Wilson Combat Carry Comp .45 dream-gun

Wilson Combat Carry Comp .45 dream-gun

John Taffin

Today my “gun” dreams are fueled–and my credit card kept red hot–by the catalogs of the greatest gunsmiths and gunmakers who have ever lived. As shooters we are privileged to have access to superb firearms that shooters could only dream about in the pre-World War II era. One of those gunsmiths/gunmakers is Bill Wilson and his Wilson Combat catalog is filled with the stuff dreams are made of. Or for those who deem it incorrect to end a sentence with a preposition–of which dreams are made.

How’d It Start?

Bill Wilson started as a gunsmith and then evolved into a gunmaker; actually he started not with guns but with watches. “The history of Wilson Combat starts back over 30 years ago,” explained Bill. “My dad was a watchmaker for over 40 years and ran a jewelry store since the early ’50s. His dream was always for me to follow in his footsteps and become a watchmaker and eventually run the family jewelry store. Only problem is I have never had any interest at all in watch making or jewelry; hell I own two Seiko watches which is the sum total of all my jewelry!

“Dad talked me into going to watch-making/jewelry-making school in Okmulgee, Oaklahoma, which I attended in 1973 and 1974. I really had very little interest in it, but managed to do fairly well. Some parts of this training were very helpful in working on guns, such as making clock parts from scratch including heat treating, and jewelry making which requires a lot of silver solder work. This precision use of hand tools easily transferred over into gun work.”

Learn As You Go

Bill continued: “I graduated from watch making school in 1974 and moved back to Berryville to work with dad in the jewelry store. As an incentive to get me in the jewelry business he agreed to let me set up part of the store as a gunshop, a big mistake on his part. As time went on I did less and less watch making and more and more gun stuff.

“Somewhere around ’76 I started shooting PPC with a state patrol buddy and actually started learning how to shoot a handgun. I got into shooting pins next, still with wheel guns, and did a lot of this in the late 1970s early 1980s. The PPC and pin shooting with revolvers is what really got me interested in pistolsmithing. I started doing action work on revolvers.”


“I learned about IPSC about the time of the Columbia Conference in 1976 and in September of that year, shot my first IPSC match at MPPL in Columbia with a 6″ Python (a 5-hour drive to shoot a 35-50 rd match! Is this dumb or what?). I shot my second match with a Browning HP and finally had my first .45 for the third match. I was hooked! This interest in shooting soon led to me working on my own gun. I customized two or three for myself and soon buddies were asking me to work on theirs too. I had the hand skills, all I had to do was learn the technical stuf.”


The background in the intricacies of watchmaking and the skill required added to the dream of building the best possible 1911s all came together to make Wilson Combat, which opened in 1978. Bill believes in building a gun that is 100 percent reliable out of the box and also in 100 percent customer satisfaction.

“Building custom guns is what brought us to the dance, but selling components is what really made the company grow,” said Bill. “However now things have come full circle and complete custom guns are where it’s at.”

Today in addition to some of the best 1911s in existence, Wilson Combat is also known for its Scattergun Technologies product line, providing custom shotguns; as well as a Tactical Rifle division offering custom rifles and accessories.

Carry Comp .45

I’m no stranger to Wilson 1911s, in fact I shot one of his .45 Comp Guns in the 1988 Masters Tournament. Two of my favored 1911s today are a Classic .38 Super and a Professional .45 ACP, and all of this now brings us down to the gun at hand, a Wilson Combat Carry Comp .45 ACR

The Wilson Combat Carry Comp is one of those amazingly-tight, no play whatsoever between slide and receiver .45s, while at the same time being 100 percent reliable out of the box. Eleven different loads, 10 of which were jacketed hollow points, weighing from 165 to 230 grains, both standard and +P versions, were tried and no matter what was placed in the magazine on the Carry Comp it fed and fired every load flawlessly. With a price tag of $2,800+ it had better be perfect–and it is.

Wilson’s competition 1911 in the 1980s was dubbed the AccuComp. To come up with the Carry Comp Wilson basically blends the Professional and the AccuComp with the Carry Comp having the same compensator at the end of the barrel as found on those early competition guns. It surely works, as the Carry Comp was easy-shooting with all loads tested. I did nothing to break it in except shoot it, and I also took it fight out of the box and put it to work.

