First Look: Colt Wiley Clapp Lightweight Commander
This past November I was able to attend Colt's Media Day Event down at the legendary Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Arizona. While there, I was able to shoot some of Colt's new rifle and handgun models for 2017. Unfortunately, I was unable to talk about these new introductions publicly until back in January, just a little bit before the 2017 SHOT Show.
Since that time, I've discussed most of the new handguns debuting in 2017. The exception to that is the TALO-exclusive Colt Wiley Clapp Lightweight Commander, a lightweight, carry-friendly, Commander-style 1911 designed with input from respected gun writer Wiley Clapp.
For those who aren't familiar with Wiley Clapp, he's a writer who's published work in various firearms magazines and has authored and co-authored a number of books, including several for Gun Digest. He also served as a Marine during the Vietnam War and was a deputy sheriff in Southern California for about two decades following his service.
In recent years, he's been collaborating with Colt on a line of 1911-style pistols bearing his name, and the new Wiley Clapp Lightweight Commander is one of the latest designs he's contributed to. Clapp's motto of “Everything you need, nothing you don't,” shows up all over the page on Colt's website devoted to Clapp's namesake pistols, and this new Lightweight Commander definitely lives up to that credo.
The new Colt Wiley Clapp Lightweight Commander I shot at Gunsite comes with Colt's excellent Series 70 firing system, and to keep things lightweight, as its name suggests, Colt has gone with an aluminum alloy frame with a black anodized finish and a blued carbon steel slide. Total unloaded weight is right at 30 ounces, which makes it a good fit for all-day carry or for extended trips to the range.
As on some of Clapp's previous Colt 1911s, the sights on this Lightweight Commander consist of a Novak brass bead front sight and an extra-wide black rear notch for quicker target acquisition. Genuine Novak sights are widely viewed as some of the best in the business, and these were no exception. I generally prefer a bright fiber optic front sight, but I had absolutely no difficulty in acquiring and rapidly engaging the steel targets Colt had set up at the range with the bead/wide rear notch combo.
Like with other Colt Wiley Clapp 1911s, this one also comes equipped with oval grips with fingerprint checkering, a comfortable upswept beavertail grip safety and Pete Single's unique 25 LPI (lines per inch) checkering on the front strap and mainspring housing. These features all combine to result in a 1911 that looks fairly striking to the eye, and fits the hand quite well. Having shot both this new Lightweight Commander and the Wiley Clapp Stainless Commander, introduced in early 2016, I can say that the grips and Pete Single checkering are some of my favorite aspects of both designs, and really add a lot in the comfort department while shooting.
Being a Commander-style 1911, the pistol utilizes a 4.25-inch polished, stainless steel barrel and has an overall length and height of 7.75 and 5.5 inches, respectively. Width is the standard 1.25 inches, and the trigger pull is plenty sufficient at between 4.5 and 6 pounds. The gun also uses a low-profile thumb safety, similar to those found on other Wiley Clapp 1911s Colt has produced.
For more information on the Colt Wiley Clapp Lightweight Commander visit the Colt website, or check out the specifications below.
Colt Wiley Clapp Lightweight Commander
Type: Semi-auto, single action
Barrel: 4.25 in., polished stainless steel
Overall Length: 7.75 in.
Height: 5.5 in.
Width: 1.25 in.
Weight: 30 oz. (unloaded)
Frame: Aluminum alloy, black anodized
Slide: Blued carbon steel
Sights: Novak brass bead front, Novak black, extra-wide rear notch
Trigger: 4.5-6 lbs., solid aluminum
Grips: Oval with forward taper, fingerprint checkering, 25 LPI checkering front strap and mainspring housing
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