...Between small talk, I was perusing the display cases, and there it was. A Colt LW Commander, brand new, very dressed up and just begging to be picked up and held. I asked to see it (big mistake).
It was what is called both the Wiley Clapp and the 21st Century Commander (take your pick). And it felt like it was made for me.
Polished blue slide, aluminum frame, real Novak sights with a wide notch rear and brass bead front post, Smith and Alexander flat checkered mainspring housing, beaver tail grip safety, standard guide rod, and tapered oval grips - wide at the rear of the gun, tapering to the front strap with what they call fingerprint checkering. The front strap is machine checkered 25 LPI by Pete Single. And a price tag that made me shiver a bit. I argued with myself for the better part of 40 minutes. Then made a bee line for my house, retrieved two very nice pieces from my stash and came back and made a deal I and my bank account could live with.
Guys, this damned thing is just about near perfect for me. All I did was swap the long trigger for a short STI trigger I had in my parts drawer. Since one of Firearms Instructors works for me, I qualified with it yesterday. Shot beautifully, no malf's and hit where the sights were regulated with 230 grain ball.
Despite the last few years (decades?) of Colt's lack of paying attention to the public market, if this gun (and I understand it's been around a while)is any indication, Colt might just be back.
Think I'm gonna sell my Kimber. I don't see me carrying any other 1911 now.
(Photo to follow if I can get it from my phone to my computer)
...Second: I think this one meets your criteria. Hell, the thumb safety if the old WWII style. Bushing on the barrel (an NM marked barrel), short guide rod...sights, beavertail, grips and checkering are the only obvious cosmetic (although practical) add ons.
I know that it shoots great, it stays planted in my hand like no other 1911 I have ever shot ('cept maybe Charlie's Les Baer). The combination of the checkering and those grips just works amazingly well together.
Still no joy with photos. I will keep trying.
The gun you bought was generally referred to as the "Wiley Clapp Commander" when it was originally intended to be short-term (one year or less) special production gun that was made to Mr. Clapp's specifications by Colt for the Talo Group of Distributors.
The gun was originally promoted as "Having Everything You Need and Nothing You Don't"; a phrase not necessarily unique to well known writer Clapp but one that since that gun's ultimately positive reception seems to be showing up for unrelated products all over the place these days.
Please note that I say "ultimately positive reception" for a reason and that's because while the more analytical (and, more importantly, the more experienced) reviewers out there saw its value, hoards of basement-dwelling, Online "Experts" all posited that "they" could build the same gun or, in many cases, a better one for far less.
Other stellar Masters of Internet Shooting Fame bad-mouthed the original checkered, right-angle, ledge type WWI-era manual safety seen on the gun (and not the poorly grooved, round edged, sorta ovoid and far less effective thing it had literally "morphed" into after decades of cost-cutting and "updated" styling that most people are familiar with, which Clapp had purposely chosen not to use) without realizing (probably because they have never carried a handgun of this type or actually fought with one), that many of the ambi and/or oversize levers they all believe they need (or the sun won't shine in the morning), add little to the party in real life whereas their size, shape and location often cause their sometimes insanely exaggerated arms to become snagged on things or inadvertently wiped off while worn on and/or against the body.
Still more Housebound Combat Experts (HCE's), complained heavily about the VERY wide notch Novak rear (and in some cases, even the brass bead/Patridge front) because they don't understand that on a gun intended to be driven quickly to a recognized deadly force threat, we don't need a Bullseye-Gun-like front-to-rear-sight-relationship to slow us down. Wayne already sold a wider-than-standard version of his already-wider-than-Bullseye notch on his website for exactly that same reason (quicker target acquisition) but Mr. Clapp asked him to take things for this gun just a little bit further in this regard.
But while Mr. Clapp jokingly explains this approach as his "old geezer sight" in a several videos from back when the gun was first introduced in 2010 (that I am sure are still out there somewhere online), just as Kevin Gibson states (http://gunhub.com/gun-talk/59600-question-about-cnc-design-machining-2.html#post538841
) in this other thread on this site where you also mention this gun (http://gunhub.com/gun-talk/59600-question-about-cnc-design-machining-2.html#post538837
), the concept is also helpful to people whose eyes are just fine; something that in later interviews, Mr. C himself readily admits.
However, many people who had not even shot the gun or ever tried this or anybody's approach to an oversize front-to-back relationship, complained about it contributing to a lack of user-induced accuracy. Knowing that the notch was NOT that wide, all this proved to me was that those "writers" (or should I say "attention seekers") might know, is how to pound on the keys to their computer until some part of what they say forms a sentence. As they certainly don't know anything about the self-centering way our eyes "work" when it comes to gunsights (nor do they seem to appreciate that those sentences they form should make sense and not be so incorrect or revealing of their true lack of knowledge, that their "work" serves not to inform or encourage discussion but only to demonstrate their own pettiness and unwillingness to study, learn and then decide about anything).
Forgetting the notch for a moment, but along those same lines of closed-mindedness in terms of at least trying something new before either returning to something that "works for you" or badmouthing the concept with no practical basis for doing so, I won't even get into the people who also recommended the outright replacing of the single bright front bead and all black rear blade combination with a 3-Dot system.
Or those who off-handedly stripped the Altamont-produced, Roper-like checkered, Clapp Combat Oval grips off the gun with again, never even trying to understand their purpose, what Mr. Clapp was trying to do, or whether or not they worked for the individual who was so quick to discard them.
