“Why would anyone pay $2,500 for a custom 1911 pistol when standard 1911 pistols cost much less?” a buddy of mine recently asked. I was explaining the merits of the Alchemy Custom Weaponry Prime .45 ACP 1911 pistol that I had just picked up. It was a fair question, but we have our reasons.
Why a Custom Pistol?
In today’s world of computerized manufacturing, a large number of people still appreciate handmade products — especially American handmade! A handmade product imbues pride of ownership and is something you will care about for years to come.
That pride of ownership is one factor in why people purchase firearms from companies like Alchemy Custom Weaponry. You know that you are purchasing a handgun that a custom pistolsmith designed and built with incredible care and attention to detail.
Alchemy Custom Weaponry builds beautiful 1911s to be sure, but that is not the raison d’être for its pistols; it’s accuracy. Alchemy guarantees its pistols to shoot groups better than 1.5 inches in diameter at 25 yards from a Ransom rest. For another $250, you can bump the accuracy up to better than 1 inch at 25 yards.
Alchemy obtains accuracy in part through the use of a specialized barrel bushing that is hand-fitted to the barrel and slide. This provides the equivalent of a “hard fit” barrel bushing. The fit is tight enough that a bushing wrench is likely needed for disassembly — a small tradeoff for the accuracy achieved.
The barrel is also hand-fitted to the slide for tight barrel lockup. The tight fit means a bit more effort is required to retract the slide than the average “off-the-rack” 1911, but it results in long-lasting accuracy.
Alchemy Custom Weaponry Prime 1911 Specifications and Options
The Alchemy Prime is a full-sized 1911 built in the tradition of John Moses Browning’s enduring masterpiece. The enhancements are subtle and don’t destroy the original 1911’s lines.
Available calibers: 9mm / .38 Super / .45 ACP (tested)
Available finishes: Blued (tested) / hard chrome slide / hard chrome frame / full hard chrome
Front sight: No dot / white dot / tritium / red fiber-optic / red fiber-optic gold bead (tested)
Rear sight: Adjustable Novak (tested) / fixed Novak tritium / adjustable Novak tritium
Safety: Right hand / ambidextrous
Trigger pull: 3.5 to 4 pounds
Barrel: Match grade; 5 inches
Magazine: 8 rounds; two furnished
Frame and slide: Carbon steel / round-top slide
Other key features/options include:
- 25 LPI checkered front strap and flat mainspring housing
- Skeletonized hammer/solid trigger
- Beveled magazine well
- Checkered wood grips (four wood types currently available)
- Upswept beavertail grip safety
As I filled out the federal forms at my local gun shop for the Alchemy Prime, a number of the sales personnel stopped by to see my latest test gun. One of them — a big 1911 fan — is also an admirer of Alchemy pistols. As he checked out the Prime, he said that Alchemy pistols have the best trigger pull of any 1911, and their fit and finish is better than any he has seen. That’s pretty high praise coming from someone who has the opportunity to handle 1911s all day long.
I headed to the range with three different SIG Sauer .45 ACP test loads:
- 200-grain Elite V-Crown JHP rated at 918 feet per second
- 230-grain Elite V-Crown JHP rated at 830 feet per second
- 230-grain Elite Ball, also rated at 830 feet per second
The weather was 29 degrees with a blowing wind. I started the evaluation using the 230 Elite Ball load. While the slide required a bit of effort to retract, the first round chambered easily.
The day was also overcast, reminding me why I like gold-bead front sights. The bead stood out nicely against the target, centering well in the U-notch Novak rear sight. The first pull of the trigger surprised me a bit with its crispness (in part because of my cold hands). The checkered wood grips, front strap and rear strap helped me maintain control in the cold. Despite the Prime being tuned for accuracy, functioning was flawless. Testing was from the two-handed standing position.
The most accurate group I managed to obtain came from the 200-grain Elite V-Crown load. At 21 feet, I shot a six-round group that measured 1.75 inches with one flyer. Discounting the flyer, the primary one-hole group measured 1 inch in diameter. At 30 feet using the 230-grain Elite V-Crown load, I had an eight-shot group that measured 3 inches in diameter. Though it is nowhere near the Alchemy Accuracy Guarantee standards, it was the best I could do under the conditions.
If you want the pride of ownership that comes with a handcrafted custom handgun combined with extreme accuracy potential, look no further than the Alchemy Custom Weaponry Prime 1911. Price of the base level Prime is $2,595, with many options available to truly personalize it.
About Scott W. Wagner
Scott W. Wagner is a criminal justice professor and police academy commander from Columbus, Ohio. He has been a police officer since 1980, working as an undercover liquor investigator, undercover narcotics investigator, patrol officer, SWAT team member, sniper and assistant team leader. Scott is currently a patrol sergeant with the Village of Baltimore, Ohio, Police Department. He has been a police firearms instructor since 1986 and is certified to instruct revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun.