At 100 years old, and all but growing younger with each year, the 1911’s popularity seems on a perpetual rise. I am not surprised when someone asks my opinion of a new brand I’ve not heard of. In a world where polymer-based pistols have such a large market share, “Old Slabsides” has proven itself and stood the test of time as a premier defensive handgun.
In 2002, when Smith & Wesson announced they were “testing the waters” regarding a 1911 wearing their name, folks did double takes, stammered, and stuttered. Could it be true that S&W would build a 1911? In 2003, not only was it true but also the resultant 1911 was a good looking rendition of the old warhorse that ran like a thoroughbred, and the market gobbled them up. S&W followed suit by adding model after model to meet customer demand. I guess they found the waters warm. Of course S&W did not just produce “another” 1911, they added their own stamp to the design to make it their own. The SW 1911 includes an external extractor and a firing pin block system, as all S&W pistols do, along with all the expected accoutrements on a factory 1911 today.
Chemistry holds that a transition metal is “an element whose atom has an incomplete ‘d sub-shell’.” In the periodic table, titanium is a transition metal, and is the ninth most abundant element in the earth’s crust. It is also a transition metal, in another sense, for Smith & Wesson.
Of course S&W is no stranger to titanium, having used it to produce a ton of lightweight revolvers for a number of years. However, recently they have used titanium in their ever-burgeoning 1911 line to transition from the Schwartz firing pin safety system currently in use; not wholesale, mind you, just in one model—the TFP (Titanium Firing Pin) Model. They simply replaced the steel firing pin with one from a titanium alloy. At 45% of the weight of steel, though identical strength, titanium’s lower mass develops less inertia than steel.