Elegant yet functional, the new Colt Wiley Clapp Stainless Commander is everything you need and nothing you don’t.
An old school gun writer sometimes considered alongside such greats as Elmer Keith, Skeeter Skelton, Bill Jordan and others, Wiley Clapp has had a long and illustrious career in the gun industry. In addition to his many published works, Clapp served as a Marine during the Vietnam War and followed up his military service with around two decades of law enforcement experience as a deputy sheriff in Southern California.
This time and experience with firearms and their applications have left him with a lot of practical expertise and opinions regarding what works and what doesn’t. This is something Colt has capitalized on in recent years.
Taking advice from Clapp regarding specifications and design, Colt has produced an entire series of TALO dealer-exclusive 1911s bearing the prominent gun writer’s name. So far, this series has comprised of the Wiley Clapp CCO, the Wiley Clapp Lightweight Commander and the Wiley Clapp Government Model.
Now, for 2016, Colt is adding another pistol to the Wiley Clapp line, this one an all-stainless steel version of the Commander pistol. Designed with specifications input from Clapp, the new Wiley Clapp Stainless Commander is an elegant, custom-quality 1911 purpose-built for carry and defensive use.
Featuring a stainless frame and slide and a set of classy, tapered wood grips with fingerprint checkering, the Wiley Clapp Stainless Commander is a striking firearm. The tapered grips combine with the fingerprint checkering for an excellent feel in the hand, with the checkering offering enough grip without becoming abrasive and without the potential for snagging on clothing on the draw.
In addition to the fingerprint checkering, the Stainless Commander also comes with famed metal smith Pete Single’s checkering on the front and back strap. The checkering is 25 lines per inch (lpi) and is quite comfortable on the hands while allowing for plenty of grip. This checkering is complemented with a slightly undercut trigger guard and an upswept Beavertail grip safety, both of which permit a solid grip for stable and accurate shooting.
One of the more interesting design choices on the Wiley Clapp Stainless Commander is its use of a Novak Brass Bead front sight. Many of today’s pistols feature Tritium or a fiber optic front sight, but the brass bead pairs really well with the firearm’s Novak Low Mount Carry rear sights that feature a wider than normal rear notch. Target acquisition with the Stainless Commander’s sights is quick and efficient, with the brass bead serving as an easy-to-see reference.
A practical aspect of the Stainless Commander’s design owing to Clapp’s extensive shooting experience and background, the gun utilizes minimalist controls to keep the firearm as unobtrusive and carry-friendly as possible. In the words of Wiley himself at a recent Colt media event, there is “nothing you don’t need for defensive purposes” on the Stainless Commander.
The pistol features a lower profile thumb safety that takes up less space and offers a reduced chance of snagging when drawing from concealment. Instead of a larger flat switch for the thumb, the safety on the Wiley Clapp Stainless Commander is more akin to a slight knob that the thumb can flick off or on to activate or deactivate.
In keeping with the minimal approach to this pistol, at the rear of the gun there are practical, easy-to-grasp cocking serrations that allow for fast and smooth manipulation, even in stressful scenarios. Similarly, the slide stop lever and magazine are both lightly textured and easy to find when needed.
The new Wiley Clapp Stainless Commander will be available in 2016 as a TALO-exclusive product. It will be available for $1,259.
This handgun review appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of Modern Shooter magazine.