Cylinder & Slide
BY: Rob Garrett
Photos: Ichiro Nagata
Marshall summed up the situation when he said,
"What this country needs is a really good
five-cent cigar." This quote is what
came to mind during a recent visit with Bill
Laughridge of Cylinder & Slide.
Laughridge explained that he wanted to offer a
custom shop 1911 package that would be a solid
duty/self-defense pistol for under $2,000.
In other words, a basic "go to war"
self-defense pistol that does not have to be
pampered to run, is user friendly, and has quality
parts. Bill and I spent several hours
discussing and debating what features had to be
included, what features should be included and
what could be left off. One issue Bill was
adamant about was there were to be no MIM parts in
the pistol! The end result is the C&S
Recreation and Defense, or R&D, 1911.
R&D turned out to be a full-featured, custom
shop pistol, one that came at an extraordinary
price, based on Springfield's excellent GI 1911A1.
In my experience and opinion, there are no better
entry-level 1911s than those offered by
Springfield. Their slides and frames are
forged, not cast, and the fit and finish is
consistently good. From their basic GI and
Mil-Spec guns to the Professional Model used by
the FBI, Springfield has something for everyone.
The shop starts with a
complete reliability job that includes throating
the barrel and polishing the feed ramp, breech
face and center rail. The factory extractor
is radiused and properly tensioned for positive
extraction. Bill then installs his own
C&S 24/7/365 Hammer, Sear, and Disconnector
Set for a consistent trigger pull of 4.5 pounds
when it leaves the shop.
short explanation is in order about why C&S
parts are some of the best offered today.
Every C&S hammer, sear, and disconnector is
cut from special alloy billet steel using a CNC
Wire EDM process and finished at a CNC machining
center. Each part is then heat treated to a
Rockwell hardness of 50 to 54c, which hardens the
part throughout instead of just a surface
treatment. The parts are individually
inspected and tested for hardness using a
certified testing machine. Each part
receives a small dimple made by the diamond
penetrator of the test machine. Every part
come with a certificate that documents the exact
hardness of that specific part. How good are
they? Bill offers a lifetime guarantee on
his parts so long as they remain unaltered.
One of the big secrets is
the quality of Springfield's factory barrels.
I found it significant that Bill says the R&D
is capable of 2-inch groups at 25 yards with the
stock barrel. The factory barrel is a
re-crowned to 11 degrees and a National Match
bushing is properly fitted to maximize the
accuracy potential. If necessary, Bill will
install a long barrel link to ensure that the
pistol locks up properly. A Wolff 18.5-lb.
recoil spring finishes out the inside work.
Externally, all corners and edges are rounded in a
subtle but functional manner. The
ejection port has been lowered for more reliable
ejection and the front of the port has been
relieved. This is an essential modification
that's often overlooked. Not only does it
enhance reliability bit it is also a safety issue
that allows a live round to clear the pistol in a
positive manner. A Novak Lo-Mount rear sight
has been paired with a C&S dovetail black
front sight. For those who press check via
the front of the slide, the R&D has cocking
serrations machined into the front of the slide.
For those who do not care for this option, the
R&D can be ordered without the serrations at
the customer's request.
frame receives significant attention as well.
The magazine well beveled and a C&S Tactical
Safety replaces the factory unit. Machine
stippling is applied to the frontstrap and
mainspring housing to provide a positive yet not
overly aggressive, gripping surface. C&S
has developed a method of applying stippling that
can be completed in half the time of hand
stippling. A Smith & Alexander
GBeavertail Grip Safety is installed
to allow a higher grip and prevent hammer bite.
One welcome accessory is the C&S solid
aluminum trigger that features a smooth face and
an overtravel stop. The smooth trigger will
not chafe the trigger finger during extended range
sessions. VZ Grips' slim line stocks finish
out the fame. They are CNC machined form
linen micarta and are then bead blasted to provide
a positive gripping surface.
Each R&D comes with two
C&S Extreme Duty 7-round magazines that are
equipped with a small Pachmayr bumper pad.
This allows for positive seating of the magazine
while maintaining a low profile for
concealability. These pads are attached with
screws to ensure they will not come off during the
rigors of competition or tactical use. This
also allows them to be removed if the need arises.
It is this attention to detail that sets C&S's
work apart. Form is dictated by function and
reliability. The entire pistol is then
refinished in a very attractive satin matte blue.
Presentation is a matter
that Laughridge has also considered. The
R&D comes in a reproduction Colt style chopped
board box. The lid has been stamped with the
C&S logo, Cylinder & Slide, and "CS
R&D 1911 45ACP". Bill inscribes
each pistol's serial number on the lid prior to
shipping. Opening the box finds the pistol
wrapped in the rust retardant wax paper, just like
the old days. In addition, each pistol comes
with a cleaning rod, bore brush and trigger lock.
