This new long-slide 10mm Model 1911 from Ed Brown may be the finest practical-size "Magnum" semiautomatic pistol ever made.
The Model 1911 may well be the finest fighting pistol ever spawned, but in its standard configuration it isn't particularly great for hunting—or for any purpose that calls for deep-penetrating projectiles and explosive energy. Big .45-caliber bullets loaded in the .45 ACP cartridge hit hard, but they have too much frontal diameter and too little velocity to drive deep. The result is arguably the best human-threat-thumping handgun cartridge available, but practical-weight semiautomatic pistols of every sort typically pale in comparison to magnum revolver cartridges for some applications.
Chambering the 1911 in 9mm provides better penetration, but at the expense of that slapped-by-a-giant effect the .45 has. Plus, no 9mm bullet carries the weight of a heavy .41 Magnum or .44 Magnum revolver projectile.
Only one 1911 configuration successfully bridges the magnum revolver/semiauto pistol performance gap. Chamber "Old Slab- sides" in 10mm Auto and give it an extra inch of barrel and you have a semiautomatic pistol that approaches the authority of a .41 Magnum revolver.
Several companies build long-slide 1911s chambered in 10mm, but none do it better than Ed Brown. The all-new LS10 (for Long Slide 10mm) is a rather understated pistol that offers superbly thought-out performance-enhancing features.
Like all Ed Brown pistols, the LS10 is built on a forged, stain- less-steel frame and slide machined in-house by the technicians at Ed Brown, with 100 percent Ed Brown machined parts.
To knock the shine off that fine stainless frame and slide, the pistol is coated in matte black Gen4 Thermoset Polymer, a state- of-the-art finish used by several military units. According to Travis Brown, "Gen4 is made up of a special formulation that offers the best wear resistance and corrosion protection known. Wear is significantly improved over traditional oxide bluing and is significantly better than older chemistry polymers."
To help shooters get the most out of the 6.0-inch 10mm barrel, the LS10 features a factory-mounted Trijicon RMR red- dot sight. Mounted on a steel plate that interfaces with a cut atop the rear of the slide just behind the lowered, flared ejection port, the RMR features adjustable LED intensity, two-year battery life when "On," and extreme durability. Best of all, it offers shooters with aging eyes a single focus plane, enabling more precise shooting, particularly in low-light conditions when dilated pupils narrow one's depth of focus.
Paired with the RMR is an outstanding set of tall Trijicon iron sights—they're tall enough to use with the RMR in place—equipped with tritium night-sight inserts. An adjust- able BoMar-type rear sight is available as an option.
The slide's top is flattened and serrated to reduce glare, and the forward end is slick—no forward slide serrations—just the way I like it. The lines overall are very clean, crisp, and classic. Note that my preproduction LS10 varies slightly from production guns, which will feature a French border on the slide and a flush barrel with recessed crown.
Interestingly, Ed Brown is using a solid recoil plug, so standard 5-inch recoil springs can be used in the LS10. According to Travis, 18-pound standard-length springs are appropriate for the LS10. I asked if such springs are appropriate for very heavy bullets pushed fast, and Travis said, "Make sure your recoil spring is correctly matched to the ammunition you are shooting. When you have the proper weight recoil spring for a particular load, ejected brass should land 8 to 12 feet away.
If brass is falling within a few feet of you, your spring is too heavy for that load. If brass lands more than about 12 feet away, your spring is too light for that load. Either case leads to reduced reliability."
Like all new Ed Brown pistols, the barrel hood cams up and locks with such precise, tight fit that once in battery it seems to stick ever so slightly until a couple hundred rounds are put through it—just the way a custom 1911 should. No play is discernible between the hand-fitted slide and frame, and there's no movement at all in the muzzle or barrel hood when the slide is in battery.
The beautifully blended, smooth rear face of the slide is finished in the non-glare matte black of the Gen4 coating. And as one would expect, the Memory Groove beavertail grip safety is likewise perfectly blended with the frame. The hammer features a Commander-style spur.
