December 29, 2022
By Joe Kurtenbach
Let’s face it, single actions are in and the more rounds on board the better. Credit Staccato for really reinvigorating a declining market with solid products, grassroots marketing and crucial adoptions in the “professional users” space. Against the odds, the company formerly known as STI has successfully shed its race-gun reputation and found a new home with elite law enforcement and discerning armed defenders. The return of high-capacity 1911-style pistols has been accelerated thanks to big-name introductions, including Wilson Combat’s EDC X9 and SFX9 lines, Nighthawk’s double-stack 1911s and, recently, Springfield Armory’s Prodigy – the first pistol in what promises to be a line of high-cap hammer guns.
Into this market, now welcome Oracle Arms, a new manufacturer with a slightly different take on the 2011 platform.
In both appearance and design, the Oracle Arms 2311 9mm pistol is a mashup between a hammer-fired double-stack 1911 and one of SIG Sauer’s polymer-frame striker-fired guns. It is a single-action hammer gun that marries a modular grip – expect polymer and alloy options – to a metal frame and slide assembly. It features an ambidextrous manual thumb safety but does away with the 1911’s grip safety. Also, following modern trends, the gun will ship with high-visibility, tritium-powered iron sights, but the company is also developing mounting plates for popular red-dot optics.
Unique to the 2311 is its use of SIG P320 double-stack 9mm magazines. Historically, STI-pattern magazines have been less than reliable, and also prohibitively expensive. In recent years, Staccato has solved the former concern, if not the latter. By using a proven, affordable and readily available magazine, Oracle avoids the issues altogether.
To accommodate SIG magazines, the grip frame adopts the SIG grip angle – slightly more vertical than a typical 1911. The 2311 also uses the reversible P320 magazine release. Paired with the bilateral thumb safeties and slide stops, the new Oracle gun is completely ambidextrous. Another SIG-inspired component is the P365-pattern external extractor. And a final departure from John Browning’s original design is the link-less, bushing-less action which still operates on tilt-barrel principles, but relies on camming lugs and barrel-hood lockup.
Oracle Arms plans to launch five configurations of the 9mm 2311: Compact, Compact Elite, Combat, Combat Elite, and Competition. We can assume the models will vary in barrel length, trim, and magazine capacity.
I was able to get some pre-release range time with the 2311 Combat model. It featured a 5” barrel, 17-round magazine and an all-black aesthetic. Notable were the pronounced thumb safeties, which had very wide shelves, and the large, flared magazine well. To me, these components were more competition- than combat-inspired, but tastes will vary. Also, being a pre-production prototype, the gun I was shooting may not represent the final design.
Overall, the gun was impressive. Feeding it heavy-for-caliber 9mm ammunition, the 2311 ran fast and accurate. This sample was topped with a Leupold DeltaPoint Pro and wore a Surefire X300 on the dustcover rail. Recoil was minimal and the slide tracked flat, which isn’t unexpected for a gun of this size and weight, but it was validation of its potential as a performance-driven duty gun or competition pistol.
Ergonomics were excellent, and the grip feels just a bit smaller than other 2011 designs, which makes sense given the trim P320-pattern mag. That’s a nice improvement, especially for those of us with medium-or-smaller size hands. The controls worked without issue, the safety having a positive “snick,” and the grip module includes “gas pedal” thumb ledges to help control muzzle rise and promote a strong thumbs-forward grip. It really was a lot of fun to shoot.
From my experience with the Oracle Arms 2311, there are a couple items to keep an eye on as the gun takes a run at production. First, the prototype still had some rough components, some MIM parts, and even a polymer 3D-printed magazine well. I’ve been assured that all of these issues will be sorted in the finalized design, and we can expect all critical components to be machined. The trigger, too, is worth keeping an eye on. In the shooting prototype, the pull weight was north of 7 pounds – not exactly playing to the single-action 1911’s strengths. However, I’m not holding this against the 2311, yet. Despite the weight, the pull was clean and I anticipate that finalized parts and fitting will go a long way towards achieving the intended 4- to 4.5-pound pull weight.
My biggest concern about this gun, and something I hope the company will address, is its disassembly. In my opinion, the Oracle Arms 2311 is not going to be a field-serviceable in the way a Glock or standard-bushing-style 1911 is. Here’s the caveat – most double-stack 1911 designs, and many single stacks, fall into this same category. Performing armorer duties during my time in uniform instilled a deep appreciation for tool-less disassembly on hard-use guns. Unfortunately, it’s just not a common feature among enhanced-performance pistols.
During my brief test drive, we didn’t have the opportunity to take the 2311 down, but it was explained to me that removing the bilateral slide stop would allow the slide assembly to be removed forward, off the gun. This can be accomplished either with a punch pushed from right-to-left, or a flat-head blade prying from the left side. My suggestion to Oracle: Find a way to stow a takedown tool onboard. For inspiration, consider the simple frame tool stored in the grip of Smith & Wesson’s M&P pistols.
Overall, the Oracle Arms 2311 is a promising new design. And, with prices starting around $1,700 – and spare magazines around $30 – it may be the most approachable of the double-stack 1911 contenders. The company’s challenge, of course, will be going from design to production. Anyone can make one gun, it’s a lot harder to make 1,000, and the still-recent Hudson H9 fiasco provides a cautionary tale in design versus delivery.
Oracle Arms will be attending the 2023 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, which promises to provide plenty of hype. Look for more coverage and a full review in the coming year to find out if the 2311 is able to deliver.
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