Range Report: Les Baer Concept VI 1911

Les Baer Concept VI 1911 profile right atop a brown leather holster

Les Baer handguns are legendary 1911s with more than a little hand fitting, and a vial of the maker’s sweat included. They are built, rather than assembled, and offer topflight performance for discerning shooters.

Les Baer Concept VI 1911 profile right atop a brown leather holster
The Les Baer Concept VI is one handsome handgun.

Les Baer guns are tightly fitted—no question there. This fitting means the tolerances are kept tight. This doesn’t just mean the pistol will be accurate. In a mechanical sense, a tight fit is important for accuracy, but this fitting also means that after firing, the parts return to the same place time after time.

There isn’t any slop that would cause eccentric wear to begin. Over time, a pistol of this type will retain its accuracy and reliability. There is a modest break-in period specified by Les Baer. Just the same, using full power handloads, my pistol came out of the box running and never short cycled or failed to feed, chamber, fire, or eject.

There is a lot going on with the 1911. As the pistol fires, the slide moves to the rear. The recoil spring is compressed. The extractor pulls the spent case from the chamber. The magazine feeds a new cartridge, which bumps into the feed ramp, causing the cartridge case rim to snug into the extractor as the cartridge is led into the chamber. The cartridge case must headspace, not on the extractor, but on the case mouth for good accuracy.

four bullet holes in a paper target
These are results with two shots with the Double Tap Equalizer!

Another advantage in this handgun is the precision with which the rifling is cut. The barrel to bushing fit was tight. However, it wasn’t so tight as to present a difficulty in fieldstripping. You will probably need a bushing tool though.

The slide is nicely machined with forward cocking serrations. This is, after all, a combat gun for all occasions, not a target gun. The cuts are well done. The sights are similar to the Novak, but the sight picture is tighter. There are no distracting three dots set into the sights.

The all-steel hammer is skeletonized. The slide lock safety is an ambidextrous design. The right lever, for left hand use, is slightly smaller than the left pedal. This design is ideal for speed work. The indent is tight and sharp with an audible click as the safety is locked in place. The plunger tube is firmly staked in place.

The grip safety is a modern, upswept type. The safety funnels the hand into the proper firing position and compliments an already low bore axis. The grip safety properly releases its hold on the trigger at mid way into compression of the grip safety. The trigger is flawless—ideal for a personal defense or service pistol—at 5.0 pounds.

The Les Baer Concept VI 1911 with slide locked back.
The Les Baer .45 never failed to feed, chamber, fire, or eject.

There is a nicely done checkered front strap at 30 lines per inch. This grip strap provides excellent adhesion when firing and isn’t too abrasive. If your hands are sweating or cold, this front strap is a great addition to any 1911.

The grips are nicely checkered cocobolo. The trigger is an aluminum target type and the backstrap is the flat profile. The pistol comes in a plain cardboard box with a spare magazine.

Shots Fired

My initial firing was undertaken with handloads. My handloads are not a second choice to factory loads—far from it. The handloads are the rounds I prefer for accuracy. They are also inexpensive. I wanted to get a lot of rounds through the pistol and out of the break-in stage. Among the most accurate loads have been those with the Magnus 200-grain SWC at 1,050 fps and the Magnus 225-grain flat point at 800 fps. Hodgdon TiteGroup is the powder of choice. Today, at just over 1,250 cartridges, there have been no failures of any type.

The pistol is a 1911 at its very best. The typical 1911 low bore axis and straight-to-the-rear trigger compression are complemented by the Les Baer Custom trigger action and beavertail safety. Control is excellent. The front strap checkering keeps your hand steady and the pistol handles well in speed shooting.

upset copper jacketed bullet
Gorilla Ammunition’s FBI spec load offers excellent performance.

The pistol is a pleasure to fire and responds well to a trained shooter. While this isn’t a target gun, it shoots like one. While 90% of the cartridges fired have been from standing and learning the pistol’s capabilities by firing at small and large targets at known and unknown distance, I also fired from a solid bench rest. I jumped right to the top of precision and used Federal’s 230-grain MATCH load. Accuracy is consistently excellent. I have fired several 5-shot 1.5-inch groups with this load and the Concept VI—some larger and some even smaller. The pistol comes with a guarantee of a 3-inch group at 50 yards. You can take that to the bank.

Hands on Personal Defense

A go-anywhere do-anything pistol should be useful with a wide variety of loads. An impressive loading that I presently deploy in the Les Baer is the Gorilla Ammunition 230-grain FBI load. This isn’t the standard issue of the FBI, but it meets all FBI criteria as a service load. Gorilla Ammunition also offers a faster 230-grain load with greater expansion.

