Throwback Thursday: The 1911 Pistol — Reliability and Accuracy

Colt Commander, circa 1975.

Today we see a great deal of revisionist history in the media, often tainted with rose-colored glasses and a personal agenda. Young people seem to demand more continuity from their comic book epics than their history professors. However, when you level the criticisms and fallacies toward a firearm that has served Americans well for over 100 years, it is more than irritating. When that same firearm has saved your life more than once, perhaps it is time for a report.

As a peace officer for over 20 years, I made reports on a daily basis that had to stand up in court. I could not interject opinion, and I was not looking for an argument of the facts, only presenting accurate information. We should apply the same to writing about firearms, and you may count upon that integrity with this article. An example of the opinions causing some of us to bristle are those stating the 1911 pistol may be finicky, and that it requires considerable skill at maintenance and repair to be considered reliable. Now, anyone can take a good thing and ruin it. Going too cheap, using inferior aftermarket parts, and inconsistent ammunition may cause any firearm to give trouble.

TIsas 1911 Commander length pistol fieldstripped
1911 pistols are easy to fieldstrip and maintain if you know how.


Such statements show a lack of experience and perhaps even historical ignorance. Which 1911 pistol are you talking about — parts guns made from poor or worn parts and assembled on the dining room table? You are not talking about my Kimber, Para Ordnance, SIG, or Springfield! I am not being uncharitable, everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts. Let’s look back to the original Army test of the Colt 1911, a pistol with softer steel and perhaps less consistency than modern CNC-machined pistols. It was a great handgun.

The best of its era, but just the same, let’s look at the technology of the day with respect and admiration. They don’t make them like they used to for a reason — modern is better. The original Colt fired some 6,000 rounds during the test program. Fired until it was too hot to touch, dunked in a bucket of water, cleaned and oiled every 1,000 rounds, the pistol came through the test without a single malfunction.

Chosen on its ability to perform reliably, the 1911 will stop a determined adversary. Considering the speedy second shot, ability to replenish the ammunition supply quickly, handfit, and human engineering, 1911s were rated excellent in their day and still are today. Intelligent engineering concerns determined the cocked-and-locked carry that some seem to fear today. The pistol needed to be safe to carry, safe if dropped (however, soldiers should not drop their pistols) and yet be instantly ready for action. The cocked-and-locked carry with the hammer fully to the rear, the slide lock safety locking the hammer, and the grip safety locking the trigger made shooters rate the pistol as excellent.

Originally designed for use from horseback, the 1911 was so successful during the last cavalry charge in 1916 Mexico, it will probably work for you. I know that in a historical sense, there were other cavalry charges, including the Australian charge at Beersheba, but I am confining myself to American history. Knowledgeable men who could have obtained any firearm adopted the Colt. T. E. Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia, and his brother purchased Colt 1911s as soon as possible. Lawrence’s brother reported the pistol was leagues ahead of anything else. He is still correct nearly 100 years after the Great War that took his life.

Modern Changes

The pistol design allows you to easily fieldstrip it without tools. A case rim or a coin to address the grip screws and you are on your way when taking the pistol down. Modern variants feature full-length guide rods, tightly fitted barrel bushings, and even Allen head grip screws that complicate matters. These firearms have become sporting guns. Like a finicky sports car, they are not as reliable as the forefather of the type.

There are proven and reliable modern 1911 pistols that do possess accuracy potential greater than that of the original 1911. These include the Kimber Custom II as used by LAPD SWAT and the Colt service pistol that was purchased by the United State Marine Corps. Other firearms such as the Les Baer Monolith and Kimber Gold Match are wonderfully accurate, but they are specialized target pistols. A fieldstrip requires special tools. In most cases, special target-grade ammunition is needed to coax the best performance from these handguns.

5 1911 .45 ACP pistols
There are many 1911 handguns to satisfy every taste and role.

When modified with various upgrades — usually relating to accuracy — is it any wonder the handgun is no longer as reliable as it once was. The ambidextrous safety may work loose and the too-tight barrel bushing may cause the pistol to tie up. Never mind the MIM extractor. The bottom line is none of these accessories actually contribute to increased accuracy.

