The .45 ACP 1911 as a Concealed Carry Weapon

Part of 1911 series army pistol close-up.

It’s been around for nearly 100 years and the design is well known as one of John Moses Browning’s finest creations. First used by the American military fighting in the Philippines, the 1911 rapidly gained popularity as a service weapon.

Many people see the 1911 as too large or unreliable to be suitable as a concealed-carry handgun and, while the large size of a Government Model 1911 necessitates some wardrobe considerations, it is by no means difficult to keep concealed.

Full-sized 1911 pistols are easily concealed with either an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster or a small-of-the-back holster. Paddle and belt slide holsters work as well, although you need to make sure the pistol is held high enough so the barrel does not protrude beneath your cover garment.

Some people don’t like having only seven or eight rounds of ammunition and Para-Ordnance has answered the call with its line of double-stack 1911s, including the lightweight “Big Hawg” which holds 14 rounds in the magazine and an additional round in the chamber for a total of 15 rounds of .45 ACP.

While this larger 1911 has a much wider grip, large-framed individuals may still be able to conceal it inside an IWB or shoulder holster. The alloy frame of the Big Hawg makes it much more comfortable to tote this monster around compared to the hefty steel frames found on most 1911 pistols.

Not to start the old “GLOCK vs. 1911” debate, and there are those who have blasted the 1911 as “unreliable” when the fact is, using the correct ammunition, a 1911 pistol is no more or less reliable than virtually any modern pistol design.

What is the “correct ammunition” then? Recall that the 1911 was designed for the military and, that for the most part, military small arms ammunition is full metal jacket. John Moses Browning built his pistol to take ball ammunition, not modern hollow points. .45 ACP hollow point ammunition invariably hangs up on feeding when used in an unramped 1911, and can still be problematic on a modern fully ramped model. Full power, full metal jacket ammo, such as 230-grain FMJ Speer Lawman, serves you best in any 1911.

Still, no matter how well a full-sized 1911 may run on the range, many people simply find they are too large to comfortably carry concealed. If that is the case, stepping down to the aluminum framed 1911 Commander, or the even smaller 1911 Officer’s Model, is another option.

Para-Ordnance makes a line of sub-compact 1911 pistols in single- and double-stack named the Slim Hawg and Warthog respectively.

  • The Slim Hawg, with it’s 7-round capacity, is a very convenient carry pistol for 1911 aficionados who prefer the single-action trigger.
  • The Warthog, which is essentially a renamed P10.45, has a double stack magazine which increases ammo capacity to 10 rounds, albeit at the cost of a wider grip.

Most people packing 1911 handguns prefer to carry them cocked-and-locked (hammer back, safety on), though there are a few adherents of the “Israeli Carry” method which has the pistol kept hammer down, safety off, on an unloaded chamber. This requires the slide to be cycled when the pistol is drawn, adding another step to the process of drawing and presenting the firearm, and from a safety standpoint is actually unnecessary.

Most modern 1911 pistols are of the Series 80 design and include a firing pin block that prevents it from moving unless the trigger is pulled.

There is one disadvantage to carrying a 1911 compared to a striker fired pistol. If carrying your 1911 pistol cocked-and-locked, you may need to periodically clean the lint out from the area between the hammer and the firing pin.

For my own 1911 carry piece, I simply use a cotton swab to wipe out any dirt and lint that has built up in the area.

What are your thoughts on the 1911 as a concealed carry weapon? Pro or con? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Comments (4)

  1. I carry my 1911 on my belt with an untucked shirt or my coat hangs over it. It has worked for me for the last 6 yrs. I carry two extra mags and 1 in the pipe giving me 25 rds. I am sort of un-decided on ammo to use though. I have personally witnessed the devestating result of a 230 gr FMJ used in an actual shooting victom. Now I also been told don’t use fmj for self defense because of risk of over-penetration.
    I love the 1911 and the 230 gr hardball rd.
    My mags are staggered with 1st up a 230 gr fmj and followed by Winchester Ranger-T series(that resemble the old dreaded “Black Talon”).
    I rather like the full power of a 230 gr rd weather hollowpoint or ball.

  2. If it’s on my hip, it’s open carry cocked and locked in a bianchi rig with a leather button strop between the hammer and the slide stop. under the front seat of the truck it’s israeli carry for the extra safety.

  3. I am just starting to pack my SA Loaded 1911 Gov’t in my waste band. I had not given it much thought until I tried it “Israeli Carry” style this week. The flat-slab build of 1911 is easy to carry this way under a sport coat or wind breaker. The barrel fits well when placed at an angle so that it sit’s in the crease between your thigh and your abdomen (just right upper right of your junk). Actually, a Commander size would be even better. John Moses Browning was a friggin’ genius in my book. No more Glocks for me.

    1. I carry my Ruger 1911 Commander in a Sticky Holster IWB in my back. If you have a t-shirt that’s loose enough, you can’t even notice I’m carrying. Anything more than that, and you have complete concealment! I carry two extra mags in a double stack mag holster, because of the 7 round capacity. This is a very reliable and extremely accurate weapon!

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