For some time, American Tactical Imports has offered affordable firearms giving everyone a chance to get into the shooting game. These 1911s may be diamonds in the rough, but they are single-action 1911 handguns, and they are .45s. These GI-type guns have given many shooters on a budget the opportunity to try their hand at Old Slabsides at an exciting price.
ATI has introduced a remarkably affordable ‘race gun’ with a polymer frame and steel slide, conventional 1911 controls, and unconventional features. The pistol features a polymer frame with integrated finger grooves. The trigger guard is enlarged. The fit and feel is good.
There are things that may be done with polymer that cannot be done with steel and aluminum. The pistol features a beavertail-type grip safety and target-style trigger, along with an ambidextrous slide-lock safety. The pistol features an accessory rail molded into the frame—making the pistol suited for use with a laser or combat light.
The FXH 45 is a Government Model length pistol with 5-inch barrel. The slide isn’t a GI slide or quite like any other modern slide you have seen. It is black finished stainless according to ATI. It is a very different profile than most 1911 handguns.
The barrel isn’t ported, but the slide has three lightening ports near the muzzle. The sights are modern enough and offer a good sight picture. The front sight is a fiber optic type. It did not work loose on firing several hundred cartridges, so the fiber optic is secure enough. ATI has wisely specified the slide be cut for Glock sights so that you can later fit TruGlo night sights—or your choice of modern night sights or tactical sights.
The slide was designed to allow mounting of the Burris FastFire or other red dot sight. With the use of an adaptor plate, these lights will mount on the slide without drilling and tapping. The result is a race-ready handgun for entry-level competition. The internals are 1911, and as far as I am able to determine, interchange with quality aftermarket 1911 parts.
There are advantages to the polymer frame. These include light weight as the pistol weighs 10 ounces less than a steel frame .45. The ease with which the frame is molded is part of the parcel with polymer.
This pistol is as far from the 1911 template as we may venture—and still call the pistol a 1911. The fit and feel are 1911, and while the balance point is near that of a Government Model 1911. At only 30 ounces, the feel is different. It feels like a Commander .45 that points better.
Shooting is what matters. I lubricated the piece with Shooters Choice FP10, and loaded the magazines with my own handloads using the Hornady 185-grain XTP at 890 fps—a pleasant and accurate loading. I supplemented the issue magazine with a pair of MecGar magazines, and then fired 100 rounds as quickly as I could cycle the trigger. It worked just fine.
I fired these without attention to detail as far as accuracy goes but rather firing quickly and getting the feel of the pistol. It isn’t difficult with a handload with modest velocity. Hits were centered on man-sized targets during quick work at 7, 10, and 15 yards.
A few offhand shots at 50 yards showed the pistol has sufficient accuracy for pleasant big bore plinking sessions. I have tested two of these firearms and the first was returned to the factory for trigger adjustment—the match trigger wasn’t engaging—and after I received the FEDEX label, the pistol was returned in four days flat. That is good service.
The failure of the trigger to drop the hammer should not have happened, but it happens with new guns from time to time. The pistol was purchased retail and no one at ATI knew there was a story forthcoming. The do not know me by name. The service is good; just the way it should be.
The pistol never failed to feed, chamber, fire or eject after a modest break-in period. Be prepared to fire 40-50 full powder cartridges to settle the piece in. The spacious ejection port aids in reliability.
As for my personal handgun, I have fired it with a number of loads during the past few months. The FXH works well for a recreational shooters intended for competition use. The trigger breaks at 7.25 pounds. I would like it to be two to three pounds lighter.
Fiocchi 230-grain FMJ is a quality ball load that offers affordable shooting. I have used this load extensively in practice sessions. Accuracy is good and the handgun is controllable. An estimable defense load is the Fiocchi 230-grain JHP. This is a standard JHP that opens quickly and gives good expansion for home defense use. At 840 fps it is powerful and affordable in 50-round boxes.
The Fiocchi Extrema loading uses the proven XTP bullet. This 230-grain JHP offers a good balance of expansion and penetration favoring penetration. Whichever you prefer, both are accurate. My best results with handloads have been a 2.5-inch group at 25 yards with the FXH 45.
The Fiocchi FMJ loads do about that. The Fiocchi Extrema 230-grain XTP load turned in a singular 1.9-inch group and an average of 2.25 inches. The pistol is accurate enough for most uses. Practical accuracy with lead bullets from Magnus bullets is good.
Is the pistol accurate enough for competition? This is a good beginners handgun. Thirty years ago, I helped a friend set up a Llama Government Model 1911 .45 with parts he purchased used from senior competitors. This young man wrangled a Clark custom barrel and painted the sights. He was able to afford a trigger job.
I was concerned he started out with a pistol known for soft steel, and a handgun I would never trust for personal defense use. The time he spent learning on the Llama was invaluable and really aided in his growth as a shooter. He used it for two years and sold it to a beginner as he moved on to better gear. The ATI FXH is in much the same category but a better gun than the Llama could ever be. It will aid in shooter growth and gives you an optic ready handgun that will not break the bank or destroy matrimonial harmony.