Did you ever go bird hunting and decide, even though you had the latest and greatest autoloading shotgun, you were gonna go afield with an old-fashioned double barrel “just because”?

Or deer hunting with an old lever action carbine instead of a high tech modern long range bolt rifle, for the sake of nostalgia?

Old guy here works mostly with handguns. After several months with high-tech striker-fired 9mm pistols, I’m about to revert back to my first love in the sidearm world, the 1911 pistol. The reason: in June, I’ll be competing yet again in my favorite shooting match of the many I’ve shot, The Pin Match (www.pinshoot.com) in Central Lake, Michigan.  There are lots of events to shoot there – pistol and revolver, rifle and shotgun – but what I’ve always shot most there is a 1911.  I  haven’t decided yet whether the caliber will be 10mm Auto or .45 Auto – that’s dependent on the ammo situation, which as you all know is “suboptimal” to say the least right now – but a 1911 in one or the other caliber will be a big part of it, so it makes sense to re-familiarize myself with my old favorite pistol.

By the time you read this I’ll have gone “1911” for carry and teaching, from the 16-shot pistols of more modern design that I’ve been wearing and teaching with of late.

If you’re gonna go Old School, logic tells us you oughta have a better reason than nostalgia.

I think those reasons are there.

Not long ago in this space, I ran the Wilson Combat YouTube video I did with old friend and colleague Ken Hackathorn on how to justify one’s choice of an AR15 rifle for home defense. At that time, I was told it had set the record for viewer hits on YouTube for the Wilson Combat Channel.

Things change with time. I am now told that we’ve had a new record, way over 850,000 viewings, with another Wilson Combat YouTube vid on the validity of the 1911 pistol as a self-defense choice.  I did it with Bill Wilson, “Mr. 1911” who has not only won national matches with that type of pistol, but manufactures some of the finest iterations of same.

You can find it here:  

And, of course, your comments are welcome here as always.


  1. I was also born 1948, a few months prior to you, sir. From what I’ve read of Elmer Keith and Jack O’Connor, something those worthies agreed upon is that a Nimrod would not putting herself or himself at any real disadvantage pursuing non-dangerous game by trusting to a quality single shot rifle. Mr. O’Connor conceded that the 30-06 is our most versatile cartridge. Jeff Cooper expostulated on the virtues of “handy” rifles. At my advancing age, the less weight I carry on my paunch or on my back is getting to be more and more of a plus. Putting this all together my nostalgic, but sensible choice, living in the mountains of Colorado is a Dakota Arms falling block 30-06 wearing a Leupold 1.75-6x.

  2. Imagine inventing a handgun over 100 years ago, that is still appropriate for its task AND popular. Quite a feat! I think I’ll stick a 5 and 1/4 inch floppy disk in my computer and use DOS and WordPerfect, just for old times sake.

    • Roger, for pure nostalgic sake, I’m considering carrying a wheel lock pistol and a box of matches when I leave my house. The next decision is whether to pack this firearm in a shoulder or ankle holster.

  3. While I have 10mm handguns, .44 Magnums, .357s… what do I hike with? S&W 624 .44 Special 4 inch. GI belt. Load it with 250gr SWC hard cast slugs and the ‘Skeeter’ load.. 7.5 grains of Unique.

    I see no reason to use anything else. I will do to ride the river with.

    • One day on a solo desert hike in Arizona O came upon an old campsite where the whole camp was littered with dozens of spent cartridges. .30 WCF. which is now .30-30, and .44 Special. My guess is that the .44 Special rounds were fired from Colt single-action pistols. The shooting could well have been done before 1900. No question that.44 Special was beloved for its accuracy. I will always wonder if a battle had taken place there.

      • Or some gents having fun! If you kept any you could check to see if the .44s had ‘balloon head’ cases. Thin walls near the base.

        Around 1905 the .44 Special came out. The .44 Hand Ejector First Model, I.E. Triple Lock!! Knickerbocker Crisis was about that time… and $28 buck handguns were like $2000 handguns today! Colt Single-Action Army in 1913 came in .44 Special.

        So you know that campsite was at the earliest was 1905! I suspect 1920s-30s.

        Now I can handload my 624 to get a 240gr SWC at 1200 fps.. but I have .44 Magnums (including Mountain Guns) so I see no reason to do that.

        And folks.. I most certainly do have 1911s. I grew up in the Jeff Cooper, Bill Jordan, Charlie Askins era. Smith ‘K’ and Colt ‘O’ were my guns.

      • Dear Mr. Smith, research shows a number of .30-30 designations. I find mention of one Winchester 94 made in 1910 and labeled with 30 WCF. Hard to find info on exactly when head-stamping of “.30 WCF” on ammo was discontinued. I think you are right that 1905 would be the earliest that the shooting party could have occurred. That was several years after the bandit Agustin Chacon was hanged, so he is well beyond suspicion, although he was known to have operated in the general area. If I get a chance to find and inspect the old campsite again, I will give it a shot. This time more thoroughly, within legal parameters, of course.

