Les Baer Information Page
April 17, 2014)
This page is an attempt to provide what I hope is useful information
Baer (LB), his company, his guns, and his customer
service. The information on this page is based on my first
hand experience with a Les Baer Premier
II and with Les Baer's customer service.
If you are thinking of buying a gun from Les Baer then I recommend
you read this article and use the links to read what
have to say about their experience with Les Baer guns. If you are
left-handed you might find the section on the Les Baer ambidexterous
safety to be helpful.
Here’s what you’ll find on this page.
- An account of the first year with my Premier
- The only pictures and description on the internet (that I
know of) of the Les Baer ambidexterous safety.
- Internet links about Les Baer and his guns, including:
- My opinion about the Les Baer return policy.
My Experience With 1911s
I'm not a 1911 novice. The 1911 is my favorite handgun. I bought my
first 1911 in 1978 and immediately installed a Swenson ambidextrous
safety (I'm left-handed) and a Bar-sto match barrel in it. I've lost
count of the number of rounds I've shot through that gun in practice,
in training and in IPSC matches, but it certainly numbers in
the many thousands. I've completed two pistol
courses with Chuck Taylor's American Small Arms Academy
and one with Ray Chapman and his Academy of
Practical Shooting. All three courses were in the mid-1980's.
I bought my second 1911 (a Colt Gold cup) in 1980 and my third 1911 in
1981 (a Colt Lightweight commander for my wife). I installed
ambidextrous safeties in those guns, too. I bought a Colt Officers
Model in 1985 but soon sold it because it didn't shoot well for me.
I've shot many other 1911s over the years. I know how poor a factory
trigger pull can be and I know how good a 1911
trigger pull can be when set up by a competent gunsmith.
My Experience With a Les Baer Premier II
In 2012 I was bitten by the bug to buy a premium 1911 pistol.
I did some research and read a lot of articles (both online and in the
many gun magazines that I subscribe to). It didn’t take long to notice
that Les Baer’s pistols are held in high regard by many people who
write about guns and by many of his customers. The Cabelas that I shop
at was willing to special order from Les which meant I could use my
Cabelas Club points to pay for the gun. So, I special ordered a Les
Baer Premier II from Cabelas in June of 2012.
I received my Premier II in
December of 2012. Right out of the box, I noticed that my Premier
pull seemed heavy
for a premium 1911 and had a lot of creep. The trigger pull was
consistently more than 4.5 pounds but the
creep was inconsistent from shot to shot. About 50% of
the time the creep was barely
noticeable but the rest of the time the creep was
very disconcerting. Since I posted this article I've been accused of
not knowing the difference between trigger creep and take-up.
I know the difference. Trigger creep is the perceptible
of the trigger after take-up has been removed but before the sear has
been released. Take-up is the movement of the trigger against the
three-leaf spring before the rear of the trigger bar makes contact with
the sear. Take-up is normal in a 1911 and is typically the
from shot to shot. As long as it is consistent take-up is not a concern
for most shooters but creep is definitely a concern. IMO, any
amount of trigger creep is unacceptable in
a premium 1911.
The Les Baer Ambidextrous Safety
Something else I noticed right away was that the safety required a lot
of force to engage and the right side safety lever was very slim and
didn't provide much of a surface to push up against when engaging the
safety with the thumb of my left-hand. I’m left handed so the
function of the ambidextrous
safety is important to me. The combination of the heavy force
required to move the safety up and the slim right-side lever meant that
I couldn’t engage the safety using only my left hand. That
made the gun unsuitable for me for any kind of action or self-defense
I called LB about the safety and talked to Les himself. Apparently, Les often talks
directly with his customers and I commend him for that practice.
Les told me that the stiffness should improve with use and that if it
didn’t improve enough I could return the gun to him and they’d reduce
the force required. (Note: after a year of use the
stiffness has not improved.) Les also suggested that I just use my
right hand to engage the safety. Although using two hands to
hold the gun and work the safety might be ok for plinking or bulls-eye
competition, it would not work for any kind of serious action
competition, and it might not be workable in
a self-defense scenario. In a self defense situation your
right-hand may be
holding on to a child or a bag or your right-hand could be injured.
magazine article on Les Baer semi-autos said that Les uses a
right-side safety lever in order to reduce the chance that the safety
will break. I find this odd and admit that I don’t
understand why this would be an issue if the ambidextrous
safety is of good quality. I’ve had an authentic
Swenson ambidextrous safety on my primary 1911 since 1978. Between
shooting and dry firing that Swenson safety has been operated with
great force probably in excess of 50,000 times. On Swenson-style
safeties the downward motion of the right side lever is stopped by the
bottom of a recess cut in the right grip panel. If the safety
is properly installed the grip panel takes the brunt of the force, not
the tongue and groove that join the left and right safety shafts.
