Firearms

Alternative Caliber 1911s. Do They Have any Merit?

Built from the ground up, the Springfield EMP is not compatible with full-sized 1911aftermarket parts.

The 1911 is, in my eyes, the most iconic handgun of all time. Its features are clearly distinguishable. One glance and you know it is a 1911. I cannot think of another handgun in the world that has been reproduced or as duplicated as the classic 1911.

John Moses Browning developed the 1911 and i’s accompanying caliber, the .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) for the United States military by inventing a short-recoil operated, locked-breech, tilting barrel semi-automatic pistol. The 1911 was a groundbreaking design and has become the building block for many manufacturers’ modern day semi-automatic handgun designs.

The other day a friend asked me about the best 1911 for accuracy and performance in .40 S&W. My initial reaction was, “Why .40? Just get the .45 ACP.” Our conversation got me to thinking; do 1911s in alternative calibers have merit?

Built from the ground up, the Springfield EMP is not compatible with full-sized 1911aftermarket parts.
Built from the ground up, the Springfield EMP is not compatible with full-sized 1911aftermarket parts.

Manufactures have produced 1911s in a wide variety of calibers, .38 Super (popular in the competition community), .22 TCM, .38 Supercomp, .400 Cor-bon, .460 Rowland, .50 GI, .45 Winchester Magnum, 10mm, 9×21, and 9×23. Cheaperthandirt.com carries Springfield Armory EMP 1911s in .40 S&W, more in 9mm: S&W Pro Series, Dan Wesson, Iver Johnson, and Colt. Surprisingly, in .22 Long Rifle, Cheaper Than Dirt carries Rock Island, Chiappa, Sig Sauer, Umarex, Puma, and American Tactical Imports.

You might be asking yourself, “is a .22 Long Rifle even a 1911?” Well, let’s break down what exactly a 1911 is before we begin to judge.

Many carry the 1911 fully cocked with the safety on and a round in the chamber. Most modern 1911s shoot single-action and feature:

  • A single stack magazine
  • A beavertail grip safety
  • A visible difference in the barrel bushing
  • A last round bolt-hold open
  • All-metal construction

So, why a .40 S&W? Smith and Wesson and Winchester collaborated on developing the .40 S&W in 1989. At the time, the FBI used 10mm. Smith and Wesson and Winchester decided they could make a cartridge that was the same weight, bullet diameter, and velocity as the 10mm, but in a shorter cartridge. The Ammo Encyclopedia says that the .40 S&W is a “compromise between the 9 and .45.” Originally loaded with a 180-grain bullet that flew at 950 fps it has less recoil than the 10mm, but with the same stopping power. The .40 S&W has an above 90 percent average of stopping power in one shot. According to gun writer David Tong 70 percent of law enforcement agencies in the United States use the .40 S&W. Jeff Copper designated the 10mm as the perfect law enforcement round, however due to its high pressures, the 10mm kicks like a mule. The 1911 just wasn’t built for such a round and cannot handle years of abuse from a 10mm without breaking.

An older, traditional Classic Colt 1911.
An older, traditional Classic Colt 1911.

Developed in 1902, the 9mm, or 9mm Luger, is the most popular cartridge and most widely used military round in the world. With very manageable recoil, the 9mm has proven itself an effective self-defense round favored by many law enforcement agencies.

In 1929 Colt developed the .38 Super, a favorite of IPSC competition shooters. The company used their .38 Auto and created a higher-speed round. For a while, the .38 Super was the most powerful semi-automatic handgun cartridge. Even though the .38 Super does have higher velocities and energy than the 9mm, it is not by much and .38 Super ammo doesn’t come cheap.

Even though the .22 Long Rifle has been around since 1887, it is seeing a resurgence in popularity due to its affordability and accuracy. The Ammo Encyclopedia says it is “the single most popular sporting cartridge in the world with well over 5 billion rounds being loaded every year.” Any gun chambered for .22 Long Rifle has merit in my eyes. The little rimfire round is versatile enough to kill small game and varmints, cheap enough to be a plinker and target shooter, excellent for training, and is used in competition.

Depending on the reason why you want a 1911—and why wouldn’t you want to invest in a tried and true platform—I see reasons why you would be interested in an alternative caliber. To some the .45 ACP is just too much, while others may feel the .22 Long Rifle is not a successful self-defense round and will choose the .40 S&W or the 9mm. Whatever the case may be, choose the caliber you feel most comfortable with to suit your needs. The 1911 is a beautiful gun, regardless of  it’s chambering.

SIG Sauer 1911-22 Semi Automatic Handgun.
SIG Sauer 1911-22 Semi Automatic Handgun.

Do you have a 1911 in an alternative caliber? Tell me about it in the comment section.

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 (75)

  1. i have owned a dozen or more 1911 over the years and regret selling every one of them. i currently own a 1/2 dozen 45 1911s in both single and double stack and several brands. i also have a springfield in 9mm and recently bought a ruger in 10mm. the ruger is a sweetheart of a shooter. with my hotter than factory reloads the recoil is much less than a standard 1911 in 45 with 230 gr hardball. i am now trying to decide between a 357 sig,a 38 super, and a 22tcm. i wish i could get a single stack 22tcm without the extra 9mm bbl. there is also a new browning hi power in 30 luger in my future if i can find one for the right price.

  2. I have a .22LR Colt 1911 made by Walther. It is an omnivore in regards to ammunition. It is not the least bit finicky – standard velocity or high velocity, round nose or hollow-point, lead or clad; it shoots any brand. The only round that it didn’t like was the Varmint XE, 34gr round. (This round had feed problems.) It is full-sized and looks like a .45. Field stripping is the same as a .45. It has a fixed-barrel unlike the .45 1911 but the small caliber doesn’t have much of a kick.

    It is a great gun and because of its shooting characteristics, it is most reliable and FUN!

  3. I have a few 1911 s myself. Springfield 45 & 9 mm I also have a Sig P938 which is a smaller 1911 I use for concealed carry. I also have Sig 1911 in 22 that I enjoy shooting. Only thing 22 is kind of picky about what it likes. But my Springfield’s will eject a case rite at your face if you use cheap poor quality ammo in them. Bottom line shoot quality ammo and no problems. I have 2 kinds of hand guns revolvers and 1911 s . Is there any others? Not for me.

