Review: Tisas 1911 GI .45 ACP

Tisas 1911

I have had many experiences I am not terribly anxious to relive.

Some of those revolve around the 1911 .45 and man’s capacity to injure his fellow man.

Thankfully, with discipline concentric to skill-building, I have avoided an early benediction.

When you study the many engagements the 1911 .45 has been involved in and the lives it has saved, you will realize that the great majority of these actions were fought with a plain old GI .45.

1911 GI History

The U.S. military issued the GI .45 for over 70 years, and many are still in inventory.

So are seriously updated versions, serving primarily with special teams. Many are in use by special units in the United States.

I would be surprised if a GI .45 remains in a police holster, but then, some old hand like myself just may be clinging to a trusted pistol that has given good service.

There are many reasons the 1911 is most copied and cloned pistol of all time.

For some makers, the goal was to improve the 1911 and provide a superior product.

Others seek a way to make a cheaper gun to sell at a certain price point. The 1911 can be a target gun, but the GI .45 is a fighting pistol.

It is designed with tolerances tight enough for decent accuracy, but loose enough for steady reliability.

Some 1911 handguns are a work of art, not beautiful like a frond, but with a certain sensuous look for those who appreciate steel.

While high-end pistols are interesting and certainly effective, the GI .45 issued to troops and used in places like the trenches of France, the caves of Iwo Jima and the Mekong Delta have great appeal.

GI 1911 Sights
GI sights are small, but they are precise when lined up properly.

Features and Specs

The latest pistol tested in this line is the Tisas 1911A1.

All 1911 pistols manufactured today are 1911A1 variants, although we simply call them 1911s.

The pistol features a parkerized finish, properly designed checkered plastic grips, an arched mainspring housing, and the original spur hammer.

The sights are also the original small GI type. The slide lock, slide-lock safety, magazine release, grip safety and trigger are all GI.

The slide is marked “Model 1911A1 U.S. Army.” The pistol is also marked “ZIG Tisas Turkey” in small letters.

GI sights are small, but work ok in most lighting conditions.

In this case, it would not be a bad idea to paint the sights white, red, yellow or green in contrast. I have owned many GI 1911s.

Back in the day, we cut up and modified a number of guns that would be pretty valuable today!

The pistol is straight-up GI as far as I am able to determine. The arched mainspring housing and short trigger feel good in the hand.

While the pistol is a GI type and the controls are smaller than many modern 1911 pistols, this doesn’t mean they are difficult to quickly manipulate.

There is little to snag on clothing or holsters, and the safety isn’t difficult to quickly manipulate as the pistol is drawn.

Properly carried cocked and locked, the Tisas 1911 .45 is brilliantly fast to an accurate first shot.

The fit of the slide-lock safety is excellent, moving to the safe position with an audible click.

The grip safety properly releases its hold on the trigger halfway into compression.

The GI .45 sometimes bites the hand as the hammer spur meets the web of the hand in recoil. The Tisas 1911 is free of this problem in my hands.

The pistol uses the conventional barrel bushing and guide rod. The barrel bushing is snug, but not too tight.

When you consider the GI .45, the first advantage is reliability. The Tisas 1911 has proven to exhibit good reliability.

The feed ramp is properly fitted with the requisite 1/32-inch gap between the two halves of the feed ramp.

The pistol fed both the Federal 230-grain Hydra Shok and the Hornady 185-grain XTP without issues.

Tisas 1911 on table with ammo
A number of magazines, including Wilson Combat, were used.  Reliability was excellent.

Feel and Performance

The pistol comes on target quickly and is pleasant to fire.

I supplemented the single supplied GI-type magazine with a brace of Wilson Combat ETM magazines.

The pistol was loaded with a mix of Federal American Eagle 230-grain FMJ and Federal Syntech 230-grain. The pistol comes on target quickly.

Firing at man-sized targets at five, seve and 10 yards, the pistol supplied X-ring hits. There have been no failures to feed, chamber, fire or eject.

The original GI .45 was designed to meet accuracy standards of a five-inch, five-shot group at 25 yards and a 10-inch group at 50 yards.

The sights are regulated for the six o’clock hold at 25 yards and a dead-on hold at 50 yards. The Tisas sight picture is similar.

The Tisas is as accurate as most GI guns. The usual GI gun is more accurate than the standard they were designed to meet.

