A while back, Clint Smith, founder of the famed Thunder Ranch firearm-training school in Oregon, got together with Les Baer and the two men worked out the perfect defensive 1911, according to Smith’s preferences. To pay homage to Smith and his legendary academy, Les Baer released a select number of Thunder Ranch Special 1911s.
These guns feature a chromed frame and a blued slide that’s topped with combat sights complete with tritium-illuminated inserts for low-light aiming. Slide serrations are found at the front and rear of the pistol, and the gun incorporates an ambidextrous thumb safety. Of course, this defensive pistol is equipped with a 5-inch barrel and chambered in the original .45 ACP, just as Saint John Browning intended.
Now, many of you might look at this gun and think, “Gee, that’s a pretty awesome setup. I wish they hadn’t discontinued it.” Fear not! Though you can’t get the Thunder-Ranch-engraved model any longer, this same basic design can be had in the form of Les Baer’s Custom Carry or Tactical Carry models.
Alfonsos’ of Hollywood Model J21 Pancake Holster ($69)
When working with a classic design like the 1911, it’s almost natural to pair it with a classic piece of gun leather, and it doesn’t get much more classic than a simple, high-quality rig from Alfonsos’ of Hollywood. The company got its start in 1959, making western-style rigs for fast-draw pistol competitions popular throughout the West in the mid-20th century, and as Alfonso Pineda made a name for himself in the cinema city, both law enforcement and the lawfully armed citizenry sought him out for custom-crafted carry holsters.
Alfonso passed away in 1995, but the company continues to produce high-end holsters under the supervision of his son, Omar Pineda, and a popular option still sought after today is the company’s Model 21 pancake-style holster. This simple, outside-the-waistband carry holster first started production in the 1960s and is still popular today, with options available for any 1911, the Smith & Wesson M&P9 and several Glock pistol models. Options are available in black or brown leather.
LEDLenser MT10 Flashlight ($80)
While we’re talking about outside-the-waistband carry setups, the LEDLenser MT10 flashlight is perfect for a belt-mounted EDC kit. Though the light is a little big for pocket carry, the added size brings with it some incredible features, like the 1,000 lumens produced at the light’s max setting or the incredible 144-hour battery life possible with a low-output mode of 10 lumens. The light is powered by a rechargeable battery and weighs just 5.5 ounces, despite its larger size of 5.04 inches.
Ontario Knife Company Model 499 Survival Knife ($55.95)
In the world of belt-mounted survival gear, here’s a classic from Ontario Knife Company: the 499 Survival Knife. This fixed-blade option, made from 1095 carbon steel, appears similar to the Ka-Bar blade of Marine Corps fame, only it’s slightly smaller, with a blade length of 5 inches. OKC actually made this blade for the U.S. Air Force, and the design was issued as the Aircrew Survival Egress Knife from 1958 to 2014 when it was replaced by the Gerber LMF II ASEK. However, for the purposes of most wood-trekking civilians, this classic blade will do just fine, featuring a sawtooth back, cross-guard tie-downs and a pommel hammer all ready to tackle any task. Plus, as a bonus, the knife comes with its own sheath and whetstone.
CMC Products Railed Power Magazines ($39.95)
Billed as the “strongest 1911 magazines ever made,” the CMC Railed Power Mags are purpose-built to offer a level of durability and reliable feeding unlike any of the company’s other designs. Reliability is enhanced, thanks to the doubled-up feed rails at the top of the magazine body, which eliminate the jams caused by warped, bent feed lips. While standard-capacity models are available in both stainless-steel and black-nitride finishes, this particular option offers a 10-round capacity, so it makes for a great spare mag to have on-hand in any daily carry kit.