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A Tale Of Two Turks: We Pit a Pair of Turkish 2011s Head-to-Head

Written By Tom Marshall and David Lane

Great guns on a budget are few and far between. Often, they only seem like good deals just to disappoint you when they spontaneously self-dissemble after 500 rounds. 

While an ultra-budget 2011-style pistol didn’t seem likely just a few years ago, the market for double-stack 1911s at an entry-level price points is growing exponentially. Turkish gunmaker Tisas is responsible for two such product lines: the B9R DS, sold under their own banner, and the 1911 DS sold by Military Armament Corp, or MAC.

MAC 1911 DS 9mm

We had high hopes for the MAC 1911 DS and, as such, did our best to treat it like a rented pack mule at an estate sale. From being beaten up at 2-Gun matches and getting dragged through the dirt, to firing hundreds of rounds in single training sessions, to being fed Russian steel case ammo improperly stored and hoarded since before the pandemic. If this pistol weren’t a masochist at heart, it would report us to the NRA for firearm abuse.

Though it’s manufactured by Tisas, MAC’s 1911 DS was designed in the United States. 

Because of this American influence, the specs are a bit more in line with what you might expect a good 2011 to have — 4.25-inch bull barrel, 25LPI checkering on the front and back strap, M1913 light rail, RMR pattern optic mount, flared magazine well, ambi safety, and uses standard STI pattern 2011 magazines. It ships with two Tisas branded 17-round mags made by Check-Mate. 

For budget-friendly 20-rounders, Springfield Armory sent out a few of their 140mm Prodigy magazines. The LGS also had a 26-round Prodigy mag so that got added into the mix.

Ammo was a mix of 115gr MagTech Steel case and 124gr Blazer all provided by AmmunitionToGo.com. The MAC was also fed a few boxes of old Wolf steel case as well.

FIT AND FINISH

1911/2011 people know that fit and finish is king. A huge piece of the price tag on high-end pistols is due to the time and expertise required to spend 20, 40, or even 100 hours or more hand-stoning a top-tier gun.

The MAC doesn’t have any of that. This is a factory pistol and doesn’t pretend to be otherwise. While MAC doesn’t use MIM parts, they’re not hand-fitted either. Slide-to-frame fit is about on par with other Tisas 1911s, meaning that it’s OK. Tighter than a Glock or SIG, but not tight by 2011 standards. That being said, it isn’t so loose as to induce malfunctions or allow excess dust or grime into the working bits of the gun. 

Mounting a red-dot optic is easy and just requires removing the iron sight-only plate and replacing it with an RMR-cut plate included in the box. Sadly, the irons on the MAC are a little short, and even with the low-ish sitting deck of a Holosun 407c, the irons can’t be used effectively with a RDS. Once we changed the Holosun out for a Lead & Steel Pandora PB-3 on a Strike Industries RMR to ACRO plate, the iron sights were totally invisible.

By our count, this gun has seen slightly over 1,000 rounds now, and it’s been a champ. Zero malfunctions of any kind. Normally, we wouldn’t even clean a gun in the first 1,000 rounds just to see how it held up, but the MAC 1911 DS got dragged through the dirt pretty badly at a 2-Gun match. 

Because of that, this got a field strip and a wipe-down about halfway through the 1,000 rounds. Even with getting dragged across the range like a cartel informant, the gun still ran. 

The most basic requirement of a good gun is that it needs to work, and the MAC 1911 DS clears that bar with room to spare. As for being a good 2011-style gun, let’s just say it needs a little end-user love. 

Out of the box, the trigger is crisp, but damn heavy by 1911 standards at about 5 pounds. The nice thing about a 1911/2011 is that adjusting the trigger is extremely easy and requires just a punch and hammer. After 30 minutes of watching an Atlas Gunworks trigger adjustment video and fiddling with the trigger, we got it down to about 3.5 pounds. 

Something else worth noting is that the MAC comes oversprung, meaning the recoil and main springs are just a bit more powerful than they need to be. This doesn’t cause any problems and arguably improves reliability across a wider range of ammo, but it doesn’t give that greased-pig-slick feeling when you rack the slide like a properly sprung 2011 will give you.

