In the world of semi-automatic pistols, no other pairing can be as hotly-contested as Glock and Colt 1911. Although the latter predates Glock by nearly three-quarters of a century, the Austrian legend was ready to take the fight to the early 20th-century American handgun.
Both firearms had robust features and a few downsides. For instance, John Browning’s M1911 original frame design ensured exceptional ergonomics that always come in handy in battles and close-quarter combats. Meanwhile, Glock’s slide top is phenomenal, except its grip can be blocky and cumbersome.
Alchemy Arms, Co., designed and produced the Spectre as an M1911/Glock hybrid, marrying the two semi-automatic pistols’ venerable attributes while canceling out their misgivings. It was a pairing made in heaven.
Sadly, the Spectre’s charm was short-fused. By 2006, Alchemy Arms, Co. stopped producing the Spectre. So what happened?
In 1991, William McMoore established Alchemy Arms, Co. to provide American gun owners with US-made, high-quality, aftermarket M1911 and Glock accessories.
McMoore and his team focused on developing several accessories for two of the world’s foremost semi-automatic pistols, recognizing the huge market potential in the US.
Alchemy Arms worked with professional handgun associations and was deeply concerned about gun safety by non-handgun owners. Many folks wanted to own either an M1911 or a Glock semi-automatic but were worried about their safety features.
McMoore went to the drawing board and conceptualized a strategy that would address the needs of a potential market. Alchemy Arms designed the next-generation handgun, featuring cutting-edge safety features while retaining the M1911 and Glock’s reliability on the field.
The objective was to produce a handgun that featured the American M1911 receiver’s timeless design and dependable functionality and the Austrian Glock’s hammerless-style upper section.
Alchemy Arms, Co. aimed to deliver an accurate, safe, and efficient handgun with a technical merit never before seen in handmade pistols.
And the Alchemy Arms Spectre was born.
The Alchemy Arms Spectre
McMoore designed the Spectre as a full-sized handgun with the adorable ergonomics of the venerable Colt 1911 and the dependability of Glock’s slide top.
Early adopters of the Spectre were surprised at how “ergonomically correct” the pistol feels in their hands. It felt solid, but never beefy enough to strain the palm and finger pads.
Alchemy Arms created the Spectre with ultra-fine-quality materials and uncompromising craftsmanship to satisfy the needs of a discerning new gun owner market.
Noteworthy Design Elements
The Spectre featured a titanium (Ti-6Al-4V) slide assembly, protecting the firing pin, extractor, firing pin block, loaded chamber indicator, and striker from getting dislodged from their respective positions.
A 7065-T6 billet aluminum receiver gives the Spectre lightweight attributes without sacrificing structural soundness. The design made the Spectre a marvelous piece, allowing gun owners to feel more excited about their firearms.
It has an ambidextrous magazine release, allowing lefties and righties to change the clip with one clean swoop. Quickdraws are never an issue, especially when you go to the field fully loaded.
The Alchemy Arms Spectre also featured masterfully crafted grip contours and 20lpi scalloped slide serrations. These elements never hurt the palms nor become a nuisance after some time. The best part, as some Spectre users say, the grip bonds to the hands like it will never slip off your grasp.
The Spectre chambers a custom-made ammunition, drawing inspiration from the .45 ACP Tanfoglio Combat/Standard EAA Witness. However, it’s worth noting that Alchemy Arms also wanted the Spectre to accommodate two other calibers – the 9×19 Parabellum and the .40 S&W.
The Alchemy Arms Spectre was available in three versions: Titanium Edition, Standard Issue, and Service Grade. The handgun-maker created these classification to allow market segmentation.
The Standard Issue Spectre featured a tactical Picatinny-style rail at the pistol receiver’s front. Its black oxide finish eliminates glare, which is perfect for tactical operators who want to maintain stealth before engaging the enemy.
Meanwhile, the Service Grade Spectre is perfect for the average gun owner who wants to feel secure when doing the rounds at high-risk areas. It is a pistol for concealed or professional carry, differentiated from other Spectre variants by its silver coating.
Lastly, the Titanium Edition Spectre slashes three ounces from the Service Grade and Standard Issue’s 27-ounce heft. Instead of a 416 stainless steel slide assembly, the TE featured a titanium version. McMoore also replaced the aluminum receiver with an olive drab “Milspec” variant.
Alchemy Arms also produced half-inch shorter versions of the Service Grade and Titanium Edition, adding the term “Commander” to the name (i.e., Service Grade Commander Spectre).
