Photos by Michael Anschuetz
This pistol may feature both a long name and a long barrel, but if you’re considering a 1911 for hunting, target shooting or even as backup in bear country, then this gun might be the best option in Baer’s extensive lineup.
Long-slide 10mm 1911s are trending, but few are all that accurate. This one is. The Premier II Hunter isn’t a flashy pistol, and like the Nighthawk and the Wilson Combat, it seems to adhere to “black is the new black” dress code for modern 1911s. With that said, the Premier II is a purpose-built gun that combines 10mm power with Baer’s legendary hand-fit quality. Like the other premium guns listed here, its beauty is in the details.
There are simply too many upgrades and special features on this pistol to list them all, but here are some of the high points. These guns are built on Baer’s National Match-steel frames, slides using hand-fit barrels and stainless bushings. They come with a supported chamber and a 6-inch stainless steel barrel. Baer uses an extended ejector and lowers and flares the ejection port, finishing it with his in-house, high-gloss blue on the sides, and a matte blue on top. (You only get this level of gloss with a lot of polishing.)
Baer added a flat, serrated mainspring housing, Baer Black Recon grips, a low-mount LBC adjustable sight with hidden rear leaf, a green fiber-optic front sight (red is optional) and so much more.
The Premier II 6-inch 10mm Hunter is an absolute standout among other long-slide 10mm 1911s. All come with a slide that’s carefully fitted to the frame by experienced hands under discerning eyes. The hours of hand work, tuning and polishing by master pistolsmiths are what distinguish a Les Baer pistol from all others. No detail — from feed ramp polishing to fit and finish to bluing — gets overlooked.
The sample that arrived to G&A for testing was brand new. As with other Baer pistols we’ve tested, the slide was extremely tight. (That’s just how close these pistolsmiths keep their tolerances.) The slide itself required a few rounds fired to loosen up, and twice on the initial firing, the slide didn’t return to battery. After taking the time to thoroughly clean away all the excess oil and send additional rounds down range, the 10mm Hunter came into its own. Once broken in, the feeding problems smoothed out as the long slide began cycling.
Les Baer’s accuracy guarantee promises 3-inch groups at 50 yards with select premium ammunition. Based on how well the gun performed at 25 yards, it’s easy to see why Baer can offer up such a promise. The 10mm Hunter produced not only great accuracy, but very consistent accuracy. Most of the loads tested shot well, and there was little variation with the five loads tested in terms of overall accuracy. With a steady hand and a load that this gun likes, it will cluster shots just above an inch at 25 yards.
If you have shot a 10mm before, you know hunting loads produce ample recoil. But this 10mm Hunter remained quite manageable due to the gun’s 44-ounce, all-steel heft that helps mediate rearward force. The long slide and barrel keeps muzzle rise manageable.
The adjustable sights are both precise and easy-to-use. The rear sight is the old-school, bullseye target style that’s screw-adjustable for windage and elevation.
Baer’s Videki-style, three-hole trigger let the hammer drop after just 4 pounds. As you’d expect from a gun like this, there’s very little creep.
Each 6-inch Premier II 10mm Hunter comes with two, nine-round magazines and retails for $2,940. “For what you are getting with this pistol, you just can’t beat the price,” said Baer.
The recent uptick in the number of 10mm 1911s on the market has offered me an opportunity to shoot more 10mm than I ever imagined I would. And Les Baer’s is the best. It’s well-built, rugged, tight, smooth-shooting and very, very accurate.