Rate the 1911's


March 11, 2006, 08:11 PM
I have shot a 1911 several times in the past and I have owned a couple...but I am in no means an expert...but I am curious...I would like to know from you 1911 lovers which manufacturers you think are best...as a novice to 1911's I thought from gun rags and ads that maybe Kimber was the best but in read many post on the High Road it seems that maybe (and it wouldn't be the first time) I was wrong...so in your opinion guys which is best out of the following.

Smith & Wesson
Para Ordinance

I know that this will be partly subjective but I do value your opinions. Feel free to add other maker into the mix if you like and add any comments that you want

Let's add a $1500.00 top price and say that this will be a strictly defensive pistol...be home or CCW..but not a competition model...I am sure they are all fine makers...I quess this purely for fun.

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March 11, 2006, 08:18 PM
Now that is a real subjective question. Is it a money is no object kinda thing, or the best value for your dollar? Under the first criteria I personally like Ed Brown as well as Wilson Combat. As far as value for the dollar I might lean toward Springfield. Of course these things don't take into account what it is you plan on doing with the gun. I guess going by your list I would personally go with Springfield, but I really don't think you could go wrong with any of the ones that you have listed.

March 11, 2006, 08:19 PM
They are all the same, in their own, different ways.

At the end of the day, the best one is the one that works.

March 11, 2006, 08:29 PM
Ok so I will edit the tread to change criteria some what(if I can)

March 11, 2006, 08:53 PM
The Smith's have external extractors. The Para's have their own power extractors. Other than that they are regular 1911's. I own a smith my buddy owns a para. Both good guns. I know this, Para's customer service REALLY sucks. I don't know about the other brands so I won't pretend to.

March 11, 2006, 08:54 PM
OK I will still stick with my choice of a Springfield "loaded" Champion. I had a Kimber Pro CDP that I thought was also a very nice gun. Just had one or two minor issues with it which is why I give the nod to my Springfield. Good value for the money, lifetime warranty, and most importantly no issues (at least for me) out of mine. So are you looking to purchase one in the near future or just testing the waters?

Old Dog
March 11, 2006, 09:32 PM
Lately, I've become a big fan of Springfield Armory 1911s. Of the Springers, I love the Professional, the Loaded, the Champion, the Mil-Spec and the Loaded Micro-Compact. I have owned nine SA 1911s, and have never had a problem with any (that couldn't be easily resolved). Accurate, reliable, and terrific value given the reasonable pricing.

I was on the Kimber bandwagon for a while, but too many friends who are Kimber owners (including a couple cops whose duty weapons are Kimbers) are having issues. That said, I still love my Kimber Tactical Pro (my only current Kimber).

My first love, however, is the original (and still the Top Dog) -- the Colt's Government Model (with great preference given pre-Series 80 editions). And ... both the Combat and Lightweight Commanders.

For custom/semi-custom, my only experience is with Wilson's and Ed Brown. Awesome pistols. I especially like Brown's guns because, like me, he doesn't believe in front cocking serrations. I'd rate these shops' pistols as superior, but with the caveat that I have no experience with Les Baer and am waiting the wife's approval on a Nighthawk ...

So for me, for UNDER $1500, which means regular production 1911s, I'd go: Colt's, SA, Kimber. I have not owned any Para-Ordnance or Smith & Wesson (or SIG or Dan Wesson or Charles Daly or Armscor) 1911s.

March 11, 2006, 10:05 PM
The best, most reliable 1911 I own is an old IAI (not IMI) M5000.

It is a Commander clone. After replacing the stock sights and losing the stupid rubber wrap around grips, It turned into a fine shooting iron!!!


Oh, BTW I picked up for only $200!!!! :what:

March 11, 2006, 10:48 PM
"So are you looking to purchase one in the near future or just testing the waters?"

I am looking to buy within the next 12-24 months so I am trying to gather as much data as possible...I have had a SA GI and like it...sold it:( ...to buy an SA Champion that I could never get to function correctly...I had a used Kimber Tactical Pro in the Layaway that I have been talked out of by someone that is like a son to me...I did not just give him the gun he had a NEW BHP Practical and he knows that Hi Powers are my weakness, he is a SA .45acp lover so the trade was a natural...so I am looking again...I had assumed that Kimber was the best until recently reading a lot of the post on THR...NOw it seem that shooter prefer the S&W to the Kimber.

March 11, 2006, 11:26 PM
The two 1911 makes I have the most history with are SA and Kimber. I owned a Kimber Custom (a pre-Series II if that makes any difference) that was wonderful...after a break-in period of maybe 300 hundred rounds or so, I wound up running a remaining 1700-ish rounds through her trouble-free. I used at that time (and still do) Wilson Combat 8-round magazines exclusively...I know there are other plenty-good mags out there, I just wound up with Wilsons first. I did later trade the Kimber in toward a SiG (another wonderful pistol, but I'll save that for another post!)

