Yost-Bonitz 1* Enhanced built on Springfield Armory "GI" 1911
This pistol is a 1* Enhanced package as offered by Yost-Bonitz and
built on a stainless steel Springfield Armory GI.45 1911 (SA model #
PW5191LP). It came shipped in a pistol rug with a 1* logo patch on it
to match the marking on the rear of the slide. Over and above the
standard "Enhanced" package was the addition of a tritium front sight.
This particular pistol was built by Ted Yost himself as indicated by
the marking on the dust cover that says "Yost Custom" where most 1*
package pistols are marked "Yost-Bonitz". Ted Yost and Lew Bonitz have
since parted company, and Ted has formed a new company with Jason
Burton called Heirloom Precision.
initial break-in period and the occasional failure due to the pistol
just being filthy, it has performed more than adequately. Keep in
lubed, and clean it every thousand rounds or so, and it runs like a
top. Accuracy has also been more than adequate. I am not a bullseye
shooter, and this is not a bullseye gun, so it has met my expectations
with regards to accuracy.
Slide to Frame Fit Fresh out of the
box, the pistol has a slightly "gritty" feel when working the slide
back and forth on the frame. I do not believe that
much was done as a part of the 1* package to address the slide-to-frame
fit, and it feels in the way that the slide moves back and forth. It
doesn't bind, but it's not exactly smooth either. I'm not sure how
much this has to do with function. Many people
would say "as long as the gun shoots, who cares?" Since first
I will also say that the finish (or lack thereof) of the Yost gun is a
bit lacking. You will see in subsequent pictures that the matte
stainless finish is rusting in places. I am not a big fan of excessive
maintenance on firearms, and have a tendency to neglect them a bit. The
plain, bead blasted, finish on this pistol is not very resistant to
isn't to say that you can't get the gun teflon finished, or finished in
whatever hi-tec gun finish you like, but that would add $200+/- to the
cost of the gun.
Aesthetics The black grips on the
stainless gun just looks damn functional. It's a look I have always
found attractive. Of course, since the exposed stainless is not very
rust resistant, I think I will be getting the pistol refinished if I
plan on keeping it.
Slide Stop The
Yost stop is checkered and is, I think, one of their own so I don't believe it to be an
issue of the stock Springfield piece just coming that way. I honestly
don't have a preference either way; serrated or checkered. In theory
the checkered part should cost more, but I haven't found the difference between checkered and serrated to matter much to me.
Front and Rear Strap Both the front
strap and mainspring housing come with standard 20 LPI serrations. I
believe these are simply what existed on the original base gun. In any
event, the serrations feel good in the hand when I hold the pistol, but
have proven to do little in retaining the pistol. The recoil force is
up and back, and serrations that go in the same direction as the force
are of little use. This particular example is also rather sharp as it
came from Yost, making it even a bit uncomfortable. Additionally, this
pattern appears to be inclined to trap debris which aggravates the
rusting issue associated
with the finish (see pic below). I think that I would prefer 20 LPI
serrations to 30 LPI checkering if these issues were corrected (less
sharp, better pistol finish), but as is it's the front strap I like the
Front Sight I opted to "upgrade" the
basic 1* Enhanced package with the addition of a tritium vial front
sight. The vial is circled in white, which I prefer to one circled in
silver. As a general
sight, I much prefer those circled in white to those circled in silver,
as the white is easier to pick up in the daytime.
Rear Sight The rear sight is one of
their own design, and is similar to many of the other modified
Novak-style rear sights. I chose to skip the tritium rear and had I
opted for the tritium rear on the Yost it would have
put it over the $1800 mark. Viewed from the rear, I greatly prefer the
serrations and non-busy
sight picture of the Yost. I find it much less distracting than the
weird recesses and angles of a standard Novak. The Yost notch is also
wider, which makes for quicker shots. I have heard some say that this
affects long-range accuracy, but I'm not concerned with that kind of
accuracy in a carry gun. In profile (see the general pics in post one
of the thread) I also
really like the Yost. The notch of the rear sight leaves a small shelf
use in one handed manipulation.
