Let's talk about the history before jumping into this Jesse James 1911 review. Jesse James Firearms Unlimited (JJFU) is a custom firearm manufacturing company established by entrepreneur and TV personality Jesse James. Located in Dripping Springs, Texas, just 20 minutes west of Austin, the 17-acre JJFU facility manufactures custom, hand-crafted 1911 pistols, as well as the Nomad line of AR-15 and AR-10 rifles and custom suppressors. Our Jesse James 1911 pistol review will help you understand everything you need to know about the gun.
History of Jesse James Firearms Unlimited
Best known for his custom motorcycle work and his appearances on television in shows such as Monster Garage and Jesse James Is a Dead Man, Jesse James moved out of California and into the Lone Star State, transitioning from motorcycles to firearms with the establishment of a new brand, Jesse James Firearms Unlimited.
Unveiled for the first time in November 2013 at the Rattle Inn in Austin, in front of 250 guests, Jesse James introduced his first two product lines: the Cisco 1911 pistol and the Nomad AR-15 rifle. In his introductory speech, James asserted that the role he wishes to play in the firearms industry is to be a high-end gunmaker providing unique, highly-customizable products.
James learned the art of pistolsmithing from the late Jim Garthwaite. Jim became a legend in the industry with over 40 years of experience doing custom work on the 1911 Browning High Power pistols.
After completing an apprenticeship under his tutelage, Jesse James created his very first pistol - a beautifully crafted 1911 with a case hardened steel frame and a blued steel slide.
Combining the knowledge and techniques learned under Garthwaite with his mechanical expertise honed by working on motorcycles, Jesse James sought to craft the most refined, most accurate custom firearms possible.
Jesse James Firearms Unlimited’s 1911 pistols
The 1911 pistol, designed by John Moses Browning, is his finest and most successful invention. Over 100 years after its original introduction, the 1911 is still one of the most popular handgun platforms in America, even as more advanced, more modern designs continue to appear.
The model 1911 became the United States military’s standard service handgun and remained so for nearly 75 years. It is the dominant platform in many competition shooting disciplines, such as USPSA, IPSC, and more. Some of the finest and most accurate handguns made in America are 1911s.
With such a rich legacy in the world of firearms, it is no surprise that Jesse James Firearms Unlimited chose to produce 1911 pistols under their brand name.
All of the 1911 pistols made at JJFU are machined in-house and hand-built, hand-fitted, and test-fired by Jesse James himself and master pistolsmith Justin McMillan. Regardless of the customization options ordered, all JJFU 1911 handguns are built to match the company’s stringent performance standards, reliability, fit, and finish.
Although the company offers several base models, such as the Cisco II, the Lobo, or the Grandmaster, all pistols are made to order; to the customer’s exact specifications and requests.
Jesse James Firearms Custom Originals
Should the customer desire something exceptional, Jesse James Firearms Unlimited also has a long history of producing one-off, custom originals. Here are some of the most notable of JJFU's original builds.
Jesse James 1911: Heartbreaker
The first JJFU custom 1911 was the Heartbreaker, which started life as a used Kimber CDP II, purchased by Jesse James himself at a gun show in Austin, Texas, for $650. The pistol was transformed, turned into a unique work of art.
It features an annealed slide, new side grips hand-machined from 6061 Aluminum, intricate engraving work hand-crafted by master engraver Tay Harrera, and a glass bead finished frame, trigger, hammer, and safety lever.
Damascus Cisco 1911
After Jesse James completed a trip to Israel in 2009, visiting master blacksmith Uri Hofi, he became interested in the art of steel forging. Five years later, James met famous bladesmith and National Living Treasure, Jerry Fisk, who proceeded to teach him the unique skill set of Damascus steel forging.
Using these newfound skills, James hand-forged a 400-layer billet of Damascus steel, using it as the basis for the first Damascus Cisco 1911 pistol. JJFU has since offered hand-forged Damascus steel parts as a customization option for all of their 1911 builds.
Other JJFU customers included Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who ordered in 2016 a matching pair of Cisco 1911 pistols; one of which is chambered in .45 ACP and engraved with the words “Big Papa” on its slide, while the other is in 9x19mm and displays “Mama Knows Best” on the slide.
Lady Liberty Full Damasus Cisco 1911
Perhaps the most symbolic of Jesse James’ custom pistols are the Lady Liberty Full Damascus Cisco 1911s, first revealed in 2017 on James’ Instagram account. These handguns were hand-forged using a piece of the Statue of Liberty’s original handrail in their construction.
According to James, an anonymous worker involved in the restoration of the Statue of Liberty picked up this piece from the ground and had it sent to James; upon receiving it, he had the idea of producing the unique pistols, referring to it as “the DNA of America’s biggest symbol of freedom.” James made three Lady Liberty 1911s; each took over 500 hours of labor and a year of work, and each sold for $85,000.
Donald Trump Custom 1911
Another well-known build is the Donald Trump custom 1911, first unveiled at SHOT Show 2018. This unique custom pistol possesses an obsidian black frame and slide and intricate, floral-pattern silver engravings featuring “Donald J. Trump” on the right side, “The 45th President” and “United States of America” on the left side, and the Seal of the President of the United States on both grips.
The pistol also features a flush-fit two-inch compensator, 24 karat gold-plated pins and screws, a gold-plated hammer, beavertail, grip safety lever, and backstrap, a gold barrel with a fluted chamber, and a bronze skeletonized trigger. This one-of-a-kind presidential pistol comes with a handmade display case made of Texas pecan wood and walnut.
The Last Word For Our Jesse James 1911 Gun Review
Now that you've read our Jesse James 1911 handgun review, you know what kind of holster you'll need to account for the gun's components. We The People Holsters offers a large selection of holsters made for your 1911 and other handguns, with models available for pistols of all sides, from concealed carrying pieces to full-size duty pistols, inside or outside the waistband.