Gun Review: Carolina Arms Group “Trenton” Custom 1911

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Carolina Arms Group is a new company that opened for business in May of 2015. My introduction to this custom 1911 company was during the 2016 SHOT show. I’ve spoken with the owner, Mark, in person and on the phone numerous times.During our conversations it became very clear just how dedicated Mark, Dustin and the other team members are in making the best 1911 available. of course that’s a tall order with other custom gun makers like Wilson and Nighthawk. These guys are mostly military veterans and are very aware of what it takes to overcome a challenge and make a great product. All of the employees are 1911 guys and bring a lot of years of experience to the table with the 1911 platform.

Black Tactical Trenton with PVD coating.

Black Tactical Trenton with PVD coating.

This video interview will give you an idea of how dedicated Mark is as he talks about the materials and crafting of the Trenton:

If you don’t watch the entire video let me cover the materials used and the extent CAG goes to insuring the parts are of the highest quality. The slide is made from a billet while the frame is forged. All parts are wire EDM made. The fire control group which is the sear, hammer, ejector and strut are also Rockwell tested for the appropriate hardness. I checked this by disassembly of the pistol and locating the dimple on each part as a result of that form of testing. The slide and frame are hand lapped and fitted. The Kart National Match barrel is hand fitted to the slide as well as hand fitting the barrel and the bushing.

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In this photo you can see how closely and how uniform the fit of the beavertail is to the frame. The space between these two parts is minimal but still works smoothly.[/caption]
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The hammer is also highly polished and the edges smoothed. In fact all the corners have been conservatively smoothed on the sights and slide. The accuracy of each CAG 1911 is guaranteed at 1.5 ” at 25 yards.

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Forged Frame & Slide – Hand Lapped For Smooth Fit
Patented Kart Precision National Match Barrel & Matched, Hand-Fit, Machined Bushings
Custom Chain Link Machined Main Spring Housing & Front Strap
Machined Wide Ride Beaver Tail Grip Safety Blended To Match The Frame
Extended Thumb Safety For Better Control & Comfort
Wire EDM Hammer, Sear & Disconnector
Adjustable Aluminum Trigger
Machined Slide Stop
Custom VZ Grips
Crisp 4-Pound Trigger Pull
1.5β€³ Accuracy @ 25 Yards Guaranteed
Extended Thumb Safety For Better Control & Comfort
Range Bag With (2) 8-Round Magazines
Caliber .45 ACP
Height 90ΒΊ To Barrel 5.50 Inches
Weight w/ Empty Magazine 42 Ounces
Length 8.7 Inches
Frame Material Carbon Steel
Slide Material Carbon Steel
Barrel Twist Rate 1:16 LH
Recoil Spring 15 Pounds
Trigger 4 Pounds

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Every handcrafted 1911 pistol built by Carolina Arms Group is machined to exact tolerances and is meticulously inspected for precision and accuracy in our Mooresville, N.C. factory.

All Trenton 1911 pistols are stone-lapped, hand-filed, and fitted, then tested for accuracy in a ransom rest. Finally, our quality experts hand-fire them for feel and function.

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We only build heirloom quality 1911s that we would be proud to own. Our handguns elevate our shooting performance, protect our families, and will proudly be passed along to the next generation.

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Where did the name Trenton come from? The name selected for the CAG 1911 comes from the battle immediately following Washington’s crossing of the Delaware. You can read the particulars of the battle here: Battle of Trenton

Let me cover my experience with the Trenton over the few weeks I had it to test. When I first opened the included cordura range bag I gave the 1911 a good once over wiped it down and lubed it. The fit and finish are excellent. The slide has no play and feels smooth as glass when you rack the slide. When checking the slide to frame fit it was about as close to perfect as possible. I always check the rear of the slide where it meets the frame to check for uniform and even, cuts and fit. Another check I always make is how well the beavertail is mated to the frame. This 1911 beavertail is fitted as close and as uniform as any I’ve seen. These two areas are often neglected and poorly mated. The barrel hood and barrel bushing are another two areas to check. The bushing was well fitted and while snug was easily removed by hand. The barrel hood and slide lock securely with no play. All of the internal parts have been closely fitted and polished. The trigger is smooth with little takeup and a short reset. Trigger pull as measured was right at 4 pounds crisp.

