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With the release of the 1911 DS Prodigy, I knew we had a top-quality double-stack 9mm 1911. But, I was immediately curious as to what could be accomplished with it in the hands a skilled custom gunsmith. I wanted to see how far we could push the pistol, from performance to cosmetics.
Mk3 Firearms was the only option for me to complete the work to transform this cutting-edge pistol into a one-of-a-kind 1911.
I am truly smitten with the Prodigy pistol from Springfield Armory. I have been writing for and reviewing products for The Armory Life for about two years now, and in that time there have been a lot of exciting releases that I’ve had the honor of covering. But of all those, one stands out from the pack.
When I got the email for the 1911 DS Prodigy pistol release, I was over the moon and hoped to be one of the first to shoot the pistol (Springfield was kind enough to accommodate me on this). I’ve had a twinkle in my eye for 1911 pistols ever since I was a kid, and the logical progression to double-stack 9mms made this platform even more compelling to me. So, once I figured out that I wanted to run the 4.25” version as my range pistol, I set the 5” model aside for a very special project.
When the SA-35 was first released, I sent it off to MK3 Firearms to have them use their legendary skills to modernize the pistol. The result was nothing less than stunning. I asked them to do something similar this go — around, but with a twist. We were taking a new, cutting-edge pistol and paying homage to the past while enhancing it for a premium feel and performance.
Masters of the Craft
There is nothing quite like sending off a firearm to a craftsman and letting them do exactly what they do best, surprising you in the end with their choices. Matt Allred and Kevin Hermanson at Mk3 Firearms are truly great craftsmen and gunsmiths. These guys are old school; there are no CNC machines and everything is done by hand. They love firearms and history, with so much knowledge to pour into each project to make it a unique piece of art. If you’ve seen their work, you can tell they understand the past, present and future as well as how to squeeze every bit of performance from the P-35 and 1911 designs, among others.
We discussed a few things like a custom trigger, ported slide and barrel, Cerakote, etc. But I told them to take the project where they felt, based on their experience and knowledge. Every couple of days I would get updates on the progress until the day that the custom Prodigy arrived at my FFL. To say this finished Mk3 5” Prodigy is a one-of-a-kind would be an understatement.
Immediately you can see the homage to a bygone era with the P-35-style slide cuts toward the muzzle, and the removal of a portion of the rail on the frame. This really makes the pistol stand out as a custom project with a nod toward legends of the past.
Taking a trip down memory lane, the V6 ports on the slide and barrel are a nod to the Springfield V12 and V10s of days past. The ports are a slightly larger diameter with a recessed radial angle cut for style points. The ports are at the 1 and 11 o’clock positions to vent the gasses up and out slightly to keep the pistol centered during recoil.
The barrel was given a 45-degree crown and the front of the slide was blocked off. The crown was given a darker color while leaving a raw steel ring around the edge, giving it a really cool “halo” effect.
The Cerakote is a custom blend that almost changes its tone depending on the lighting conditions. It’s a kind of gold/titanium look with graphite black controls. The custom grip texturing was done by Brian Lack over at LV Laser Engraving. The idea was to simulate the old wooden double diamond grips of the past. They then painted the grip graphite black to make it really stand out against the rest of the frame. The grips are super comfortable, while also still having plenty of texture to control the pistol. The magazine release was recontoured with an upward angle and then re-checkered with 30 LPI giving you a comfortable yet grippy button with enhanced ergonomics.
Another unique twist on the Prodigy is the long, solid trigger, which generally isn’t offered on any double-stack 1911 platform like this. Instead of shorty triggers or skeletonized designs, the long, solid trigger adds to the classic look of the Mk3 Prodigy. Also, the internal trigger job they did on this Prodigy was stunning. With a short 3.5-lb. pull with very little take-up and a short, positive reset, the trigger feels spectacular. I am going to be completely spoiled by this pistol.
On the rear of the pistol, they recontoured the grip safety to even better match the frame, making it super comfortable in the hand. The hammer was replaced with a ring commander style for that classic “restomod” look. The backplate and rear sight were then serrated at 30 lines per inch to eliminate any glare.
Rounding out the visual modifications included blocking down the slide release pin and recontouring the triggerguard to give the custom Mk3 Prodigy a more classic look.
On the range, the Mk3 Prodigy shoots even better than it looks. The porting and trigger job make this pistol in a class of its own versus my “stock” 4.25” Prodigy. This is a premium pistol. The return to zero is stellar, and the trigger makes it nearly impossible to miss your shots. Line up the sights, press, smile.
Along with testing the pistol with the factory iron sights, I added a Leupold DeltaPoint Pro. The classy nature and premium performance of the DPP really lends itself perfectly to the Mk3 Prodigy. I also added a Surefire X300 because it makes any pistol that it’s attached to at least 10 points cooler.
I think I will have to take a look at another DeSantis Speed Scabbard leather holster to keep this bad boy looking pristine throughout its life.
If you are looking for the Mk3 treatment for your Prodigy pistol, below is the A La Carte pricing of all the work I had done to my pistol.
- Block and crown barrel: $155
- SA-35-style front of slide and frame cut: $295
- Dual V6 porting: $395
- Dock slide lever: $35
- Serrate rear of slide into sight: $135
- Blend beavertail: $225
- Long curved trigger machining and fitting: $185
- Internals: $95
- Trigger job: $125
- Ring hammer: $75
- Re-profile triggerguard: $85
- Diamond grip lasering & logos: $295
- Re-profile and checker mag release: $85
- “Melt” edges on safety: $55
- Full Cerakote with bordered grip: $495. W/O grip border: $385
The 1911 DS Prodigy is an outstanding pistol, which also makes it an exceptional foundation for a custom project like this. And with the expertise and talent of the guys at MK3 Firearms, this 5” Prodigy truly was taken to the next level. I can’t recommend both the base pistol and their work enough.
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