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ATI FXH-45 Moxie: Not Your Grandpa’s 1911

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The 1911 pistol is often compared to a classic Corvette. At one point in history, both were ahead of their time. They both have gorgeous lines; looking at an older 1911 from the early to mid-20th century evokes thoughts of a time when parts were forged, hand-checkered, and fitted by gunsmiths. Swapping sights — or pretty much any part aside from the grips or recoil spring — required consulting a gunsmith, even for the mechanically inclined.

Carrying a 1911 in today’s world is much like driving a classic car to work every day. As long as you perform the proper maintenance and change parts as needed, you’ll be fine.

I personally haven’t carried a 1911 on a daily basis in over a decade, but for 20 years they were my go-to handguns. Outside of that, I’ll carry an original U.S. Property-marked 1911 made in 1917 on Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and the Marine Corps Birthday, out of nostalgia.

ATI FXH-45 Moxie disassembled
The ATI FHX-45 Moxie breaks down like a standard 1911. The only tools needed might be a hex wrench to remove the grip panels and a barrel bushing wrench to take down the slide assembly.

However, I still love the handgun. A good part is born from nostalgia. The 1911 served the U.S. Military for over 100 years in one form or another. Yet, it goes beyond that, having spent years carrying one, shooting one recreationally, and building them from the ground up.

So when ATI came out with a polymer-framed version at a sub-$400 retail price, I was intrigued. The ATI FHK-45 Moxie could be a complete success or a total disaster.

Under the Hood

At first glance, the ATI FXH-45 Moxie looks rather odd. It wasn’t the rail or the plastic frame; it was the slide, with its, erm, unique styling. However, initial appearances can be deceiving, and first impressions can melt away when you shoot it.

The rear cocking serrations have been changed to a style you might find on a pistol made in the 21st century as opposed to the original 1911. A mounting plate in front of the rear sight allows the shooter to install a red-dot sight. Unfortunately, the adapter plate doesn’t come with the pistol, and ATI couldn’t get one out in time for this review; maybe next time.

The accessory rail is a nice touch, though it’s positioned a bit lower than you might expect. Shooters can attach any Picatinny rail-compatible pistol light or laser. Additionally, the trigger guard is undercut and oversized to not only accommodate gloved hands while shooting but to allow for a slightly higher hold on the pistol. 

Grips are removable, and if you prefer a set of custom aftermarket grips in wood, G10, ivory, or the like, they’ll go on with a minimal amount of fitting.

This brings us to the next feature, the ambidextrous frame-mounted safety. At one time these were all the rage but carry a 1911 with one of these for about a month, and you’ll want to rip it out. You’re likely to find the outboard facing safety will disengage on you from bumping into something or even putting on a seatbelt. If you plan to carry an ATI FXH-45 Moxie, this is the first thing you should change.

While on the subject of safeties, the grip safety is a beavertail type to prevent hammer bite and allow a higher purchase on the grip frame. The hammer is a slotted Commander type, and the mainspring housing is arched and checkered. If you’re a pseudo-vintage kind of shooter, you can even install a lanyard loop so the Moxie won’t get lost as it bounces out of your holster while riding your trusty steed.

The ATI FXH-45 Moxie has a lightweight target trigger with a hex head screw to adjust over-travel. It has a nice 4-pound break.

Going back to the slide, the sights are interesting and will please a lot of shooters, even if you can’t find an MRDS adapter plate. The ATI FXH-45 Moxie is set up to take Glock-compatible sights. Shooters who cut their teeth on Glocks will be stoked to see that familiar sight picture, and if you hate the out-of-the-box Austrian plastic sight look, you can change them out without worrying whether the slide is cut for “factory, BoMar, or Novak” and do the installation yourself.

ATI FXH-45 Moxie sights
Two screws on the top of the slide allow for the installation of an optic 

Lastly, the polymer frame has molded finger grooves. This is a hit-or-miss feature on a pistol, as they may or may not line up properly for your hand.

At the Range with the ATI FXH-45 Moxie

Testing firearms during a pandemic isn’t as fun or affordable as it usually is. Finding ammo can be a problem, as can finding a decent place to shoot. Fortunately, having a number of firearms chambered in 45 ACP means there’s always enough ammunition in-house. 

