Valtro USA: First-Class Service Firearms
At the beginning of the 20th century, a legendary gunsmith called John Moses Browning came up with the most successful semi-automatic pistol design ever. With the million units produced worldwide, as well as countless copies, Colt M-1911 is the unchallenged champion amongpistols that has remained in active service for more than a century. Its design is a match between a simple and reliable construction and excellent ergonomic features. More importantly, it’s easy to use, while its effective large caliber is still a reference for many modern pistols.
After the advent of polymer frames, the Sig safety feature, double stacked magazines and other improvements, many weapon experts still prefer the original design. One of them is Mr. John Jardine, a famous custom gun maker and a veteran of the trade. Since 1965 he has been considered one of the best custom M-1911 makers. As he says, he wanted to start a line production of pistols which would combine the quality of a custom piece at a reasonable price. However, although back then his first model, Valtro M-1998 A1 was priced at $1,200, today a good condition piece may reach over $4,500.
Customization which turns a good gun into an excellent one is not a simple process. All the expertise and original ideas don’t worth much if you lack the good base. After several decades of customizing and improving many different gun designs, he finally concluded that there’s no single model that can fulfill all his requirements. That was the moment he decided to start production of his own pistol. And he found a partner for his business on the other side of the world.
Serial production offirearmsprobably started in the 15th century, even before Columbus. The hotspot of the trade was Val Trompia valley in northern Italy, which is even today the home of many world-class gun factories. Mr. Jardin made a deal with the company “ValtroStochetta SLR” to make pistols based on Browning M-1911 design. Soon enough, the cooperation was extended to a pump-action shotgun model. In the beginning, these firearms were made exclusively on preorder, and delivered mainly to the police SWAT teams.
The user’s feedback was more than encouraging so a sister company was founded – “Valtro USA” located in Hayward, California. Its field of work was marketing, distribution as well as market research and improvement of the current product line. And only one model was offered – Valtro Mod. 1998 A1 chambered in .45 ACP. Its design was familiar to the customers: a semi-auto operation, with the moving 127 mm barrel. The empty gun weighs 1,120 g and the magazine holds eight rounds. Still, many enthusiasts keep talking about it as a near custom model. And not without a reason.
All the parts are milled and ground from quality 4340 NiCrMo steel using CNC machines with highest industry standards. Interestingly, machining is performed after the tempering which not only saves time, but eliminates any dimension irregularities. The frame and slide dimensions are taken form the competition National Match model. Full profile match grade barrel is manually fitted to the front guide and the slide, and the loading slope is highly polished, to reduce any probability of cartridge jamming.
All the checkered surfaces have thick texture of 30 lines per inch, which is the sweet spot between the aggressiveness and the sure grip. The handle scales are made of quality hardwood. As Valtro Mod. 1998 A1 is designed for self-defense and everyday use, all straight and sharp edges which could catch on the clothing or scratch other equipment are rounded in the final phase.
While there is a number of improvements that add to the functionality, most of them are hidden under the slide. Every internal part is carefully selected and manually finished for the perfect fit, especially the trigger mechanism. There are ten contact points in total between the frame and the slide, and they are mirror-polished for minimum resistance. The springs are softer than the standard ones and they are outsourced to a renowned company “Wolf”. The main spring guide is thicker and heavier. The extractor and the ejection port have been enlarged, which contributed to the reliability.
The safety is ambidextrous, but not too bulky so it carries more comfortably than the original model. The slide got the serrations in the front end as well, while the handle lower side is enlarged to enable quicker magazine change. When the pistol is assembled, it goes through the final inspection by several experienced gunsmiths, and every one of them has to give it a green light before it hits the stalls.
To ensure perfect operation every time “Valtro” also offers their own lubricant. The basic version is offered in black blued finish, and for extra pay you can go for chrome plating, teflonizing, or polymerizing in a desired color. And this is the only external improvement of the original model. If you were hoping for Picatinny rails, you better start looking elsewhere.
The competition sights are fully adjustable for elevation and windage, with an option of tritium inserts for low light conditions. An interesting feature is the option of heavier trigger for law enforcement users, as the Federal law limits the minimum force of trigger pull at 1,300 g.
All the improvements have made Valtro Mod. 1998 A1 exceptionally reliable, easy to handle, and accurate.The manufacturer guarantees that five rounds at 50 yards will fall into 76 mm groups. This is outstanding even for the competition pistol. In combination with the powerful .45 ACP round it is likely one of the best combat pistols today.
In order to complement the service pistol, “Valtro” offered a pump-action shotgun. Aside from luxurious hunting pieces, Italian factories have long experience and success in manufacturing top-grade combat shotguns. Their autoloaders are probably the best in the world. Still, when ti comes to repeating shotguns, the US companies rule supreme, while Remington 870 system is one of the best there is.
That is the reason why it was chosen for the new service shotgun PM-5. However, while the most of the shotguns use tubular under-barrel magazines, PM-5 uses a 7 or 12-shell box magazine. Since it is a repeating design, it can use 12/70, 12/76 and 12/89 shells. The 510 mm barrel is chrome plated and comes with a set of interchangeable chokes. The basic advantage of this design is quicker reloading time, while it also make changing the ammunition type far easier.
All these features made it a weapon of choice for French and Italian Special Forces. Still, they are not as popular in the USA, even though second hand pieces cost twice the price of a new Remington or Mossberg.