  4. I have a Colt 1911 in .22LF that is made by Walther. It is quite dependable and is an “omnivore”. It successfully and reliably shoots standard and high velocity .22LR ammo while both my ISSC .22LR pistol and Advantage Arms .22LR conversion kit for the Glock 19 require specific brands.

    The Colt 191.22LR shoot hollow-point, round nose, lead, plated ammo without problems or misfeeds. The magazines are flimsy feeling (as are most .22LR pistol magazines) but perform reliably and consistently. Aimed, double taps, rapid fire, spray-and-pray fire is great. The Colt 1911.22LR is a great all-around gun. I use it for fun, for instruction, for practice and it always works and never fails.

    I shoot 200-500 rounds through it in a normal session. Couldn’t be happier.
    Looks just like a Colt 1911.45. It does have the fixed Walther barrel but this is not an issue for field stripping and cleaning.

  5. I have a Springfiled Armory 1911 in 9mm. While the .45 is great for me, and I have no problem with the recoil, it is plain fun and much less expensive to shoot 9mm.

    My .45s are accurate and very comfortable, but the 9mm doesn’t hit the pocket book as hard, other than the initial purchase.

    1. Almost forgot. I do have the 1911-22 from GSG. While I would never consider it for personal defense, it is a great training weapon and my wife can handle it without any sore wrists.

  6. I purchased a Browning 1911 380 about a year ago. It’s small enough to carry, but with a 4.25″ barrel and grip long enough to get a hold on it is very accurate and easy to handle. I can barely rack the slide on my series 70 Gold Cup but the Browning is a pleasure. It’s a true 1911 in every way except it weight s 18 oz. Great gun for 1911 diehards.

  7. I have a Sig P226 manufactured in 1990. She shoots like a dream. I bought a Sig, ultra compact, in 9mm in December, 2015. Since that time, I’ve put about 400 rounds through her. She performs like a Sig. No FTF, or FTE. Sig quality is why I stay with the brand.

  8. I, like everyone else here, am a die hard 1911 fan. The question of 1911 in other calibers besides .45acp, I say why not. My 69 chevelle came from the factory with many different engines to chose, but the best and most reliable was the 350 ( 45acp ). It all depends on your individual needs as a shooter. I have a 1911 in the following caliber a: .45 winmag, 10mm, 45acp, 38 super, .357 sig, .380acp. All are fun to shoot, except for that grizzly .45 winmag, she can be a cruel mistress to the hand and wrist and pocketbook. I’m all for multiple calibers in this platform, every round is right for somebody. Never saw a round a properly setup 1911 couldn’t handle. There is a reason why specops, swat teams, etc use these as they’re sidearms

  9. One caliber that was not mentioned in the art. icle or any of the comments – 7.62X25! This Russki round steps out fast 1500-1600 fps, a little less from a handgun. Captured 1911’s in the Vietnam war were converted by the Viets to use the Tore TT-33 round supplied by their host nation. J&G Sales currently offers a 7.62×25 barrel kit that is designed to convert a 9mm or 38 Super 1911, using 38 super magazines, an idea that held great mer it when cheap surplus Comm-Bloc ammo was available. Tokarev himself drew great inspiration from John M. Brownings Colt 1903 and 1911 models in the design of the TT-30/TT-33 that bears his name. Surpluc TT-33 variants are now readily available in the +$200 price range, and like my Romanian TTC, can be sweet shooters!

  10. “Smith and Wesson and Winchester decided they could make a cartridge that was the same weight, bullet diameter, and velocity as the 10mm, but in a shorter cartridge.”

    That statement is inaccurate and contradicting, anyone who has fired the 10MM auto cartridge as designed per Jeff Cooper’s original full power specs knows that those two rounds are not even close. The only thing they have in common is that they are .40 cal bullets. The overall weights can’t be the same nor are the velocities either due to the larger case and additional powder charge the 10MM round holds. It’s like comparing varsity baseball to MLB because they use the same size ball.

    Full power 10MM auto rounds were created by Cooper to be man stoppers, plain and simple, this was by design. These rounds can produce over 700ft lbs energy @ 1400 fps at the muzzle. Many 10MM shooters have never fired these rounds unless they hand load.

    Purchase a box of full power Buffalo Bore or Underwood Ammo for your 10MM auto, or better yet hand load to original specs and you will better understand why the FBI created a 10MM Lite version of the cartridge that they could handle.

    The .40 S&W owes it’s very existence to the 10MM. S&W and Winchester capitalized on the FBI’s perceived failure of the 10MM. Another instance of being in the right place at the right time to meet the needs of a disillusioned customer. The 1911’s made by Kimber are some of the most excellent examples of the 10MM auto in JMB’s classic design.

  11. I have a Sig P226 in .357 Sig Auto that I carried as a duty weapon before retiring. I purchased a .22 kit for it for “cheap” target practice. It is a great option because you are staying familiar with the same basic weapon. The only slight downside is that your action is not as smooth and easy as a target pistol and you have to have a top quality high velocity ammo to insure proper ejection of the spent round. I would highly recommend this option.

  12. I have a Colt Combat Commander in 38 Super. I absolutely love this gun. I have had this gun for over 30 yrs and carry it daily. I just wish the ammo would be cheaper. I have fed it multiple types of ammo and still can hit with-in a tea cup saucer @ 15 yds.

  13. I have a Kimber Pro Carry in 9mm, and besides the cost of ammunition which I have taken up reloading, it is a nice shooting 1911. With the protection loads available from most manufacturers I feel this was a better fit to my budget as well as for my personal protection. Remember to be proficient with your protection weapon you must practice, practice, train and then practice some more. 9mm for me is in my budget roundhouse and I’ve run thousands of rounds through it and am very pleased. The only thing that is a little bump in the road for me is the take down of the Kimber, requiring the little “tool” to unload the recoil spring. I can deal with that though. I do yearn from time to time about acquiring a nice 1911 in .45 just … well just because I want one.