Worth The Price?

The Wilson Combat Carry Comp is offered only in .45 ACE the one cartridge that has never really been bettered for its purpose. It has a barrel length of 4 1/2″, OAL of 8 1/4″, OAH of 5 1/4″, an empty weight of 38 ounces, and a magazine capacity of seven rounds. It’s built on a WC slide and frame and retails for half a sawbuck under $2,900, which is why it is totally reliable and functions 100 percent of the time right out of the box. The Dream Book, or Wilson Combat Catalog is only $5. It’s filled to capacity with virtually every 1911 component known to the mind of man.

The Wilson Combat Carry Comp is two-tone with a matte black slide on an olive drab receiver, both of which are Armor-Tuff finishes. The sighting system consists of Tactical Combat night sights with the rear being a melted Wilson Combat sight with a square notch and two white dots matched up with a front post tapered to the front and with a third white dot. Both sights are set in dovetail slots and adjustable for windage. In addition to the melted style rear sight, the entire package has been de-horned.

The grip safety is a Wilson High Ride Beavertail while both the front and back strap have been checkered 30 LPI. Many of the custom features cannot be seen. These include a Heavy Duty recoil spring, a Bullet Proof firing pin and extractor, Shok Buff buffers mated with the Heavy Duty recoil spring, total custom fitting of slide to frame rails, and a crisp, creep-free trigger measuring four pounds. The ejection port is lowered and flared back, the barrel is a hand-fitted Tactical Tapered Cone, the feed ramp is polished and the barrel throated. Finally, cocking serrations are found on the rear of the slide, and the hammer is a Skeletonized Ultralight #337 machined from S-7 steel bar stock.

Coat It Tough

Before applying Armor-Tuff, the firearm is blasted with fine-grit media, de-horned, and the surface prepped before being sprayed with Armor-Tuff, which is then thermally cured. Three satin matte finish colors are available, black, OD green and gray. Bill Wilson says a black top end matched with a gray or OD green lower looks “really outstanding.” The test Carry Comp came with a black top and an OD green lower, and his assessment is correct.

Armor-Tuff passes some unbelievable testing consisting of 1,000 hours of saltwater spray, 1,000 hours of saltwater immersion, saltwater testing equivalent to 30 years of marine atmosphere exposure, and 60 days of seawater immersion. Wilson Combat guarantees Armor-Tuff surfaces will never rust when subjected to normal use. It can also stand 24-hour immersion in just about any type of gasoline, paint remover and many acids; and on top of all this is not affected at temperatures from -250 degrees to +500, which means no matter how hot or cold it gets nothing will affect it. This finish also contains molybdenum disulfide which is another way of saying contact services are slippery. Working the slide on a Wilson Combat 1911 is almost a sensuous experience.

Put all this together and in fact the Wilson Combat .45 ACP Carry Comp shoots like a dream, actually better than one could dream of–or of which one could dream. Is it worth $2,895? How much are the lives of you and yours worth?

For more info, Wilson Combat, (870) 545-3618, www.wilsoncombat.com.

Test-Firing The Wilson .45 ACP Carry Comp 4 1/2″

5 Shots/

Load MV 20 Yards

Black Hills 185 JHP 911 2 1/2″

Black Hills 230 JHP 784 1 3/4″

Black Hills 230 JHP+P 899 1 3/4″

Cor-Bon 165 PowRBall 1,190 1 1/8″

Cor-Bon 165 JHP+P 1,168 1 5/8″

Cor-Bon 200 JHP+P 966 1 1/8″

Cor-Bon 230 JHP+P 924 1 1/4″

Hornady 185 XTPJHP 867 1 3/8″

Hornady 200 XTPJHP 804 2 1/2″

Hornady 230 XTPJHP 833 1 1/2″

Speer Gold Dot 230 JHP 809 1 7/8″

COPYRIGHT 2006 Publishers’ Development Corporation

COPYRIGHT 2006 Gale Group