The only improvement realized in absolute accuracy comes from careful barrel fitting. The barrel hood and locking lugs must be properly fitted. This means beginning with a match-grade, oversized barrel, and individually fitting the barrel to the firearm. Ask Les Baer. His pistols are not semi-custom handguns. They are fully custom fitted with a file to CNC-machined slides and barrels that are built under his control. The Kimber Custom Shop also knows a bit about proper fitting.

Proper Magazines

Another trick concerns reliable feeding. In my experience, even those purchasing a good quality 1911 pistol often use poor quality magazines. There is no shortage of inferior feed devices. You should trash these magazines if you intend to bet your life on the 1911, or you expect good reliability. The Metalform product features a flush fit as Browning intended and is of high quality.

Metalform offers a dizzying variety of magazines including the obligatory models with the base pad and a very well designed 8-round magazine with a true 8-round spring, versus the all too common 7-round magazine modified to accept 8 rounds with only casual reliability.

Quite a few 1911 handguns come with the least expensive, low-bid magazines. In one case, a new Springfield TRP arrived with a set of magazines that refused to feed the last round reliably, and the TRP is a superb handgun. These were converted 7-round magazines. The magazine springs must feed from full compression to almost no compression (first round to last). Some magazines are simply not up to the task. It is possible to blame the majority of 1911 malfunctions on the magazine with recoil springs a close second. Don’t cut coils off the recoil spring.

1911 pistol with several magazines
Lay in plenty of spare magazines. Mec-Gar is good for the 1911 and any other pistol.

Back to the magazine, the feed lips control the attitude of the cartridge. The locking block catches the case rim and presses the cartridge forward into the chamber. The feed ramp is partially on the frame and partially on the barrel. There is a requisite 1/32-inch gap between these two surfaces. With a quality magazine and a proper gap between the control surfaces, you will have good feed reliability. The key is quality ammunition. You do not have to fire Federal Gold Match in your 1911 — Wolf 230-grain ball works just fine for practice, if not match shooting.

However, the ammunition has to be within specifications. The problem with many of the early generation hollow point bullets was the nose was too open and too wide for feed reliability and the overall cartridge length was short of the necessary 1.250 OAL for the 1911 pistol design. It would be like putting diesel fuel in your gas engine truck — it would choke, and it would not be the machine’s fault.

Hornady XTP is an example of quality modern ammunition designed for both expansion and reliability. The majority of WWI-issue 1911 handguns will run well with the Hornady XTP because Hornady designed the load to feed in the 1911. It did not design a load for expansion and expect you to modify your pistol.

The bottom line — a quality 1911 pistol with service-grade magazines and ammunition is as reliable as any handgun, more reliable than most, and more rugged than any I am aware. Other advantages include the speed into action of a cocked-and-locked handgun. No other type equals the speed to an accurate first shot or the control demonstrated by the 1911. In my opinion, the wound potential of the .45 ACP cartridge is unequaled in a compact controllable package.

While revisionist history also attempts to downplay the effectiveness of the .45′s, real-world experience, and historical research indicate that with military FMJ ammunition the .45 is approximately twice as effective as the 9mm. With expanding ammunition, the .45 has a considerable advantage over lesser calibers. You cannot change the laws of physics and the 1.6 inches of frontal diameter of the .45 does a lot of damage, letting blood out and air in. This is 60% more frontal area than the 9mm, not a silly 1/10-inch larger as some will try to convince us. With 230-grain bullets versus 115-grain bullets, the .45 also has twice the mass of the 9mm.

Bob Campbell obscured by gunsmoke firing a 1911 pistol at an outdoor range
The author finds the Rock Island 1911 an excellent protection piece.