  14. I had selected the 10mm in a concealable G-29 for its stopping power and reputation for “flat shooting.” Yep, on the mule kick but have gotten accustomed to it. A fellow standing behind me at the range remarked after a pair to the center of mass – “the gun didn’t move!” well it seemed to move to me because a new sight picture had to be gained after each shot.

    Now with bifocals(progressive) I have a trijicon red dot recessed a bit into the slide and my bifocals are not needed for precise accurate shots.

    I’ve seen the drop over distances of other slower rounds and it may be imaginary but my comfortableness with the capability of the 10mm and getting accustomed to it led me to select it for every day carry. Yes it cost some more and I’m not going to practice with a 22 and carry a 10.

    C

  15. One of my favorite “alternate” 1911’s is a Springfield EMP in 9mm. Accurate enough to have won an impromptu competition, low recoil, and fits my wife’s small hands. Of my several 1911’s it is among my favorites and is only slightly larger than some of the recent 9mm pocket guns, none of which perform anywhere near the EMP for trigger or recoil control.

  16. My first 1911-styled pistol was a Llama in .380. Back in the late 1960s people didn’t worry about hearing protection, but I did after the second or third shot. My ears started hurting, painfully and rang for over 24 hours. I had been shooting a Colt 38 revolver with no hearing problems, but the Llama showed me the need to get ear plugs. I have always wondered if the 1911 in 45 ACP had the same sound pressure; does anybody here know? Anyway, after working my way through some Ruger 9mms and a Kel-Tec P11, I finally got a Springfield Champion 45. That is my baby, although I still have the Kel-Tec. I also had a Norinco 1911A1, which was fine and I should have kept it. All these pistols have had about the same accuracy for me – 3 inch groups at 50 feet. I also recently got a Kahr CW40 thinking it might replace the Kel-Tec, but I’m not selling it; I’m keeping the old tried-and-trues. If I ever have to reduce to just one pistol, I will keep the one 45 ACP, the Spgfld Champion. That one I consider my all-purpose do-it-all, in spite of the low capacity magazines.

  17. Just last week I purchased an RIA 1911A2 in 22TCM (a center fire 22 cartridge at 2100fps out of a 5″ barrel) that came with a 9mm conversion. Now I’ve only put 100 rounds through it but have had no problems. [I know, not enough to prove reliability.] Both the 22TCM and 9mm fit in the same magazine so only have to change out the barrel and recoil spring (which I haven’t done, yet). Since the ammo is pricey (only made by Armscor), the ideas some of you have of a 22LR conversion sounds enticing. I have fired a 1911 in 45ACP and fell in love with it. It was very accurate and, for me, low recoil. [Sorry people, my preference is 9mm. Even if 22TCM disappears I can still shoot 9mm.]

  18. I work with the local department dispatching deer’s who have been hit by cars. I can use any caliber and type I want and have. I have so far used the 44 magnum with Hp hydro shock, the 45 colt with Hp WW silver tip 45 acp JSP, 22 LR.SP 5 MM magnum HP 455 Webbley 32 ACP SP, AND HP from a derringer and a 1907 savage auto., 32 SW, 357 MAG,Hydra shock, 40 SW. and 9.mm and a few others. the 44 did ok I couldn’t tell any deference between the 44 and the 45 colt at the short distance of about 15 yards, the 5 MM just flattened out on its head, the 22 LR killed clean. The 45Acp actually rolled the Deer over and off the road. all worked except the the 5 MM and that one was quickly finished of with a 22 LR all were about the same as far as killing power with head shots, but the 45 acp released more energy in to the Deer. I am called out when I am away from home and have to use what I have with me and would never use the smaller cal. for hunting, but it is interesting to see the effect each caliber has,

  19. I’ve owned a Combat Commander in .38 Super since 1980. It remains my favorite handgun by far. Yes, I love my .22s (Woodsman, Match Target, HS Model B, Colt Police Positive Target), my .357s (Mod. 27, Mod. 19, Colt .357), my .38s (Hand Ejector, Diamondback), my .45 (S&W M1937), .30 carbine (Blackhawk) and my .44 Spl, but a lot of accuracy, ease of reload and carry, dependability make it the best.

  20. I love the Colt 1911 design. The pistol fits my hand just right and the single action trigger is conducive to good dispersion.
    I own two in .45ACP: 1. Les Baer Premier II, an excellent top quality semi-custom pistol. It’s as good as other 1911 pistols costing twice as much. I bought the gun new more than 15 years ago. It functions reliably with any .45ACP ammo from low velocity SWC match ammo to high velocity +P loads.
    2. Springfield Custom with hard chrome finish, compensator and C-More optical sight. I bought this used at a gun show and I use it for bowling pin competition.
    I have a Kimber 9x19mm with an aluminum frame and 4″ barrel that I use as a carry gun because it’s lighter and has less recoil than the .45ACP. The Kimber is very well made and an excellent shooter.
    I also have several .22LR 1911 style pistols that were inexpensive and are fun and cheap to shoot:
    1. Chiappa 1911-22 Target
    2. Sig Aauer 1911-22
    3. Nighthawk Custom/Bob Marvel .22LR conversion unit. I put this on my Kimber frame and because of the unique design it’s exceptionally accurate

  21. I have had a colt 1911 for about 45 years and have a 22 conversion for it, best of both worlds. That being said I also have a Sig 40/357 and use it in 40 cal when I want to fun shoot.(357 Sig is toooo expensive). My carry gun is a little Taurus Millennium Pro in 45 acp. PT145, double stack it will hold 10+1. Not all that fun to shoot, but if I need to pull it it’s not a fun situation any way. I shoot SASS with my 44 mag Rugers, 44 Mag lever gun and Bacall 12 ga coach gun.

  22. i own the colt/walther 1911 .22 cal so far with it ive done most of my shooting at 10 to 15 yards and i have to admit the 22 as far as accuracy goes out shoots my s&w sigma 40 im very happy with the 1911-22 that i have.

