I’m not one to romanticize handguns, but today we’ll be reviewing a work of art.
This is the story about the Korth PRS; one of the rarest 1911 handguns you can find on the market today. It’s a German-made, 1911-style, .45 ACP handgun with unique action that works extremely well, and maybe this explains the wallet-writhing price.
You won’t find it at retailers, you won’t find it at gun stores, and you best believe if you try your luck on the web, all you’ll find is rip-offs and bamboozles.
I’ve heard all kinds of opinions and discussions when luxury high-end guns are in question. Who in their right mind would slap a $5,000 price tag on a 1911 7-shooter anyway? But, I think I understand and I’ll explain what the fuss is about.
When a luxurious rarity is at the door, fiscal reason flies out the window, and one can assume that people like it because it’s expensive. But, for the sake of objectivity, I’ll go for an honest and unbiased approach for this German-made Korth PRS.
We’ll discuss how the Korth shines in its splendor, how it functions, why it’s so expensive, and clear up some questions on where to hopefully purchase one if you have the cash for it.
The Manufacturer’s Idea Behind the Korth PRS
When I first heard the name “PRS”, I immediately thought of Paul Reed Smith, the high-end guitar maker and owner of PRS guitars. Coincidentally, it’s fitting how it’s the same field of luxury, only this time we’re talking handguns.
Korth GmbH—arguably one of the most prominent German custom arms manufacturers in the World—is well-known for its custom-made approach since the 1950s. Until recently, the company dealt with hand-made custom orders and they only had revolvers on their repertoire.
In 2015, the Korth PRS pistol came to be.
The single-stack .45 is a high-end handgun marketed for those who can afford it. The unique mechanism can be seen in military-style rifles. The fixed, non-tilt barrel, and cycling action has a really sharp recoil, but the slide feels butter-smooth and the cycling is very fast.
What makes this gun special is the roller-delayed, blowback-operated action with a fixed barrel, in contrast to the fundamental tilting barrel that’s commonly known for the original 1911 Browning design. Besides this, the trigger, safeties, and everything else remains unchanged.
By the looks of things, they wanted to go for a modern-looking 1911 that focuses on reliability and speedy cycling while remaining accurate with fast follow-up shots. The full-length railed dust cover and smooth slide pay slight homage to the original Browning style.
Korth definitely wasn’t planning to go for a competition shooting handgun, but best believe this handgun isn’t just for show.
Check out our buyer’s guide here if you’re looking for double-stack 1911-style handguns.
Why Is the Korth PRS So Expensive?
What Rolex is to wristwatches, and Rolls Royce is to automobiles, Korth is to handguns and revolvers. It’s mostly seen as an extravagant gift for seasoned veterans and commandos.
The retailer price for Korth revolvers and handguns go from $4,000 and up, but I’ve seen people bumping the price as high as $12,000.
Guess what? It sold in a literal hour on a forum board despite the egregious price.
We all know that Korth is a manufacturer with a custom-order business model. But, the reason why the handgun is so expensive is that it’s a handcrafted piece of art that uses high-quality construction materials.
It’s manufactured via “tool steel” with an over-the-top hardness rating of 60 Rockwell, which is the equivalent of a fully built revolver by only using high-tier 4150 barrel steel.
Let’s see the gun in more detail.
Overview of the Korth PRS Pistol
The Korth PRS is a semi-automatic, single-stack handgun, chambered in the .45 ACP. It might look like a standard 1911, but don’t be fooled.
While modern 1911 pistols are based on the Browning tilting barrel system, the PRS is vastly different in action. The difference is that when you shoot it, the barrel locks with the slide until it recoils slightly backward, while the barrel is pulled downwards so that it unlocks from the slide. We’ll discuss this below.
You’ve seen the locking block on Beretta 92s, or the “kidney bean” on Walther handguns when they tilt the barrel downwards to unlock, but not this one. The downside is that you get really snappy recoil for a .45 ACP.
If expensive 1911s aren’t your thing, take a look at our list of best 1911 pistols under $1000.
The Roller-Delayed Blowback Action
I know what everyone is thinking. “A Browning 1911-style handgun without the original tilt-barrel short recoil system? Did Germans truly lose it with this one?” Well, it’s crazy enough to work.
What I like about the Korth PRS Pistol is how courageous that leap of faith is. Korth sought to create a unique mechanism for a new 1911 handgun that steers off of the Browning way, and I believe the accuracy from the delayed blowback roller lock speaks for itself.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with handgun engineering, 1911s use rearward motions from the gun’s inertia while firing, and this drives the barrel and slide back.
The slide and barrel work in unison to tilt while cycling in a way that would keep the pistol reliable while shooting. The standard 1911 system and internal mechanics are a staple of reliability, but the downside is instability, which affects the accuracy of your shot.
Now, in contrast to the Browning way, Korth came up with the roller delayed blowback, which was prototyped by Mauser way back in the 40s, and was later taken up by Heckler and Koch. How very German of them. I won’t waste time explaining the roller delayed blowback system, so here’s a video for the curious.
The goal is simple; the blowback system relies on a fixed barrel, which makes the cycling and shooting stable and nearly motionless, thus making sure your accuracy stays on par.
Design and Ergonomics
You can see the eye-candy aesthetics on every Korth model: the grippy frame, blued finish, under-barrel Picatinny rail, serrated skeleton hammer, and serrated aluminum trigger. It’s not too flashy and not too plain. Pure class.
