Firearms

Ruger SR1911 LW Commander — The Lightweight .45 ACP

Two-toned black and stainless with wood checkered grips Ruger compact 1911

As I live this life full of marvelous intrigue-laden adventure, I like to have something formidable to carry. Not too heavy, not too hard kicking, but just right. (Perhaps it is more of a serene bucolic rural life — just the same — it is best to be prepared.)

My expectations of life are rosy, and I enjoy my daily routine. Handguns are part of my life but not the only part. Just the same, it is madness not to be concerned or prepared. To make it even worse, some are afraid of the things going on around them with no attempt to resolve the issues.

thumb safety and cocked hammer on the SR1911 handgun
The slide lock safety on the Ruger SR1911 features a positive indent.

The 1911

There isn’t anything new in the world, just the same monsters on two legs we have always had. It is simply the devil in a new dress. My choices and my training regimen are based on decades of experience. I understand that new shooters don’t have that time.

However, they have realized they need something to even the odds and defend themselves. They need something now. Some have the time and money to attend an immersion class and get up to speed on the handgun. Most do not. My time training and experience has led me to the 1911 handgun and the .45 ACP caliber. I have other types, but this is my favorite for most uses.

I don’t like to use the term carry rotation, but just the same, it fits. I don’t like to promote changing the carry gun for a frivolous reason or just because we can. My guns are not changed on a whim but rather on the weather and circumstance. Living in a true four-season climate, I may conceal a larger handgun at times, and others demand more discretion and an inside-the-waistband holster beneath a light covering garment.

So, I don’t go along with any wind that blows, but I carefully consider my choices. This may mean a packable .357 Magnum when hiking and a Commander .45 during the summer months.

A full-size, steel-frame Government Model .45 is easily the best shooting 1911 handgun. The rub is that this size pistol isn’t practical all the time. A lighter handgun is a compromise on most counts, but allows the shooter to carry a formidable, if lightweight, handgun. For many of us this means a Commander-length .45.

rear handgun sight missing one of the white dots
Note extended slide lock. At this stage, after months of use, the author has worn one of the white dots out of the sight!

A Commander is a 1911 handgun with a shortened slide and barrel. Instead of a 5-inch Government Model, the Commander is shortened to a 4.25-inch barrel. This type retains the original barrel bushing, albeit in shortened form. The grip frame is the same. The dust cover is shorter.

The original Commander-size pistol features an aluminum frame reducing the weight from 38 to 28 ounces. The steel-frame Commander came along later. The steel-frame Commander also features a shortened slide but weighs around 34 ounces. Many find the steel-frame handgun a good compromise.

Ruger SR1911

Ruger offers its excellent SR1911 in both steel and LW aluminum-frame versions. My example is a LW frame Commander with nicely finished stainless-steel slide and anodized aluminum frame. The slide lock safety is crisp in operation. An extended type of the safety is easily manipulated.

Checkered rosewood grips for a handgun
Nicely checkered grips make for good control.

The beavertail-type memory groove grip safety properly releases its hold on the trigger about halfway into compression. The pistol is properly carried hammer-to-the-rear and safety on — cocked and locked. The grips are nicely checkered. Either cocobolo or rosewood they are well done.

The pistol features Novak Lo Mount sights. These are still the world standard with a non-snag profile and good sight picture. Trigger compression is smooth at 6.0 pounds without creep or backlash.

The SR1911 is available in both 9mm Luger and .45 ACP. I prefer the .45 ACP. While the 9mm has been improved using modern expanding bullets, so has the .45 ACP. Modern loads offer excellent performance.

Hornady 200-grain .45 ACP XTP bullets
Hornady’s 200-grain XTP is an accurate loading with good performance.

The .45 ACP has utility in outdoors use for protection against dangerous animals. A combination of low operating pressure, a full powder burn, limited muzzle signature, and excellent wound ballistics made the .45 ACP an excellent choice. Recoil is a factor in the LW frame pistol. I would not criticize anyone for choosing the steel-frame gun.

At the Range

Before testing the newest Ruger SR1911 Commander, I broke out a half-dozen Wilson Combat magazines. These are the premier 1911 feeding device with excellent design, execution, and reputation. I had on hand a good supply of handloads using the Magnus cast 200-grain SWC bullet over enough Titegroup powder for 879 fps. This load feeds, chambers, fires, and ejects with reliability.

