Alex Zimmerman and his team craft carefully handmade 1911 series pistols of many sorts. From the ground-breaking HOSS, a beefy, burly virtually indestructible “454 Cubic Inch-sized” 1911, to his attention-getting .50 GI guns — and to this elegantly lightweight, 18-round 9mm — Guncrafter spares no time or energy in making things exactly right. They also embrace, endorse and take advantage of new technology in materials and design to help them achieve their goals.
Alex has been chasing the 1911 design for 37 years now and the constant pressure he puts on himself to push the envelope for the basic 1911 design seems never-ending. That’s because it’s — how shall we say this — never-ending?
As Alex explains, “The Hellcat X2 came about by taking some of the best features from our single stack Frag and Hellcat pistols and combining those features with a hi-cap frame and grip.
“We took the design of the original Hellcat controls and BattleCrown muzzle treatment, then machined the Frag pattern into an aircraft-grade aluminum hi-cap grip. Presto, 17+1 rounds of 9mm of your choice.” I could “hear” him smiling on the phone — but he wasn’t done yet.
“Then we lightened the slide with a series of racy cuts, both for appearance and function. The lightening of the slide is important since the X2 is designed around the 9mm round. You see, with the slide of the 1911 being designed for the .45 ACP it’s heavier than ideal for the 9mm. Lightening the slide allows us to run heavier recoil springs, ensuring reliable function across the wide spectrum of 9mm loads.”
That’s something I’d not thought of before. If you’ve fired a steel-slide 1911 in 9mm you may have noticed the slide sort of goes “Ka-Chunk, Ka-Chunk” in recoil. It appears you can almost feel the various stages of the recoil cycle. Most function fine, but they do feel different from a .45. The lighter spring needed to allow the 9mm to cycle the heavy slide, also slows the forward snap of the slide back into battery as it picks up another round. I think that’s the “Ka-Chunk” you feel.
The lighter slide on the X2 offers a snappier action, for lack of a better word. The gun runs fast, cycles smoothly and goes into battery with a snick — not the “Chunk.” You can feel it and sense it immediately.
“For concealed carry,” offered Alex, “we offer a Commander-sized version with an aluminum frame and Tritium sights — your test gun. The empty pistol weighs 28 oz. and has that 17+1 round capacity.”
Yet, I noticed the grip frame is very manageable. Without separate grip panels to add girth, even my very average medium-sized hands fit comfortably with no stretching for the trigger. Eighteen rounds — and still reaching the trigger comfortably — is a new thing for me. When I was a cop, I was always the single-stack SIG P225 guy while most others carried the 16-round P226.