Sunday, June 19, 2011


I was at the Academy store the other week shopping with the family and of course spent some time at the gun counter. I know my wife shudders when we go to Academy for sporting goods for El Fisho Jr. or for family shoes or clothes, as they have great selections of both along with good and sometimes really good prices.

And of course they have an "ok" gun department and a pretty good fishing department as well as camping and boating and the other things one would expect at a major line sporting goods store. Their prices can be decent on some guns, and I noticed a new item in their handgun inventory, the REGENT R100 1911A1 .45 ACP FROM UMAREX USA. Go to that link there and read an excellent albeit brief review of this pistol by the excellent gun writer/blogger Jeff Quinn over at GUNBLAST, then come on back here and read some of my ramblings about this handgun.

Ok, now I've never known Quinn or his bunch to sweetheart a bunch of reviews. I've found them to be credible handgun reviewers, which some magazines and websites and blogs are not. For what it's worth, I enjoy their site and have perused it thoroughly. Their articles have influenced purchases I've made and have certainly brought things to mind to think about regarding possible gun purchases and uses and things to look for and and problems to spot. We like GUNBLAST and so do all the friends I've turned on to it.

So'se there I am at Academy having skulked away from my bride amid her concerns of what I might find in the firearm department. I spy, as I said, a new gun for their inventory, a 1911. I get a look at it and see it's from Umarex. It's a gun of tight construction, the steel felt good, and the throat work and slide enlargement were done well. It was a well put together gun, and the only thing I'd change about it pronto is the puny front sight. No bueno. Bad news. Yes, to be true to the 1911A1 I guess that's what it had on it, but the first thing to go on that pistol should be the sights and replaced with at least a set of white dot front and white outline or dot rear sights, preferably night sights.

I've had some older 1911A1's as well as some kind of grip-safety-less Star in .45 ACP that had the puny front sights, and they did just fine for what they were intended, which is short range shooting. I could hit a soda can at 25 yards more often than not, and my misses were very close, so the puny front sight is a serviceable concept.

Then after reading Quinn's review and seeing this pistol I saw one out at the range. The particular range I was at is a gun dealer as well and has a deal on their demo guns that you get five shots for $5. So I demo'd this gun and found it to be a nice shooting firearm. I was shooting military ball ammo out of it, and the gun handled it well. I wasn't shooting 1 1/2" groups at 25 feet much less 25 yards (as Jeff Quinn did in the review), but I got a group of 3 shots into a 4" mid-torso target grouping and was very pleased with that.

I've always been fascinated with the rare inexpensive handgun or firearm that functions very well but is sort of a "sleeper" because it's low on the price scale and because usually these guns tend to be somewhat utilitarian.

For example, in the late 80's and early 90's, you could buy various Norinco firearms made in China. All of the Norinco guns I've owned or shot were of excellent quality, but were cheap in price. I've owned a Norinco AK-47 and have several friends who got theirs, like me, for under $200 pre-ban, way back when.

At some point in that time frame, Norinco came out with a parkerized 1911A1 clone that was low priced (maybe around $350 or so) but high performing. Pretty soon all of my friends who are shooters were buying these guns. Of course, back then, we were all buying guns of different types due to fears of the ban that was coming on certain types of weapons.

It's my understanding, and I could be wrong, but the excellent and inexpensive Norinco 1911A1 got banned as a result of who made it and where it was made. Now, I do try to avoid buying Chinese products and have for a long time, but I'm afraid I will bend the rules now and then for something like this gun.

Because the Norinco 1911A1 was Glocklike in it's ammo consumption and reliability and accuracy, it became a favored "fun gun" for my friends and I. We'd buy some bulk .45 ACP ammo and go to one of our places in the country and do some .45 shooting with some old school SA 1911's.

For the person trying to build a gun collection on a budget, the Regent R100 1911A1 is a great choice for a foundation builder. Who of us that actually works/did work for a living is not on a budget nowadays?  I've got one of these on the short list after shooting it. Yes, I've owned and own much finer firearms than this particular gun, but this gun is well constructed. I would replace the sights immediately but that's the only change I'd make.

After seeing and then briefly road testing the Regent R100, in talking to friends I've found several folks I know have bought these Umarex .45's as their glovebox gun or their farmtruck gun. 

One of them, we'll call him "The Country Gentleman", caught up not in western shooting but in the whole Texas idea of having a 1911 in a western style rig a'la "The Wild Bunch", got a rig for his Umarex (or his Norinco or any other of his 1911's) and uses it for his home place gun. He hangs his rig on his coatrack in his living room and straps it on whenever he's heading outside. He lives on a big place out in the country, and the law is a long way away under the best of circumstances. Although like most country folks, he has a locking gate and some cameras on his place to help him watch for trespassers, would be home invaders, cattle thieves or East Texas meth heads looking for an easy score. That's the reality in Texas today, folks.

Another friend, who we'll call "The Houston Cattleman", also a member of the Norinco club of days gone by, keeps his in an old green army web belt rig with leather army surplus (black, non-hanger, alice clipped to the belt) flap holster and canvas magazine pouch. There's usually some kind of folding knife de jour as well, in a case on the belt. One day might be a Buck 110, the next an Applegate-Fairborne. Full of surprises and super well maintained *blasts* from the past in terms of firearms and edged weaponry. I've been friends, dang good friends with The Houston Cattleman for more than 25 years now, and he still surprises me with what he pulls out of his gun safe(s) that he's owned for years that I've never heard about or seen.