  23. Guy’s, I’m going to share a little secret with you. I own a Sig 1911-22. It’s my favorite .22. Sig has their name on it but it’s not built by Sig. It’s built by GGS(German Gun Sports) Sig builds to many handgun, to many to list.I quess for financial reasons they farm the 1911-22 out. I contacted GGS and asked them if they plan to produce one in a .45? Unfortunally the only build .22 reproductions of popular handguns and rifles. To bad,if they would build a .45 I would first in line to purchase one. The Germans seem to always build superior products.

  24. I have the Puma 1911-22 made by Chiappa Firearms Ltd. in Dayton Ohio. it is the only weapon i own that i would call a piece of junk. it is completely undependable. there is no telling when it will jam, but you can be assured it will jam more than once if you shoot through both of the provided magazines. The instruction manual suggests you tap the back of the mag against your hand to align the cartridges, but that has little or no effect. I believe it is a flaw in the magazine and not the pistol. the pistol works when the magazine feeds properly, there’s just no way to determine when that will be. I have seen .22 caliber pistols with effective single stack magazines. if Chiappa would modify their magazine this might be a decent weapon. They could do it. But they’ve clearly designed this to be inexpensive. mine was $269.99 + tax. i think the savings on ammo is enough to justify shelling out some more on magazine production. $299.99 and one functional magazine would be better for both the manufacturer and the customer.

  25. YES they are needed in different cai.I’m looking for one rite now in 40sw,commander,with a maker like colt that I trust.What can I say its the little things that add up.Its a basic gun and lets just say I don’t like polymer gun I had.

  26. “Smith and Wesson and Winchester decided they could make a cartridge that was the same weight, bullet diameter, and velocity as the 10mm, but in a shorter cartridge. The Ammo Encyclopedia says that the .40 S&W is a “compromise between the 9 and .45.” Originally loaded with a 180-grain bullet that flew at 950 fps it has less recoil than the 10mm, but with the same stopping power.”

    Hmm, not so much. Partially true, but with some major mistakes. “Stopping power” is a little subjective, and in most handgun calibers is pretty anemic when considering even the frail human subject. It may have been Jeff Cooper that opined that the only reason to have a handgun was to give you time to get to a rifle!

    You can review here why Dirty Harry preferred the 44 mag: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/849728/posts

    In ‘true’ 10mm loadings, not the downloaded to accommodate the limp-wristed FBI types, the muzzle energy is two times that of that 40 S&W round – 728.6 to 360.8, and also almost doubles the ME of the .45! That was what they were having to do (reduce the power) and S&W then came out with the shorter .40.

    If you are hunting hogs, especially any with tusks, or humans with brains, you can do so with either, but if it’s ‘my’ meat they are after, I’ll take the bigger banger! A last thought on gun selection, not intended to stir up the diehard Colt fans, but Gaston Glock did his homework (I was not an early fan!). His design is much easier to control (hand is much closer to the bottom of the slide), and subsequently shoot fast, than is the 1911. Even in the heavier calibers, the GLOCK has less recoil than most any other configuration – check out how many manufacturers are copying the design. It is not a gun, however, for anyone prone to forgetting that it has NO redundant safeties!

  27. I’ve never shot a 1911, but still wanted to say something. I have a CZ85 in 9mm that feels good to me and I sleep just fine at night. that being said, I don’t shoot it that much and looking at all the great comments on here makes me think about the stupid crackhead. Take your pic, every one of these guys posting comments are going to blow your head off when you go creeping into thier house at night. God Bless America!

  28. I don’t feel that preferred caliber is that big of an issue . Some guys like blondes , some like redheads …. Pick a caliber that YOU shoot well and run with it . POWER means NOTHING if ya can’t hit what you’re shootin’ at .I personally shoot the 10 mm .

    WHO MADE your 1911 ? THAT is the issue in my books . I personally have no use for ANYTHING that comes from the Phillipines , Brazil , Spain , etc . I had almost 6 bills invested into a beautiful stainless Charles Daly Combat Commander that was , for all intents , a single shot 90% of the time . No amount spent at my favorite gunsmith’s could seem to fix the problem .I took a beating when I traded her in . I LOVE the looks and feel of the RIA Officer’s Compact , it seems like a steal for 400 bucks ,but every time I reach for my billfold , I think of the little Daly that wouldn’t run and buy another magazine for the 10 mm that WILL run .

    It’s been said that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery . That being said , I think we all agree that a ” tip of the cap ” is in order for good ‘ol John Moses Browning . I agree with John in the post above , buy a good one … Colt , Kimber , etc . and be done with it .

    I shoot a 1st generation Colt Delta Elite , modified to my liking . Ed Brown beavertail , Smith & Alexander mag well / flat main spring cover , Nowlin barrel & carry compensator , full length guide rod , 26 # Wolff springs … controls are stock Government model , trigger has been ‘smithed down to 3 1/2 #’s . She functions flawlessly and I shoot her often enough to have complete confidence when I carry her . Paper plates @ 100 yards are a normal part of our practice routine at the range . 50 yards and under ? ” Yall in a heap a trouble ” …. Bowling pins at 25 yards is a big buncha fun !

    Shoot well … Shoot safe !
    Ghoastrider OUT !

  29. I’ve owned 1911’s in .38 Super, 9mm and .45 ACP. They were all great guns. The only problem I found with the 1911 type guns in .45 ACP, no two were alike in what they would feed into the chamber. They all required gunsmithing. I like the Beretta platform much better, no feeding problems.

