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ATI FX45 GI Range Report (1000 rounds)

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1000 rounds.

Well, that didn't take too long!

Before buying the ATI FX45 GI Commander length pistol (pictured at the top of my blog) I spent a lot of time researching it online (and other lower priced 1911's) - from product reviews to forum threads and everything in between and in the end I chose the ATI over the Rock Island due to one fact - The Rock Island at my LGS didn't have the extended beavertail and the ATI did. Truth be told, I think I've made a pretty good purchase.

Price? $579.00 (tax & white dots painted on the sights, included)

So far it has eaten everything I've thrown at it, including Tulammo and Wolf - dirty filthy ammo. The bulk of its food supply has been PMC Bronze 230gr FMJ, due to the fact its the only ammo that has consistently been available through these tough times. Price on the PMC has never been higher than $28.00 and the lowest I've paid is $24.00 and it's clean and fires every time.

The fit and finish of the gun was a nice surprise! The slide to frame tolerances are amazingly tight, as tight as other much higher priced 1911's I've seen, no rattles whatsoever. The finish appears to be Parkerized and so far has remained in very nice shape, but let me qualify that by saying I don't carry yet (Illinois - Approved and looking in the mail everyday) so it isn't in and out of a holster and the forums I've read say the finish doesn't last as long as others. That being said, dings and rubs don't bother me - they add to the character of the gun.

These are the only changes I made on the gun in the first five months -

  • Changed out the stock mahogany crosshatched grips for a set of Hogue wraparound rubber grips with finger grooves. I found the crosshatching on the wooden grips far too rough for comfort and I couldn't be happier with the Hogue grips. As a point of information, I'm 6'-3" and have large hands.

  • The thumb safety was one thing I didn't like. The edges were very sharp and rough (the only blemish as far as finish goes) and in the end I used a file and five minutes of my time to smooth things out. Like I said, dings and rubs don't bother me.

  • At 200 rounds I swapped out the stock slide lock with a Wilson extended slide lock. Just a personal preference. The replacement didn't need any smithing and dropped right in without a problem and has run fine ever since.

  • The stock sights remain on the gun, though I did have the gunsmith add white dots. Much better for an old man's eyes. When money falls from the sky I will be taking it to a gunsmith for some night sights.

  • At 750 or so rounds, I changed out the stock recoil spring (I believe it is a 14-16 lb spring) for a Wolff 18 lb spring. This was cheap and online opinion was that the recoil spring was a weak point in the gun. Many comments said to change the spring at this point (750 rounds) so as a precaution, I did. Let me be clear, I did not have a problem with the factory recoil spring.

  • I polished the feed ramp in anticipation of trying some defensive hollow point ammo. It took about 6 minutes with a cheap rotary tool and buffing wheel that I bought at Harbor Freight. I used the "green" compound. It turned out great and I now have the proverbial mirror finish on my feed ramp and the gun now has Federal 230 grain JHP loaded up for carry duty.

When I brought the gun home I did break it down and lightly oil it before taking it to the range. The first 200 rounds went in and out without a hitch. The gun is nicely balanced (for me) and the heft - about 2.75 lbs loaded - makes for very manageable recoil that allows me to quickly reacquire the target. The gun does shoot slightly low - at seven yards I must aim 12 o'clock high to cut center.

The gun comes with just one factory magazine (8+1) and although I've read that people have had problems with the factory mag refusing to feed the last round, I haven't had such a problem. I did have problems with two MetalForm mags I purchased, consisting of jams and FTF's and the slide not locking back when the mag went empty. They were cheap - around $11.00 apiece - and in the end I just tossed them. I now use Chip McCormick and Kimber mags without incident and all my mags are flush fit (I like the way they look.)

The gun does occasionally send an errant casing (once or twice a mag) clunking into my head, but to be honest, it doesn't bother me much - the bulk eject to the right. When I get around to it, I will probably try filing the ejector and see if that helps or take it in to the gunsmith for an extractor adjustment - with the inconsistent flight path of the empty casings, the extractor tension might be the problem?

I've broke down the gun and cleaned and oiled it every 200 rounds or so. The only problem I see so far is some minor peening or battering on the barrel link and some very minor rub marks about 1" back from the muzzle where the slide rubs on the rails. To be honest, I don't know if this is normal at 1000 rounds or not, but it does seem very minor. I will be changing out the barrel link with something from Wilson Combat as a precaution. The guide rod doesn't show any wear.

Hope that helps anyone who may be thinking about buying an ATI FX45 GI. 1000 rounds and still going strong. And most importantly?

It goes "click bang" every single time. And isn't that the whole point?