March 10, 2016
By Joel J Hutchcroft
Announced to the firearms press in December 2014, the new Auto Ordnance 1911 BKO has GI-style features and is priced at an MSRP of just $588. While it is not an exact replica of the military 1911A1, it is a good basic Model 1911 that can serve well for a lot of applications. Shooting Times received one of the first 1911 BKOs to roll off the production line and put it through a thorough shooting review.
The Auto Ordnance 1911 BKO (BKO stands for black oxide finish) comes with a 5.0-inch barrel that is throated from the 4 o'clock to 8 o'clock positions. The original GI Model 1911A1 did not have a throated barrel, so this is an area where the new 1911BKO departs from the original 1911A1 form. Also unlike the original, the chamber area of the barrel is stamped ".45 ACP" and the left side of the Auto Ordnance 1911 BKO's slide is marked "Model 1911A1 U.S. Army."
The Auto Ordnance 1911 BKO's slide has grasping grooves at the rear only and a smooth, rounded top. The grasping grooves slant slightly toward the rear. Like original 1911A1s, the Auto Ordnance 1911 BKO's ejection port is not flared or lowered. In fact, it looks a lot like the one on my Remington-Rand 1911A1. The Auto Ordnance 1911 BKO's slide is made of carbon steel and is machined from solid bar stock.
The sights are traditional military style, with the front blade staked into the slide and the rear dovetailed. As such, the rear sight is drift-adjustable for windage. The front sight is 0.09 inch tall and 0.08 inch thick, according to my digital caliper, and its ramped portion has fine horizontal serrations going all the way down. It's not exactly like the old military Model 1911A1; however, it is similar to the Type 3 front sight, which was serrated and measured 0.10 inch high and 0.08 inch wide. The square notch in the Auto Ordnance 1911 BKO's rear sight is 0.08 inch wide, so the thickness of the front sight's blade and the width of the rear sight's notch combine to make a good sight picture.
The Auto Ordnance 1911 BKO's grip measures 1.29 inches thick at its thickest point. Grip circumference just below the trigger guard and over the grip safety, with the grip safety depressed, is 5.25 inches.
Speaking of the grip safety, in keeping with the 1911A1 military style, the Auto Ordnance 1911 BKO's grip safety has the slightly longer spur as compared to the original Model 1911. The design was changed, along with the hammerspur being shortened, to help prevent the hammerbite that was common with the original Model 1911. By the way, other design changes to the original Model 1911 that resulted in the 1911A1 model designation (occurring around 1926) included a shorter trigger finger piece, clearance cuts on the frame behind the trigger guard, an arched mainspring housing, the wider front sight, the shortened hammerspur, some styling changes to the slide lock, variations to the thumb safety, and changes to the grip panels.
The Auto Ordnance 1911 BKO's thumb safety resembles the military 1911A1 style, which, of course, is not ambidextrous. However, since six different styles of thumb safety were used on military Model 1911s and Model 1911A1s, it's difficult to pin down which one Auto-Ordnance is replicating. The one on the Auto Ordnance 1911 BKO is pretty close to the military Type 2, but it's not exactly the same. By the way, I referred to Joe Poyer's excellent The Model 1911 and Model 1911A1 Military and Commercial Pistols for the original specs.
The Auto Ordnance 1911 BKO comes with a standard-style recoil spring guide, recoil spring, and recoil spring guide plug. The spring is rated at 16 pounds.
The pistol's overall length is 8.5 inches, and the height (from the bottom of the lanyard loop to the top of the rear sight) is 5.5 inches. Unloaded, the pistol weighs 39 ounces.
The frontstrap of the grip frame is smooth, and the arched mainspring housing is serrated in the fashion of the original military Model 1911A1. The classic military lanyard loop is located at the bottom of the mainspring housing. Also, the bottom of the grip frame is slightly beveled to facilitate magazine changes, and that's another feature that was not found on original Model 1911A1s.
The Auto Ordnance 1911 BKO's grip panels are checkered brown plastic and resemble the plastic grips that military Model 1911A1s were issued with beginning around 1939. Those first plastic military grip panels were reddish brown in color and were hollow on the underside. Later military plastic grip panels had reinforcing ribs on the undersides and around the grip screw holes. The 1911 BKO's grips have the reinforcing ribs in those areas.
