The 1911 Handgun in 9mm

By Bob Campbell published on in Firearms

There are many equally valid reasons for purchasing a 1911 handgun. By the same token, there are numerous good reasons for choosing a 9mm handgun. The 1911 does not have to be a .45, and the 9mm does not have to be a GLOCK.

9mm 1911 Barrel

The 9mm marking on the barrel means this 1911 is a little different.

The handling of the 1911, its solid ergonomics, reliability and a distinctive appearance are impressive. While the logic-ladder approach works, other approaches are just as important. Seldom is an intellectual decision made that is as compelling as the call of the heart, glands and movie memories.

9mm 1911 — the best bet for an all-around defensive handgun.

The 9mm 1911 just may be the best bet for an all-around defensive handgun.

The 1911 has grace and friendliness for those who speak the language of steel. If you intend to use it for personal defense or IDPA competition, it is unlikely a professional trainer will show up at your doorstep to train you. You must make a significant investment in time, effort, study and ammunition to master the handgun.

For many, the 9mm 1911 makes sense.

Why the 9mm 1911

Throughout the years, there have been two types of 9mm Luger 1911 pistols. The Colt is manufactured in only one style, although some makers have manufactured pistols in each style, so be certain what you get.

Purpose-designed compacts, such as the Springfield EMP and Para Ordnance Carry 9, are true 9mm Luger-caliber handguns that cannot be converted to .38 Super. The Colt-type 9mm pistols feature a 0.384-inch-wide breech face, while the .38 Super uses a 0.405-inch-wide breech face.

Paraordnance 9mm 1911 and magazine

The single-stack 1911 is much easier to handle and fire than the double-column magazine 9mm handguns.

By opening the 9mm breech face, inserting a .38 Super barrel and using Super magazines, you can convert 9mm Colt .38 Super. The Super usually functions fine with a 9mm barrel and magazines, although you may have to tune the extractor. For many reasons, the 9mm Colts, with their short cartridges and blocked magazines (a liner in the back of what is basically a converted .38 Super magazine), are not as reliable as .38 Super or .45 ACP pistols.

Wilson Combat ETM magazines in 9mm and .38 Super go a long way to addressing that problem. The shorter Springfield EMP and Para Ordnance Carry 9 pistols are true 9mm-size handguns with short grips and specific magazines and cannot be converted to .38 Super. They seem to be more reliable than the 1911 9mm template that preceded them.

The 9mm 1911 is the second most popular type today, far more popular than the 10mm or .38 Super. The 9mm is a fine practice cartridge that offers real economy. For those who want to engage in cost-effective practice, the 9mm has much merit. And, while I prefer the .45 ACP, there are numerous high-output 9mm loads from which anyone would be well advised to get out of the way.

9mm Luger 95-grain DPX Ammunition in a box

9mm ammunition can be high energy and effective.

Among my favorites is the Cor©Bon 115-grain DPX.

A good point is that a purpose-designed 9mm 1911 may be shorter and lighter than a standard 1911 .45, such as the Para Ordnance 9mm. The real advantages of the 9mm 1911 are handling and recoil control. While we often state that there is no faster handgun to an accurate first-shot hit than the 1911, there is no handgun faster in follow-up shots than the 9mm 1911.

Control is excellent. Those handguns also are often very accurate. They offer a rock-solid firing platform and a straight-to-the-rear trigger compression with conventional single-action design. For example, the Citadel 9mm compact has turned in 25-yard groups of 2.5 inches for five shots with American Eagle 9mm ball. That is superior performance.

With light 9mm recoil, there is really no good reason to invest in a Government Model 9mm. The compacts are great shooters—unless you are going to hunt small game and engage in competition. For those tasks, the 5-inch gun has much merit.

For many reasons, I have used a Citadel 1911 9mm as a test bed for 9mm handloads, new defense loads I review and various experiments revolving around the 9mm cartridge. I realize I have fired thousands of rounds with this handgun, without a single failure to feed, chamber, fire or eject. The Citadel has been very comfortable in firing and gives a good idea of the accuracy potential of any 9mm loading.