The Tisas was fired from a standing braced barricade at a long 25 yards.

Federal American Eagle turned in a 3.5-inch, five-shot group and a four-inch group for the Syntech load.

1911 Magazines
This pistol proved reliable with both full metal jacket and hollow point ammunition.

Conclusion: Tisas 1911 GI .45

The Tisas is an all-steel — forged, not cast — pistol with the outline and performance of a traditional GI pistol.

Some folks feel that the GI .45 is the best fighting .45, as it is a simple firearm with little to go wrong. Many of these folks are very experienced.

The Tisas is affordable and seems reliable. It is a good combination of economy and performance. 

What is your favorite 1911 pistol? Let us know in the comments section below!

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 (34)

  1. I just recently bought one on clearance for 250, it locks up tight, and shakes with no rattles outside of the firing pin. The frame and slide have no machine tool chatter, and the finish is nice. I’ve passed on a lot of Kimbers that have nasty machining work and questionable fit, and the tea sauce was 30% of the price.

  2. I bought the Service model Tisas 1911A1. It came with 2-8rd mags, cleaning brush, plastic cleaning rod, bushing tool, plastic trigger lock, and a nice gun case. I read that you should shoot about 100rds of 230 gr ball ammo threw it first to break it in some before trying HP ammo. So that’s what I did, I shot 100rds of AAC 230gr FMJ ball ammo, then tried 20rd of Norma MHP 175gr copper bullet that expands to 1″. I am very impressed with this pistol. No FTF, and No FTE. Yes, it’s a plain Jane 1911A1 with small A1 G.I sights, and has a nice trigger pull (4.5 lb). Tisas did this gun right, Forged Barrel, Slide, and Frame, all 70 series internals are metal, No MIM parts.
    I only paid a total of $380 for this pistol that includes tax, and FFL fee. Great pistol, and a no brainer at this price.

  3. I purchased a Tisas 1911A1, on advice from a friend, and Gunsmith. I had always wanted a 1911, but could not afford any that I had seen.
    After hearing about the Tisas 1911 and its outstanding machine work, I bought one. It is the best buy I have ever made. It looks exactly like the gun my father told me about him using in the Korean War. It functions flawlessly; spits out any style of bullet I have tried, and accepts any mag I have tried.
    This is one gun that is an absolute joy to shoot! It fits my hand perfectly, hits where I point it and has very little recoil. A wonderful firearm!

  4. I own this gun, I have only one complaint, contrary to the review, hollow points will NOT go up the feed ramp, if the magazine has more than 3 rounds loaded!!! Including the hornady 185 gr. Xtp! I bought this ammo because after reading the review, I thought it would remedy the situation, it did not, not even with new wilson combat magazines, however, a fmy works great

  5. Just came back from shooting a new Tisas government .45. I cant believe after 40 some odd handguns and four colts how happy i am with the performance of this old time weapon!
    Only shot 50 rounds and that went by fast.
    My original intention was to do a work over but enjoyed it so much i think i’ll learn what
    Military accuracy is all about!’
    No FTF , no Jams , no hammer bite!, no slide jams . Only difficulty was mag release which may be resolved with use!
    Painted front sight white still shot 6” low but practice will alleviate that . I see The same sport house has it on sale again for $330. In a case with two magazines and a brush, wrench and oi hmmm .. just maybe👍😜

  6. I have a Tisas 1911A1 45acp semi automatic pistol and I’m trying to put a drop in beavertail on it. But I don’t know the radius. Anyone know? Please help and thank you.

  7. I sure love my Tisa 1911. It has a great feel in my hand, nice and tight all around. Definitely not the most comfortable to conceal, but GA doesn’t care whether it’s in the waist, out the waist, so long as your responsible. The pistol is definitely more accurate than these aging eyeballs, but it hits what I aim at, and God forbid I have to use it in self defense, it’s going to have all the knock down it needs.

  8. As someone whose grandfather worked with browning on the original 1911 and whose great grandmother fought the Japanese in WWII and whose dad was in the civil war and who is himself in the special forces I know and can tell you this gun – is a gun.

    Trust me. It’s the internet.

    Seriously though… I have fired this weapon and have had a chance to really examine one up close and it is impressive. No long resume here. Average guy, proud American, my pronoun is? … I don’t even know. That’s crazy talk.

