Firearms

Smith and Wesson Round Butt Scandium Frame 1911 Commander

Smith and Wesson 1911 SCE Commander .45 ACP with a box of Black Hills ammunition on a bullseye target that was shot at 15 yards

I’m a sucker for 1911 Commander models. Ever since I discovered the allure that defines the 1911, and why so many shooters love them, the ones with 4.25-inch barrels have been my favorites. In 1911 speak, these are the Commander models. Full-size 1911s with 5-inch barrels are called Government models, and the smaller guns with shortened grips and barrels are called Officer models. I have a couple of Government models, but the Commander is the perfect carry size for me.

It’s funny how this gun endeared itself to me. I wasn’t even thinking about it when we met. Like a certain special person in your life who wasn’t on your radar. Then, all of a sudden, they were there, and you found yourself a bit overwhelmed and certainly attracted. It was like that for me and my wife and for Smith and Wesson’s SW1911SC E-Series Round Butt Commander (what a mouthful).

Smith and Wesson 1911 SCE, left profile 1911 Commander .45 ACP
How a gun looks is always important, and this one is a cool combination of black and stainless steel that Smith and Wesson calls Duotone.

One weekend, a competitor on the other side town of advertised this gun at a price below wholesale. I figured I’d buy one, wait until his sale went off, and then put it in inventory and wait for that special buyer to come along.

At the competitor’s store, I sat in the manager’s office to do the transfer paperwork. He was behind his desk, and we were just chatting when the clerk brought in the gun. As he opened the case, the manager said, “That’s the gun I carry.” He lifted his shirttail enough to show me.

That’s a pretty good endorsement,” I thought. When I got back to my shop, I sat at my desk to look the gun over. Examining it, I realized if I put in an order for a custom 1911 from any one of America’s greatest gunsmiths, I couldn’t think of anything I’d ask for that this production gun didn’t have.

S&W Scandium 1911 Features

How a gun looks is always important and this one was a cool combination of black and stainless steel that S&W calls duotone. I noticed, in the current catalog, you can also get them in solid black, which is fine looking, too. The slide has unusual serrations — they’re like fish scales with a set on both ends. I found them easy on the hands while providing an excellent hand purchase for racking the slide or a press check.

On this gun, the press check is unnecessary because there’s a viewport on top of the slide at the back end of the chamber through which you can visibly see a round in the chamber. The ejection port is cut low and beveled. S&W calls it a Combat Ejection Port. It certainly works for me.

Smith and Wesson 1911 SCE, right profile 1911 Commander .45 ACP
The slide has unusual serrations — they’re like fish scales with a set on both ends. I found them easy on the hands while providing excellent purchase when racking the slide.

The right side of the slide has a heavy-duty external extractor. The top of the slide is slightly dished out with a series of vertical cuts that run almost the full length of the slide. Their purpose is to reduce glare. To me, they enhance the gun’s appearance in yet another way. The back of the slide has horizontal versions of those same glare-reducing cuts.

Trijicon night sights are mounted front and rear. These are my favorite sights and exactly what I’d order on a custom gun. The ambidextrous safety adorns the two sides of the slide. It’s not tiny, like a stock 1911 safety, but it’s not one of those honking big ones either. To me, the size and width is just right.

The safety snaps solidly into place — on or off. The gun comes with beautiful rosewood grips and the same fish scale pattern as on the slide, plus a nice little diamond with the letter “E” to remind us that this is an Enhanced 1911. The trigger and hammer are the skeletonized lightweight jobs we all love.

Rear comparison of the smith and Wesson 1911 SCE and Springfield XD-S
Compared to this Springfield XD-S .45, the S&W Scandium 1911 Commander fits the single-stack carry gun size need perfectly.

The hammer settles nicely into the beavertail when it’s cocked. The trigger pull is an easy 4.9 pounds with .0125-inch take-up and a crisp, clean break. The muzzle is recessed, and the firing pin is titanium. You know what that means? The trigger must be pulled for the gun to fire. Dropping it will not make the firing pin go forward to strike a primer. On this 1911 Commander, S&W opted for an oversized extractor.

There’s a nice memory bump on the grip safety. Just below that, the grip curves into what we typically call a round butt, which really does equate with easier carry IWB. Something that helps me with grip is checkering on the front and back straps, and this model comes with 17 LPI checkering on both.

Coupled with the attractive fish scale wood grips, the security of my grip on the gun is superb. The SC in the model’s name stands for scandium, a very lightweight but extremely strong alloy that is combined with aluminum in this gun’s frame to lighten the load while maintaining durability. It weighs 28.8 ounces. The package comes with one 7-round magazine, and one slightly extended 8-round magazine. I elected to replace them both with Colt 8-round magazines. So, I always have 9 rounds on board with nothing extending from the butt of the gun. Try it. They’ll work with any 1911.

Field stripped Smith and Wesson 1911 SCE Commander .45 ACP on a cleaning mat with BIrchwood Casey gun scrubber, Remington REM oil, and Hoppe's No. 9
The S&W Scandium 1911 takes down for cleaning in typically easy 1911 fashion — even with its full-length guide rod.

