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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Preface: I am just an enthusiast. I'm not a HSLD Operator, I don't compete, I can't even shoot all that well - but I enjoy the hobby and I appreciate a finely build firearm as most of us do. So none of my posts will have targets or accuracy comparisons, because all of the pistols I'd reference here get targets from the manufacturer that are always perfect.

Instead of talking about potential accuracy (something I'll never be able to realistically test anyway), I prefer to discuss the joy and overall feel of specific firearms, their overall function, as well as their aesthetic. Of course aesthetic is still highly subjective, and new guns always get a bump in enthusiasm because, well, they're new (to me) yet slightly used - so I have both a Guncrafter Renaissance and an Alchemy Prime both in God's Caliber that arrived on the same day, thus they start off even! :D

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The reviews:

Guncrafter Renaissance in .45 ACP

I am really turning into a Guncrafter fan. I picked up this Renaissance as I posted in another thread, but I find it interesting to compare to my other pistols, such as Wilsons, Nighthawks and the seemingly most popular Alchemy. As with my other GI's, fFit and finish is fantastic on this pistol, but I surprise myself holding the gun in person and comparing it to my recollection of photos from the sale ads. As an example, I saw this when TRRK listed it last year and it didn't speak to me. Little things would seem YUGE in photos, but in person you'd think the gun was perfect. It was listed used recently and I thought what the hell - and was pleasantly surprised to find it better in person than any of the photos (such as the rear slide to ejector fitment); so I felt great getting it on a heavy discount.

Aesthetically, the polished flats are hard to capture- and our hi-rez camera phones seem to embelish any slight imperfection - but this gun is gorgeous. I'm not sure if I feel like a Wall Street billionaire or a Mexican Cartel Kingpin... but either way, it's awesome and I want to slide this bad boy into a shoulder holster for carry! The gun is tight but smooth, while still being almost soft in slide return and relatively easy to disassemble (the ACW is opposite, see below). This is my preference after trying to get an ACW Prime apart moments ago! The engraving is done by hand and thus not perfectly symmetrical, but the machined portions are excellent. In a way, the contrast of hand-engraving and machined perfection is interesting and fun. The front strap and MSH serrations are interesting and mesh well with the overall style, but are not as "grippy" as the traditional 15 LPI GI serrations or the 25 LPI Prime (I prefer 15 LPI for actual use).

In my opinion, many of the finer details are superior with GI compared to the ACW: The slide stop engagement and the blunting of hard edges along the slide are just better. The safety is smooth with an audible click, with a reasonable tension to engage and disengage without being too light. The trigger is smooth and predictable, light but not a hair trigger - it's hard to imagine any area where the trigger feel should be improved. The reset is minimal and I consistently prefer the GI trigger over NHC and now the ACW, although I will compare them all separately below. The magazine release is likewise confidence-inspiring for a smooth release and drop-free magazine.

So far a glowing review? Absolutely - but I passed on this gun the first time for one reason: The serrations at the rear of the slide are not perfectly level, and there is an ever-so-slight over-hang of the slide past the ejector. Interestingly on all of my other GI's, NHC's, Wilsons and the ACW it is! So I think this is just this pistol has the singular flaw, but full disclosure it's the kind of thing you only notice in hi-rez photos that tend to enhance the disparity. Holding the gun in your hand and looking at it, it's just not there.

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Alchemy Custom Weaponry Prime Elite in .45 ACP
The Prime is honestly a lesser gun in almost every way, except for the classic aesthetic and blued finish. My Prime has the 1" guarantee, and thus is very, very tight with slide engagement, barrel fitment and all of the controls. Not quite Les Baer tight, but very close. I avoided the Prime in 9mm as it tends to be loose for reliability from what I've read, but this gun feels almost... unfinished in a way in spite of the attention to details, and the smooth operation of the slide itself: No, racking the slide is not a problem, although it requires more effort. I found that getting the slide stop to release required more effort and had a slightly gritty feel. The edge of the slide where the slide stop engages has some slight rolling to it that shows through the otherwise very pleasing blue. The slide safety is appreciably more gritty and resistant, but I don't have to shift my grip to manipulate it. Field stripping this pistol is dangerous, because the barrel bushing is so fudgeing tight, I'm deathly afraid of marring the finish getting it apart and back together. It's literally an interference fit, and with a nylon wrench I have to apply appreciable force to turn it. The entire pistol is really fudgeing tight - people who like this brag about a "hard fit," but that's really only for the barrel lugs and bushing. Even the magazine release requires more effort, and feels slightly more gritty than I'm accustom to.