  9. Being a former USMC 2111 and Colt Factory Trained 1911 Armorer. I can say with firsthand knowledge and 25 years of 1911 experience that these Tisa 1911s coming out of Turkey are fitted and built better then 95% of whats rolling off the lines at Colt, Kimber and a handful of other “US” MFG’s at 1/3rd the price. These are impressively fitted and have ZERO machine tools marks inside or out, forged slides and frames that are heat treated BEFORE machining.

    Anyone hesitant to purchase one if these based on “prestige anchor pricing” of other 1911s can put that hesitation to rest. These are fantastic pistols at 3 times the current price.

  10. Being a former USMC 2111 and Colt Factory Trained 1911 Armorer. I can say with firsthand knowledge and 25 years of 1911 experience that these Tisa 1911s coming out of Turkey are fitted and built better then 95% of whats rolling off the lines at Colt, Kimber and a handful of other “US” MFG’s at 1/3rd the price. These are impressively fitted and have ZERO machine tools marks inside or out, forged slides and frames that are heat treated BEFORE machining.

    Anyone hesitant to purchase of based on “prestige anchor pricing” of other 1911s can out that hesitation to rest. These are fantastic pistols at 3 times the current price.

  11. The gentleman above asked about a favorite 1911? I must say that my favorite is the one that I have in hand at the time. My newest, being the Tisas A 1 Service, is no disappointment at all. Upon purchase I took mine home, disassembled, cleaned, and proceeded behind the barn for a short shoot. Like most of my guns it too was better capable than my shooting ability. It is a great gun and will be kept at the ready for daily use.
    Dad always said, “Every house needs at least one 1911 and a 94 Winchester.”
    I like having multiple.

  12. I, too was trained on the 1911 along with the M-14, M60, M30 and the 40 mm on the M42 Duster. I was 17 when I went into the army in 67, so I went to Panama as an automatic weapons spec. Once there I became a radio operator/field wireman. That is when i got the training on the 1911, along with A 12 gauge semi-auto shotgun. I carried mine in a shoulder holster. Loved that weapon. Believe it or not this gun saved my life twice while there in 68. Where I pointed, the bullet went. I now have a 1911A1. Mine was made by Auto Ordnance corp. It has on the side stamped Model 1911A1 U.S. Army. But doesn’t have Tisas 1911 anywhere on it. But anyway, like the one I had when in the service, point my finger and that is where the bullet hits. At 30 yards I can put the pattern small enough that a silver dollar will cover it. Awesome gun. Now if I could just get hold of a M-14.

  13. Navy Vietnam Veteran when I landed in Danang I was issued a Remington Rand 1911A1 and being from the Ozarks of Missouri I thought it was a real fighting weapon. When we had to go ashore to salvage an LCU I was the squad rifleman and was issued an M14. with both weapons I was the deadliest sailor on the planet however I knew Mr. Charles would eat my lunch if I slacked off.

  14. From 1981 to 1986 I carried the 1911 Colt, Remington, and Ithaca. All were excellent pistols. It broke my heart when the Army took them out of the inventory and issued us those darn 9mms. Give me a .45 1911 any day. I wish that I could afford one.

  15. I bought this gun and love it. However, it will not take steel cased ammo… Does anyone have an opinion? Is this common with this type of handgun? It feeds the brass perfectly. But the steel cased ammo, every time it locks about a quarter inch back and needs to be cycled manually.

    Anything you can tell me about this would be greatly appreciated

  16. How does the trigger pull compare to the GI .45? I’ve heard rumors that TISAS succumbed to a European standard 7 lb pull.

  17. I have this pistol, and I cannot say enough good things about it. I think it cost in the low 300 range when I got mine. The machining is excellent and it has never given me any ftf’s. The finish is cerakote i believe but it was nicely done and gives the outside a flawless look. I own many guns and I can say I have been most impressed with this one. I shoot only range grade brass cased and also some steel cased ammo and this pistol has run like a champ. It is also an accurate handgun. For the price range the quality is outstanding and I was surprised they could sell it at this price range.

