Decades of Shooting: One Author’s Top 10 1911 Handguns

Springfield TRP on a shooting bench with gloves, spare magazines, and winchester and Browning .45 ACP ammo

Someone once said, you either “get” the 1911 or you don’t. I suppose that is true, and I want you to get it. I don’t want to keep the 1911, blessings, peace of mind, or safety to myself. I want to share.

The 1911 was developed by America’s greatest gun inventor, John Moses Browning. No other shared his understanding of the fundamental principles of human engineering. The pistol was designed to provide soldiers a self-loading handgun with approximately the killing power of the .45 Colt revolver cartridge. It did so.

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

A few famous individuals, including Brigadier General George T. Thompson, had a hand in developing the .45 Automatic Colt Pistol cartridge. The cartridge and the pistol complement one another. The .45 ACP operates at low working pressure, offers excellent accuracy in the right handgun, and features a full powder burn. With the original 230-grain load, seldom is there any muzzle flash — usually a warm glow or sparks if there is any signature. The effect against an enemy is proven.

At the time of its introduction, the .45 ACP cartridge was designed to be effective against enemy war horses, dangerous animals including jaguar, and to be as reliable as possible. Despite revisionist history and muddy science, the .45 ACP remains among our best defensive cartridges.

After World War I the pistol was pressed into another role at the National Matches. Army gunsmiths welded and built up pistols until they were accurate far beyond the original specification. Army accuracy acceptance standards were a five-inch group at 25 yards and a 10-inch group at 50 yards.

Many Colt 1911 handguns were more accurate than that. When Colt introduced the National Match, the pistol would eat up a bullseye at 50 yards. Along the way, the 1911 became the 1911A1. We simply call it the 1911.

The 1911 has been significantly changed. The advantages of a grip and grip angle that fits most hands well, a low bore axis, and the safety features of a slide lock safety that firmly locks the sear out of battery and a grip safety that locks the trigger are intact.

2 1911 pistols with an AR-15 and military bolt action rifle
Many firearms come and go, while the 1911 has been on the front line for 111 years.

The original 1911 was designed for use from horseback. The cavalry was the spearhead of the Army. The pistol had to be instantly ready for action hence the cocked-and-locked ready mode. The pistol had to be drop safe. If a trooper dropped the pistol the grip safety would spring into action preventing trigger movement.

The pistol is fast to reload. The original test fire was 6,000 rounds without a malfunction. With modern manufacturing behind it, the Springfield 1911 Bureau Model went through 20,000 rounds of Remington 230-grain Golden Saber, without a malfunction, while maintaining a 1.25-inch, five-shot, 25-yard group.

Cheap 1911 handguns that were made to sell, won’t meet this standard but then they are for recreation. Neither will a very tight bullseye gun that was built for accuracy and regular maintenance. And that’s fine. So long as you understand the standards.

two world war I era 1911 .45 ACP handguns
These World War I Colt pistols are still formidable handguns.

The following pistols are 10 of the most important 1911 handguns ranging from the first to the most modern and a few words on each. Before you complain your favorite isn’t included, I should share that this isn’t a catalog of images borrowed from manufacturers. I have test fired and owned each of these handguns. We have features coming along on the Ruger SR1911 and Girsan 1911s as well. Just the same, please share your experience with the 1911 and favorite models. Whether you read with or against the grain, you must admit these are exceptional handguns.

Colt 1918/Colt Black Army

To recap a thrice told tale, when the United States went to war in Europe during WWI, we had perhaps 30,000 Colt 1911 pistols on hand. We were raising a million-man Army and normally issued pistols to every soldier. Colt contracted Remington Arms to make 1911s and develop the Black Army.

The Black Army used a black finish that was much easier to apply than the original blue finish. They were a cheaper Colt, and now, they are a rarity. This example has been completely reliable and groups five-shots into 4.0 inches with Remington 230-grain FMJ ammunition. The trigger breaks at 7.4 pounds. While heavy reset is rapid, the trigger is a fine combat trigger. 

Argentine Modelo 1927

Argentina adopted the 1911 first as the Modelo 1916. Later, with 1911A1 improvements, it adopted what became the Modelo 1927. Some of the first pistols were Argentine-marked Colt pistols but most were Argentine produced 1911s. The fit, finish, and quality are first class and comparable or equal to the Colt.

Argentine Modelo 1927 handgun, right profile
The Argentine Modelo 1927 is a superlative military handgun.

The parts may be harder, and the pistols usually weigh about an ounce more than a Colt. The steel was carefully selected. Many of these pistols are still in use today. They are a piece of history, and a well-made handgun by any standard.


Colt Commander

After World War II, the Army decided it wanted a lightweight handgun. Colt had developed a shorter 1911 as early as the 1930s. The Commander pistol features a 4.25-inch barrel versus the Government Model’s 5-inch barrel.

World War II technology allowed the development of durable aluminum frames. The original Commander was an aluminum frame pistol weighing but 27 ounces — compared to the Government Models 40 ounces. The pistol was shipping by 1950.

Satin Nickel 1911 Commander .45 ACP pistol with leather Milt Sparks Summer Special holster
This is a satin nickel Commander .45 and Milt Sparks Summer Special holster.

In 1970, Colt introduced the Combat Commander, a steel-frame version. The pistol illustrated is a satin nickel-finish Combat Commander. As issued, the pistol would group five Winchester 230-grain FMJ loads into five inches at 25 yards, and about six inches with the 185-grain Silvertip. A Bar-Sto Precision barrel cut the average group size in half. The original short beavertail safety has been known to bite some hands.

