by David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
December 21, 2007
Last updated on 7/30/11.
Recently, DefenseReview published an article on custom tactical 1911 pistols built by Bob Marvel of Bob Marvel Guns a.k.a. Marvel Custom Pistols. It’s our understanding that Bob makes some of the most reliable tactical 1911 pistols in the United States, and thus the world, so we felt it was important to write about him and the guns he builds.
Since we published that piece, we’ve received two email communications (below) from an active duty Special Operations assaulter who carries and uses a Marvel Custom tactical 1911 pistol single stack (single-stack mag) operationally on missions in the Sandbox (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.). For reasons of OPSEC (Operational Security) we can’t disclose who he is.
The following email communications from, well, we’ll just call him “Operator X”, are presented in the order they came to me, oldest to latest. They have been sanitized (i.e. edited and redacted) for OPSEC, but are otherwise in the writer’s own (original) words. Here:…
Sorry it has taken awhile to get back to you but I have been busy as of late. Please use this email address to contact me with in the future. XXXX is way too slow for our system so I only check it once or twice a month. I would ask that you don’t use my name for security reasons and [section redacted].
I have a reputation as being one of the 1911 go-to guys and I always speak highly of Bob [of Bob Marvel Guns]. I would also like to ask that if I mention certain individuals/companies that you give them a pitch. There are alot of good patriots that have done a lot to help me out in the past and I would like for them to get some recognition.
I don’t know if Bob has told you how this project got started, so I will tell you my side. Bob was asking me my thoughts on a fighting pistol and we had many colorful discussions on the subject. I am also very good friends with Gary Smith from Caspian Arms, who have always taken extremly good care of me, both with parts and care packages when I am deployed but that is another story.
Bob and Gary got together and decided this was a good project, Caspian donated the frame/slide, Bob the smithing and all I had to do was pay for the parts, pretty good freekin deal.
Bob and I saw eye to eye on everything about how the pistol should be built except for the bull barrel. I am a bit of a traditionalist and wanted to go with a bushing. Bob persisted and we went with the bull [barrel] and I’m glad we did. One of the biggest advantages is you can disassemble the pistol without tools, very handy in a field environment. There is another advantage, but that is another story for another email. Bottom line is I’m sold on it.
Dave, got to go. I’ll write more when I get back.
“From: XXXX XXXX
Date: Dec 20, 2007 8:53 PM
Subject: Re: Thank you, and…Re: Marvel 1911
To: David Crane
This pistol is the most reliable I have ever used. The pistol has had very few stoppages and they were caused by dirty 10-round magazines. Dirty as in dropped on the range and kicked around in the dirt, dirty. The pistol is very durable and has been carried every day for a total of 11 months down range and counting. I also use it as my carry pistol when I am back home. Environmental conditions varied from 100 degrees to sub freezing. Snow, rain and of course the dust.
The dust here is the consistency of talcom powder. It is hard to describe the dirt to people who haven’t been here. It is very fine and gets into everything. Imagine being in a wind tunnel and someone dumping a vat of foot powder into the fan, and you are starting to get close. The pistol has been sand blasted by the rotor wash from the helos, and the dust from doing combat vehicle patrols, and never malfunctioned.
I have carried the pistol on my body armor and concealed under local clothes. So, it has seen a variety of uses.
Round count would be in the ball park of around 15,000. Almost all of those rounds were 230gr Winchester Match. Accuracy is great. I haven’t shot it off a ransom or anything but I get tight groups all the time.
I feel that a combat weapon should be capable of disassembly without the use of tools. Bob’s bull barrel allows that without sacrificing accuracy or reliability. A loose bushing does both. I have broken 3 bushings off of 1911’s, luckily I was on the range or at a match. Bob’s system is superior.
Next time we can discuss the sights and some of the other options we chose for the pistol.
Photo(s) Credit: Bob Marvel
Company Contact Info:
Caspian Arms Ltd.
75 Cal Foster Dr.
Wolcott, VT 05680
Scottsdale Gun Club
14860 N. Northsight Blvd.
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260