S&W 4506 v/s 1911 in 45ACP


January 7, 2005, 07:11 PM
Posting for a friend.

When same money is the yardstick (high price custom guns excluded), which one is out of the box:

1. More accurate?
2. More reliable?

He couldn’t decide and will appreciate any additional opinion. Thanks, Onty.

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Parker Dean
January 7, 2005, 07:18 PM
WAAAY too broad questions because there are so many different 1911's. Then there's production variations within the 4506 line that could result in poor performance of a particular gun.

Having said that, the 4506 should perform on par with a quality 1911, both in accuracy and function. The downside to the 4506 is the trigger in both SA and DA when compared to a good 1911 trigger. When the 4506 is compared to other DA/SA guns, then it's at least as good if not better.

Oh! and the 1911 thumb safety is much easier to use.

I wouldn't shy away from a 4506, myself.

January 7, 2005, 08:07 PM
I've had a 4506 and three 1911's (two colt 1991A1's, and currently a Springfield GI).

4506 and both 1991's never malfunctioned once. Out of 800 rounds or so I did have a couple of failueres to feed in the Springer, both with Ranger 230 +P . All else has been 100%.

You hear many more horror stories about 1911's than 4506's of course, but there are way more 1911's out there to be complained about than 4506's and way more of them have been fiddled with than 4506's as well...

Still, if I wanted to buy a 45 for any price with the least chance of ever needing anything done to it, as much as I like 1911's it would not be my pick for that particular contest. JMHO

January 7, 2005, 08:36 PM
My duty weapon was a 4506-1 till my retirement. It will feed just about anything you can fit in a magazine. Mine is capable of b-27 10 ring accuracy at 25 yds. It was one of the best out of the box pistols I ever had. FWIW I feel that the 3rd gen. Smith autos were always underrated.

January 8, 2005, 12:50 PM
At least on the reliability question, personal experience with both tells me that stock 4506s will generally perform hitch- or hiccup-free, out-of-the-box, better than stock (i.e., noncustom) 1911s.

Having said that, though, there are certainly 1911s I've handled that have run jam-free from the very first shot. But I've handled many (mine and those of others) that didn't - not without having to see a 'smith at some point.

However, with the spread of CNC-machining within the gun-making industry, probably the more recently made 1911s will perform better out-of-the-box than their predecessors of 10-15 years ago.

January 8, 2005, 07:56 PM
I own a 4506-1 and a Colt 1911. I shoot them both as often as I can (once or twice a month) and I have concluded its ALL about your personal preference. Both guns work great and I would trust either in a pinch. With that being said I'm sure there are a million stories about how this one failed or that one failed , how good these are and how good those are. I love both of these guns. If I had to get rid of one it would be the 4506 and I'll tell you why. It is huge! Its a handful (with Hogue grips), its a holster full and it Will pull your pants down. Other than that its a wonderful unique pistol that can be found for reasonable prices.

If he likes the 4506 I recommend he get one. If he likes the 1911 too, well then get one of each!

Every single brand and maker of anything out there has dissatisfied customers and loyal satisfied customers. Roll your dice, you will never know till you try.

Side note: I owned a Charles Daly 1911 and loved the crap out of it until I started reading these forums. I sold it ASAP although it never failed once with approx 1200 rds. Dumbest thing I ever did? Maybe, maybe not. Get my point?

January 8, 2005, 08:18 PM
I owned a Charles Daly 1911 and loved the crap out of it until I started reading these forums. I sold it ASAP although it never failed once with approx 1200 rds. Dumbest thing I ever did? Maybe, maybe not. Get my point?

Yep, and an excellent point it is. We could not name single gun that somebody on somewhere has not had problem with at some point. And of course as noted above the more popular a gun is, the more likely somebody has had one that had problem of some type.

The Reverend
January 8, 2005, 08:55 PM
Oddly enough, I really don't think it's a fair comparison. Other than them both firing the .45 the two are about as different as can be. The designs are nearly a dozen generations apart and as a result have more design differences than similarities.

Probably the single biggest difference is the trigger. It is laughable to even begin to compare a DA/SA gun with a SA firearm. They are two completely different animals, each deserving its own corral so to speak. Each one must be mastered seperatly.

Both guns are fine performers and have legit rights in their own catagories. Frankly, the 4506-1 that I own is frightenly accurate and has been reliable to a fault. A fair comparison for the 4506 would be the SIG P220, either of which are the best examples of DA/SA 45.s.

As far as which one is more accurate, that has more to do with you than the gun in most cases. You will have to shoot both to see what works for you. Reliability may fall to the 4506, but that again will be determined by your handling skills and the loads you choose. My own 4506-1 is fitted with adjustable sights to maximize the potential accurace of each load as I see fit.

Have fun finding out what works well for you...

January 8, 2005, 09:28 PM
I've had a 4506 for almost 20 yrs....it's my nitestand pistol w/10 rd mags if that tells you anything. Tremendously accurate and absolutely reliable. I've shot IPSC with it very successfully. The SA trigger out of the box was outstanding. It's never been near a gunsmith and probably never will be.