1911 Accuracy

Accuracy has two components, intrinsic and practical. Locked into a machine rest, a handgun without sights and grips may be accuracy tested. Perfect accuracy would be a .451-inch group — it will not happen past 7 yards. Practical accuracy includes considerations such as the quality of the trigger compression and sight picture. You can more easily manage a rough trigger off the shooting bench. The potential for accuracy in a pistol revolves around the demands. Are we going to Camp Perry or looking for a combat pistol?

In the combat pistol, reliability is a million times more important than anything else is. The National Institute of Justice defines reliability as the propensity of the firearm to fire with each press of the trigger. Reliability is there with the 1911. Today’s 1911s are made using far superior steels to anything available in WWI or WWII — yet these were great pistols.

The Government accuracy standard for the 1911 was 5-inch dispersions at 25 yards and 10-inch dispersions at 50 yards, with the pistol sighted to fire a bit high at the shorter distance and more or less dead on at 50 yards. Some GI pistols were more accurate, some were not, but even those that rattled when shaken were accurate enough for Government Work because the barrel lugs and barrel bushings were tight enough. New pistols manufactured to tighter tolerances mean less eccentric wear, greater accuracy, and in many cases greater reliability.

Is a tighter gun more accurate? The Springfield Bureau Model fired 20,000 rounds without a stoppage while maintaining an average group of 1.25 inches at 25 yards with the Remington Golden Saber loading. It is always interesting to sit down at a benchrest and give a .45 a run for its money. Like all quality handguns, the 1911 likes some loads more than others while a few will be remarkably consistent from one load to the next.

It is all in the hands of the trained shooter that stays in practice. As for the 1911, well, it is my handgun and it is an American icon. I admit that I may lose my objectivity at times when discussing America’s pistol, but so be it. A sense of history and emotional attachment do that to a person. The 1911 is too good to ignore. If anything, I have understated the value of the pistol. Try one on for size and you will not regret the decision.

1911 Pistol Testing

1911 handguns, 25 yards, average of two 5-shot groups fired from a solid benchrest position

LoadModelGroup (inches)
Black Hills 185-grain JHPKimber Eclipse GI 5-inch3.0
Springfield GI 1911A14.0
SIG Carry Stainless3.2
Black Hills 230-grain JHPPara GI Expert3.0
Ruger CMD SR19112.8
Kimber Pro CDP2.25
Fiocchi 230-grain ExtremaRock Island Tactical 5-inch2.5
Para GI Expert3.0
Springfield Tactical Response Pistol (TRP)1.9

What do you think about the 1911 pistol? Do you have a favorite model? Share your experience with us in the comment section.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January of 2014. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and clarity.

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (38)

  1. in early 2000 I worked in a gunshop, we mostly sold Colt 1911 (at that time in Italy they were chambered in 45 HP), in those years I have seen hundreds of 1911 non working properly at all, some years ago I bought an used 1991/A1 (now 45 ACP is allowed in Italy and that gun was in the original calibre) and was not reliable at all, I had to rework it, now seems to be working properly (I will have to shoot many more rounds with it before to be reasonably sure of its reliability), I wanted to try a TISAS 1911 GI, on the first 50 rounds (HB) I had 30 malfunctions, today I had “only” 2 malfunctions on 58 rounds (50 HB and 8 GFL B Mamba).

    1911 is a magnificent project and the genius of JMB is evident; however, in my opinion it is just a way of designing , manufacturing and mantaining firearms that is almost forgotten, I had several Beretta 98, Glocks and Sig 2022, with them I simply don’t have to check extractors (even if both my Sig have the internal extracotor), recoil springs, magazines springs etc., you just fill the magazine and shoot reliably.

  2. John Browning designed the sear spring so that it could be used to remove the grip screws. Great article.

  3. I love my old 1943, military issue m1911a1. It’s a wonderful piece of history, a wonderful piece of engineering (for it’s time), it remains a wonderful piece of engineering to this day, and it’s a fun and reliable shooter.

    However, I’ve never carried it and wouldn’t consider doing so because, frankly, it was never designed or intended to be carried in the concealed manner that is required today. It was also not designed or optimised for the strictly VERY short range, defensive applications that remain legally defensible today.

