A Working Gun


by R.K. Campbell

photography by R.K. Campbell

July 5th, 2007




There are working guns, showpieces and mules. The piece featured in this report is a working gun. Nothing flashy this little pistol at all, but it works just great. I am always looking for a good carry piece to write about. While I have a number that have stood the test of time, I am perfectly willing to consider an upgrade. Most of my concealed carry pieces are Officer’s Model .45s, Champions, or the occasional Commander. After too many years in a strenuous occupation and a couple of near disasters involving our protein-fed ex con criminal class, I prefer a pistol that is lighter on the hip then the Government Model .45.

Recently I have tested, adopted, and carried a new pistol that has proven to be one of the better compact .45s I have tested. The pistol is a Lipsey’s exclusive. The High Standard Company offers several renditions of popular High Standard .22s and also a top end .45 Government Model, the G Man. In this case the High Standard name has been licensed to a Philippine import and offered only through Lipsey’s.  The High Standard Crusader is a loaded pistol in many ways. The Crusader features Novak sights, an ambidextrous safety, a well designed beavertail safety, a lowered ejection ports, and a very decent four and one half pound trigger compression. All of this adds up to a good pistol at a fair price. The Crusader is not as inexpensive as some of the GI pistols, but it is a very modestly priced pistol considering the features.

When I first hefted the Crusader, I examined it as I do all 1911 pistols. I racked the slide and tested the fit of the locking lugs and link. The pistol is tight and whoever is putting these pistols together knows a lot about final fit. There are simply no rough spots. I had high expectations of the pistol and to be frank I had taken a chance on this pistol. I have had excellent luck with the Rock Island Armory pistols and the Armscor Medallion but I have not had the best of results with other Philippine produced 1911s.  I wondered if there was sufficient finesse to produce an improved pistol. As it turned out the Crusader is a very good 1911, regardless of price.

I carefully lubricated the piece and headed to the range with a representative sample of ammunition and magazines. I included in the kit a number of Wilson Combat magazines. While best known for their government type magazines, Wilson Combat also offers a very compact eight round magazine for the Officer’s Model. As I have come to expect from Wilson Combat, this magazine performed flawlessly. The original Novak flush fit magazines also functioned well.

I began the test with Fiocchi 230 grain ball ammunition. This is a reliable accurate load that gives good results. I use this economical resource often in testing new pistols

There were no break-in malfunctions of any kind. I have several very reliable handguns on hand that suffered a minimum of break-in malfunctions during the first one hundred rounds or so. We are beginning to see new 1911s that are tight but do not require a break-in. While a break-in period is part and parcel of the 1911, High Power, Kel Tec and a few other quality handguns, a pistol that comes out of the box shooting is just fine. The Crusader’s Novak sights are pure Novak of course, high visibility and very fast on target. The sight picture is good and the sights well regulated for ten to fifteen yard defense shooting. I used a quantity of Fiocchi ball and also the 200 grain JHP and the 230 grain JHP with good results. The 230 grain Fiocchi is faster than most loads using this bullet weight and recoil was there but so was the slap on the target. Overall, the pistol gave a fine showing.

Over time I have used my favorite handloads using the Magnus 200 grain SWC hard cast bullet over enough Titegroup for 800 fps with good results. I have used a wide variety of jacketed hollow point and flat point lead loads with good results. There have been no failures to feed, chamber, fire or eject. All who have fired the pistol have been impressed. Practically accuracy is good and the pistol handles much like a Government Model. Of course it is about twenty per cent lighter so recoil is there. At moderate range the pistol is fast on target. While not as accurate in slow fire as the Government at longer range, I have fired slow fire groups of three to four inches at twenty five yards, showing the pistol has more than adequate accuracy potential.

I have adopted a Crossbreed holster for deep concealment with the Crusader. The Crossbreed is simply that, a cross between rigid Kydex for retention and leather for comfort. I have come to appreciate this holster very much in our humid southern climates. I have also adopted the Wilson Combat eight round magazine. This magazine offers flawless function and a full Government Model capacity with little in the way of bulk. The supplied Novak magazines work just fine and fit flush but for a little extra firepower the eight round Wilson Combat gets the nod.

After some study - and I do not regard .45 hardball as a bad choice - I have adopted two loads for general duty. One is the Cor Bon PowRBall in 165 grain. At well over 1,000 fps, this load offers perfect feed reliability and reliable expansion. Another choice that offers a better balance between penetration and expansion is the Cor Bon 160 grain DPX ‘short barrel’ load. At about 1080 fps from the Crusader, this is a serious load that offers penetration in the ideal range. The Crusader feeds this and any other wide mouth hollowpoint of good quality.

Overall, I am impressed. I have enjoyed good results with other Philippine produced 1911s, including the Rock Island Armory guns and the Armscor Medallion.

But I have suffered poor results with another line of Philippine pistols. Since the Crusader seems to be based upon the Rock Island pistols, I was confident of good results. After well over six hundred rounds of full power .45s without a problem, the Crusader gets a clean bill of health. The Crusader is quite a pistol, a reliable little compact with good features sure to make a place for itself in the market.

Range Work

(Five-shot groups at 15 yards)

Cor Bon Performance Match 230 grain ball 3.25 inches
Cor Bon 160 grain DPX 4.0 inches
Cor Bon 165 grain PowRBall 4.25 inches
Fiocchi 230 grain ball 3.75 inches
Fiocchi 230 grain JHP 3.8 inches
Magnus 200 gr. SWC/Titegroup powder 3.5 inches

R.K. Campbell


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Click pictures for a larger version.


This is a Springfield Mil Spec over a RIA .45 with the 3.5 inch barrel and full size grip. The shorter gun is easier to carry and very fast, but the Crusader with both short slide and grip is lighter.



The Crossbreed holster is indeed a breed apart and a very good choice for concealed carry.



When the combination of features, performance and handling are considered the High Standard Crusader is a remarkable pistol.



Novak sights are among the finest combat sights, ever, and the Crusader is among the better pieces to wear these sights. Since the author’s full size Springfield and Smith and Wesson .45s wear Novak sights, it is good for practice to have the same sights on the Crusader.



The author deploys Wilson Combat eight round officers model magazines with his Crusader. They are very smooth.



High Standard is a proud name that we hope survives another generation or two!



Don’t forget one of the best things about the High Standard—it is a .45!!!



The High Standard Crusader features an ambidextrous safety. This means that one fifth or more of population is not out of the loop on this pistol and that you may actually use it with either hand!!