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1974 Colt by Jim Hoag. This 1911 is a “master class” that Hoag made for legend Ken Hackathorn. The master class designation denoted the top of the line that Hoag had to offer.

Hoag built this gun soon after he left Kings Gun Works to open his own shop in Canoga Park, CA. The gun is fit with an NM oversized barrel/bushing, which were very rare and difficult to procure. Ken had a secret source—his buddy John Miller (US Army MTU). The more common practice of the day was to weld up the barrel lugs and hood, and then fit them to the pistol for a snug lockup. It worked fine but if someone were to shoot high volumes of ball ammo, the welds were prone to failure.

Ken told me a great story about this gun. Jim worked out of an industrial park so there was no place near him to zero pistols. To do so, he had to drive to Wes Thompson’s Juniper Tree Range, a long and arduous drive through LA traffic. He therefore normally left the front sights high so the owner could file them and zero the gun themselves. Imagine Jason Burton sending you a gun and saying “hey man you gotta zero this gun by filing the front sight.” Well Hack ordered this gun with a red insert front sight, so Jim bitched that he had to drive to the range twice to zero the pistol before machining the dovetail for it.

The gun is a work of art—low mount Bomar, hard fit NM barrel, two tone blue over chrome, handmade beavertail grip safety made by welding two pieces of steel to each side of the grip safety tang then filing and shaping it to its current configuration, skeletonized trigger, square TG, checkered fore and aft, dehorned Swenson safety, etc etc. It was featured in an article written by Cam Hopkins in the March 2011 issue of American Rifleman. It’s also featured in Patrick Sweeney 1911 book. This gun was made by a legend for a legend, then photographed and written about…by legends. It’s hard for me to fathom how Ken felt letting this go, but then I remember, we are just the stewards of the art. Finding African Blackwood grips by Craig Spegel completes the gun for me.


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