G Madore Practical Shooting 1911

Pennsylvanian George Madore worked on many handguns prior to his death about 15 years ago. Among these were Hammerli 208 handguns and quite a few 1911s. I have seen several 1911 .45s he modified, and the .45 illustrated is an exceptional example of the gunsmith’s trade.

Among his innovations was a tab on the barrel to snug up barrel fitting. He also figured out a way to mount an Aimpoint sight on a 1911 — not on a rail or a mount but fitted directly to the slide.

Madore/Colt 1911 .45 ACP pistol, left profile
This Madore/Colt is a simple pistol in some ways. Hand fitting is most important.

My Madore 1911 is a Bullseye Colt. The piece features a GI slide and a Series 70 frame. As I looked more closely, I found modifications that were popular in the era.

For example, shooters often failed to hit the standard GI or Colt commercial grip safety — didn’t depress it sufficiently to release the trigger — and competition shooters therefore often blocked the grip safety. Sometimes the guns were modified by running a thin wire through a hole drilled in the frame and grip safety. Others were simply taped shut. This is a target pistol but one that is reliable and would make a fine go-anywhere do-anything pistol (with a grip safety returned to its original function).

Colt National Match

The original National Match featured high visibility fixed sights, and later Stevens, then Eliason sights. Finally, we saw durable Bomar sights in the later National Match and Gold Cup pistols.

Colt National Match with barrel bushing compensator
This Colt National Match features a barrel bushing compensator.

Considerable skill is demanded in fitting a match-grade barrel. The trigger actions were polished, and the spring housing was checked. The pistols featured adjustable match-grade triggers. The National Match illustrated features a barrel bushing type compensator.

While recoil is reduced, the pistol is more accurate with the factory bushing. A good, tight, Gold Cup-type .45 will put five shots into two inches with a target load and is remarkably easy to shoot well. Lighter recoil springs are supplied to allow the use of target loads.

Coonan .357 Magnum

This pistol demonstrates how much stretch is built into the 1911 handgun. The slide lock safety and grip safety of the 1911 are an advantage. Many years ago, master pistolsmith Jim Clark Sr. designed one of the first 1911 match pistols to function with the .38 Special cartridge.

Recreating the 1911 to feed a rimmed revolver cartridge — and a full wadcutter at that — was no easy task. The later rimless .38 AMU was also developed. The Coonan pistol chambers the .357 Magnum cartridge.

Coonan 1911 handgun chambered in .357
The Coonan .357 is a superbly accurate handgun.

I have fired the pistol extensively and even handloaded for this beast. It functions well and is accurate. Due to the locked-breech design, the self-loading .357 Magnum Coonan develops more velocity than a revolver of similar barrel length. While not for everyone, the Coonan is to the 1911 what NASCAR racing cars are to your family sedan.

Springfield Lightweight Loaded Model

Springfield combined an aluminum frame with a full-length Government Model slide to give us a pistol with a full sight radius and 5-inch barrel velocity, accuracy, and reliability. I carried this handgun for more than 10 years and arguably got more than my money’s worth. I did not experience a single failure to feed, chamber, fire, or eject.

I know what a pistol looks like after 10,000–20,000 rounds of ammunition have been ran through it and how much time it takes experienced shooters to fire a thousand rounds or so. Most of the high-round counts posted by internet fanboys and eBay commandos are bull excrement — and the popular press sometimes fumbles its math as well.  

Springfield LW Loaded Model 1911
Springfield’s LW Loaded Model is an exceptional carry gun.

Practicing a minimum of 50 rounds a week, including a great deal of handloads, adds up over a long period of time. The pistol illustrated logged just over 20,000 standard pressure loads. The frame was fine with the normal well-worn anodizing. The original ramped barrel was fine. Accuracy never lost its edge.

After 550 years with the 1911, and three books on the 1911, this is the 1911 I fired the most. A close runner up was a hard-chrome Series 70. I used it in bowling pin shoots and carried it on duty. My ‘pin load’ was a 255-grain SWC at 838 fps. I also used the Hornady 250-grain XTP at 840 fps.

The Colt frame cracked in front of the slide, but the pistol did not cease operation or fail to properly function. It was retired at 12,500 rounds, almost all handloads. A friend I lost track of used it for years with the cracked frame.

Rock Island 1911

The Rock Island 1911 pistols use cast frames and slides rather than forged steel. They are the biggest selling 1911 in America for several years in the past decade. I have yet to see a Rock worn out or sporting a cracked frame. I have had to tune the occasional extractor, replace an ejector, and change recoil springs.

two Rock Island Armory 1911 .45 ACP pistols
Rock Island Armory offers a wide range of 1911 handguns.

I have had at least the same amount of effort with other makers. Notably, when Rock introduced a 9mm version, it hit the road running without trouble. 9mm Luger pistols have been problematic in the 1911 platform. The .45 was designed for a cartridge with a 1.250-inch overall length. (.38 ACP, .38 ACP Super, and .45 ACP.) Modified magazines don’t always work out. The Rock did. Among the inexpensive 1911 handguns, the Rock is proven and worthy of consideration.


