I recently had the opportunity to evaluate the new X-TAC from Wilson Combat. The X-TAC receives its name from the distinctive “X” pattern on the frontstrap and cocking serrations. It is a full-size 1911 that is intended to be an “entry level” pistol for Wilson. As I wrote in the original article, “the X-TAC is built using the same exacting parts as every other Wilson Combat 1911. It is fit, assembled, and finished by the same master gunsmiths and undergoes the same quality control and test firing procedure as the most expensive pistols in the Wilson line.”

I recently returned from a two-day visit to Berryville, Arkansas and the Wilson Combat facility. After touring the plant and meeting the employees, I have a better appreciation of what goes into making a Wilson Combat 1911. The company now has over 60 full-time employees and the production facility is bursting at the seams, again. In touring the shop, I visited with a number of the employees and each impressed me with their skill and enthusiasm. The 60 or so employees of Wilson Combat are from the heartland of America and truly represent what made our country great.

Custom Touch

The experience level of the employees at Wilson Combat is astounding. The shop is run by master gunsmith, Vic Tibbets. Vic is a homegrown talent who started working at Wilson Combat when he was 17 years old. He spent 18 years at Wilson before leaving to pursue other adventures. After several years, Vic returned home and now is the manager of the Custom Shop. Two other master gunsmiths I met were Jim Wilson and Steve Kelly. Both are long time employees and each having been with Wilson Combat for over 20 years. With mentors and trainers like Jim and Steve, the next generation of gunsmiths is guaranteed.

The amount of hand fitting that goes into each and every Wilson Combat pistol is simply amazing. I watched as talented gunsmiths, young and old, worked with sanding sticks, files, and fixtures to remove tool marks, straighten lines, and hand lap slides to frames. They also used air driven sanders and drimels to shape and polish specific areas of the frames and slides. My only thought was that one slip with a drimel and a frame or slide is ruined. Just to give the reader an idea of the time that goes into every Wilson 1911, a standard Wilson pistol such as their popular CQB, takes about 40 hours to build. To build a Supergrade takes, on average, twice as long however, according to John May, “It takes as long as it takes!” Wilson will not cut corners on any model when it comes to fit and finish. The X-TAC series is no exception.

During my visit, I noticed that a number of the gunsmiths were building X-TACs. In speaking with John May, I learned that the 5-inch X-TAC has proven to be extremely popular. When a full size gun is that popular, the question becomes, “When is a compact version going to be available?” The answer came when all the writers sat down over lunch with John May and Bill and Ryan Wilson. While the pizza was good, the table also held almost a representative sampling of Wilson Combat pistols, rifles, and shotguns. Among the assorted mix was the first, and at the time, only X-TAC Compact.

That afternoon, the group spent some time on the range that is literally in Bill’s backyard. The X-TAC Compact proved to be as well executed and accurate as every other pistol on the table. Hitting steel silhouettes at 50 yards was almost too easy and the plate rack at 15 yards did not stand a chance. I asked John to put me on the list for the new Compact. When I asked how long it would be, May replied, “It will take as long as it takes!” Classic May.

Pages: 1 2 3
Show Comments