Shooting on the range went well and confirmed the guaranteed 1.5 inch group at 25 yards. This was measured with a ransom rest. Hand firing showed the sights to be well regulated at the factory with 230 grn. ball impacting at point of aim at 15 yards. Of the 500 rounds fired I only had one round that failed to fire. I put this round in another 1911 I had at the range and it failed to fire as well. The round was an aluminum case 230 grn. ball. Otherwise the Trenton fired everything I ran through it from duty ammo of 185 grn. +P to the standard brass cased 230 grn. ball ammo in several brands. I was very pleased with the performance of the CAG Trenton.

The Trenton comes in black with a PVD coating, all stainless and a two tone blue slide and stainless frame. The just released model is called the “Veteran Carry” which is a Commander sized 1911 with a bob tail.

Veteran Carry

Veteran Carry

Check the Carolina Arms Group for additional information. Custom options are available. the MSRP for the base model is $3800.



Phil White

Retired police officer with 30 years of service. Firearms instructor and SRU team member. I still instruct with local agencies. My daily carry pistol is the tried and true 1911. I’m the Associate Editor and moderator at TFB. I really enjoy answering readers questions and comments. We can all learn from each other about our favorite hobby!


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  • ostiariusalpha

    πŸ€” Uh-hmm, it’s yet another handsome, expensive 1911. Nothing wrong with that if people keep wanting to pay for them. The 4 lb trigger got mentioned three times (twice in the feature list!), so that’s apparently a standout component. I do slightly wish that other vintage designs would get this intense devotion. The P-35 Hi-Power, Wz. 35 Vis, or even the Walther PP/PPK and the Remington M51 would be great candidates for fetishization.

    • Giolli Joker

      CZ-52 and Makarov would be on that list as well, for me.

      • Between the two probably the CZ would win for me anyway.

        • Giolli Joker

          Same here, but the Makarov should have its following as well. πŸ˜‰

          • Anonymoose

            The Mak does have a pretty good following, despite its detractors. It’s not a pocket pistol, but a compact belt pistol in the same vein as the original Walther PP, and it fires a pretty respectable cartridge.

    • I do love the old Hi Power. A little work on it and it makes a great slim easy to carry pistol. The PPK made in the 70’s and 80’s is a nice one as well.
      Yea i don’t mess with the feature list and as sure as i don’t mention the trigger pull somebody who didn’t look at the feature list comments I’m lazy for not listing the trigger pull:-) The trigger is darn good. Someone who knows what they are doing can make it the best trigger on any pistol ever.
      I can’t afford one like this but I can still appreciate the workmanship that went into it.

    • Harry’s Holsters

      I agree on the hi power. It’s a great gun!

  • Harry’s Holsters

    I’m based in NC and it’s great to see other high end 1911 makers here, but for that price I can get a Wilson with a lot more options for the same price. With the Wilson I have resale value and name brand recognition. A CQB starts at 3k and with the options I like $3800 is more than enough. If the trenton we $2800-$3200 it’d make it an easier choice.

  • Kyle

    To rich for me. I’d love to buy one though if I could.

  • retfed

    I like 1911s, and I don’t care how you spend your money, but isn’t it time we got over our infatuation with a Taft-era relic? You don’t see many souped-up Maxwells or Curtiss Jennys around anymore, because fashion followed technology in the auto and airplane industries. Why do so many people cling to a heavy, low-capacity, internally complicated, ammo-sensitive antique? Can you name another pistol, designed since the Titanic sank, that has a swinging barrel link?
    The army tried to dump it twice, but was prevented by money problems after WWI (all the money went into rifle projects), and by politics after WWII (the only fruit of the post-WWII trials was the S&W Model 39).
    And do you really want to carry a gun worth almost four grand for self-defense? If you ever have to use it, it will sit in a plastic bag in an evidence locker for God knows how long, with whatever fluids that were on it when it was picked up (water, blood, etc.) eating away at the finish and maybe the bore. In some jurisdictions, you’ll have to sue to get it back. But to each his own.
    I say this as a person who loves K-frame revolvers (McKinley-era technology), 1903 Springfields (a TR-era refinement of McKinley-era tech), and flintlocks (George III-era technology). But I don’t pretend they’re the be-all and end-all for self-defense.

