Saturday, April 9, 2011

John Jardine 1911 Essentials class AAR

I attended the first 1911 Essentials class taught by gunsmith John Jardine at Reed's Indoor Range in Santa Clara.

The blurb on Reed's site states:
John Jardine is a master pistolsmith who has enjoyed a well-deserved reputation for simply outstanding work. Firearms produced by Jardine's Custom are heirloom quality pieces of work. Made to be functional and reliable yet with attention to beauty and the fit and finish that customers expect in a truly custom-made firearm.
Jardine's 1911 Essentials
A 6 hour course designed to teach you cleaning, maintainance, diagnosis, performance, enhancements, and more. This class is sure to save anyone owning a 1911 pistol both time, and money. $200.00
 The class covered detail stripping the 1911, cleaning and lubing it, checking the extractor tension and retensioning it, inspecting the pistol for common problems, and Jardine answered many questions, and took a look at students' 1911s and found various minor or major problems with most of the students' pistols, including several very expensive pistols from highly regarded makers.  He repeatedly stated his opinion that the firearms industry as a whole cuts corners in terms of quality because most guns don't get shot enough for problems with them to become apparent.  It was very clear that in his own work he considers it very important to take the time to do it right, even if it ends up costing more.  He also noted repeatedly that the standard 5" government size 1911 in .45 ACP tends to be the most reliable, and that shortening the length of the slide makes it much more difficult to keep the gun running reliably.

He noticed some problems with the improperly fitted extractor on my 1911 and demonstrated the problems it was having holding proper tension even after fiddling with it for a while, and how it was rotating(clocking) slightly.  I left it with him and picked it up the next day with a new extractor fitted and tensioned and with some other minor work he'd done after noticing problems during the extractor fitting process.  He charged a very reasonable rate for the work and it was obvious that he cared about the students and their learning and making sure they were satisfied with the class and the work. Note: he did not in any way solicit gunsmithing business from the students.  A few people, including me, approached him and asked about it.

The negative thing I would say about the class is that most students, including myself, had very little experience detail stripping and reassembling the 1911, so he had to come around to each person and help them out, which took a really long time.  It would have been better if he had some assistants to help everybody, or if maybe he showed a video clip on the projector of how to do each step, so that only people who were having serious problems would need help.

I would say the class is well worth your time and money if you're a 1911 aficionado.  The 1911 as a serious defensive use gun is best suited for those who are willing to take the time and effort to maintain it properly and check it regularly for problems.  See

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