From our August issue’s cover story, this is the first story of a two-part series. Make sure to check back tomorrow for Part II, the conclusion!
Muscle Gun-Part I
Car and Gun Cultures Collide in the Les Baer Hemi 572, a Tactical 1911 with 10-Ring Accuracy
You’d be hard-pressed to find two more dedicated and knowledgeable groups than car people and gun people, and Les Baer, Sr. has been revving his engines at the intersection of both cultures for decades.
Recently, the long-time gun manufacturer and classic car collector bridged his two passions with the release of the Hemi 572, a tactical 1911 with enough power and precision to match its namesake, Les’ 1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda. Like the American muscle cars of the 1960s and 70s, the Les Baer Hemi “572″ boasts sleek, classic lines and high-tech features that guarantee powerful, breathtaking performance.
The Hemi’s screamed “quality” right out of the shipping box at the Florida Gun Exchange. Its hard chrome finish is attractive, yet subdued, and the matte silver finish on the top of the slide, grip safety and trigger guard, is non-reflective. The grip’s front and backstrap are cleanly checkered. Only the flats of the slide and frame are polished. When the pistol was used outside in the Florida sunshine, there was no noticeable glare like there would be with a nickel-plated gun. In contrast to the hard chrome, the sights, slide stop, plunger tube, magazine catch, hammer, barrel and trigger are finished in black Dupont S accents. Put it all together with VZ Recon black G-10 grips and a green fiber-optic front sight and the Hemi’s overall appearance is striking.
Beauty is more than skin deep, and the construction of the Hemi 572 is fully equal to its appearance. This full-size 5-inch barreled all-steel 1911 is constructed of quality components. The slide, frame, barrel and bushing are all made to national match standards. All component parts are well configured, and the lines of the pistol are straight. Because of a high degree of manufacturing care, barrel/slide lock-up is tight, and there is no play in the slide when it is cycled.
There are no tool marks anywhere on the Hemi’s interior or exterior surfaces, and no sharp edges to cut the hand. The checkering on the grip’s frontstrap and backstrap is straight and even, which provides a firm grip without irritating the shooter’s hand. The fitting of major parts such as the grip safety is very good. There are no gaps to let dirt and dust into the fire control system. The disconnector, grip safety, manual safety and half-cock notch on the sear all function as designed. Fitting of the sear is excellent and the hammer cannot be pushed off of the full and half cock notches. The trigger breaks cleanly at 4.5-4.75 pounds, with no discernible over-travel.
Last, but not least, the Hemi’s adjustable rear sight and fiber-optic front sight provide an excellent sight picture. Serrations on the back of the rear sight help prevent glare, and the fiber- optic front sight lines up very well with the rear sight’s blade. The green of the fiber-optic tube shines brightly and makes the sight very fast to acquire. This outstanding visibility allows the shooter to make precision shots without difficulty. This is a well-made and well-designed tactical pistol.
FIRE AND WIND
I live-fire tested the Hemi for velocity, energy and accuracy with five different defensive loads that were generously provided by their manufacturers. These loads included two with X bullets, one with a Hornady XTP bullet, and two law enforcement loads. The X bullet loads were Black Hill’s Tac-X 185-grain +P and COR-BON’s 185-grain +P DPX. The XTP load was HPR’s 230-grain JHP, and the two LE loads were Hornady’s 220-grain +P Critical Duty and Winchester’s 230-grain Ranger T.
Accuracy tests were performed at the Flagler Gun and Archery Club and the Volusia County Gun and Hunt Club. An MTM Front Sight rifle rest was used to steady the pistol, and a Leupold Kenai spotting scope located hits. Three five-shot groups were fired at a distance of 25 yards. Spring and fall winds in Florida can make precise shooting difficult, and there were winds on both days. The second testing day was the worst, with winds gusting between 15-25 mph, causing a number of flyers. The Black Hills 185-grain +P Tac-X produced the best accuracy with a 2.93-inch average for three groups. It also produced the smallest group, which measured just 1.43 inches. None of the loads averaged more than 3.7 inches at 25 yards, an excellent performance given the wind conditions on day two.
Velocity was recorded 15 feet from the muzzle using a PACT 1XP chronograph. The readings produced by the Hemi’s 5-inch barrel were quite high for a .45 ACP pistol, however there were no signs of high pressure with any load tested. COR-BON’s 185-grain +P DPX was the fastest load and averaged a very fast 1,230 foot-pound. At this velocity it generated a remarkable 621 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. That’s a lot for a .45 cal. 1911. Hornady’s Critical Duty 220-grain +P produced 1,032 and 520 foot-pounds, and Winchester’s non-+P 230-grain Ranger T load left the barrel at an average of 1,010 foot-pounds and also produced 520 foot-pounds of energy. Extreme velocity spreads for all loads were quite small, indicating that both the ammunition and the gun were made to exacting tolerances.
Story & Photos by Dr. Martin D. Topper