Dating back to 2016 we've covered Tisas guns and generally found them to be of good value. The Zigana PX9 Gen 3 wowed us on the range, but it has been four years since we last reviewed a Tisas 1911. It's time for an update and there's no better subject for that than the new Bantam model.
"Bantam" is a name given to characteristically-small birds. In the fighting world it's a weight class for those that weigh less than I did in middle school. For Tisas it's a 4.25"-barreled 1911 that tips the scales just under 30 ounces. This is accomplished with a full-size alloy frame and Commander-length slide, both covered in tasteful lightening cuts.
As you can see in the tabletop video, the slide and frame have had weight removed without exposing the interior of the gun to elements. By shaving some steel here and aluminum there, the Tisas Bantam weighs less, looks great, but isn't "skeletonized".
What attracted me most to the Bantam was the use of the Ed Brown Bobtail, a smartly-designed mainspring housing that puts an angle on the heel of the gun. This reduces the tell-tale print of a 1911 under concealment, and equally-importantly creates space for hand meat precisely where a standard 1911 tends to dig against the hand.
Slide-to-frame fit is important with 1911s. It used to be that you wanted a gun to start tight and break in to smooth. It appears that's how the Bantam was made. Initial handling feels a little rough. The logic is that since 1911s seem to open up over time it's better to break in to smooth than to smart smooth and wear out more quickly. I've experienced this with my first pistol, a Springfield 1911 that I shot the snot out of while learning the way of the gun. It's now a maraca and although I still have it, it's retired from range use.
On the tabletop the Tisas Bantam presents itself like other Tisas 1911s have. Not a custom-grade fit by any means, but well made. What makes the Bantam interesting is it has the looks of a custom or specialty 1911.
Features from the product page:
- Custom Level 1911 Pistol from Tisas
- Available in .45ACP
- Hammer Forged Slide and 4.25" Barrel
- Commander Length Slide w/ Machined Lightening Cuts
- Aluminum Full Size Frame w/ Textured Front & Back Straps
- Features the Ed Brown Bobtail® Cut
- Durable Cerakote Black Finish
- Flared and Lowered Ejection Port
- Ambidextrous Safety
- Combat Sights, U-Notch Rear w/Fiber Optic Front
- Series 70 Internals
- Includes 2 Magazines, Cleaning Kit and Owners Manual
- Waterproof and Lockable Hard Case, w/ Fitted Cut Foam Insert
Pricing as of 14JUL22
Find the lowest price across the web HERE ($876.77 as of publishing)
The MSRP of $1,199.99 puts the Bantam in a unique spot that I think is a fair fit. Among other 1911s it certainly costs more than "budget" guns, but punches above its weight class in features. If we compare the features and design, builds similar to the Bantam cost twice as much or more. We know all that extra machining doesn't come cheap, so is the Bantam a budget build with extra attention on the aesthetics, or the advantage of foreign production?
You'll see in the range video how the Bantam performs and witness our first shooting experience with it. As with all guns reviewed, we run them out of the box for the worst-case scenario.
Ammunition seen in our Shooting Impressions video was made possible by our Patrons and supporters of our ammunition savings account through Ammo Squared. Additional, on-demand ammunition through True Shot Gun Club.
I believe this marks a time when our Shooting Impressions video may not accurately reflect the way a gun will perform after regular use. The tightness of the slide seemed to relax a little as time went on, but we still had an issue with Nosler's hot ASP ammunition at the end of the video. This may be limp-wristing, this may have been a magazine issue, or it could be that the gun isn't broken in yet. More range sessions will tell. It's unfortunate that the two included magazines both failed, but we knew going into this that 9mm 1911s can be very magazine dependent, and not all 9mm 1911 magazines are created equal. The rest of the magazines used in the video were all known to run fine in other guns, yet this gun didn't like some of them.
It seems to me that this is a gun that must be broken in. I'm sure that phrase is one that will rattle folks from the polymer-framed, striker-fired world, but sound familiar to those familiar with 1911s.
Is it worth the money? $800 can get you a basic 1911. To get anything else that looks like the Bantam you're looking at prices that start around $2,000. Paying around $1,100 for a 1911 that might need some break in and possibly a trigger job (if you want something lighter) still puts you below the cost of a custom-style build like this from anyone else. The tightness of the slide to frame doesn't scare me, I remember that from other 1911s. If it were built to be smooth out of the box the gun would wear out rather than break in. Even with an aftermarket trigger kit you're still well below the cost of a custom from anyone else.
I think the Bantam sits right where it should price-wise, and seasoned 1911 fans will appreciate the way the gun is built. If you've not known 1911s before, this is a good way to get the experience and still have something that looks good and is fun to shoot.
What Do You Think? I'm sure several of you have experience with 1911s. Do you prefer to buy with a smooth action but reduced service life or buy them tight and break them in?