Bill is big on educating his
customers and includes the original Springfield
operating manual along with a set of operating
instructions and an ammunition advisory.
There is also a 3-page technical bulletin on
proper lubrication that should be required
reading. This bulletin is an excellent
source of information on how to keep your pistol
running to ensure both reliability and long life.
This bulletin, along with others on proper
cleaning of a handgun, how to safety check a 1911
style pistol, and zeroing fixed sighted handguns
are available from C&S.
time with the R&D brought no surprises.
The pistol digested a variety of factory loads
without any problem. Those who handled and
shot the R&D were quick to comment on the
great feel of the stippling and slim VZ Grips.
On the first range trip, I was able to easily put
five rounds in a group the size of a quarter from
15 yards. The Novak/C&S sights are solid
black, which is a change from the three dot
tritium sights on my Springfield Professional.
They provided a crisp sight picture that my 50+
year-eyes actually enjoyed. Tritium inserts,
as well as gold beads, are offered as an option on
the R&D and most of Cylinder & Slide's
second more extended range trip was cut short with
one of the "scattered thunder storms"
summer in Georgia is known for. However, I
was able to run 15 different loads through the
R&D to check the reliability of the pistol.
These ranged from 230-grain ball to Winchester,
Speer, Federal, and Remington 230-grain +P law
enforcement loads. I was unable to benchrest
the R&D from 25 yards but managed to get
several off-hand groups that measured around 3
inches. I am sure the pistol is capable of
better. Toward the end of the day, I took
five rounds form each ammo represented, mixed then
up and randomly loaded them into seven magazines.
I then emptied each magazine as rapidly as I
could, keeping the shots in the Shoot-N-C bull's
eye at 10 yards. During this test, I
experienced one failure to feed and one failure to
eject. The failure to feed was from an old
Colt magazine, and the failure to eject was
shooter induced. The pistol ran perfectly
with the C&S magazine.
Upon returning home, I used
Cylinder & Slide's Dunk-It to clean the pistol
and disperse any water that had accumulated inside
the frame and slide. Dunk-It is an excellent
product used by military units that operate in
hostile and wet environments. It is
proprietary formula that displaces water, removes
loose debris, and loosens carbon and powder
fouling. In addition, it leaves a thin film
of lubricant on the pistol. It is also
excellent for flushing dirt and grit (along with
water), from magazines. As an added bonus,
every R&D will come with three-quarters of a
gallon of Dunk-It.
I am always looking for a
better range/gear bag. During the 2006 SHOT
Show, I had an opportunity to visit with Tim Tang
of Maxpedition Hard-Use Gear. Time was
helpful in sending me one of their Multi-Purpose
Bags for test and evaluation. The MPB is
shaped similar to an attache case in that it is
tall and narrow, measuring 14x10x6j inches.
If features 22 independent carrying compartments
to include an external document pocket on each
side and accessory pockets on each end. The
internal compartment has a hard divider that uses
Velcro attachments to hold a handgun, magazines
and other gear. A padded strap helps to
distribute the weight across the shoulder.
Most of my range bags are large rectangles that
can be bulky and awkward to carry.
I have used the MPD for my
range trips for the past several months an have
been very satisfied. IT is also ideal for
firearms and other related gear. Two larger
versions, the Operator Tactical Attache and the
last resort Tactical Attache, are available and
have similar features. These allow larger
items, such as laptop computers, to be carried.
Maxpedition products are well thought out, and
constructed to take the abuse of the real world.
So what is the verdict on
the R&D? I didn't care of the black
sights and bright C&S markings on the pistol.
To be fair, I received the first R&D to be
completed and since it was to be photographed for
this article, Bill etched the Cylinder & Slide
name and logo on the pistol after it was blued.
Future pistols will be etched prior to bluing to
reduce the profile. As for the sights, any
combination is available.
the plus side, I became very fond of the solid
trigger and appreciate both the retro appearance
and comfort factor. While I do not suffer
from an MIM phobia, I also appreciated the quality
of the internal parts and have no doubt that they
will last a lifetime. Every shooter
commented on the quality of the stippling.
Whatever "magic" cost in half, it works
and works well! I will be sending at least
two pistols to C&S for this treatment.
Cylinder & Slide has
established a reputation not only for quality
work, but for standing behind their pistols when
problems do occur. To his credit, Bill
Laughridge inspects every pistol before it is
shipped as well as taking phone calls from
customers on a daily basis and answers e-mails in
a reasonable time. This personal attention
and commitment to quality is what places Cylinder
& Slide, and the R&D, head and shoulders
above the others. The R&D is well suited
to wear Bill's famous mustache logo.
this article are reflected at the time of
printing. Prices are subject to change.