Friday, October 18, 2013

ATI 45 K and the .45 ACP Cartridge

Bill's Gun Shop and Range and Robbinsdale, MN recently gave me the opportunity to review the ATI (American Tactical Imports) model 45K.  First off I want to say that the available lighting from my portable light box did not providing me the proper lighting to capture the finish of this pistol.  If you go looking for this handgun expecting to find it with an OD greenish-gold finish, as seen above, you're going to be disappointed.  The actual color is a grayish-black.  Now I had the opportunity to look the pistol over, but I could not shoot it as they had none to spare.  But I am going to shoot this pistol at some point because I want to see if it as good as it appears to be.

ATI is an importer, not a manufacturer, so they are bringing this pistol in from the Philippines where it is made by S.A.M. Inc.

S.A.M. or Shooter's Arms Manufacturing, Inc. began life in 1963 as a firearm retailer and branched out into manufacturing in 1992.  Their current catalogue is extensive and contains 26 different models of the 1911 pistol, a polymer 9mm, a .38 caliber revolver, tactical shotguns, and AR and AK platform rifles.   S.A.M. Inc.'s stated goal is to provide affordable firearms with world class quality.  Along with the U.S. their products are currently imported to Australia, Thailand, Costa Rica, Italy, and Switzerland; where they know a thing or two about "world class quality" firearms.

This is a Commander sized pistol and right off the bat you'll notice that the pistol has a threaded barrel extending outside of the slide and an accessory rail.

Let's start by taking a look at the only problematic issue I had with the pistol, and I think it sounds like more of a problem than reality would prove it to be: 
the skeletonized aluminum single action trigger has a pull 7.8 pounds.  That is certainly a lot heavier than most 1911s I have every shot or examined.  Here's why I don't think it will be much of a problem: the take-up is only about 1/16 of an inch.  In other words the take-up before the trigger engages the sear is hardly noticeable.  Instead of have a long but light (or worse, mushy) take-up your trigger pull will start right out at the point where the 7.8 pounds of pressure is necessary.  With practice I think this will become very manageable and it should certainly alleviate any concern about accidental discharges due to a trigger pull that is too light. 

The ATI pistol does not contain the Colt Series 80 firing pin block safety system that many people felt ruined the trigger pull of their 1911's manufactured after 1980.  The frame is made of steel as is the 4140 stainless slide.  Weighing in at 39 ounces recoil from .45 ACP +P ammunition is not going to be much of a problem.  As is standard on higher end 1911's the .45 K sports a round Commander-style hammer, beavertail safety with memory bump, and slightly oversized ambidextrous safety levers.

The sights are of the Novak styled non-snag combat sights with a white dot up front and a serrated all black rear sight.  I used to think that three dot sights were the way to go but I have recently found that I prefer a white dot, fiber optic pipe, or night sight up front only.  I feel that it is quicker to acquire your target if you are only focusing on the front sight and not trying to line up three dots.  I have not noticed any accuracy deficiencies occurring from not having any dots on the rear sight.

While the barrel is black in color both the interior and exterior of the chamber has been hard chromed.  This is obviously done to ensure reliable feeding from magazine to chamber and the feed ramp was a smooth as any I had examined on any other 1911 pistol.  

All in all I think this will be an excellent shooter.  The pistol is solid as a rock and the frame to slide fit is excellent.  I tried rocking the slide laterally and the pistol would have none of it.  

This is a lot of pistol for an MSRP of $719.95.  Even better is the fact that it is going to be Bill's "Gun of the Month" for November.  While they had not set the actual price at the time I examined it you can rest assured the ATI 45 K will be south of the $700 price point.  Given the attention to detail in the design and manufacturing of this pistol, the features added to it, and its .45 ACP chambering I think this will be a great defensive handgun.  

While we're talking about the venerable .45 ACP let me give you a little history on how this cartridge came to be.  The .45 ACP has a stellar record in the service of our nation that began in 1911 and continued until 1986.  Even after ’86 the GI .45 lived on with special units that needed a more effective pistol.  I’m sure you’ve all heard that the .45 ACP and it’s original platform, the John M. Browning designed Colt 1911 pistol, were chosen by the military after the disastrous performance of the Colt .38 Military revolver in actions in Cuba and the Philippines.

All of this is certainly true but the military was also interested in an automatic self-loading pistol like the European armed forces were adopting.   Albeit they wanted one in a larger caliber than the Europeans were choosing.  During the evaluations to select the successor to the .38 Long Colt revolver the Army tested 950 Luger pistols chambered in .30 Luger (7.65mm) and 50 Luger’s chambered for the new 9mm round.  The Army was not impressed.  Shortly thereafter it was announced that the evaluation team wanted pistols in .41 caliber or larger.

But what the Army was really looking for was a round that could knock down a horse.  Remember, this was 1904 and mechanized warfare did not enter its embryonic stage until the middle of World War One.  The mounted cavalry charge still provided the “shock and awe” at the turn of the 20th Century and the one way to suck the wind out of the cavalry charge was to shoot the horse.  Doing that usually took care of two problems; it took out the horse, which was a valuable asset to the opposing side, and it usually took out the rider as well.  Frequently when the horse went down the rider went down too and wound up with a crushed or broken leg when the horse fell on it.  If the rider was lucky enough to have survived the fall he had usually dropped his weapon and was stunned or in shock.  This made him easy pickins’ for the defenders.

In order to find that horse stopping round the Chief of Army Ordnance, General William Crozier, assigned Infantry Captain John T. Thompson and Major Louis Anatole LaGarde of the Medical Corp to go to the Nelson Morris Company Union Stockyard in Chicago, IL to shoot some livestock with various caliber handguns and log their results.  Over a two-day period they shot 13 head of cattle all weighing between 950 and 1300 pounds.  The calibers used were as follows:
·       476 Eley
·       7.65mm Luger
·       .38 Long Colt
·       .38 ACP
·       .45 Long Colt

·       .455 Man-Stopper
There were no one stop shots.  On the first day of testing they found the .38 Long Colt and the .38 ACP to be completely ineffective and inhumane to the animals.  Here are the results from the second day of testing:

Animal Weight
# Of Rounds Needed to Kill the Animal
.45 Long Colt
950 Pounds
7.65 Luger
950 Pounds
After 10 shots the cow was killed with a blow from a hammer to it’s head
9mm Luger
1100 Pounds
After 10 shots the cow was killed with a blow from a hammer to it’s head
.476 Eley
1150 Pounds
.455 Man-Stopper
1150 Pounds

One can certainly find fault with the way these tests were conducted but it was 1904 and Thompson and LaGarde were carrying out orders.  The result of their finding were simple:
  • · The pistol’s caliber should not be less than .45 with a bullet weight of not less than 230 grains.
  • · The pistol should have a capacity of not less than 6 rounds since that’s how many rounds it took for the .45 Long Colt to kill a cow.

I have often heard it said that the Military selected the .45 ACP because it could drop a horse.  While this is what they wanted their testing occurred before the .45 ACP cartridge was developed and available to anyone.  As far as I know the question of horse versus .45 ACP has never been answered but .45 ACP versus man has been answered in numerous military engagements over its illustrious 102 year history.

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