  18. My Dad owned a Singer brand 1911 GI. I learned to disassemble it, reassemble and shoot it. As a teen with no firearms training, that heavy 1911 was intimidating. Years later, I bought a Colt Series 70. It had a loose slide to frame fit, would not reliably load hollow points. I had it customized years later. With a tight fit, it shot more accurately than I could with my aging eyes. I love that Colt. I also bought three RIA 1911s. One was a nickle plated GI. So very accurate oob. Racking was butter smooth. No issues whatsoever. The second was a Tactical in 45 acp. The third was a Tactical in 9 mm. All three 1911s were superb, except for the firing pin breaking on the Tactical 45. After RIA replaced it, the gun has functioned flawlessly. All my 1911s are accurate. My latest is my home defense 1911, a S&W E series in 45 acp. This smaller, lighter weight 1911 is a joy to shoot. Accurate as heck. Points naturally. Has an excellent trigger and has proven reliable, with no issues except for my first attempt at reloading 45 acp rounds. I learned quickly, after three ftf’s, that my reloads needed to be crimped. After that, no issues. Again, a very accurate, reliable 1911.
    I wish I could have inherited that Singer 1911.

  19. My first 1911A1 was a Springfield Armory 1911A1. It was fine, but I really wanted a Sig P220 so I used it as a trade in. Later, I missed not having a 1911 so I purchased a two Sigs and one Colt. The Colt Commander is an outstanding shooter as is the fully loaded Sig. I still miss the Springfield Armory base model so I may end up buying an RIA made in the Philippines. I’ve read great things about them.

  20. I have one of the worst 1911s ever made. An ancient Llama. Unfortunately, the one I have functions perfectly, thereby refuting most of the Llama reputations. Mine was purchased as a cheap back-up weapon before deploying to a certain invasion of a Central American country which has a significant strategic canal within its borders. I didn’t have a lot of money at the time, and it was the only thing I could afford.

    That Llama has fired over 7000 rounds with very decent accuracy. I’ve replace the operating spring and the grips. It is still one of my favorites, even though I do own Colts. God bless John Browning.

  21. I bought a Tisas GI 1911 online about 10 yrs ago for ~$350. The FFL who transferred it was shocked at the high level of fit and finish, even more so when I told him what I’d paid.

    Great firing weapon, but the black blade sights are awful. Replaced those with Trijicon night sights and put a Hogue wraparound grip on it. It’s now my favorite pistol I own.

  22. I have a Remington Rand 1911 made by the Singer Sewing Machine Co. during WWII. I used to deer hunt with it. Shoots really good. It was my EDC for 30 years. I’m now opting for the lighter polymer 9mm in my tired old age, but keeping the 1911.

  23. KIMBER is now my brand by choice. Great workmanship and very reliable. There are several other good brands out there, but this one just happens to be my personal choice.

  24. The great gunsmith Bob Dunlap (A.G.I.) actually went to Turkey with the original Colt 1911 specs and worked with Tisas to develop the Tisas 1911A1 which you have tested here. It is in every way possible exactly like the original Colt version and comes in both the Series 70 and Series 80 versions (different safety operation). I have the same model as used in your review (mine is a 70 Series) and it is awesome!! Thanks !

  25. When I went looking for a 1911 45 I had to keep my budget in mind and look for quality at that price point. After a lot of investigation I selected a STI Spartan. The Spartan was assembled by Armscor, AKA Rock Island, for STI using Armscor’s match barrel, frame and slide and STI supplied internals and small parts. For $700 I got a tight, smooth hand fitted gun with excellent series 70 trigger. It far out performs it’s price point. It’s my go to when I open carry and my favorite auto at the range. For target work I go back and forth between the Spartan and my Dan Wesson 715. STI has dropped the Spartan. I suspect that it cut into it’s higher end pistol sales too much. The closest gun to itwith a similar price point would be would be Rock Island’s Match 1911.

  26. I own a Colt 1911 45 which was made in 1970 to reflect all the Battles in Europe which is engraved on the slide. It is a remarkably accurate pistol.

  27. Purchased a Tisas M1911 A1 a few month’s ago when I was applying for my CPL license and needed a multi-purpose pistol without it casting me an arm & a leg!!! Prices for this model from various manufactures are all over the board…Hi to Low!!!

    At $359.95, this was & is the perfect answer!!!!
    Prices have gone up now that it had gotten so popular.

    Have been at the range trying different brands of ammo thru it, to see if there are differences….AND THERE ARE!!!

    Dressed mine up a little with new laser etched grips & a mussle break!


