Shooting the Watchtower Apache Double-Stack 1911

by Vern Evans

It is no secret that I am a fan of the 1911. As the son of a 30+ year Army veteran, the 1911 was simply something that was part of life. My father served at the end of WWII, in Korea, and Vietnam. In each of those conflicts and all times in between he carried a 1911 chambered in .45 ACP. With that, I learned that the 1911 was an essential part of personal protection. Fast forward a few decades and the 1911 landscape has changed dramatically.

Shooting the Watchtower Apache

While some 1911 purists will shout blasphemy, the modern 1911 is superior to models of the past. The driving force behind that is improved manufacturing processes. With many new 1911s, the fit is solid without being so tight that they are ammo-sensitive. This has also led to an offshoot of our beloved classic blaster. Enter the double-stack 1911. Many of these go a step further and are chambered in 9mm. One of the best in this double-stack space is Watchtower Firearms. Headquartered in Spring, Texas, and boasting premium, performance parts showcasing today’s most advanced technologies, they have a new pistol for us. Their offering to the double-stack 1911 world is none other than the Watchtower Apache.

The Apache double-stacked 1911 is precision-machined, boasting a robust pre-hardened 4140 stainless steel pre-hardened frame with a 416R stainless-steel commander 4.25-inch slide. The pistol is well made and feels like an extension of your hand with its wide, tactical-profile grips and an efficient double-stack mag well. It also has a medium-length, crisp 3-4-pound trigger pull and ambidextrous safety selector switches. The beautiful finish is Watchtower’s proprietary PVD (physical vapor deposition) coating on the slide, barrel, frame, and all major components. A corrosion-resistant permanent surface against saltwater and rust that is extremely easy to clean. The Apache follows the previous limited-edition PewView Apache.

Stainless Steel Frame

The new variant builds off a precision-machined, pre-hardened 4140 and 416R stainless steel frame. It features an integrated compensator and Clark/Para Ramped 416R Threaded Barrel. Deep slide serrations and a .75-inch compensator port deliver a striking appearance and performance upgrades. A wide grip and double-stack magazine round out the package.

While the Apache is beautiful, rare is the person that will buy a gun just to keep it in the safe, so testing was carried out just to see how well this Texas racehorse would perform. And perform it did. The fit of the gun allowed me to consistently shoot fantastic groups not only from the bench but from freehand as well. While some may believe the larger grip of a double stack will affect accuracy, I did not find this to be the case. In fact, double-stack 1911s feel very comfortable in my hands.

The pistol Watchtower provided me included a Trijicon SRO optic, which was a perfect fit. Two words came to mind as I ran magazine after magazine through the gun: smooth and fast. The trigger on my gun broke consistently at 3.5 pounds with a ridiculously short and clean reset. The recoil spring is a perfect match for the slide and with the weight of the gun, I saw a very minimal muzzle rise. While there is no blinking light on the Watchtower website that states this, the Apache is a competition-level pistol. My splits were faster than I have ever run, and my groups stayed on point.

Terrifically Triggered

The keys to the impressive performance of the Apache come down to three things in my mind. First is the exceptional trigger. As I stated earlier, it breaks clean and is light without being crazy. Second is the great recoil management. Watchtower uses the Dawson Precision toolless recoil system with an 8-pound spring installed. Third was the integrated compensator. This trifecta of design made the Apache an absolute pleasure to run.

Functionally, it ran well. I wanted to run a spectrum of ammo during the test, so I chose Federal 147-grain American Eagle, Hornady 115-grain FTX Critical Defense, and Blazer Brass 115-grain FMJ. The biggest complaint about early double stacks was a tendency to be ammo-sensitive. The Apache does not demonstrate that in any way. Understanding the Devil is in the details, Watchtower holds fast to a zero-tolerance defect rate and backs it up with a lifetime manufacturer-defect warranty. I will say however that I would not consistently feed this or any gun I own cheap ammo.

If you want to get the most horsepower out of this performance ride, you need to fill it up with quality fuel. My best group was 1 inch at 25 yards from a rest shooting the Hornady 115-grain FTX Critical Defense. In the competitive world, I am certain that carefully tuned hand loads would get even better performance from this gun.

Fabulous Finish

At the end of the range session, I still found myself just staring at the Apache. The almost mirror coating makes it unique and stunning. Like many of you, I had concerns about cleaning the gun at the end of the day.  This was not an issue at all. A key ingredient to Watchtower’s reliability is found in their PVD coating. Their proprietary coating process permeates metal to establish exceptional durability and ultra-smooth surface areas for easy cleaning and maintenance. The gun simply wiped clean at the end of the day and was gun shop shiny when I finished.

There is a great deal more than just the stars that shine brightly in Texas. “We are thrilled to bring the APACHE 1911 to the market. This pistol is the culmination of our commitment to excellence in firearm engineering. It’s designed for shooters who refuse to compromise on performance and precision,” said Jason Colosky, CEO, Watchtower Firearms.

The 1911 market has seen a resurgence of sorts as the market as a whole has grown. I am pleased to see this continued evolution. The Apache is a gun that can truly be appreciated by those who understand what goes into a fine pistol. When the day comes that you make the leap to buy one of these double-stack wonders, you can rest easy knowing that your gun will be built by serious people who know how much trust you are putting into them. I asked a question of myself out loud after running the Apache. Could John Mosses Browning have ever in his wildest dreams believed that this is where his incredible design would lead? I believe he would be proud.

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Watchtower Apache Specs

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Overall Capacity: 17+1, 20+1
  • Weight: 38.75 ounces
  • Length: 7.1 inches
  • Height: 5.25 inches
  • Barrel: 4.25 inches
  • MSRP: $3,990

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