Exclusive: Retro Trigger Time With The Terminator

The 1911 Hardballer Longslide .45
Still Fun After All These Years!

By Will Dabbs
Photos: Sarah Dabbs

The hulking psychopathic cyborg from the future walked into the local gun shop, his preternaturally square jaw locked in a menacing scowl and his glowing red eyes hidden behind a pair of stolen sunglasses. After securing an Uzi, an AR180 and a Franchi Spas12, the Terminator requests a “.45 Longslide with laser sighting” in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s inimitable Austrian drawl.

The shopkeeper in this hypothetical California gun shop expresses his respect for the deadly mechanical killer’s knowledge of firearms and presumably reaches for the ATF Form 4473. This is the administrative document that will undoubtedly prevent the murderous machine from obtaining his weapons when he voluntarily lists his birthday as 30 years in the future. Anybody who has seen the classic James Cameron movie knows the outcome. The Terminator voices his disdain for mandatory waiting periods and background checks, terminates the hapless shopkeeper and walks out of the shop with a pile of inexplicably full auto weapons. The next time we see the Terminator he is wielding his new .45 Longslide with murderous efficiency.

Certain firearms carried by our favorite film characters become movie icons. Among them would be Dirty Harry Callahan’s classic Smith and Wesson .44 Magnum, John McClain’s Beretta 92 from Die Hard, and Han Solo’s Bolo Broomhandle Mauser Blaster from Star Wars. Don’t forget the decked-out Desert Eagles from Boondock Saints, and then there is, of course, James Bond’s Walther PPK. In the world of movie guns, however, little is cooler than the Terminator’s Longslide .45.

The primitive laser sight in the Terminator movie was enhanced a bit for cinematic effect but was novel, sexy, and state-of-the-art in 1984. Nowadays laser sights are ubiquitous. Around $20 will get you a cheap example in a blister pack at Wal-Mart. Where the 1984 version was bulky and obnoxious, today’s versions reside within recoil spring guide rods or grip panels taking up no space at all.

The classic James Cameron movie Terminator really introduced the world to
Arnold Schwarzenegger as an action star. The Hardballer Longslide .45 served
as the Terminator’s primary handgun during his murderous mechanical rampage.
This is not Arnold, it’s Will being Walter Mitty, playing Arnold. Note scary
red eyes just like the real Terminator. We’re scared, Will.

The Hardballer Longslide .45 is a stainless steel stretched 1911 that was
tricked out to the 1984 state-of-the-art. The resulting firearm is sweet-
shooting and remarkably accurate even at extreme handgun ranges.

The slide stop and safety are extended but not ambidextrous. The
polished stainless makes for a nice bit of artistic contrast.

Meanwhile, Back in the Real World

Genius is an overused descriptor these days but John Moses Browning exemplifies the term. His firearm designs armed the planet. Today’s latest generation Glock still is, at its heart, a Browning Hi-Power wrapped in a little Information-Age plastic. Old John’s classic 1911 is arguably an integral part of the soul of America.

The Browning-designed 1911 is undoubtedly the most adaptable handgun in human history. It has been shrunk down to make a pocket pistol, expanded to handle magnum cartridges, and tweaked by pistolsmith artisans into configurations John Moses never could have imagined. One of these variations involved a little stretching.

Back in the 1980’s Acadia Machine and Tool produced three versions of the classic 1911. I drooled over the stainless steel Commando, Government and Longslide models back before I was old enough to own my own handguns. Apparently James Cameron had a similar fetish as it was the Longslide version equipping his husky time-traveling assassin.

The trigger is oversized and adjustable. The magazine release is a bit longer
than standard. The grips are soft rubber and wrap around the front.

The Terminator technically used both the Hardballer Longslide .45 and an
Uzi submachinegun as handguns during the movie. The fact the Terminator is
a 600-pound hyper-alloy cybernetic killing machine driven by redundant nuclear
reactors allows him to wield the 9-pound Uzi one-handed.

The top of the slide is ridged to reduce glare. The rear sight is
easily adjustable and a pleasure to use.