Of the pistols covered, I have the least experience with Tisas. I like the forged steel frame and slide. Cast frames have proven durable and so have aluminum frames. Tisas, it seems, may make a good basis for a build — for those who still do this type of thing. I have seen the usual teething problems with the Tisas but nothing in the design or execution gives me pause.

cocked and locked 1911 .45 ACP pistol, right profile
The Tisas 1911 is an all forged-steel pistol.

An extractor needed adjustment. That’s about it as far as problems go. These pistols represent a good value and have features that are impressive considering the price.

Springfield Tactical Response Pistol

When Springfield won the FBI contract for a SWAT team pistol, it developed one of the most capable 1911 handguns ever crafted. The pistol is also very expensive. The Tactical Response Pistol isn’t inexpensive, but it is an affordable alternative to the Bureau Model.

SPringfield TRP 1911-A1 pistol
Every detail of the TRP is well thought out.

The pistol is tight, very tight, and expressly reliable. Accuracy is something surprising. While on demand, accuracy is what matters on occasion the pistol has demonstrated a five-shot 25-yard group of 1.65 inches. 2.0 inches is the average. I am very pleased with this pistol. While you may pay more for a 1911, I cannot imagine a better service-grade handgun.

These 10 handguns are all interesting. They range from economy grade to the gun makers art. They are all 1911 handguns, and the heritage is interesting and valuable part of America.

Did your favorite 1911 make the list? What are the top three 1911 pistols of all time in your estimation? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • 2 1911 pistols with an AR-15 and military bolt action rifle
  • 5 1911 .45 ACP pistols
  • two world war I era 1911 .45 ACP handguns
  • Colt 1911 handgun with a box of Hornady .45 ACP handguns
  • Argentine Modelo 1927 handgun, right profile
  • Aeronautica Argentina Model 1911 .45 ACP handgun
  • Satin Nickel 1911 Commander .45 ACP pistol with leather Milt Sparks Summer Special holster
  • 1911 Commander .45 ACP handgun with a Bar Sto barrel
  • Madore/Colt 1911 .45 ACP pistol, left profile
  • G.Madore custom 1911 .45 ACP handgun
  • George Madore hand-fitted 1911 pistol
  • Colt National Match with barrel bushing compensator
  • Two Target grade 1911 handguns
  • Schematic parts drawing of a 1911 handgun
  • Coonan 1911 handgun chambered in .357
  • BArrel bushing and crown on a Coonan 1911 pistol
  • Springfield LW Loaded Model 1911
  • field stripped 1911 .45 ACP handgun
  • two Rock Island Armory 1911 .45 ACP pistols
  • Rock Island Armory 1911 9mm handgun with three boxes of SIG Sauer ammunition
  • cocked and locked 1911 .45 ACP pistol, right profile
  • TIsas 1911 Commander length pistol fieldstripped
  • Springfield TRP on a shooting bench with gloves, spare magazines, and winchester and Browning .45 ACP ammo
  • SPringfield TRP 1911-A1 pistol

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 (66)

  1. I’ll keep it short. My favorite 1911 models are the Springfield Loaded 45, the TRP 45 and the Colt Delta Elite 10mm.

  2. Barry Behrle and others mentioned the Ruger SR1911. That’s the gun that converted me into becoming a 1911 fan. Before I shot the Ruger SR1911 I saw the 1911 as an outdated and troublesome gun when it came to cleaning and keeping them working. I’d owned a Colt 1991 and some other 1911, I don’t remember. But the Ruger made me a believer. I now have both .45 and 9mm Ruger 1911 Commanders. I also have Commanders by Remington, Sig Sauer and S&W and full-size Springfield LW Operator and Colt M45. Expect to own a few more before my shooting days are over. The 1911 truly is an exceptional piece of workmanship when put together right and a pleasure to shoot.

  3. Found your article to be quite interesting. I recently purchased the Ruger SR1911 and LOVE IT. It was very accurate and functioned exceptionally well right out of the box. I must confess I have been a Ruger fan for many years to include one of the first Security 6 revolvers that came out. I am anxiously waiting to hear your thoughts on the SR1911 when published.

  4. Really loved reading the comments, especially about the Llama; remember selling those nearly fifty years ago. In my small collection are those I don’t shoot including: Para P14 (very early and worn out), Colt Commander (beautifully blued and unfired); those I rarely shoot: Kimber Stainless II (finicky until I switched mags), RIA Rock Ultra 10mm double stack (extremely ammo sensitive), Ruger SR1911 Target 10mm (good solid shooter), Springfield “Loaded” (good shooter), Springfield stainless Range Officer 9mm (VERY disappointing); and three I shoot a lot: Dan Wesson PM-9 stainless (good-looking, competition ready), BUL Armory stainless 9mm ( absolutely the equal of the Dan Wesson at half the price), Magnum Research stainless .45 (BUL Armory with the MR name, round count now approaching 16,000, most accurate .45 for me). Others come and go, the 1911 is my firearm of choice for accurately punching holes in paper and ringing steel.

  5. I have a Night Hawk T3 in .45 cal. This gun is like butter. When I went to my CCW class, it was one of the 3 that I qualified on. Both instructors were just ogling over it. I told them they could run some rounds through it if they wanted. I didn’t have to ask them twice. Lol
    They both agreed that butter was the perfect description for it.

  6. I have a RIA Match and love it. Very accurate and dependable. And got it a good price. I also have 2 Para Ordnance LDA 1911. They are very good, accurate guns. While I own other guns the 1911 will always be the number ‘go to’ gun for me.

