RENDITION OF A CLASSIC:
Alchemy Custom Weaponry Prime

Alchemy Custom Weaponry Prime is a flawless rendition of Browning’s timeless 1911, built with modern materials and equipment and old-world craftsmanship.

Alchemy Custom Weaponry Prime is a flawless rendition of Browning’s timeless 1911, built with modern materials and equipment and old-world craftsmanship.

Prime features rugged one-piece rear sight, serrated with deep U-notch for quick alignment. ACW’s unique logo is engraved on slide’s right rear.

Prime features rugged one-piece rear sight, serrated with deep U-notch for quick alignment. ACW’s unique logo is engraved on slide’s right rear.

Extended steel ejector is used on the Prime.

Extended steel ejector is used on the Prime.

ACW outfits Prime with strong-side-only extended thumb safety with proportions trim enough for everyday carry use.

ACW outfits Prime with strong-side-only extended thumb safety with proportions trim enough for everyday carry use.

Prime features ACW’s Comfort Carry checkering on front strap.

Prime features ACW’s Comfort Carry checkering on front strap.

ACW throats barrel for positive feeding with variety of bullet nose profiles.

ACW throats barrel for positive feeding with variety of bullet nose profiles.

No surprises inside the Prime, and it happily does not include a full-length recoil spring guide rod.

No surprises inside the Prime, and it happily does not include a full-length recoil spring guide rod.

Gold dot front sight is easy to pick up on presentations. Front sight is blended to slide’s top.

Gold dot front sight is easy to pick up on presentations. Front sight is blended to slide’s top.

Lightweight trigger features smooth face and no hole for overtravel screw.

Lightweight trigger features smooth face and no hole for overtravel screw.

Careful hand polishing transitions between frame and slide flats. Curved surfaces are crisp and clean.

Careful hand polishing transitions between frame and slide flats. Curved surfaces are crisp and clean.

ACW polishes Prime’s feed ramp to a mirror-like finish.

ACW polishes Prime’s feed ramp to a mirror-like finish.

Detty fired all his groups at 25 yards, five shots to a group, from a seated rest. Prime met or exceeded Alchemy’s accuracy guarantee.

Detty fired all his groups at 25 yards, five shots to a group, from a seated rest. Prime met or exceeded Alchemy’s accuracy guarantee.

Prime’s frame modifications allow shooters to get very high hold on the gun.

Prime’s frame modifications allow shooters to get very high hold on the gun.

True 1911 connoisseurs appreciate an unadulterated version of John Moses Browning’s famous fighting pistol: devoid of any so-called modern improvements, built from carbon steel, and with a fit and finish that only seasoned craftsmen are capable of. Alchemy Custom Weaponry’s (ACW) Prime is one pistol that’s sure to bring a smile to even the most discriminating 1911 enthusiast!

Cabot Arms, a very high-end 1911 maker famous for carving a pair of 1911s from a meteorite and producing guns for celebrities with big egos and even bigger bank accounts, has acquired Alchemy Custom Weaponry.

CABOT + ALCHEMY

Cabot’s owner, Rob Bianchin, explained that he wanted to hire Alchemy’s owner Rob Schauland for his tremendous experience. Schauland, who has over 30 years in the firearms industry, had cut his teeth on 1911s in Springfield Armory’s Custom Shop working alongside Dave Williams, and then went to work for Les Baer building custom guns, one at a time, for serious shooters who were willing to pay more to own a quality 1911.

Acquiring ACW also means Cabot can offer quality guns at lower prices. Though you’d be hard pressed to call the ACW guns Cabot’s economy line, they do put semi-production pistols into the hands of folks who will be unafraid to use them for daily carry.

I received a sample of one of the first Alchemy guns produced since ACW relocated to the Cabot facility in Pennsylvania. The ACW Prime is a full-size 1911 machined from 4140 steel and is an example of what Bianchin and Schauland refer to as Resto Mod—a classic rendition of the veritable 1911 with a number of new custom modifications to update an old favorite.

ACW PRIME

The Prime maintains John Moses Browning’s classic lines with some features that improve its handling and shootability without cluttering the gun: 25 LPI checkering on the front strap and mainspring housing, an extended thumb safety, and low-profile combat sights. But what really distinguishes the Prime from run-of-the-mill production 1911s is its exquisite attention to detail. A case in point is the slide-to-frame fit.

The evaluation example does not possess an iota of play, vertically or horizontally, with the slide in its battery position. Yet the slide reciprocates without any binding or tight spots. Likewise the barrel fit, both the hood and lugs, displays an unusual amount of care in fitting. Even the stainless-steel bushing’s fit between the slide and the match-grade barrel is impeccable, yet the part can easily be turned by hand and removed from the slide without a bushing wrench.

