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If you were to set out to build the ultimate defense pistol, the criteria you’d use would be determined by your knowledge of the platform, shooting experience and manufacturing expertise. While almost any firearm factory can build a 1911, it is doubtful that any of them could build a gun comparable to the Wilson Combat X-TAC Elite Carry Comp. Bill Wilson’s experience as a gunsmith, world-class competitor and 1911 builder is unmatched. Every feature of this pistol was included with one purpose: to give its user every advantage in a lethal encounter.

Featuring a compensator designed to reduce muzzle rise and help get more rounds on target faster, the X-TAC Elite Carry Comp has an overall length of just 8.1 inches while being just 5.1 inches tall. Though it is not a gun designed for competition shooting, it is dedicated tool created with the intent that its user would not finish second place in a gunfight.

The more time I spend with the X-TAC Elite Carry Comp, the more I have come to appreciate not only the quality of the gun, but also the thought and deliberation that went into its design. Things like beveling the slide edges, or flat-topping and serrating the slide top, or machining the frontstrap and mainspring housing with the X-TAC pattern, which will lock a shooter’s hand into a firing grip better than any style of checkering or stippling. Or the fluting on the barrel hood, which gives residue a place to go rather than allowing it to cause a stoppage. While some of these features may seem small and insignificant, they add up to make this pistol a world-class defensive tool.

Elite Carry Comp Features

Wilson Combat X-TAC Elite Carry Comp pistol serrations
The slide has X-TAC serrations on both sides for easy racking.

Designed for carry, the X-TAC Elite Carry Comp uses a frame that is shortened by about 0.5 inches. I have large hands and didn’t even realize it was a compact frame until I looked at its magazine. The frontstrap offers room for all three fingers, and the mainspring housing/magazine well adds about 0.25 inches to the rear of the gun, giving the shooter a very comfortable grip.

Machined from carbon steel, the pistol’s frame should provide a lifetime of trouble-free shooting. The beavertail grip safety’s tang has been shortened so it won’t print when concealed, and it also possesses a palm swell for shooters, like me, who shoot with their thumb on top of the thumb safety. A Wilson Combat concealment hammer is also used for its smaller profile. Machined from tool steel, its light weight provides for faster lock times.

Normally I am not a fan of ambidextrous thumb safeties on carry 1911s. Over the years, I’ve had a number of custom 1911s and sometimes discovered in the course of normal activity that something would brush against the right-side lever and disengage my safety without my knowledge. But the Wilson Combat Tactical Bullet-Proof safety engages and disengages crisply with 5 pounds of pressure, and the levers are of trim dimensions. Standard models come with single-sided safeties, too.

The trigger pull on my test sample was set at 4 pounds. For a trained professional or 1911 aficionado, 4 pounds is just about ideal for a defense gun. I hate to use the old tired expression that “it breaks like a glass rod,” but it’s absolutely true in the case of the X-TAC Elite Carry Comp. The pull was very consistent and made shooting groups a joy.

A carbon-steel slide is used on the X-TAC Elite Carry Comp, and the aggressive X-TAC pattern texturing is used instead of cocking serrations. The top of the slide is also serrated to reduce glare. The X-TAC Elite Carry Comp uses an original-style internal extractor and also has a lowered and flared ejection port. Wilson places a heavy bevel on the bottom of the slide to prevent a sharp edge from cutting skin or an expensive holster. The back of the slide sports 40-lpi serrations, and even the concave back of the rear sight is serrated to prevent glare.

Designed by Bill Wilson, the rear Battlesight has a wide, deep U-shaped notch for low-light sighting. Two setscrews secure the sight in its dovetail, and the only complaint I had with this pistol was the sight is so tightly fitted that it took a lot of effort to drift it for windage in its dovetail.

Up front is a bright green fiber-optic sight. The housing the green optic sits in provides a sharp sight picture for precise shots. With just a little bit of ambient, light the rod glows a florescent green and certainly attracts the eye’s attention.