Everything is tight, but more so unpleasant than confidence inspiring and leaves me with the feeling that it could be better. I found the Les Baer to be similar: reliable with precision but almost aggravating to operate and maintain to the point I'd rather shoot something else. The ACW magazine hung a few times but mostly dropped free. Proponents will naturally argue that this is all by design (ie the accuracy guarantee), but I'm not quite so sure.

Regardless, it is well build and pleasing to hold, with a confident and comfortable 25 LPI and an undercut trigger that doesn't feel much different to me (but looks great!). The the overall aesthetic is what everyone loves: The lines are clean, the machined edges are crisp (yet could be refined further), and the rear of the slide, the ejector and extractor all match with no overhang. The trigger is noticeably less refined than the GI, but still very good. It has an imperfectness to it that seems to match the classic styling and compliment it in a way, but still falls short to other builders in actual feel. The classic styling with a naked slide and gold bead front sight just looks... right. It's a real bitch to keep clean as every fingerprint is a neon-sign of imperfection against that wonderful bluing, but that's the price we pay for style! So if you're a retro guy, then ACW is your jam in spite of it's shortcomings relative to other brands, second only to a custom Colt.

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Now, as to the triggers:
Winner: The Guncrafter. The trigger is short, smooth, light and crisp. The preload is minimal with a subtle transition that surprises you in a pleasant way; I'd estimate a 2.5-3lb pull but don't have a puller to verify. The reset is nearly instant with a smooth feel. All of my guncrafters in three calibers feel similar. This is what I compare others to, but of course this is a "pretty" gun and leans towards Form over function. Some will feel the trigger is simply too light for carry.

2nd place: ACW Prime: The trigger is of course short, smooth and crisp; it feels similar to the GI with a ~3lb pull but has more play in the take-up with a more obvious resistance to the break, which becomes more obvious on subsequent pulls. The reset is also similarly short, but with slightly more play that leaves it less refined relatively speaking; however overall it remains a pleasure and is very, very good.

3rd place: Nighthawk GRP: I have reviewed this pistol elsewhere, and find it to be closer to the GI in overall build quality than the ACW, but one of it's detractions (although subtle) is in this case the trigger. I wanted to mention it as NHC is such a loved brand and I enjoy carrying my 10mm Commander: it's a heavier pull at around 4.5lbs if I had to guess, which is likely ideal for a working pistol favoring Function over form. However the trigger has appreciable play on the take-up, with a very noticeable break that is relatively unpleasant compared to the Prime and GI. The reset is short and slightly more gritty than it's competitors - but I'm purposefully being picky for the sake of comparison; at the end of the day its a great "duty" trigger and is the right temperature of porridge for most: not to hot, not too cold.

In reality, any of the three feel great in the hand and the triggers are ALL good. To compare them, I have to harshly judge and that makes it feel that the differences are larger than they really are. Anyone who picks up any of these pistols will shoot them and say "Damn, that's a nice trigger." The GI is just a little bit nicer in several specific ways to me.

Value:
To each their own! I like them all in various ways and all of them are worthy of their reputations and price points. In my collection, the GI's tend to be more heirloom and presentation, with the ACW Prime being similarly dedicated to presentation duty due to that lovely finish. I tend to carry and shoot the Nighthawk more of the three, but that's honestly because it's less refined and in a way less unique (in spite of my having two similar GRPs with sequential serial numbers): it's just another GRP Commander and I don't mind beating on either of them as much. But they ALL shoot better than I do, they are all high quality, and I expect them all to be dependable. The caveat here is that I suspect the Prime is SO tight, that there may be some break in that wasn't necessary with other brands. For fun, I have a Wilson EDC on it's way - when I get it I will add that to my comparison.

