Last weekend, I attended the basic pistol class from Marksmanship Matters with a Ruger 1911 (nightwatchman).See my other recaps on Marksmanship Matters.

I’ve taken every class offered by Marksmanship Matters (MM) at least once, some several times since 2011.

I wanted to take the class with a 1911 because Larry is an excellent instructor with all weapon systems, but especially the 1911 (and M9/Glocks).  New students are strongly encouraged to take the class WITHOUT a manual safety or decocker pistol (there is enough to learn and do right w/o adding complexity!).


My Ruger 1911 Night Watchman

I’ve been having a hard time getting good groups with my 1911. Even day 3 when we sighted in, the instructor’s sight-in groups were not especially good at 12 yards.  But by the end of the class I was rock’n the 1911!


I did make a sight adjustment. Its SO hard to adjust if it is less than 1″ at 12yards. I tried adjusting my rear sights & later discovered there is a set-screw!

I really enjoyed running the 1911 professionally. NO BAD PRESSES the entire course!

Main take-aways on the 1911 for the Basic Pistol Class:

1. My grip is slightly different, because I have to extend my thumb on GRIP (gripping stock in the holster) so I can ride on-top of the manual safety. In a poly gun I bend my primary thumb, but with a 1911 I need to extend the thumb so it gets to the top of the safety while in the holster.
2. Placing my support thumb on top of my primary thumb was very helpful in recoil management.  I usually flagged my support thumb UP on poly-guns.
3. Thumb on top of safety while holstering. I had been applying upward pressure on the safety in the past.  What you do in the presentation is what you’ll do in holstering…and vice versa.  PRIMARY THUMBS LIVES ON TOP OF THE SAFETY!
4. Do NOT ride the slide-stop-pin (with finger straight), otherwise you may apply enough pressure and lock the slide so it can NOT go forward…nor to the rear.  I later found out, it was 80% the fault of Wilson Combat 10rd mags WITH plastic followers. 8 of 10 going to slide-lock, means my gun had to have backward/forward pressure while pressing the slide-stop-pin…kind of difficult. *** solution below
5. I had ZERO bad presses the whole class.  Once you get used the the recoil, its no big deal…PROVIDED you have enough in the bank by skip loading & dry practice.
6. I loved hitting the steel with the 230 gr 45 acp!
7. you can NOT cheat isometric tension on  45 acp…you can “kind of cheat on the 9mm”.
8. trigger drill 5 was awesome to driving home the isometric tension!
9. When running the slide, primary thumb goes under manual safety for a few moments, so you can get a good grip on the rear-most portion of the slide.  As soon as you are done running the slide, primary thumb goes on top of safety.
10. With my XD/xdms, I usually wouldn’t clean them until they started to malfunction…around 5,000 rounds. But with the 1911, it seemed to want to be cleaned everyday, so that is what I did.  Field strip, soak slide and everything in CLP (spray spray lots of CLP). Wipe off and then air compressor everything until no “running CLP” anywhere.


 Pros/Cons of the 1911
The 1911 comes from a different era, back when we had world-class craftsman and those that demanded those products. The manufacturing was different, the materials was different and the consumer was different. The 1911 was designed & produced to have hand-fit’d parts and factory worker assembly. Now days its “some assembly required”, back then everything was custom fit’d.
Do I carry the 1911 everyday? No, if you do, I think you are missing a lot of modern technology…or you don’t accept change very well. If you don’t love & honor the 1911, I think there is something wrong with you!  Think about how many guns our grandparents had? Rifle was king for my ancestors, but they also had shotguns for food on the table and 22s for around the ranch. Very few had pistols/handguns. If they did, they owned one handgun…and the 1911 would be an excellent choice.
  • Hard hitting, proven go to war system!
  • There is romance in running the manual safety professionally and knowing you are shooting history.
  • Heavy all steel gun means less felt recoil, even with a major caliber like the 45 acp.
  • Awesome snake loads, best of any auto-pistol IMO.
  • If your situation is one where it would be an advantage to have a manual safety.
  • Great range gun, bigger heavier guns are easier to shoot…not so easy to carry 24x7x365!
  • Everyone needs at least one 1911, and safe queen/gun jewelry!
  • Jeff Cooper/Larry Mudgett & others can’t be wrong!
  • The perfect man-tinker-toy! You can upgrade forever and tweak and tinker for years on one frame!
  • Lets face it, in the 1911 era…your choices were a 38 special or M9 monstrosity! I’d pick the 1911 every time! As Jeff Cooper said, the M9 is a solution to a nonexistent problem (unless of course you have a bunch of military goons that can’t get the training they need to keep their finger off the trigger…then the M9 is perfect cuz that 17 lbs trigger is going to keep everyone safer!)
  • Bring back Captain America’s 1911! yeah…where the heck did the movie-star 1911 go?!?