  30. When it comes to self defense calibers I always say “Ask yourself this question”! Would you rather be shot in the chest by two rounds from a .22, .380 ACP, 9mm, 40s&w, 10mm, or a .45 ACP? Personally, I’d rather not be shot at all! So when any gun comes out, it’s time to go! As for “Stopping Power”? The difference between 300 lb/ft, and 500 lb/ft isn’t all that much, when the bullet flattens out to a .500″ diameter. So I guess the biggest question is what you, “And your SPOUSE”, feel comfortable shooting! Myself? I have small hands. My 10 round, 40 S&W Sig is a little hard to hold with its double stack mag. But Colt Government .380 fits in my hand, her hand, my pocket, and her purse, quite nicely! My 1911 Officers 45 ACP has too much too much recoil for her. She likes the Officers 9mm much better. So I guess that would be the next question. “If someone broke into the house, when I wasn’t there, would there be something in the nightstand for “HER” to defend herself with comfortably? In my case the answer is YES!
    As for the 1911-A1 Platform? John Browning was way ahead of his time. Here we are 100 years later, and virtually every Semi Automatic Handgun is a variation of that same basic design. And many are just cosmetic, rather than functional differences. Weather its Colt 380, or a Sig p238, its the same basic gun! So if you like a single stack Mag, not too much recoil, don’t mind a little weight, and like the fact that parts readily available, and options abound, the 1911-A1, (whatever caliber you feel comfortable with), is an excellent choice. If you like something a little bit lighter, there are plenty of options based on the 1911 platform like the sig p238, and p239. And you can always go look a some Kimbers!

  31. I have been in the army 10 years and have seen first hand 9mm cartridge not do what is needed. My father a SF operator loves the 1911 and .45 ACP and so it was pushed on me. As a Glock armorer I love my Glocks but I love my .40 rounds. I have a Glock 22,23,27 a FN FNP-40, Springfield XDM-40 and Springfield EMP-40 which i do love to have as a CHL. My ammo of choice is Hornady Critical Defense 40 S&W 165gr FTX.

  32. I own 3 Kimber 1911s chambered in .45 and 9 mm; I also own two colts, both chambered in .45; additionally I own a sig chambered in .45 , and recently bought a .40 cal Springfield Armory EMP. As you can see, I am a bit of a 1911 fan. Of all the 1911s that I own, the Kimber and Colt .45s are my favorites; followed closely by the .40 cal EMP. I load my own ammo so going to the range and firing 300-400 rounds is not unusual for me. In my judgement, it takes at least 200 rounds fired consecutively in order to get the ‘feel’ of the gun and the ammo. Truth be told, the .40 cal EMP is somewhat easier to stay on the target from shot to shot; I assume the difference is the additional recoil of the .45. Whatever the case, for those of you who do not yet own a 1911, do yourself a favor and buy one….a good one like Kimber, Colt, Sig, or Springfield Armory. You will be both investing in a superb weapon, and a commodity that will increase in value over time.

  33. Another comment, I had a Colt Goverment Model in .38 Super once that was really impressive. With that said here is something I used to do in my reloading days – I used to reload the bullets base up with the bullet nose pointed into the case. As this Colt configured pistol created near .357 Mag. energies this round in flat nose was devasting. I once delimbed an entire tree with this round before we fell the tree. Hitting like a sledge hammer and could put a hole into a car engine block after punching a hole in the wheel well. In fact when we disassembled the engine we found it had punched a hole in one side of the engine going through a cylinder and had made it all the way through to the other side of the engine block almost exiting the second cylinder with the bullet found sitting atop the piston. The only reason I got rid of it-to expensive to shoot and too hard to find the ammo or brass. I was not impress with Colt’s made in 9mm at all and gave several of those away as Christmas presents. As to the .40 – close to doing what a .45 would do and the ammo to hard to find and too many Glock’s blown up with that round…I would stay with the .45.

  34. In addition to 1911s in .45, I have a Colt Government Model in .38 Super, and a Llama .380, which is really a scaled down 1911 complete with grip safety! (It does not have a locking breech however, although some were made with this feature.) The .357 Sig is a great cartridge, giving .357 Mag performance with 115 and 124 gr bullets, and if I were to add another 1911 to my gun safe it would most likely be in this chambering.

  35. I carried a .45 Colt Series 80 targetted slide over a Vega Frame using an Exact Barrel and Bushing combination [barrel lockup was always the exact same rigid location] in full target configuration on C.C.W and carry exposed for 27 years. In all those years with weekly practice not one single failure to fire and out to thirty yards it surpassed every other firearm I owned for accuracy this to include some very expensive target firearms with extensive modifications including Walther OSP, S&W 41 with 8 3/8 inch barrel with muzzle break and counter weights, a Colt Woodsman Targetman with six inch barrel and a target configured S&W Model 52 in .38 spl whad cutter. Though I used many different brands of ammo (thousands of rounds); it was the P.M.C. military load 180 grain high velocity hollow point that was the most lethal and devasting with Gold Dot a very close competitor. Both ammos were of light recoil yet high velocity and developed the same kinetic energy or slightly more of other heavier weighted bullets. A firearm and ammo I bet my life on. All I am saying…I am still here. The average gun fight is over in 1.3 rounds is something I always understood. Hitting a rabid coyote once with the 180 grain PMC ammo literally cut the animal into two pieces as if it was separated into to two pieces by a sword and had to be seen to be believed. Shooting into a gel block this ammo was capable of creating a 37 inch diameter expansive hole and several times the gel blocks just blew apart into thousands of pieces – this from only seven feet away. A crowning moment with this pistol was shooting against the clock with one magazine change and one round in the chamber to start – 17 rounds at 33 meters and you had to be there to see the results and witness the speed-many that day did. I will never again be able to repeat that feat as I am getting to old and too slow. There is only one other pistol I carried I had more confidence – the original Bushmaster pistol with rotating magazine compartment in 5.56/.223 carrying 91 rounds of ammunition (31 in pistol and two spare M16/AR15 mags.

  36. As an owner of several Colt 1911’s, I really enjoy shooting them. I to have found that the cost of .45ACP and .38 Super has risen. Quite some time ago I was lucky enough to run across a Colt conversion unit for my guns. The .22 conversion makes it easy and cheap to practice with my 1911’s.

  37. I have a special place in my heart for the 1911 platform. I have a Colt/Para 14 hybrid that will hold 16+1 of .45 ACP. That is a bunch of whoop-a$$ and a world of hurt for any would be assailant(s). I can conceal carry this thumper all day long in the hot Florida sun, except when my back starts to act up. Then I can switch to my Colt Lightweight Commander. I hear people say the 1911 is not a reliable firearm, to that I say, if it jams learn how to clear it in a ‘have to’ situation. I have some poly guns with higher capacity magazines of smaller calibers. I just feel better carrying the ol’ .45 ACP thumper.