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Shooting Impressions:

Well, both shot well! No failures of any kind with two kinds of hottish reloads (200gr JHP and 230gr ball). My targets were two torso-shaped plates at 40 yards. I could go 7 for 7 with either pistol so long as I did my part - but again no accuracy testing as we already know both guns are more than capable.

My personal opinion is this: The better trigger of the Guncrafter was more obvious than I was expecting during live fire. The Guncrafter also has a smaller gold bead, allowing for more precision to my eyes. The Prime gold bead is easily twice the size, which is great for fast acquisition but makes it harder to sight in at distance.

The ACW Prime felt harsher in recoil - I suspect it has a heavier main spring but I don't see specs anywhere. The Guncrafter felt slightly smoother and has an 18lb main spring, and I felt more confident in sighting in the Renaissance but at the end of the day my accuracy was equal between the two.

The extended magwell on the ACW Prime obviously requires an 8rnd magazine with base pad (which is what comes with it), but I have historically shot flush-fit 7 rounders so one more thing to make note of, and in a way the magwell takes away from the otherwise Classic nature of the Prime IMHO.

Again, both pistols are an absolute joy and I honestly think one should buy which ever looks better! But I enjoyed the feel of the GI slightly more on the back to back, and I realize I ultimately prefer smaller bead front sights and no magwell. I think I'll keep both for a while though!

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Nicely done, great review of three great weapons. I don't own an ACW, although I really want one but I have to agree with your assessment of the GI, its absolutely a phenomenal weapon.
 

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Nice write up. It mirrors my overall experience with all 3 brands. I basically nodded my head yes while reading your entire post. I have Guncrafter at the top of the semi-custom pile, and I own a renaissance that is exactly like yours. I already know how the range review will go.
 

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Over time I've either fired or owned most of the high end builders, and can easily say that Guncrafter has become my favorite. My Wilsons are gone and pared my Ed Browns down to two collectors.
 

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Well written review, I personally prefer ACW as I love the classic lines and simple, no nonsense performance. I also like the feeling and theory behind hard fit guns. My prime elite is in 9mm and also requires substantial force with a bushing wrench to remove. I watched Robs video about taking down a 1911 by starting with the slide stop and found this to make a world of difference. No longer do I have to worry about launching anything to the next county but I also will not mark up the finish
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Well written review, I personally prefer ACW as I love the classic lines and simple, no nonsense performance. I also like the feeling and theory behind hard fit guns. My prime elite is in 9mm and also requires substantial force with a bushing wrench to remove. I watched Robs video about taking down a 1911 by starting with the slide stop and found this to make a world of difference. No longer do I have to worry about launching anything to the next county but I also will not mark up the finish
Thank you, Sir. I personally don't mind a tight gun - this is interference fit to the point that I will be cleaning it far less often! Honestly it's great advertising (similar to Les Baer at a lower pricepoint), and I don't hate the hard fit, it's more like "I wonder if this is really necessary?" Ha! My primary issues with the ACW Prime Elite were the controls: they were appreciably less refined and I frankly expected more for the pricepoint.

The ACW is also, to be honest, a bastardization of "classic." It's really more resto-mod to borrow an automotive term, with the ball cuts, extended magwell, serrated rear sight, and trigger under cut, front mainspring checkering, flush-cut slide stop, etc. So to say we prefer one interpretation over another because it's more pure is really kind of silly in the context of semi-custom aftermarket pistols. I do it myself, but Magnum PI further up acting like only a MAN can like ACW over Guncrafter is so absurd it's not worth addressing directly. Different strokes for different folks... hell, some people pay good money for a Cabot. :LOL::ROFLMAO::LOL:

With that said, in my mind I also appreciate a "more classically styled" 1911 just as much as bling or creatively interpreted 1911 styles. The ACW, as I think I was quite generous in saying above, is a very beautiful piece - and that is it's primary strength. I bought it partially to see what all the fuss was about, partially because I need more blued slides in my life, but also because it just looks badass!

However, IMHO, a truly "Classically styled" 1911 comes with vertical rear slide serrations, a traditional trigger guard, no ball cuts... maybe a french border just because and traditional Colt sights and more rattle than a coffee can full of quarters! :p

I keed, I keed.
 

