I couldn't stand it and ordered one of Wilson's new Elite Tactical Magazines (ETM) for full-sized 1911 frames from Midway. Wilson currently makes ETM mags for 1911s in 9mm, .38 Super, and 45ACP.
The magazine on the right is the new ETM mag. It appears to be extremely well built and it is lighter in weight than it looks. I gave it a preliminary workout, running two full loads through it in my carry gun (aluminum Commander frame/Officer's Model lightweight stainless top end), a 70 Series Combat (steel frame and slide) Commander, and an old Wilson Accu-Comp IPSC gun (steel Government Model frame and slide with a six inch Bar-Sto Barrel and Wilson's big old one-hole compensator). It functioned flawlessly in all three guns including locking the slide back when empty.
Test procedure was as follows: I put eight rounds in the magazine, racked one into the chamber, dropped the magazine and replaced the chambered round, then replaced the mag. So, each sequence of shots started with the guns loaded with nine rounds. Unlike some other eight-round magazines I have tried, the eighth round is as easy to load as the first round and the magazine seats in the gun and locks solidly with no more effort than required for a seven-rounder. The nylon follower slides down in the polished stainless steel body as you add rounds with even pressure and no binding or detectable changes in spring loading.
The top of the follower is concave and shaped to cradle a round at just the right angle rather then flat or "domed" like those in other eight-round magazines (right). I assume this is where they built in some of the extra room for the eighth round. Wilson says the new base pad (below, on the right in the photo next to an old Wilson mag) is larger and more robust than those found on earlier Wilson magazines. The new ETM has a larger and more robust base pad than those found on earlier Wilson magazines. Note that the new pad has numbers across the bottom making it easy use a spot of paint to number your magazines) is designed to allow a longer magazine tube which gives the magazine spring more room in which to compress. The nylon follower has a cavity in its bottom that the spring fits up into, also giving the spring more room. Wilson also says it used a new space-age stainless steel spring material that will do its job for longer than cartridges will remain suitable for combat use--so no more worry about "resting" magazine springs.
If the older Wilson-Rogers and newer Wilson Combat magazines have a weakness, it’s the plastic bottom pad used to hold the magazine’s parts in place (right). The flat steel sides of the magazine tube are bent inward at right angles at the bottom and the plastic pads have grooves in each side that slide over these metal edges. There isn’t a lot of plastic “meat” above each slot and after a mere 20-30 years of use some of mine have split and even broken off, typically when I try to draw them from a new snug leather magazine pouch during practice. The pad on this magazine feels more resilient than hard plastic but not as flexible or slippery as the nylon material used for the follower. Wilson says it is nearly indestructible and was designed to eliminate problems like I had, and to eliminate breaking when dropped on a hard surface during competition.
I'm impressed enough to consider switching to a pair of these for carry. As soon as I have enough rounds through this one to trust it completely I plan to get another one. The only point I can see that might be negative for concealed carry is that any base pad extends the overall length of the grip. My carry magazines are already Wilson Combat seven-rounders with pads so it doesn't bother me.
For comparison, here’s a standard Colt 8-round metal base plate, an earlier Wilson 8-round plastic base plate and the new ETM plate. It is larger but it does not protrude out past the grips and the pad’s top is tapered to fit a tapered magazine well.
Adding a base pad increases the overall length of a magazine but the new ETM is no longer than a Wilson seven-rounder with a pad.
A look at the back of an ETM and its molded follower and an older Wilson eight-round magazine with a flat metal follower.
Two metal tabs prevent the follower from dropping out the bottom, but it can be tilted and removed from the top of the tube. This view shows the cavity molded into the follower’s bottom (including a molded-in U-shaped spring guide) that gives the magazine’s longer spring more room to compress.
The ETM’s tube (right) is slightly longer than that of an earlier Wilson 8-round mag but its base pad is designed with a recess that the tube slips into so its overall length stays the same. The ETM’s spring is considerably longer than the earlier version and has a 45-degree bend at its bottom that catches one of the bent metal tabs and makes reassembly easier. Wilson magazines have always been some of the easiest to field strip for cleaning.
text and photos copyright 2008 by the author, all rights reserved.