Text and Photos by Jeff W. Zimba
It could be safe to assume that when the first 1911 pistol was test-fired, inspected and sold, there would be little consideration that an article would be penned 100 years later in 2011 on a new offering of the same design. The time-tested and proven 1911 series handgun is not only still available, but going strong. They are still highly sought after and manufactured in numerous configurations. When modern technology and technique meets such a proven design, we can expect this trend to last for many more years.
American Tactical Imports is quickly becoming well known for offering high quality firearms at very reasonable prices from several points on the globe. The firearms we are focusing on today originate in the Philippines and are manufactured by Shooters Arms Manufacturing (SAM).
At the time of this writing the FX 45 1911 series pistols are available in 5 configurations: The Military, the GI, the Titan, the Titan SS and the Thunderbolt. All are steel receivers and parts with solid mahogany grips. While some models are reminiscent of classic 1911 offerings, other designs are modernized and geared towards the competitive or professional shooter.
The FX 45 Lineup
The Military most resembles the traditional, standard size 1911. With its 5-inch barrel and 8-round magazine capacity, it has a full length slide with light, rear serrations, and an overall length of 8.46 inches. The sights are a fairly low profile and the rear sight is drift adjustable for windage. The hammer is a knurled, wide spur. The mainspring housing on this model has a lanyard loop like some early original military designs.
The GI is similar in size and handling to a standard Combat Commander. Though the grip length is the same as the Military model to utilize factory 8-round magazines, the slide and barrel are shorter to aid in concealability without giving up magazine capacity. The hammer is the rounded Commander style and the grip safety has an extended beavertail. This model has an extended safety. The barrel length is 4.25 inches and an overall length of 7.87 inches. Trigger and sights are the same as the Military model.
The Titan falls in between the size of the Defender model and the Officers model with a barrel length of 3.125 inches and an overall length of 6.93 inches for optimum concealability. The magazine well and grip are also shorter and the magazine capacity is 7 rounds. The mag-well is slightly beveled for easier reloading. This design has a lightened trigger and also employs the same hammer and extended beavertail as the GI model. The sights are a higher profile and are drift adjustable for windage with a black rear blade and white dot front sight. The slide is heavily serrated in the rear on this model. The hammer is the rounded Commander style and the grip safety has an extended beavertail. This model also has an extended safety. The weight of this model is 1.87 pounds.
The Titan SS is almost the same as the Titan except it is stainless steel with a matte finished slide and polished frame. The slide is heavily serrated front and rear. All other specifications are the same as the standard Titan.
The Thunderbolt is similar in size and shape to the 5-inch barreled GI model with several upgrades from the standard design. It has the addition of a mounting rail beneath the barrel in front of the trigger guard, an extended beavertail grip safety, a lightened trigger, an extended and heavily beveled mag-well, a stippled grip both front and rear, a lightweight trigger, an extended ambidextrous safety, a heavily serrated slide front and rear, and fully adjustable 3-dot sights for windage and elevation. Like the GI model, it uses standard 8-round magazines. The overall length and weight are also the same as the GI model at 8.46 inches and 2.31 pounds respectively.
All models were supplied with checkered mahogany grips, and the grip style is standard of this design in case the user desires to change to aftermarket grips.
Upon opening and examining all models listed above we were immediately very impressed. Each pistol was shipped in a heavy cardboard box lined with soft Styrofoam, in a sealed plastic bag with a light oiling for protection. This writer cringed at the “shiny” appearance of each gun, as it is a personal preference for matte finishes on such firearms. That cringe turned to joy as soon as the oil was wiped from each pistol. With the exception of the stainless steel Titan SS, all were finished with a deep, dark uniform finish. Even the stainless model had a matte slide. Of course the finish is just a personal preference and some like them as shiny as possible.
Once they were cleaned the actions were checked and it was time for a trigger test. Every trigger broke like glass. There was not the slightest bit of creep in any of them and every one had a very short fast break. They all greatly exceeded our expectations in this area.
The fit was very tight with little to no noticeable movement between the slide and the frame on any model. They all moved slick and smooth and almost had a hand-fitted feel to them.
The markings are very clean and clear, from the largest logo to the smallest importation and serial number marking.
The mahogany grips were all checkered without any noticeable blemishes and the Titan models both have a large diamond in the areas of each screw.
Several types of ammo were tested with all the FX 1911 model guns. Since there are no distinct mechanical differences between other 1911 types, the testing did not include muzzle velocity testing. Our focus was on function and practical accuracy. All groups were fired at 10 yards (30 feet) off hand with a combination of Wolf 230 grain FMJ, Remington 230 grain FMJ and Winchester Bulk (often referred to as white box) 230-grain FMJ ammo. All models functioned great, and only 1 shooter had a few rounds that did not feed completely during the initial break-in. It may have been a combination of the new guns, the heavy internal oil and below freezing temperatures, but on 3 rounds total, in 2 different guns (1 in 1 gun and 2 in another) the slide needed a light tap forward to completely feed the round and close up. Other than that there was not a single failure to feed, fire or eject. By the end of a few boxes of ammo everything was working excellent. The groups were impressive and definitely on par with other manufacturers’ 1911 models, especially given the testing was done in a windy 21ºF environment. The Thunderbolt performed exceptionally well duplicating a few “ragged 1-hole 8-shot groups” right away.
All who had the opportunity to examine the FX 1911 guns from ATI were very impressed with the performance, the crisp triggers and the fit and finish. None were informed of the MSRP until after getting their initial impressions. When shown the pricing, the comments were a unanimous expletive variant of “No way!” Since many of our testers worked with us on some of the more expensive variants we have tested in the past few years, they were all under the assumption these must be a high-end line as well. The extremely reasonable prices were found almost unbelievable to all who had the chance to test and handle them. This writer agrees. No matter the model, they are a great value for your money and should not disappoint even the most ardent 1911 fan.
No matter if you are looking for a new starting piece for a serious race gun build, or you are buying one expecting better than average performance out of the box, if you are or want to be a 1911 aficionado, you may end up finding a “new favorite” pistol for a lot less money than you ever expected to spend.
American Tactical Imports
100 Airpark Drive
Rochester NY 14624
(Please visit their website for a list of dealers)