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126 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I just took delivery of a Hillsdale Monolith Heavyweight with an added on light rail that I assumed one of the previous owners added. It of course detracts from the sleek Monolith Heavyweight aesthetic, but it also has front cocking serrations so I suppose it's set up more toward function than looks.

I was thinking if (when) the little rail bugged me I could remove it and leave the holes or even have them filled and the gun refinished. I typically ponder stuff like that after I find myself the winner of an auction, trying to rationalize what I've done; another thread I'd posted was me contemplating rebluing another used Baer I picked up, I think it was my 9mm Premier II.

The other night between winning the auction and picking it up I saw in a thread a TRS HD with the same rail, and being slow to pick up on things sometimes I thought, "Hmm, maybe that owner used the same gunsmith or aftermarket rail."

When I first saw the gun in person I realized the add on rail looks worse in pics than it does in person. It's nothing like a recon type frame, but I think I can keep my lunch down. It looks best with a light on it, like a TLR-1 for example. I have 1913 "keys" on my Streamlights right now so I can't mount one just yet. (I need to bite the bullet on their rather high shipping charge and buy a handful of otherwise priced nicely trade in used TLRs from King's so I have enough to leave them on multiple railed guns.)

(Here are some pics of them with lights. http://whichgun.com/pistols/view/les-baer-1911-monolith-tactical-illuminator


I took the slide off and saw how cleanly the inside of the dust cover was finished. You could barely make out the circles of the screw shafts, but it looked like they were filed flush with the frame and it was blued afterward. Finally, I started suspecting that it left Baer with the rail on it, because even though the rail is very un-monolithic to the frame, the install is clearly very professionally done.

After some more searching and coming across the right names I eventually confirmed what I'd bought. (I haven't asked Brenda about this one yet.) It was discontinued, but the model was called the Monolith Tactical. Here's the archived product listing:


I saw other references to names that included the word Illuminator, which may have been packages with the light similar to how the Ultimate Recon has been offered.

There was a fixed sight version branded as a Thunder Ranch Special Home Defense or HD version. I didn't find that product page, but this page has pics of one. I found some threads with pics of hard chromed ones too.


Anyway, it's not the first time I did the "bid first, ask questions later," routine and I imagine it won't be the last. The gun feels so incredibly solid and stout. I like it quite a but so far.

Now that I know it's an original configuration and I've had some moments to bond with it, I am thinking I'll leave the rail on and put a light on it.

My Baer collection consists of a PII 45, a Hillsdale PII 9mm, an Ultimate Recon, a Hillsdale TRS, a Hillsdale TRS Comanche in hard chrome, this Monolith Tactical, and a double stack SRP on a Para P14 frame that I'm bringing home next week. I think if I were the gun selling type I'd want to let go of the PII 45, as I think I prefer the mainstream frame dimensions.

Here's a quick cell pic of my Monolith Tactical after a slide-off, barrel in, wipe down with a rag, a bore snake, and some oil. The bushing wouldn't budge in the slide by hand, which doesn't surprise me. I assume this gun has had its share of rounds through it, and it's impressive how it's still tighter than most run of the mill guns are when they are brand new.

Who else has one of these or knows anything about them?


Some brighter pics from the auction of the dirtier gun.



Actually here are some pics stolen from the few threads I found. Any of you in here?


126 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I have one of those, serial number 6. It has the rail on it, and I had no idea that it wasn't aftermarket. Thanks for your post! Noel

View attachment 327343
Nice! That's a low serial number. Kinda special, but I guess all Thunder Ranches are Special. ;)

If you send an email to [email protected] with your serial number, Brenda can let you know about your gun.

She just responded to me to let me know that mine is a Monolith Tactical Illuminator pistol that was manufactured in March 1999
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