August 20, 2019
By Joel J. Hutchcroft
Photos by Michael Anschuetz
Along with milling the rear area of a Model 1911’s slide to take optics-mounting plates so that miniature electronic-dot reflex-type sights can be installed, offering new compact Model 1911s is another clear trend. Several have been featured in recent issues of Shooting Times, and one of the premier compact 1911s is the X-TAC Elite Compact from Wilson Combat. I enjoyed working with this fine pistol, and I am pleased to present the following report. Like a lot of premium handguns, the Wilson pistol is expensive. But as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for, and with the X-TAC Elite Compact you get a precisely built, superbly refined, and utterly reliable gun. It’s a true tour de force.
The X-TAC Elite Compact features the Wilson Combat compact-size carbon-steel frame, and its frontstrap and mainspring housing are machined with the Wilson Combat X-TAC non-slip pattern. These are diagonal diamonds machined into the aluminum, and they provide a non-slip grip without chewing up the shooter’s hands. In addition, the frontstrap has been beveled behind the trigger guard to allow the shooter’s hand to ride higher on the frame. The frame also has an integral accessory rail with two cross-slots.
The X-TAC Elite’s G10 grips have a distinctive pattern that reminds me of the sun’s rays. Wilson calls the design “Starburst.” They come in black and have Wilson Combat’s logo inserted as a pewter-and-black medallion. They are held in place by two Torx-head screws on each side.
Another key component of the X-TAC Elite is the one-piece, fully machined mainspring housing/magazine well. Wilson calls it the “Bullet Proof” magazine well, and its base is rounded for comfort and to reduce printing through clothing when carried concealed. As I said earlier, the mainspring housing is machined with the X-TAC pattern, and the inside of the magazine well is gently tapered to assist in making fast reloads.
The X-TAC Elite also features a Wilson Combat Concealment Bullet Proof beavertail grip safety and hammer, a Bullet Proof magazine release, and a Bullet Proof thumb safety. You can have your pistol with a regular thumb safety or an ambidextrous one. As you can see from the photos, my pistol has the standard thumb safety. And the slide stop is countersunk on the offside.
The pistol comes with Wilson’s Battlesight rear sight that was designed to allow one-hand racking of the slide by pushing the sight against something sturdy, such as a door frame or your belt. The rear sight is black (which I prefer), and it has a 0.145-inch-wide U-shaped notch. The face of the rear sight is checkered. The rear sight is both dovetailed into and screwed onto the slide. The front sight has a green fiber-optic dot that mates up perfectly with the U-shaped rear sight. The sight radius is 5.6 inches.
The gun comes with two steel magazines. Since our pistol is chambered for 9mm Luger, the magazines hold eight rounds of ammunition each. The X-TAC Elite Compact is offered also in .38 Super and .45 ACP, and in those cases, magazine capacities are nine and seven rounds respectively. The magazines are stamped “Wilson Combat.” They have flat followers and removable polymer base pads. The base pads match the contours of the frame and blend in with the mainspring housing/magazine well. The right and left sides of the base pads have a slight bevel on the top edge to provide a bit of purchase should you need to rip one out in an emergency.
The X-TAC Elite Compact’s slide gets plenty of special attention, too. The cocking grooves are the Wilson Combat X-TAC pattern. The rear of the slide has 40 lines-per-inch checkering that matches the checkering on the rear sight. The top of the slide has full-length 30-lines-per-inch striations that do a good job of directing the shooter’s eyes to the front sight. The front of the slide is machined with a relief cut, reminiscent of the Browning Hi Power pistol, to assist in one-handed smooth holstering. And the bottom edge of the slide is given a heavy chamfer to remove a potential sharp edge that might cause wear on your hands, clothing, or holster.
Speaking of holsters, I’ve been using a Galco KingTuk inside-the-waistband holster with the X-TAC Elite Compact. The KingTuk is one of Galco’s most popular Model 1911 holsters. It offers excellent concealability and is also comfortable. Drawing the 1911 from the holster is fast. Even more importantly, the holster provides the security you need when carrying a concealed handgun. A Model 1911 isn’t going to accidentally come out of this holster, and it’s going to be pretty difficult for an attacker to rip the gun out of it.