    It is a large, heavy, military grade firearm designed to be open carried on the hip and used effectively at ranges up to 25 yards. There are much lighter, much more compact, much more easily concealed and much cheaper options available today that are just as (if not more) reliable, have just as high a magazine capacity and will stop an attacker just as dead, just as reliability, at legally defendable ranges of no more than about 7 or 8 yards. In fact, there are many modern options that are all that AND that have considerably higher magazine capacities.

    That, I think, is a big part of the controversy about 911’s. There are those on one extreme who insist 911’s are still and will always remain the best carry option available. And there are those on the other extreme who say they are unreliable, old, obsolete pieces of junk.

    The sensible middle ground appreciates 911’s for what they are, but carries something more suited to the modern realities of concealed carry.

  4. 1911 is a proven design, but the quality of workmanship is the key factor if the individual gun works correctly or not. Yes – back when COLT was the only maker of the 1911s, (1970s – 1980s), even they had “bad” guns go out the door. Modern CNC machining, and QC can make 1911s that would require hours of hand fitting even as recently as 15 – 20 years ago that function just fine. SO – One can buy a 1911 that should run fine right out of the box, with little or no “slicking up” of the action. Even imported 1911s are now made that function OK without any “tuning”. Note that the Series 70 COLT when I first got it, (purchased in 1972), required a long afternoon of polishing (~3 1/2 hours) and testing to get it to run properly. In 2022, can even upgrade the sights to a level that was not available 20 – 30 years ago.

    8 rounds of .45 ACP may seem to not be enough ammo, but that is why you should carry more than one magazine. Magazines do appear to be the one sore spot in the whole issue of the 1911 that still can be responsible for function problems. and not the pistol itself.

  5. Bob, once again you hit it out of the park with this one. As I have said before, I carried a 1911 when I was overseas serving Uncle Sam some 50 years ago. I have deep affection for this weapon. The 1911 has assisted me in extracting myself from a number of tight spots. It is hard not to love a gun with a history like that.

    And today, I have more than one 1911, and am considering adding to that collection when the numbers in my bank account allow for that. The only times I have had any issues with the weapons I have could be traced to either a worn out recoil spring that could not withstand the pounding I gave it or magazine springs that needed replacement. Once those springs were replaced, the issues I was having vanished. I am sorry others have not seen the same.

    As far as the weapon I carried way back when, I want to say it was a Singer but I could be wrong. I just know it was not of Colt manufacture. It was an excellent, reliable weapon that provided excellent service every time I took it with me into the boonies. I hated to leave it when I separated back to the States.

    I see comments about people wanting to carry so many extra magazines and high cap magazines and it makes me wonder what the…? When I was overseas, we all carried extra magazines because we were in the Army and the extra ammo in those magazines are great for breaking up those unexpected festivities when certain house guests are trying to throw the unwanted surprise party when we were out in the boonies trying to do the same for them. So all that ammo back then was warranted from my perspective.

    I have looked at the literature and from what I have seen, in the US, when there is a citizen shooting, there are seldom more than 6 rounds fired per person. Studies have also shown that most people in those shootings miss their target more than they hit them. One of the problems with misses is there can be collateral damage, even death involving unintentional targets. People who have never drawn their weapon in a real conflict seem to know more about what it is like than those who have actually been there or than what the reports reflect.

    I do not carry a weapon every time I go out, and it has been years, no decades, since I have found myself in a situation where I felt I needed a weapon and did not have one. And it has been almost five decades since I came home from over there. On those times that I am carrying, I do not believe that I need more than the eight rounds that are in my weapon. I also must admit that there have been a number of times that, here in the US, that I was glad I had my weapon and the possibility was there that it could (would) be needed, but in the end, it was NOT drawn because I found myself able to extract myself from the vicinity of the threat and I am here today, none the worse for wear.

    Great article, Bob, I enjoy your stuff.

