The cats at Wilson Combat and I have had a great relationship. To this date, I’ve written reviews of two different 1911s and here is another Wilson Combat. Reviewing a Wilson Combat 1911 is hard after the first time. How many words for “awesome” can you come up with? I like to point out problems and areas that can be improved upon when doing gun reviews, but there are none with the Wilsons. Luckily, this is not another 1911. The ADP is a completely different thing altogether.
When I saw the ADP at the 2006 SHOT Show, I was impressed. It looked better than the Stealth ever looked.
The ADP has been around for awhile now and under different names. It’s best been known as the Stealth from Heritage. If you don’t know Heritage, they are probably most famous for their line of .22 single action revolvers called “Rough Riders.” These are revolvers for those who wanted a Ruger Single Six, but saw the Rough Riders for only $150 and snagged one. Then they spend the next six months saying, “I wish I had splurged for the Ruger.” Where was I? Oh, the Stealth. The Stealth is a South African pistol that Heritage imported. The first time I tried the Stealth I found that it was disappointing and I didn’t like it. It was rough and nasty. They were cheap pistols for around $250. They were what they were and never really went anywhere.
When I saw the ADP at the 2006 SHOT Show, I was impressed. It looked better than the Stealth ever looked. I picked it up and felt the slide. It was as smooth as a puma. Wilson worked some serious magic on the Stealth. They smoothed out the action and the trigger, and they applied their Armor Tuff finish to it. The magic has really transformed the old pistol into something very good. I’m not just saying this because Wilson Combat is an advertiser for the magazine. I’m saying this because they took something that is average at best, and made it something fantastic (like taking your Mustang to Chip Foose for a makeover). At the 2006 SHOT show, from the Wilson Booth, this was the first Wilson Combat that I wanted to review. I was happy when the ADP finally arrived. Since it did, I’ve been packing it with great regularity, but more on that later.
The ADP is a simple pistol. It uses a gas delay system similar to the HK P7. Most automatics mechanically lock the slide to the barrel. When the gun fires, during recoil the barrel moves back with the slide, locked together until the internal pressure has had time lower down to safe levels. Then the slide and barrel unlock, and the slide continues back and ejects the spent case. Browning perfected this system. A gas delayed system bleeds off a little gas from the shot and uses that to hold the slide until pressure had subsided. This system allows you to have a pistol with a fixed barrel. This helps a lot of things, and accuracy is one of them. The P7 is a very accurate gun. The ADP is also a very accurate pistol. One thing this gas system does for you is make it one of the smoothest slide actions you will ever feel. Since there is no mechanical disconnect, there is no hitch in the action. The slide pulls freely to the rear and the only thing you feel is the weight of the recoil spring.
By the time you read this, Wilson Combat has already received a check for my test pistol. Not only have I purchased this one, but it has actually replaced my CZ P-01 as my CCW gun of choice.
Blowback pistols can also be this smooth, so this isn’t unusual in and of itself, but since this pistol isn’t a .32 or a .380, it is unusual. The striker system is also a bit different. Most blowbacks like a SIGP232 and a Beretta Cheetah have hammers. The only striker fired blowback I can think of is a Hi-Point, but saying the ADP is like the Hi-Point is like saying that BMW is like a Yugo because they both have four tires and run on unleaded gasoline. (Oh great, now I’m going to get messages saying that I should not knock Yugos and only review BMWs. I could happily live with that.)
For the P7, this system has one downside. The gun gets hotter than most pistols, and they heat up quicker. This isn’t a problem with the ADP, thanks to the polymer frame insulating things. HK did a quick and dirty fix by wrapping a piece of plastic around the frame where it gets hot and uncomfortable. Of course, the P7 is my favorite HK handgun. It’s brilliant. I think the ADP is right up there with the P7 in terms of being accurate and reliable.
Night sights came on my example and I’m guessing that these are standard. This is a good thing, as I think all pistols with this purpose should have them.
The trigger is strange. The pull is long and of moderate weight, but very smooth with no stacking. There is no break. It just sort of falls off all of a sudden, with no tick, no catch or anything that can pull your shot off of there at the last second. I’ve not felt a trigger quite like this before. If I could, I’d have it installed into all my DAO guns. Other gun makers take note. This is how it is done. This is probably a large contributor to the pistol’s accuracy.
