Firearm: TriStar American Classic II (MSRP: $811)
For fans of the 1911, there are innumerable options available. Lightweight, all-steel, Officer, Commander, Government models; 9 mm, 45 ACP, 38 Super and many other chamberings; there’s a lot of possibilities out there for the concealed-carry practitioner who prefers the 1911 platform. Many, though, are fans of the original configuration: 5-inch barrel, all-steel construction chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. And that’s exactly what we have here today with the TriStar American Classic II 1911 in chrome.
Let’s get it out of the way, right off the bat. Yes, this is a Metro Arms pistol manufactured in the Philippines. Is that a dealbreaker? That’s for each shooter to decide on their own. The Philippines has a rather long history of manufacturing 1911s, however, and the quality and reliability in the 1911 we have here today are superlative. It features upgraded components and a solid fit that result in an accurate, dependable handgun.
Speaking of upgrades, that’s the difference between the American Classic and the American Classic II. While the former is a more mil-spec-type variant with minimalist sights and the standard spur hammer, the American Classic II offers a Commander-style hammer, cocking serrations forward and aft, Novak-style rear sight and a dovetail-mounted front sight and an enlarged beavertail. These upgrades, offered for a mere $50 increae, all increase the shootability of the pistol and make administrative manipulations easier. That’s a no-brainer if you’re getting the pistol as a carry gun.
While it’s a 1911, meaning it’s on the larger side, and all-steel, so it’s somewhat heavy, folks have been carrying steel 1911s for well over a century now. With a solid holster and a sturdy gun belt, it’s doable. The American Classic II does weigh 39.5 ounces, unloaded, which is quite a bit heavier than a polymer-frame, striker-fired pistol. Again, it’s about preference and proper gear selection. Deciding on a 1911 as a carry pistol means you’re accepting less magazine capacity in favor of a better trigger as a general rule. It’s all about options, and the more options the better. The American Classic II offers upgraded components designed for carry and use at a price point comparable to most entry-level offerings. That’s a great option.
Holster: Mission First Tactical OWB holster (MSRP: $49.99)
When it comes to carrying the 1911, tradition dictates that a leather holster be chosen. However, we’ve gone a different route with the Mission First Tactical OWB offering, a twin-sheet-kydex design with a built-in forward cant. The beauty of the chrome finish on the American Classic II 1911 in today’s kit is that it is more resistant to the type of wear that can often put folks off about kydex. Yes, if you practice with your pistol and holster, you can get holster wear on your pistol. It happens. Look at literally any police-issue revolver in the past, oh, 100 years.
Mission First Tactical’s OWB holster is an exercise in simplicity, which is a good thing. Two sheets of custom-molded kydex are bolted together, hand-finished and fitted with two polymer belt clips. The holster has a slight curve to it to help hold it against the body to optimize concealment, and a medium-height sweat guard keeps sharp edges away from your skin. This particular holster is a custom unit I had the opportunity to create when I visited the factory a while back; the OWB is currently offered in standard black, but custom variants will be forthcoming.
Knife: Buck Knives 590 Paradigm (MSRP: $194.99)
Rounding out today’s kit is another classic with a twist, the Buck Knives 590 Paradigm. While at a quick glance it appears to be a pretty standard flipper-opening pocketknife, it’s not quite that simple. Scan the knife for the locking mechanism. Hand it to a friend and ask them to open the knife. Rather than use a liner lock or lockback system, the Paradigm’s opening and closing is controlled via the sliding scale on the left side of the knife. Push the top of the scale approximately ¼-inch and then flip the knife open; reverse the process to close.
While it might appear at first to be a simple parlor trick, it’s actually quite useful. The Paradigm can easily be opened and closed with one hand, and the Shift Mechanism locking scale guards against inadvertent activation. With a minimum of practice, it’s just as easy as a liner or frame lock, only without needing to put your finger under the blade to close it. The 3-inch, S35VN-steel drop-point blade opens with assistance and wears a satin finish. Scales are G10, and the cerakoted pocket clip is reversible for right- or left-pocket carry.