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.