  7. I currently have 4 1911’s, a Taurus P1911, RIA TAC HI CAP, Colt Gold Cup .22 by Walther and a Browning Black Lable .380. When I was on the base marksmanship team in the Air Guard besides the M92 we were also issued (2) 1911A1’s, one bone stock and one accurized.
    Mine shoot as good or better than the “tweaked” target Colt pistol. After about 1500 rounds through each, i haven’t had any malfunctions and the RIA has an unbelievable trigger right out of the box.

  8. I like Ruger, and so added an SR1911 5″, which has worked great right out of the box. Some small details not quite up to my Dan Wessons, but an accurate and reliable gun. The barrel lockup was not as tight as I like, but that can keep it from jamming from dirt, etc. in field use, so fine for reliability. I did a custom fit Wilson Combat barrel that fits more the way I like, but accuracy with either barrel is very good. People at the range really like the looks & feel of the Ruger.

  9. What’s the approximate value of a Colt Argentine Modelo 1927 that was manufactured by Colt in the United States? It is an early 4 digit serial number pistol manufactured in October 1927 in excellent condition. Any help appreciated. Thank you.

  10. My 1st 1911a was a RIA officers model. The gun has performed flawlessly with over 2000 rounds fed through it over the last 5+ years. Great gun, accurate and reliable, but don’t shoot one without ear protection. I recently purchased a Tisa full size which has also performed flawlessly. You don’t have to spend a lot to get a quality 1911, just do your research. The 1911 is a classic gun with a great reputation and a kick to shoot.

  11. I acquired my first 1911 a used Remington from a friend who needed some money since then I have owned one cold cup two two government models one Combat Commander which I still have presently I own one Sig Target Model A very old Astra 1911 Pocket Gun in 380 ACP and recently I purchased German Sporting Arms 22 long rifle 1911 and last but not least Delta Elite in 10 mm I am in my sixties and still love my 1911’s

  12. If looking for a budget 1911 and the fact that Rock Island is cast rather than forged bothers you, there are two options I would suggest looking into: 1) Taurus 2) Tisas

  13. Bought a CMP and when they called, I asked for “the best they had”. It WAS an arm and a leg, BUT it’s SO beautiful, I haven’t shot it a year later. It’s a Remington Rand, with all matching numbers and no wear. I don’t think it’s been shot more than what was necessary for the original proof and the CMP testing. I’m going to find a used version of this same weapon for learning and shooting. I’m not worthy. I’m going to give it to my son and tell him to give it to the next veteran from our family.

  14. I own four 1911 pistols. My favorite is a Colt Delta Elite 10mm. Accurate and powerful. I also have a Colt officer’s model for carry, a para ordinance p-12 and a RIA 22 TCM. I fitted a 38 super barrel to this, so it is a three caliber 1911: 22 TCM, 9mm and 38 Super!

  15. I spent a lot of time researching 1911’s before i purchased. It came down to cost and reliability. I was gifted a Sig Tac Pac (3 mags, holster, loader, single mag carrier all in a nice range box) which was high on my list. I hadn’t been exposed to Rock Island at the time but they are on my list as a 1911 of interest, however I’m a little disappointed to know they’re cast vs forged. At this time the SA Prodigy is on my top 3 next 1911 purchase list.

  16. The 1911 is and always will be my favorite handgun of all time, of which I own three. All of my handguns (including Sig and HK) are .45 ACP. At the top of my list is the Paraordnance 14-45. The double stack magazine makes the grip a little wider which if you have large hands is an asset. And 14 +1 in .45 rivals high cap nines. Did I mention my Para is accurate as hell?

  17. I have a Tisas and a Kimber. Both shoot great but I like the Tisas better because it’s very close to the original and it was inexpensive, so it’s the one that goes with me in the woods.

  18. A friend gave me a Kimber Pro-Carry that she received in a divorce. My sin said that that was a great gift. Has laser sight also.

  19. I am also a fan of the Rock Island products. I had an issue with the grip safety on a new pistol. I called them before I sent it to their repair center. It came back weeks later with a trigger upgrade, another magazine and the safety issue resolved.

    Para Ordanance is another one of my favorites. The P12/45 and P16/40 are extremely accurate along 12 & 16 rounds in the magazines.

  20. Regarding the comment about Kimbers jamming a lot: After shooting various 1911s without problems I found a good deal on a Kimber Stainless LW (aluminum frame) .45, cleaned and lubed, but it would jam constantly failing to chamber. I finally noticed the back of the shell would jam under the ejector. Pulling the ejector out I found it was way over-bent. After tuning properly the gun has worked flawlessly.
    I also picked up a stainless Ultra Carry (3″ barrel) for EDC, and it has performed fine from day one.
    My wife and I also have Micro 380s – like a miniature 1911 – which have no problems.

  21. Best 1911’s: Colt GCNM for the range. Colt Defender goes everywhere with me. Colt Government on my pharmacy counter. Wilson CQB for combat practice…

  22. I have shot a colt 1911 many times. good gun no doubt but when I decided to buy my own , price was a factor. I have a couple Rock Island shot guns and I have been real impressed with them so when I saw the RIA 1911 on sale i didnt hesitate. One stand out feature for me is the hammer. I like a handgun that I can carry charged, safety off and hammer down. That allows me to cock the hammer back as I draw the weapon. all the 1911s with the silly little rounded hammer are very difficult to cock as my thumb just slips off the hammer if I try to cock it on the fly. With my Rock Island thats not an issue. Then there is the depndabilty. My Rock has fired around 600 rounds through it in the last 6 months with no problems at al other than one round I loaded myself that the bullet had gotten pushed too deep into the brass and it did not feed right. My bad….. Accuracy seems fine to me although when I play shoot em up my targets are usually a series of head sized targets in a small area that i walk or run through shooting each target as fast as possible at very close range. Rapid fire, not a problem. I have 5 mags and can empty them one after another discharging them as fast as I can pull the trigger and the Rock loves it, lol. Or at least I do. Ive carried a lot of compact handguns because they conceal well and unfortunately the 1911 doesnt conceal well but I carry it anyway because I like it that much.

