Bill Wilson started out in competition shooting in the 1970s. At the time, the closest such events available were Police Pistol Combat, or PPC, matches, so Wilson tried his hand at that game and found that to win you needed enhanced shooting equipment. So began his career customizing guns supplied to him by customers and making custom parts for those guns.

Later, Wilson brought out his own line of firearms, which today include 1911 pistols, a new Beretta 92/96 line, Wilson Combat AR rifles and carbines, along with shotguns under the aegis of Scattergun Technologies. Recently, I was at Bill Wilson’s 8,700-acre Circle WC Ranch in East Texas pursuing wild hogs with a couple of other writers. When we weren’t hunting, socializing or eating, we were at Wilson’s range shooting his guns and endangering his ammunition supply. I did quite a lot of IDPA-style shooting with several of the company’s impressive 1911 models, and as there are five categories of 1911 pistols and 36 variations, let’s take a look at some representative examples of each category.

Supergrade

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The engraved .45 ACP Pinnacle is completely detailed inside and out with several features specially selected by Bill Wilson.

The name of the Supergrade series says it all, and the top of the line is aptly named the Pinnacle. This .45 ACP 1911 exhibits the highest level of Wilson Combat craftsmanship, and it’s hand-fitted and finished by a Supergrade pistolsmith. It’s then embellished with classic scroll-pattern engraving and given a rich Armor-Tuff finish. Smooth burl walnut grips with gold Wilson medallions further enhance the handsome 1911. And to prove its beauty is not just skin deep, this gun is also a performer. A partial list of its features include a low-mount, adjustable rear sight; a gold bead front sight; a 5-inch, stainless, match-grade barrel with a flush-cut and reversed crown and match-grade bushing; a full-length, spiral-fluted guide rod; a high-ride Bullet Proof beavertail grip safety; a Tactical Bullet Proof thumb safety; a stainless, ultra-light hammer; an ultra-light, medium-length trigger with a crisp 3.5- to 3.75-pound pull; 30-lines-per-inch checkering on the frontstrap; a flat mainspring housing; and a one-piece Bullet Proof magazine well. This limited-edition package includes a letter of authenticity and a deluxe presentation walnut case.

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The Tactical Supergrade Professional is available in .45 ACP, .38 Super and 9mm with a 4-inch, match-grade barrel. It has a compact slide hand-fitted to a full-sized frame and is outfitted with several of Wilson’s tanktough Bullet Proof parts to make it the ultimate carry pistol. It shares a number of deluxe features with the Pinnacle, but its unique features include an ambidextrous Bullet Proof thumb safety, a Bullet Proof magazine release, a rear Battlesight and tritium front sight, a full-length guide rod with a reverse plug and G10 Starburst grip panels. Some options include fiber-optic front sights; low-mount, adjustable rear sights; flush-cut and reverse-crown barrels; and countersunk slide stops.

Full-Size Security

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Wilson Combat Classic

As the name implies, these are regular-sized 1911 pistols like John M. Browning first conceived. You can get them in all the usual calibers, plus .40 S&W. Where else should we begin, but with the Classic. Common characteristics include the 5-inch, match-grade stainless barrel, an overall length of 8.7 inches, a height of 5.6 inches and an empty weight of 38 ounces. It’s a marriage of features that make it the optimal match or carry pistol. A low-mount, adjustable sight comes standard, and serrated, gold bead, fiber-optic and tritium front sights are available.

The carbon-steel Classic can be had with a black or dual-tone finish. The slide has front and rear serrations. This pistol has several of the aforementioned features, like checkering on the grip frame, a Bullet Proof thumb safety, a contoured magazine well and double-diamond cocobolo grips. Options and upgrades for the Classic are much the same as on the Supergrades, plus you can opt for the Speed Chute magazine well.

Next is CQB Tactical LE. This 1911 is designed from the ground up for SWAT entry teams, military operators and other LE specialists. You can get it in all the usual calibers. It has an accessory rail integral to the dust cover, a conical barrel with no bushing required and a Speed Chute magazine well. It’s constructed from carbon steel with a black Armor-Tuff finish, has flat-bottomed G10 grips and is fitted with the Battlesight rear sight and a fiber-optic front sight. The CQB Tactical LE has the usual checkering on the frame, Bullet Proof custom parts, including an ambidextrous safety, and the usual options and upgrades, which include no forward serrations on the slide if desired.

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Wilson Combat Ultralight Carry

The Ultralight Carry can be had in .45 ACP, .38 Super and 9mm, and it has a fully machined aluminum frame, making it the ultimate full-sized carry pistol. All of the pistol’s edges are rounded, plus it features a round-butt-style mainspring housing and concealed-carry beavertail grip safety. A countersunk slide stop post is standard for those who want to use a laser grip. This pistol weighs a good 8 ounces less than a comparable steel-framed 1911. You get many of the usual features seen on Wilson Combat 1911s, including an Armor-Tuff finish and G10 Starburst grips.