    • Porty1119

      If it goes bang reliably and fires a sufficiently effective cartridge, I see no problem. Technological advances in firearms are highly overrated.

    • Nope not yet. I still carry one daily and don;t have any plans to change anytime soon.. That doesn’t mean I don’t like other pistols or revolvers. My summer pistol and sometimes backup is a SIG 938.

      • retfed

        You missed my point, which is that box-stock 1911s don’t “go bang reliably,” and in order to make them “go bang reliably” you have to customize them to a ridiculous price point. This 1911, which probably “goes bang reliably,” costs as much as six Glock 21s or 30s, six M&P45s, or two P220s (to stay in .45 ACP), and they are all just as reliable. In addition, I can’t see the point of spending four Gs on a tool that, if you use it for its intended purpose, will be taken from you, held indefinitely, and returned damaged, if at all. (Unless you like your guns with initials and badge numbers scratched onto them, at the very least.) A lot of people who carry, or advocate carrying, expensive, irreplaceable pistols for self-defense either don’t know or ignore the realities of the aftermath of a lawful shooting.
        If you want to spend four grand on a 1911, go right ahead. It’s America. This pistol is a beautiful work of art, and I appreciate that. But don’t pretend it’s the ultimate carry gun, ’cause it ain’t.

        • iksnilol

          Or like 500 which is the going price for an RIA:

    • Paul B.

      1911 still has the best fit for many people with smaller hands. Also has the best trigger of any service pistol by far. Some of us are willing to take a few more ounces, give up some rounds in the magazine, and spend some money to get those advantages.

  • Edward

    I’ve had the pleasure of firing several high end 1911’s over the years including these new pistols by Carolina Arms Group. I found these pistols soft shooting and extremely accurate. They have found an excellent balance with these and the care taken in fit and finish is second to none in the industry.

    • I couldn’t agree more. They told me in the near future you’ll see the front of the barrel crowned, top of the slide flattened and other options.

  • Billy bob

    For $3800 can I get it with a cashpat finish?

  • JoeC77

    I have the TC9 and can honestly say it’s the most accurate handgun I’ve had the pleasure shooting. The workmanship is top notch and really, who doesn’t love a 1911?

  • Jim Bowers

    I purchased a TC 45 in the spring and love it. Being a southpaw shooter, I prefer an ambi safety. My TC needed a little fine tuning on the ambi safety which was done at the first opportunity I had to go to Mooresville. I was offered to have my TC picked up and delivered at my house since I only live an hour from Carolina Arms Group but I opted to go myself. Customer service was above and beyond my expectations.

  • Christopher Mack

    I’ve actually handled the Trenton. It is as advertised and then some. Crisp trigger with a clean break and a tight tolerance build. Slide that is very smooth and glides along the frame. It’s also a plus that I got to talk directly to Mark. I like the company and what they stand for. I will be adding one very soon. Christopher Mack.

  • Shelia Harmon Akines

    I have to say that I honestly thought that I wouldn’t want anything bigger than a 9mm. However, that all changed when I shot my husband’s TC 45 that he purchased in the spring. After pulling the trigger that first time, I was in love! Does it pack a punch, of course, it’s a 45 cal. However, it is smooth when you pull the trigger…and extremely accurate. Let’s just say, I had to have one to call my own. The workmanship and craftsmanship that Carolina Arms puts into their products is outstanding!! Not to mention their customer service. I wanted a set of custom grips on mine along with the American flag engraved on my takedown lever. They picked my TC 45 up from the gun store, without me asking, and took care of both. Did I mention that my flag has all 50 stars in it?!?! Couldn’t be happier with my 1911!!! Definitely recommend it!!