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This gas operated carbine started
life as a Colt Government
Model, and it just might be .
The st
C\lstomized
by Craig Boddington
T
he short, skeleton-stocked carbine
slid out its case and lay gleaming
on my desk. "What in the heck is
that?" I asked.
Dave Hetzler. Senior Staff Editor of
Guns & Ammo, grinned at me said, "It's
a Government Model .45!"
I looked closer. Indeed it was, or
more properly. that's what it started out
as' The right side of the slide, just be
low the ejection port, read "Colt's Gov
ernment Model." But that slide was a
full 19';" inches long! The slide houses a
16'/z -inch barrel , and the skeleton stock
.45!
is permanently attached. making the
gun a perfectly legal .45 ACP carbine.
Grinning all the while, Dave told me
about the gun. "Jim Boland. a gunsmith
out in Van Nuys. California, built this.
It's the only one of its kind, and boy,
does it shoot!"
The most obvious question to me was
how the little .45 ACP cartridge gener
ated enough force to cycle that massive
slide . Dave's grin became enigmatic.
"It's gas operated."
We examined it from one end to the
other. The slide and frame were attrac
tively finished in a deep. satin blue.
The top portion of the steel-framed
skeleton stock was covered with a
dense , nicely-grained wood that
matched the grips and Schnabel forend.
Sights were a low ramp front and ad
justa ble Behlert rear.
Functioning was flawless, to say the
least. Ammunition tested included Fed
eral 230-grain hard ball and IS5-grain
The Boland carbine's slide was fashioned from two Government Model
slides and an additional lO-inch section. Accuracy and functioning
were excellent throughout testing, with Remington JHP grouping best.
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Operation of the carbine is identical to that of a standard Govern
ment Model, with the exception of the slide release on the right.
Forend, grips, and cheekpiece are made from Panamanian lignum vitae.
JHP, Remington hardball and 185-grain
JHP, the new Winchester Silvertip 185
grain JHP, Super- Vel 185-grain JHP,
and some 1972 vintage G I 230-grain
hardball. The .45 carbine digested them
all without a hitch. Functioning was ex
cellent, so the next step was to see how
the gun grouped.
We sandbagged the gun on a bench
and went to work. One slight criticism
immediately came to mind. The excel
lent Behlert sight was meant to be used
on a handgun held at arm's length .
either in a two-handed or one-handed
shooting position. With the Boland car
bine fired from the shoulder, the eye is
much closer to the rear sight. and we
found it difficult to maintain a consist
ent sight picture. Nevertheless, 25-yard
groups stayed a hair over an inch with
all types of ammo! Best results were
obtained with Remington 185-grain
JHP- groups with this loading stayed at
or slightly under one inch!
Government specs on GI hardball
have called for 830 feet per second (fps)
from an as-issue, five-inch barrel. Our
Oehler Chronotach measured a consist
ent 836 fps average for five rounds
from some 1972 vintage GI ammuni
tion. The eight-inch Hoag gun averaged
885, while the Boland carbine kicked
the velocity on up to 938.
We expected a more significant in
crease from the light, fast jacketed hol
low point loads, and this assumption
proved correct. Winchester's new Silver
tip 185-grain ammo clocked 936 fps
from a five-inch barrel. 1051 from the
eight-inch, and a hot 1112 fps from the
Boland gun, for a gain of 176 feet per
second, an increase of 20 percent!
While these figures all show a defi
nite velocity advantage, the conclusions
are that the long barrel in itself does
not turn the .45 ACP into a powerhouse
as a rifle cartridge. It is quite likely that
slower burning powders in carefully
brewed handloads would use the long
tube to more advantage. However, it is
unlikely that any amount of handload
ing could turn the Boland carbine into
an adequate deer rifle.
Boland himself never intended it that
way. Rather, he saw a challenge in
making something that had never been
done before. And he succeeded in an
outstanding fashion . The gun looks
good, functions perfectly, and shoots
straight. And it's absolutely one of a
kind. I wanted to find out more about
the gun and the thought behind it, so I
went to Jim Boland's shop at the Re
loading Bench, 9525 Van Nuys Blvd.,
Panorama City, CA.
HIS work includes full accurizing and
customizing for either combat shooting
or formal bullseye competition, and this
work has led him to do extended slide
versions of the .45 Government Model.
Like anv master craftsman, he likes a
One day a customer walked
into his shop and asked him what
would be involved in building a .45
ACP carbine around a Government
Model .45. Jim didn't know, but he
went to work, and umpteen-hundred
hours later I had the gun on my desk!
Two standard slides plus a' lO-inch
section of similar steel were needed to
make the l7-inch-plus slide. The slide
and frame are made so that an existing
.45 slide will not fit onto the frame,
thus it is not possible to turn the car
bine back into a short-barrelled gun .
The action is gas-operated with a de
layed opening so there is no movement
at the time of firing. The recoil tube
was painstakingly fashioned from a sec
tion of Springfield 1903 barrel; the gas
piston from a Douglas Premium .224
barrel! The barrel bushing is stainless
steel, and the operation utilizes two re
coil springs buffered by plastic bush
ings. The slide has a full four inches of
travel, so the stock was necessarily de
signed to keep the shooter's face well
away from the recoilling slide!
With an overall length of about 32
inches, the Boland carbine is short
and handy. Balance and handling
were super - better than expected.
There's a story behind almost every
part of the rifle, a story both of long
hours of trial and error and hand fitting
and of materials selected to do the job.
Even the wood selected for the stock
has a history. Boland obtained some
pieces of vitae, a dense. strong
Central American wood. The pieces he
got had started out as railroad ties on
the Panamanian railroad . Later a ship
load of the ties found their way to New
York after a section of the railroad was
taken up. During the World Wars these
same railroad ties were fashioned into
propeller shaft bearings for liberty ships
carrying war supplies to Europe. When
the ships were scrapped the wood was
salvaged.
The gun is unique throughout. a
one-of-a-kind rarity. Of limited use,
perhaps, but it stands as a testimony to
the gunmaker's art, and to the innova
tive genius of one gunsmith in particu
lar : Jim Boland. Will he make any
more of these guns? Perhaps, perhaps
not. The hours spent and the problems
solved speak for themselves-this is n'ot
and can't be a production-line firearm.
On the other hand, Boland told me
there are things he'd like to improve,
and changes he might make in the basic
design. For now. the Boland carbine
rates in my book as the Most Custom
ized .45, and Boland himself is going
on to other projects-improving his de
signs for standard .45s, a new concept
for silhouette handguns based on the
.45 auto frame, a muzzle-loader for
smokeless powder, and other such mun
dane subjects. But he looks at the .45
carbine with both fatherly pride and the
perfectionist's desire to make it better,
and I'm betting that one of these day
somebody will unveil another
Boland carbine on my desk! U
The .45 Auto 95