RELATED STORY: 5 Wilson Combat 1911 Defenders

The Tactical Carry is the newest offering in the Full-Size line. It has a steel frame fitted with the round-butt, one-piece mag well for fast reloading. The heavier frame also tames recoil while reducing wear during high-volume shooting sessions. This pistol has many of the most popular cosmetic and performance options seen on other Wilson Combat 1911 models, plus a serrated slide, Bullet Proof and Concealment Proof options, G10 Starburst grips, a 5-inch, stainless, match-grade barrel with a fluted chamber, a Battlesight rear sight and a fiber-optic front sight.

Professional Protection

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Wilson Combat Professional

One of the distinctions in the Professional category of 1911 pistols are the 4-inch, match-grade stainless steel barrels that come standard on the series. This, of course, means the slide is also about an inch shorter than the full-sized models, and the height is also reduced by 0.2 inches on these guns. The model that begins this series is none other than the Professional model.

The design of this 1911 actually came about due to customer requests, and it has been a customer favorite since its introduction. One of the hallmarks of this handgun is a full-sized grip frame mated to a compact barrel/slide assembly. This will feel better in your hand if you’re used to the heft of a full-sized 1911, and the compact slide, with its 4-inch, match-grade barrel, will get on target faster and easier. The pistol has Bullet Proof controls, a Battlesight rear sight and a fiber-optic front sight, G10 Starburst grips, a checkered front- and backstrap and a contoured magazine well. All the most popular options and upgrades are available.

The Professional Protector has a stainless steel barrel with an integral accessory rail, along with Wilson Combat’s round-butt configuration. It comes in .45 ACP, .38 Super and 9mm, has G10 Starburst grips with black WC medallions, a Battlesight rear sight, a fiber-optic front sight and a Bullet Proof round-butt magazine well. The Professional Protector has a number of other Bullet Proof parts, like the grip, thumb safety and magazine release. Other features include a countersunk slide stop, a heavy machine chamfer on the bottom of the slide, carry cuts, and the 4-inch, match-grade barrel has Wilson’s flush-cut reverse crown as well as a fluted chamber.

Compact Carry

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Wilson Combat Bill Wilson Carry Pistol

The exact clone of what rides on Bill Wilson’s hip every day is aptly named the Bill Wilson Carry Pistol. As expected, this is a high-end 1911 based on the CQB Compact frame with some custom enhancements. It comes in all steel with a blued finish, a Battlesight rear sight, a bushing-less, 4-inch, match-grade barrel, a target trigger and an Ultra-Light hammer. The top of the slide is serrated to reduce glare, the frame has been given the round-butt configuration, and the slide has been narrowed in the front. The slide stop post has been recessed and the hole is chamfered to make it easier to use Crimson Trace Lasergrips. As this is a special pistol, it’s only available in .45 ACP.

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With its good looks, the Stealth has dibs as the classiest compact Wilson 1911. In fact, it is slightly smaller than other compact models, but with a 4.1-inch, hand-fit, heavy flanged, match-grade, conical barrel. The steel frame is shortened by 0.5 inches and the slide by an inch so you get an advantage of fast target acquisition combined with excellent concealment characteristics. Standard equipment includes Battle Proof controls, a Battlesight rear sight, a fiber-optic front sight, a one-piece guide rod, a contoured magazine well, G10 Starburst grips and a matte black Armor-Tuff finish.

One of the more truly unique Wilson 1911 models is the X-TAC Compact. This 4-inch-barreled model comes in .45 ACP or 9mm and has enhanced textured (X-shaped) cuts at the rear of the slide in place of the usual serrations; they’re also on the frontstrap and round-butt mainspring housing. These bi-directional cuts have been found to work well in wet and hard-use environments, offering security and gun-handling comfort. It also carries the newest U-notch Battlesight rear sight, which makes it optimal for low-light conditions when mated with the fiber-optic front sight. This all-steel package is finished in a durable Armor-Tuff finish, making it the professional’s working handgun. It also comes with Bullet Proof grip and thumb safety, a contoured mag well and G10 Starburst grips.

Sentinel Defense

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Wilson Combat Ultralight Carry Sentinel

There are just four of the Sentinel subcompact models with 3.6-inch barrels, but my pick is the Ultralight Carry Sentinel. This lightweight concealment piece comes only in 9mm, and it is Wilson Combat’s smallest, lightest creation. It’s optimized to work best with high-performance 9mm loads so that it shoots as good as it looks. Its stainless, match-grade, conical barrel is hand-fitted and comes with a fluted chamber. It has the Battlesight rear sight and a fiber-optic front sight, and the top of the slide has 30-lpi serrations. Its concealability is enhanced with the round-butt mainspring housing, a Bullet Proof grip safety and Tactical thumb safety, a shortened/rounded magazine release, a countersunk slide stop and a heavy chamfer on the bottom of the slide. No matter what you are looking for in a 1911-type pistol, I’ll bet you can find what you need in the vast selection of pistols offered by Wilson Combat.

RELATED STORY: 4 Wilson Combat Sentinel 1911s for Concealed Carry

For more, visit http://www.wilsoncombat.com or call 800-955-4856.

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