More recently I've acquired a gently-used Springfield Armory "Loaded" model. Ah, to be back in 1911-land, and in such style! Wooden grips, Novak Lo-Mount night sights, beavertail grip safety, etc., etc....she's great! I've put about 540 rounds through this one since late December with zero hiccups. She works fine with her as-issued two-piece full-length guide rod...but, for the sake of tool-less disassembly, I'm considering switching to a standard-length guide rod...if I make that change, my psyche will probably require another 500 trouble-free rounds before I'll feel comfy with it hahaha! My only modification to her otherwise has been the application of some skateboard tape to the frontstrap.

As-is, this SA "Loaded" is my regular CCW / home-defense piece, sometimes supplanted by my SiG P228 just because I love most SiGs, too!

March 12, 2006, 11:18 AM
of the non-custom/semi custom guns you have listed I have always had good luck with Kimber. I have never handled or shot a Sig 1911. SA would be my second choice followed by Colt, S&W and Para-Ordnance.

March 12, 2006, 03:03 PM
My Carry
My "Tactical"
My Target

#1 Customer Service
MANY varieties to choose from (except no compact :()

I love mine. All S&W. I have a Colt Gold Cup Series 70 also, but I prefer my SW1911s.


Ala Dan
March 12, 2006, 05:20 PM
Year's ago, I had real success with a couple of 70 Series Colt Gold Cups-
but more recently, I have enjoyed the same success with a couple of 5"
Springfield G.I. models, a 5" Kimber Raptor II, and a Kimber Stainless Ultra
Carry II. And, just within the last two weeks I've added a Les Baer semi-
custom Thunder Ranch Special which I'm very pleased with~!:D

March 12, 2006, 06:54 PM


IMO... the best value on the market.


March 12, 2006, 06:59 PM
Dan Wesson. Simply the best!


March 12, 2006, 07:25 PM
Springfield Armory offers a fantastic value at any price point starting in the low $400 area. None of the other mfr's mentioned quite hit that price point, as Colt, SW, Para, Sig, Kimber start in the $6's, if not higher.

I've got a SA 1911 GI, and a Sig P239.

March 12, 2006, 07:25 PM
I am also looking for a new 1911 and it is between either an SA loaded model# Px91091 or a Smith model# 108285. The gun shops that I go to swear by the SA, and both SA and Smith have lifetime warrantys I believe so thats always a plus.

Ala Dan
March 12, 2006, 07:52 PM
The Springfield "Loaded" model is one fine firearm. I have a stainless one
NIB on display with a price tag of only $679.88~!:D It has the features
that most 1911's guru's are look'in for; including a proper fit of slide to
frame, and once locked up you find no movement when pushing down
on the barrel hood.:D

charles nutinsky
March 12, 2006, 08:06 PM
In an earlier post on this topic an opinion was offered regarding Para's service as "it sucks".
My contact with Para service was outstanding: In spite of having bought a LTC with a scratch on the top of the slide and fully admitting to them I was aware of the scratch, they refinished the slide at no cost to me. Clearly they went beyond and out of their way to provide service to me.
In reading over the Para section on the 1911 forum it would seem other Para owners feel the same way.
I imagine the poster on this site and on this topic may have had a bad experience but overall Para'S service seems to be first rate.


March 12, 2006, 08:20 PM
$ for $ in today's market, I'd also go with the S&W 1911!

March 12, 2006, 08:21 PM
If you want a 1911, there is a little company called Colt....

March 12, 2006, 11:01 PM
I love, love, love my SW1911, and had the opposite reaction with a friend's Kimber.

Black Majik
March 12, 2006, 11:56 PM
I could write up a whole long post about 1911's and my opinions of each company, but I think I'll just write the Cliff Notes Version..

There are three main classes of production 1911s (not custom made). There's the cheaper production 1911s, the regular production 1911s, then the semi-custom/semi-production 1911s.

The "value" end (under $400) woud be:
- Norinco
- Amscor / Rock Island Armory
- Charles Daly
- Springfield GI (best deal going)

The regular production ($500 - $1200) 1911s would be:
- Colt
- Kimber
-Springfield Armory
- Para Ordnance
- Smith and Wesson
- Dan Wesson

Then theres the semi-custom ($1300 +) 1911s. These would be:
- Les Baer
- Wilson Combat
- Nighthawk
- Rock River Arms
- Ed Brown

The class you're looking into for under $1500 would be the production class. The three most popular 1911s would be Colt, Kimber, and Springfield Armory. All three are great companies. Kimber and Springfield Armory are pretty much neck and neck in terms of popularity.