Fine 25-lpi checkering graces the flat mainspring housing and grip frame frontstrap, offering a textured surface that's sophisticated enough to not abrade your person or clothing. Not that the LS10 will be hidden beneath many Harris Tweed jackets.
A tight, deep radius at the upper end of the frontstrap enables the shooter to achieve a very high, comfortable, recoil- controlling grip. Excellent machining and contouring of and around the trigger guard offers both ergonomics and aesthetics. The magazine release is a neat, compact affair with gently beveled edges, perfect for a 1911 destined for hunting or practical field use.
To additionally aid ergonomics, the thumb safety is widened, lengthened, and serrated, and the slide lock features aggressive but discreet serrations. The LS10's thumb safety is not ambidextrous.
Although they look to the casual glance much like select-grade cocobolo, the grip panels are black G10 laminated with red wood—a robust and durable combination that offers traditional beauty with cutting-edge resilience.
Each LS10 will ship with two eight- round 10mm stainless magazines. No accessory mag well as such is present, but the inside edges of the grip frame are beveled.
Last in terms of technical arcana, the trigger is a precision-machined medium- length aluminum affair with an overtravel adjustment screw. Pull weight averages 3 pounds, 13 ounces according to my Lyman digital trigger scale. Subjectively, the trigger is perfect—crisp, creep-free, and without any excessive take-up or overtravel.
The Ultimate All-Around Choice
An old adage has it that every 1911 needs 500 rounds of break-in before it can offer 100 percent reliability. Not the Ed Brown LS10. From the start, it ran perfectly with four of the five types of ammunition tested. Something about the nose profile of the fifth—Hornady's 180-grain XTP load—disagreed with the LS10, because several times it stuck with the upper edge of the hollowpoint lodged against the upper edge of the chamber.
Not to worry. In terms of accuracy, the pistol's favorite ammo was one of my preferred all-around 10mm loads—Federal Premium's 180-grain Trophy Bonded JSP—and with it and all other loads tested (including Hornady's 175-grain Critical Duty) reliability was absolutely stellar.
After firing three consecutive five-shot groups with each of several different 10mm loads, I can report that although zesty, the recoil was smooth and controllable. It's accumulative, though, and as I neared the end of my testing, the slight, uncontrollable vibration in my grip informed me that this was not a typical pistol. I've tested many handguns, and the fine-frequency tremble, as I call it, only infiltrates the muscles of my hand and forearm after absorbing a considerable amount of recoil.
With official testing complete, I spent another happy hour in casual shooting, making careful shots on distant rocks to ascertain how lethal I could be past 50 yards with the LS10 and hammering fast shots into close dirt clods to see how quickly I could dump a magazine into a threatening bear.
Not only could I hit distant rocks, I was amazed at how authoritatively the 10mm bullets hammered them, often rolling or splitting cantaloupe-size rocks. Recovery time between close, fast shots wasn't as fast as with a 9mm or a .45, but—for me at least—it was considerably faster than with any magnum revolver.
While the LS10 isn't ideal for personal protection purely because it's almost too much—too much recoil for really fast shooting, too much penetration for densely populated urban settings—one could argue that it's the ultimate all-around choice for the guy who wants one semiauto pistol for everything from defending hearth and home to hunting big game to protection against bears.
Loaded with a fast-expanding, lighter-for-caliber bullet, such as Hornady's Critical Duty 175-grain FlexLock, it will pass the vaunted FBI Protocol test with flying colors. Stoked with Federal 180-grain Trophy Bonded JSP ammo, it's an outstanding hunting tool for use on deer-size game and even elk. And with Buffalo Bore 200-grain flatnose FMJ or 220-grain hard-cast bullet ammo, it offers devastating, straight-tracking penetration adequate for black bears and skull-crushing and bone-breaking performance on the bigger bears.