I own several well-made and accurate 9mm handguns from HK, SIG, Beretta and CZ. The 9mm is so similar to my 1911 .45 carry gun that it makes sense to use the 1911 9mm in such pursuits.

Citadel 9mm 1911 and two magazines

With the Citadel and a couple of extra magazines, you have a good ammunition.

For those who prefer the .45, a 9mm 1911 is often a good piece to have. Ammunition is comparatively inexpensive. Less-dedicated partners, or teenagers breaking into centerfire shooting, will appreciate the 9mm. I have developed a belief that the 9mm 1911 just may be the best bet for a first 1911.

While the .22 kicks less and is less inexpensive, the 9mm has more authority. The 9mm 1911 lets you concentrate on marksmanship without the distraction of .45 ACP recoil. Recoil control is learned, as is marksmanship. Yet, if the piece is called on for personal defense, it serves.

Another advantage is hand fit. Most 9mm defense handguns have large grips that hold double-column magazines. They may offer 15 rounds compared to a 1911 9mm handgun’s 9 rounds, yet hand fit is very important in fast, accurate fire. After all, when have you seen a quality, single-column magazine 9mm for sale? Not many times.

The 1911 9mm neatly solves that problem. The 9mm 1911 is one of my favorite handguns, and it may be yours, too. Give it a shot.

What are your thoughts on the 1911 mm? Do you agree, or disagree, with the author’s preference? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

SLRule

Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

View all articles by Bob Campbell

 

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Comments (40)

  • MarkOwen

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    I have 2 Star 9MM Super B pistols. They are a real 1911 style 9MM. Just slight differences ie no grip safety and a couple minor things. Single stack keeps them thin and ok for concealed carry. Difficult to get parts for but both are real good shooters!

    Reply

  • Philip

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    Recently acquired a Citadel 1911 9mm and was quite impressed with function, accuracy and the like. Sweet number. Break in began with shooting steel targets that proved the pistol hit where aimed no problem. Trouble came during third magazine load with a failure to fully extract. Empty was half out of chamber with next round feed jammed underneath. One failure during that magazine. Another single failure with next magazine. Soon every round failed to extract fully though found normal extraction by loading mag with single round. Tried a variety of ammo – nothing helped. Citadel now has the pistol for correction. Experimenting with dummy loads full magazine dry fire every cycle extracted perfectly. Inspection found no extractor issues. I suspect the problem my lie with the magazines.

    Reply

    • Carl P

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      From what I have read, from the expierances of those I have spoken with and from the occasional personal run in with 1911 platform feeding and extraction issues, it seems to come down to an issue with the magazines far more often than not. I use Wilson mag’s now in my 1911’s for the most part and gave nearly eliminated feeding issues. If dropped, left unprotected, the lips may become damaged or distorted and cause these kinds of problems. I have also found that in some of the less expensive 1911 platforms that the factory mag are the weak point in the product. Just replace the mag and see what happens. Sometimes it may be an ammo issue but more likely it will be the mag. That been my experience to date anyway…..

      Reply

  • Todd

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    I bought two Wilson Combat magazines in 9 mm, for a Rock Island TAC II Compact, and they both failed to work. Took them back to wilson to replace, but every Mag. they brought out did the same thing. the 1st. bullet would chamber, but the next one in line would not get pushed to the top, so it would not chamber. after going thru all the ones they had, I left with a refund. Bought two from Advanced Tactical and they work fine.

    Reply

    • Secundius

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      @ Todd.

      I sympathize with you problem. While your 1911, is 9x19mmParabellum/Luger, my Colt 1911 Commander, is .45ACP.

      Reply

    • Steve Moore

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      I had mag trouble until found Tripp Research Inc. 1911 Cobra mags from Brownells.com/magazines/
      No feeding problems now. Recommend!

      Reply

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