The FBI load offers excellent penetration and expansion and meets my needs. At just over 800 fps, it will group 5-shots into less than two inches on demand. If traveling in the outdoors, animals may be a threat. The pistol is accurate enough for deer-sized game to 35 yards or more. I have test fired the Double Tap 230-grain JHP at 1,005 fps with excellent results. Recoil is there but so is accuracy and power. A very interesting load for home defense is the Double Tap 255-grain Equalizer. This one uses a 185-grain JHP over a flat nosed 70-grain lead projectile.


the illustrations, the more ragged holes are from the JHP; the flat nose bullet makes a cleaner hole. I like this load a lot. At 840 fps, the 255-grain load equals most .45 Colt loads but doesn’t recoil much. The bullets impact about 2 inches apart, even at a long 20 yards. This is a load that would seem to be a good candidate for sensory overload of even the well-frayed senses of our protein-fed ex-con criminal class. This pistol invites experimentation with different loads. While some are more accurate than others none have been disappointing.

Les Baer Concept VI
Caliber .45 ACP
Capacity 7+1
Action SA
Length 8.5″
Weight 39 oz.
Barrel length 5.0″

Parting Shot

The Les Baer handguns are excellent, first class 1911 handguns. Are they perfect? Perhaps not, but they are very close. The only drawback I have found with my personal handgun is that when using the thumbs forward grip, the grip safety pinches my thumb slightly if the grip is taken before the safety is moved to the fire position. I can work with that. In the foreseeable future this will be my go to .45. It will be difficult to beat this one.

Do you own a Les Baer? How does it compare to other 1911s? Share your answers in the comment section.

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (14)

  1. I have the Led Baer Thunder Ranch Special. It is very close to the concept except in blued format. This gun shoots, I know it is much more accurate than I am, with my average 25yd groups hovering just under 2 inches with every load I have tried. Practical shooting is great also and moves like an ext of your hand. While this is a full size 1911 it carries easy with a good IWB holster and I regularly it under a polo. This is an awesome gun and if you can go the price you are getting a great value for your money.

    1. Well taken!

      Funny the northerners come of the south and try to change it.

      I worked at a huge facility for many years and the French and Germans that came here embraced the south. One told me his company would never build a plant in the north, they were ‘tool Socialist’- coming from a European!

  2. I have a LBC Concept IV…45 ACP 6″ barrel. I love the “heft” of the gun and the bit of extra sight radius. It has never FTF or FTE…a total pleasure to shoot!

  3. I have a Concept V, very similar to the VI, just different sights. My experience is the same as the author’s. It’s a great gun, very accurate, and very reliable. There are lots of 1911s out there, in my opinion Les Baers are among the best.

  4. I’ve had many-a-gun probably like most folks reading this blog and a few 1911s. That said, I picked up a slightly used Baer TRS 7 yrs ago and it is one of those special pistols I will never get rid of.

    Even considering the tolerances it has been dead nuts reliable and is just a pleasure to shoot. I would not hesitate to carry my TRS concealed.

  5. It is always important to know the gun laws of your state and decide whether it is wiser to use something like the Kimber Pepperblaster II. Maybe they should put a small accessory rail on them. In NJ, using a gun in your home to protect yourself could put you in prison in “general population”. I do not think too many of us would survive that experience.
    Maybe I should move.

    1. Well, I would prefer a Emerson folder or perhaps a strong right hook.
      I have been exposed to gas twice by over zealous partners as I was in the process of making an arrest. That stuff gets over everyone! While an aggravation I was able to continue the fight. I think we need to learn the gun laws but also understand our adversary. The Kimber is a good example of the breed but best reserved for —–less dangerous threats. As for those living in the Peoples Republics the last I heard the South the west and Alaska accept refuges. There are good people living under onerous socialism.

  6. Apparently a very well made, good shooting gun – as I would expect from Les Baer. I can’t help but wonder why it isn’t built with an accessory rail as standard. Consider that many (if not most) gunfights occur at night it seems a laser / light option would be a prime consideration for a defensive firearm. What are you to do if it is dark and you can’t see the sights?

    1. If something goes “bump” in the night, a flashlight NOT mounted on a gun is, so I’ve read and heard, the first option to see what’s going on. Gun in other hand pointed in safe direction. Then, when light shines on what you decide needs shooting (potentially, at least), bring gun up, aim and command perp to freeze, etc. That way, legally, you didn’t aim at him prior to discovering he was your roommate getting in late from an evening out after you went to bed and doesn’t merit being shot at. (Rule of gun safety – don’t cover anything with muzzle you don’t intend to destroy.) Once confrontation is inevitable, THEN a light mounted on the gun would help you have the support hand free to do other things and original light can be set aside.

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