Trigger Time

The .45 ACP is a hefty cartridge. It was designed to put down fanatical Muslim Moro tribesmen terrorists who were trivially inconvenienced by the .38 caliber service rounds of the early 20th century. Considering they were rumored to have tied wet leather thongs around their testicles that shrank as they dried, perhaps that yields some insight into their prodigious enthusiasm. The inviolate dicta of physics demand a pistol launching Jeff Cooper’s .45 caliber Flying Ashtrays will have a substantial recoil. While physical laws are unyielding, they can yet be massaged by a good engineer.

The extra mass afforded by the Longslide’s stretched barrel and slide makes the gun remarkably soft-shooting. Recoil is pleasant and gradual and the legendarily sweet single action 1911 trigger makes for an accuracy package par excellence. Rapid firing through an entire seven-round magazine is an enjoyable experience and keeping the rounds in the black at reasonable ranges is not a chore.

The Longslide will fit in any appropriate 1911 holster with an open bottom, though it obviously takes a little extra effort to clear the muzzle. While I enjoy shooting my Longslide, I can’t see my ever carrying it for serious social work. If I truly needed the extra reach afforded by the spare 2″ worth of barrel I really should have packed a rifle.

The Millet sights on my version are robust and readily adjustable with a small screwdriver. The combination of the extended slide and barrel along with the nicely adjustable sights yields an irresistible temptation to try the gun at absurd ranges. There is an unfortunate ventilated Coke can or three littering up my rural Mississippi farm that can attest to the weapon’s accuracy potential at one hundred meters.

The trigger is oversized and adjustable. The slide stop and safety are extended but not ambidextrous. The top of the slide is ridged to reduce glare. The grips are soft rubber and wrap around the front. The dichotomy of the polished stainless frame juxtaposed against the raw cast finish of the rest of the gun is aesthetically easy on the eyes.

The Longslide technically takes standard 7-round 1911 box magazines but mine is finicky. Some in my collection fit perfectly and some do not fit at all. Hard to figure that.

The sights lack colored highlights but are readily adjustable for both windage
and elevation with a small screwdriver. Nice sights combined with an unnaturally
long sight radius conspired to lure me into some ridiculous distance shooting.
The results were surprising.

The Hardballer Longslide is a full two inches longer than a standard 1911.
This provides a longer sight radius, higher muzzle velocity and greater
accuracy potential over a 1911 more geometrically challenged.

The basic Browning 1911 action has been tweaked and modified in ways old
John Moses might never have imagined. The chassis has been shrunk into a
pocket pistol, expanded into a high capacity platform, and stretched to
make the Hardballer Longslide.

The 1911 Hardballer Longslide is a hoot to shoot. The extra mass tames recoil
and the long sight radius makes for accurate shooting at long range.

The 1911 Hardballer Longslide fits most any standard 1911 holster
though it obviously takes a bit more effort to clear the muzzle.

Musings

The Terminator is one of my all-time favorite movies. The argument could be made everything else Arnold Schwarzenegger did subsequent to that flick, to include two terms as Governor of California, was a mere shadow of that original film. The Terminator was Arnold’s perfect role. All he had to do was act mean and look awesome and he did those two things better than anybody else in the world might have done them.

The Hardballer Longslide .45 occupies an interesting place in a firearms collection. There are lots better tactical carry handguns. There are countless better options for engaging targets at a distance. However, if you want a gun that acts mean and looks awesome little really does it better.

The results of a little long-range handgun sniping. Don’t fool yourself into
thinking these were one-shot kills but the long barrel does reach out there nicely.

The Longslide stripped down. Note the extended barrel and recoil spring plunger.

Most parts on the Longslide with its 7-inch barrel are oversized when compared
to a standard Government model with a 5-inch tube. Interesting that the recoil
springs and guide rods remain interchangeable.

In full recoil the extra mass of the 1911 Hardballer Longslide keeps the
muzzle tamed. The gun’s extended geometry makes it a joy on the range.
It’s no wonder the Terminator picked it.

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