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well done, it was a joy to read and I love a man bold enough to sport some green grips

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Thank you, Sir. I personally don't mind a tight gun - this is interference fit to the point that I will be cleaning it far less often! Honestly it's great advertising (similar to Les Baer at a lower pricepoint), and I don't hate the hard fit, it's more like "I wonder if this is really necessary?" Ha! My primary issues with the ACW Prime Elite were the controls: they were appreciably less refined and I frankly expected more for the pricepoint.

The ACW is also, to be honest, a bastardization of "classic." It's really more resto-mod to borrow an automotive term, with the ball cuts, extended magwell, serrated rear sight, and trigger under cut, front mainspring checkering, flush-cut slide stop, etc. So to say we prefer one interpretation over another because it's more pure is really kind of silly in the context of semi-custom aftermarket pistols. I do it myself, but Magnum PI further up acting like only a MAN can like ACW over Guncrafter is so absurd it's not worth addressing directly. Different strokes for different folks... hell, some people pay good money for a Cabot. :LOL::ROFLMAO::LOL:

With that said, in my mind I also appreciate a "more classically styled" 1911 just as much as bling or creatively interpreted 1911 styles. The ACW, as I think I was quite generous in saying above, is a very beautiful piece - and that is it's primary strength. I bought it partially to see what all the fuss was about, partially because I need more blued slides in my life, but also because it just looks badass!

However, IMHO, a truly "Classically styled" 1911 comes with vertical rear slide serrations, a traditional trigger guard, no ball cuts... maybe a french border just because and traditional Colt sights and more rattle than a coffee can full of quarters! :p

I keed, I keed.
i hear you, by no means am I immune to the draw of modern interpretations of the 1911, I have a NH Agent 2 in DLC with gold TiN barrel which I love. The ACW most definitely gets cleaned less than my other guns as you say. I guess it’s the thought in the back of my head that because it’s so tight I can hit that gnats ass at 50 yards, even if I can’t see it
 

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@random84 thanks for this review!!! And especially thanks for the honesty.... there's nooooo shortage of wannabe "operators" and "professionals" out there... although much less here than some other forums.

I have no experience with ACW, but plenty with GI.... and I am never anything short of thrilled with Alex's guns compared to 1911's from other semi-custom brands often selling for much, much more apples2apples.

The only other company I've found to compare in terms of overall quality anywhere near the c same price as the Guncrafters is NHC, often for slightly more $$... but for me, worth it because they have an overall different personality which I enjoy. I have my second GI No Name in the mail right now... my third GI overall... and I have a NHC Border Special, maxxed-out on options, about 8 months away.
 

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Thanks for the reviews of those two 1911. I own an ACW, a few Baers, and a few custom Colts. I’ve never had the desire to buy a Wilson, Brown or others. These two examples remind me of looking at custom cars- the ACW is a ‘63 Split window Corvette. The Guncrafter an 1981 low rider Monte Carlo. Both fine examples by builders, just different aesthetics.
 

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I appreciate your reviews. Having owned an ACW I agree with your statements 100%. Yet to shoot a GI, maybe in the future. Either way thanks for the reviews.
 

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Appeciate the discussion starter, but let me offer a different prespective. In a million years, I could never be as discerning as the OP when it comes to a handgun's controls. Assuming a GI's controls are better as claimed, I just take a new gun out and shoot it next to a gun I know to determine which gun I can shoot best. I think once you are in the $2k plus price range, the differences between feel of triggers, safeties, mag releases, etc., is pretty much academic. I also really do not pay much attention to asthetics, although I do prefer the old school look in 1911s. I did not even know such things as ball cuts and French borders existed until I came on this forum. And I never thought of buying or not buying a 1911 due to difficulty of assembly, disassembly. I think that if you shoot and clean a gun enough, you get used to its eccentricities quickly.

My primary concern is that, based on the miniscule chance I ever will have to actually defend myself with one of these things, I want the bullets to go where I intend them to go and not miss and hit some Nun a quarter of a mile away. For that reason, I have narrowed my guns down somewhat to ACWs, Colt SCGs, and a couple of one offs because I can shoot those the best in drills that simulate a self defense situation.

This post is not meant to be snarkey to the OP, although in re-reading it it sounds that way. It just seems that I see guns from what appears to be a very different prespective. And it is just my opinion, so take it for what it is worth.
 
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