The slide lock resembles the military Model 1911A1 style, but it's not an exact replica. The magazine release button is slightly extended, which also was not found on original military Model 1911A1s.
The trigger is solid, and its face is serrated. It's not the same as the standard trigger on the military Model 1911A1 because the 1911A1's trigger piece was shortened from that of the original Model 1911. The 1911 BKO's finger piece falls somewhere in between the military Model 1911 Type 1 and the Model 1911A1 Type 2 finger pieces.
The hammer is not exactly like the military 1911A1 style, either, but it is shorter than the original Model 1911's. According to my measurements, the hammer's length seems to be the same as that of the Type 6, 1st Variation military hammer, but the spur is wider, and the checkering looks different.
Capacity of the 1911 BKO's magazine is seven rounds, and the pistol comes with one blued-steel magazine. The magazine's baseplate is drilled and tapped, and the follower is rounded. That's not the military style of baseplate or follower. The military magazine had a "flat-shelf" style of follower, and the baseplate was not drilled and tapped. The 1911 BKO's magazine tube is stamped with the KMT logo, and it's also marked "45 Auto Made in U.S.A."
Auto-Ordnance calls the 1911 BKO's black oxide finish "matte black" in its literature. It's similar to the military Du-Lite black oxide finish that was used on Singer and some Remington-Rand, Ithaca, and Union Switch & Signal Model 1911A1s, but it is different than other more familiar original military finishes, including high-polish blue, dull blue, brushed, brown, and Parkerized finishes.
The 1911 BKO utilizes an internal Colt Series 80 type of firing pin block. This type of mechanism uses a vertical spring-loaded plunger in the slide to block the firing pin from moving until a lever located in the frame and actuated by the trigger pushes the plunger up, allowing the firing pin to move forward for ignition. Original military Model 1911s and Model 1911A1s did not have a firing pin block system.
The fit of Shooting Times's sample 1911 BKO is very tight. There's the slightest amount of wiggle between the slide and the frame, but the barrel locks up nice and tight.
The trigger pull averaged 6 pounds, 3 ounces for the 10 times I measured it with my RCBS trigger-pull scale before I conducted the shooting test. There was the expected amount of take-up, and there was some creep, but letoff was consistent. I measured the trigger pull again after I fired almost 200 rounds, and after all that shooting, it averaged 5 pounds, 9 ounces.
The owner's manual that came with the Auto Ordnance 1911 BKO states, "For proper functioning in all Auto Ordnance .45-caliber handguns, we recommend the use of 230-grain .45 ACP ball ammunition only." I ignored that recommendation and fired the 1911 BKO with five factory loads, ranging in bullet weight from 165 to 230 grains and with bullet styles ranging from FMJ through SWC to JHP. All loads functioned perfectly.
At a distance of 25 yards, all of those loads produced five-shot group averages that measured 4 inches or less. That was with the gun fired over sandbags, not in a machine rest, and for four, five-shot groups with each load. My most accurate Model 1911 is a custom Bullseye match gun built by Jim Clark, and it averages 1.10 inches at 25 yards with its favorite match ammunition. Obviously, it's not fair to compare this box-stock, plain-Jane pistol to a custom-tuned gun by one of the most famous pistolsmiths, but the accuracy results of the 1911 BKO, with its simple military-style fixed sights and non-match-grade trigger, firing standard factory ammunition in a variety of bullet weights, are better than what I had expected.
The tightest group average in the Auto Ordnance 1911 BKO was 3 inches, and it came with the Black Hills 200-grain SWC ammo. That load produced an average velocity of 865 fps, with a standard deviation of 9 fps and an extreme spread of 21 fps. Again, that accuracy figure is the average of four, five-shot groups. The pistol's single best five-shot string measured 2.83 inches.
Lately, we've reported pretty regularly on tricked-out Model 1911s, especially those designed and built for specific purposes (such as concealed carry, duty, or competition shooting), but I, for one, find a brand-new plain-Jane Model 1911 that resembles one of the great military pistols pretty refreshing. It shoots well, and with an MSRP of just $588, it's a great value.