And at least you saw that the gun has a factory 4¼" National Match Barrel; something that I believe was originally engineered for (or at least used on) a Gunsite Project sometime in the past; prior to this gun being constructed. That fact seemed lost on a lot of these same people. Maybe it had something to do with the letters "NM" being so far along in the alphabet.
Anyway, as some of the more savvy (and actually experienced) "Forum Fellows" out there were finally able to make it clear that one couldn't necessarily build a gun with the limited, sensible and very purposeful features you listed for the money that the Clapp Commander could be purchased (especially with how the guns are "built" at Colt; more on that in a minute), people began to realize that it was a good deal. They also saw that pretty much across-the-board, these pistols shot well in terms of both accuracy and reliability. And for those thinking far enough ahead, some people also saw that a Colt-built and better yet, a Colt-branded gun would keep more of its value in terms of resale than something built at home, no matter how skilled that home tuner (something many of us here all are) might be.
Colt themselves has generally built these guns in small batches. They send the frames to the very talented Pete Single for the checkering you like so much as Mr. Clapp insisted on this (on him) right from the start. Mr. Single is a generally unsung but amazingly skilled metalworker and his efforts on these pistols are truly a custom touch and completely unlike the conventional "factory" (many different factories') attempts to "checker" frames in the past (where such things are sometimes cast in place or cut and then finished over in various unsuccessful manners).
As far as I know, the guns are not
built in Colt Custom Shop but being constructed in their less than standard lots, I wouldn't be surprised if the same or certain people are employed each time a "run" is made; for the factory knows what an opportunity they have here and I am sure that they know that subpar fitting and poor attention to detail would immediately turn off anyone considering a pistol with the features you mentioned and aimed (sorry) for a more knowledgeable and discriminating portion of the market. All the "right stuff" in the world (in terms of features) won't matter if they're put together badly. And looking at the general consistency I have observed in the numerous samples I have inspected, I think that they truly demonstrate (as others have wondered here) that Colt can build a very nice (and affordable) specialized item if they want to.
They also seem to have resisted the usual corporate attempts to "Kill The Goose That Laid The Golden Egg" and in the past several years that they have continued to make the gun (still as a special for the Talo Distributors), they have continued to do so in the small, controllable amounts I have been discussing and still according to the original (and NOT some sort of watered-down but more profitable) specs that Mr. Clapp called for at the start; something certain other factories have been known to do in the past with specialized firearms that became more popular than originally expected.
And the popularity of this one, is one of the reasons for the confusion you cited in regard to its name.
Even though the factory was seemingly more supportive of this gun from the outset than most manufacturers are of such "Distributor Specials", where the maker will promote them all but must be careful not to show favoritism in regard to one Jobber over another (I say this because Colt actually had a full-time sub-display within their booths at both the SHOT Show and the NRA Show where Mr. Clapp was available to explain the theory behind the features that were included in the pistol - in fact it was at those events where some of the aforementioned taped interviews were conducted), this "Commander" was still that: a Distributor (in this case, a Talo Distributor) Special. And the working name from the people who fronted the money for it (Talo) was the "Wiley Clapp Commander".
But also unusual for a factory-produced but contracted-for and not-cataloged "Special", was the fact that this gun did (after a while) end up being mentioned and then detailed (albeit originally in an indirect manner) on the Colt website. But when that was done, it was initially/generally referred to as the "21st Century Commander" (the other name you mention) on that site.
Also uncommon is that for its being a "Distributor Special" (which is normally a one time, short term, or capped production firearm), this gun has been kept going for several years in the small batches made to the original specs I have mentioned throughout this response. As a result, it went from no mention, to an obscure reference, to an outright listing on Colt's Website, and then formal inclusion within their printed factory catalog as well.
In fact, I believe that your gun, the alloy-framed 4¼" .45 that started this whole thing about four or five years ago, is now shown with a similarly-equipped steel-framed 5" Government Model (also in .45acp) that has been around for maybe the last two years, and a new-for-this-year, similarly-detailed "CCO" type .45cal pistol where a Commander-type 4¼" top end is mated to, in this case, a very subtly round-butted alloy Officer's Model frame, on their "own page" in the 2014 catalog that (as of this writing) is downloadable from Colt!
While there still seems to be a legion of (apparently envious) haters out there (sadly for all the good it can do - like bringing us all together here, the Internet often seems more like a schoolyard filled with vicious children intent on complaining and lashing out at others rather than doing something constructive themselves), this now "family" of firearms shows what can be done if someone (in this case several "someones
": Mr. Clapp, Colt Firearms, and the folks at Talo) actually creates a functional, and not just cosmetic
, special-purpose handgun at a factory level.
By the way, in addition to those detractors who still can't see what's going on here with the legitimately beneficial features you pointed out in your own two Posts in this thread and who are still attempting to convince others that this gun is nothing more than Mr. Clapp's whorish attempt to cash in on his good name, I've seen several people further complain that the use of his initials within the serial numbers for these firearms is nothing more than ego-stroking.
Once again, showing that just because someone can "talk" on the Internet doesn't mean what they say will "make sense" on the Internet, this was actually done so that years from now, if guns and gun shows are still legal at that point in time
, unscrupulous sellers won't be able to build up, homemade Wiley Clapp Commanders and pass them off on unsuspecting buyers; for if they don't have the "right" number, they are not a "right" gun. Something else the three parties involved did to make the gun more effective (here in terms of maintaining its value) for the owner.
In any case, I hope that you found this interesting and that continue to the enjoy your new gun.