I also own a stock 1911. A P-16 which I specifically got for the hi-cap aspect for IPSC. I've had no problems with it, either. I do have plans for some gunsmithing to get it to where I want it.

I've also used both Series 70 & Series 80 Colts new out of the box.

Out of the box, the 4506 is the better pistol IMO.

January 9, 2005, 01:33 AM
My favorite is cross a between a 4506 and a 1911, the S&W PC945, I love mine, and IMO it's the best of both worlds.

I have a 4506-1, and 2 1911's (Colt 1991A1 and a Kimber Custom shop Gold Combat stainless).

On average, single action pistols will have a better trigger making them a little easier to shoot but the 4506 is as if not more accurate than just about any standard grade 1911, it also handles recoil better, it is a real smooth shooter.

I have not had any problems with my 4506 or my 1911's but if I had to bet money on it I would say the 4506 would be the most reliable.

I would tell him to get a 4506 while he can, he can always find a 1911 later.

Alan Fud
January 9, 2005, 04:50 AM
I have to agree. Fresh out of the box, the 4506 is the better gun.

January 9, 2005, 09:18 AM
My younger brother an is a LEO and taught marksmanship at the Police Training Institute in at the University of Illinois for many years. His personal weapon is a 4586 with the TDA trigger. He believes this trigger the best on the market and the S&W as good for the money as any of the pistols on the market, having had an opportunity to observe them all in training since the police recruits from all over the state attend PTI. When I was looking for a 45 he recommended a colt as he thought them to be more reliable and easier to handle for my hand size (average I guess). His issue weapon is a Glock something in .45 and it never leaves his locker except when he is on duty or has to qualify which tells me he isn't very fond of it although he has never said so.

January 9, 2005, 12:48 PM
I am an LEO and I have been carrying a 4506-1 for a year or so and am preparing to switch over the a 1911. The 4506 is an incredible gun, heafty for sure but it's also an incredibly soft shooter and very accurate. I have amazed a lot of people at the range with the big S&W. I would recommend the 4506 to anyone looking for a large .45acp that will run perfect right out of the box.

Now here's why I am going 1911; Smith & Wesson is making a Scandioum commander, it weighs 10oz less than my 4506, it is slightly shorter in OAL and it has a consistent SA trigger versus DA/SA. I considered just switching over to the 4566 (4506 commander size) or the 4583 (4506 commander in DAO), but with the amazing reviews on the S&W 1911SC, I just have to give it a shot. Literally.


January 9, 2005, 02:37 PM
I have four 1911's and have had one 4506. My 1911's are reliable, but then I know how to make them reliable, the first step being a quality magazine. The 4506 I had was reliable, would even feed empties. It was also heavy and a handful. In fact, it was just a wee too big for my hands. Mine also did not all that accurate, about 5 inches at 25 yards was the best it could do and that is acceptable combat accuracy. I would have to say if you want utter reliability out of the box, the 4506 is your best bet. If you want something that is a little lighter for carry or a smaller grip size, then the 1911 is for you.

January 9, 2005, 02:45 PM
Wow so far this thread has kind of suprised be with the positive things being said about the S&W. Normally no one on the boards likes the S&W automatics, except the 10mms. The 1911 usually has a cult following and I expected to open up the thread and read everyone trashing the 4506 and praising the 1911.

FWIW I have always liked the way S&W automatics shoot and look. I would go with ther 4506 if he is kind of new to handguns.

January 9, 2005, 02:57 PM
I've had a few S&W semi autos and learned they are pretty nice guns if it fits your hands, they're fine...the Sigma line tho is an entirely diff't issue! 1911s tho tend to just fit more shooters.

January 9, 2005, 10:22 PM
On thing about the 4506...it comes from the factory standard with an "oversized" grip. There is also another grip which has less material along the backstrap...quite a lot less.

I changed mine to the smaller grip and it made a tremendous difference for my avg-to-small sized hands. Cost was $35 15 yrs ago.

An oversized grip is standard, a standard sized grip is optional...I've always thought that S&W got this aspect of the pistol kinda "bass ackwards".

Still my favorite autoloader!

December 11, 2008, 07:39 AM
what is a good price for the 4506 NIB right now??

December 11, 2008, 07:53 AM
"Out-of-the-box," I'd get the S&W 4506.

There's a high probablity that it's reliability will be 100%, whereas that's not true with most 1911s.

As far as accuracy goes, until your friend can shoot better than the 4506, it'll be a wash anyway.

I also agree that Smith's 3rd Gen autoloaders were vastly underappreciated, especially the 10XX & 45XX-series.


December 11, 2008, 08:14 AM
Good 4506 police trades here go for around $400 plus $20+ each for magazines last time I looked. If you have a chance at at a NIB 4506 grab it you won't regret it.

December 11, 2008, 11:39 PM
When it comes to bone stock reliability, never bet against any Smith&Wesson Third Generation pistol and, of course, that includes the 4506. I own both and, though I love the ergonomics and especially the trigger of the 1911, when the chips are down and my life is on the line I'll be reaching for a Third Generation Smith-the most under-rated pistol in town.

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