I think we all agree that the 1911 handgun is among the most recognized and combat-effective handguns of all time. We also agree the 1911 is not for everyone. If cocked-and-locked carry and the need for frequent cleaning and lubrication are not something you feel like you can live with, then a GLOCK or revolver is a better choice. And the 1911 appeals to many shooters, and accommodations exist for most of us.
One reason some shy away from the 1911 is the perceived recoil of the .45 ACP cartridge. No doubt about it, the .45 demands practice and acclimation to master. The occasional shooter will have a difficult time dealing with the .45; I do not mean that derisively. Time is precious, and many simply cannot devote the time to mastering the handgun, which makes the 9mm cartridge attractive.
While the .45 ACP is the natural first choice in the 1911, you are missing something if you do not consider the 9mm 1911 platform. The 9mm 1911 has all the good traits of the 1911, including a low-bore axis that limits muzzle flip, a well-shaped grip that fits most hands well and straight-to-the-rear trigger compression. Quite a few of the 1911 handguns for sale are affordable—after all, a handgun can be a significant portion of disposable income. A thousand-dollar 1911 may not be in the cards.
Among the more affordable 1911 handguns that has some desirable features is the Citadel, offered by Nevada-based Legacy Sports. Legacy Sports imports a number of good products, the Armscor-produced Citadel among them. The Citadel features good sights, an ambidextrous safety, a beaver-tail grip safety with memory pad, good fit and finish for the price and checkered wooden grips.
The fit of the Novak sights particularly impressed me. Each is properly dovetailed in place, and the rear sight is adjustable for wind. The cocking serrations are well executed, and matte blue finish appears to be bead blasted.
I tested the compact version. Often referred to as the Officer’s Model size, that handgun features a 3.5 belled barrel and shortened grip frame. The belled barrel is necessary because of different dynamics in the locked-breech action of a short-slide 1911. Citadel lowered the ejection port and there are minimal tool marks.
Quality Shows When Field Stripped
When I field stripped and examined the pistol, the final machine work looked good, with quality CNC machine work evident.
- The slide-to-frame fit is tight.
- The wooden grips are lightly checkered, adequate for adhesion when firing.
- It is supplied in a lockable, hard-plastic box with two magazines (this example is chambered for the 9mm Luger cartridge).
For a recreational shooter, the 9mm chambering makes sense. The pistol retains the many good qualities of the 1911 handgun, such as a low-bore axis that limits muzzle flip, straight-to-the-rear trigger compression, a grip frame that fits most hands well and the speed to an accurate first shot of the cocked-and-locked carry mode. The 9mm Luger cartridge is economical to get and fire.
The 9mm Cartridge
While the 9mm Luger operates at higher pressure than the .45 ACP, as much as 30,000 psi compared to the .45’s 21,000 psi, the 9mm has less momentum. As such, weapons wear should never be an issue. A nice discovery was that the magazines are Metalform brand, which produces excellent service-grade magazines. I did not expect any magazine- or ammunition-related problems. The pistol would have to perform on its own merits.
The 9mm cartridge offers significantly less recoil than the .45 ACP, allowing shooters who are unable to practice as often to master it more quickly and maintain a reasonable level of proficiency. The 9mm Luger does not possess the wound potential of the .45 ACP cartridge, far from it, although the 9mm is a reasonable choice for personal defense. Load selection is critical.
In the end, the 9mm is what it is, and the shooter’s skill is important. The 9mm is a useful cartridge with light recoil and good accuracy that promotes practice. The Citadel 1911 is chambered for the most popular service pistol cartridge in the world. In size, the pistol is reminiscent of the SIG P 225 and is actually smaller than the GLOCK 19. It is not lighter, however. The Citadel 1911 9mm is all steel (I like all steel a lot) and in this case, the weight penalty is not severe since it weighs only 32 ounces. That means recoil is less than practically any other 9mm this size.
The Abbreviated Grip
In testing the Citadel compact 1911, the abbreviated grip did not preclude obtaining a full firing grip. The trigger span and circumference of the 1911 grip remain the same with the short frame. The long bearing surfaces were lubricated, and the magazines loaded.
A word on the magazines and the capacity: there are high-capacity magazine handguns available by the dozen, and they offer a reserve of ammunition. The 9mm may demand rapid-repeat shots before incapacitating an assailant. Just the same, a pistol with a thinner grip is easier to concealed, control and handle. A limited magazine capacity is a tradeoff I am willing to accept.
Firing the Pistol
I fired the pistol with a variety of loads. Prior to this Shooter’s Log review, it I fired some 400 rounds without a single failure to feed, chamber, fire or eject; no break-in malfunctions and no problems. The eight-round magazines give the pistol a nine-round capacity. For those who practice, that should prove an adequate supply.
I loaded the pistol with the American Eagle FMJ loads for this Cheaper than Dirt! test. I have enjoyed firing and using this pistol, and that is why it has more than 500 rounds on it as I finish this report.
- The Citadel 9mm compact pistol is easy to use well.
- Recoil is not a consideration.
- It weighs a solid 32 ounces, which is nearly as much as full-size service pistols.
- The steel frame absorbs momentum.
- The low-bore axis limits muzzle flip.
- Trigger compression is a controllable 5 pounds.
- There is some take-up, with no discernible creep or backlash (good trigger action in an economy handgun).
- The pistol came out of the holster smoothly and lined up on target quickly.
- First-shot hits were obtained quickly firing at man-sized targets at 5, 7 and 10 yards.
- Rapid follow-up shots were accurate.
- When practicing speed loads, the magazine release was tight, maintaining good contact with the magazine, and easily manipulated to quickly drop the empty magazine.
- The slide lock functioned properly.
- The Novak sights offer an excellent sight picture (all who fired the compact handgun commented on the efficiency of the sights).
I fired a variety of personal defense loads from the pistol.
- The Speer 124-grain Gold Dot is accurate, reliable and gives good expansion.
- The 147-grain Gold Dot is among the best performers in the heavy-weight 9mm class. If you have a need for deep penetration, as is the case when felons are wearing heavy clothing during the winter months, that is a viable loading.
- The Federal HST, in both 124- and 147-grain weights, gave good results.
- Common wisdom tells us that the Speer 124-grain Gold Dot +P Short Barrel load would be ideal in the handgun. That load uses a bullet especially designed for short-barrel handgun performance.
Just the same, all the loads test fired are credible and a good choice for those who practice. All are controllable in this handgun. Frankly, recoil is not a problem, and I would choose the load that fits your scenario, being certain that it functions properly.
The pistol was surprisingly accurate. I bench rested the Citadel 9mm on several occasions, with good results.
Here are a few results from the Shooter’s Log trail at 15 yards with 5-shot groups.
|Federal American Eagle||147-grain 9mm||1.2 inches|
|Speer||124-grain, Gold Dot||2.0 inches|
|Speer||124-grain, Gold Dot +P (Short Barrel)||1.8 inches|
|Federal||124-grain HST||2.1 inches|
The Citadel is both reliable and accurate and should serve well for personal defense. I tested a variety of quality leather holsters when carrying it. The Zombie holster from D.M. Bullard has seen much use with all of my 1911 handguns. The 9mm is a lot of fun, and that holster makes a range outing even more fun. For concealed carry, the D.M. Bullard inside-the-waistband holster (shown at left) features a durable, single loop and excellent boning, a compact IWB that well handles the Citadel.
The Citadel 9mm 1911 is well worth your time and effort to investigate, is a joy to fire and use and may serve well in serious conflicts.
What are your thoughts on the Citadel 9mm 1911? Have you used it? If not, are you planning to give it a try after reading this range report? Share in the comments section.