He's got another green army surplus web belt that's long enough to hang from or across your shoulder like a bandalier that has a machete and alice clip holder, 2 army issue canteens, a mag pouch for his *black rifle collection* or shotgun shells (which ever he has with him, and he has *extensive* weaponry to choose from) and some kind of general purpose fixed KBar type knife.

That's his tractor and farm truck gun belts, and goes around his property with him when tending to his cattle. Again, this friend has a good many upscale firearms he could be carrying with him, but enjoys shooting the inexpensive .45's and thinks they are a great knockaround/glovebox gun. He can take them to cattle sales with him, his web belt rig and gun rolled up and locked in his glovebox. Worst case scenario and it gets stolen, he's lost $500 vs. losing a far more expensive gun.

Both of these fellows are like me. They won't carry a gun for defense, even snake defense (they might say ESPECIALLY SNAKE DEFENSE), if it's not reliable. They are gonna shoot a gun, and fairly extensively if possible, before it becomes an actual carry gun.

Both The Country Gentleman and The Houston Cattleman have proclaimed this gun is "another Norinco" and in our crowd, that's a big compliment. That means it eats what you feed it without problem, it's reasonably accurate given it's sights, and it has no issues.

I know lots of folks are into highly modified 1911's. You gotta have this, you've gotta have that, and if you don't have this this this this and that by this certain gunsmith then YOU ARE DOOMED to fail if that dreaded time of a self-defense gunfight occurs and you're armed with a gun deemed inadequate by the 1911 gurus.

Here's my take on it. I've owned many, many Colt 1911's. All have had jamming issues with hollow point ammo. Some more than others, but at one time or another, all of them jammed. The most expensive Colt Gold Cup I ever owned, a race gun, that had been worked on by a gunsmith with a sterling rep, jammed like no other auto I've ever owned. It even jammed on ball ammo. It was a far better gun before I had it worked on, but even then, it still had a few jams.

I've been of the belief for awhile that the way the gun designer designed the gun is the way the gun is meant to be used. This means some of the modifications common to custom 1911's were not the idea of John Browning. I don't foreclose all mods that Browning didn't include, but I see nothing wrong with more or less trying to stick to the original design in a gun and see how it works. It works well in the Regent R100.

The Regent, as mentioned by Jeff Quinn, has an updated safety device that renders the firing pin inoperable until the trigger is pulled. That's an improvement that every 1911 that will be carried Condition One - Cocked and Locked needs to have. Really, any 1911 needs that safety feature. Other than that, sights included, it's a pretty fair rendition of the old fella.

And yes, a gun like this will have some "inferior" parts, according to the .45 gurus. Probably some MIM parts to hit this price point, almost certainly.  Something I've always wanted to do, and have never done, was make the ultimate *non-fancy* combat 1911. By non-fancy I mean no fancy BBQ gun with a flashy finish or all kinds of throated this and polished that and ambi safety and extended and flared magazine wells and custom engraving and hand checkered front straps

If you've got a good functioning gun like a Norinco or Umarex, a bargain basement gun that eats all ammo and functions flawlessly, then don't go changing any parts, MIM or otherwise. Put some combat sights (I like Novak) on it, some laser grips of your choosing. If something goes south later, or if you decide to get some trigger work done, then maybe you can replace some internals. But be sure to hang on to the old parts, since they are already "fitted" and in case there is a later failure of the new part. But my philosophy is why mess with something if it's already working?

Both The Country Gentleman and The Houston Cattleman are given assumed names because they are good freinds and know of this blog and don't want their guns being talked about. It's a Texas thing, maybe. They don't want people to know that Joe Blow has this gun or that one and connect the dots and figure out it's them.

I never messed much with the Norinco's shooting abilities past 25 yards, and rarely that far. If I get an Umarex, I doubt I'll do much shooting past 25 yards with that gun either. It's a plinker, although
The Houston Cattleman and The Country Gentleman both have bad hog problems on their places. The Country Gentleman is not running any cattle or other stock right now, so all he has to worry about is his dog getting waylaid by hogs.

But The Houston Cattleman has a fairly large and active cattle operation with several hundred head of cattle. Of course, many of those are calves and part of his life is taking care of his cattle from predators when they are small. Heck, big hogs have been known to attack full grown cows, although that's rare, but it has happened.

The Houston Cattleman often encounters herds of hogs at night when he's out checking on the cattle, because there is also an overpopulation of wolves and coyotes throughout many parts of Texas. Although the hogs are the worst problem for The Houston Cattleman ("They're just like a tick, you kain't get rid of them"), wolves and coyotes are more of a problem for his neighbors who have chicken and goat operations.

The Houston Cattleman almost always has a longarm of some sort handy on the seat of the truck or back of the tractor, but he tells me of some encounters with hogs when he's out of the truck with a flashlight checking on a water or feed trough or a water tank. The Houston Cattleman says more than one time he's rounded a corner through brush or a natural feature like a bluff or ravine and run into one or more hogs. It's then his practice with "point and shoot" with his cheap .45 auto comes in handy.

I tell him he needs a pump shotgun with buckshot and a integrated flashlight/laser in his hand or slung over his shoulder in his nocturnal cattle caretaking. He has several to chose from, both pump and auto, regular or tactical, but often chooses to carry an HK 91. But then leaves it in the truck when he's on foot at night, when the hogs are out.

So there's a different kind of take on the Regent R100 1911A1.

The only question is, do I make me a field rig like a Wild Bunch Rig or do I hit some army surplus sites and get me a web belt rig with a flap holster? 

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