Smith and Wesson Performance Center Pro-Series 9mm 1911

This is one concealment hand gun that you won't mind taking to the range for practice sessions and certainly won't mind carrying all day.

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If it seems I have been on a bit of a roll with Smith and Wesson of late it is because of several great new products they have rolled out this year-products that are particularly suited for those who have a concealed carry permit or are law enforcement officers seeking an off-duty gun.

There are a lot of 1911 aficionados out there-even though the design in now 107 years old-and with good reason. The 1911 design- if properly manufactured-has a number of advantages over newer pistol designs, advantages which mostly revolve the excellent single action trigger which helps make the 1911 capable of excellent accuracy. In addition, the 1911 feels great in the hand of shooters large and small, making it a pleasure to shoot-even in the powerful .45 ACP caliber. Modern manufacturing methods and tweaking of the original design over time has also led to improvements in reliability of the old warhorse, particularly when using JHP defensive ammunition. There was a time not too long ago when a brand new 1911 pistol would not feed JHP loads. After purchasing your new pistol, you would take it to a gunsmith to polish the feed ramp and chamber throat before carrying it. Once that was done, you test fired the pistol with the load you wished to carry for duty or defense, and if it ran properly, you were ready to go. Today any 1911 from quality manufacturers like Smith and Wesson will run with any reasonable JHP load right out of the box. This is not only due to more precise manufacturing through the use of CNC machines, but also because ammo manufacturers design their loads for flawless functioning in a wide variety of handguns.

Smith and Wesson recognized the advantages a quality 1911 could provide the shooter a number of years ago when they introduced their own line of 1911's. Lately their selection of 1911's has been somewhat limited compared to other manufacturers, but that appears to be changing with the introduction of the compact Performance Center Pro Series 1911 chambered in 9mm caliber.

This is one of the most well thought out carry 1911's I have ever fired! Smith and Wesson really put a lot of thought into enhancing the 1911 design in order to make it as ideal for EDC (Everyday Carry) as possible.

First, they kept the weight down through the use of a Scandium frame. Scandium is a rare earth element encountered in Uranium mining operations and no, you won't glow in the dark when wearing it. The combination of a small amount of Scandium with aircraft quality aluminum results in an alloy that is not only extremely lightweight but has the strength of steel. The use of Scandium allows Smith and Wesson to produce incredibly lightweight snubnose revolvers that can withstand the pounding of full power .357 loads. Scandium works just as well as a material for semi-automatic pistol frames.

Overall weight of the Pro Series 1911 is only 26.2 ounces, and overall length is 6.9 inches. Barrel length is 3 inches. These dimensions keep the Pro Series 1911 not only the ideal weight for all day carry without fatigue and but also the ideal size to avoid unwanted detection by others. The rear of the frame is rounded not as an aid in concealment, but to make shooting the Pro Series move comfortable-there is no sharp edge to dig into the hand while firing. The black synthetic grip panels are fully stippled for a secure hold and shooting comfort.

Despite the compact dimensions, magazine capacity of the Pro Series 9mm is 8 rounds, and thankfully, Smith and Wesson includes two magazines with each gun, making it ready to be carried after test firing. Too many manufacturer's ship only with one magazine, and if it is a handgun that is new or difficult to find, obtaining a second magazine may delay you for carrying it for defense.

The barrel and slide are made of stainless steel, and coated with Armonite to make these critical metal parts as rust resistant as one can hope for. Low profile three-dot sights adjustable for windage are provided. Smith and Wesson uses the same oversized external extractor as it does in the other 1911's as well as a full length guide rod for enhanced reliability. Angled grasping grooves are found at the rear of the slide.

A beavertail grip safety with memory bump and oval skeletonized hammer work together to insure there is no hammer bite. Extended ambidextrous safeties are provided, while the slide release is of standard GI configuration. This is the only part of the Pro Series 1911 I would change, preferring instead an extended type slide release for easier reach.

The front of the frame is grooved for enhanced grip, while the flat mainspring housing is checkered. The trigger is a skeletonized three-hole type, with an adjustable overtravel stop. The trigger is quite crisp as one would expect from a quality 1911, and when combined with the relatively light recoil generated by the 9mm round makes the Pro Series capable of some very nice groups.

I test fired the Smith and Wesson Pro Series 1911 with SIG Sauer's newest 9mm defensive load-the 147 grain Elite V-Crown JHP. The V-Crown Elite ammunition is of high quality, and performs well in the moist modeling clay blocks that I test ammunition in.

The published ballistics of this particular Sig load show the muzzle velocity as being 985 FPS, which produces 317 FPE. The actual velocity registered on my chronograph was a still a quite respectable 948 FPS which delivers 293 FPE at the muzzle. This is very small loss of velocity considering the barrel of the Pro Series 1911 is likely an inch shorter than the barrel of whatever test gun Sig uses to obtain their ballistic data.

Shooting the Pro Series 1911 was quite enjoyable. At 30 feet it was easy to keep groups in the under three inch range when firing from a two hand standing position. Functioning was flawless right out of the box. This is one concealment hand gun that you won't mind taking to the range for practice sessions and certainly won't mind carrying all day. As the Pro Series 1911 9mm is a Smith and Wesson Performance Center pistol-which means there is even more attention to detail given to these guns-the price is higher than standard Smith and Wesson handguns. The Scandium frame also adds a premium. Considering what you are getting, the price seems quite reasonable.