If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then it was most certainly flattery that killed John Moses Browning and not heart failure. Browning’s firearms designs, many of which still serve our military today, are testimony to his incredible genius. And his iconic 1911 pistol is probably the most copied gun of all time, by companies like Tisas.
Two Tisas 1911 Models That Won’t Break the Bank
Over the years, there have been many imitators. Some good and some horrible. Jeff Cooper’s popularization of the 1911 as a defensive fighting tool in the ’70s and ’80s was the impetus for many manufacturers to offer their own versions of the venerable war horse.
It wasn’t always like this, however. Back in the late ’70s, when I started shooting 1911s, the only real choices were Colt and Springfield Armory. There were some peripheral players like Crown City, Vega, Safari Arms, and Randall. But most folded without ever securing a significant market share.
If you wanted an extended safety, beavertail, or match sights, you’d have to take your gun to a smith and leave it with them for an extended amount of time. It wasn’t until 1993 that Kimber introduced a factory gun with a beavertail grip safety, extended thumb safety, and low-profile combat sights.
Three decades later, things are different. There are more 1911 manufacturers than I can count. And the fortunate thing is that most of the pistols are surprisingly good guns. Even the budget-priced Philippine guns come with useable sights, extended safeties, and beavertails.
In general, you get what you pay for in terms of quality. One of the best values I’ve found in the 1911 market recently is the new Springfield Ronin. It has good sights, an incredibly good trigger, strong side-only extended safety, and a beavertail. It uses a forged frame and slide and has everything you need for a modern fighting 1911 and nothing you don’t!
Priced at $849, the Ronin possesses great accuracy and unerring reliability. I liked it so much that I bought my test gun.
At the 2020 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, I stopped by SDS Imports booth and took a quick look at some of their Tisas 1911s imported from Turkey. The samples I saw displayed excellent fit and finish. Far too nice, in fact, for the suggested retail price of just $420 for their parkerized GI model and $500 for the more modern Duty model outfitted with a beavertail and ambidextrous extended thumb safeties and excellent sights.
I remember remarking to a colleague that if the actual imported guns look anywhere as nice as the display models, it would be the best deal available for the budget-minded 1911 shooter.
A couple of months later, my son-in-law bought the Tisas 1911 A1 U.S. Army pistol at a local gun show. I had the chance to thoroughly examine his model. And I found it to be every bit as nice as the guns on display at SHOT Show.
The slide-to-frame fit was exceptional, and the fit of parts like the bushing, thumb safety, and slide release far surpassed my expectations of a gun retailing for $420. Even the matte parkerized finish was well executed. I was impressed!
Securing Models for Testing and Evaluation
When I received word my old friend Dave Biggers had accepted the job of General Manager at SDS Imports, I reached out to him for a couple of test and evaluation guns. Biggers sent me the Tisas 1911 A1 U.S. Army as well as the Duty BR. Both guns are manufactured at the Trabzon Silah Sanayi A.S. state-of-the-art factory in Turkey.
Tisas claims they build more than 50,000 weapons a year. This is not counting the arms they make for the Turkish government and military. A quick glance at their website reveals a dizzying selection of handguns. Many of which show the influence of Beretta and CZ-75 handguns.
Last year, I evaluated the Tisas version of the Browning Hi-Power pistol (available from a different importer). I found the gun to be very well made and much more accurate than my vintage commercial Hi-Power.
Tale Of Two Turks – The 1911A1
So, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at just how nice my T&E guns looked. Tisas uses forgings for both their frames and slides and does their heat treating in-house. You won’t have to worry about soft metal—these guns will stand up to hard use!
Using modern CNC machinery, they obtain incredibly tight frame-to-slide fit without any binding.
Both guns’ thumb safeties are well-fit and snick on and off as crisply as the trigger breaks. The military model breaks with 4.8 pounds of pressure. Likewise, the Duty BR requires 5 pounds of pressure to drop the hammer.
Both guns have about 1/16-inch take up, just a little creep, and virtually no overtravel. Like true 1911A1s, the Tisas pistol uses a short trigger with a checkered texture on its trigger face. An arched mainspring housing, complete with a lanyard loop, is also used.
It even uses a fat, checkered hammer that makes thumb cocking the gun so easy! Tisas has also done a very accurate job of replicating the A1-style cocking serrations.
