Smith & Wesson 1911s: Opinions?


October 5, 2005, 09:12 AM

I have been mulling over and lusting after a Smith 1911 lately. Cash is forthcoming, so I need to get off the fence. Any opinions on them from those that own one, fixed one, shot one a bunch, sold one, etc? The external extractor bugs me a little, but my past experience with Smith auto-loaders was positive. The 45xx and 10xx series were built like tanks. Did they do a good job with their 1911s?

Thanks in advance!


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October 5, 2005, 09:42 AM
I have a second hand S&W 1911 with the Billboard on the side. It is without a doubt a well constructed and accurate shooter. Fit and finish is good, lifetime warrenty, 1911 design. The extractor for me isn't an issue. I had read alot about this gun before my purchase. I understand that they were put together in the custom shop although not a custom gun. Original barrels were from Briley. Of all the guns I have I would be hardpressed to get rid of this one. I hear excellent things about the ones that are from the PC. With I could see one. I would like to have another one. Good Shooting.

October 5, 2005, 10:01 AM
I much prefer the M945 (basically a modified 1911 lower mated to a 3rd Generation S&W slide assembly) to S&W's version of the 1911 although I am being nitpicky. The accuracy provided by the M945's Briley spherical barrel bushing is impressive, and it disassembles like any other S&W 3rd Generation Auto (although it is based on a 2nd Generation Auto).

I am not a huge fan of FLGR's that S&W uses in their 1911 line because I cannot use my preferred method of disassembling a 1911 (punch out slide stop, remove slide from frame, remove recoil spring, spring guide and plug, push barrel out of engagement with slide, rotate bushing, remove bushing and barrel). I prefer this method because it does not require me to turn the bushing on the mated barrel surface and because it eliminates the possibility of launching the spring plug. Of course, the dimple on the spring plug did that as well, but it was "cost-reduced" out of the 1911's some time back.

I also prefer my 1911's to not have funky firing pin safeties, like the grip safety activated version on the S&W 1911. It is one of my complaints about the M945 since I always need to remember to keep my hand away from the grip safety when replacing the slide on the frame.

October 5, 2005, 10:36 AM
There aren't too many 1911s that I could directly compare to a S&W 945; a custom bullseye gun in capable hands will outshoot a 945 in equally capable hands, but the fact that a lot of competitive bullseye shooters already use 945s with minimal modifications, speaks more about the inherent accuracy of these guns than anything else I could say about them.

October 5, 2005, 10:38 AM
I like my Stainless, full-size S&W 1911 very much. It is very smooth, all the edges are nice and soft. The operation feels much smoother than my Springfield 1911's also. I'm not a big fan of the large S&W 1911 writing on the side, or the Read Owners Manual warning, so I'm having it bead had some scratches on it anyway.

Tom Servo
October 5, 2005, 12:18 PM
I've got a 1911PD that I'm very happy with. Fit and finish are superb. The whole gun just reeks of quality and attention to detail. Safeties and trigger are Wilsons, IIRC. Is it an external extractor? Yeah, but S&W's been making those for years, and mine's been utterly reliable.

The only problem I had was that the grip safety was a bit on the light side, and the gun was capable of firing without it being depressed. S&W sent me a prepaid FedEx label, no questions asked, and I had the gun back 8 days later, better than I'd sent it.

~900 rounds later, just as reliable and accurate as any of my Sigs. Funny thing is, when I take my friends to the range, THAT'S the gun I never get to shoot because they're so enamored with it.

Probably the best semi-custom sub-$2000 1911 on the market.

October 5, 2005, 12:23 PM
Have had great luck with my SW1911.

October 5, 2005, 01:39 PM
I bought a new SW1911SC about 4 months ago. I have over 500+ rounds through it without any malfunctions. I own three other 1911's all Colt's and this is a real keeper. Its light, accurate and reliable. No complaints here.

October 5, 2005, 01:42 PM
I'd just about given up on 1911's due to reliability and quality issues on five that I'd previously owned. Being the eternal optimist, however, I decided to give them one more try. A month ago I got my first S&W 1911 -a stainless one with the billboard on the side. But pretty is as pretty does. My faith in 1911's has been restored. Outstanding fit, finish, accuracy, and reliability. I'm 100% satisfied.

