The 1911 remains as popular a platform as ever. Over a hundred years after engineering genius John Moses Browning created this handgun, manufacturers and shooters all over the world still embrace it as one of the most enduring designs in all of firearms history, having served in every major US conflict since The Great War. Despite all of the other advancements, new technologies, advancements in design, materials and overall engineering, the 1911 still remains a favorite among sports shooters and those who carry firearms for defense. Globally, 28 nations use the 1911. There have been millions upon millions of these handguns built, with more being churned out each month. The 1911 is here to stay, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing.
The Philippines is a major player in 1911 production. This is sort of ironic, since the 1911 came into being because of the US Military needed a pistol that could effectively put down Moro insurgents in Mindanao. Now, Strong hand, once simply an importer of the highly-recommended HS pistols, has decided to embrace the 1911 with their own locally-produced version of the venerable handgun, the Hero 1911.
The Hero 1911 by Strong hand is a forged-steel handgun that comes out of the box with a few features that seem to have been taken from higher-priced 1911 s. I was at my desk, pondering ideas for the next feature for this column, when I got a message from Jojo Go of Strong hand, saying they had a new pistol that we might like to take a look at. I scheduled a visit to their range at E. Rodriguez, Cubao that weekend to spend some time with the Hero. We were given a box of .45 cartridges, two magazines, and the pistol itself.
The Hero 1911 was completely unmodified, and appeared as it would out of the box. It was a single-stack, full-size 1911a1 with a five-inch barrel. It also came with a few extras, such as an extended safety, beavertail, skeletonized hammer, and Novak-style three-dot sights. It is a familiar setup for many, and for anyone who has fired a 1911, should feel like a well-worn glove in the hand.
Being of forged steel, the Hero does have a little weight to it. It isn’t uncomfortably heavy, but it’s unlikely the extra weight will go unnoticed. I like a little extra weight on my handgun though. I’m not an operator, and I don’t have to lug a ruck for miles on end, so I appreciate the ruggedness of the 1911 and the help the mass gives when it comes to felt recoil.
Before I shot the pistol, I took it apart to take a quick look at the fit and finish on the inside of the gun. The pistol is of the Series 70 design, with no firing pin block, just as JMB designed it over a century ago, and has an unramped barrel, again, as the original1911 design dictated. I haven’t had any problem with unramped barrels in the past, but perhaps some of you who carry defensive ammo may feel a little more secure having the barrel throat and feed ramp polished, but I was confident it would feed fine.
I quickly put the pistol back together, loaded the two magazines we had been lent for the test, gassed it up, and hit the line. The safety clicked very positively off and the sights were easy to find and place on target. The initial take-up of the trigger was followed by a sharp stop, the slightest creep, and then the shot broke. Recoil, while definitely noticeable, was about at par with the .45s I have shot in the past. It’s the nature of the beast to have a little more recoil, but it’s more than manageable, and nicely mitigated by the weight of the Hero.
After a few shots, I did notice that the aggressive checkering on the grip panels started to be uncomfortable after a few magazines. There were no failures to feed or extract, though there were two failures to fire, an effect of the “clean” powder and primers used by the range to ensure the safety of their shooters. Cases were extracted cleanly and sharply, and the pistol even managed to chamber an empty cartridge I loaded into the magazine to simulate a failure to fire.
Overall, I’m pretty impressed with the Hero .45. It’s a little on the heavier side, being of forged steel construction, but I appreciate the extra durability and additional recoil control the construction brings. The build quality is solid, and the extras you get with the pistol increase the value for money even more. Again, it doesn’t have the top-tier fit and finish of the most expensive 1911s, but it’s not supposed to. The 1911 is a military handgun first and foremost, not a show piece, and overly-tight tolerances are detrimental to performance. The Hero strikes a good balance, offering a feeling of rugged reliability without making you feel like you’re using a handgun that you picked up post-zombie apocalypse.
The pistol retails for PHP 28,000, which, considering the extras, forged steal construction, is a pretty good deal. if you want to try the Hero for yourself you can head over to the Strong hand shooting range along E. Rodriguez, Cubao and see if it’s the pistol for you.
Words by Ren Alcantara
Photos by Ian Ysip
First published in Gadgets Magazine, September 2013