  4. My first pistol was a Walther PPK/S, then in the early ’90’s I moved to a Glock 19 which is now my wife’s favorite pistol. It was in 2007 I bought my first three 1911s (Kimbers in 3″, 4″ and 5″) and I’ve never looked back. Just bought three more this year, a Kimber Micro 9 (I know, it’s not quite a 1911 but close, and it fits on my ankle nicely), a Colt Wiley Clapp CCO and a Colt Wiley Clap Government Model. I figure the only way to get full use out of them all is to learn to juggle while I shoot. 😀

    Best to all,


    • John, just carry the two larger pistols in double shoulder holsters like Bruce Willis’ character did in the movie Last Man Standing and learn to shoot ambidextrously. Use the little Kimber as a back up gun.

  5. Love the Wilson Combat videos, especially the throwbacks of Bill & Ken. My retro choices have been Ruger No. 1s, double action revolvers & muzzleloaders.

  6. My personal favourite is only fiften years less “retro” than your 1911, and designedby the same genius. Not pretty to look at (hance it was very low priced) but niether I nor those round things that sometimes come out of the skinny end seem to care. Nope Not even a whit.

    Speaking of “retro”, my long time personal “interface” with the BATFry crew now mandated had a very sweet looking rifle leaning up against his many bench in his little back-of-the-garage shop (speaking of retro….) He had that thing in his ear waiting interminably for someone back in DC to pick up his line to complete a transfer. I caught his attention and motioned toward that rifle, he nodded and motioned for me to go ahead and handle it. VERY pretty classic looking stock made out of nicely figured light hardwood, satin finish on it, and forestock ending in a tastefully done “knabel” coming all the way out to just under the blade front sight. It mounted a small lightweight 4x fixed scops, I believe Leupold. The whole ting was surprinsly light and “handy”. Fell naturaly to my shoulder pocket, cheekweld automatic fell in place instantly. It felt wonderful.
    Then I held it away and began looking closely at the metal parts… I nearly slapped my forehead when I quickly realised it was a Carl Gustaf 6.5 Swede military action, all numbers matching, dating to 1940. That design, if memory serves was developed in the late 19th century.
    After he completed his business with Big Brother we began to chat.. that was HIS personal hunting rifle, weighs in at just above seven pounds. Then he pointed to the BIG beautiful buck I’d admired for some time, up on a high shelf well out of reach. Well preserved and mounted, he told me it was a trophy buck the year he shot it. He sighted him at 400 yards, dropped to one knee and fired one round. He was in some light brush, but he was certain he had a clean line to his best chest shot. After he fired, he held, watching for any movement up there. None to be seen. He and companions walked up the draw to where they had seen him last. He had dropped like a big wet bath towell, never took step. He then pointed to a second slightly smaller buck, then to what had been a 135 pound cougar. All three had been dropped from 400 yards with that rifle, all killed instantly by an extremely well placed shot.

    I counted it a great priviledge to have met and gotten to be friends with such a gentleman. We met when he was 85, he went Home about ten years later. He had fired his first round out of a rifle at six years of age, and began working on them at eleven. Talk about a throwback……

  7. I, too, carry a government 1911 for self defense. I had a Colt Combat Commander but foumd the SA Garrison a couple months ago. The Colt jammed occasionally but the Garrison hasn’t jammed after break in. The only mod I installed are Pachmayr wraparound grips which fills my hands better than the straight panels. Heavy but slim and the 5” barrel pushes into my hip to bring the grip closer to reduces printing. Are there better 9s out there? Perhaps, but the panache of this American classic is too much to resist.

    • My Satin Nickel Colt Combat Combat never jammed on a single ball round after expert throating. No other trigger could possibly yield greater accuracy after being properly tuned. After selling that pistol I foolishly expected every other gun I bought to shoot touching holes at 25 yards. At least now I carry the knowledge of what is possible, and likely.

      • I never worried feeding ball. I worried about it feeding the flying ashtrays I was carrying.

        I bought an M&P 2.0 compact with thumb safety as a way to practice shooting with the same manual of arms as my Combat commander. Also, my blued commander tended to rust if I looked at it wrong. I needed a barn gun to carry while I was tending to the farm. The S&W finish was superior for that purpose.

        I have to admit that I do notice the heavy weight of the .45, compared to the M&P, but I am still a huge fan of the old slab side. It fits my hand like a latex glove, and is easy to shoot.