  38. I have a RI 1911, full frame and Springfield compact, both reliable as the day is long. The compact is a great backup, even my wife can group with it. These are great weapons, and the only thing I feel beats them out are the HK USPs (I have both the full size and compact). These two will spit out anything you feed them (and love the +P), while I’ve found that the 1911’s seem to have an appetite for the Winchester loads. With lower capacity than say a 9mm or .40, I think using the .45 forces you to train towards greater weapon control in targeting.

  39. I currently own 3 1911 handguns. A Colt Defender in .45 cal, a Springfield Armory A1 full size in .45 Cal, and an STI Shadow in .40 S&W. I purchased the Colt as a carry gun for protection here in the SouthEast Texas area. I did in fact carry it for sometime. The sheer knockdown power of the .45 ACP gave me a strong confidence in even a less than center mass shot.
    One day I saw an ad for the STI Shadow in .40 S&W. I read that it had been developed as a carry or back-up gun for LEO’s and also FAM’s (Federal Air Marshall’s) and is made here in Texas. I purchased one with the intent of trying it out and then re-selling this unique weapon. After about 300 rounds, it is still on my hip when I go out. I have fired several other .40’s and they all had a “loss of control’ recoil that was uncomfortable to say the least. The STI however is amazing with its patented ‘Recoil Master’ system. The recoil is very manageable and can be put back on target quickly and accurately. It does not give you the feeling that it is going to ‘jump out of your hand’ when you fire it. Suffice it to say, the STI 40 will be my carry gun for some time. I still love my Colt for the feel and looks but the STI is lighter and smoother to carry. The aluminum grips add to the slimmer design as well. Go try one!

  40. I shoot a Wilson Combat KZ9, a 1911 chambered for 9mm with a polymer frame. It’s amazingly easy to shoot well: it has all the qualities shooters love in a 1911 with less recoil, less expensive ammo, and (in the case of the KZ9 and SpecOps model that replaced it) is a Wilson at half the price. Can’t beat it!

  41. I have had factory custom Colts, “cheapo” 1911’s, and every thing in between in 45 acp. They ALL at one time or another, jammed or failed to open on the last shot. And yes, I tried higher priced mags! My Delta Elite NEVER does these things. NEVER. Browning didn’t design 45 acp! Thompson did! It took a genius like Browning to make a gun (previously designed for 38 auto) that would feed such an awkward, stubby round. You want a good 45? Buy a Glock or a Witness because they have a real feed ramp. You want a good 1911? Get a 38 super or a 10mm. They actually WILL be as reliable as you tell people that your 45 is. I promise. A round narrower than the mag well enables a more possitive contact with the slide catch. Pretty simple. 10mm Hydrashocks aka (FBI load) feels like .40 s&w recoil. Its reliable an easy shooting. Try it and smile.

  42. Looked for a full size 1911 in a 40 S&W, through my research I discovered most manufacturers gave up the cartridge because of cycling issues.

  43. I have owned 1911’s in .40, .45, and 10mm. I believe each has its perfect use and have at times bet my life on each. I find they all give sufficent confidence in fight stopping ability with the edge going to the 10mm and then the .40 followed by the .45. I’ve never wished for something better when equipped with a fullsize pistol in these chamberings. The 10mm is, for those that can handle it, a one and done killer with the ballistics to extend the effective range of the weapon to as far as 100m given a decent operator. The .40 brings controllability with an increased round count in even the single stack platform while still besting the .45 in some loads. When turned into a double stack configuration the user now has incredible hand held firepower at his disposal with 16 to 17 rounds in a nearly flush magazine. With the advent of the STI recoil master guide rod system, I believe the days of muzzle flipping heavy recoil are done. The individual seeking to protect themselves needs to bolster up a bit and realize in the game of keeps there are fewer advantages gained from lighter recoil and faster double taps than by first hit neutralization, horsepower and training. The latter can make up for most any short coming in the formers.

  44. I ordered my fist 1911 in August.
    It’s part of Dan wessons elite series
    Dan Wesson Titan 10mm.
    It hasn’t came yet. Still at the custom shop getting the parts fitted

  45. I have tried numerous pistols in .22LR, 9mm, S&W .40 and .45 ACP and found that the 1911 platform is what fits me the best. I now own numerous 1911’s and love to shoot all of them. I carry an Ed Brown Special Forces .45 ACP and the accuracy is superior. I trust my life to this weapon. For me, I found that the 4.25″ barrel suits my shooting style (hand feel, weight, recoil and muzzle flip, etc.) best. I have tried to go to the shorter 3″ 1911 gun (STI), but I could not control the muzzle flip after to first shot to get back on target accurately and fast for the next shots. The 5″ barrel is great for accuracy, but not so great for carry weight and concealment.
    My wife and young adult daughters don’t like the recoil of the .45 ACP, so they shoot my STI Guardian 1911 in 9 mm and my STI Ranger II 1911 in S&W .40. Both are very accurate and have much less recoil. They are both very fun guns to shoot and I practice a lot with both of them. All 3 of the mentioned guns have almost identical trigger pulls and resets, so I don’t feel like I am shooting a different gun as I do when I shoot some of my double stack polymers.
    I also have a Springfield Armory 1911 – A1 (5″ barrel) that is also quite accurate. To shoot .22LR, I purchased the Kimber .22LR conversion. The Kimber conversion fits the 5″ frame, but will not work on my 4.25″ Ed Brown and Dan Wesson frames. The conversion required a little bit of filing to slide well on the SA frame and now works great. Again the feel in the hand and trigger pull are about the same and there is minimal recoil. My kids, friends, wife and I all like plinking with this and the accuracy is very good.
    I definitely save money by practicing a lot with the .22LR and the 9mm over the .45ACP and because of the almost identical feel in the hand and on the trigger, I am not sacrificing accuracy nor practice memory while shooting the lesser calibers.
    I agree with an earlier statement that you need to shoot and use a caliber that you are accurate with so you hit the target rather than a big caliber with a point and hope mentality. That will take experimentation with calibers, time and practice resulting in confidence in your shooting skills.

