The extended thumb safety is ambidextrous — again a nice touch for the new left handed shooter, or a shooter who wants to use this pistol for self-defense (steady now, I will get to that part). There is a magazine safety, which, for a house defense gun, is a nice touch. In a household with young children, a round can be kept in the chamber of the gun, ready to rock with the safety on and the magazine kept in a separate location. Should the need arise the homeowner can grab the gun, slap in the magazine, and the pistol is ready to go — no need to even rack the slide, just snick the thumb safety off (from either side).
Speaking of charging the pistol and retracting the slide — and here is where I find a huge advantage for certain shooters who wish to use this pistol for self defense – the aluminum slide and lightweight recoil spring of the blowback action takes almost no effort to pull back and retract. In fact, when holstering in a tight fitting holster, you will want to make sure the slide is cocked and locked, or held in place by your thumb as you holster as it will not take a whole lot of rearward pressure to take it out of battery. This characteristic makes the GSG-1911 ideal for those with hand strength issues — the small-statured, the elderly and others.
The sights are adjustable — but not adjustable in what I would term the traditional sense. In fact, and I hate to admit this, but I had to read the directions to figure them out (not being a mechanical rocket scientist myself). The rear sight can be slid back and forth in its dovetail after loosening the set screw that holds it in place to adjust for windage.
Elevation is a different story. The pistol, along with the instruction manual and cleaning and disassembly tools, comes with two spare front sight blades of different heights to change elevation. Loosen the set screw on the front sight and slide it out of the dovetail. This is an important feature as the GSG-1911 I tested shot about 2 inches high and 2 inches right when using the 36 Grain Federal Hi Speed Hollow point ammo. Changing the blade to the tallest choice and adjusting the rear sight to the left did the trick — it was a relatively simple procedure and the pistol shot dead on. You may want to make this adjustment after you pick what will be your standard “duty” load.
Speaking of directions, keep them handy, while the GSG-1911 looks exactly like a 1911, it doesn’t take down like one, so read the directions first. Yes, it is fairly close, but there are some minor differences between it and a full power 1911. The slide release is standard size, the grip safety is of the beavertail variety and shields the web of the shooter’s hand from the skeletonized hammer and trigger. All these items are constructed of steel, along with the barrel liner. The guide rod is polymer, but so are the guide rods on Glock pistols. In my book, just about everything on this pistol makes it suitable for a wide variety of shooters. Now, let’s take a look at those who would benefit the most from owning or using a GSG-1911.