot instead of running in the opposite direction. Just my guess, but I bet I am right.
    And as to there being no reason for a grip safety, tell Springfield to take theirs off the XD.

  • Ryan McIntire December 30, 2016, 7:03 am

    OK guys, I’m actually a Ruger guy, my favorite pistol is my p89dc stainless. I recently picked up a fxh-45. I hate to say it, but I love this pistol! It’s as accurate as any other 1911 I’ve ever shot. Recoil is the same even though it weighs so much less. So far it’s better than 1911’s I’ve shot at twice the price. Wish I could upload the slow motion video of my 5’11” 130# son shooting it. The sights on it are pretty descent and follow up shots are quick. The weight difference of carrying it vs my Ruger 1911 are amazing. Wasn’t a fan of polymer anything before, but this has changed my mind. My only complaint is the fact I haven’t found anyone making a holster yet. Been using my bianchi ranger shoulder rig I had for the p89. Don’t knock it till you try it.

    • Kurt w May 28, 2017, 7:40 pm

      I too am a ruger fan and i have the p89dc as well. I recently purchased the ati omni hybrid ar15 so i was thinking I’d get the fxh as a matching sidearm. However, anything you can tell me about the p89 would be greatly appreciated. I really love that gun! thanks

  • Anthony August 27, 2016, 11:23 am

    Well, purchased this a few weeks ago, and through the first few hundred rounds, absolutely no issues! It’s comfy, light, and reliable. Looks good and shoots well. A bit of a weight disparity, being top heavy. Recoil is almost non existent, but you know that the slide is coming back at you. Hard to explain. It’s like a gentle nudge from a sleeping giant…lol. nonetheless, this was my second 1911. first being the RIA Compact Tac Ultra. Love both the guns. The only mod I think I will make is to lighten the trigger on the FXH as I’ve been spoiled by the Rock Island’s Feather light trigger. Maybe a half pound to almost three quarter pound difference or a bit more to the ATI. Overall, I recommend the ATI, I’m all for innovation and I’m still a traditionalist…

  • m watlington April 27, 2016, 3:00 pm

    Want one. who makes holster for it

    • Anthony August 27, 2016, 11:29 am

      Haven’t found one yet, I’ve been using a generic foam pancake holster and so far so good. With a decent belt it stays. Doesn’t feel like it’s there most times. With nine rounds of the Ruger ARX, this full size 1911 is EXTREMELY light.

  • LThomas March 7, 2016, 8:39 am

    Loose the rail and I might be interested.

  • Chris Baker January 21, 2016, 11:09 am

    I like the look and the price is nice. The combination of modern and simple is a great one for me. Usually I don’t care one whit what a particular gun looks like but this one is cool. I’ve sort of had the idea that I’d like another 1911 since I sold my last one to have money to eat back in the 80’s (but kept my GP100) but it’s kind of been on the back burner, wait no, off the stove and sitting in the fridge, yeah, definitely not a high priority especially since I tend to favor revolvers. This might just get it brought back to the fore. I’ll have to check at my local gun shops and see about it. Can I get just the frame and slide? That is, assuming that the other parts from a regular 1911 will fit? I’d like to build my own.

  • Barco January 20, 2016, 9:32 pm

    I would dearly love to know just exactly WHO designs these hideous nightmares.
    And Vito, you’re full of it; The P.38 didn’t make the 1911 obsolete. The fact is that the 1911 has handily outlasted the P.38 by decades.

    • steve January 20, 2016, 11:44 pm

      whoever it is thank you…..what a beautiful gun. well though out and trying to teach the old dog some new tricks…can’t wait to try one…proofs in the pudding …I try to not judge a weapon from a picture or someone elses review….I judge it when its in my hand.

    • Sal August 6, 2017, 4:25 pm

      The 1911’s design has outlasted the P38’s design but the 9mm is the most commonly made pistol caliber in the world. You can carry what you want but I’d rather be in a fire fight with 9 extra rounds. No disrespect to my .45 carrying fellas.

  • Denny Parker January 19, 2016, 7:25 pm

    I would love to see it ported like the old Springfield V10s. Great design but the ss models were to heavy. This would be a great platform if ported.

