The 1911

I like 1911 style handguns. I have owned several exceptionally reliable and accurate examples of the breed. However, I don’t think 1911s are for everyone.

Why? And why do I make a distinction between a “1911” and a “1911 style handgun?”

Well, they require a little more upkeep than some of the pistols available today. While they generally last a very long time, when certain parts do need to be replaced, they need to be properly fitted to the other parts in the pistol. Also, many 1911s manufactured today are not made to the same high standards that 1911s made during World War I and World War II were made to. Today, any company can produce a pistol that looks and feels like a 1911, but is a far cry from the original in terms of materials quality and build quality. A Colt 1911A1 produced to wartime standards is a far better combat handgun than a “modern” 1911 manufactured in a third world country with subpar materials and workmanship.

Even a quality example, made in the US and commanding a premium, might not be perfect. Many calibers have been stuffed into the pistol, and many changes have been made in the name of accuracy or “fit”. Smaller versions have been manufactured for concealed carry. None of these will be as reliable as a Government Model-pattern 1911 in .45 caliber, although many may be very reliable. The problem is that they are hit and miss.

Unless you have the tools, knowledge, and parts required to identify and repair problems that might arise with a 1911 type handgun, you should plan on spending money having the weapon fixed by a competent gunsmith. If you’re not willing to do either, this is probably not the firearm for you.

My luck with 1911s has been mixed. I’ve had a few that ran great for thousands of rounds. This Kimber .45, for example, wasn’t cleaned for several thousand rounds, and during that time, I experienced no issues with either FMJ or JHP bullet designs. My only motivation to clean it was that my hands would become filthy just from picking it up.

Another reason the 1911 and its clones aren’t viable for most people is cost. $650-700 1911s are really hit or miss, and while you might get lucky like me, you might also get one that requires a little work to run. Once they do run, they run very well, and the trigger allows even newcomers to shoot with very good accuracy. Experienced shooters also benefit from these same attributes, and this is why you’ll see a lot of 1911s used in competitions and also in the hands of some very proficient military and law enforcement folks. These guys have armorers to ensure that everything is in proper working order, though. You’re not likely to have that same advantage.

Unless you’re willing to dive headfirst into learning about the design and function of your handgun, a 1911 probably isn’t the best choice.

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3 Comments

Filed under Firearms

3 responses to “The 1911

  1. Mike W

    I still love the 1911 🙂 and am on my second. I, however, won’t cheap out when buying one in an effort to skip over the foreign made junk. So far, I’m 2 for 2 with Colts.

    But it’s a tough sell to a new guy or girl getting into shooting to spend $1k on a good 1911 when they can get a Glock for $550 that’s basically unbreakable.

  2. Brandon

    I love my beat to hell Argentine military surplus 1911, even though my hands are too tiny for it, it’s starting to rust and it’s not nearly as accurate as my Beretta, or my HK, or even my Hi Power. It never jams as long as it gets decent ammo.
    The only the I don’t like it trying to line up the slide stop with the link while reassembling it.

  3. Mike W

    For what it’s worth, I found it’s easier to line-up the link and hole in the frame leaving the whole thing upside down. I slide enough of the slide stop thru to catch it, then I flip the assembly right side up and finish the slide stop install

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