Many of its fans claim that the 1911 is the “perfect” combat handgun just as it is. But like anything mechanical, machines can always be improved over time. Truthfully, it was only a matter of time before the “Polymer Revolution” caught up with John Moses Browning’s 1911.
American Tactical of Summerville, South Carolina, offers an extensive line of 1911 pistols, and one of the newest additions to its stable is the 100-percent American-made Firepower Xtreme Hybrid (FHX) in .45 ACP.
Many readers probably wonder if we pundits ever get bored of writing about so many 1911s. Well, I will freely admit that it does take something special to get me excited about “another 1911.” But it only takes one glance to realize that this new FXH-45 is more than that.
The Power Of Plastic
You realize this upon picking up the pistol because it’s light—really light. An unloaded FXH-45 tips the scales at 27.5 ounces, which is about 10 ounces lighter than most steel-framed Government Model 1911 pistols.
To accomplish this, American Tactical uses an injection-molded polymer frame (Are you traditionalists out there quivering with anger right about now?) with dual 7075-T6 aluminum inserts that provide rigidity and strength. The frame has integral finger grooves on the frontstrap and a recurved triggerguard. It also has what might be the most radically undercut triggerguard I have ever seen. This design allows the shooter to get a very high grip on the pistol for enhanced recoil control. The mainspring housing is sharply checkered that further aids in providing a secure, non-slip purchase for positive handling.
The steel slide reciprocates on a separate hardened aluminum alloy insert in the frame, and as we have come to expect on modern combat-type pistols, an accessory rail on the dust cover allows the shooter to mount lights, lasers or other tactical accessories.
In a departure from most polymer-framed pistols, the FXH-45 features separate grip panels that can be replaced with any grips designed for the 1911. An ambidextrous thumb safety is also standard equipment, and the grip safety has an extended tang with a palm swell for positive deactivation. The skeletonized aluminum trigger can also be adjusted for overtravel.
The FXH-45’s 100-percent stainless steel slide also sets it apart from the average 1911. First of all, it has a black nitride finish that is both attractive and subdued, which is what you want on a pistol designed for combat. Dual grasping grooves grace the slide while six ports near the muzzle end add a distinctive look. In case you’re wondering, no gases are vented through the ports, and they don’t act as recoil-reducing devices.
Metal has been relieved from the top and both sides of the slide, which, along with the ports, ensures its weight is proper for functioning with ammunition of differing ballistics. The FXH-45’s ejection port is also lowered and flared to ensure reliable ejection of spent cases.
As is becoming increasingly popular on modern semi-auto pistols, the rear of the slide has a removable top plate that permits installing an American Tactical optics mount for the popular Trijicon RMR and Burris FastFire reflex sights.
I am not a fan of the three-white-dot sights that come standard on most pistols today, so I was thrilled to see that the FXH-45 was fitted with a plain black rear sight and red fiber-optic front sight, which happens to be my preferred setup, as they allow me to acquire a sight picture and transition between targets much faster. For owners who wish to change the sights, the slide is cut to permit mounting aftermarket Glock-style sights.
Inside the slide you’ll find a match-grade, 5-inch, 416 stainless steel barrel while the recoil system and internal extractor are exactly the way John Moses Browning designed them. Why try and reinvent something that has worked just fine for well over a century?
My wife, Becky, and I took advantage of a cold December afternoon to run the FXH-45 through its paces. First, we tested it for accuracy from an MTM K-Zone rest at 25 yards with four loads stuffed with bullets weighing between 114 and 230 grains. It performed best with Black Hills’ 200-grain LSWC target ammo, a load that many 1911s have to be tuned for to run reliably. Well, the FXH-45 just ate up a box of them and spat out the empties.
To see how the FXH-45 handled off-hand, we set up a pair of IPSC targets and, after belting on a Galco Yaqui Slide belt holster, ran it through a variation of the so-called “Mozambique” (or “failure to stop”) drill. You start facing the targets with your pistol holstered. Upon a signal, you draw your pistol and engage the first target with two “body” shots and then one in the “head.” You then repeat the drill on the second target.
I ran these drills a half-dozen times and am pleased to relate that all of the rounds I sent in the targets’ direction impacted inside their A-zones and “heads.” We did experience a single malfunction when one of my JHP handloads hung up on the feed ramp. Other than that, the FXH-45 ran like gangbusters.
Despite the pistol’s light weight, the recoil was extremely controllable. This is probably because of the polymer frame helps absorb some of the recoil, and the undercut triggerguard provides for a very high grip.
After Action Report
As I usually do in these articles, I want to voice one complaint and one suggestion. The edges of the magazine well were not beveled, and on a several occasions I caught the lips of the mag on them while reloading. I would like to see American Tactical bevel the edges of the well more aggressively. They could also add a funnel to ensure smooth reloads. As for my suggestion: When are we going to see a 9mm?
The FXH-45’s light weight will make for comfortable all-day carry. And it can also serve as a home-defense gun and compete in matches. Let’s face it, plastic pistols are here to stay, so why not just enjoy them? This handgun is certainly enjoyable, so make sure you check it out.
American Tactical FXH-45 Specs
|Caliber: .45 ACP|
|Barrel: 5 inches|
|OA Length: 8.7 inches|
|Weight: 27.5 ounces (empty)|
|Sights: Fiber-optic front, square-notch rear|
|Finish: Matte black|
American Tactical FXH-45 Performance
|Black Hills 200 LSWC||862||2.90 (average), 2.30 (best)|
|Remington 185 JHP Handload||879||3.30 (average), 2.80 (best)|
|Remington 230 FMJ||841||3.00 (average), 2.80 (best)|
|Ruger 114 ARX||1,333||3.50 (average), 3.00 (best)|
|Sig Sauer 185 V-Crown||950||3.00 (average), 2.70 (best)|
*Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in fps by chronograph and accuracy in inches for three 5-shot groups at 25 yards.
For more information, visit americantactical.us.
This article was originally published in the May/June 2018 issue of “Combat Handguns.” To order a copy and subscribe, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.