  23. First of all, ANY 1911 is my hand gun of choice. I currently own three, chambered in .45, .38 Super (an outstanding cartridge), and 10mm. My two Rock islands (.38 Super and 10mm) made the list, but my Taurus .45 didn’t. All three are great pieces…fun to shoot, and awesome self defense weapons.

  24. I’ve had numerous 1911’s come and go over the years. Purchased a Combat Commander Satin finish in1976. In 1985 I acquired an AMT Hardballer, an interesting weapon with a quirky taste in lubrication. In 1994, a Springfield Armory “Custom” came my way. In 2007 I decided to give the new Taurus PT1911 a try. I found it shot very well and I was extremely pleased with it. Since then I have able to obtain a Taurus Commander and a full sized 9mm 1911. Recently I picked up the Girsan 1911 and their new Hi Power but as yet been able to fire them due to health issues. For EDC, I use a Glock model 22. Basically if I have to surrender my weapon I’m not too upset about it. It’s functional and after carrying one on duty for 15 years I’m use to it being there. How many 1911s does a person need? I figure I’ll have enough when I can’t close the door on the safe.

  25. My current, and favorite 1911s are
    Sig Sauers. I carry a ‘Target’ model, which I raised the trigfer pull, is all I needed fir a street carry weapon for all seasons. I sold a Sig “Carry” ,4 in. model, an early Colt “Commander”, both stainless…These were even better for carry, and all of these had/have been utterly reliable.
    I would go back to the Sig “Carry” 4 in., if I could find one….I grew up on the 1911. But became a S&W magnum fan, which I carried with a badge. Polished steel is my go to, in any chambering.

  26. 1964 or 65 my Grandpa Daniels bought a DCM “1911A1” and gave it to me. In 1963 he had bought a carbine for me. The .45 appeared to be new.
    Fifteen or twenty years ago a .45 knowledgeable dealer looked up the serial number and told me it was made in October, 1918. It was parkerized. I replaced the arched mainspring housing. I have a Ruger .45 Commander and like shooting both. The Colt goes to my son, even though he might not shoot it.
    Thanks, Grandpa Leo.

  27. I have been around 1911’s almost all my life. My father was career Navy and I fired my first one about age 12. I spent 30 years active duty Navy and carried one until the they changed to the Beretta 92, My favorite is a Ithica, U.S.Goverment model I purchased used in the late 80’s. Still a tried and true workhorse, no frills, bells or whistles as God and John Browning intended. have several others including a Remmington 1911R1, but the Ithica is my go to.

  28. Hello all. My favorite came in third on this list. I’ve owned my 1911A1 SS Colt Commander for over 25 years. This firearm has been the most reliable one in my collection. Most of all it is a beautiful weapon. I have since gone to the Glock 19 for my go to concealed carry as ammo is cheaper. The Winchester 9mm JHP is my favorite round. Be safe out there.

  29. I only have one, a Colt Combat Commander in a satin nickel finish with real wood grips. It’s my favorite pistol; fits my hand and shoots great!

  30. I’m new to the 1911 World having purchased (2) 1911’s in the past month. The first is a new Springfield Ronin 4.25″ in 9mm and a week later grabbed a used Rock Island Tac Ultra CS in 9mm.
    I don’t have any other experience with 1911’s to compare them to BUT love the way they feel and shoot.
    I loved the Ronin so much I had to get another make for comparison. I’m on a 1911 binge buying spree now. I don’t know what took me so long but I’m here now.
    I’ve owned 50-60 handguns over the years and acquired my first 1911 a month ago.

  31. I just purchased my 6th 1911 which was the RIA. My others are 3 Springfields, and 2 Colts. Of all the handguns I own, the 1911 is my favorite. My Springfield MC operator performed flawlessly while on the SRU for 17 years. Now that I am retired, 25 YOS, I carry my Colt Gunsite commander. Thank you for a very informative review.

  32. Hello,

    I just purchased my 6th 1911 which is a Rock Island armory. My others are 2 Colts, one being a Gunsite commander. The other 3 are Springfields. My Springfield MC operator was my carry gun both on the job and on the SWAT team for over 10 years. Never had a single issue with the MC operator. Now that I am retired, 25 years of service, I carry my Gunsite Colt commander 70 series. This thing is a tack driver. My Springfield Range officer Elite is also the same. Looking forward to shooting the RIA. Thank you for your informative review.