I was surprised, even shocked by the shot groups this pistol was able to print. I did not expect this level of accuracy from a funky little compact polymer framed gun. This sort of accuracy is a welcome bonus to the other nice CCW qualities. The ADP also points naturally and right where I want it to point, exactly. Shooting it is fun. I’ve not had so much fun shooting a semi-auto pistol since “Duck Hunt.” Guns this small and light are not supposed to shoot this well. This is what full size handguns are for, right? Reliability was perfect with all ammunition tested. Ejection is consistent and uniform, another thing that is unusual for small handguns.
The pistol is light, slim, and smooth-sided…dang near perfect for concealed carry work. I say, “near perfect” because as small as it is, the length is a bit too long for universal carry. But I wouldn’t want this gun any smaller. I like it the way it is. This is a perfect alternative to a Glock 26 or an XD Subcompact 9mm. It would make a great ankle gun.
Thanks to the Armor Tuff finish, the gun looks good and will always look good. Wilson’s finish process gives the gun a coating that other guns wish they could have. I’ve talked about it in detail before, so I won’t here. Just know that this Armor Tuff finish allows this gun to work in areas where other guns would not like to go. Humid southern states or salty coastal areas with the gun worn under concealment all of the time? Not a problem.
The gun is not perfect and does have one wart that annoyed me during shooting: the magazines. While they work flawlessly, when loaded and during firing, the ADP gets a gap between the floor plate and the grip frame. The finger hook on the floor plate during recoil would wedge the gap wider. This is not anything that effected function or pinched me; it was just something I noticed that annoyed me, but not so much as the rattle of rounds in the magazine. I noticed that when I walk and carry the gun, there is a small rattle that I can hear. It’s a small sound, very slight, but when I’m walking down a hallway alone and quiet, it reminds me of a western movie when the hero walks down the street with his spurs on. Nice dramatic touch, but I’d rather have magazines that just stayed silent. These are about the only complaints that I have.
An other thing, not a complaint, but an observation: The safety lever is different. There is no slide release, and that isn’t a problem. But where a slide release would normally be, there is a safety lever, not like a SIG, but like a backwards Beretta. This is something that you are going to want to pay attention to and take some time to get used to if you should you decide to buy an ADP.
Now that is a good question. Should you get an ADP? I’ve got two words for you. Hell yes! It’s small, light, easy to carry, reliable and accurate…absolutely. Why not buy an ADP? Wilson Combat has done it again. They have taken something coarse and unrefined, and made it slick and civilized. This is Rob Zombie directing the Boston Phil Harmonic. This is Henry Rollins teaching sensitivity classes. This is an Australian playing James Bond. This isn’t something that happens regularly. While it worked for James Bond (for firearms), only Wilson Combat can pull this off. The really amazing part of this? The price is only six Benjamins.
A lot of guys are going to balk at that when considering that the Stealth was originally so cheep. Many balked at the price hike of the HS2000 pistol when it became the Springfield XD, but let’s look at it this way: How many CCM readers knew what the HS2000 was before? Wilson is doing the same thing here; adopting a worthy design, bringing it in, working it over and putting out a resulting product that you can finally trust and count on, which is backed up by a company with a solid foundation and history. That is worth the extra bucks to me every time. I still have a challenge for Wilson Combat to work over an AK-47. If you build it, I’ll buy it, Wilson. If you readers like that idea, contact Wilson Combat and tell them that you are with me on this!
By the time you read this, Wilson Combat has already received a check for my test pistol. Not only have I purchased this one, but it has actually replaced my CZ P-01 as my CCW gun of choice. Out of all of the guns that I’ve reviewed so far for Concealed Carry Magazine, not one of them has been adopted like this. I may have purchased other guns and loved to pack them around, but none have replaced my regular carry gun for more than the duration of the review process. None have become the gun that I reach for if I hear strange noises at night. We are starting an IDPA group out here where I live, and this is the gun I’m going to shoot with.
Photography by George.