I remember the Arminex Trifire. Never saw one, but I remember the pictures and writeups. It was a sort-of 1911 clone, with a squared-off trigger guard, except it didn’t have a normal 1911 safety, it had a Walther-type firing pin block in the slide. Why, I have NO idea. The Arminex logo was similar to the WWII-style US military star-and-bar aircraft emblem. I remember a writeup by J. B. Wood and as I recall, he liked the thing.
I have something that might be almost as rare: an ODI Viking. This was an all-stainless production version of the Seecamp DA conversion for 1911. I’ve never seen a “real” one of those, either, but back in the late ‘80s, when Randall went under, an outfit called Randco liquidated their stock and while they were at it, blew out the last of the ODI Vikings in unassembled kit form. I bought one.
What a mess. The cast extractor and firing pin went right in the parts box, replaced with good GI parts, and I hope I’ll never be hard up enough to have to use them. Some of the basic machining on the frame had to be completed by me with a hand-held Dremel. (Luckily, I’m pretty good, or was in those days.) The slides of these things were awful. I had to send the first one back because the firing pin hole was drilled so far off center it just barely hit the edge of a .45 primer. I had other problems with two other slides that I won’t bore you with here (I got stuff to do, y’know), but I did eventually get one full gun up and running.
Sort of. It worked okay single action but DA was a mess. The DA hammer fall was only about ½ to maybe 2/3 the SA fall, so ignition was trouble. If you put in a strong enough mainspring for reliable ignition, you could hardly pull the trigger (think untuned, WWII-production Walther PPK, or worse), and if you put in a spring you could pull through DA, it would fail to light off at least one round in every mag.
Also odd about this gun is that the frame is internally a Commander in the dust cover area, but externally a 1911. Meaning that the dust cover is ¼” longer than a Commander’s, and the ODI slides were made to match, giving them the look of a chopped gun, not a “real” Commander. Ick.
Last year I bought a Ciener Commander .22 conversion and found that it would not fit on any of the Essex or Fed Ord frames that I had planned to use it on. Oh, it could be MADE to fit with minor tweaking of the frames, but I’m getting lazy in my old age. But I found out that the thing popped right on the ODI Viking frame, which was laying around unused and unloved. My ODI instantly became a dedicated .22 gun. Now here’s the serendipitous part: All the Ciener 1911 slides, regardless of length, are made to match the full-length dust cover of a 1911 (not a Commander). So the Ciener Commander slide looks right at home on the ODI frame.
After a few months of shooting it, I took out all the ODI double action parts and stored them away in a baggie. It now has a regular long 1911 trigger from my parts box, which I took off some other project (I hate 3-hole 1911 triggers as a styling cliché and will replace this one as soon as I run across a plain one for $10 or under). In the meantime, the kid and I have put somewhere between 3k and 5K troublefree rounds of cheap Walmart bulk ammo through the lashed-up mess. The morale of the story is: Never throw anything away; you never know when it’ll be the perfect thing for SOMETHING.