Les Baer guns, with some exceptions, aren’t intended to be pretty. The build work goes into the “go,” not the “show.” This plain-looking pistol showed why it carries the price tag it does when it settled onto a Caldwell Matrix rest at 25 yards.
We used premium and economy ammo alike, ball to semi-wadcutter to hollow point, in the three most popular grain weights for .45 ACP ammunition. Going in alphabetical order they are:
Black Hills 185-grain +P Tac XP. Using the high-tech, all-copper Barnes hollow cavity bullet, this is an enormously promising load. The all-steel Government-size Baer pistol made the recoil quite manageable. Measured center to center of the farthest-flung bullet holes, and to the nearest 0.05”, the whole 5-shot group measured 1.70”. Four of those shots were in one inch even. The best three—a measurement taken to factor out unnoticed human error and give a truer idea of the accuracy potential of the given gun/cartridge combination—was an inch tighter than the whole thing, a mere 0.70”.
Wilson Combat’s 200-grain lead Match round is also labeled as the “Bill Wilson Signature Load.” It’s the Hensley & Gibbs 200-grain semi-wadcutter configuration, all lead and spec’d by its maker at 875 f.p.s. from a 5-inch barrel like that of the Hemi. It gave us an inch and a half on the nose for five shots at 25 yards. Four of those were in 1.15”, and the best three were in a 0.50” cloverleaf. Definitely “match accuracy.”
Winchester USA brand 230-grain full metal jacket, colloquially known as “WWB” for “Winchester white box,” may be the most popular factory round in this caliber that’s out there right now. Last I knew, it was the standard practice load for the .45s of LAPD’s elite SWAT team and Special Investigations Section. Surprisingly, this lowest priced ammo of the test turned in the best groups in every measurement. The entire five-shot group was 1.40”. The best four of those were under an inch, at 0.95”. And the best three were in a one-hole cluster that measured a stunning 0.35” center to center.
Needless to say, the Hemi passed the accuracy test with the proverbial flying colors. Take those sub-one-inch “best three” groups, extrapolate to double the distance, and we’re easily within the promised 3-inch grouping capability at 50 yards. The reliability test finished with those same flying colors. We used Baer’s own 8-round magazines, a variation of Wilson’s, and ACT magazines, and we experienced no malfunctions of any kind.
The Hemi’s “Ride”
In two days of carry outside the waistband in a Ky-Tac Kydex scabbard by Dave Elderton and an old leather Ayoob Rear Guard by Mitch Rosen worn inside the waistband, there were no surprises. The rounded edges of the BoMar-like sight didn’t “dig” or catch in either carry. Inside the waistband, with medium weight 5.11 polo shirt tucked in, there was no discomfort, but with the shirt un-tucked and the rough surface of the VZ grips against bare skin, about an hour of abrasiveness was all this old wuss could take. That sort of carry isn’t what those grip panels are designed for. The company’s website (www.lesbaer.com) shows numerous grip options.
With 38 employees at their new Iowa facility, Les Baer Custom is now backlogged to ten to fourteen months (as of March, 2013) on deliveries, due to the “buying frenzy.” They’re worth waiting for, and the Hemi is definitely worth its $2,396 manufacturer’s suggested retail price. See it at your firearms dealer, or for more information contact Les Baer Custom, Dept. OT; Tel.” (563) 289-2126; Web: www.lesbaer.com