It’s easy enough to find a service-grade and service-size handgun with excellent performance.
The 1911 .45 Government Model is a fast-handling handgun with controllable recoil, a good natural point, and real speed to an accurate first-shot hit.
When you begin to look for a concealed-carry pistol, you run headfirst into areas of compromise.
While there are circumstances in which a full-size pistol may be concealed, this usually means a heavier covering garment.
During the summer months when lighter gear is the rule, a lighter handgun with smaller overall dimensions is needed.
With less weight comes greater recoil. With a shorter sight radius comes less practical accuracy.
We usually give up something in the way of magazine capacity.
Commanding Officer’s Model
The first 1911-type design intended to offer a superior concealed-carry pistol was the Commander.
With a barrel ¾-inch shorter than the Government Model and an aluminum frame, the Commander is a fine all-around defensive handgun.
Later, the even shorter Officer’s Model added cutting the grip length to the equation.
The Officer’s Model gives up one round in magazine capacity to the Commander and Government Model pistols.
As for reliability, the Commander length with its 4.25-inch barrel seems able to retain the famous reliability of the Government Model.
The Officer’s Model is regarded as less reliable with a wide range of loads and pressure levels.
If you design a 1911 with a barrel shorter than 4.25 inches, the extra degree of tilt in the barrel demands eliminating the barrel bushing and moving to a bull barrel.
A custom-grade option combining the Commander-length slide with the Officer’s Model grip frame became known as the Commanding Officer’s Model.
This configuration is available from the factory in several renditions.
Les Baer Stinger
Among the finest of the CCO types I have carried, tested and evaluated extensively is the Les Baer Stinger.
Les Baer pistols are at the top of the heap in quality of manufacture, tight tolerances and superb performance (along with Wilson Combat, Guncrafter and Nighthawk).
They are pricey, but I don’t see how they could offer the same quality for a lighter tariff. The Stinger is a steel-frame pistol.
Recoil is modest, comparable to a steel-frame Commander, a result of careful recoil spring research and selection.
The pistol is first-class all of the way, with a nicely finished stainless steel frame and slide.
The front is checkered in 30 lines-per-square-inch checkering. The grip frame is shorter than a Government Model, but comfortable.
An undercut beneath the trigger guard lowers the bore axis.
The Stinger features a memory groove beavertail grip safety. This safety helps funnel the hand into a good firing position.
The bump helps properly depress the grip safety, allowing the trigger to be pressed.
The safety releases its grip on the trigger about half way into compression as it should. This grip safety helps facilitate a high hold on the grip frame.
The slide-lock safety offers a positive indent, clicking into position tightly. It is more difficult to place on safe than most by design.
This helps prevent the safety from being placed in the on position during firing and movement.
Adding to the pistols excellent balance of abrasion and adhesion are a set of well-finished checkered grips and a serrated mainspring housing.
With the Stinger, you’re getting a pistol with a factory de-horn package.
Sharp edges are not present and the long bearing surfaces are free of snag.
The sights are excellent examples of combat sights. Both speed shooting and precise accuracy are enhanced by these sights.
Tritium inserts give the pistol 24-hour capability.
Les Baer Fit and Finish
Barrel fitting means a lot to me.
The Les Baer Stinger’s 4.25-inch barrel features excellent fitting in the barrel hood, locking lugs, and in barrel bushing to slide fit.
The barrel ramp features the standard 1/32-inch gap between the two halves of the ramp, and is polished very well.
The barrel bushing is a good tight fit. You will probably need a tool for fieldstripping.
The pistol doesn’t feature a full-length guide rod, rather the standard guide rod and spring setup.
The Stinger is supplied with two Les Baer magazines. I added several Wilson Combat magazines.
The pistol is chambered in .45 ACP.
The .45 ACP, in my opinion, based on a great deal of experience, research and testing, is practically the ideal defensive cartridge.
Accuracy and Reliability
The .45 ACP operates at low pressure. Wear is modest.
The cartridge features an excellent combination of accuracy, modest recoil for the bullet weight, and a muzzle flash so subdued there is seldom more than a warm glow.
The Stinger has proven reliable with a wide range of loads. The Stinger is fast on target and, like all quality 1911 handguns, accurate to a first-shot hit.
Combat shooting has exhibited excellent results.
As for absolute off-the-bench accuracy, I have test fired the Federal 230-grain Hydra-Shok and Hornady 200-grain XTP at a long 25 yards.
I have fired occasional groups both larger and smaller, but the pistol will consistently hold five shots in two inches at this range.
That is an exceptionally accurate short-barrel .45!
Carrying the Stinger concealed demands an inside-the-waistband holster.
With a pulled-out sport shirt, the Galco Summer Comfort holster is ideal.
This holster maintains its shape over years of use and offers a reinforced holster mouth (welt) that doesn’t collapse after the handgun is drawn.
Dual-loop construction mated to the Galco gun belt keeps the pistol in place for each draw.
The Stinger is an uncommon mix of accuracy, reliability and lightweight. It is arguably the finest concealed carry handgun I have owned.