What sets the X-TAC Elite Carry Comp apart from any other defensive 1911 is its barrel system. Wilson Combat machines the barrel and compensator from one billet of stainless steel, so there is no way the compensator will work loose or otherwise make the gun inoperable. There is no bushing, and a reverse recoil spring plug is used to capture the recoil spring. The barrel is of standard configuration and is not fully supported. It is, however, beautifully throated and well polished to feed just about any bullet nose profile. The fitting of the barrel is as good as I’ve ever examined. The compensator sits perfectly flush against the slide front, and there’s not an iota of movement when pressing on the barrel hood or twisting the compensator. Even the flats of the compensator and the slide match up flawlessly. The barrel is 4 inches long, and the compensator adds another half-inch of length.

Finally, the X-TAC Elite Carry Comp is coated with Wilson Combat’s rugged Armor-Tuff finish. My test sample wore a non-reflective satin black finish, but other colors are available. The finish is designed to protect against corrosion and abrasions, and it has a lubricity factor that requires less oil.

How It Runs

Wilson Combat X-TAC Elite Carry Comp pistol target

It’s one thing for a company to boast about its gun’s accuracy, but it’s another thing entirely for a manufacturer to guarantee accuracy. Wilson Combat guarantees 1.5-inch groups at 25 yards. That’s a heck of a feat for any gun, but then again, the X-TAC Elite Carry Comp is one heck of a gun!

I set my Shoot-N-C targets up at 25 yards and fired all of the five-shot groups from a seated rest, utilizing a Millett BenchMaster for support. The groups were nice and round without vertical or horizontal stringing. The excellent sights and crisp trigger made shooting groups almost effortless.

I also took the gun on several desert outings to shoot steel targets. The compensator plays a significant role in reducing recoil. Even 200-grain CorBon +P rounds were comfortable to shoot. I am hesitant to even list my split times, as that is more a factor of the shooter’s skill and I am several years removed from being an active USPSA competitor. However, shooting an MGM BC Zone target at 15 yards, my split times averaged 0.21 seconds with the Wilson compared to 0.25 seconds with my normal full-sized, steel-framed competition 1911. And 0.04 seconds might not seem like a lot, but it’s actually 16-percent faster, and for self-defense, I’ll take every advantage I can get. Also, the compensator is more effective with the lighter bullets pushed at higher velocities. Ruger’s ARX load felt like a light 9mm load, and the Federal Guard Dog rounds were very soft shooting.

During my testing and daily carry, I used Wilson Combat’s Practical holster. Designed to be used as a concealed-carry or competition rig, it is built to last a lifetime. Constructed from a leather/polymer laminate, the holster is rigid and possesses a sight track for unhindered draws. It has a durable back plate contoured for comfortable carry, and it’s adjustable for cant. Users can adjust the screw for retention, and its low front cut will ensure the fastest draw possible. It sits a little lower on the belt than most concealed-carry holsters, but this position provides for a more natural drawstroke. This was my first experience with the Practical and it has become a new favorite of mine due to its speed and comfort.

Work Of Art

Wilson Combat X-TAC Elite Carry Comp pistol test

It isn’t often that I’m treated to the opportunity to evaluate a gun of the X-TAC Elite Carry Comp’s quality. Every minute spent shooting this gun was a joy, and examining its workmanship was like appreciating a work of fine art. Wilson Combat’s attention to detail and flawless machining work make the X-TAC Elite Carry Comp well worth its price tag. It truly is a gun that shoots as good as it looks, and it’s certain to give its user every advantage in a lethal encounter.

Caliber: .45 ACP, 9mm

Barrel: 4.5 inches

OA Length: 8.1 inches

Weight: 38 ounces (empty)

Grips: G10

Sights:  Fiber-optic front, Battlesight rear

Action: SA

Finish: Armor-Tuff

Capacity: 7+1

MSRP: $3,850 (.45 ACP), $3,960 (9mm)

For more information, visit wilsoncombat.com.

This article was originally published in “America’s Handgun Model 1911” 2017. To order a copy, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.

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