  6. Bob,
    Great article on the 1911 handgun, very informative, provided good information for anyone to understand . Thanks for your service and keep the great articles coming. I enjoy every one of them.
    Thank you

  7. There are proven and reliable modern 1911 pistols that do possess accuracy potential greater than that of the original 1911.” Unfortunately so many comparisons like this never mention the Ruger SR1911 Government. Why is that important? Because the accuracy of a 1911 is in the barrel to bushing relationship, and from my understanding, Ruger makes the barrel, and the bushing, from the same piece of steel, on the same machine. Think about that for a moment. Mine out of the box was impressive even out to 25 yards, being able to keep them all in a head shot. The trigger, was/is around 3.1 pounds, and very short pull/reset. After six plus years of use, I can’t remember it ever malfunctioning. All that for, six years ago, well under $1,000. Did I mention I was never a fan of old guns like the 1911, well, until I bought one to see what all the fuss was about? Like an old G-man (a revolver guy) use to say: If you can’t hit them in six, it’s time to get the heck out of there. 🙂

  8. I shot my first 1911 at 18 years old. It was a WWII bring back by my uncle, a Marine BAR man with several island invasions under his belt. At age 22, I bought my first 1911. I have owned at least 12 1911s, of different makes and models, in the last 50 years. If I could only have one pistol to carry for the remaining years of this old man’s life, it would be a 1911.

  9. I love the way discussion about the 1911 always stirs up emotions. I was down on 1911s when I first started instructing because I saw so many failure to feeds in the classes I conducted. But a Ruger 1911 Commander changed my perspective and I became a fan. I determined that the failures I witnessed were due to things like old Colts being used by newcomers and Kimbers having been bought from the back-of-the-magazine ads by people who didn’t have a clue how to operate them. After my Ruger, I started acquiring 1911s when I could, mostly Commanders. Among my favorites are the Sig Sauer Emperor Scorpion, S&W Enhanced LW Commander, Colt LW Commander, Remington R1 Carry Commander and some full-size models, the Colt M45 CQB Pistol and Springfield LW Operator. Still haven’t brought myself to buy a Kimber, but someday will probably. Chip McCormick and Wilson Mags are great for reliability, yes, but I opt for Colt Magazines. They are 8-round flush fit. Great article, Bob.

  10. Can you point me toward your source for the governmental accuracy requirement for the 1911? Not saying it’s not true – in fact, I would be overjoyed if it were – it’s just that neither I nor Ken Hackathorn has been able to find any documentation of an official accuracy standard for the 1911. It would be nice to plug that hole in my firearms knowledge. Thanks.

  11. I hear a lot of talk about glock reliability so much better than a1911 I really couldn’t say but one thing you don’t hear glock owners say is that there glock is more accurate than a 1911 and you do there full of crap and they know it and a glock is one of the most uncomfortable cumbersome feeling pistol I have held and fired and the truth about any hand gun if you’re hands are not comfortable holding it I don’t care what it is it’s not a good match and after all that I have said I have a 1911 but my gun of choice is 92fs it fits me and that makes it the most accurate and reliable for me it’s personal but a 1911 is probably the most universal hand gun ever made for fit all around

  12. Interesting read about 1911’s and their reliability. After many years of shooting with many different handguns I have only had one bad experience with a 1911 and that was last year. A Colt Defender looked like an ideal carry gun with it’s 3″ barrel and it found it’s way into my iwb holster. Fun to shoot and good accuracy at 25 yards, but it would stove pipe 4 times in one box with 230 good fmj ammo. Cleaning and lubing didn’t help and after the second month of firing it with a total of 300 rounds, it hadn’t improved. I called Colt, explained the fte problem, and was asked for the serial number. I was told it was made over one year ago and out of warranty. I explained that I bought it two months ago was told again that it was out of warranty. Colts failure to stand behind a new gun convinced me to never buy another Colt. Now I’m a happy Springfield owner.

  13. I had a Brand New All Steel Framed Colt Commander or Combat Commander back in the Mid 1970’s. That Shot Over a Foot Low at 25 Yards. To shoot a Pop Can I had to hold the Barrel so High that I could Not see the Pop Can to have any chance of hitting it. So I had a Gun Smith Put a Different Set of Sights on it and It Still Shot Way Low. I Finally got so Disgusted with it that I Sold it to get Rid of the Aggravation.

