The BCM Gunfighter 1911 is a steel hand-fitted full-size Government model with a light rail and a laundry list of special features that set it apart. It is flashy in its almost conspicuously subdued blackness, with a matte black Armor Tuff finish and black Micarta grip panels. This is a nod to its hard use intention, fit for duty anywhere a full-size .45 is appropriate, while downplaying its full-house Wilson Combat custom provenance.
FEATURESThe Gunfighter’s blackness may be the first thing that grabs the eye, but the blend of features is right behind. Wilson’s proprietary X-TAC checkering is used on the slide, front strap, and mainspring housing, setting the pistol off with a unique edge.
The sights are a tritium front paired with a plain serrated Battlesight rear that has a U notch, plenty of light through the notch, and no distractions. The Gunfighter is available with single or ambidextrous thumb safeties per the customer’s preference, and Number 5 tested here wears a single sided.
The magazine release is ever so slightly extended, allowing many to drop the mag without the habitual grip shift of many 1911s but with no risk of an inadvertent “oopsie” magazine release. All parts are Wilson Bullet Proof, which many ‘smiths consider the standard for durable machined steel upgrades on lesser pistols.
The solid trigger breaks like you dream about, at three pounds and change. There is just enough pre-travel to let a gloved finger know it is at the wall and then a release that leaves the shooter with every opportunity for success—it is “pass it around to the buddies ‘feel that!?’ ” good.
For me, the standout feature in handling the BCM Gunfighter is the silky smoothness with which it locks and unlocks. The Browning link system can very typically have two slight to pronounced “bumps” by hand or recoil as it cycles: one as recoil causes the slide to “knock” the locking lugs on the barrel backwards and down, and another as the recoil spring drives the feeding and chambering as the lugs “clunk” back into lock up.
The unlocking and locking are almost imperceptible in Number 5. It feels like a fixed barrel that isn’t moving. The slide glides back and forth on the rails with no friction and zero play.
When I say that Number 5 is smooth, it comes with plenty of legitimate comparisons to bounce it against. Over 30 hours of handwork goes into each build. It’s worth rewinding and visualizing that. There’s a reason a true custom 1911 feels different, and then there’s an additional difference between handwork by a routine smith and a shop like Wilson that is at the top of their game.
That smoothness was the hallmark of every shooting session with the Gunfighter. The recoil cycle benefited from the effortless gliding of the action, while the other features kept the 1911 anchored in hand. The Gunfighter shoots just a touch softer than you might expect with hardball or +P JHPs, subjective in feel, but substantiated on the timer.
Shooting it with Winchester 3-Gun 230-grain flat points or Wilson Combat match 200-grain lead semiwadcutters causes the shooter to forget he is still launching major power factor .45 goodness downrange. When a light is mounted to the rail, this effect is accentuated, the additional weight helping tame recoil further.
I noted an unusual consistency in point of impact among makers, bullet weights, and loads. Across the loads, there was very little shift in point of impact at 25 yards. This is unusual in my hands, with many of the pistols I’ve worked with lately having the expected shift between grain weights, and some guns having a few inches shift with different types or makers of the same weight.
The BCM .45 was noteworthy and so consistent in this regard that at this point I would almost expect any in-spec load to cut the same hole.
All good, but accuracy at the bench is at the kiddie table compared to what the pistol lets you hit on demand. The Gunfighter earned its keep on all drills. Probably not a surprise at this point in the story.
But Number 5 posted consecutive runs of 98 and 99 with the Winchester 3-Gun loads in 19 and 18 seconds respectively. A 100 would certainly be better, but 99 is a personal best at the moment.
Running strings of five shots from the ready in five seconds at ten yards on a B8 target yielded easy 100s, with most in the X and time to spare. The 1911 gobbled up steel plates as fast as I could put the front sight on them, besting my usual 1911 times on the plate rack. This is one of those handguns that allows you to deliver exactly what you are capable of with no excuses.
CHECKERING, SLIDE RELEASE AND MAG WELL
Two component pieces that also add to the overall pistol are the Bullet Proof slide release and X-TAC integrated magazine well/mainspring housing.
The slide release has a different shape than much of what is on the market, subtle but effective. The original Colt part had a pronounced concave curve and sharp checkering and was very effective. Over the years it seems that the part has slowly morphed on many guns into a lightly grooved, sloped part that is hard to get purchase on at speed to release the slide. This is accentuated with gloves or sweaty, smaller or weaker hands. The Wilson release addresses this by removing the slope and providing the shooter a perpendicular ledge that doesn’t extend any farther, but works like a champ.
The Bullet Proof mag well is masterfully blended and gives a very generous opening to get the single-stack magazines in. Reloading is comparatively much more important to 1911 shooters than their 18+ shot 9mm armed brethren. Between the mag well and slide release, the Gunfighter makes that substantially easier and more certain.
A pretty small outlier: target loads in the traditional 185- and 200-grain weights cycled like a champ, as did 150 other rounds of the MagTech and all duty load profiles.
With two highly reputable companies standing behind a signature gun that bears both logos, the shooter is the winner, getting a unique blend of features that work extremely well and are not available from Wilson Combat as a standard item.
A custom hand-fitted 1911 is an anomaly in a largely disposable oriented society. Cycling the Gunfighter, it is immediately apparent that it is different.
The Gunfighter isn’t meant to compete with the average pistol. It is better viewed as a concept of what is possible in a combat .45 when the time is taken to make it as smooth, reliable, and accurate as it can be all at the same time. This will have a powerful appeal to some.
I hope the best names in our industry continue to collaborate like this.
BRAVO COMPANY MFG.