What a great combination to collaborate on a 1911 for self-defense: Ed Brown and Massad Ayoob, a premier 1911 gunsmith and a premier firearms instructor, both well versed in using a 1911 for self-defense. The result is the Massad Ayoob Signature Edition 1911 (MA1911).

massad2The MA1911 is a limited edition 1911 based on the Ed Brown Executive Carry Series pistols with input from Ayoob. According to the Ed Brown Products Inc. website, Ayoob was asked what he would want in a 1911 pistol made for concealed carry and home defense, one that could also serve as a lawman’s sidearm.

Ayoob’s thoughts have been nicely integrated into the Ed Brown Executive Series. Ayoob wanted the 4.25 inches barrel (and slide) along with the Ed Brown Bobtail frame, which combined make the pistol that much easier to conceal. His next two suggestions were dictated based on his long exposure and work regarding litigation concerning firearms and their use with particular note taken of the often false claim of accidental discharge due to a so-called hair trigger.

To address this, Ayoob specified a smooth, but crisp 4.5-pound trigger setup. Having also encountered such legal allegations as involving a dropped or otherwise strongly struck 1911 discharging with resulting harm to someone, Ayoob asked for an extra heavy-duty firing pin spring, which should clearly address and rebut any claim of “inertia discharge.”

Gun Details
This Limited Edition 1911 has a 4.25-inch barrel with matching reduction in slide length, on top of a full-size frame, a configuration also known as Commander size. The slide has grasping grooves in the rear only. The shorter barrel length, combined with a full-sized, single-column frame is considered by many knowledgeable 1911 users to be the smallest configuration that is reliable over the widest range of uses and abuses. The smaller 1911s can and do work well, but they need more attention paid to replacing the recoil and magazine springs before they weaken.

As pointed out earlier, for increased concealment, the frame is modified with the Ed Brown Bobtail housing. The modification is a rounding of the abrupt bottom rear profile of the gun, but is done without shortening the frame. From Ed Brown’s website on this: “…unique with the Executive Series pistols is the 25-lpi (lines-per-inch) checkered frame and ‘half checkered’ (on the mainspring housing) Bobtail. This pattern is not too rough on the hands, but not too fine for a secure grip.” In handling and shooting this gun, I found the checkering to be just as stated.

Interestingly, a 7-round all-metal magazine (including the follower) is supplied. I see this as choosing to lean toward total reliability over any perceived gain of having an 8th round in the magazine (and Ed Brown makes an excellent 8-round magazine). The magazine well is slightly beveled to aid in snag-free reloading.

Naturally, all Ed Brown Hardcore parts are used throughout. Suffice to say, most if not all of the parts, except springs, are made by Ed Brown. However, to personalize this gun, Ayoob’s signature is laser engraved on the right side of the slide with his name repeated on the left, and beneath this, “Signature Edition” appears in square-cut lettering. Retailing at $2,720, the gun ships with Massad Ayoob’s Book of Concealed Carry.

Although not discussed, the pistol is chambered for .45 ACP, which is Ayoob’s favorite defensive pistol cartridge. The resulting Massad Ayoob Signature Edition 1911 truly does embody the combined skills of Massad Ayoob and the talents of Ed Brown to create one fine fighting handgun.

Range Time
Leaving the mechanics of the gun for a moment and moving to its shootability, Ayoob considers night sights mandatory, concluding that they can help in making correct shot placement under less-than-adequate lighting. To further aid this goal, Ayoob also wanted an accurate 1911, which has the capability of 2 inches or tighter groups at 25 yards using quality JHP ammunition.

In my range work, this desire was well borne out as, shooting indoors at 20 yards from a table rest, my first group measured 2 inches with Hornady 185-grain XTP. My second effort with Winchester Personal Protection 230-grain SXT went into 1.75 inches and the third, using 230-grain JRN CorBon Performance Match, gave me a four-shot group of an inch. Due to a range distraction, I had to stop for a few minutes and thus had to re-grip and re-sight for the fifth shot, which resulted in the final group measuring 1.5 inches.

I also stood up and put five more rounds of the same ammo into 2 inches using the 1-inch black square in the head box of the Warren Tactical reduced-size IDPA practice target. Having done this, I knew a few things, including that the match barrel was indeed match grade; the enlarged ejection port window, coupled with the well-tuned extractor, had empty cases consistently flying out and to my right rear; and I was having a very good day shooting. I also knew I should quit while I was ahead.

I turned the gun over to John Lysak, who took a seat and occupied himself shooting at bullet holes in the IDPA target. He was also having a good day with most of his shots just making his “target” hole larger. I’m now pretty well convinced that all of the Ed Brown’s 1911s are intrinsically accurate, based on this third example I’ve had for review in the last two years, all of which have given me similar results. The only variables are shooter, ammunition and lighting conditions.

Speaking of lighting, Trijicon night sights, which have a nice white oval around them, are dovetailed into the top of the slide. It has been given a matte finish for glare reduction, where they can be adjusted for windage. But in the foregoing precision shooting, I blacked out the rear sight inserts because, depending on how a light source strikes them, they are so visible they can overpower my ability to clearly see and focus on the less-illuminated front sight.

Final Notes
I called Ayoob and asked him about some of his choices. He told me he wants ambidextrous thumb safeties for when a left-handed student’s gun goes down in one of his defensive handgun classes. In that case, Ayoob wants to be able to lend the student his personal 1911. Ayoob also pointed out he has himself needed such a set-up when his right hand or arm was out of commission.

As to choosing the black-finished checkered G10 Micarta grips, he said he already has them on some of his other 1911s. They have a good gripping surface and afford a slimmer grip, which is a plus for those who have small hands. Additionally, the material is quite scratch resistant and complements the all-stainless-steel pistol. Not everyone wants a “salty-looking” carry gun.

Ayoob also told me he didn’t have many suggestions, since most of the features he would have suggested were already present on the Elite Carry Series pistols, thanks to Ed Brown’s over three decades of building 1911s for self-defense, home protection and competition. Ed was one of the top guns in IPSC action shooting back in the day. He does know his 1911s!

For more information contact: Ed Brown Products, Inc., PO Box 492, Dept CH, Perry, MO 63462; 573-565-3261;

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