  46. I love the look and feel of the 1911 and own one in 45 ACP and another 22 clone. Obviously the clone is just a fun toy that won’t break the bank when you feel like blowing through a couple hundred rounds. And I have considered purchasing the Springfield EMP in 40 caliber, but honestly the single stack design is horribly inefffecient use of space and I hate the notion of carrying the weapon cocked and locked. I’m sure it safe to carry that way, but it doesn’t feel safe and so I always end up carrying something else with a higher magazine capacity. In that respect I really view the 1911 as a historically significant well loved relic. So I say buy in whatever caliber floats your boat. I will.

  47. Own several 1911’s, all 45acp

    SA 1911 loaded = Can’t hit the broad side of a barn with it.

    Para 1911 GI = Good groups, no FTF.

    Para X 1911 = Nice, tight fit. Reasonable groups at 25 yards.

    Remington R1 = Well built. Grouping OK

    S&W 1911 Series E = My baby, class act in looks and grouping.

    Love the 1911 platform, in spite of the cost 45acp is the way to go.

  48. While owning/ employing a plastic gun for duty use, I conceal carry the 1911, SA, 9mm EMP and keep a custom built Kimber .45 by the bed. Both are locked and cocked at all times. Regardless of what anyone chooses to use, accuracy ALWAYS trumps power…..every time. Shoot what you can consistently put on target to put the other person down/ lights out. You can choose to shoot bowling balls at an attacker but, if you can’t hit him (or these days, her), that bowling ball is useless.

  49. It’s my good fortune to own a Custom 1911 Officer Caspian Arms in .40 S&W. It runs flawlessly, with unbelievably tight groups. I also own a couple .45 ACP’s, one of which is an original Colt 1911. Both are beautiful pieces of engineering, and I’d trust my life to either, but for daily carry the accuracy and penetration of the 165gr .40 S&W wins out.

  50. I have a 1911 in 38 Super, and everyone who shoots it seems to like it better than the 45ACP. Me, I like them both. I picked up the 38 Super because of the problems I’ve seen with the 9mm 1911’s during competitive shooting. The 39 Super, being the same length as the 45ACP, feeds flawlessly. Just wish the ammo was cheaper. Guess I’ll start reloading for it.

  51. I carried a Remington-Rand .45acp when I was in the army back in the mid-60s. It NEVER failed to function, no matter what kind of mud. glop and sand was on it or in it. It was totally reliable and I never had to fire more than once to put down a bad guy. When I was a police officer I carried a S&W M5946 in 9mm. I heard lots of stories about multiple rounds being needed to stop armed assailants. I also heard many stories of the rounds failing to expand with certain ammo. I bought a Browning Hi-Power in 9mm and afte a year I sold it and bought a Springfield Armory M1911a1 in .45acp. I demand power and reliability. I consider the 9mm to be slightly worse than the 38spl+p hp. The main advantage of the 9mm being ammo capacity. The 10mm is too powerful and the .40 S&W is good for someone who can’t handle the .45acp. The .45acp is called “the fight stopper” for a very good reason. It works.

  52. I currently own 2 1911s, one in .45 and another in .38 Super. Each has their purpose and I can adequately use each according to situation or needs. I prefer the .45 auto because of it’s tried and true performance. I spent 23 years in the military and 2 tours in ‘nam, carried a .45, a .38 and a 9mm during that 23 year time frame. Learned how to use each and qualified expert with each, the .45 being the most difficult to work with, but most reliable when it came to putting a foe on the ground. Something about that 230 grain bullet and the hole size that got the recipient’s attention and stopped any remaining desire to fight or incur more rounds inside their body. Since retiring in the mid 80s from military service and several surgeries on both hands with limited range of motion and arthritis setting in, competition and launching 500 rounds a sitting aren’t comfortable anymore. My 1911 however remains like part of an extension to my hand and the feel and balance still let me keep most of a magazine load in an area the circumference of a salad plate at 15 to 25 yards. Hitting 66 has slowed down the reflexes a tad and there will come a time when a handgun may not fit my needs anymore. I do have a few old shotguns that might come in handy then. But that is another story.

  53. I have a 380 Colt MK IV series 80 government model. It is the best shooting small caliber pistol I own.

  54. I started out buying a 1911/22 due to the low cost of shooting the .22LR. Shooting that pistol did one rthing for me it made me want a 1911 in .45ACP. Lady luck shined her face when I stopped in at a local gunsmith to have an old GEW88 inspected and there in the case was a 1950’s vintage colt 1911 at a very affordable price. Picked it up on the spot and now I fire this pistol more than my 1911/22. I also have one in .40S&W but there is nothing like the real thing. Great gun great round.

  55. * I own many “1911” style firearms, that are in calibers other than 45.
    I have a multitude of LARs Grizzlys…
    In .357, in 10mm, .44 mag, 45 win.mag, and a beauty in .50 cal.!
    I also own a full size Coonan in .357mag.
    These firearms are as I call it …””A COLT 45 on Steroids ! “”

    Now I love my Colt Delta Elite in 10mm and a Colt Gold Cup in .45,
    but these both “SNAP” the wrist worse than any of the other firearms I own.

    The design is flawless.. Yes I know everybody thinks they can build a “”better”” 1911. Yes, you can add rubber grips, better sights, higher capacity, or ‘speedwells’ for smoother mag changes… but all they are doing is “”TWEEKING”” an already almost perfect design, that has withstood the test of time.

    Just remember… the best “1911” caliber for you is…
    …the one you can handle best, and still hit your target! *

  56. One of my 1911’s is a Colt Delta Elite in 10mm. The pistol was hard to control at first but I got used to the recoil. I bought from a gun show a Colt Gold Cup Slide with barrel in 45 ACP and I was surprised it fit very well with the 10mm frame. I had to change the ejector so it would fit through the slot of the slide. When I use 45 ACP magazines in the 10mm frame, you have to push the magazine up hard for it to catch. So far so good, this conversion back to a 45 ACP has worked well and there have been no misfires.

