Art of the Gun: Old and New 1911s

The Old and the New: Colt Combat Commander Mark IV and the RIA Tactical II

The 1911 is one of—if not the most—popular handgun models in America. Developed around the turn of the century by the famed John Moses Browning for Colt’s Manufacturing Company, the United States Army adopted this gun as its official sidearm in 1911. Using the new cartridge .45 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP), this gun offered astounding stopping power and reliability needed in the harsh conditions of war.

The Old and the New: Colt Combat Commander Mark IV and the RIA Tactical II
Here we have a classic Colt Combat Commander Mark IV in .45 ACP paired with the newer Rock Island Armory Tactical II in 10mm.

Throughout the years, the 1911 has gone through many changes, variations and model updates that have led it to be a very diversified but always noticeable firearm.  With different chamberings and new companies taking the 1911 and making their own versions, like our Rock Island Armory version in the picture, the 1911 can be a perfect fit for just about everyone.

Colt Combat Commander (1970)

  • Caliber: .45 ACP
  • Barrel Length: 4.25″
  • Overall Length: 7.75″
  • Weight: 2.25 lb. empty
  • Magazine: 8-round single-column box

RIA Tactical II  (2011)

  • Caliber: 10mm
  • Barrel Length: 5″
  • Overall Length: 8.75″
  • Weight: 2.49 lb. empty
  • Magazine: 8-round single-column box

Which 1911 do you have? Tell us about it in the comment section!

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Comments (10)

  1. WELL I DID IT AGAIN ! ! ! See comment #3. I bought another 1911 this time it’s a KIMBER with a 3 inch barrel , I found carrying a full size [ 5 inch barrel] is no fun . Soooo i got a GREAT DEAL less than $800.00 on my new jem.

  2. My wife likes big guns. She fell in love with Springfield Armory’s 45 long slide 1911. I’m not sure exactly how long that hand cannon is but when it’s compared to my little Rock Island 1911 with a 5 inch barrel it a brute. Out of the box it had a Jack La Lane trigger and it kicked like a mule. Jeff, the gunsmith, at Norco Armory sweetened the trigger and put rubber Hogue grips on it. Now it fits my wife’s little hands a lot better and with a buffer in the slide she doesn’t have a problem with the recoil. I like it too when I can get it away from her, but she can put seven in a one inch square which I can’t. Hank

  3. I have many 1911’s, I have an American Tactical Fatboy, S&W Pro Series sub compact, Taurus ALR, and an Rock Island commander size.

    I carry the Fatboy or the S&W, both in a Rhino holster

  4. I didn’t have a thousand dollars, or more, for a Colt or Kimber 1911 so i settled on a Rock Island 1911 and I’ve never regretted it. I bought it in the 45 caliber for about $300 new as a plain Jane GI version in the black finish and I did make some changes that most people probably won’t have to. I put Hogue rubber grips from Turner’s Outdoorsman on it, a plastic buffer on the slide from Midway and I sent the slide back to the factory for sights that I could see. Rock Island’s gunsmiths in the customer service department were great to deal with. I’m 71 years old and literally half blind with cataracts so they mounted higher sights with an adjustable sight at the rear that have bright enough dots that I can see. Now I have a pistol that any one could use, and it’s great for me. Between the buffer and the Hogue Grips it has softened a lot of the recoil and I can hit what I’m aiming at. I’m a very happy Rock Island customer and I’ve referred a lot of my friends to them.

  5. Springfield Armory Commander Model CAL .45. It was made in ’91 or ’92; I bought it used in 2004 for $300. Excellent sidearm even for concealed carry. I have Wilson Combat mags. I had to replace the extractor after I put about 500 rounds down range. John Moses Browning, or JMB as we 1911 fans call him, knew what he was doing. I have developed numerous loads for this pistol, and she works well with everything I’ve put in the magazine.

  6. yep the good ol 1911 is still my favorite.i will upgrade to the ten mm someday as it will do more than my 45 and reach out there a little further.i presently use a four inch sw44 for would be nice to have a more powerful 1911 package for the trail…I would also like to see more attention given to another iconic pistol,one that only the 1911 has outsold since its introduction in 1975.the CZ 75 is a great combat and duty/self defence pistol,also a version in 45..great pistols..semper fi.

  7. As noted, “using the new cartridge .45 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP), this gun offered astounding stopping power and reliability needed in the harsh conditions of war.” Unfortunately, few female soldiers have the upper body strength to operate the slide on a 45ACP pistol because of the heavier recoil spring required — hence, the ill advised switch to the less capable 9mm platforms. An example of a reduction in war fighting capability for PC.

  8. a few months ago i bought two used 1911’s a SPRINGFIELD RANGE OFFICER and a TAURUS both have 5 inch barrels and of course are 45 acp. both now [costing about $100.00@] have adjustable sights . the big difference and the reason i bought the TAURUS it has a ambidexterous safety and being left handed that is ONE WELCOME FEATURE ! ! now my biggest problem is when i go to the range is WHICH ONE DO I TAKE ? ? ? ? ? ? they both shoot like a dream ! ! ! ! ! !

  9. Colt 1911 gold cup, colt 1911 Defender, colt original WWII .45 ACP ..
    Only thing I have against the defender is the aluminum frame. A lot of others like its light weight, but to me it does not feel like a real firearm.. would LOVE to get a steel frame for it. The commander can be had with the stainless steel frame and slide, but it is notably larger than the defender is. I use the Defender as an everyday carry piece on my farm for errant copperheads and foxes/dogs/yotes and such.

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