Reviewed By: Randy R on 03/15/2015
Rating: [5 of 5 Stars!]
Sometimes we forget what made and continues to make a great gun manufacturing company "great"...but the Colt Defender does indeed remind my why COLT has been a premier force in shaping firearms history since 1836! This isn't the first Colt I've owned, but it's the first of the latest generation I've owned in many years. The 1911 field has become choke full of a veritable cornucopia of brands and variations, with some coming in at a near astounding price point for the functional reliability delivered, while others swim in the deep end of multi-thousand dollar works of art that cater to those with enough expendable income to drop on a piece that took considerable man-hours of loving labor to produce. Whereas Colt once occupied the high-end spot for 1911's it now rides in the middle lane....not cheap by any means - about double what most so-called "entry level" 1911's cost, yet about level with the starting models from the likes of Kimber. What this buys in the crowded 1911 field is a name that is recognized around the world and bespeaks not just quality, but RELIABILITY within build quality! It's worth nothing that the Colt name adorns virtually all the modern "classics" from the 1873, the 1911, the AR-15....all being built by a host of new-comers to the art, but those with the name Colt garner a certain respect that can only come from having "been there and done that" long before all these upstarts were even a flash along someone's neural cortex.
To get down to it...the Defender is superb! It's built for business....Colt you can use that phrase if you want because you have earned it! Built for business means it's not the most finely finished - the the finish is certainly on part with any other high-end service grade pistol, but that's not important to those who value performance over show....function over form. Out of the box the gun feels "right"....the slide isn't super tight, but it's super-smooth and rides true to the rails. The classically applied, STAMPED name on the slide and frame bespeak purpose with just a bit of show. Pulling the slide back is smooth with all the right sounds and a solid click as the slide stop is snapped home by the magazine. Drop the mag, work the slide a few dozen times and it's clear the gun was assembled to go into harm's way right out of the box! Trigger pull is a clean break at maybe 5-6 pounds,, with little noticed over travel. The slide and barrel locking lugs are bold and engage deeply. The reverse recoil spring plug fits like it was cut from the slide, and the three-piece, steel recoil guide spring assembly cushions the recoil slow and slingshots the slide/barrel assembly home with authority to a solid lockup. Even the Beavertail grip safety shows how Colt tweaked things for a purpose....not fitted so tight one can see grooves appearing, yet tight enough and formed with a generous bump to ensure the palm of the hand depresses it during the grip. The thumb safety....oh now HERE is where the boys and girls are separated from the women and men! The quality of how a thumb safety operates on a 1911 speaks VOLUMES about how much interest was present during assembly...and Colt did not disappoint here! As on ALL Colts I've ever handled, the safety is spot on perfect out of the box...which means is snicks "on" with an upward swipe of the strong hand without excessive resistance, yet with a solid feel. Swiping down is the same....enough force is required to assure the user the safety isn't sloppy, yet that's all. When it snaps it snaps with a solid click.
The pistol does come with the "Long" trigger which seems just a tad too long for my fingers and normal 1911 usage. This is easily changed out for those with shorter fingers or smaller hands, and is not a mark against the overall pistil. The Novak low-mount sights are bold and thick with triple white dot alignment.
Hand cycling of rounds is often the precursor to how a semiautomatic pistol will perform under fire and again, Colt does not disappoint. Using 230 grain hardball handloads the abbreviated pistol feed flawlessly even while riding the slide....riding the slide lets one feel every bump and joggle of the cartridge's transition from magazine to chamber and generally speaking is a good indicated of shooting performance.
Field stripping is typical Colt....drop the mag, cocked the hammer, crack the slide to ensure a clear chamber, then run the slide back while pressing the slide stop from the ride side. The slide stop will pop out for easy removal, then just run the entire slide/barrel/RS assembly off the frame. The RSA lifts out easily, allowing removal of the reverse plug and barrel. As with conventional 1911's, pressing the firing pin in allows the firing pin retaining plate to be slide downward and removed. Here things are different than pre-series 80 models in that one must also depress the firing pin block while pressing the firing pin. With that done, retraction of the extractor allows the spring-loaded firing pin block to drop out and the slide for all intents an purposes is stripped save for sights. What is worth nothing is that all of this is SMOOTH without any binding, or gritty feel! This is the mark of a pistol built for practical use...all the little pieces have been attended too...this is what sets Colt above the rest, and what lays the foundation for a pistol that functions reliably.
At the range, using both 230 grain hardball handloads and 185 grain TCP "Extreme" bullet handloads, the stubby, and LIGHT, Defender proved its pedigree. Out of an initial 200 rounds not one malfunction....while I am sure some will chorus that one can't call a pistol "reliable" until 20,000,000 rounds have been wasted down-range, a pistol that put the FIRST 200 down the pipe without a hitch has a 100% probability of putting the next ONE down the pipe without a hitch! Put another way, the odds are 200:0 that the gun will function reliably on the next trigger pull. Until that first malfunction, the odds of reliability only go up. So far the Defender is doing Colt proud.
I should not part without mention that the little gun weighs only 24 oz empty. Next to my Glock G29 the Defender is decidedly smaller and LIGHTER...granted the G29 is bringing more brute force to the table, but with higher performance loads such as those available from Underwoodammo the .45ACP makes a tidy little package that conceals easier than the bulbous G29. Fitted into an Alien Gear IWB, or a Don Hume SAH small of the back holster the Colt Defender brings much to the table. Also, not everyone is enamored of the Glock trigger...and even the G29 SF has a "long" reach to the SA trigger compared to the 1911 pattern.
The Colt ain't cheap...but it ain't built cheap either. As I said in the beginning, the Colt is "built for business.!
Display Product Review on Full Page