1911 Magazines

Taurus 8-Round Magazine

The 1911 is without a doubt one of the most popular pistols in the country. Its longevity is a testament to the genius of its design.  Subtle improvements have been made to John Moses Browning’s iconic design, and it still suffers from one weak spot—the magazine.

Because the 1911 pattern pistol is the dominant pistol in competition, I’ve had the opportunity to watch quite a few of them fail for various reasons.  The most common reason 1911s go down is not related to the design of the pistol; it is the magazines.

It used to be that if you wanted a reliable 1911 you were going to lay out some serious cash to make the purchase.  Now even the pistols imported from the Philippines are running reliably for thousands of rounds when used with quality magazines.  Buying quality magazines being the key point.

There are a lot of choices out there for 1911 magazines, and several names have risen above the rest when it comes to widely available 1911 pistol mags.  The first name that pops up for “1911 magazines” is the Wilson Combat 47D.  For years this has been the gold standard in 1911 magazines, providing reliable function and feeding in Wilson’s custom guns and competition pistols across the country.

When I see a 1911 go down at a match, my first question is “what kind of mags are you using?” When the cause is a magazine failure, they usually are not using the “Wilson Combat.”

My personal favorites are Chip McCormick magazines.  These are usually $10-15 cheaper than Wilson Combat magazines and I have not experienced any issues with them.  They have run a variety of the pistols I use competitively and are still my magazine of choice when I’m buying a new 1911.  Chip McCormick also makes a 10-round magazine, which raises your 1911 to the competitive standards of the Limited-10 division in USPSA competition.

The last brand of magazines I recommend for regular use are the Mec-Gar 1911 magazines.  Mec-Gar manufactures the magazines shipped with many different types of pistols, including double-stack mags for S&W and Ruger, and their single-stack 1911 mags are also excellent quality.  These magazines actually ship with the Armscor 1911s, distributed in the U.S. under the Citadel and Rock Island Armory brand names.  This is an excellent quality magazine for a reasonable price, and stocking up on these is a good decision.

All 1911 magazines are not created equal. At IDPA matches, I only use the factory magazines shipped with my 1911s as my “barney mag” to load at the start of the stage.  All serious shooting in my guns comes from Wilson Combat or Chip McCormick magazines.

Feed your 1911s well, and they will be a reliable competition and combat pistol lasting a lifetime. That’s why the 1911 design is still used in combat today.

How about you? What magazines do you use for your 1911? Share in the comments section.

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Comments (12)

  1. I have 2 rock islands, they came with armscorp magazines. the feed anything and lock when the mags empty. I purchased mecgar mags to go with them, they feed fine but slide doesn’t lock.

  2. Note to Barry – One of my Rock Islands came with Act-Mags and the other with (what appears to be) Mec-Gar. The Act-Mags WILL NOT feed anything other than standard hard-ball ammunition. They will not feed truncated cone, or any kind of hollow-point ammunition that I have tried. I have purchased 10 additional magazines for my pistols and I carry 4 spare mags with my shoulder rig and with my hip rig, plus 2 in the headboard of my bed, where one of the pistols sleeps – the other is never more than arms reach away. If you have the Act-Mags … throw them away and get some decent mags, your troubles should go away with them.
    Be safe.

  3. would like some feedback by anyone w/ extensive experience re: less-that-maxed-out 1911s, using maxed-out mags, that fail-2-function frequently; have heard that it IS the lesser 1911s that fail, w/, or w/out,less-than-max mags (relative to glocks)

  4. I don’t shoot competitively but for carry I do use the Wilson mags, have a thin basepad version in the gun and 2 49D’s in a double spare mag pouch.
    I also re-bent the lips of the “stock” mag like the Wilson mags and it feeds more reliably, but still has an occasional hangup, so it’s only for practice. Occasional jams help with the clearing training anyways, Right?
    Anyone know who makes the stock Springfield Armory mags? Gun was made in Brazil……..
    I thought I was buying US made product til I got it home. Can’t trust anyone I guess!
    Still, it seems to be well made even tho it wasn’t made “here”.

  5. I’ve never used the Italian ACT mag that came with my STI in a match but it has always functioned during training. Tripp research mags are also excellent. I favor the Wilson 47DE with the extended base pad. It makes the reload easy if you have a mag well.

  6. I’ve never had any problems with Chip McCormick magazines. I figure if it’s good enough for Colt to ship as a factory mag with my 1911, it’s good enough for the rest of my magazines.

  7. I have had no major problems with these mags: Kimber, Wilson combat, Nighhawk, and McCormick. Food for thought: My Wilson mags have un-numbered slots on the mag. Under stress, good luck counting your rounds! Other mags, such as Nighthawk and McCormick mags have numbered holes. The numbered holes are very easy to read for round counting!

  8. Magazines are a key factor in the reliability in any semi-auto gun. This is part of why it is very important to number or mark your magazines; you can tell if there are one or two that consistently give you problems, and remove them from use. The only “better” mags my 1911s (both Springfield and Kimber) won’t feed from reliably are Mec-Gar mags. CMC Power-Mags work pretty good though.

    Mec-Gar mags work just fine in my Hi-Power and my Sig, but not worth a crap in my 1911s.

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