Korth went for checkered diamond-pattern grips and textures for the mechanically precise PRS. I personally love the image and overall design. It’s sensible and simplistic, and I know how easy it is for gunmakers to overdo it with luxury handguns. There’s no need for diamond-encrusted triggers, thank God.
The ergonomics on this thing is similar to certain Springfield 1911 models, so I can only assume it fits similar holsters. Speaking of which, check out our top choices for 1911 holsters.
Anyhow, the pistol’s fancy image is accompanied by the fancy-as-hell hardwood case that has a multi-tool, three extra shock absorbers, closure springs, one extra magazine, grips, and an owner’s manual.
All in all, judging by the looks, it’s almost as if it was made with a zen master handgun craftsman’s sensibility.
Recoil, Trigger, and Accuracy
You can bet it’s butter smooth.
Although the Korth PRS is not a competition shooter, this 7-round single-stack can sing, and you can expect unmatched precision up to 50 yards.
Of course, I mentioned the snappy recoil, but even by 1911 standards, it’s manageable. You can blame the fixed barrel that doesn’t tilt as the action cycles, and this is what makes the recoil snappy, but the cycling is a LOT faster.
I like how the Korth PRS comes with three different recoil springs with your order. Not that you’ll need them for a while, but you can never know what’ll happen to prompt a quick trip to the gunsmith.
One thing I can’t understand is how they made the trigger pull superlight for a gun with this mechanism. The trigger, hammer, sear, and disconnector work like a charm, and you can feel the break and reset; they’ve somehow managed to break free of the grittiness of the 1911.
With this clean break, you can expect to shoot a truckload of ammo without getting stiff fingers.
Korth PRS Specifications
- Model: Korth PRS Pistol
- Nationality: German
- Caliber: .45 ACP (9mm Luger model also available)
- Type: Semi-automatic handgun
- Action: Single-action 1911-style; roller-delayed, blowback-operated
- Safety: Slide catch thumb safety; beavertail grip safety
- Barrel: Fixed
- Trigger pull: 2 pounds
- Capacity: 7 rounds
- Barrel Length: 4, 5, or 6 inches
- Overall length: 8.86 inches
- Overall height: 5.51 inches
- Overall width: 0.98 inches
- Weight: 2.85 pounds
- Grips: Walnut grips; hardwood
- Front Sight: Fast changeable front sight; combat sight
- Rear Sight: Adjustable Glock rear sight (factory sight for PRS)
- Frame: Hardened carbon steel
- Construction: Cold-forged precision steel (tool steel)
- Accessories: Original wood case, extra springs, extra buffers, silencer, steel barrel weight, barrel & compensator
- Finishes: DLC coating; Blued finish
- Auction price: From $4,000 up to $15,000
Pros & Cons of the Korth PRS
- Surprisingly light trigger pull for a 1911-style handgun (only 2 lbs!)
- Highly reliable and can eat any .45 ACP ammo
- Comfortable grips and decent ergonomics
- Superb quality construction
- Compatible with 1911-style trigger and internal parts
- Expensive, but it’s marketed as such
- Very heavy (52.4 ounces, unloaded)
- Sharp recoil
Here are some frequently asked questions about the Korth PRS.
What’s the Best Ammo for the Korth PRS?
I’m sure that the Korth PRS will eat anything, but be careful of the Winchester White Box 230-gr as there are known jamming issues with them. I strongly recommend the Remington Golden Saber .45 ACP+P 185-gr.
Looking for more .45 ACP ammo? Check out our guide here.
Why Is the Korth PRS So Expensive?
Korth is a manufacturer with a custom-order business model. The reason why the Korth PRS is so expensive is that it’s hand-crafted with tool steel and heavy-duty materials that are hard to come by.
The combination of hardened carbon steel, cold-forged precision steel, blued finish, and the wooden luxury case makes this a high-tier pistol.
Which Magazines Does the Korth PRS Use?
The Korth PRS can use any 1911-style magazines with no problems. Reloading is butter smooth, and the magazine release feels just right.
Is the Korth PRS Single or Double-Action?
The Korth PRS pistol is a single-action handgun that uses a roller-delayed blowback system that guarantees fast cycling. I highly recommend it to fans of lightning-fast follow-up shots.
What Do the Others Have to Say?
Here are some interesting comments and opinions about the Korth PRS. I couldn’t find a lot of folks that actually own one, but here are some.
Conclusion – A High-End Blowback-Operated 1911-Style Reserved Only for the Daring
The Korth PRS is one of the most interesting handguns I’ve seen in a long time, not because of its “holier than thou” appeal but the rarely-seen cycling action. It might serve as a decent example for other manufacturers to try and improve the 1911 form.
That being said, it’s still a luxury item, and I think I can understand the appeal of high-end firearms. You’ll rarely find anybody that has had the chance to shoot this majestic .45 ACP handgun as you can only find it at auctioneering houses. I did my fair share of digging and researching, and I noticed that every owner was blown away by how reliable and smooth handling the Korth PRS feels.
However, let’s introduce some perspectives. It’s worth noting that the PRS isn’t even the most expensive 1911-style handgun. One of the most expensive 1911s in the world is the “Big Bang Pistol Set” by Cabot, 1911-style .45 ACP handguns, made from the Gibeon meteorite. The last known auctioned price was somewhere between half a million and two million dollars. In comparison, the Korth PRS now might look like a decently priced handgun, doesn’t it?
Overall, it’s a fantastic semi-automatic, single-stack, .45 handgun that shoots as good as it looks. Let me close things off by saying that I would never put it in a glass box display despite its price; instead, I’d happily shoot it every day if I could afford it.