However, since writing this article I've learned that poor
quality ambidextrous safeties are known to have breakage problems.
After I talked to Les, I worked the safety on and off hundreds
of times while watching TV for a week or so. The safety
smoothed up some but the force never changed much. I’m quite
capable of removing the safety plunger spring from the plunger
tube, clipping off a few
coils, and stretching the spring to its original length, but didn't
want to do that. The force required to put the
safety on wouldn’t be an issue if the right side was wider so that my
thumb had more lever to push against. So, I dealt with the too-narrow
right-side safety by purchasing a Wilson High Ride Ambidextrous Safety
(p/n 423B). The right
side of the Wilson safety is much wider than LB’s and was a drop-in
replacement for the right side of the LB safety. The Wilson
safety’s color is slightly different from Les Baer’s and the shapes
don't match perfectly, but I think the Wilson looks okay. More
important, it works much better for me.
These two pictures of my Premier II show the difference
between the Les Baer right side
safety lever and the Wilson right-side safety lever on my Premier II.
Premier II with Les Baer ambidextrous
II with Les Baer left side + Wilson right side lever.
I wish Les would offer a wide right-side lever as an option to us
lefties who want one. It makes no sense to me that someone
would think that a wide left-side lever is good but a wide right-side
lever is bad. The narrow right-side safety is all the
more puzzling to me since Les is left-handed.
Due to the ammo shortage in 2013 it took me almost all year to
shoot the 600 rounds that Les requires to break-in
his guns. During that year the trigger pull did not
improve. Even worse, the gun was unreliable. The slide failed
to go into
battery completely about one shot out of ten. The slide would
go into battery enough to fire, but not enough to allow you to
engage the safety. I had to push the slide
forward about 1/64" before I could engage the safety.
Because of these two defects the gun continued to
be unsuitable for self-defense or any kind of action-oriented
After shooting approximately 800 rounds through the gun, I returned my
Premier II to Les Baer to have it fixed (I can't call it warranty work
because Les doesn't offer a written warranty on his
guns) in late January 2014. Unlike many companies in
the shooting industry, Les does not pay return shipping for defective
guns so I paid the $60 FedEx shipping fee. The gun
came back in early February after a little more
than a week. Les replaced the barrel link and worked
on the trigger pull. The gun is now reliable and the trigger pull is
great. I'm quite happy with the gun now. It is
accurate, reliable, and a pleasure to shoot. My thanks to Les
and company for fixing the issues quickly and correctly.
Now that I’ve had a Les Baer pistol for a while and know what his
return policy is I probably won't buy another gun from
I’m more likely to buy a top-of-the-line 1911 from Springfield Armory,
Kimber, or the S&W Performance Shop.
Out of the Box Reliability -- Maybe, Maybe Not
You may be one of the lucky ones whose LB gun is reliable out of box.
Apparently, many of his guns are. But, after spending hours searching
the internet and reading about other peoples’ experiences I’ve noticed
that many shooters received LB guns that are not reliable out of box.
Fortunately, some, if not most, of the unreliable guns become reliable
after they are
broken in, but some do not become reliable. One of the problems with
the way LB builds his guns is that you may have to put 500-600 rounds
(or more) of expensive ammunition through the gun before it becomes
obvious that it has a problem that an extended break-in period isn’t
going to go fix, and then you will have to send the gun back
to LB for repair. And, then you will have to pay for
shipping. Shipping a handgun via Fed Express cost about $60 at
the time I sent my Premier II to Les.
Note that I do not have an issue with the idea that a new gun needs to
be broken in before it is 100% reliable. My issues are with
the number of rounds required to break-in the gun, the idea that it’s
ok to ship a new premium 1911 with a creepy trigger pull, and then
your customers to pay return shipping to fix a gun that was
defective out of the box.
