I entered the semi-automatic world acquiring and shooting striker-fired guns — Glocks, M&Ps, Springfields and Taurus 24/7s. I also became familiar with hammer-fired guns such as the P226, P228, P229, and SP2022 from SIG Sauer and some CZ-75 clones. I’m guilty of overlooking the 1911 because of its single-stack capacity and what I perceived to be difficulty in taking down and reassembling it for cleaning.
When Ruger introduced its SR1911 in 2011, I was a dealer and our store stocked them. An incentive came along from one of my wholesalers that resulted in me acquiring a Ruger stainless steel Commander-sized 1911. Shooting that gun opened my eyes as to why 1911s were so popular. It was a pure pleasure to shoot, and I shot it well.
After spending an afternoon shooting the Ruger and cleaning it that evening, I became a 1911 fan. I finally understood what so many people understood before me. John Moses Browning was a gifted man who designed the 1911 with what must have been divine inspiration and a solid understanding of how hands and eyes work together to accomplish a task.
Whether that task is putting holes in paper, clanging steel targets, or eliminating bad guys, doing it with a well-built 1911 just feels right. The craftsmanship coming from the Ruger factory in Prescott would no doubt make Mr. Browning proud.
Like me, Ruger was late to the 1911 world, issuing its first one in 2011. Three years later, Ruger added aluminum alloy frames to its product line with the LW (lightweight) models. I found a buyer for my Ruger stainless steel Commander and acquired a lightweight model in .45 ACP. The weight savings was a little over 7 ounces.
The appearance of the LW Commander was enhanced by making it two-tone. The frame was Armor Black Cerakote, and the slide had a low glare stainless finish. The grips are Ruger-branded hardwood. It’s a beautiful gun and a sweet shooter. The Ruger LW Commander quickly became a regular member of my daily carry rotation.
I carried .45s until three or four years ago when my arthritis let me know it would appreciate more 9mm and less .45 ACP, thank you. I didn’t own a 9 mm 1911. Fortunately, Ruger had been at work making a 9mm version of its LW Commander. The Ruger 9mm Lightweight Commander-style 1911 now fills an important role in my defensive armory. I love it, my wife loves it, my sons love it, and my grandson loves it — as does his girlfriend (sounds like she may be a keeper).
Ruger 1911 LW Commander
At 29.3 ounces, the Ruger LW Commander weighs just 9 ounces more than most of the polymer single-stack 9mm pistols on the market. That’s the weight of a typical cup of coffee — not much. Yet, when you’re carrying a 1911 Commander, you’re carrying a part of history.
Like Ruger’s LW .45 ACP Commander, the 9mm version is two-tone, but it’s a different color scheme. The frame is gray, rather than black, but the slide is the same low-glare stainless steel. The overall dimensions of both guns are 7.5 inches long, 5.45 inches high and 1.34 inches wide. The barrel length on these Commander models is 4.25 inches. I found the whole package very easy to carry and to shoot.
Ruger’s manufacturing line for its 1911s features a precision CNC-controlled machining process that produces an excellent slide-to-frame fit and smooth slide travel. The positive barrel lock-up contributes to superior accuracy. Ruger has chosen to use the classic, original 1911 fire control system. A lightweight, aluminum, skeletonized trigger provides a crisp, no creep, light trigger pull with a quick, positive reset.
The skeletonized hammer and titanium firing pin were designed for a faster lock time. The beavertail grip safety was oversized and provided positive function and reliability. An extended thumb safety and slide stop lever worked well, and I found their manipulation positive. The integral plunger tube for slide stop and thumb safety was permanently attached to the frame, so I did not have to worry about it coming loose.
The tube is staked in most 1911s. The ejection port was oversized and there was an inspection gap to allow visual confirmation of a loaded or empty chamber. The magazine release button was extended but firm enough, so I didn’t experience any accidental drops of the magazine while firing. The slide featured horizontal, shallow V-shaped serrations for easy slide racking. The mainspring housing was flat and checkered. The front strap was smooth.
The gun shipped with rubber grip panels. Not a fan, so I ordered a set of Ruger-branded Cocobolo grips from Ruger’s website. The Cocobolo grips were made by Altamont, and they are beautiful. You may like the rubber grips.
The sights were the highly visible, drift-adjustable Novak 3-Dot sights. The front and rear sights were mounted in dovetail grooves, so they can be easily replaced with aftermarket sights, if desired. Ruger ships the 9mm Commander with two 9-round stainless-steel magazines and a bushing wrench. The .45 Commander ships with two 7-round stainless-steel magazines.
I like the extended-count magazines by Colt — when I can find them — because they have a flush base plate that makes them a little easier to carry. Those Colt mags in .45 ACP hold 8 rounds in the magazine. The 9mm magazines hold 10 rounds.
I have several 1911 holsters that allow me to carry IWB or OWB depending on my wardrobe for any given day. I normally wear jeans with a polo shirt, so hiding a handgun is easy. For me, carrying a 1911, especially one with a 4.25-inch barrel, is about as comfortable and comforting as it comes.
I’m prepared to defend myself or my family, and I’m identifying with the thousands of cops and military who have gone before me in such a role. The 1911’s draw is fast and smooth, and the gun is ready for action. With this 1911, I have 10 rounds on board with 18 more rounds on my belt. I have absolute confidence in this gun.
A Proper Grip
If you’ve never fired a 1911 before, your first outing with one should be a pleasant surprise. I say “should be” because a firm and proper grip is important with a 1911. Nothing special, just the type of grip you should use when firing any semi-automatic handgun. The reason a proper grip’s importance is stressed so heavily is the 1911’s grip safety.
If you’re holding the gun with a good, high grip that firmly seats the grip safety, your trigger finger will naturally fall into place. You don’t need any more than the pad of your trigger finger for a 1911 because the trigger is not hinged. It’s on a slider that slides straight back to engage the sear and release the firing pin.
Most 1911 triggers are in the 3–5-pound range. The trigger on my 9mm 1911 breaks at an average of 4 pounds, 5 ounces. Every shot on a 1911 is single action, so consistency is part of its charm. You always know what to expect.
The sights fall into place easily, the trigger comes back, the hole is made right where the gun is pointed, the trigger resets, and it’s time to do it again — if needed. Recoil is straight up and back, and the angle of your grip should ‘more or less’ guide the gun back on target as it falls. This result is a fast follow-up shot, if needed.
Sometimes when I’m shooting a 1911, I like to practice as if I were getting ready for a competitive match. I concentrate on the basics of stance, grip, aiming, breathing, trigger control, and follow-through. Doing so causes me to live through every shot as if it were the most important shot of the day. When I do this, and the shots are going right where I want them, there is a particular satisfaction that makes all in the world seem right. Sure, invariably a shot will go wild from time to time, but there’s nothing to do about it but get right back on target and try again.
The Ruger 1911 LW Commander in 9mm should be a welcome addition to any arsenal. With the higher MSRP, it is a stretch from many of the striker-fired wonders on the market. However, it will last and last and give you satisfaction of ownership that’s hard to find in the latest fad pistol.