Magazine Well Bevel Part of the 1*
Enhanced package is advertised as a "beveled" magazine well. It didn't
really deliver what I was/am looking for. I would have
liked to see the metal at the outside tapered to be much thinner,
almost a knife edge. The bevel here is not like that, and I understand
has to have some meat there otherwise it would become damaged. I am not
a fan of extended magazine wells, although adding one to this pistol
may be an option for others. In general I found the bevel at the
magwell on the Yost to be too long
Front Strap “Points”
I don't know what the proper terminology for this part is, but I know
that on stock Kimbers it pinches the hell out of me. It was a point (no
pun intended) of concern for me when buying (sight unseen, mind you)
this pistol. In fairness, I got bit by an Ed Brown shortly after
buying it, and conveyed that to the Y-B folks and made sure they knew I
wanted to be certain that these parts were relieved when I got their
gun. These pictures are probably not taken at the best angle for what
to talk about, but you can look at
the front strap and mag well pictures also to get a better idea. The
area has been relieved, and it hasn't bit me, but I think
that the little bit of extra rounding would have been nice to have.
Honestly, if I had my way, they would all be cut in a straight line
like they are when an extended magwell is installed. It's distracting
as hell when you catch the meat of your hand in there by mistake when
performing a reload.
Thumb Safety In general I prefer a blended thumb safety. I have heard the argument
in the past that this weakens the part, and it does. However for me it
is a trade-off and it's worth the slight weakening to get a comfortable
firing grip. With that said, I do think that it's possible to
over-blend the safety and take away more material that is necessary. I would say
that the Yost has a good, gentle slope
with a little material removed from the top.
See pics above and in "Front & Back Straps" section. Grip safeties should be blended to the frame to make them as
comfortable as possible when holding the pistol in a firing grip, and
to ensure that they are engaged when one wishes to fire the pistol. The Yost could stand to be blended a bit better. The pics
above are of the grip safeties fully depressed, and you can see a pretty
ugly gap between the safety and the tang.
I don't believe that extractors need to be "timed" (i.e. fit so tight
that they can't rotate or “clock” in the slide) for reliability and
wouldn't want a gun that did require it, so the fact that this pistol
shows some degree of rotation in this part is a non-issue for me. The
only thing that really bears mentioning here is the large gap in
the slide to ejector. Like the gap in the grip safety,
I do not know if this has any effect on reliability or function, but it
bugs the hell out of me. I assume that when Y-B bought the Springfield
(I didn't send them the gun) it came like that from the factory. The
difference here is that I trusted them to go over the gun before they
began work on it to check for things like this and they obviously
didn't. Had I purchased the gun myself to send in I would have chosen
another example, but Y-B proceeded to do $1300 +/- of work on a
Barrel to Feedramp Fit
I tried to get a good picture with the slide on and the gun
completely assembled because I don't think that the views below tell
you much. The real test is how the two parts meet up when the gun is
firing. I couldn't get the right amount of light down there the day I
was photographing, so I may have to try again later. You're just going
to have to make due with the pictures below and take my word for it. The barrel appears to sit a little further
forward when the gun is assembled than they do in the pictures below.
If you went just off of the pictures below, I would say that the Yost
appears to have a very smooth transition.
Muzzle & Bushing Yost evidently at least makes an attempt to protect the
barrel by what at first appears to be an almost recessed barrel crown.
In fact, this is achieved by the thicker barrel bushing. I do like the
fact that the bushing is beefed up, and I really couldn't care less if
they achieve the near-recess by cutting down the barrel or extending
You can use the pictures below, as well as the ones above to judge the
level of bevel for yourselves. This sample is somewhat hit-or-miss when it comes the bevel, and is the
shallowest of the three and the least consistent.
Barrel The Yost maintains
the stock Springfield part. I would generally prefer to get away from
the Springfield two-piece barrel but obviously this would drive up the
price, and the pistol has functioned fine to date with no visible
cracks or problems.
Had you asked me before I got into 1911s, I would have told you that a
lowered and flared ejection port was critical to the function of a good
fighting 1911. Having now owned and fired several varieties, I'm not so
sure. The Yost appear to function just fine with only the
flare and because of this, I
actually now prefer the non-lowered because (much like the thumb-safety
post) I prefer more material when it's not necessary to remove it.
However the "flare" on the Yost appears to be almost a
tease. While it appears to be sufficient for function, it almost has
that "why bother" look to it. It's so subtle, in fact, that I had to
visit the Springfield Armory website to be certain that it wasn't a
Opposite to what happened with my belief in lowered ejection ports
(which I did a 180 on), my belief in extended magazine release buttons
has been confirmed and I find that the
bevel of the Yost part is strangely easier to engage than that of the
more squared profiles from other makers.