  14. I love the 1911, but I have put well over 30,000 rounds through a 1st gen Glock 17 without a single malfunction. I also have a S&W M&P 9 1.0 with almost 10,000 rounds through it…not a single hiccup. No 1911 I ever pickup can match that.

  15. OK, I realize i’m going to be the odd man out here, so let me try to lessen the criticism that’s sure to come my way by saying that I own three 1911’s: a Les Baer Comanche, a Gunsite Springfield, and a Colt Combat Commander lightly modified by Jim Clark. And in my 39 year career as a police officer, I carried a 1911 for about 15 years. That said, it has been my (well documented) experience that 1911’s are going to jam somewhere in the 1 to 1.5% range. That’s based on over 15,000 rds through the 3 pistols. By comparison, I have a S&W 3913 with over 7500 rds through it, and one jam; a Sig 226 with 2,350 rds and one jam (0.04% jam rate), a Glock 17 with 1,620 rds and 1 jam (0.06%), a S&W 39 with 2,962 rds and 5 jams (0.17%).

    I know this information to be correct because I began meticulously keeping track of how many rounds I fired, how many jams I got, and what magazines I used, then entering it into a database for easier analysis. Speaking of magazines, the magazines I used for the 1911’s were Wilson, Tripp Magazine’s Cobramag – probably one of the best out there – and McCormick, so I don’t think I can be accused of using inferior magazines in the 1911.

    So how did I come up with a different view on the 1911’s reliability to so many others? There’s a natural tendency to cherry pick data (subconsciously or otherwise) and to remember the successes and forget the failures. Or make excuses for them – oh, I limp-wristed that shot, so I won’t count the jam, that sort of thing. When I was counting jams, if it didn’t work like it was supposed to, IT WAS A JAM. And I recorded it right then.

    Which suggests an interesting question: Why in the world did I stay with the 1911 so long, when there were demonstrably more reliable pistols available. It’s sort of like loving a bad woman: you know you could do better, but you just can’t stand to leave her!

  16. I’m a 45 geek. I have 6 as of now. I have 3 SA, 2 Colts and 1 Sig p220 Combat. I like to tinker with handguns, and do all of my own upgrades. My very first 45 was a SA 1911 -A1 Blued GOVERMENT model. It is now what I call a Loaded model. Shoots bedder than me. The other two are a S/S TRP, and the Black Armory kote TRP. BEAUTIFUL GUNS. My two Colts are Colt combat commander 70 series and the Colt XSE S/S Model. Love all my 45s and Dan Wesson Bobtail is on my list. I’m an ex Army Viet Nam Vet and can’t help myself. Love guns…..

  17. I feel honored to have read such a finely written piece on the 1911. Years ago I had and sold a Norinko .45. Today I regret it. Recently I purchased. Sig P227 Nitron .45. Though not a 1911 It’s a fine firearm. Thank you Mr. Campbell for your excellent article. It was very educational. Also, thank you for your service in law enforcement. It’s a shame that some people only focus on the few bad incidents or even the lies perpetrated by the media. I’m not a Pollyanna but I prefer to believe that most uniformed officers are good people. I can also understand how quickly they might become jaded given the work they do and the people their forced to deal with. I’m definitely going to buy your book.

  18. I bought a 1911 Government Mk IV Series 80 in 2011 to honor JM Browning. On the slide it states 100 years of service pretty remarkable. I have owned the pistol for three years now and shoot regularly at Reeds indoor range in Santa Clara CA. The pistol is overall blued with rosewood checkered double diamond grips, although I do have some “Boned Ivory” grips coming with the US ARMY logo scrimshawed on them. After three years I am just starting to understand the sear/disconnect relationship.

