The afterlife is probably an interesting place, made so by the wise men and women who inhabit its realm. The Colt New Agent is likely stirring debate between two giants of pistolcraft as they look down upon it. Col. Jeff Cooper is probably having a fit, asking why the very company that produced the perfect defensive handgun mutilated it by removing its most important component—the front sight. Next to him, Col. Rex Applegate is most likely smiling contentedly, as that useless appendage stuck on the front of the slide has met its demise.
Cooper and Applegate bicker on in Heaven, but the Colt New Agent is available here on Earth, and it is a definitive statement in support of Applegate's favored close-combat method, commonly referred to as "point shooting." You see, the pistol has no sights to speak of, save a narrow trough through the top of the slide. For those of us familiar with the Modern Technique, or using the front sight as a primary focus point, the New Agent takes a whole lot of getting used to before we can shoot it with confidence. But that is a matter of training, and Applegate would have us train without sights from day one.
The New Agent is ideal for point shooting because there is no temptation to rely on sights. Instinct is about the only thing that will work with this pistol, and work it does, even for a newbie totally unfamiliar with point shooting apart from what I've read. Fortunately, the pistol's operation is familiar to anyone who has shot a 1911. What's more, it is a high-quality variant from the 1911's mothership, with many features to impress aficionados of John Browning's design.
A relatively small pistol, and tiny by 1911 standards, the New Agent combines a 3-inch barrel with a diminutive 43⁄4-inch height and a weight of just 24 ounces, making it ideal for concealed carry. Combined with smoothly beveled edges, the lack of sights makes snagging on presentation a virtual impossibility, further increasing its appeal for carry permit holders.
Despite its size, the New Agent takes standard, 7-round 1911 magazines. Cooper may not like the lack of sights, but he would certainly approve of a handgun capable of delivering a full complement of .45 ACP to the target.
This 1911 is compact in every way. Even the safety has been cut down to size. The grooved mainspring housing is likewise shorter than one found on standard 1911 models. Its hardwood stocks are checkered to provide added purchase and slimmed down to reduce the pistol's width to a hair less than 11⁄4 inch.
The pistol's slide has rear serrations for a solid hold, but rather than duplicating this at the front, it has a step that matches the serrations' angle, which allows users to perform a press check.
A bushingless bull barrel adds to the New Agent's appeal, as accuracy will have to come from the gun itself in the absence of sights. The pistol's full-length guide rod is wrapped in two recoil springs, a system recognizable to those familiar with the Colt Defender.
The trigger is skeletonized and provides a crisp 4 pound, 6 ounce pull, making point shooting quite simple. One might even say shooting this pistol is inherently instinctive because its trigger breaks so cleanly—you will never find yourself hesitating because of sluggish take-up or heavy pull.
Achieving accuracy with the New Agent requires patience for most shooters. It took several boxes of ammunition before I was able to confidently shoot without a front sight. Even after this familiarization period, I found my groups getting smaller as I continued to shoot each of the three tested loads. Considering this pistol's intended use, I tested it with no rest at 7 yards, which is about as far as the longest likely self-defense scenario. My groups averaged a tad more than 3 inches, which is certainly not what I'd prefer, but again, this pistol has no sights and I am not a Defendu master. Putting every round inside a torso-sized target is all that can be asked of it, and given its intended use as a purely defensive pistol, it performed with distinction.
I'm not about to abandon the Modern Technique—it is how I was taught to shoot and my muscle memory runs deep toward finding the front sight. But the New Agent has taught me a sightless handgun is not an abomination to be cast aside in disgust. Those familiar with point shooting will find the New Agent to be an ideal platform for their self-defense and concealed carry needs.
While Cooper and Applegate have at it up above, the debate here on terra firma remains unresolved. Lest you thought otherwise, the New Agent is proof of how little has been settled regarding the best form of pistolcraft.