The word “classic,” when applied to pistols, often brings to mind the iconic M1911A1, a gun that nearly all enthusiasts would love to have in their collection. Of course, originals are pricey these days—and once you’ve acquired one, bringing yourself to fire it, potentially devaluing your investment, is always a difficult decision. Which is why Turkish manufacturer Tisas created the 1911 A1 US Army, a handgun built to the near-exact likeness of a military-issue M1911A1 and now being imported into the country through SDS Imports.
Just like its genuine counterpart, the Tisas 1911 A1 US Army is a recoil-operated, semi-automatic, centerfire with a 5.02" barrel, and, as might be expected, it is chambered to fire the classic .45 ACP cartridge from a seven-round detachable box magazine.
Tisas has pulled out all of the stops to make the 1911 A1 US Army a dead ringer for the M1911A1. Its chrome-moly-steel frame and slide are finished with a deep Parkerization that has a hint of olive-drab coloration. More importantly, it bears all of the changes made to John Browning’s original design in the early 1920s. This includes a shortened trigger, an arched mainspring housing, scallops on both sides of the frame just behind the trigger, an elongated grip safety and a shortened hammer spur. In a nod to practicality, the Tisas’ ejection port has been lowered a bit, compared to the genuine article, for improved reliability.
Whereas most modern M1911s are busy affairs emblazoned with manufacturer’s markings and other regalia, this pistol’s appearance is left clean and uncluttered, with little more than an import mark and the phrase “Model 1911A1 U.S. Army” stamped on the right side of the frame and left side of the slide, respectively. This lack of flair is in keeping with wartime M1911s that were churned out as quickly as possible so they could provide battlefield support in a hurry. The Tisas comes with brown, checkered-plastic stocks like the ones that might be found on a late-World War II M1911A1.
We were able to invite a friend who owns an original Colt M1911A1 to our range session, which allowed us to compare the sights on the SDS to those on the Colt, and we have to admit that they were pretty darn close. While these minimalist sights may be a nice detail for collectors of reproduction guns, they are not ideal for range use. The accuracy of our test Tisas was quite good despite this, with the smallest five-shot, 25-yard group coming from Hornady’s American Gunner ammunition and measuring just 2.24".
Throughout our 75-round accuracy test and 150-round function test, we experienced flawless cycling, even when using ammunition that is known to cause malfunctions in the M1911 design. We found the thumb safety to be effortless to engage and disengage and even confirmed the original half-cock safety was present and functioning.
One thing that didn’t match the original, however, was the single-action trigger squeeze, as the Tisas’ trigger broke on average at 4 lbs., 10 ozs., of pressure—nearly two pounds lighter than on the original Colt. This is most likely an intentional improvement, as, truth be told, original M1911s aren’t always easy to shoot well due to their subpar triggers.
The disassembly procedure for the 1911 A1 US Army is identical to that of military-issue M1911A1s. After confirming that the pistol was empty by removing the magazine and checking the chamber, the recoil spring plug can be depressed, allowing rotation of the barrel bushing. At this point, the plug and recoil spring can be removed, as can the barrel bushing by rotating it the other way. Next, the slide can be retracted to align the takedown points and the slide stop can be removed. Last, the slide can be pushed off the front of the pistol, and the barrel and guide rod can be lifted out.
It was at this point in the disassembly process that the standard, short guide rod and the Series 70 internals (devoid of a firing pin block and true to the original) could be observed. Reassembly is as simple as reversing the above steps and, of course, ensuring that the slide stop passes through the barrel link as it is inserted back through the frame.
We enjoyed our time with the SDS Imports 1911 A1 US Army pistol, as it was easy to shoot and more accurate than some evaluators were expecting it to be, especially given its low MSRP. Whether you’re new to the guns and are looking to experience the feel of a historic firearm in your hands or you’re the owner of a genuine M1911A1 looking to reduce the amount of wear placed on your irreplaceable heirloom, this gun fits the bill.