  33. I’m going to weigh in here on “why not Kimbers” and make some folks mad, but what I’ve seen is what I’ve seen through watching over 15,000 shooters qualify for the Texas License to Carry. My position was as instructor for the course and Range Safety Officer for the shooting proficiency. By far the guns my fellow instructors and I saw jam during the range session were Kimbers. One reason I’m sure was shooter experience. Typical scenario was a professional couple with an income that would allow them to buy whatever they chose, saw the beautiful full color Kimber ads on the back of practically every gun magazine. Bought two Kimbers, usually small ones. Come to the range with no cleaning and no shooting experience. You got it. Limp-wristing and dry guns. It made me dislike Kimbers, but we’d have former military people who had competed in shooting in the military come through with Kimbers that worked. We’d ask them why and they tell us because they were using Wilson or Chip McCormick mags. I’m thinking I may be over my prejudice enough to try a Kimber some day.

  34. My Dad taught me to shoot with his Colt 1911, which he bought new-in-box after he returned home from Vietnam.
    When I joined the Coast Guard in ‘85, I easily qualified with a well-worn range weapon, being very similar.
    My home defense plan now centers around
    a. a 130lb Rhodesian Ridgeback
    b. a 55 year old woman with a pump 12ga who enjoys blowing up produce at the range, and
    c. Me and my Rock Island Armory 1911, chambered in 10mm, with its 6-inch barrel and 16rd mag.
    If an intruder were somehow able to evade/survive the dog and the post-menopausal demon, I’m quite comfortable exercising castle doctrine from any distance within the house.

  35. I’m surprised the Ruger SR 1911 wasn’t picked. I have a .45 caliber with 5inch barrel. The best and most accurate handgun I own.

  36. After going through the various popular 9mm plastic-frame pistols I got a 1911, and found I was far more accurate with it. That’s primarily due to the trigger action and the sight radius. I now have 6 of them, from 3″ to 6″ barrels. The 6″ is an Iver Johnson XL model with target sights, and while not exceptional build, it is accurate. I do best with either my 45 or 9mm Dan Wessons – due to the excellent light triggers. It overcomes my “trigger-control-challenged” 76 yr old body.

  37. I have several 1911’s. I’m not the most experienced, but I have found its all about fit and feel. If your hand gun fits and feels right in your hand you will have more control better, groups, and a greater ability place that shot on target. My everyday carry is Springfield PX9151LP 1911 in .45 caliber. Range days are the best because it gives me the opportunity to bring a variety of guns to enjoy for the day.

    Smith &Wesson
    Rock Island

  38. My favorite and most accurate handgun is a Rock Island 1911 that I paid $239 for new. I own other 1911’s now, but if a bet is on the line, I’ll go to the Rock.

  39. After reading all the fascinating stories I felt compelled to add one more, mine. I too am 45 acp in the old original 1911 frame type super fan. I the mid-seventies, while stationed in Hawaii with the 1stMarBde I was fortunate enough to purchase an ITHICA Army issued 1911 at a DOD auction. What a buy! By tracing serial number and other data provided on the purchase, I was able to trace the pistol back to the Korean War. Without a doubt the best shooting 1911 I’ve ever had the privilege to fire. After proving it was military issue, I was given permission to use it for annual pistol qualification. Was able to fire expert 7 straight years with it. I have several other brands, models, fancied up, and plain Jane. However, my old ITHICA has and still does out shoot them. To everyone who has and still shoots a 1911/1911A1 in the original configuration, bless you all, stay with it and cherish what you have. Regardless of the brand, we all have our own favorites but you might say we are a brotherhood!

  40. My only 1911 is a Para Ordinance P-14 45 that Kings completely went through years ago. It’s one of the nicest shooting, most accurate and reliable pistols I own and it served me well on multiple deployments.

    Even though there are plenty of newer designs available today, 1911 style pistols will remain relevant for the foreseeable future.

  41. I own several 1911’s. My favorite one is the Ruger SR1911. It is the most accurate one I own because of the way it’s manufactured. The barrel, slide and barrel bushing are all made from the same piece of metal making it’s accuracy the best. I locks up so tight that I can’t rack the slide without first cocking the hammer. I even tried a lighter recoil spring to make racking the slide easier. It didn’t work consistently because the lighter spring didn’t always make the slide go into battery. So, the original spring went back into the gun. The 1911 is the only gun that is easy for the hobbyist gunsmith to do a trigger job. The only thing I don’t like about the 1911 is the limited 8-round magazine capacity. I know there are magazines the hold a greater capacity and I also know that as the 1911 evolved some manufacturers are now making 1911’s with double stack magazines (which in turn makes the grip wider). In my opinion, the unique design of the 1911 has never been able to duplicated. All of the striker fired guns leave much desired to the ability of a 1911. The only type of gun it could compete with is a revolver, mainly because a revolver barrel doesn’t move when fired.

  42. I have one ofvthe Rock Island 9mm s. Ihave had acfew failure to feed moments. Gotba good look intjete one time and the bullet wasn’t even touching the feed ramp. Maybe mag problems. I’m thinkingbof going to nothing but Wilson Combat mags. Any thoughts put there?

  43. Hickok45 tested a Kimber 1911 against a Tisas 1911 govt. model and the Tisas shot flawlessly and the Kimber kept jamming…sold me enough that I bought the Tisas…amazing quality at such a low price…Turkish guns are solid snd well crafted..

