Help choosing a 1911.....


The Goose
March 28, 2006, 06:54 PM
Last week I started a thread inquiring why people are so passionate about their 1911's. The response was incredible. So I am considering getting one. I went to my local shop today and handled a few, but thought I would seek some advice.

First of all my choices are limited here in MA, but here is what I looked at. The S&W of course and also the Para. They seem to be the primary brands available new. He also showed me an Auto Ordinance, my least favorite. The other one that caught my eye was a used Wilson Combat Service Grade. Wilson Combat guns are hard to come by in MA, but it was a very fine looking piece. Two tone black and stainless with an incredible trigger. Only drawback is the $1,500.00 price tag.

So of the ones mentioned is their any advice? Other brands that are MA compliant? Is the Wilson worth the $1,500.00? Thanks for any advice.

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March 28, 2006, 07:01 PM
S&W, I have a fullsize 1911 billboard and 1911Sc commander. Love them both. You can't go wrong for the money, lifetime warranty, and good service. As for the Wilson, I was at a match 2 weeks ago and one shooter had a Wilson in 9mm that jammed and FTF several times. Not that they are bad, but I'm not convinced they are worth the money. In my opinion, if you are going to spend $2K+, just get a Ed Brown custom. my $0.02.

March 28, 2006, 07:03 PM
Yes the Wilson is worth the money you pay for. Bill Wilson Guarantees his work and any factory prob with the gun he will repair it free. I have three wilsons CQB Full, Compact and, KZ. If you want to save, go with Kimber its not bad pretty good actually.

March 28, 2006, 07:24 PM
There are many good 1911 choices nowdays. I think Springfield Armory may represent the best value for the $$. I also like Colts. Paras seem to be pretty good, but I don't have personal experience with them or Smiths for that matter. If you want to spend the bucks Wilson and Les Baer both make excellent pistols. Good luck with your choice. :)

Black Majik
March 28, 2006, 07:31 PM
Those Wilson 1911s are very smooth. If you have the $1500, do it right and see what the 1911's are all about

If not, I'd definitely go the S&W route over the Para. I feel the S&W is better fit and finished, those Scandium 1911s have had my attention for a while now. A Scandium commander would be a great 1911, but for a first I think a all steel 1911 Government (5") model is a must.

What else is available to buy? Springfield Armory, Colt, Kimber etc...?

Those three production 1911 makers are most popular.

If you know you're gonna get multiple 1911s (you know you will) then go the production route first, then semi-custom route. Once you go Semi-custom... its hard to look at another production 1911. I can only imagine what it must be like to have a full house custom 1911.

Good luck, what a fun task you have at hand! :)

March 28, 2006, 07:53 PM
I have to agree with Black Majik start with your standard 1911s and build your way up, see where you are comfortable with. But once you have a full custom or even semi custom 1911 its really hard to look at a stock 1911. Well said Black

March 28, 2006, 11:52 PM
My Springfield GI was very cheap, and it never jams. 400 bucks VS 1,500. It was an easy choice for me. I wanted better accuracy, but still without getting raped, so I also bought an incredibly accurate used Sig for 400 dollars.

March 29, 2006, 12:45 AM
What else is available to buy? Springfield Armory, Colt, Kimber etc...?
Unfortunately NONE of those are Massachusetts legal. Ditto for Ed Brown, Les Baer, Wilson Combat, and most other makes. :cuss:

AFAIK, the ONLY Massachusetts legal 1911's you can get new are those made by S&W, Auto Ordinance, or Para. You can buy used guns that are from 1998 or older...provided that they were registered in the state of MA prior to that time.

Basically, if you've found a Wilson for $1500 that's MA legal, you should jump on it! If you want a new MA legal 1911, I'd personally take the S&W. I have not been impressed by the quality of Auto Ordinance. And Para doesn't seem to be in the same league as S&W quality-wise (plus, I'm not a huge fan of high-cap 1911's anyway).

Ala Dan
March 29, 2006, 03:32 AM
Greeting's All-

Are Les Baer firearms approved for sale in Mass? If so, you might want
to look at their Thunder Ranch Special. I just purchased one NIB, and
its a very well made firearm. Les guarantee's 1.5" groups from this gun
provided that you do your part. Fit and finish are emaculate, with very
thin grips that contain the Thunder Ranch logo~!:D They are high $$$
firearms, so don't expect too pay less than $1500 for a NIB firearm.:uhoh:

March 29, 2006, 11:54 AM
Hello Goose!
I'm stuck in Massachusetts too! It's a tortuous state for 1911-ophiles because of the scarcity of various desirable models. Of the new models currently available in this state, the S&W is unquestionably the best. I favor the all-blue full-sized model with adjustable sights as a range gun. It is available from Four Seasons in Woburn for about $750. The one I owned (before I foolishly traded it for something else) would allow me to put 5 shots into 6" offhand at 50 yards, which is as well as I can do with anything, anytime, anywhere. It was unerringly reliable with my favorite target load, Black Hills 200 grain SWC.

