I must admit I was intrigued when I first learned of Republic Forge and its custom approach to 1911 manufacturing. Basically, you can design your 1911 right on its website. From size to chambering to finish to just about anything, you can configure your pistol just the way you want it. After a visit to the company's website, I thought to myself, “All right, I accept the challenge!”
As part of the process, I decided to do some research on the company and its products. A little digging revealed that Republic Forge was founded in early 2014 by Benny Deal, Jeff Meister and Dale Pancake. Their goal was to offer shooters the opportunity to own 100-percent American-made, forged 1911 pistols with the best possible components and workmanship. Every pistol is made by hand, one at a time by an individual gunsmith in the company’s Perryton, TX, plant.
In regards to actually building the guns, the core team is made up of Jeff Meister and Ryan Wells, both highly skilled 1911 gunsmiths. Meister has more than 30 years of experience building 1911s, and Wells is an up-and-coming 1911 gunsmith the company hired right out the Pennsylvania Gunsmith School in Pittsburgh.
For my 1911 project, I decided to dive right in to the “Build Your Own 1911” section of the website and put together my ideal 1911. The interface is very usable, and it even mocks up an image of your pistol as you have configured it. As I like only 5-inch, full-size 1911s, I selected the “Republic” model chambered in .45 ACP. However, while I started out pretty traditional, it was at the finish-selection stage that my unique tastes made an appearance. I stepped right past all the Cerakote options and selected the color-case finish for both the slide and the frame. It looked so good that I could not resist, and it would surely make this 1911 stand out from the crowd. I also elected to forego forward slide serrations to keep the overall look as “classic” as possible.
(l.) A U-shaped notch with a single tritium ampule promotes an intuitive sight picture. (ctr.) Serrations along the top of the slide lead to a tritium night sight. (r.) The end of the slide features a stainless steel barrel bushing.
As I intended for this to be a “carryable” 1911, I chose a batch of what I consider to be necessary upgrades. These included an ambidextrous safety (a must for this southpaw), an extended and flared magazine well and tritium night sights. In fact, I selected the company’s “RF Sight,” which is a proprietary design that is made up of a large dot front and a notch rear with a single dot with a flat-faced ledge for one-hand racking of the slide. Now, after selecting all these very practical options, I decided to round out the package with a pair of elephant ivory grips as I thought they would set off the finish nicely.
After I put in my order, I patiently (well, as much as was possible) waited the several months (official wait times are currently three to five months) for it to arrive at my local FFL. A quick note from Jeff Meister let me know that Ryan had built this particular pistol. Upon accepting the pistol, I opened the glossy box and the Republic Forge-branded Elite Survival Systems zippered case to find a beautiful example of 1911 craftsmanship. The color-case finish was stunning, the grips amazing and the fit-and-finish extremely impressive. The primary controls (magazine release, slide stop, safety and “Texas Star” hammer) were deeply blued, and the frontstrap featured perfectly executed 25 lpi checkering.
(l.) A setscrew in the trigger face allows for adjusting overtravel. (r.) Fine checkering on the mainspring housing provides ample purchase.
The pistol was packed with two eight-round Tripp Research CobraMag stainless steel magazines. Closer inspection revealed the pistol had a 4150 steel Kart National Match barrel and a “tri-cavity” trigger (and it is important to note that all Republic Forge pistols feature Series 70-style systems with no firing pin safety for the best trigger pull possible). The trigger broke at a very clean 5 pounds, 12 ounces.
I took the pistol out to the range with a selection of .45 ACP ammunition and put it through its paces. The pistol came with a test target from the factory showing a tight .55-inch three-shot group at 15 yards. Per this magazine’s testing protocols, I set up at 25 yards and proceeded to shoot five, five-shot groups with each of the three loads I had on hand.
There was only one hang up during testing (a failure to feed in the second magazine of rounds fired), but it did not happen again during the rest of the testing. I chalked it up to the pistol breaking in. The pistol averaged solidly under 2 inches with all three loads, and shot a best group of .90 inch with Federal Premium ammunition. Needless to say, I was very impressed. Frankly, I suspect this pistol can shoot better than I can.
If you are looking for a truly custom 1911 with great options and features, then give Republic Forge a look.