My KingTuk features a comfortable backing plate made of lined saddle leather with a black Napa leather front combined with a rigid Kydex holster pocket for fast drawing and easy holstering. Its removable metal belt clips, which fit belts up to 1.75 inches wide, can be moved up or down in the corresponding holes so that users can set the carry height and angle to suit their preferences. Interchangeable injection-molded nylon C-Hooks (sold separately) fit belts up to 1.25 inches wide and offer an even lower profile on the belt.
It’s widely accepted that a good defensive holster needs to be designed to easily conceal the handgun, should carry a gun securely and allow immediate access to it, and should be made of the finest materials. Galco’s KingTuk is all that and more.
The Wilson Combat X-TAC Elite Compact’s match-grade, stainless-steel 4.0-inch barrel has both the chamber and the tube exterior fluted to reduce friction. A heavily used pistol can collect so much powder residue on the barrel and chamber area that the slide can be noticeably slowed in function. The fluting increases the time and the volume of ammo needed to build up that much crud. And it gives the inevitable lint of daily carry a place to go and not bind.
The barrel has a coned front end, so there’s no barrel bushing to be fitted or to work loose. The muzzle is trimmed flush with the end of the slide and has a deep and angled reverse crown to provide maximum protection to the ends of the lands and grooves. And the barrel has an integral feedramp and a fully supported chamber.
The recoil spring rides on a full-length guide rod. The end of the rod is rounded to make disassembly and assembly easier.
The pistol is finished in what Wilson calls Armor-Tuff. The company describes the finish as being a “nonreflective tactical surface finish with optimum corrosion protection, abrasion resistance, and enhanced lubricity.” Our sample pistol’s slide is matte black, and the frame is flat dark earth. Other colors, including gray, green, federal brown, and bronze, are available.
When I examine a Model 1911, I always check trigger pull and how tightly the slide and barrel lock up. In these respects, the X-TAC Elite Compact ranks very high. Trigger pull was crisp and clean and consistently broke at 3 pounds, 5 ounces. There was hardly any variance (only 2 ounces, total) over the five times I measured it with my gauge. The pistol’s slide barely moved at all from side to side when in battery, and the barrel didn’t budge even a tiny bit when I pushed down on its hood.
As for its accuracy, well, the X-TAC was a real shooter. It comes with an accuracy guarantee of 1.5 inches at 25 yards. I’ve said many times before that I’m not a champion-level match shooter, so I didn’t achieve that remarkable accuracy. But I did produce some excellent results with the X-TAC Elite Compact. For example, I had one five-shot string that measured 1.66 inches. That load averaged 1.88 inches for all five of its five-shot groups. The overall combined average was just 2.14 inches at 25 yards. I don’t have to tell you that that is outstanding, especially considering it is the average of five, five-shot groups with five different 9mm factory loads.
After shooting from the bench for accuracy, I did a bit of offhand shooting with the X-TAC Elite Compact. For this part of my evaluation, I used Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C and Dirty Bird targets that give instant feedback during practice sessions at the range. When the bullets strike the targets, they produced easy-to-see rings around the bullet holes. And that instant feedback goes a long way to improving one’s shooting skills.
One of my favorite targets is the Bad Guy Shoot-N-C target. The 12x18-inch target has a black background, and the “bad guy” is outlined in orange. It is self-adhesive and sticks to just about any solid target backing. These targets produce a bright chartreuse “halo” around each shot, and they come in packs of five, 12, and 100, and repair pasters are included.
The X-TAC Elite Compact functioned perfectly. In addition to shooting it in the regular position, I fired it right-side up, left-side up, and upside down, and it didn’t miss a beat. That’s what you should expect from a premium Model 1911. And the Wilson Combat X-TAC Elite Compact is definitely a premium pistol.