The BR Duty
Like its military counterpart, the BR Duty does not use a firing pin safety and is Series 70 in design. This gun also does not use a full-length recoil spring guide rod, and that’s fine with me. In my 40-plus years of shooting 1911s I have never had a stoppage which would have been prevented by using a full-length recoil spring guide rod.
The BR has wide and deep cocking serrations at the front and rear of the slide. This model comes with an accessory rail on the dust cover designed for attaching a tactical light and/or laser. Tisas also undercuts the frame at the junction of the front strap and triggerguard. This helps the shooter get a higher grip on the gun to mitigate muzzle rise.
The BR’s high-sweep beavertail also aids in getting a high grip. The beavertail features a memory bump to help shooters who use the thumb-high grip—like I do—and disengage the grip safety.
The Beauty is in the Details
When disassembling the guns, I was impressed with how few tool marks I was able to find. Already mentioned is neither gun uses a firing pin safety, and the frames are Series 70 style.
Feed ramps of both frames are well polished, and even the GI-style barrel is throated from 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock and should feed just about every type of round you can fit into the magazine. Both barrels are cold hammer forged, but the BR uses a stainless-steel barrel.
It’s interesting to note that there is nothing radically different about either of the Tisas 1911s. Aftermarket parts made for Colt, Springfield Armory, Kimber, etc. should work fine with the Turkish guns. That’s great news for tinkerers and those who like to accessorize their guns. It also makes finding a holster easy too.
How’d They Shoot?
I was at Gunsite in Paulden, Arizona, working on another 1911-related project. While there I had the opportunity to fire both guns from the bench. Ken Campbell, Gunsite’s CEO, graciously provided me and my photographer, Alex Landeen, access to a range. This allowed us to benchrest the guns and chronograph them.
The Tisas 1911 A1 U.S. Army is a true facsimile of our military issue .45, including the sights. Maybe it was that tiny front sight that caused me to concentrate on it so hard as I added the pressure necessary to break the shot. But it was Federal’s Syntech Defense 205-grain round that placed five rounds into a tight group measuring just .092 inches!
It wasn’t a fluke. In fact, the aggregate group size for four different ammunitions was just 1.17 inches.
Tisas BR is no slouch in the accuracy department as well. Remington’s 230-grain FMJ rounds produced the best five-shot group measuring just .88 inches. And its aggregate group size for the four ammunitions is just a hair over one inch. For a gun with a suggested retail price well under $500, I am amazed.
I fired more than 500 rounds between the two models. Some were fired from the bench, but most were fired at steel targets, practicing double-taps and failure drills (two to the body and one to the head).
At times, the guns got so hot I had to set them in the shade and allow them to cool. Despite not cleaning the guns during my evaluation, I had no failures of any kind.
A Tremendous Value for the Money
Sometimes an importer or distributor will offer a brand-new gun at a ridiculously low price to create a rumbling amongst shooters and generate interest and demand. If this is the case with the Tisas 1911s, these prices will not last forever.
If you’re interested in a facsimile of our military’s venerable 1911A1 or a more modern 1911 with a light/laser rail and extended ambi safeties, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not checking out the Tisas 1911s. Both guns offer the shooter tremendous value for the money!
For more information, please visit SDSImports.com.
1911A1 U.S. Army Specs
Caliber: .45 ACP
Barrel: 5 inches
Overall Length: 8.5 inches
Weight: 39 ounces (empty)
Grips: GI-style checkered brown plastic
Sights: GI fixed
1911 DUTY BR Specs
Caliber: .45 ACP
Barrel: 5 inches
Overall Length: 8.6 inches
Weight: 40.5 ounces (empty)
Grips: Black cherry plastic
Sights: Novak-style, low-profile three-dot
Finish: Black Cerakote
|1911 A1 U.S. Army|
|Aguila 230 FMJ||852||1.43|
|Federal Syntech Defense 205 TSJ||970||0.92|
|Hornady 220 FLEXLOCK +P||966||1.16|
|Remington 230 FMJ||815||1.18|
|1911 Duty BR|
|Aguila 230 FMJ||848||1.13|
|Federal Syntech Defense 205 TSJ||955||1.10|
|Hornady 220 FLEXLOCK +P||947||0.96|
|Remington 230 FMJ||822||0.88|
Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in feet per second (fps) by chronograph, and accuracy in inches for best five-shot groups at 25 yards.
This article was originally published in the Combat Handguns July/August 2022 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email email@example.com.
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