The Colt 1911 semi-automatic pistol was created by the legendary gun maker John Browning and the gun was adopted by the U.S. Army as the standard firearm.
Over a century has gone by and the same gun is still being used by the U.S. Military and has gone on to become a firm favorite with law and security enforcement officers and citizens.
The Colt 1911 is one of the most iconic pistols of all times and the timeless design of 1911 is likely to live on.
The original Colt 1911 handgun was built using the .45 ACP cartridge; however, later the design was adapted so that the gun could accommodate different types of rounds like the .40 Smith & Wesson, 9mm, 10mm, .38 Super and the .357 Magnum.
Today, although there are several models, manufacturers, and sizes of the 1911, the Colt remains the gold standard.
The fixed barrel design, long sight radius, light trigger, and soft recoil make the 1911 quite an accurate gun. The moderate recoil and the natural aim make the Colt 1911 fairly accurate in the right hands.
The 1911 is mostly a single-action pistol with some exceptions. The trigger of the Colt 1911 makes it a dream to shoot with. The trigger offers a light pull, a clean break and a fairly short reset.
However, the trigger pull being so light makes it rather unsafe to carry the 1911 pistol chambered without the safety.
Nevertheless, the light trigger makes the 1911 excellent for competitions, tactical training and target practice.
Slim Design and Ergonomics
The 1911 is a slim and sleek gun with excellent ergonomics. This makes it easier for shooters with smaller hands to grip and handle comfortably.
The slim design also makes the pistol ideal for conceal carry, especially for purpose of self-defense.
You may feel a bit of the recoil, although it is not very harsh and the Colt 1911 manages the recoil quite well due to its heavy weight. And, if you use a smaller round such as a 9mm, then the recoil is even lesser.
Ease of Concealment
The 1911 is quite heavy and big in size. However, due to its single-stack magazine, the handgun is quite slim, which makes it ideal for conceal carry and if you opt for a short barrel version like the Defender, Commander, etc., then it makes conceal carry much easier.
Most 1911 models are chambered to use .45 ACP caliber ammunition, which is fairly powerful. The Colt 1911 is also available in 9mm and .22 LR calibers.
Disassembly and Reloading
Reloading the 1911 is quite simple. All you need to do is, press the button of the magazine release and the empty magazine will be dropped and you can slide a loaded magazine in place.
The disassembly of the 1911 may, however, be a challenge for a beginner, as it is not very intuitive. However, with repeated practice, it will become much easier.
You may want to keep the manual of the pistol handy for the first few times that you disassemble the gun and there are also several YouTube videos that can help you to disassemble the 1911.
Reliability and Durability
While the reliability of the 1911 may be a bit lacking and it is also sensitive to various kinds of ammunition, the newer models are much more reliable compared to the older versions.
The 1911 is a great pistol for self-defense and the reliability of the handgun can be enhanced by a bit of customization.
The 1911 is among the most customizable guns and you can customize it as much as you require to. You can find accessories, add-ons, parts and spare magazines for your Colt 1911 quite easily as compared to other guns.
While the 1911 has many pluses, it has its limitations too. The disassembly process is quite complicated than other pistols. It is fairly heavy and can hold only 7 to 8 rounds and requires at least 200-300 rounds before a 1911 starts functioning properly and is reliable.
Nevertheless, the 1911 is the most popular pistol designs and is an excellent option for professional shooting competitions, as a range gun, as an SHTF sidearm and as a gun for home defense.
Factors to Consider before Choosing the Right 1911
If you have decided that you’re going to buy a Colt 1911, here are a few factors you should consider before you actually go out and buy one.
There are essentially 3 basic sizes in which the 1911 is available i.e. Full Size, which is also known as Government, the Officer Size and the Commander Size.
Full Size or Government Size: This is the original size and the most popular one. The pistol has a full-size frame and grip and the barrel is 5 inches.
This offers excellent recoil control and balance and the 5-inch barrel offers enhanced accuracy.
Commander Size: This is smaller than the Full-Size pistol. The pistol has a full-size frame but a 4-inch barrel and a shorter slide.
This is a comfortable pistol which is easy to handle and is suitable for all types of applications.
Officer Size: This is the smallest size with a small frame and grip and a 3” or 3.5” barrel. The small and compact size makes it ideal for concealed carry; however, it may not offer as much accuracy as the larger models.
The caliber of the pistol is a very important factor to consider. You need to decide whether you need a .45 Auto which is tried and tested or if you need a caliber for higher velocity or you need something that offers a big kick suited for hunting.
All models have a manual slide safety lock and a grip safety to ensure that the gun is safe until it is fired. The Series 80 guns have extra protection in case the gun is dropped or the other safeties do not work. The Colt 1911 has 2 types of manual safety – standard and ambidextrous.
The grip safety comprises a beavertail that helps to protect your hand from being hurt by the hammer spur and allows you to shoot comfortably.
The original version of the 1911 had a simple GI style sight without dots or any other aids for aiming. However, the sights have improved significantly over time and there are many types available. The 3-Dot sights are very common offering clarity and accuracy.
Night sights usually contain glowing material in glass vials, also in the 3-Dot arrangement, which is best for home defense and concealed carry weapons.
Some models also have rear sights which can be adjusted and are ideal for competition and target shooting.
The standard 1911 pistol does not feature a light rail, but it is available in some of the full-size and some Commander models. If you’re using your 1911 for home defense or law enforcement, then you should buy a pistol with a high-quality light and a light rail.