The SR1911 Commander proved controllable for those who have practiced with good practical combat ability. I fired more than 200 rounds during the first range session. I was rubbing my wrists afterward as the LW Commander has some recoil. Recoil is straight-to-the-rear, and the pistol has little muzzle flip but must be controlled. This means a tight grip and attention to detail.

I also fired two of my favorite handloads. One is the Hornady 185-grain XTP over enough Titegroup powder for 890 fps. This is a target-grade loading with excellent accuracy potential. Next up is the Hornady 200-grain XTP and a stiff charge of Unique powder for 920 fps. This is a formidable loading with much to recommend.

Bob Campbell shooting the SR1911 .45 ACP pistol one handed
A LW Commander .45 is controllable but demands practice.

Accuracy potential is excellent with each load. I proofed the pistol with Hornady’s factory 200-grain XTP as well. This load sent five shots into 2.0 inches at 15 yards from a solid benchrest. The Ruger SR1911 Commander is good to ride with.

Carry Options

For concealed carry, an inside-the-waistband holster is a good choice. The body of the handgun is concealed in the pants. This means the holster isn’t visible below the belt line. A modest length covering garment will conceal this handgun. The thin 1911 is a good choice for this carry mode. Galco’s Summer Comfort offers good design and construction, dual belt loops, and a reinforced holstering welt. This is a great combination for concealed carry for the shooter willing to put time and effort into the system. The LW 1911 isn’t for everyone, but it is an option worth some thought.

What do you think of the Ruger SR1911? Do you have a single carry gun or do you rotate by the season and your dress? What are your preferred carry options and caliber? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • Ruger SR1911 Officers Model, .45 Auto, right profile
  • Ruger 9mm Commander .45 ACP handgun, right profile
  • Full size Ruger SR1911 handgun, right profile
  • Wilson Combat .45 ACP 1911 magazine
  • Bob Campbell shooting the Ruger SR1911 at an outdoor range
  • Ruger SR1911 .45 ACP 1911 pistol, cocked and locked, right profile
  • Bob Campbell shooting the SR1911 .45 ACP pistol one handed
  • SR1911 .45 ACP handgun in a Galco Summer Companion, black, leather holster
  • Ruger SR1911 .45 ACP 1911 Commander-length handgun
  • Checkered rosewood grips for a handgun
  • fit and finish on a 1911 .45 ACP handgun
  • thumb safety and cocked hammer on the SR1911 handgun
  • rear handgun sight missing one of the white dots
  • Hornady 200-grain .45 ACP XTP bullets

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
Handloader
Rifle Magazine
Handguns
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 (26)

  1. Had the Ruger SR1911LW. Sold it to buy a Sig Emperor Scorpion Commander with Rounded mainspring housing. Followed it up with S&W e Series 1911 SC commander with rounded mainspring housing. Both have ambi safeties,and both are tack drivers. Left-eye dominant / right handed so I shoot left and right, and carry on both hips.

  2. I bought a SR1911 COMMANDER 6 or 7 years ago. For a while I just shot it at the range but one day a friend gave me a IWB holster and I tried it out. It is a bit heavy at times but not bad. Not hard to conceal. I would trust this firearm to protect my family anytime. Recoiled isn’t that bad but must be controlled. Funny. I am 5’6″, wgt, 180. Friends that are 6′ can’t believe I an carry it concealed and shoot it well. Love the .45 acp.

  3. I am surprise to hear all of the negatives towards the Ruger 1911 magazines. When new I disassembled mine, cleaned them, lubed the spring and the follower, with Wilson Combat Lube, and have NEVER had any issues with them, in several thousand rounds. In fact I cannot remember of a single issue EVER with my SR1911. Maybe not as pretty as say a Kimber, but certainly cost less too.

  4. The first pistol that I bought was a gently used Colt Combat Commander in about 1979. It’s a .45 satin chrome that’s a pleasure to shoot. Being a southpaw, I wish that manufacturers would offer ambidextrous thumb safeties on some of their models.