  8. I went to Jeff Cooper’s Gunsite school in 1977 (I was 25yrs old and had ‘a problem’ to solve – it worked) and returned again in 1978. I didn’t know Gunsite was new at the time, but it wouldn’t have mattered. I used a 1911 Govt Model with ‘combat sights’ both times. I was new to handguns and loaded 1000rds of 230gr over 7.2gr Unique (Cooper’s recommendation) and I sure didn’t have any failures to eject! Jeez, but I was young and tough and had been cowboying for years in Wyoming. I still have that 1911. It has been through many changes – none of them major – and I suppose it could be changed further, but it cannot be further improved. My two favorite improvements: a WWI wide spur hammer, which makes it the perfect dry-fire sidearm, and now that I’m 70 I use Crimson Trace green lasergrips because the black post front is precisely in the zone where I can’t see it sharply – and I’m not putting a TV on top of my old trusty friend. I own and use a G19 Gen 5 – have no negative comments about it except it’s sort of charmless – whereas that slab-sided 1911 fits my hand like no other. I have never felt under-gunned or out-gunned with that 1911, and I doubt I ever will. I have staked my life on that thing for 45yrs.

  9. No Uncle Mas!! Ya gotta go retro with a S&W 13 or 66 from your old department, I always did way better on pins with one of the above choices or else my old 586 in 4″ flavor 🎳🎳

    • If that movie was remade today, The Terminator would be using a long barreled Desert Eagle in .50 AE with a combination red dot and green laser sight. I was surprised the .44 Auto Mag was not featured in The Terminator as it’s more powerful than the AMT longslide, but at least Dirty Harry used one in Sudden Impact.

  10. I have use a model 94 in Winchester .32 special for every deer I have shot except the first, a 6 point. I was just legal with a fresh hunter safety certificate and an old .303 British and our own reloads. I was about to take to the woods of Western PA from my great uncles house at the foot of a mountain when a cousin insisted I take his (7 mm mag I think it was). Well, I lead too much & blew up a few pounds of his shoulder. Thereafter I used dad’s 1950’s Model 94 and I don’t recall ever missed a deer with it, iron sights.

    I didn’t hunted with anything else until I got elk hunting in SW UT in the S Wah Wah mountains. I found dad’s feather weight .338 win MAG more than I needed though I got a heat shot at 248 yards. Last elk I took 18 mo ago was using my son’s 6.5 Creedmoor at 460 yards and he dropped without a step. We were consistently ringing steel with it at 1,000 yards. I was doing 2 inch 2 shot groups at 450 yards. I love retro … and the newer stuff also!

  11. My EDC is a four inch Smith and Wesson 686 Plus I keep loaded with Remington 125gr SJHP 357mag, I also keep the two speedloaders full with these 125gr SJHP as well because as nostalgic as it might be it’s still a proven and very effective combination!

  12. Here we are helping Ukraine fight off a Russian invasion. Hooyah! But, speaking of retro: Looking at two of our previous such attempts in South Vietnam and Afghanistan, I say let us not make similar mistakes in Ukraine. Our previous failures have largely been due to a gradual approach to winning that has lagged behind our enemies’ progress, and rampant corruption coupled with dishonesty about our our friends’ progress in achieving political, economic, and military stability. Let us not have any more such unpleasant surprises. Let us have strategic progress as quickly as possible (“Get there firstest with the mostest”), and keep the Deep Swamp of Foggy Bottom and Big Tech propaganda from undermining our best efforts against the utmost adversity. Let’s Go Brandon!

    • Strategic Steve,

      Yes, there is a lot of nostalgia here. We have a proxy war between the USA, NATO and the old USSR, Russia, beloved by Putin. There is nothing new when it comes to worrying about nuclear weapons. We were worried about the use of nuclear weapons during Vietnam, the Cuban missile crisis and even Korea. Truman fired MacArthur because he wanted to use nukes against the Chinese.

      The Russians, or Soviets, supplied North Vietnam during that war. They did not send their troops, but may have supplied a few Mig pilots. The Vietnamese did not accept much aid from China because the Vietnamese don’t like the Chinese.

      With Soviet re-supply, the North Vietnamese were able to prolong the war and eventually secure a political victory. We could do the same thing today. Supply Ukraine so they can fight a guerrilla war against Russia. Guerrilla war worked against us in Vietnam, and against the Soviets in Afghanistan 1979–1989. Remember the third Rambo film?

      I don’t know if the news from Ukraine can be believed, but I was shocked to hear about Putin’s army running short on supplies like food. Ukraine borders Russia. You mean to tell me Russia can’t supply its military, so close by, when America supplied its military in Iraq and Afghanistan for 16 and 19 years? Are the Russians that pathetic, or are they trying to appear weak?

      Unfortunately, I have no confidence in the American government.

  13. I’ve been retro these last few years, Mas.
    Packing a S&W Model 58. I have no doubt it’ll do it’s job if I do mine. My “lightweight” gun is a 3” K Frame. Of course the constant J Frame is always there too.


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