The Impossible 1911

It’s easy to become complacent in the gun industry. You start to believe you’ve seen it all, and to a certain extent, you have. With over a decade of SHOT Shows under my belt, I can admit I’ve become jaded. Every year you see something new, even something interesting, even if it’s just a new take on the old reliable. But nothing usually shakes you to the core.

That changed this past year. Having personally worked with exotic woods and the 1911 for over a decade in our custom grip business, when I saw this — it rocked me. All I could do was stare, trying to come to grips with seeing the impossible. Total brainlock, with the only thought being “How in the hell did he do that?”

Roy teased you with a single picture of this real wood 1911 in a past issue, but we knew we had to revisit it. This is a true, fully functional working model of a 1911 — in exotic hardwoods — all built to tolerances some gun factories would be happy to have in their steel models. You hold this gun in your hands, you study it and realize everything is where it should be and works as it should. Every little pin, the extractor, the sear, trigger, the slide release — are all created in exact detail, to John Browning’s original drawings. Even the magazine. Even the lanynard loop!


The detail work is stunning and each piece is machined to
tolerances enviable by any gun maker in the business.


The guns are fully functional and can chamber, extract and eject
wooden cartridges! The slide runs, safeties work, trigger trips
the sear … 100 percent 1911 made from original blueprints.


You can also have one in African Ebony — with no paint or coloring added,
this is the wood’s natural color. Note the correct lanyard loop, safety,
mag release and “blued” magazine — all ebony.

Rampant Disbelief

I hosted the wood 1911 display in my booth at SHOT show, and watched as person after person, from every background in the gun industry, were dumbfounded upon seeing it. Jaws dropped, cameras clicked and the same shocked expression could be seen on all those faces. The question heard throughout the day was “Is this thing for real?” After racking the slide open and showing the working internals, those shocked expressions turned to dizzy bliss! Yes folks, it works. It won’t shoot, but it has all the bits to make it work exactly as an original 1911 should.

It’s humbling — and a huge ego check — to meet a true prodigy. Especially a prodigy who is so unassuming. The creator, Bryan Hartfelder, claims he did this to honor his grandfather, a WWII Army Aircorps Veteran who carried the family heirloom Remington Rand 1911 in a B-17 bomber over Europe. With a background in custom cabinetry and home building, he was no stranger to wood work. But his genius shows in how he set himself a challenge, and did the impossible. He literally taught himself how to build the mill, build the tooling, write the code — then literally built every little piece, one at a time.

Bryan’s work led into the creation of a new business, where he showcases not only his wood 1911’s, but also his work with 1911 grips and custom rifle stocks. Those wanting to reach Bryan Hartfelder can do so through his website.


Yes, they are made entirely of wood. No stains or colors are added and the
result is a 100 percent realistic 1911 — made of exotic woods.

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