  44. I too feel that the 1911 fits my hand like God made it himself to mate perfectly with the hand. As an older Inf. ground pounder,you just love the big man stopper. When the ARMY switched to the Beretta, I shouted sacrilege! I still prefer my Sig, Springfield, Taurus, Tisas, and good ol’Colt over any plastic latest fantastic, as do my sons, Armored Cavalry Officers, one of whom is currently hunting ISIS with a you guessed it, 1911 on his side. Please remember them in your prayers 🙏

  45. Kimber Polymer Target 1911 that holds 14 + 1. (double stack)
    REPLACED the rear sight (pot medal) with a bowmar.
    Got over 25000 rounds through it. Had it “re sprung and the feed ramp polished up

  46. I have always been intrigued with 1911’s. I now own 2 Springfield Ronin’s. A 5 inch and the 3 inch barrel. All I can say is unbelievable right out of the box. I was concerned about the recoil of the 3inch barrel but after putting 100 rounds though it at the range I was convinced it would be my new EDC.

  47. I shoot a Kimber Warrior .45. I can shoot it better than any of the other pistols I own. I like that it is heavy and I can stay on target better than with the lighter guns. I’m curious why Kimber got no mention in your article. I’ve always liked them and my coworkers gave me mine as a retirement gift.

  48. I own 5 1911 format pistols. 2 Kimbers (not on your list), 1 Springfield, 1 Colt, and one RIA. All are fantastic to shoot. The RIA needs more work so your assessment on the RIA is debatable.

  49. I do a hell of a lot of shooting with 1911 pistol’s and I would recommend the following 1911’s as my top picks. If you have not shot the Sig Sauer or the Night Hawk 1911 then you are missing out of the most accurate .45 cal. 1911’s on the market.

    Sig Sauer
    Night Hawk
    Rock River

  50. I haven’t been shooting for 550 years like Bob, but I have owned and shot quite a few 1911s over the last 45+ years. My first 1911 was a new production Llama and it was a lemon that loved to jam. I was in college and it was all I could afford ($100). Shortly before I entered active duty I had saved enough money to buy a brand new Colt Commander for double the price of the Llama. When I arrived at my first duty station I found a retired USAF gunsmith who turned it into something Jeff Cooper would have appreciated because it had every feature he recommended. I still own it but rarely shoot it anymore as I consider it a collector’s item. Also, the aluminum frames of these earlier Commanders have a reputation for not being as durable as those available today. My favorite 1911 was a ratty old 1915 Colt Commercial that had seen a lot of abuse, yet it felt smooth and comfortable in the hand. Long before anyone was doing melt jobs on them, handling and holster wear had accomplished much the same effect. Unfortunately these early Colts had soft slides and this one eventually cracked, so I replaced it with a GI slide and sold it to my brother.

  51. Four years ago I purchased a Ruger 1911 Commander and added a Crimson Trace Lazer grip sight. My grandson in law poopood my new self defense acquisition and challenged me to a shootout against his 9mm with him paying for the range fees. I am a retired CW4 dual rated aviator who was 77 years of age at the time. At 25 meters I laid down consistent 4 inch shot groups beating him and his Glock. Love my Commander.

  52. A good 1911 should be in everyone’s gun safe, but as a shooter, not a safe queen! In the 70’s and 80’s there were a number of questionable 1911 produced, but it seems that the current crop of 1911s should be considered as part of the “Golden Age” of 1911s. (Note that the early series 70s Colt I have did require some TLC to “slick it up”, after I purchased it.) While the .45 ACP has not been considered a “hunting” round, but a “self-defense” round, it will work for both applications. That said, too bad the .38 Super never caught on in the USA, as it is a more robust round than 9mm. The .38 Super was designed to run in the 1911, without all the “adjustments” needed to make a 9mm run.

  53. On the subject of *add on* features for the 1911. Long time pistol team coach at West Point, Master Sergeant Huelet L. (Joe) Benner *had a thing* about fancied up handguns. At the National Matches, for years and years (perhaps not every year, but almost every year), Master Sergeant Benner would encounter some (unsuspecting) shooter who was showing off his fancy modified pistol, super whoop-dee-doo accurized this and after-market lastest whiz bang that, while bragging about how accurate the pistol was. MSGT Benner would engage in conversation, appearing to be impressed, while asking just enough **does it really improve accuracy** type questions to keep the proud owner bragging more and more about how special was his tricked out pistol.

    After that guy had really dug himself into a deep hole with his brags, then MSGT Benner would spring the trap. He would challenge the owner of that fancy pistol to a match, case of beer as the wager, other guy’s choice of slow, timed, or rapid fire, what distance, type target, number of rounds and any other type of condition the other guy might want. Challenge was that the two of them would go to the Arms Room of one of the Infantry Rifle Companies from Fort Somewhere on *National Match Support Duty* at Camp Perry that summer; other guy got to chose which company, and then in the Arms Room, other guy got to pick any .45 out of the pistol rack at random. MSGT Benner asked for only three initial rounds to verify for himself where that pistol would print, and then they would shoot the contest that the other guy specified.

    By this stage of the conversation, there were enough other shooters who knew the drill and who had gathered around to hear the other guy continue to brag about his fancy pistol and knew what MSGT Benner was setting that guy up for. With this many witnesses, and all his brag about how great was his pistol, the other guy could not back down and refuse the challenge. Doing this year after year, MSGT Benner never lost the bet, and shared the case of beer with all (to include with the other guy). He impressed on all of us that every 1911 out of the rack was more accurate than most any shooter – – you just had to know where that gun printed and you could make it work for you.

    Joe Benner retired at the rank of Sergeant Major after 28 years service, with Olympic Gold, multiple Pan Am Games Gold and Silver, plus multiple National and World Championships. He passed away in 1999, one of American’s greatest pistol marksmen.

