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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.