High Cut Front Strap
I don't want a 1911 without a high cut front strap. I paid extra for it
on the Yost as it's not standard with the 1* Enhanced. I found it
interesting that all makers and gunsmiths appear to have a distinctively different way that
they cut the front strap. You can see it fron one angle in the pictures
in the "Magazine Release" post and in profile below. I have to say, I really don't know which one I like the best. Judging
by the pictures alone, I like the Yost the best. It is nicely rounded
and leaves a good amount of material around the magazine release. It also feels
VERY good in the hand.
I dislike wood on firearms, which gives the Yost an automatic
advantage. Also, as previously stated, the Yost
does sit well in the hand and feels relatively thin thanks to the
grips. Interesting note. I pulled the grips on the Yost and installed
them on another pistol to see
if putting the grips of one made it feel like the other. It did. It
appears that the Yost grips are not as wide as the wood grips from the
other pistol, but are
very nearly identical in thickness. I would not have thought that the
width of the grips would affect the feel of the overall thickness of
the pistol, but it obviously does. I tried another set of
polymer/micarta/whatever grips on the other pistol as well and found
felt the same. Sure enough, they were the same width as the Yost grips.
I would greatly prefer a pistol with no slide markings at all. I missed
the boat on the Rock Rivers back before they marked their slides, so
now I prefer minimal markings. This is entirely an aesthetic thing, but
it's also a matter of not wanting to seem to "poseur"ish. While I suppose I do
only have "one-ass-to-risk", I don't do it on a daily basis and try to
avoid doing so whenever possible. I don't know if these guys are naming
these things to try to market them or what. Of course, "skinny-ass
over-educated project manager" probably takes up too much room on the
slide anyway. The Yost has a lot of markings, largely because Springfield made the gun
and put their markings on it, and then Yost worked on the gun and put
his markings on it. Yost would have omitted the markings if I wanted
them to, but because of the following I'm kind of glad I kept them.
Virtually every 1* pistol I've seen has been marked "Yost-Bonitz
Custom" on the starboard side dust cover yet,mine is marked only "Yost Custom", and from what Jason Burton at
Yost-Bonitz has told me, it's because Ted himself built it. More on
that later. The Yost also has all of the stock Springfield markings. I won't
comment on them too much, except to say that Springfield marks their
guns in way too many places and with way too little attention to
detail. Yes, it's a production gun, but it would be nice if they could
press the serial number in with an even pressure (see pics below).
An evaluation of triggers can be broken into two sections. First is the
hardware itself, and second is the function and “feel”. For some
reason, I dislike the "speed trigger" holes and am glad that this gun included a solid trigger. I just think that
something could get caught in those holes, yet they don't serve any
purpose. In terms of pull, the trigger actually has a bit of creep, but nothing I can't live with.
One of the criteria that everyone always wants to know about is
accuracy. I find this to be somewhat of a non-issue, and find that only
truly horrendous accuracy would be worth commenting on. If a true test
of accuracy was desired, the tester would need to fire from a Ransom
Rest or some other form of vice in order to remove as much human
interference as possible. Suffice it to say that the pistol is more
accurate than me, and more than accurate enough for what it is supposed
a fighting gun.
Reliability At the first range
session with I fired 192 rounds through the gun. The slide failed to
lock back on an empty magazine 3 times, and
never with the same mag twice. It failed to chamber the first round off
the magazine twice, each time from a different magazine. It also failed
eject the last round from the chamber 4 times in the 192 rounds,
crushing the empty case.
I spoke to Ted himself when I called to complain about the initial
malfunctions. He appeared to be somewhat disbelieving at first, and
said that I should use the ACT/Novak mags that they shipped with the
gun. Eventually he did offer to pay for return shipping for me to send
the pistol back, but I declined since I wanted to shoot it some more
and see if it fixed itself. Time, and ammo, proved to be the cure and
after getting broken in it has offered me no trouble to speak of.
What all of this ultimately comes down to for me is bang for the buck.
Even if the Yost gun was just as reliable, just as accurate, just as
comfortable in the hand, etc., it still had a gritty feel to the slide,
gaps in the grip safety, a gap in the ejector, a much less durable
finish, a lower quality barrel, etc. For my money, if I can get the
same performance in a high-end production gun as I can get in a low-end
semi-custom PLUS the production gun is just better put together and
nicer looking, I'll take the production gun. I just don't see what the
Yost gun has going for it that the other two don't, and I see a whole
lot that the other two do have going for them that the Yost gun doesn't.
all of that said, the Yost has CERTAINLY broken in well and is now my
favorite 1911. I find myself reaching for it, in it's matching black
Versa Max II holster, more often than any other gun in the safe.
Whether it be for carry or for shooting, it's the one I grab. Now I
just need to see about that refinish as it's damn hard to keep from