Michigan manufacturer creates wooden 1911 pistol made to John Browning's specifications
Las Vegas, Nevada - The eastern nob of Michigan is home to the city of Davison. With a population of just over 5,000 people, Davison qualifies as a prototypical American small town. Tim Bishop is Mayor, Jeff Putnam coaches the Fighting Cardinals football team, and Jennifer Torok oversees the budding of young minds of Hill Elementary School.
The little town just outside of Flint, Michigan has produced the likes of Navy Admiral Thomas C. Hart and Stanley Cup winning goalie Tim Thomas. It's also home to Wood Caliber — maker of wood grips and 1911s. Yes, that's right, wooden 1911s.
Made from a combination of Black Cherry, Black Walnut and Hard Maple wood, these 1911s are fully functional, exact duplicates of the actual gun.
"He's just a CNC genius," said Ed of Wicked Grips. "Funny thing is that he doesn't even own a 1911. It's just the gun that his grandpa had. And his work is so exact that the specs are exactly what John Browning followed when making the first 1911 back in the gun trials."
Now this isn't a gun you would fire. Would fire. Not that you couldn't fire it. Why is that? Because everything, everything is to spec.
"The trigger, the safeties, the slide, the extractor and springs — all of it is wood."
Funny thing is that the man behind the wooden 1911s, Bryan, isn't all that focused on producing the wooden 1911s. His focus, according to Ed, is on the grips for pistols and stocks for the high end bolt action crowd. But that doesn't mean he leaves anything to chance when it comes to replicating this icon gun.
"I'm a pistol smith," said Ed. "I build guns. This kid has smithed these parts together in wood. And the thing you have to remember about wood is that moves. Wood warps, wood bends, absorbs moisture and never stays in the same shape. Not only is he able to fit his pistols to pretty incredible tight tolerances, but every part is a working piece. His extractor is made out of wood. There are factories that can't do that with steel. They have to be tuned or fit and this kid makes it out of wood."
Taking the gun in hand, I pulled back the slide, aimed in a safe direction and fired. The click was right on schedule. Ed was all smiles.
"I tell you, he's got something there. It's not going to appear on the competition circuit, but you're going to see it somewhere."
I'm just glad I got to see it here at the 2014 SHOT Show.