    I shoot 230 gr hardball exclusively and in three years I have not had a jam or misfire. Note: we are not allowed to rapid fire at this indoor range. I am just a sport shooter but love the pistol and all it history I recently bought a muzzle compensator and a 15 yards can put 50 rounds in the black. PS I can do a complete take down and reassembly in 7 1/2 minutes the series 80 parts slow me down a bit. Best Jay Ribera

  19. For 25 years I fired 357 magnums and always felt a bit tortured by the kick on them. Recently I bought and fired a gov. 1911, now own three of them. I can fire them all day long with out feeling any pain. Now I enjoy going to the range. I am not the best in accuracy but who cares. It’s just a lot of fun to fire. One of the 1911’s is a Remington R1s and it is my favorite. It takes any ammo without any type of feed problems. The only change I made was I bought white pearl grips from Hogue, and the feel and look is outstanding. I really don’ like to fire anything else except the 1911. Never knew what I was missing for 25 years. What made me buy it was , in 1956 at the military gun rang at camp Logan, my sergeant had a pearl handle 45 and I always wanted one. To bad I waited so long.

  20. I’m sorry to hear that you had to work among the bullies with badges for so long (the very worst liars and thieves I have ever known were cops!) but I have to agree that the design upon which every modern automatic pistol is based remains the cream of the crop. With all due respect to J.M. Browning, I have to go one step further and say that if it isn’t a Colt, it’s just a copy.

  21. The 1911 is of work of art in form and function.A timeless classic like a HARLEY DAVIDSON. While other poly designs may have their benefits a custom 1911 will always be collectable and desirable.
    Ive been involved with 1911s for decades and I’ve competed in: USPSA,SCSA STEEL CHALLENGE and USCA TWO-GUN.
    Not being happy with the performance of many so-called “customs” which are production semi-customs at best with tooling marks and 5-6lb gritty triggers. I started building my own and however I’ve found the following to be great 1911s out of the box using (chip or wilson mags): LES BAER and CLARK CUSTOMS (clark was the friendliest company I’ve ever spoke with and they allowed me to pick their brain on subjects related to my customs which not many pistolsmiths would do) ,CLARK Barrels are HARD FIT(lower lug/hood) so they shoot as good as a 1.5″ BAER. S.V.I. Is a great company but has a 12-16 month wait. TED YOST makes gorgeous heirloom quality 1911s in AZ. I will only own series-70 design non-swartz safety 1911s as a personal preference and prefer either traditional blue or hard chrome for (run&gun) 1911s. These NEW spray and bake “xxx-kote” Polane-T “tactical” 1911s i see lately in magazines don’t embody what i consider a 1911 should be. It seems like having a desert tan or flat dark earth color is more important than fit/finish,crisp trigger/reset and most important,reliable cycling with the magazines it comes with!
    I decided to build my 1911s for friends,family and interested competitors,with the fit and finish of an HEIRLOOM quality 1911,hand checkering,(old school) NITRE BLUE pins,45 degree reverse crown,jeweling, with the precision/accuracy of a competition 1911 custom with a hard fit barrel/bushing,hand stoned sear/hammer and attention to detail with fitting/polishing all controls.


  22. Everything you say is true. So, when i bought my series 70 @ police supply I also bought origonal colt mags at the same place. 10 I still use today when I bought it in “72. I also have the 9mm, .38 super, & .22 ace conversions kits to go along with it.

  23. The 1911 pistol is a truly remarkable weapon. It has stood the test of time and still continues to perform well. I also think that the 8 round magazine is more than enough for this pistol (better grip versus a cumbersome grip due to the expanded clip and heavier weight). All in all, if you are looking for a piece of history and firepower in your hands, then look no further.

  24. I agree that 8 shots for the 1911 is a draw back. This is why law enforcement with the .40 with 15 shots. I do prefer the 45 compared to a 9. But I also like the fact of 14 rounds per mag because you never know.
    My thoughts.

  25. I just purchased a Kimber 1911 in .38 Super. I absolutely love it. Took it same day to the range and put a box through it. I have always wanted one in .38 Super.