Aesthetically the gun is perfection! Lines are sharp and crisp, and transitions between flat and curved surfaces are clean. Custom gunsmiths who specialize in 1911s will tell you the first step in a custom gun build is to straighten its lines. Factory workers who are tasked with polishing a gun often blend the curved surfaces of the front strap and slide top into the flats, leaving non-distinct transitions that ruin the gun’s lines. It’s a difficult and time-consuming process for smiths to correct.

Fortunately, the Prime doesn’t suffer from any of these ailments. Alchemy Custom Weaponry is engraved on the right side of the slide, along with the ACW logo. The left slide flat is left blank and is a wonderful spot for the owner to have their name engraved. ACW craftsmen break the sharp edges so the Prime is carry-friendly. After the frame and slide have been polished to perfection, the parts are given a hot salt blue.

The combination of quality components and meticulous hand fitting allows ACW to confidently offer an accuracy guarantee of 1.5 inches at 25 yards. With a good supply of quality ammunition, I set out to verify ACW’s guarantee. I actually had no doubt the gun could shoot that well after examining it. The Prime’s fit and finish are as impressive as its pedigree and inspire confidence in the shooter.

PUTTING IT TO THE TEST

I set up my DOA Tactical portable shooting bench and put my target out at 25 yards. Firing from a seated rest and using a Millett Benchmaster to support the pistol’s dust cover, I maintained a sight picture while adding the 3.25 pounds of pressure necessary to break the shot. You’ll see from my accuracy chart that each of the four ammunition types used produced five-shot groups that surpassed the ACW accuracy guarantee. And did it easily!

Black Hills 200-grain lead semi-wadcutters turned in the best five-shot group, with the rounds clustering into a tight .89 inch. This is a light target load and cycled just fine in the Prime, a testament to its reliability. If you want a 1911 to choke, just feed it semi-wadcutters! The Prime’s feed ramp is polished glass smooth and fed the SWCs like they were round-nose ball rounds. Hornady 185-grain XTP American Gunner hollow-points also fed without a bobble.

As mentioned earlier, the Prime is an example of a classic gun with some minor updates to make it a modern fighting tool. The front sight is dovetailed into the slide and ACW craftsmen have neatly contoured the sight to the slide top, an amazing example of their detail work. The front sight itself features a gold bead for the eye to pick up on presentation in just about any light. Combined with the deep U-notch on the rear sight, aligning the sights is as simple as placing the ball in the bucket.

Setting up three steel MGM BC-C Zone targets at 15 yards, I found the gold bead sight to be extremely easy to pick up. It made transitions between targets fast. Also aiding in quick controlled pairs on the steel is the trigger’s firm reset. The Prime’s trigger is light enough for competition work but not too light for defensive use by a trained and well-practiced 1911 aficionado.

The Prime possesses what ACW calls High Grip Ergonomics, with a very high sweep beavertail grip safety and a relief cut at the juncture of the frame and trigger guard. This allows the shooter to get as high a hold as possible on the gun, which is instrumental in controlling recoil.

SUMMARY

As built by Rob Schauland and crew, Alchemy Custom Weaponry’s Prime is about as good a 1911 as you can find, and is worth every dollar of its $2,595.00 price tag. Those who truly know 1911s will consider this price a bargain. We’ve all gone through the exercise of buying a production 1911 and then sending it to a smith for new sights, frame-to-slide tightening, match barrel and bushing. What we get back is a parts gun, a big bill, and a long wait.

The ACW Prime puts a brand-new gun in your hands without the long wait and with a much smaller bill. It’s a flawless rendition of Browning’s timeless 1911, built with modern materials and equipment and old-world craftsmanship.

SOURCE

ALCHEMY CUSTOM WEAPONRY
(724) 676-1911
www.alchemy1911.com

SPECIFICATIONS, ALCHEMY CUSTOM WEAPONRY PRIME

MANUFACTURER

Alchemy Custom Weaponry

MODEL

Prime

CALIBER/ CAPACITY

.45 ACP, 8+1

WEIGHT

38 ounces

OVERALL LENGTH

8.7 inches

HEIGHT

5.6 inches

BARREL

416R stainless steel, hand-fit match-grade barrel and bushing

SIGHTS

Dovetailed fixed sights, gold bead front sight, deep U-notch rear

TRIGGER

Crisp 3.25-pound pull with polished ignition components

FINISH

Polished blue

WARRANTY

Lifetime

SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE

$2,595.00

ACW PRIME AMMUNITION PERFORMANCE

LOAD

VELOCITY (fps)

ENERGY
(ft/lbs)

GROUP (inches)

Aguila 230-gr FMJ

832

353

1.18

Black Hills 200-gr Lead Semi-Wadcutter

875

340

0.89

DoubleTap 230-gr FMJ Match

1034

546

0.97

Hornady 185-gr XTP American Gunner

1107

503

1.06

Discussion
  • (will not be published)

No Comments