However, I am patial to Colts and have pretty much decided that I am going to try to buy as many MA-compliant Colt 1911-pattern pistols as I can possibly afford. They are out there, but you have to pay to play. The last Colt I bought was a lightly used series 70 government model and it was $900 - I felt it was a great deal.

Is the Wilson 1911 available at Collector's Gallery or Four Seasons? If you have the scratch, I'd go for the Wilson.

Hope this helps!

March 29, 2006, 04:13 PM
A fellow member of THR is currently offering some awesome deals on Springfield 1911s... The URL is for anyone who hasn't seen the thread already!

Black Majik
March 29, 2006, 04:19 PM
A fellow member of THR is currently offering some awesome deals on Springfield 1911s... The URL is for anyone who hasn't seen the thread already!

Unfortunately, the poster cant get anything from SA in MA

March 29, 2006, 04:51 PM
I know it's not on your local list, but you can buy two Kimbers for the price of that Wilson. Not to knock Wilson, but you need to determine the primary use of the weapon you're about to purchase. It's just like chosing a car or truck. Don't buy a Cadilac if you need to haul gravel. Just the same, if you need the accuracy of a Wilson, Are you shooting Bullseye matches? Is this just a carry piece? Personally, I own Colts and a Kimber for 1911's along with other's that I carry or have for intended purposes.

I'd have to agree that the S&W would be the best bang for the buck if you're restricted to a local store/FFL dealer. But you might keep your eyes open here for a nice 1911 for much less than that Wilson will run you. Do I say 'Don't buy the Wilson', 'the Smith'? No, I don't. The Wilson will retain it's value in years to come. I doubt the Smith will quite as much. Out of the box, for a non custom, quite accurate, great trigger, it's tough to beat a Kimber for the money. Else, since it's your first 1911, look for a used Colt. You can't go wrong.

Just my $.02


March 29, 2006, 05:04 PM

A lot of guys here just can't appreciate the State we live in.

If you can swing it go for the Wilson. I am not thier greatest fan, but you will get a quality 1911 that is guaranteed for life. I had a chance at one about a year ago and passed. I am still wondering if that was wise.

The Smith would serve you well too. There are some used ones for around 5 to 6 hundred bucks.

Just for your info I have a LNIB SS Colt Gold Cup National Match that I will be parting with. 1990 vintage with all the stuff that came from the factory.
$875. FTF 900. shipped.


March 29, 2006, 05:55 PM
$1500 for the Wilson is not a bad deal for MA.
If you have $1500 to blow, why not?

You could find a nice Colt for less than $1000 though, if you look.
I got a really nice Series 70 last year for $799.

Another new (Cheap) 1911 that can be found in MA is the Rock Island Armory. Not many dealers in MA have them, but a few do. You could get 4 of those for the price of the Wilson.

Kimbers usually go for over $1000 if and when you can find them, so I'd take the Wilson over a Kimber. I can't even remember the last time I saw a Springfield in MA.

The new Sig "1911" will probably be MA compliant, but is not yet.

March 29, 2006, 05:58 PM
Goose, if I were you, I'd find a pre-1998 basic Colt or Springfield, do some research (and, of course, some shooting) and then have it worked up by a good shop. If you have to have something NIB, of the choices already listed as available to you, I would choose the Smith & Wesson.

March 29, 2006, 06:13 PM
If I might ask, what does it take to be MA legal? Would it not make sense that if the 1911 were MA legal, ALL 1911's would be? What makes some models special? Do the companies have to pay some sort of "MA legalization" fee?


March 29, 2006, 08:01 PM

Why Can't I Buy Certain Handguns that I’ve Seen in Catalogs?

Massachusetts licensed dealers are limited as to what guns which they can sell to you. The dealer can only sell you handguns that comply with two standards - the law (see Chapter 140, section 123 of the Massachusetts General Law), and the regulations of the Attorney General (940 CMR 16.00).

More About the Standards in the Law

Chapter 140, section 123, of the Massachusetts General Laws states that a dealer may only sell guns that can pass a drop test, are not prone to repeat firing, and which meet a certain materials standard.

In order to make this requirement understandable, the state approved “independent testing laboratories” and a testing procedure. Manufacturers of handguns may now choose to pay these labs to perform the tests mentioned in the law.