The Tisas mags work outstandingly well, with zero problems of any kind. But the 20-round Prodigy mags were, at first, extremely hard to seat with the slide forward and the mag at capacity. This was just a spring issue, and after leaving them loaded for a week, they seat just fine. Both brands fed and ran perfectly.

The least impressive part of the MAC is oddly not any of the metal parts — it’s the grip. Checkering on the front and rear is fantastic and gives your hands a solid lock on the gun. The sides, while they look textured, are effectively smooth and offer zero grip. It’s very strange how they look like they should be giving your hand something to work with, but when you run your finger over it there’s just no bite. 

The magazine release is also unimpressive and smooth. While checkering on a mag release isn’t required, it’s a nice touch. But at this price, it’s understandable that it was ignored.

TISAS B9R CARRY

The Tisas house gun we got was their B9R DS Carry. It’s a mouthful of alphabet soup to say out loud, but the punchline is the, “Carry” part, meaning this one sports a Commander-length 4.25-inch barrel. Fit and finish is, again, on par with the price but on the higher end of what we’ve seen come out of Turkey in the past. Considering that Tisas builds both guns, we expected them to be identical clones but wound up with some interesting differences.

The optics cut on our Tisas sample was for the Holosun K/RMSc footprint, rather than the RMR. So we mounted a Holosun EPS — a seemingly simple task that took a little more effort than we’d hoped.

The optics cut on our slide was extremely tight. Tight enough, in fact, that it took a sizeable chunk out of the front of the EPS housing before it would actually seat into the cut. The folks at Tisas told us the optic had to be situated completely level to get mounted. Even with that, it still cost us a gnarly gouge but, for better or worse, the EPS came on and off much more easily after receiving an involuntary contour job.

While the full-size MAC pistol was able to accept an X300-A very well, the shorter dustcover rail on the Tisas B9R Carry would not take either an X300 or TLR-1 at all. The locking lug on both lights sits completely in front of the rail. We were able to fit a TLR-7A but left a gap between the back of the light and the front of the trigger guard. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a 2011/TLR-7 light-bearing holster to check if this would affect carry. 

One pleasant surprise was the trigger. The Tisas website lists the trigger at 4.75 pounds out of the box, but our test sample tripped the pull gauge at 4.5 pounds exactly, and consistently. While this is still a pound too heavy (at least) by 19/2011 standards, for a sub-$1K pistol produced offshore, that’s perfectly respectable. This gun got another eyebrow raise out of us when we took it apart for inspection and were relieved to see that the slide release lever rides on the barrel foot, as opposed to the link. 

For the uninitiated, here’s why that matters: the 1911 barrel has a rotating link on the bottom, which fits into a lower lug — sometimes referred to as the foot. In original USGI 1911s, the link sat directly on the slide stop pin. Some time later, gunsmiths began fitting their hand-built 1911s so that the slide stop actually rested on the foot, instead of on the link itself. 

Not only does this enhance accuracy by forcing the upper barrel lugs more securely into the locking grooves inside the slide, but it also removes any load-bearing responsibility from the tiny pin that holds the barrel link to the barrel. A slide-stop pin that rests on the foot makes for a better and more long-lived pistol, but it requires extra fitting on the part of the manufacturer, so it’s not always a given. We applaud Tisas for taking this small but mechanically significant extra measure in their production process. 

The grip module was very similar to its stablemate, with 25 LPI on the front and back straps and a more conservative sculpted texture on the side panels. 

The grip is a nice medium size that should fit most hands — a nice change considering that many American-made 2011-style grip modules tend to run on the chunky side. There’s even an integrated mag funnel and a subtle-but-definitely-present double undercut along the bottom of the trigger guard. 

As with the MAC, we had no issues with feeding or function over several hundred rounds. We were surprised at the amount of snap, even with 115-grain range fodder. But, like the MAC, we’re firmly convinced this is a matter of over-springing.   

THE “TURKKATOS” WE NEED

The firearms market is already filled with esoteric niches requiring you to spend insane amounts of money, but it just feels wrong that the 2011-style pistol market is one of them. The 1911 was designed for the military and quickly became the everyman pistol of Americans for decades.

While the 2011 was a redesign built for competition, it seems right that the 9mm double-stack 1911 should supplant the old .45 ACP 1911 as one of the go-to pistols for the average shooter.

With the introduction of budget-friendly guns like the MAC and Tisas, we just might see that start to happen. 

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