  • Larry January 19, 2016, 6:20 pm

    Good review. Who knows, maybe that trigger will improve with use. Generally, I don’t care for the finger-grooves, but who knows, if I were to pick the pistol up, I might find that they fit my hand really well. I saw where one guy said that he stopped listening as soon as you said that you were a Glock guy…ignore them. I personally love Glocks and 1911’s, and revolvers. Thanks for the review.

    P.S. I’d bet that one day, perhaps soon, the more traditional 1911 makers such as Colt and Springfield will introduce a 1911 with a polymer frame.

  • Peter January 19, 2016, 4:30 pm

    I stopped watching the video at; “I’m a Glock Guy” …I’m sorry!

  • don A. January 19, 2016, 10:47 am

    I’ve been waiting for the release of this 1911. I seen it early last year but it was in its testing stages still. I’m glad they decided to go forward with it. I will have one of these for sure. Everyone bashes polymer pistols when it comes to 1911’s, looks like they can put their foot in their mouths now. I’m kinda excited!!

  • Vito Monopoli January 19, 2016, 9:56 am

    Polymer or not, a 1911 is still a 1911. In 1938 when Walther came out the P38, the 1911 became obsolete. Then the next step in evolution was the Glock. End of story. In 1903, Henry Ford came out with the Model T. It was a great car, and he was a great man. Do you want to drive a Model T as your primary vehicle? No, right? 1911’s are great target guns, and so are CZ model 97’s. Except that the CZ has a decocker, and you don’t have to carry it, ‘Cocked & Locked’. CZ doesn’t have a grip safety, so you can fire it in a tight situation, even if you are wounded. If you carry a 1911 for self defense, and you find yourself in a situation where you are injured, and you are in close quarters, and you cannot see your assailant, but you know where he is, and you need to bend and twist your wrist around an object, the mechanics of you arm and wrist will not let you hold the grip safety and pull the trigger. Even if you are NOT wounded, your body will not let you do this. Don’t believe me? Try it. Stand up against a wall, near a corner, and bend and twist your wrist to where it hurts. Then see if you can hold the grip safety, and pull the trigger. You won’t be able to. Why do you need a grip safety anyway? What purpose does it serve? All of you 1911 lovers swear by them only because they are part of our heritage, and you idolize it’s inventor. That’s it.I like them myself…as a target gun. Most of those target models have the grip safety removed, and you don’t carry a target gun loaded and cocked. Most shooting rages do not let you. They are accurate, and the trigger is great. But a carry and defense weapon its not. I have a Glock M22 Gen 1. I’ve had it for a long time, and I have never had it go off prematurely, nor have I ever shot myself in the foot while pulling it out of the holster. Yes, I had some one tell me that he didn’t like Glocks because he was afraid that he might shoot his foot off while drawing it. I told him that he was poorly trained. If I ever want a pistol in 45 ACP, I’ll buy a CZ 97. But if you like 1911’s for competition, great. They are good guns for that, but not for defending you and your loved ones.

    • Ed Hopkins January 19, 2016, 10:43 am

      This entire post is idiotic!

      • Niko Warpaths October 22, 2016, 7:51 pm

        I have to agree it is an idiotic post nothing short of clueless and outright stupid.

    • don January 19, 2016, 11:15 am

      I disagree, you must watch alot of James Yeager videos. 9times out of 10, you will never in your lifetime put a 1911 or any gin for that matter through excessive firing like that. The 1911 does run quite well. Out of the box compared to a glock, sig, m&p of course most 1911’s are gonna have some issues due to tifht tolerances. If you take care of those tolerances before you fire the first shot, it will be on par with whatever else you bring to the table. Besides magazine capacity, that is the only downfall compared to the others that I see. I have fired over 1300 rounds from my American classic 1911 without one failure that was the guns fault,I rode the slide stop too close and it didn’t lock back. Everyone thinks that glocks and all the polymer Stryker fired pistols are the most reliable guns you could buy, that’s their own opinion. Heritage has maybe 3% to do with why people buy them, its because its a simple design that works, and works rather well. I’ve carried my commander for over four years now and it goes bang whenever I need it to.