Since slim is so in vogue, I decided to compare the SCE to one of my favorite modern carry guns, the .45 ACP Springfield XD-S. Would you believe the body width of both guns is the same at .91 inches? At their widest point, there is a .30-inch difference. The total width, including the ambidextrous safeties on the SCE, is 1.35 inches. The width of the XD-S at its widest point is 1.05 inches. This makes no noticeable difference inside the holster. The XD-S carries 5 rounds in a standard magazine, and 7 with the available extended mag. The XD-S weighs 21.5 ounces, giving it a slight weight advantage over the Scandium 1911.

Range Time

Before finishing my examination, I had already decided this gun wasn’t going into inventory. Instead, it found a home in my personal collection. I can’t afford one of those $3,000 to $6,000+ custom guns, but I feel like I got one with the S&W Scandium 1911 Commander.

One trip to the range was all it took for me to put the S&W into my carry rotation. That day, I compared it to other 1911 Commander models from Colt, Ruger, SIG Sauer, and Springfield. The Smith and Wesson SCE 1911 Commander held its own. Several times since, I’ve used the S&W SCE 1911 Commander to test various types of ammunition including the newer, lightweight fluted rounds from Inceptor and Lehigh.

It’s at least as accurate as any of the other guns and more accurate than most. I’ve never had any kind of failure to feed or extract. Along with the accuracy, it’s just a delight to shoot. Add that to the fact that it’s lightweight, slim, and easy to carry.

Are you a 1911 fan? Do you have a favorite 1911 Commander? How does it measure up against the S&W Scandium 1911 Commander? Share your answer in the comment section.

  • Fish scale pattern on the slide and grips on the Smith and Wesson 1911 SCE .45 ACP pistol
  • Smith and Wesson 1911 SCE Commander .45 ACP with a box of Black Hills ammunition on a bullseye target that was shot at 15 yards
  • Smith and Wesson 1911 SCE, right profile 1911 Commander .45 ACP
  • Field stripped Smith and Wesson 1911 SCE Commander .45 ACP on a cleaning mat with BIrchwood Casey gun scrubber, Remington REM oil, and Hoppe's No. 9
  • Smith and Wesson 1911 SCE, left profile 1911 Commander .45 ACP
  • Rear comparison of the smith and Wesson 1911 SCE and Springfield XD-S
  • front and rear Trijicon night sights on the Smith and Wesson 1911 SCE
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Comments (9)

  1. I have the exact version in all black and I also carry those Black Hills rounds. Jeeze! (yeah I am that old) looks like I finally did something correctly. I am 30 yrs. retired LEO and have EDC everything from 5 shot revolvers to Glocks. I have a few 1911’s, a few Kimber’s(stop laughing) which I love, and Wilson Combat’s or two. I put a set of Crimson Trace grips on my S&W and she is my goto when I am in a 1911 state of mind. Wilson Combat is amazing but I would run that Scandium frame S&W up against either of my Wilson’s. For an EDC given the weight I do not feel one could carry a better 1911 in a commander size.

  2. I also love the Commander variant of the 1911, particularly with a bob-tail (similar to this one). My personal favorite is the Dan Wesson V-Bob. As you point out, the grip really lends itself to concealability.

  3. My 1911 is a Colt Officers model SS that I purchased in the early 80’s for about $400. That was a lot of money for me at the time, considering that I had/have several other handguns. But I got the price down a little with a trade. It’s heavy at 33 oz so I no longer use it as my EDC but I never go to the range without it. I have probably had a failure or two with it when I shot my own reloads, but never with factory ammo. It would be my last to go if I had to let all my guns go.

    Tim In Wyoming
    P.S.
    If I run across a Officers or Commander S&W Scandium 45 I might change my mind.

  4. I ordered the S&W 1911 SC E Series .45 but went with the Black Version. In my opinion, she is a masterpiece! Own several 1911s of different well known manufacturers. They’re all quality firearms! Not one of them has a thing on this SC E. Craftsmanship, accuracy, looks, ease of carry, slick operation. Mine came with Tritium Night sights front and rear. No exaggerations in your article. She’s the real deal and definitely a keeper!

  5. Agreed, no background check or confiscation issues. But when the other guy shows up at your knife fight with a firearm …..??

  6. One day while checking out my brother’s interest in a .410 shotgun I spotted a Colt 1911 Combat Commander with holster n ammo, it’s price $250. My brother’s, 410 was sold previously so since he had the cash he asked me if I wanted that pistol. After handling it I said yes, n that’s how I acquired my favorite pistol, that was over 30 years ago. A close favorite is a S&W model 66, ss, 2 1/2″ .357 mag w/Hogue grips, my first pistol, love em both. It’s since my go to self defense gun, cocked n locked n tucked away under a stack of pillows with easy access for me n not visible to anyone even my family members.

  7. S&W is claiming lowball price as being ~$1037.00 to ~$1509.00 highball price! Scandium is an industrial alloy about 1/3rd the weight of Steel and ~60% that of Titanium, which makes it a fairly good deal IF S&W claim of price is to be believed…

  8. And pray tell how much is Smith and Wesson selling this for probably more than I can afford, what is the Country coming to when gun manufacturers charge $800.-$1200.+for a damn gun no wonder I depend on knives and swords as my weapons of defense at least they’re affordable and I don’t have to pass a background check to buy one and Biden isn’t trying to ban them!

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