  54. Ron

    Thanks for the heads up. We have a Girsan review in the offing, at least when we have one in stock.


    Bob Campbell

  55. Fifty some years ago, I went into the Army, became a medic and was assigned to a field unit overseas. The weapon I was issued was a 1911. One of our missions was SAR, doing fun things like going into the boonies to extract any pilots, (and crew) whose aircraft may or may not have been able to maintain altitude after taking on extra weight from high velocity chunks of heavy metal that collided with said craft and caused power failure. Another of our missions was doing Recon, going out into the boonies for a look-see to see what might be happening out there when no one knew we were there. We may or may not have thrown surprise parties for those other individuals that they did not want. But, there were those who did their best to do the same for us. Turnabout is fair play.

    As I have said, I carried a 1911 whenever we went out there. I can think of no other weapon that I would choose to carry consistently for self-defense. I have seen how effective it is when used against miscreants who might choose to direct violence in my direction. The only time I have seen it fail was due to failure of the operator to actually connect with the target. (It was not me who fired those shots.)

    Now, fifty plus years later, I have more than one 1911, with my eye on more than one more should my finances (and my spouse) permit me to make the acquisition. When I go out in the woods, as I did yesterday, I carry a government model, Caspian Frame, Remington slide, in my holster. It is for any feral critters, like dogs or hogs, that sometimes take exception to people invading what they perceive as their domain. I am willing to share, but do not tolerate such exclusivism on their part. This weapon is very effective in ending such disagreements and also feeds the turkey vultures that soar above us looking for such an opportunity. It is also legal for deer in Oklahoma if one were to saunter by during gun season.

    As a carry weapon, for when the full size government model is too bulky, I have a Smith ProSeries, their version of an Officer’s Model. I love that weapon. It has a 3” barrel, shoots like a dream and has a 7 round extended magazine.

    I have trusted the 1911 for many years and will continue to do so.

  56. A few years back my Brother in Law was forced to divest himself of most of his considerable Firearm collection due to financial issues.
    When asked if I would be interested in an old 1911 he had I jumped at the opportunity.
    What he sold me for $500 was a Remington Rand wartime issue in very good condition!
    It was wearing some contoured blonde wood grips which I replaced with new checkered cocobolo panels and still has it’s Government Issue magazine.
    It might have taken me 40+ years to acquire the 1911 I so coveted but it holds a place of great joy in my collection and on the range!

  57. The Girsan 1911Comp is a very nice well balanced pistol made in Turkey. Girsan also makes one called the Noel which is as good as any 1911 out there in my opinion. Check them out you won’t be disappointed, outstanding handguns.

  58. A good “quick take” on the 1911 series. One point not mentioned is that it is a “forever pistol” instead of a plastic “this item will dry out and self destruct” pistol design. If reasonable care was taken of the pistol a one hundred year old 1911 will handle the ammunition of today (non-corrosive) and function without regard for how bad the weather might be. I have more than one of several guns, and face it, the High Power (or Hi Power) is among the best 9x19mm pistols made, that big old larger caliber round of forty five will do the job even better when it is “one round on target” is your only option to survive. Over fifty years ago I bought a Gold Cup, went to a heavier recoil spring and a spring guide with a spring buffer in it, and it actually became more accurate. The barrel looks worn out, but all seven rounds touch each other at twenty five yards, and it always works. I simply cannot ask for more than that, but it also puts every round in the chest of a one hundred yard man target, so it will fill in for “not quite close quarters work” too. Big drawback is the weight of the ammunition, but three seven round mags plus one in the chamber has managed to be enough so far. All of the plastics will die of old age, this is a gun that would still be working when it is two hundred years old and your descendents have no other option if ammunition is available.

  59. I carried a Remington Rand 1911A1 for six years as a Marine MP and it never failed me. My intention was to purchase one via the CMP when they became available, but the asking prices were just too high for the old war horses. A friend and former gunsmith turned me on to the Tisas. It’s almost identical to a wartime production 1911 with better steel. I added an ambi safety and changed the grips, but left the rest as is. It functions flawlessly and does its part, as long as I do mine.

  60. My first 1911 was a .45 Kimber CDP Pro, a Commander-sized handgun with an alloy frame. It was my carry gun from 2000 until 2018, and never gave me a problem. It taught me that with the straight back 1911 trigger I could shoot more accurately than with any other sort of handgun.

    In 2018 I sold it in order to be able to afford a Remington 9mm Recon Commander. 9mm ammunition is now as effective as .45 and even four years ago had become much less expensive than .45 ammunition. Being all steel, it is a dream to shoot compared to the alloy-framed .45. It is far more accurate than I am, and being a double-stack holds 18+1 rounds. To my surprise, it feels the same in a hybrid double-belt clip holster as the far lighter Kimber.

    Long before I had ever heard of the 2011, I called this Remington a 1911 for the 21st century. It is just a pity that Remington firearms went belly up and are no longer manufacturing these

  61. My most accurate and somewhat attractive 1911 is a Sig Sauer Emperor Scorpion Fastback Commander. The first time I fired it at a range of 7 yards all nine rounds went into practically the same hole. Well, the final hole could be covered by a quarter. It’s true and I have pictures to prove it. That particular gun has continued to be the most accurate gun I own.

  62. LAR took the Coonan even further. I have a LAR Grizzly .44 Mag and a LAR Grizzly 45 Win Mag. Both are beasts. I have big hands and these two are still a handful.

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