Colt is still best known of making the no frills 1911s. Only a few of their models come with the bells and whistles, but they're mainly known to produce the "old school" 1911s. Watch out though, they don't dehorn their pistols any, even their top end model can slice your hand if not possible. They're sharp around the edges. Colt probably has the loosest slide to frame fit, if that matters any to you

Kimber has had a reputation of problematic 1911s, yet they are the highest sellers. The biggest complaint for Kimber would be the external extractors, the Schwartz "Series II" safety, and the MIM parts. If you get a working, reliable 1911, keep it! They're still fantastic 1911s.

The Springfields are great also. They don't have any internal safety systems like the Colt's Series 80 and the Kimber Series II. They have the ILS in the MSH, but that can be chaged easily with one without the lock. I've shot quite a few Springfields, all of the ones I've shot have been reliable.

All three companies can have problems. But yet I have so far not experienced any problems with any of the companies I've just listed (SA, Kimber, Colt). Only what I've read on other forums such as 1911forum. I do own a Kimber and Colt, and those are great shooters also, which serve different purposes. My Kimber is an older one (series I) so I'll never sell it since it doesn't have the external extractor and/or the schwartz safety system

The newest contender would be the Smith and Wesson 1911s. I've fondled them at the store (no experience shooting them yet), but I've been impressed with it. Though one of the display model stainless fullsize rattled like an old Colt, but the rest I've seen were very top notch. Only gripe would be the messy barrel crown, and the rear sight has a noticeable gap on all of their Scandium models that you can see light passing through. With I had more input on this brand but unfortunately I don't.

Para Ordnance, I'm not too fond of. The ones I've seen had tool marks, I shot one before, and it shot straight without any malfunctions, but it just didn't feel "right". I personally would pass on the PO since there are many other better companies out there, JMO of course

For $1500 you can break into the semi-custom 1911s. The one I would recommend would be the Les Baer Premier II, which start out at $1400. There is a noticeable difference between my Baer and the other 1911s. Fit and finish is very good. Slide to frame fit is very tight. Barrel lockup is incredible with zero play on the barrel hood and bushing. The LB is also noticeably more accurate than the regular production 1911's. The semi-custom 1911s have more hand fitting, better quality parts with no MIM parts.

There are some production companies that try and break into the Semi-Custom market, but few succeed. Kimber and Springfield Armory has their custom shop, but only Springfield tops out on this one. Colt honestly doesn't impress me much with their high end 1911s. Don't be fooled by Kimber's uber tactical custom shop guns. They still have the same parts as all their other 1911s. The SA Professional model is SA's flagship 1911. Now THAT's a quality 1911. No cheap MIM parts in there, the fitting and finish is 1st class. That is one gun I would not mind owning.

Best thing to do, handle them all! You'll find one that you'll like more than the others. Since you have experience with them, I'm sure you'll know what "bells and whistles" you want on a 1911 and which you can live without.

For $1500, I'd try to go for the Les Baer Premier II, if you want to go production gun route, I'd either go with the Kimber TLE or the Springfield Armory TRP. All those are great guns.

Anyways, I've written a little more than I planned to. Hope this helps. :)

March 13, 2006, 11:19 AM
I've been really happy with my Kimber Custom CDP Compact. It is extremely accurate and I can tear the X ring out with it if I do my part. Slide to frame fit is good, no rattling. I am disappointed with the finish on THE NIGHT SIGHTS THEMSELVES. They are more of a gray than a black and show scratches easily. Not really that big of a deal, just a minor annoyance.

I've put about 400 trouble free rounds with it down range. I've got some reloading stuff at my Father's house which I'm itching to go load up, but haven't had the chance lately. Besides, all the indoor gun ranges specify commercially loaded ammo, not that I would ever sneak some reloads in:evil: . That Dillon can really crank out some rounds...

I've also shot a friends SA Mil-spec, which I like, alot. It is a simple, no frills firearm that gets the job done. It goes bang every time and he nor I have had any problems out of it. Conservatively it has about 5000-6000 rounds through it, mostly lead.

I also have my RIA which I am fond of. It is the compact model which I have added a few parts to and finally Duracoated 2 weeks ago. It runs 100% on quality mags like W-C and ACT mags. It doesn't like CMC mags as much. It is fairly accurate. The interior has tool marks and the slide fit is loose, which is fine by me because the bushingless barrel locks up nice and tight for decent groupings.

I guess that covers my experience with 2 of the groups mentioned above. I've handled some W-C and LB guns, but didn't have a chance to shoot them enough to comment.

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