Across the span of the past century, give or take a couple of years, the Colt Government Model 1911 .45ACP pistol may well be the most copied pistol design to date. At present you can get some version of the legendary pistol from Colt, Smith & Wesson, SigArms, Springfield Armory, Auto Ordnance, and more. As far as I know, Beretta and Glock don't make 1911 variations. Glock never will because of the .45GAP cartridge and Beretta has shown little inclination to develop or design weapons in the .45ACP cartridge. They have in the past, but not with what appears to be a sense of urgency. This week's review, though, is going to be about a little known all-stainless steel pistol made by Randall--the first stainless steel .45s made.
Looking at the Randall shown at right, you can see a few commonalities with the old style government model 1911 .45ACP pistol:
- Standard slide lock/thumb safety. No extension. No extra width
- Standard hammer
- Standard grip safety
- Standard slide stop
- Standard magazine release button
The grips on the pistol shown are Pachmayr's. They used to be wrap-around grips, but the owner decided he'd rather have the front strap checkered. That work is pending. The sights on this weapon were upgraded to a white outline rear and big red front.
So, how come you haven't heard about Randall pistols before? Simply put, there just weren't that many made. The Randall Firearms Company of Sun Valley, California made just under 10,000 pistols between June of 1983 and May of 1985. Although they had 24 models of the pistols available, with less than 10,000 total pistols produced, the company name just hasn't become well known. That's almost a shame.
The two biggest innovations that Randall brought to the Model 1911 pistol were the fact that they made it all in stainless steel and their production of an honest-to-goodness mirror image 1911 specifically built for left-handed shooters. This gun was not just another 1911 with ambidextrous safeties and reversible magazine release button. The Randall left handed 1911 was completely reversed so that the shells ejected out the left side of the weapon and the magazine catch was on the right side as was the slide stop and thumb safety.
Now, in 2006, stainless steel guns aren't so uncommon. What's more rare is to see one that hasn't received some kind of extra finishing. The Randall stainless steel pistol that I went to test for this review felt rough before it was lubricated. I mean it felt like rubbing two bricks together when you worked the slide. But once it was field stripped, brushed, blown out, lubed and reassembled, it felt much smoother. The five-inch barrel sits above a regular recoil system. By that, I mean that there is no full-length guide rod.
Sporting several seven-round magazines that are also stainless steel but have had rubber pads added to the base plates, the pistol shoots with better-than-average accuracy. I used to have a stainless steel Colt Commander and it needed constant lubrication to keep it running. No so with the Randall. It can handle a range session without any hiccups.
I've long been a Government Model fan, and having it available in stainless steel is a good thing (in my mind). The Randall Firearms Company was just a little bit ahead of the rest of the gun industry when they produced the first stainless steel prototype in 1982. The Randall is a comfortable weight in the hand. Nothing new there. It feels like a government model should. If it were my pistol, I'd have to make a few decisions.
I like Commander-style hammers. I like XS Sights. I like the Tac-Grip front strap applique. I like the grip slabs that Mil-Tac makes. For all that, would I want to make changes, or keep the gun as it came from the factory in an effort to preserve collector value? Hmmm...
I like to shoot too much. I think I'd make my changes and be happy knowing that I had customized an already valuable collector's piece. If you get a chance to add one of these pistols to your armory, I highly recommend them. Then again, if you are looking for a gun to carry day in and day out, this might be a better gun to purchase and lock away.