    • Wade January 19, 2016, 11:15 am

      Vito – Pfftt. You don’t like the 1911 platform for carry? Then don’t. Go ahead and stick to your euro love.
      I think it’s another step in the evolution of a classic. It looks nice and seems like it should do well. Nothing fits the hands of a man like a 1911! Pure genius from St. JB!

    • El Mac January 20, 2016, 7:15 pm

      Here, this post, is pure bullshit.

    • Victor D January 20, 2016, 8:41 pm

      There’s no getting around the fact that the 1911 is 100 year old technology with limited capacity (unless its a Par-Ordnance P-14 or similar) and one step ahead of carrying an single action revolver both of which wouldn’t be my FIRST choice for open carry or defense in a home invasion. Just my preference so I somewhat agree with Vito. No need to lambaste him if he hurt your tender feelings.

    • Victor D January 20, 2016, 8:58 pm

      Some people feel strongly about carrying 100 year old technology like a 1911, some don’t.
      Just a preference. Get over it.

    • Chris Baker January 21, 2016, 11:16 am

      Each to his own I guess. Your opinion is pretty much outvoted because I can’t remember the last time I saw a P38 but I see quite a few 1911s carried around here in north western Arizona. Oddly enough, I’m one of the few to actually carry a revolver, my GP100. If that won’t save the day then you need a shotgun or rifle because neither will a glock or a 1911. My own personal prejudice is against the 9X19 so like I said in the beginning of my response, each to his own.

    • Mitchell Ota January 21, 2016, 3:16 pm

      I’ll take my Springfield Armory M1911A1s any day of the week.

    • E. M. Awalt May 15, 2019, 6:12 am

      Please note:
      If you have your hand/arm cranked around so that you can’t hold down the safety *and* squeeze the trigger … two things are true:
      -1- your grip strength is so compromised that the gun is pretty much guaranteed to pop out of your hand from recoil when fired, even with 9mm; straight forward musculoskeletal biomechanics at work
      -2- if you are in anything *close* to that kind of position, you are *not* aiming, you are essentially firing ‘blind’; you cannot come anywhere close aligning the sights, and in a badly contorted position you can’t use muscle memory or ‘indexed pointing’ either … so you will be launching bullets, not *really* knowing where they’re going!
      I’d wish you luck, but the luck should probably be doled out to any nearby innocent bystanders!

  • Steve K January 19, 2016, 5:41 am

    A+ for looks! Purists may cringe, but I like it.

    • Sal August 6, 2017, 4:55 pm

      Ditto that bro. It was due for a change, the FNX-45 Is a nice looking pistol too. A few others make the grade: Springfield XD45, M&P45, Glock, etc.

  • John January 19, 2016, 4:21 am

    It may be a polymer framed 45 ACP caliber pistol, but it cannot be a polymer framed 1911 as the 1911 and 1911A1 were both made of steel.

    • Mike January 19, 2016, 9:17 am

      Oh hell John, lighten up. I’m 70 years old and have carried a 1911 of one form or another since I was 16. It is still His Majesty John Browning’s design so who cares what it’s called? I’m anxious to try it out and I bet most all 1911 guys and gals will be too.

      • VicM January 19, 2016, 2:53 pm

        Well stated Mike. Its why they make so many different platforms.

      • Chris Baker January 21, 2016, 11:21 am

        Whahahaha! I’m only 65 and not a 1911 guy and I want one.

    • Chris Baker January 21, 2016, 11:20 am

      Give me a break. Doesn’t matter what the material is, if it fits the specs it’s a 1911. Unless of course, you think making a 45 ACP pistol out of stainless steel instead of carbon steel would make it something other than a 1911, would you? If not, then what difference does it make if it’s polymer instead of plain old carbon steel? It’s just another material that works just fine for it’s uses.

      • Fitz February 28, 2016, 1:23 pm

        We all have our preferences, likes and dislikes. As long as the platform works for you in the caliber of your chosing, and you train wth and maintain the firearm, to each his own, there should be no arguments on good, better, or best. Fuctionality and reliability are the objective measurements of a firearm’s capability. So for sheer platform comparison, the Marine Corps MARSOC recently ordered and put 15,000 sepc 1911′ s into service. There is probably a good reason behind that, and with all modern materials and upgrades to the 1911 platform incorporated into their specs, it is still a viable combat, duty or personal defense weapon.

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