  57. I have a Colt Delta Elite in 10mm, with an extra 40 S&W barrel, and a Marvel 22LR conversion. They all work great. 10mm for fun with recoil and supreme stopping power, 40SW for less recoil / centerfire reliability / cheaper ammo, and the 22LR for fun / trigger time / training / very cheap ammo (CCI Mini Mags). It’s a pricey way to go but getting a handgun in Nanny Jersey is a PITA and can take 3-4 months.

  58. I own a Norinco 1911A1 chambered in .45 ACP and wouldn’t trade it for the world. .45 is a bit on the expensive side but well worth the price to me. Although I have been considering purchasing a 1911 in .22lr simply for the price and practice always makes perfect.

  59. The only way you get good with your weapon is by practicing, and in these tough economic times, the .45 is at the high end of ammo cost. I’m in the market for handgun, so after going to the range with a local certified expert, firing several calibers, it was determined that accuracy and recoil with any of the weapons I fired. Next issue was going to be cost. I went to my local discount sporting good store and compared the cost of cheap bulk “hardball” and good stuff JHPs. The verdict, the 9mm was lowest for both cheapies AND good stuff (no surprise there). The .40 and .45 were the same with good stuff, but the difference was significant, on a per shot basis, between the .40 and .45 bulk hardball. The .40 was much less than the .45 and not too much more than the 9. That kinda iced my decision for the .40.

  60. I have a S.A. 1911 M.C. operator in .45 that I love to shoot because of it’s reliability and consistancy. Because of the price of .45, I recently purchased a sig 1911-22 for cheap practice. I acquired two extra mags and shot federal high velocity for auto’s through the sig and found that it consistently jammed on the first round, usually failure to feed and occasionally failure to eject. Nearly every mag jammed on the first round and randomly throughout shooting. I havn’t contacted sig or GSG on the problem yet, but the gun was new, properly lubricated and cleaned, and used with only quality ammo. My first experience with an alternative caliber 1911 has been a little rocky, but hopefully it is a fixable mechanical defect that Sig or GSG will take care of, until then my trusty but expensive .45 will take care of business.

  61. I own both a RIA 1911 cambered in .45 and a umerex/colt 1911 .22. and can tell you that although the 1911 .22 does not make as big of a bang it is still one of my favorite pistols to shoot! there is virtually no recoil, rounds are cheap, its dead on accurate out to 125ft and is a great practice gun for getting to know the platform! there are small differences like the barrel is attached to the frame… but essentially the same to disassemble! it is a great little gun to load with cci shot shells and keep on your hip out in the fields for snakes and other little critters… and with its lack of recoil and great accuracy I would be confident that it would do just fine for self defense if needs be! i mean come on if you can walk away from 12 .22 shells being rapid fired at you you were meant to live 🙂 .22 lr are nasty little bullets that don’t get enough credit! but all in all at the end of the day there is nothing that feels as good as the power and bang of the original 1911 in .45 acp… in my opinion all the rest 9mm .40 10mm .38 super and .22lr are all just training guns that although are just as cool looking and fun to shoot can never be the real 1911 that JMB created!

  62. I have a Colt Government in 38 Super. What a fantastic round. It handles like a 9mm in terms of recoil and you can get a couple extra rounds in the magazine versus a 45. In fact, I carry it from time to time as my CCW. One thing I have found, the Colt hates JHP rounds. So I strictly carry ball.

  63. The 1911 has a terrific history of alternative uses… It’s just that the .45ACP and the Browning 1911 design were literally made for each other.

    The ONLY alternate round that I wouldn’t consider as a “real” 1911 is the .22 blow back clones. Those are the ones that DON’T use the floating chamber system to operate the locking system.

    “Carbine” Williams designed an amazing system that provides enough short recoil pressure to cycle the real deal 1911 action.

    I’m pretty sure that John Moses Browning would have loved the .40 cartridge in both the 1811 and the P35…

  64. I have owned an LAR Grizzly in .44mag
    The Grizzly was a slightly modified 1911 (a lot of parts were interchangeable)and it was an extremely accurate and reliable pistol. It was also the only .44mag that I could accurately double-tap with hence the reason it was my back country carry gun.
    It is my belief that my familiarity with the 1911 platform (I have one in .45ACP and have one in 9mm) that allowed me to be so accurate and fast with the Grizzly.

  65. I agree with poster number 3.
    Although I do not own one, I ordered one after test firing one and I was very impressed by the Coonan .357 and the way Coonan designed this fine Handgun will hopefully catch on, because she is a dream to shoot.

  66. I have a Coonan .357 Magnum, which is a slightly modified 1911. A wonderful, accurate and very powerful handgun!

  67. When I saw what 500 rounds of .45ACP was going to cost me when I wanted to attend a shooting class, I looked into a 9mm. Being a 1911 guy the STI Spartan was perfect for me.

    I had a minor issue with a tooling mark that kept the magazine latch from properly locking the magazine in but once that was fixed it’s been shoot-all-day-long reliable.

    Other than the caliber, it’s a bone stock 1911 with adjustable sights. Other than the magazines, the barrel and bushing and the recoil spring, all of the parts are the same as my other 1911s and it fits into any 1911 Government-size holster.

    STI makes some high-end race guns that have breathtaking prices, but the Spartan set me back about $600 and they threw in an installed fiber optic front sight for free.

    I’m considering either a Rock Island .22TCM/9mm in the future as well as a spare barrel for the Spartan chambered for 7.62×25 Tokarev.

  68. Truth be told, I’ve never fired a 1911-style pistol in .45 ACP. But I plan on remedying that at an upcoming gun show this November in my area. As for the question, if I wanted a 1911 in 9mm, why not get a Browning Hi-Power instead? The BHP was designed as a successor (of sorts) to the 1911 and with the parabellum round in mind. I can’t vouch for the other calibers, but for 9mm I would follow Browning’s lead and pick up the newer design.

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