Firearms

Ruger 9mm 1911 LW Commander: Light, Fast, and Accurate

Ruger 9mm LW Commander left profile

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.

Ruger LW SR1911 Commander .45 ACP top, 9mm bottom
Ruger offers lightweight versions of its SR1911 Commanders in .45 ACP (Top) and 9mm (Bottom).

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 LW Commander with rubber grips
Ruger ships the 9mm LW Commander with rubber grip panels. You may love them and lots of people do, but the author elected to dress his up a bit with a set of Altamont cocobolo grips with the Ruger eagle laser etched as offered on the Ruger.com website.

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.

Ruger 9mm LW Commander right profile
The 9mm LW Commander features a beautiful two-tone finish. The oversized ejection port and extended magazine release ensure smooth operation. Inspection port allows for visual confirmation of a loaded or empty chamber.

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.

Ruger 9mm SR1911 LW Commander grip safety and beavertail
The Ruger SR1911 LW Commander features a flat mainspring housing and rear slide serrations for a positive grip. A lightweight, aluminum, skeletonized trigger provides a crisp, no creep, light trigger pull with a quick, positive reset.

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.

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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.

Fieldstripped Ruger LW Commander 9mm
Takedown was simple for the SR1911 series. Just follow the instructions in the manual or in the author’s article on 1911 cleaning.

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.

Ruger 9mm SR1911 LW Commander with a box of Winchester White box ammunition and paper target with several bullet holes
During a recent range trip, the author’s LW Commander produced this grouping at 15 yards using a Caldwell Pistolero pistol shooting rest.

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.

The .45 ACP versus 9mm debate will still provide endless hours of amusement around the campfire, but the 1911 as a viable platform has proven its mettle on the battlefield and competition range. The only question is whether you would prefer the Ruger 1911 LW Commander 9mm or its bigger brother in .45 ACP. Share your answer in the comment section.

  • 1911 handgun in a 1791 Gunleather IWB holster
  • Ruger 9mm LW Commander left profile
  • Ruger LW Commander with rubber grips
  • Fieldstripped Ruger LW Commander 9mm
  • Ruger 9mm SR1911 LW Commander grip safety and beavertail
  • Ruger 9mm LW Commander right profile
  • Ruger 9mm SR1911 LW Commander with a box of Winchester White box ammunition and paper target with several bullet holes
  • Ruger LW SR1911 Commander .45 ACP top, 9mm bottom
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 (10)

  1. I can’t believe ruger can’t make a 100 percent 9mm Commander 4 inch barrel in STAINLESS, what’s with ruger and their two tone commander, as it is ruger guns are just not good looking guns period, I’ll go check out Kimber

  2. I can’t believe ruger can’t make a 100 percent 9mm Commander 4 inch barrel in STAINLESS, what’s with ruger and their two tone commander, as it is ruger guns are just not good looking guns period, I’ll go check out Kimber

  3. Eric ask a very valid question on loading. Mine cycles all hollow points without missing a beat!!! So approx. 500 rounds of 9 mm and rolling!!!

  4. SR1911 45.MY FAVORITE. HMM IN 9MM GOTTA TRY IT OUT .SOMETHING TELLS ME SOMEONE SHOULD DO A HEAD TO HEAD COMPARISON ON THEM.

  5. I’m also more accurate with 1911s than my plastic-fantastic pistols. I don’t have a Commander version (yet) but the Ruger 9mm is now on my radar. I have the Government SR1911 and it is well made and a fine shooter. Slide fitting is very good, but barrel lockup is somewhat loose. I fitted a Wilson Combat barrel to pick that nit.

  6. I would like to know how well this pistol chambers hollow points. I think that is an important consideration when deciding to downsize from 45acp to 9mm. Traditional 1911 designs, in 45acp, function most reliably with ball ammo. I would be reluctant to downsize to 9mm, unless I could be certain that it would function well with modern ammunition.

  7. I am I big fan of the 9 mm my next gun will be a 9 mm I am really leaning towards the beretta px4 full size but this ruger in a 9 mm has me thinking about it

  8. Thanks Dave Dolbee, Pretty much EVERYONE who tries mine, mumbles the same comment: Wow, that trigger! Even more impressive when on their first shot they ring steel at 40 yards. I just smile. I also didn’t believe people actually IWB carried them. Yes, occasionally I do that too. Other than being a little more heavy than plastic, it is surprisingly comfortable, mainly because it is so thin, and on the side, as I am not interested in caring this thing appendix position. LOL

  9. I never understood the draw towards a 1911. You know, old design, all metal heavy, low capacity. Rumors of inaccuracy, but for some reason I just had to know, so I purchased myself the SR1911 45 Government Model, for one of my more mature birthdays. The guy behind the counter informed me that only the Government model of the Ruger SR1911 was all steel, and the Commander Model had an aluminum frame. That said, my old dry hands quickly installed the Hogue Rubber Grips, which may be the only set of Hogue Grips WITHOUT the side humps that I really like. Out of the box, the accuracy is jaw dropping to say the least, and the trigger must be why so many people love the 1911, and plastic guns can only dream of. It is on par with the AR as to being identified without a doubt, and almost on par with a 12 ga pump for intimidation factor. Is pleasantly comfortable to shoot. Only down side is that incredibly strong slide spring to rack, but then I wouldn’t want to do anything that would jeprodize any of that incredible accuracy. If I were to change anything on the 1911 design, it would be to modernize the safety by eliminating the locking of the slide when engaged, so it could then be unloaded with the safety ON, like many of the micro 1911 styles do. I have no regrets for buying the SR1911 to learn what all the fuss was about the 1911. Pretty sure my kids, and my grand kids, will NEVER wear it out either. Parts for 1911s are as common as saved penny’s in a can.

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