As a professional, I take every handgun on its own merits. I take dry lines and trope and infuse the technical with life, making it interesting for you, the reader. Having an idea is not as difficult as putting it together.
While I try to be fair to every pistol, I have been taken to task for my devotion to the 1911. I think confidence is a better term. There is a sense of history and emotional attachment that cannot be denied; there also is respect for an implement designed to save lives, one that performs better than any other when you study all particulars in zero gauge.
Critics of the 1911 often are uncomfortable with the piece for one reason or another. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, although we are not entitled to our own facts.
Let’s get the facts straight.
Choosing the Right Pistol
More than once, I have been in situations when my life was on the line, and I am not about to choose a handgun based on ego. I did not choose the 1911 arbitrarily. I did not decide to carry the piece because it was expected of me. The opposite is true, and it was a struggle to have the pistol approved by the various agencies for which I worked. My research and personal experience led to the 1911.
I did not choose the pistol; I recognized its efficiency.
I have a strong interest in competition and hunting, as well as personal defense. There are handguns better suited to a certain niche than the 1911, yet none is as all-around useful.
The ergonomics are unchallenged.
- It fits most hands well.
- The controls are laid out perfectly for the reach of the average hand.
- The low-bore axis limits muzzle flip.
Comparing the 1911 to other types, well, if you fumble the draw and aim at a stationary target, the advantages are not as apparent.
Many years ago, when I first drew the 1911 from the Don Hume thumb break, there was something different.
- My hand funneled into the grip strap.
- I drew and placed my finger straight along the frame as my thumb actuated the safety.
- My hands met in a two-hand grip.
- The angle of deflection in the grips of which Cooper spoke was apparent.
- My hand did not feel overstretched but comfortable.
- The straight-to-the-rear trigger compression felt right.
- At every step and for every trigger press, I was in control and performing as well as possible with a handgun.
- When the .45 fired, I knew I held a powerful handgun, yet it abraded neither my palm nor my senses. There were no eddies in my skin.
- Since the centerline of the bore was relatively close to the hand, there was little leverage for the muzzle to rise.
- I began firing double taps. An instant second shot printed very close to the first.
- Tracking between targets was excellent.
- I could reasonably expect to double tap three targets in the same time frame that it once took to hit three targets with the Combat Magnum (practice is the key).
I appreciate the safety features of the 1911 while realizing true safety is between the ears. When the pistol is properly carried, cocked and locked, hammer to the rear and slide-lock safety engaged, the sear is locked. The pistol cannot fire. If you drop the pistol while the safety is off, the grip safety prevents it from firing. I like those features very much.
A Proven Design
While some say the 1911 is dated, that is far from true. While I prefer the original type for most uses, some modern 1911 handguns have space-age finishes (stainless steel is pretty modern for me), and some examples sport accessory rails for mounting combat lights.
The 1911 is among the most proven of all handgun designs, and not only in the hoary pages of some 1911 Army test. The FBI tested the Springfield Professional Model to the tune of 20,000 rounds without a single malfunction. While the Springfield Professional is not an inexpensive handgun, comparable models, such as the Springfield TRP and Springfield Loaded Model, offer much the same durability, although not quite the same fit and accuracy.
The 1911 is the fastest of the big-bore handguns into action—period—and the fastest to an accurate first shot. Compact versions are available that offer real comfort while giving up little in efficiency. The Colt Commander remains a classic I appreciate very much.
A Look at Ammunition
The cartridge deserves some attention. The .45 ACP originated in a day when most handgun cartridges were low-pressure numbers. The .455 Webley, for example, pushed a 265-grain bullet at only 650 fps. That made the .45 ACP a powerhouse in comparison with a 230-grain jacketed bullet at 820 fps. The combination has proven enough for personal defense and, in fact, has an unrivaled record.
Historical data is there, and so are empirical tests. There are those who have offered so-called studies with zero validity. A test that is unrepeatable and unverifiable and a report that uses secret sources are highly suspect, to say the least. Suffice it to say, the .45 ACP cartridge has a good balance of power and control. Modern expanding bullet ammunition is well designed and makes the most of the .45 ACP.
There is only so much you can add to a cartridge that begins with a bullet with .451-inch diameter without expansion.
When you consider all of the advantages of the 1911, the pistol is a model of human engineering. Ergonomics inspiration or common sense (or whatever you choose to call it), the 1911 is a wonderful handgun on all counts. It is a handgun that gives good men and women every advantage against our protein-fed, ex-con criminal class.
Give the 1911 an honest try, and you may reach the same conclusion.
1911 for Concealed Carry?
All right, you say, all of that is proven on the range, but what about carrying the 1911? Is it not long and heavy? Those features are among the best advantages of the 1911. It is long and thin and concealable. When the piece is cocked and locked, you can shove it into a tight-fitting holster without the slide moving to the rear, and the trigger does not get caught in the holstering welt, belt loop or safety strap.
I like that very much.
The flat, smooth, lines of the 1911 promote a fast draw. I want to make an important point about concealed carry. I do not find a handgun that is easily concealed and then attempt to make it work well on the range. Rather, I find out if the pistol is effective on the range.
I do not hope the cartridge will work for me; I choose a proven number I know will work. With that in mind, there are a number of quality concealed-carry holsters that make carrying the 1911 concealed effective, and like any handgun, bearable to keep close to the body.
Concealment and comfort are two different issues.
If you work at it, even a service-grade handgun can be concealed. It is simply more comfortable to conceal a lighter handgun. When all is said and done, there is nothing faster to an accurate first shot than the 1911 handgun, and nothing else offers its the combination of speed, accuracy and power.
- You must choose a first-class inside-the-waistband holster for best results.
- You also must choose a service-grade leather belt heavy enough to support the weight of a 40-ounce 1911 .45. Thin department store belts will not work, although that is true of most any handgun.
With a proper belt and holster, the 1911 can be worn professionally and with a guarantee of speed and concealment for those who practice.
Do you use a 1911 for concealed carry? Why, or why not? Do share with your fellow shooters in the comment section.