  5. Thanks so much for the good read. I injoyed the article about the Ruger 1911 45acp. I’m retired now but worked in law inforcement for years my first Carrie weapon was a model 28 Smith and Wesson 357 revolver. My unit later converted to semiautomatic, that’s when I started carrying the Springfield 1911. Intil my retirement it’s been a 1911 45acp love this model and as a civilian I’m still carry the 1911.

  6. I liked this gun so much that I bought one for each of my three sons. I have carried this gun at work for the last 7 years. Prior to that I carried the Colt LW Commander for 25 years. The Ruger SR1911 is accurate and dependable. But throw away the included magazines and use Wilson Combat for a flawless experience.

  7. Bought one of these a couple of years ago. Shot great but when I performed a tactical reload the slide would lock up. Long story short, while reloading my trigger finger was placed against the frame. This was enough pressure to push the slide lock pin out . Sent the pistol back twice and they couldn’t repeat the problem. Told me not to place my finger on the frame? I carried 1911s for more than 20 years. Upon its return I mic’ed the slide lock pin and compared it to a Kimber. Both were the same length but the base pads on the Rugers was thicker so the pin didn’t extend far enough into the hole on the right side of the frame. I put a stock Kimber slide lock pin in it and it works fine. Called Ruger and let them know. They said thanks.

  8. Had an sr1911 with 4 or 4.5 inch barrel can’t remember, anyway carried it just fine for a couple years. Not as nice as Kimber, but still one of the better 1911 on the market. Loved that thing. Accurate. Sturdy.

  9. I’m a FFL Dealer in Texas and have quite a choice of pistols to chose from. I was carry a Glock 19 and having recently switched to a Springfield Hellcat. But occasionally I carry this same Ruger in a ISW holster loaded with 78 grain Liberty Civil 45ACP +P ammo. That delivers 625 lbs. of energy!

    That ammo really makes a difference in carry weight. I’d bet my life and my family’s life on this gun. It’s my top picks for a 45 and I can carry whatever I want.

  10. I shoot 1911s better than other handguns, and struggled for 8 years and as many holsters trying to find a good way to carry a steel one. I bought a Ruger lightweight laat year, and not only is it light enough to carry comfortably, it shoots better than my other 1911s. Primary carry now.

  11. i love my ruger commander model, it shoots great, i reload also so i get to shoot a good bit. my wife also likes shooting the 45. i mainly carry owb about the 4 oclock spot.i am using the lock leather holster by urban carry, this holster is well made and is comfortable.

  12. Hello Bob!
    Thanks for the excellent write-up on the Ruger 1911 Commander. Like you, I am extremely fond of the 1911 format and my EDC weapon is a Kimber Super Carry Pro HD (HD designates the all-steel version) 4-inch Commander 45ACP. I welcome the extra added weight of this all-steel Commander especially because it helps to control the additional recoil and muzzle-flip caused by the Speer 200 grain Gold Dot +P load I have carried in it for years! I must admit that I disagree with your opinion regarding your choice of magazines! While it is true that Wilson Combat Magazines are a fine product, it is also true that there are far better choices available!! I have used Tripp Research Cobra Magazines in various calibers like 9mm, 10mm, 40 S&W and 45ACP for many years both on and off duty and during some very hard usage!! None have ever failed me or caused an operational issue for any weapon they were used in!! Over the years as an NRA Instructor and Range Officer, I have introduced many 1911 users to Tripp Research Cobra Mags and after they experienced the unfailing reliability and superior construction of these magazines, they NEVER looked back at Wilson!! You owe it to yourself and your 1911 weapons to give them a try! I can almost guarantee you will not be disappointed in addition to being pleasantly surprised!!

  13. Love this 1911 light weight Commander in 45ACP for the trigger and extra work done on it by Ruger. Shoots straight and accurate as hell. I prefer however to carry my smaller Defender which over the years has a few internal Kimber parts custom worked that allow for a broader range of reloads. I love the 45ACP for its knockdown power. You do not want to be facing one of these weapons in a fire fight. Be safe and God Bless America and the people willing to defend our land.