With targets set up at 20 feet, we experimented with a good cross-section of ammunition. Winchester White Box 230-grain FMJ shot a pretty large group, at over 3 inches. Freedom Munitions HUSH 230-grain FMJ performed better, in the sub 2-inch range. A box of Remington Golden Sabre 185-grain +P also performed well, and no spike in recoil was noticed.

With 400 to 600 rounds sent down range by several shooters, there were no failures with regard to feeding, firing, ejecting, or extracting. 

ATI FXH-45 Moxie lower
The mainspring housing has a provision to install a lanyard loop. 

However, there was one hiccup. The frame-mounted safety on our ATI FXH-45 Moxie has a tendency to move slightly. This may be an isolated incident, but it’s worth noting, especially if this is your first 1911 and you’re coming from the striker-fired world. It can shift upward about a single millimeter, which is all it takes to prevent rearward movement of the slide. Should this happen to your pistol, contact ATI for a fix.

If you’re mechanically inclined and plan to use the ATI FXH-45 Moxie for self-defense, competition, or concealed carry, look into replacing that ambidextrous safety and perhaps the thumb safety plunger and spring. If you’re not up to the task, contact a gunsmith.

That also goes for any part you plan to swap out on this pistol, apart from recoil springs, firing pins, firing pin springs, grip panels, sights, or grip screws. The 1911 pistol represents a sum total of parts that have a deep relationship with one another, and the smith who performs the work must completely understand how they interact.

Does the Polymer Frame Make Much Difference?

Although it’s a half-pound lighter than most Government Model 1911 pistols, the ATI FXH-45 Moxie doesn’t really feel that light. A true 1911 aficionado might notice it immediately though, particularly if they still carry one on a daily basis.

There are aluminum inserts within the frame for improved stability. This may address the problem of frame flex that can affect some brands of polymer pistols.

ATI FXH-45 Moxie magwell
The frame rails and the immediate part of the frame around them represent the only metal present in the frame.

ATI has made some practical new modifications to the pistol’s slide. However, a flared magazine well would’ve been a simple and welcome upgrade to the frame. There’s probably no need for an oversized funnel, but a simple bevel on the sides would help when seating a fresh magazine.

Its biggest advantage is that it helps push the cost of the pistol lower than a forged or milled frame, while still providing the shooter with the quintessential qualities of one of the finest general-issue single-action semiautomatic, hammer-fired pistols ever made.

Aftermarket Accessories

This is often the bane of any new pistol. Many shooters like to customize and make their pistol more accurate, reliable, or just more of their own.

There’s a large 1911 aftermarket of parts and accessories, more than 100 years old. Grip panels, grip screws, hammers, triggers, springs, sears, safeties, magazines, and other 1911-specific parts are available in droves. Glock night sights and fiber-optic sights are plentiful. Most lights and lasers will fit the Picatinny rail, and if you can score an adapter plate for the slide, you can run a red-dot sight as well.

The only problem might be finding a holster, as the dimensions deviate from most other 1911s. Kinetic Concealment offers an inside-the-waistband hybrid holster that’s very comfortable and affordable. Of course, if you add a weapon-mounted light or laser, you’ll need to look for another brand of leather or Kydex or go the custom route. Hopefully, more holster brands will accommodate the ATI FXH-45 Moxie in 2021.


ATI FXH-45 Moxie
An accessory rail allows the ATI FHX-45 to be fitted with a WML like the SureFire X-200.

The American Tactical FXH-45 Moxie is a somewhat accurate and reliable entry-level 1911 with a polymer frame that’s a good introduction for shooters looking for a 1911. What it lacks in old-school aesthetics, it makes up for in new innovations. It’s optics-ready, lightweight, and affordable for a new generation of shooters. Rather than reinvent the wheel or roll out another polymer-framed striker-fired pistol, ATI chose to update a classic American handgun design and for 400 bucks, did an OK job.

It may not be my first choice for a 1911, but ATI has a solid shooter with this pistol. Should it prove to be successful, we can probably count on seeing the ATI FXH-45 Moxie chambered in other calibers, such as 9mm, 10mm, or 38 Super.

For now, though, it’s a decent offering for anyone on the fence about trying out a 1911-pattern firearm. 

ATI FXH-45 Moxie

Caliber: .45 ACP
Weight Unloaded: 28 ounces
Magazine Capacity: 8 + 1
Length: 8.7 inches
Height: 5.4 inches
Barrel Length: 5 inches
MSRP: $400

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