Baer Related Links
If you are considering buy a Les Baer gun I recommend
that you read the articles at the links
Forum on Les Baer
Baer Premier II 15,000 Round Report
30,000 Round Range Report
Times Article on Premier II .38 Super
Tests Article on Les Baer Semi Autos (In this article from
0f 2005, Gun Tests Magazine gave three Les Baer semi-autos good
reviews. They awarded the Premier II a
of Les Baer
quality with the quality of his competion
Owners with a Creepy Trigger Like Mine
of LB pistols with Nighthawk pistols
discussion of quality of LB’s pistols
Better Business Bureau page on Les Baer
good comments about LB pistols
and bad experience with LB pistols
good and bad experience with LB pistols
FBI 1911 Contract
Customer Service Links
Opinions about the quality of Les Baer parts and customer
service from Les Baer are all over the map. Below are links to a
sampling of posts about Les Baer customer support.
Links About Good Customer Service
of, and praise
for, LB customer service from several owners
for LB customer service
the way LB fixed a defective rifle
the way LB handled a defective pistol
for the way
LB handled several defects in one of his pistols, including a broken
Links About Bad Customer Service
Speir's Opinion of Les Baer
with LB pistols and poor customer service
that LB’s service isn’t commensurate with price of gun
with LB service over a defective rifle
The Les Baer Break-In Period
Some people say that Les Baer guns should not be cleaned during the
break-in period. My Premier II did not come with instructions
saying not to clean the gun during the break in
Someone on this page says they called Les
Baer and he said there is no such policy against cleaning during the
break-in period. Here's a quote from the page:
I wondered about this too,
so I called LB a few months ago, and asked him about the 'no clean'
break-in procedure. He said there is no such recommended procedure, and
that you should clean your Les Baer "just like you would any other
1911" during break-in.”
On the same web page, another shooter posted this quotation from
instructions they received with their Les Baer Concept III:
Do to the tight tolerances
between the slide and frame please DO NOT remove the lubricant that is
evident on the pistol. Normal break-in period for your custom is
approximatly 200-300 rounds, with the lubricant left on the gun. After
break in-in period, use a top quality lubricant such as Molecular Metal
Conditioners, synthetic blended metal conditioner, break-free
Apparently some people interpreted the instructions as meaning they
shouldn’t clean the gun.
On another page, someone quoted old
instructions from Les Baer that did say not to clean the gun.
"Take the gun out shoot it
500 time and to not clean it. Add CLP to keep it wet. If it
is a 1.5 gun shoot it 1000 times. Do not call me if the gun is
malfunctioning unless you have hit the recommended round count with
Federal ball. If you do I will cuss you out and hang up!!"
(These words were attributed to Les. I do not know
for a fact that Les said them.)
Return Shipping Fees
Any company can ship a gun or another product with problems.
What distinguishes the company is what they do when they're
notified about the problem. Here are the shooting industry
manufacturers and gunsmiths that I’ve
returned guns (or other equipment) to for warranty work.
Each of the companies on the list above paid return shipping. (In some
they paid the shipping fee up front, in others they reimbursed me after
they received the product and verified that it was defective.)
still buy products from these companies and recommend them to other
shooters because I like the way they stood behind their product.
- Colt (a defective Colt Officer's model)
Country Rifles(The bolt handle hit the ocular lens)
- Kahr Arms (a defective PM9)
- Sako (a Sako 85 that wouldn't shoot accurately)
- Smith and Wesson (two defective guns, a .44 Mountain Gun
- Taurus (a model 94 with a defective doubleaction trigger
- Crimson Trace (four defective laser grips--one for a
S&W 340SC and three grips for a Kimber Solo)
- RCBS (two defective Rockchucker Supremes)
If you read this entire article it won’t surprise you
that I’m not a fan of Les Baer's return policy. Nor do I
think it's appropriate to sell a premium 1911 with a creepy
trigger pull. I understand that you might not agree with
my position that customers shouldn’t have to pay an expensive (around
$60) return shipping fee to have a defective $2,000
gun fixed. That’s okay. I think it's fair to say
that most of Les Baer's customers are very happy with their
guns. If you buy a Les Baer gun I
hope you get a good one and enjoy it for a long time. Good shooting to