Although you cannot expect James Bond or Ethan Hunt to grab the Spectre (007 preferred the Walther PPK while Mr. Mission Impossible loved the Beretta 92FS, SIG Sauer P226, and H&K USP Compact), the pistol crossbreed became an early favorite of seasoned gunslingers and competition shooters.
The Spectre’s accuracy at 25 yards outclasses world standards while moving in closer to the target at 15 yards will see the groupings tightly packed at 1.5 inches.
Gun experts also commend McMoore’s work on the Spectre for ensuring exceptional pointability. The pistol’s point angle creates a natural line of sight that few semi-automatic pistols can match. The company drew inspiration from Col. Rex Appelgate’s philosophy to establish the ideal relationship between the barrel centerline and the receiver’s grip angle.
Alchemy Arms also introduced a non-pivoting linear-action trigger that improved accuracy and trigger control. A short and straight pull of the trigger is enough to fire a projectile.
McMoore lowered the slide-to-receiver centerline to ensure better recoil control. The lock housing and beaver tail radius was also larger, allowing the pistol to disperse projective energy. Firing rounds in rapid succession without missing the mark is a hallmark of the Alchemy Arms Spectre.
As promised, Alchemy Arms delivered a safe semi-automatic handgun in the Spectre.
It featured a receiver-based keyed internal locking device that prevents the insertion or removal of a magazine, with the key removed. Loaded or unloaded, the Spectre will not fire unless you put the key back.
The beaver tail also featured a high grip safety that automatically disengages the safety when the user grips the Spectre. Not holding the receiver blocks trigger movement.
The Alchemy Arms Spectre also featured a frame-mounted manual safety switch that prevents accidental linear trigger movement by blocking the trigger bar connector. The pistol slide also doesn’t move.
A fourth safety feature is a machined groove on the trigger housing exterior. It reminds the shooter to keep the finger outside the housing until ready to fire.
A firing pin block and drop safety are Spectre internal safety mechanisms meant to work in tandem to prevent accidental discharge during incidents of jarring or dropping the weapon.
These two internal safeties require all external safeties to be disengaged first before blocking the firing pin. Users must also fully depress the trigger to disengage these safety mechanisms. Otherwise, the Spectre won’t fire.
Alchemy Arms used advanced technologies in designing and fabricating the Spectre.
One such technology is the Component Integration Reliability or CIR. It’s a fancy term for automating the handgun manufacturing process by integrating complex algorithms to ensure consistency across handguns.
Obviously, Spectre’s design was a product of computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology. The company also utilized state-of-the-art design software.
Alchemy Arms’ insistence on using only stainless steel and titanium for the Spectre’s action components guaranteed better tolerances than polymers and aluminum alloys.
What Went Wrong with the Alchemy Arms Spectre?
Alchemy Arms Spectre looked impressive on paper. Its marketing strategy focusing on the pistol’s “unparalleled safety” was a hit with some buyers. Unfortunately, there were some misgivings about this semi-automatic M1911/Glock hybrid.
Although its internal safety mechanisms are laudable, they made Spectre’s trigger heavier and longer. Glock and 1911 owners could not fire a shot without pulling the trigger all the way back. Meanwhile, M1911 and Glock’s triggers were light and short.
The Spectre also costs more than a standard Glock. For example, you can get a dependable Glock G17 for a little over $500, but you’ll shell out an extra $300 to get the Spectre Service Grade.
We understand Spectre’s higher price point than leading gun manufacturers. Its safety mechanisms come at a premium, while the company’s manufacturing capabilities are not as impressive as big-name brands.
Although marketing flyers show the company used CAD/CAM and automation in their manufacturing, quality control issues prevailed. Some buyers received only one magazine when they should have had two. Others are more unfortunate, receiving no magazine at all.
And that’s another issue. The rounds were challenging to source. Although the Spectre draws inspiration from the 1911 and Glock, it doesn’t have interchangeable parts. You cannot even use the 1911 and Glock ammo in the Spectre.
Manufacturing was sluggish and the customer service took a dip from the dozens of unsatisfied customers.
By 2006, Alchemy Arms discontinued and abandoned the Spectre project after succumbing to financial pressures.
Alchemy Arms Spectre promised to bring Glock and 1911’s many dependable and noteworthy attributes, add a few safety innovations, and create a technologically-advanced semi-automatic handgun. It fell short, hounded by ineptitude and poor quality control. Now you know what happened to Alchemy Arms Spectre.