Passion And Art Join Forces In Old-School
Will Dabbs, MD
Photos: Sarah Dabbs
I carve wooden models out of white pine. Each one requires untold hours to design, construction and paint. Store-bought plastic versions are more realistic but realism is not necessarily the goal. I’m drawn to scratch-built modeling because it’s my art. I can get lost in the tedium of the thing and the end result, despite its imperfections, is a reflection of my heart.
Mark Regenauer and Dave Panciotti are both comparably passionate about their particular art. They met while working at SIG SAUER and started out small with a home-based FFL. Dave spent a few years with the Colt’s Custom Shop refining his trade (he built the “Impossible Python” in the Sept/Oct 2016 issue) and these two friends formed Evolution Armory. Their intent was to handcraft 1911 pistols which were the arithmetic mean between implement of war and objet d’art.
Will enjoys designing and building scratch-built wooden models because they
are a reflection of his heart. Each one requires hours of tedium to bring to life.
Evolution Armory brings the same compulsive obsession with craftsmanship to their
superb 1911 handguns.
Parts Make The Gun
The frames begin as top-quality American 410 stainless steel forgings from JEM Guns in Texas. Dave and Mark handcraft their pistols based upon end-user specifications. The ultimate result is one of the most beautiful tactical 1911 pistols I have ever beheld. Every single component of their base model, if you could call it that, is entirely forged save the magazine catch, which is cast.
Evolution Armory doesn’t stockpile guns waiting for somebody to click on a website so they can ship. Evolution guns are lovingly hand built one pistol at a time. They will finish the gun to the user’s specs, and the end result is a personalized instrument as unique as its owner.
The gun we pawed over for this article features John Harrison’s true radius sear. Rather than the sear’s primary angle being flat, this component has a radius following the sear’s natural arc around the sear pin. The end result allows full contact between the sear and hammer until the final break. On the user end you can feel the difference. This trigger is absolutely sublime.
The Evolution Armory 1911 is literally flawless. Lovingly handcrafted and
sporting top-end everything, the pistol runs as well as it looks.
Check out the overall quality of workmanship of the gun build. The aggressive
stippling on the grips would seriously abrade the hand at really high round counts,
but it results in a perfect interface between a top-end combat tool and a sweaty
hand when it really counts. Front- and back-strap checkering is magnifying-glass perfect.
Ammunition Into Noise
In the many-splendored world of top-end 1911 pistols the proof is manifest in the nuances. I have a mass-produced wartime Remington Rand that rolled off the lines in 1944 which will reliably throw a 230-grain slug every time you stroke the trigger. The Evolution Armory 1911, however, is so much more.
While a proper defensive 1911 really needs to eat at least 500 rounds before being declared street-worthy, the Evolution Armory gun never hiccupped over half a dozen different brands and bullet types. The gun runs like your favorite golf club, screwdriver or toothbrush. The weapon fits the hand perfectly and the nuts-perfect trigger combined with match-grade-everything means the pistol shoots straight every single time. The aggressive 25 LPI checkering would eat you alive if you burned a case of ammo at a sitting. However, it makes for a literally perfect interface when you are sweaty and scared — and that’s the point of the exercise.
Groups lent us no surprises. Depending upon the ammo involved, reliable 1″ to 2″ groups (usually less than 2″ and one a nice 0.8″) became the expected, counting the best four of five shots in case I tossed one, which I’ve been known to do. Winchester 230-grain JHP satisfied us with the 0.8″ cluster while Federal American Eagle 230 FMJ waded in with a 1.1″. This was a bit closer testing than normal — about 16 meters due to some weather issues — but bodes well for 25 yards too.
Refined, rarefied and meticulously crafted, this is top-end firepower, customizable to
meet your own specific needs. Everyone should have at least one “special” gun built
precisely to his specs. The sights, like everything else on the gun, are top of the
line (below). The back of the slide is grooved 40 LPI to match the Harrison Design
rear sight and the Novak front sight includes a tritium insert. This combo helps
with both fast and/or precision shooting.
Buying an Evolution Armory 1911 establishes not so much a transaction as a friendship, and prices depend entirely upon what you decide you need to have. Afterward, Dave drops you an email a couple of weeks into the relationship to make sure the new family is doing well. Dave and Mark are not unlike concerned responsible parents and they make absolutely sure their rambunctious child is behaving himself in his new home. It’s in such details the benefits of this rarefied investment are made manifest.
Lots of folks pack mass-produced plastic guns for personal protection. Lots of folks drive mass-produced plastic cars and eat at McDonald’s as well. If, however, you’re a card-carrying member of the sophisticated 1911 club, then Evolution Armory produces a customized, personalized 1911 pistol as refined and effective as it is beautiful. The gun fills your hand like an old friend and has your back like a trusted army buddy. Evolution Armory makes an absolutely splendid handgun.
For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/index, Ph: (603) 973-3780
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