Photos by Michael Anschuetz
I consider The Ed Brown FX1 the most traditional 9mm 1911 in this group for no other reason than it features a single-stack design. But you’d hardly confuse this with Browning’s original. The FX1 combines a steel Commander-length slide with a steel Government frame.
While this pistol weighs an ounce more than the double-stack Nighthawk Falcon, when both guns are unloaded the all-steel construction of the FX1 is appealing. The FX1 represents a different trend. In 9mm, this gun’s full-size frame fills the hand making recoil negligible.
The frontstrap features functional FX Snakeskin checkering that personifies this gun, and the VZ Alien grips offer plenty of texturing for a secure hold.
On top, there is a ledge-style rear, .156-inch, U-notch sight and a fiber-optic front sight. Both are dovetailed into the slide. There is also a blended one-piece mag well and the 41/4-inch stainless steel barrel that’s finished flush with a recessed crown.
The most attention-grabbing elements of the FX1 are the finish and slide machining. FX1 pistols come with their own signature slide cuts, which include angular front lines that blend with the shortened, front slide serrations. Additionally, there are slide ports cut into the top, at the front of the slide. All the metalwork received Ed Brown’s new “Industrial” brushed finish that gives it a been-there-done-that look without looking worn out.
Rounding out this all-American pistol is the inclusion of machined stars and (13) bars at the right rear of the slide, a perfect tribute to the American flag. It’s an understated, but very patriotic detail. When Travis Brown showed John May, Ed Brown’s sales and marketing director, the first images of the flag serrations, May found it hard to believe that it was original. “How is it that no one had ever done those before?” May commented.
This is Ed Brown’s 50th year in business, and the company wanted to do something special.
“The FX1 is filled with unique, new custom features that had never been offered by us before,” said May. “Many of our customers and fans got excited when it was released.”
The brand’s popular Kobra Carry pistol is now 20 years old, and the FX1 seems to be a worthy successor. Aside from its looks, it is an accurate pistol. (It’s an Ed Brown. No surprise.)
The FX1 managed to produce groups under 11/2 inches with not one, but three different loads in our test — even with the second-shortest sight radius of any 1911s tested here. The Commander slide and Government frame offer plenty of gripping surface for large hands and balance for maneuverability of a 41/4-inch 1911.
The black, Videki-style aluminum trigger broke at 3 pounds, 12 ounces on our trigger gauge. We noted that there was very minimal uptake, as well.
The action was just as smooth, a product of obvious hand polishing and fitment.
The FX1 looks and feels like a premium pistol, and the barrel and bushing fit is without error. Magazine capacity for this single-stack Ed Brown is nine rounds of 9mm, but it also comes chambered in .38 Super and .45 ACP. The blended, one-piece mag well is large enough that magazine swaps can be completed quickly and efficiently, even though it’s narrower at the bottom of the frame than the two double-stack guns in 9mm.
The FX1 is a robust gun that sticks to the general 1911 recipe, but adds a few extra ingredients. It’s extremely well built and there were no issues with any of the loads tested.
Unlike the previous 9mms, one could argue that the Ed Brown FX1 is less of a specialized model. I carried the pistol concealed while running errands during the week of the test and found that it was comfortable to carry and disappeared beneath most light cover garments. It’s not too big for most to carry, but it’s large enough to shoot accurately with comfort.
The FX1 is well worth the money when you compare the top-shelf market for single-stack 1911s. Prices start at $3,875, but there’s a lot of high-quality craftsmanship and bench time in each of these guns that’s difficult to summarize to describe. With over 100 additional custom options, you can tweak your FX1 as desired to build the pistol of your dreams. There’s even one with a red dot.
Ed Brown FX1-SS-9
Type: Recoil operated, semiautomatic
Cartridge: 9mm (tested)
Capacity: 9+1 rds.
Barrel: 4.25 in.
Overall Length: 7.88 in.
Width: 1.20 in.
Height: 5.50 in.
Weight: 2 lbs., 8 oz.
Finish: Brushed stainless, industrial
Sights: Ledge-style, U-notch (rear); fiber optic (front)
Trigger: 3 lbs., 12 oz. (tested)
MSRP: $3,875 (tested)
Manufacturer: Ed Brown Products, Inc.,