  • Heavy
  • Somewhat “high maintenance” compared to modern poly-guns.  1911s require more “up-keep” & cleaning…based on my experience.
  • limited capacity
  • slower follow up shots, even with aggressive recoil management.
  • Often pricy to purchase & even more pricy to have it “gun smithed”.
  • Additional training & mileage to run efficiently in a “combat/self-defense scenario”


My favorite 1911 makers:

  1. Colt…of course. Too bad their unionist mgmt goons ruined the company. Ruger should have bought the “colt rights” and told the mgmt goons to take a hike!  I have a 100 year anniversary edition Colt…as Browning made/designed it! classic beauty!
  2. Ruger.  I DO love the 70s series 1911s.  the 80 series has extra “govt goon safeties”, which results in a worse trigger.
  3. I’ve been really impressed with the S&W 1911 (google nutfancy 1911 smith & wesson).
  4. Sig. I really like the desert tan/ambi-safety SIG 1911. I may buy one someday!
  5. Kimber…I think they are over priced and I hear they use softer metals so the pretty tooling is easier on their machines. I don’t think they are shooters, I think they are not made to be shot over 20,000 cartridges.  They are pretty, but I want mine to be a tool and I also love my Colt gun jewelry!
I think I need more mileage on the 1911. I think I’ll take every class in 2017 with my 1911.
I tried some different ammo before the class. Winchester white box FMJ 230 gr seemed to group better than the Federal aluminum casing (almost 8 cents a round cheaper!?!).
cowboy hat was NICE in the hot sun…and plenty of airflow, but it did require different hearing protection.

10 yards

 Failure drill:

@ 3 yards, two the chest, traverse to the head. If the head is still there, then press. Justified because if two to the chest didn’t stop the attack, they must have body armor on or those bullets are not stopping the attack, so a headshot is justified.
The old, two to the chest, back to guard to assess, got lots of guys killed 🙁
In the below target, is two sets of the proper drill. Two to the chest, traverse to the head and press one shot. So, in this photo it is 4 to the chest and two to the head…even though it looks like only two holes.
If you want to buy this type of target, its called “Federal Air Marshals Qualification Target #2”

*** solution to “stuck mags & stuck slide”.

I’d say 80% of the problem turned out to be the magazine. Wilson Combat 10 round mags had a plastic follower that wouldn’t properly lift the bolt-hold-open & would put the slide at the ideal spot for the pin to go to the left by 1/8″.  I also got a much tighter slide-stop pin from Ruger (free) which helped the pin not go from right to left when I placed my finger on the frame in the “finger straight position”.
The new pin was about 5mm thick and did NOT have a flat side.
The old pin was about 4.85mm thick and DID have a flat side (odd).
I cut about 2mm OFF the length of the pin, so my finger wouldn’t push on it. There is “just enough pin left” to field strip the gun w/o a punch.
I ordered Several Mec-Gar 8 rd black mags from brownells. builds many mags for many manufacturers and OEMs them. I’ve found them to be very good magazines.
This video inspired me to cut my pin off.  I may make additional mods, but I think getting rid of the defective mags will help significantly!


Photo of shortened slide-stop-pin & 3m friction tape.


1911 Mods

IMO, the ruger is about the perfect 1911.  Series 70 w/o the lawyer safety, good build…tough, craftsmanship & affordable.

I did a few mods.

  1. I love the mec-gar magazines. Amazing fit & finish, crazy spring tension. Works great. Steel feedlips
  2. Anti-slip tape on the front of the pistol grip (see photos above).
  3. I took 2mm off the slide-stop-pin, so I don’t accidentally push it out while my finger is straight on the frame.
  4. Magpul stocks…I ordered BOTH the normal and aggressive stippling. I decided I like the aggressive! The FDE/Tan & black look amazing!
  5. nightsights! 80% of attacks are in the dark…have the tactical advantage!


threadmate is awesome for non-permanent anti-screw-backout.

threadmate is awesome for non-permanent anti-screw-backout.

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