  14. I have owned a Ruger SR1911 for several years and carry it with the clip as a IWB holster. It is dependable, accurate, and the 45 round is a proven man stopper. It is a little heavy and sometimes has a tendancy to make it hard to keep my pants up like I want them and must wear suspenders to be really comfortable. I am 79 and performance is more important than comfort at this stage in my life. I have shot mule deer with a S&W 44 Mag open sights at 165 yards, faced mountain lions at 20 yards, and ferral hogs at 5 yards and face the most dangerous creature out there, man, weekly at our local country church. I place my life on the performance of a dependable tool, the Ruger SR1911, every day, it just works well for me.

  15. Got the first SR 1911 government my gun store had in. Feels good in the hands and shoots just perfect. Maybe old school but no better way to train.

  16. The white dots on the SR1911 sights don’t wear off – they pop out! One came off my (then) fairly new SR1911 at the range, and I happened to see it on the bench top – saved it a glued it back in place.
    I now have all sizes of 1911s, and prefer the longer barrels (5″ & 6″) at the range, but the Commander size has a great balanced feel. My LW commander is 9mm, and I find it feels best shooting 147gr ammo. I also have a LW Officers in 45 for serious carry, and it shoots better than I expected, but I prefer the more standard internal construction of the larger models. For backup the tiny Kimber Micro is a good combination, with controls and feel like a small 1911, and I find range, recoil, and accuracy better than other small carry guns.

  17. I haven’t carried a 1911 in 20 years or more. I still enjoy shooting them and have plenty to chose from, but the incredible variety of defensive handguns available today means there are better options for me. If you prefer the 1911, stick with it and practice, practice, practice.

  18. Early on in my experience with semi-automatic handguns, I didn’t have much use for the 1911. That all changed when I got a Ruger LW SR1911 Commander in .45 ACP in January 1915. Later I got a 9mm version of the same gun. Love them. Once I discovered the genius of the 1911, I began carrying one as my EDC. Not always the same one as I began accumulating 1911’s by Sig, S&W, Colt, and Springfield as well as some imports from Turkey. The Rugers are still among my favorites. I also have some .22 1911s. Mr. Browning’s genius endures.

  19. This may very well be my next Pistol Purchase.
    I bought an authentic Colt Commander from a co-worker back in 1984 and thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Everything about it! The Heft. The Accuracy. The Carry Weight and Simplicity of Care and Cleaning.
    Sadly I gifted it to Sibling that didn’t take Safety Precautions and it was lost.
    Der and Wiser now I know better and Keep my Treasures close and as happy as I am with my other Rugers this one my just have a place in my Safe!!

  20. I have never had a big interest in “old” (say style) guns, then I tried an M1, and have to say it, like the 1911, it are two very impressive “old” firearms, unfortunately both of these share a common negative, in the fact they are HEAVY! That said: The Ruger SR1911, in any form, is EXCELLENT FOR ACCURACY, DEPENDABILITY, VALUE, ALL AT A VERY FAIR PRICE. If you are considering a 1911, and not sure which one to get, you simply CANNOT GO WRONG with the Ruger SR1911, in any version.

  21. My normal carry is a Kahr PM-9. When I go into New Orleans, LA, I might also carry a Glock 36 (.45 ACP). If I decide to pack just one weapon, I will carry my S&W scandium framed Commander. This Ruger looks like a nice piece of equipment but I already have too many 1911s

  22. Learned to shoot handguns with a Colt 1911way back in 1954. I took a long break in between shooting of nearly sixty plus years. I liked the .45 caliber but, the then price of 1911s was out of my reach. So, I went with a Glock 21 at about half the price. Been thinking about a 1911 lately. This one looks pretty good. Thanks for an excellent review!

  23. This is my 2nd favorite carry gun (#1 is the excellent Ruger LCR-X .38 spl. in a kydex IWB holster or a DeSantis pocket holster). The author did not mention that the SR 1911 LW has a tungsten insert in the feed ramp to prevent gouging of the aluminum frame from the use of JHP bullets. I have an older Colt LW Commander and this has been an issue so that gun is relegated to ball ammo only. My SR 1911 LW came from the factory with the nicest trigger of any M1911 I have ever owned. There is no carry gun better than this one with 8 or 9 rounds of .45 ACP defensive ammo with a full size frame that is fast into action and easy to control. If your problem can’t be solved with this pistol get long gun.

  24. Good article for introducing one to the Ruger SR1911, Lightweight Commander-Style. I have carried and trained with this pistol and it is one of my favorites in my carry rotation.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.