You’ve worked hard all your life, and though it hasn’t been all puppies and rainbows, fortunately, there have been more ups than downs. You raised your kids, scrimped, and saved to make sure they went to the school of their choice. You paid for their weddings and even gave them a surprise envelope of cash to help them put a deposit on their first home. Isn’t it time you do something nice for yourself? If 1911s happen to be a passion of yours, I have a suggestion—Standard Manufacturing’s Damascus 1911.
The Standard Manufacturing Damascus 1911
Built from forgings, the gun features chain pattern 4140 carbon steel Damascus. This is something Standard Manufacturing’s craftsmen painstakingly machine, fit, hone, and stone into a strikingly beautiful, functional work of art.
The Damascus process is thought to be more than 2,000 years old, with few changes regarding its process. Damascus combines two or more steels that are layered and forged together several times. For this reason, it is known for its hardness, corrosion resistance, and lack of brittleness.
Using high carbon steel and a nickel alloy, the wave-like patterns have been popular with knife aficionados. While others in the firearms industry have used limited numbers of components in their design, Standard Manufacturing is the first, to my knowledge, to use Damascus forgings for their slides and frames.
From a distance, the frame and slide appear to be a pewter color. It’s only upon closer examination that you can see the mesmerizing pattern of rings and ripples. Complementing the Damascus steel is the nitre-blued beavertail, magazine release, thumb safety, slides-stop, mainspring housing, and pin.
These parts are flawlessly polished before getting their fire-blue finish. And I have to say their contrast against the subdued silver Damascus is dramatic. Also adding a splash of color to the gun are the reddish, double-diamond checkered walnut grips.
Gun Details of the Damascus 1911
Standard Manufacturing’s 1911 uses a Series 70 design, meaning it does not possess a firing pin block safety. This will please just about every 1911 collector, as the Series 80 safety added parts to the gun. Thus causing extra work for a pistol smith trying to give the gun a decent trigger pull.
My test sample’s trigger broke with 3.75 pounds of pressure, with its overtravel having been expertly tuned at the factory. The gun boasts a skeletonized commander-style hammer and a long, solid trigger.
The 1911 features a high-sweep grip safety. So, the user won’t have to worry about hammer bite even after a full day of shooting. The part features a “memory bump” to ensure it disengages even when using the “thumb-high” grip as I do with my thumb riding on top of the manual safety.
Standard Manufacturing outfits the gun with a strong-side-only thumb safety. Correspondingly, it is extended and wider than the GI part to make it easier to swipe off as you’re obtaining a sight picture. It disengages as crisply as the trigger breaks. The flat mainspring housing is steel and checkered at 40 lines per inch.
In addition, the slide features wide and deep cocking serrations fore and aft. The company also lowers and flares the ejection port to give empties every opportunity to exit the gun unimpeded.
Novak-style, low-profile combat sights are dovetailed into the slide, and they possess the common three-dot pattern. The legend, Standard Manufacturing Co LLC N. Britain, CT USA, is laser engraved on the left slide flat while the right slide flat is marked with their logo.
A Not-So-Standard Fit and Finish
Standard Manufacturing’s master gunsmiths fit the frame to the slide with such precision that I couldn’t get a wobble out of the parts. Even after disassembling it and sliding the bare slide onto the frame, there was zero play at the in-battery position.
For accuracy’s sake, the pistol is fitted with a stainless steel, match-grade barrel. Standard Manufacturing’s elite gunsmiths throat the chamber end of the barrel from 2 to 10 o’clock, so it will feed any bullet nose profile.
It uses a standard blued bushing. And while it is painstakingly fit to the slide and barrel, it can still be hand-turned for disassembly. To also enhance functioning the gun’s feed ramp is highly polished, and an extended ejector is fit to the frame.
One part, whose exclusion didn’t bother me in the least, was a full-length recoil spring guide. Standard Manufacturing uses the original style recoil spring guide. The full-length guide rods have become so ubiquitous that most manufacturers add them, as a matter of fact.
Over the years, I’ve asked a number of 1911 experts if they’d ever seen a stoppage that would have been prevented by a full-length recoil spring guide. The answer has been a unanimous no!
Quite frankly, the gun’s accuracy surprised me. It is obvious that not all of the handwork imbued upon it was for cosmetic effect. The frame-to-slide fit is perfect, as is the bushing-to-barrel-to-frame fit. Likewise, the precision with which these parts have been fitted is undoubtedly responsible for its tremendous accuracy.
DoubleTap’s 230-grain FMJ Gunsite load turned in the best five-shot group, measuring just 1.22 inches, and Black Hill’s 230-grain FMJ load wasn’t far behind it. Even the two hotter defense loads still turned in groups right around 1.3 inches, and I thought that was fantastic. The aggregate group size was well under that mark.
I did some draw-and-fire exercises with my steel target set out at 15 yards. For these exercises, I used a handload consisting of a 200-grain LRN Laser-Cast bullet and enough W231 powder to achieve a velocity of 875 feet per second. It’s a soft shooting load, especially from the 40-ounce pistol. And it makes Major for USPSA competition but is easy on the gun and shooter.
With its light recoil, I was able to effectively hammer the steel target and managed to get some splits under 20/100ths of a second. For my age and lack of practice, this seemed pretty good!
A Flawless Performance from the Damascus 1911
I liked the gun’s crisp trigger and firm reset. I also liked the Novak-style sights and was able to pick up the front sight easily on presentation. Its beavertail kept my hand comfortable. I also liked the crisp disengagement of the thumb safety that never left me wondering if I was on safe or not.
Throughout my 300-round evaluation, the gun never once stuttered. A nice thing about this Damascus finish is that I was able to easily remove all of the firing residue. I simply wiped the parts with a rag wet with Ballistol. No scrubbing, brushing, or scraping was needed to clean the gun.
Invest In Yourself?
The Standard Manufacturing’s Damascus 1911 may not be the gun for everyone. However, if you’d like to reward yourself for a job well done for putting others’ needs ahead of your own for decades at a time, it might just be the pat on the back you deserve.
From its distinctive Damascus patterns to its precision fitment and superlative accuracy, the Standard Manufacturing pistol is built for the discerning and worthy 1911 connoisseur.
For more information, visit STDGun.com.
Standard Manufacturing Damascus 1911 Specs
|40 ounces (empty)
|Novak Style, low-profile combat sights
|Damascus and Nitre Blue
|Black Hills 230 FMJ
|Doubletap 230 FMJ Gunsite
|Federal Syntech Defenses 205 SJHP
|Hornady 220 Flexlock +P
|Remington 230 Brass JHP Golden Saber
|Speer Gold Dot 200G2 Carry Gun
Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in feet per second (fps) by chronograph, and accuracy in inches for best five-shot groups at 15 yards.
This article was originally published in the Combat Handguns November/December 2022 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email [email protected].
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