The November, 1987, Guns & Ammo magazine
included an article by the late Colonel
Jeff Cooper, founder of Gunsite,
entitled “The Serious Pistol”.
The article claimed “It may be the ultimate defense
gun”. In this
article, Cooper described a custom gunsmithing package that the
Gunsmithy, the on-site gunsmiths at Gunsite, at his request, had
developed to turn a standard GI 1911 Government pistol, at the
time the only truly commercially available 1911 pistol
configuration, whether it be Colt or otherwise, into a fighting,
defensive pistol with a singular purpose: to stop fights. The basic principles of this fighting pistol, the Gunsite
Service Pistol (GSP), as the article states, were a few upgrades
to the standard GI 1911 pistol, namely “the fitting of a
trigger that can be managed, sights that can be seen, and a 'dehorning
article further expands on the work performed by the Gunsmithy
to achieve the standards of the GSP.
This started quite a long run for the Gunsite Service
Pistol, from 1987, when it was published, well into the early
2000s, and then to a factory produced Colt Gunsite Service
Pistol, available at the Gunsite Pro Shop until recently.
Many years have passed since this article,
when Colt GA 1911s were the only real available choice for
commercially available government models.
Springfield Armory, who supplied the parts kit to the
Gunsmithy for the GSP project, quickly started making and
introducing commercially available pistols.
Others, like Kimber, Auto Ordnance, Rock Island,
Remington, Ruger, etc… all came along in that same timeframe.
A little-known fact is that executives from Kimber spent
a good bit of time at Gunsite in the mid-1990s understanding the
work they were doing on the GSPs and using this knowledge to
launch their Custom Classic line of 1911 pistols, their first
entry into the 1911s back in 1997.
One of these recent newcomers to the 1911
pistol market is Tisas,
a Turkish company, that is being imported by SDS Imports, in
Knoxville, TN. Tisas
started making pistols in 1994 and, a few years ago, partnered
with SDS Imports to improve the quality of their guns, and
develop a direct import channel into the US market.
SDS sent their engineers and product experts to help
Tisas build better guns. In
a discussion I had with Dave Biggers, who was at that time head
of Sales & Marketing at SDS, I learned that SDS has at least
one of their engineers at the Tisas plant, in Turkey, at all
times to help ensure quality of their product and meet SDS’
strict quality standards.
A quick on-line search of SDS Imports’
catalog will reveal their impressive portfolio of 1911
Government pistol offerings.
In fact, I reviewed
one of their Bantam 9mm pistols a while ago.
One of their available models is a strict
throw back to the original Colt GI 1911-A1 government model.
While this gun is a great entry-level gun into the 1911
platform, it is also a very good base gun for customization.
Here’s where things get interesting, and
history starts to repeat itself.
During the last Shootists
Holiday, an invitation-only industry organization with an
event held annually in Raton, NM, during a breakfast
conversation, Dave Biggers brought up the topic of wanting to do
a tribute to the Gunsite Service Pistol using one of SDS Imports
GI models. He
wanted to have the current Gunsmithy at Gunsite, David Fink, of Fink’s
Custom Gunsmithing, perform the work and was seeking input
on how to scope the project work.
He even asked for some ideas on what to name the project.
Being a collector of Gunsite history and memorabilia, I
shared with Dave that I had quite a few original Gunsite Service
Pistols in my collection, some from very early, while some from
later in their history, and that I would be happy to show the
guns to the talented gunsmiths at Fink’s to help inspire them
and scope the work. While
the conversation was great, we had to adjourn our breakfast to
ensure we made the mandatory 8 AM safety briefing at the range.
During the short drive, my mind was going over the
discussion and, not more than a few minutes after the safety
meeting ended, I sought Dave out and said to him “I’ve got
it: Fink's Service Pistol” and the tribute now had a name!
Enter the Fink's Service Pistol.
month or so later, after an initial delivery of base guns was
received by Fink’s, I made the short trip up the hill from
Phoenix to Gunsite with 6 or so original Gunsite Service
Pistols. 5 were
Springfield Armory guns, just like the one Colonel Cooper wrote
about, and one was an Auto Ordnance.
Yes, there was a time when parts from Springfield were
not available, for various reasons, and the Gunsmithy made
around 10-20 Gunsite Service Pistols on Auto Ordnance base guns.
The purpose of the trip was to provide the gunsmiths set
to work on this project with hands-on experience with the guns.
While the sights and trigger are fairly easy to replicate
from pictures, the “dehorning job” required hands on.
By hands on, I mean getting hands on the GSPs and feeling
the smoothness of the grip frame, grip safety, and thumb safety.
All of those being properly smoothed is an integral part
of the GSP package. This also included the detailed tracing of the GSP letters
and font that the Gunsmithy inscribed on the slide of the
completed pistols, after test firing and approval by Colonel
Cooper, in order to replicate it on the project, though as an
FSP…Fink's Service Pistol.
final package is as follows:
Gun: Tisas 1911 A1 US Army model
fit and install Wilson Combat 6BN thumb safety, matte
bead front sight (Novak dovetail)
Match U-notch rear sight (Novak dovetail) regulated at
and reliability package (polish feed ramp, set barrel
throat, polish chamber, tune extractor)
oxide satin duty finish, "FSP" engraving on
A few months went by and I received a call
from David Fink that my test pistol was ready.
After another short trip up the hill, I had the first
prototype pistol in my hands.
Fitted with the factory brown plastic grips, it came with
in a black hard plastic TISAS/SDS Imports case which included a
basic cleaning kit, instructions manual, lock, plastic bushing
wrench, and 2 standard 7-round magazines.
It definitely looked the part of a service pistol, one
that is there to stop fights.
It is a very close replica of the original GSP package,
with just what you need and nothing you don’t.
I eagerly took the pistol to the range and,
as expected, it did not disappoint!
As advertised, the sights were well regulated at 15
yards. I fired a
number of different factory 230-grain FMJ loads and all
performed quite well. I
also fired various self-defense JHP loads without any trouble. I even did a few mag dumps with JHP ammunition and the pistol
performed flawlessly. Accuracy
was definitely acceptable for self-defense standards, for which
the pistol is designed.
The factory de-horn job was well done and
made a huge difference in managing recoil.
Whereas standard factory guns always result in not only
hammer bite in the web of my strong side hand but also usually
result in hot spots at best, cuts at worse, from the grip
safety, this gun felt great.
After an extended shooting session, I didn’t experience
any hammer bite or unusual wear and tear on my hands.
During my testing, I had the opportunity to
try the new Never
Unarmed 1911 magazines.
These are stainless steel, 8-round, magazines designed
for reliability. Throughout
my testing, I had absolutely zero problems or malfunctions using
these magazines. They performed as designed and are priced very competitively
($18 as of this writing in May, 2023).
As of this writing, Finks’ Custom
Gunsmithing has around 20 pistols already built and ready to go,
with more in the queue to be built.
The package price retails for $1.299.99,, which is quite
reasonable considering the custom work that is provided with
you are looking for a practical, no frills, self-defense pistol
that is reliable, as well as a great tribute to the original GSP,
the Fink Service Pistol (FSP) is the next generation in the
evolution of the serious pistol!
Fink's Custom Guns:
Gunsite Academy: www.gunsite.com.
Tisas USA: www.tisasusa.com.
Lynn Thompson's Never Unarmed®: www.neverunarmed.com.
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