    As far as the idiot stating if you need more than 8 rounds, why don’t you go read something by Ayoob. You seem to be on his level. More ammo is always better. I’m neither a hater of the 1911 nor a worshiper at it’s alter. I own several different types of handguns, auto-loaders and revolvers; Smith&Wesson, Glock, Beretta, and Sig. I’ve never had difficulty with accurately shooting any of them. Most modern firearms are well made and any well made firearm is intrinsically accurate. For stupid proof reliability a revolver beats an auto hands down. So to answer Kunstman, if you need more than 6 rounds you need to just quit. It is precisely for the ease of reloading and holding more ammunition to begin with that autos have become ascendant.

  26. Great article Bob, thanks. And thanks for your service as well. I was a wheelgun man my whole life, but bought a stainless Girsan 1911 last year, and two Springfield XDs guns about a month ago. I now look for any aricles and books I can find on .45acp or 1911 guns, having rather ignored them largely over the years. I can tell by your article, you have much more you could share. Please do so in the near future. I for one, like your no nonsense style.

  27. Dont ever expect an assailant(s) to run away after you shoot his homey or drop like a ton of bricks from one shot. IF they run great! but dont expect em to run, IF they drop from one round GREAT! but dont expect em to. Thats bad training IMHO.

  28. No Colts in the test?!?!?? That is almost sacrilegious. That was my main weapon in Vietnam. I did not have to beat the jungle with an M-16, but my 45 was never out of reach. I have 3 1911’s……all Colts (a Series 70, a Gold Cup and a 1980RG) and would like to have seen how they stacked up to the Kimber’s, Para’s and Springfield’s. My 1911’s are as close to anything that I own in duplicate. I don’t have one of everything I want yet, but I have 3 sons and if I don’t leave them anything else, they will all have a Colt 45 when I am dead and gone!

  29. Excellent article about the 1911. All said. No other gun in the world has the same proven track record as the 1911.
    A few years back I was looking for a gun asy to conceal for work abroad. Always liked wheel guns, but even a five shot snub nose in .38 was too bulky . Besides, I could not hit a barn door at point blank range with any semi auto in 9mm or .45. like a Glock or Beretta. Test firing my new gun to make sure to have at least some satisfying results, I surprised myself with a very tight group fired from the 2-1/2″ barrel of a Para Ordnance. Target acquisition is as easy as pointing the index finger, the 1911 gun stays locked in your grip and will not roll or tilt. Most likely you hit your target with the fist shot and the adversary will go down. If you are up against 4 or 5 and you drop the first two with the same number of shots the rest will realize you are just warming up and run like hell. A highly decorated WW 2 veteran told me ones :” Headshot? torso shot? Hit by a .45 , the guy goes down and does not return fire !”
    I personally think the grip becomes too bulky with a 14 round mag.If the 8 or 9 rounds plus a spare mag are not enough you are in trouble anyway and need something belt fed.

  30. Robert…If you have 4 or 5 perps, at least 2 are down with your first half a magazine, (I carry 3)+ one in weapon.. if you have practiced enuf, the other 2 will be either leaving or keeping to close cover, if you have practiced your quick mag changes, they won’t know the difference, too many times i’ve seen and read report of so called “experienced” law enforcement or civilians shooting massive amounts and not hitting any thing with their 15-20 round capacity mags. shoot slow, remember slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

  31. kunstmann, I totally agree with you, but what if you are up against 4 or 5 perps? IF MY 1911 8 ROUND IS NOT IN CLOSE WITH A FEW EXTRA MAGAZINES, I could be in deep foo-foo. Always remember the spare mags, and you WILL kick butt.

  32. Comment back at Boomer…If you need more than 8 to put your target down…then you’d better either practice more, or use a shotgun, enuf said.

  33. The 1911 is a part of Americana. It will be with us for as long as we are free men and women.
    I only have one bit of criticism for it. It usually only holds 8 in the mag. The good news is there is at least one brand of 1911 that will hold 14 and it will be my next one. The 1911 Para 14. It comes in many variations and prices with a good reputation. So for those like me who’s only gripe about the valiant 1911 is the capacity; there is at least one option; maybe more.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.