October 5, 2005, 02:55 PM
Not to step on toes here, as there are obviously many happy SW 1911 owners, but my experience was different.

I purchased a S&W SC1911 when they first came out. I really, really liked the gun at first. Reliable, lots of "extra" features at a nice price, light, and accurate.

But over time, I became less satisfied.

The grips would lossen up every time I went to the range. I eventually figured out that it wasn't the screws, but the "nuts" in the frame that were coming lose.

Then I noticed that the barrel started showing strange wear at the muzzle. (around 500 round or so) It appeared as parts of the barrel rifling were being pushed out, past the end of the barrel. There would be thin "flakes" all around the end of the muzzle, and slight ring-like marks around the actual face of the muzzle, as if the end of the barrel wasn't large enough to accomodate whatever was coming out of it. I shot Remington UMC FMJ and Remington Golden Saber JHP's only. Nothing home-grown. I also saw this same barrel problem in more than one used SC1911 on display in gun shops/shows.

I eventually sold it. I liked everything but the lose grips and oddly wearing barrel.

October 5, 2005, 03:16 PM
Seems like an easy fix. Lock-tite the nuts, replace barrel after sending it to S&W, their dime. I have limited experiance with 1911's, but what I see all the time is having to tweek them a bit. Seems like par for the course from what I see on the boards. Unless you pay a premium price, for which it shouldn't have problems, but may still do. Just an observation, nothing more.

October 5, 2005, 03:58 PM
I did lock-tight the nuts, which fixed the problem. There was already some lock-tight on them, but I guess it didn't hold.

The barrel is what did it for me. If it had been just mine, I would have sent it back. But I saw others with the same problem. I think it's because the end is ground flat. (S&W put the SC1911 on the cover of their last catalog, it's a picture of the SC1911 pointing forward, and you can see what I'm talking about if you look closely) In other words, there's no rounding or chamfering of the inside of the barrel at the end to the face of the barrell; it just all ends abruptly, as if it were cut off, straight. This caused me to look at my other pistols, and every last one of them had some machining done on the barrel to give it a rounded finish from the inside of the barrel to the outside.

I'm not saying it will cause a problem, but it didn't sit well with me. I didn't notice until my cleaning rag started getting snagged on the little pieces that stuck out.

I really liked the gun otherwise.

October 5, 2005, 04:57 PM
I checked mine and see what your speaking of. It appears the same as yours, but ever so small. This is a very accurate pistol for me so since its not broken, IMHO, I'll let it alone. Heck I'm sorry you sold it. I may have made you an offer, not much, seeing all the problems :) Hope you got a good gun to replace it. Good Shooting.

October 5, 2005, 05:26 PM
I've have a S&W 1911 (adj sights) with perhaps 5 to 7 thousand rounds through it. It still shoots well and is one of my favrite hand guns. I like it about as much as my 945 and better then my Para(s) and Colt.



October 5, 2005, 07:49 PM
Good gun
If you have a choice I would go with Smith or my fav 1911 a Kimber

Black Majik
October 5, 2005, 09:58 PM
The barrel crown was a known problem for the scandium 1911s. Many Sc owners sent their guns back to S&W, and got their barrel crowns deburred. It wasn't really wear, thats just how the guns left the factory.

Easily fixed... but I do agree, it'd bother me too if my crown looked like that.

Sad to hear you sold your S&W. Those problems were easy fixes, and you coulda had yourself a great 1911.

October 6, 2005, 08:32 AM
Thanks for all the responses gang! I should collect the rest of the cash today so will be making my final decision. I like Kimbers too, but having a couple already thought it might be nice to have a Smith. After the responses here and at TFL I think that is what I will get.


October 6, 2005, 09:59 AM
Sad to hear you sold your S&W. Those problems were easy fixes, and you coulda had yourself a great 1911.

Good to know on the barrel deburring. My biggest concern at the time was "getting out from under" the gun in case the value dropped preciptitously.

I'll probably keep my eyes open in the future.

FWIW, it found the slide to be the easiest to hand-cycle of any of my 1911's, even though the recoil spring wasn't the weakest. The slide was very easy to grip.

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