  28. It is my favorite handgun. Although copied in philippines, all old designs are still same features in my 1911A1 Colt .45. The bursting sound cannot be immitated as strong as high caliber auto assault rifles.

  29. My father join the Arkansas National Guard in 1939 as a 2ndLt. As an officer he was issued a pistol. The Army gave the Guard the clapped-out equipment they no longer needed.
    Dad received a 1911 pistol with a 5-digit serial number 3***2, and a copy of Field Manual 23-35, “Automatic pistol caliber .45 M1911 and M1911A1”
    I still have both. According to Colt’s serial number website the pistol was manufactured in 1913.
    Dad carried the pistol all through the war including as an infantry squad leader on Okinawa where he was awarded the Bronze Star medal with the “V” device. Due to admin errors Dad didn’t get the medal officially awarded until July, 1989. That night he drank a little more than usual and told me, for the first time in my life, what life was like in May-June, 1945 on Okinawa and how much he relied on the pistol for self-protection. He talked about trying to hit a Japanese sniper up in a tree (he missed) and how he had used it after his rifle ran out of ammo during a banzaI attack (he didn’t miss).
    After the war he was discharged and since the U.S. Army hadn’t issued the pistol, they didn’t want it back, so he took it home. He re-upped in the USAF and retired as a Lt. Col. In 1970 after 32 years.
    He carried the pistol when he was stationed in Vietnam in 1968; he never used it.
    I inherited the pistol. When I was a kid he taught me how to field strip the pistol until I could strip it and reassembled it blindfolded. I still can.
    I carried it as a side arm in the 1st Gulf War. I was an E9, so exceptions were possible. I have replaced the spring, that’s it. I still shoot it, occasionally, with a “respectable” grouping.

  30. When I arrived in country (overseas), long, long ago and far away, I was issued, and carried for the duration of my tour, a 1911 that looks very much like the one the author reviews in this article. Seeing that kind of brings back a lot of memories of the time I carried that weapon. I will only focus on the good memories here. Shortly after I was issued my weapon, even before I went out into the field the first time, I happened to come upon a tanker’s holster (Read: I found it, it was not nailed down, and decided I needed it more than the supply room where I found it. That was not stealing as all I did was make an unrecognized transfer of possession from that supply store to my gear, it was still being used by Army personnel) for the 1911.

    It was easier using that tanker’s shoulder holster as I didn’t have anything hanging down from my web gear beating against my leg. The gear I carried into the field was anything but light and as a medic, I carried two aid bags and another bag for more extensive supplies, should the SHTF. I liked having the easy access of the shoulder holster. I kept expecting someone to ask me where I got it but no one did so I kept using it until I ETS’d back to the World (What most people back home called the USA). I left it to the new NCOIC of the Battalion Medical Section as I no longer had need of it. The Army would have frowned on it if I had tried to keep it or send it home in hold baggage.

    A few years passed, and I was finally able to purchase my own 1911. I now own more than one and still look at them every time I enter someplace that sells handguns and will continue to do so until I am too old to get out on my own. Should my finances change, I would consider adding this weapon, and several others, all of the 1911 persuasion, to my collection.

  31. Inexpensive 1911’s have come a long way thanks to modern CNC manufacturing systems. I have owned several Colts and they have been good, but not great and some have earned the reputation as being sloppy and not so accurate.
    However, I now own several new manufactured models and they are reliable and accurate. But I also bought, on a whim a Rock Island Armory enhanced model in 9mm for very very low cost and have been quite surprised by its reliability and accuracy.
    As in blowing the x ring out of the target at 25 yards that would have won me a prize at the old county fair at the machine gun bb stall. And as a machinist, I am amazed how tight the frame to slide fit is.
    Cycling the slide feels like glass on glass.
    Time will tell if the metallurgy is as good.
    I also am impressed by my new Ruger 1911 Commander. Accurate, reliable and just darn pretty. My barbecue gun!
    Bought it used at a significant discount also, didn’t appear to have ever been shot.
    I like that big 45 hole it leaves in stuff. Not so dependent on velocity to get the job done.
    I am not a 45 fanboy but I was trained by the military on a 1911 and they just feel comfortable and familiar in my hand like shaking hands with an old friend.

  32. I own a Tisas 1911 and it works as advertised. I replaced the grips and added an ambi safety, but other than that it’s out of the box.

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