The labs sent their certified results to the Gun Control Advisory Board, which reviews the results to ensure the tests were performed properly and that the guns passed the tests. They then vote on whether to recommend that the gun be on the Approved Firearms Roster. The Executive Office of Public Safety then acts on these recommendations and publishes a new roster. These regulations are found in 501 CMR 7.00.

Some smaller manufacturers can not afford to pay for the testing. Still other manufacturers object to the whole concept of the testing, and have no wish to comply. And manufacturers of top of the line competition models costing $1500 and up have no desire to pay someone to drop three of their firearms onto a concrete surface. Therefore, before the testing laboratories were even approved by the state, it was clear several product lines would not be available through Massachusetts licensed dealers.

The Bottom Line on the Standards of the Law

In order for a dealer to sell a handgun in Massachusetts a gun must be on the Approved Weapons Roster. There is only one exemption, established by section 79 of Chapter 180 of the Acts of 1998:

“SECTION 79. Clause Eighteenth to Twenty-first, inclusive, of said section 123 of said chapter 140, inserted by section 19 of this act, shall not apply to any firearm lawfully owned or possessed under a license issued under said chapter 140 on the effective date of this act.”

More About the Standards of the Attorney General

The second standard a gun must pass is one put forth by the Attorney General as a supposed consumer protection measure. See GOAL’s Regulatory Fraud report for more information on the history of these regulations.

The Attorney General has gone on record (see Enforcement notice #3, issued February 2002) as stating that guns that are on the Approved Weapons Roster comply with portions of the regulations.

However, in addition, the Attorney General requires that:

Guns sold by dealers must have mechanisms that preclude an average five year old from operating the handgun, such as requiring multiple motions or a ten pound trigger pull;

Guns must have either a load indicator or magazine safety disconnect.

Generally speaking, manufacturers provide notice to the Attorney General that they believe their guns meet his standards. If the AG does not object, the manufacturer will release the firearms for sale in Massachusetts.

Exemptions: Even if a manufacturer has not certified that their guns are available to the Attorney General, they could be sold under certain limited conditions. That is, the Attorney General’s regulations will not prohibit the sale of:

guns manufactured prior to October 21, 1998;

guns sold to law enforcement or military;

guns solely designed and sold specifically for target shooting competition;

museums or educational collectors; and

antique firearms.

These regulations have caused a fair amount of confusion. First, because the Attorney General has refused to compile a list of firearms which meet the standards. Secondly, because that office’s standard response to questions is “you’ll have to ask your lawyer.”

Between the two standards, the number of guns available to Massachusetts’s citizens has been greatly diminished.

March 29, 2006, 08:24 PM
Chipperman, Wow! Makes me happy to live in CT. And thought it was bad to have to get a permit just to take the pistol to the range. Man what a difference 50 miles makes.

March 30, 2006, 02:05 AM
Thank you for the clarification on MASS gun laws.

That would be 'Massive brain hemorages between law makers'. Must be a democratic state.

I would move. ... Far away. Even the Republic of ********** seems to have a grasp on reality when compared to the information you note.

By reading that, It appears to me that there's not a revolver that would pass the test. So be it, we're talking 1911's. So, I must say check to see if a used 'Colt series 70' is on your approved list. Hammer down on an empty chamber, full magazine. There aren't very many five year olds that can cycle the slide with a 20# recoil spring. :)

Good luck with your search.


March 30, 2006, 10:10 AM
As long as it's for the sake of the children.

March 30, 2006, 10:33 AM
Ironic that pistols made in Springfield, MA are not legal in MA.

The Goose
March 30, 2006, 12:04 PM
As always I am blown away by the great responses to questions that I receive on this site. Thank you all. So here is what I ended up doing.

I had about $2,000.00 to blow on myself, a reward for handling a difficult project. Yesterday I purchased an S&W 1911 and a smaller Para Ord OPS, both in stainless steel. Also a couple of cases of .45 ammo. Today I hit the range early.

I have a drill that I do with new handguns, 50 rds. at a 5.5” Shoot N C at 30’ slow fire, then 50 rds at 50’ then 50 rds. rapid fire at 30’. My poor old eyes get useless much past 50’.

First up was the S&W. My God, this pistol is accurate! Great trigger. The best semi auto I have ever shot, I usually prefer revolvers. On the second mag there was a FTF on the last round. I reloaded both mags and again the last shot on the same mag was a FTF. It never repeated after that. Flawless function from then on. At 50’ I was able to get a few 4” groups which is fantastic for me. I had some flyers at both ranges, but I attribute that to my poor trigger control. This is a new style for me and I really had to concentrate.

Next was the Para OPS. At 30’ the accuracy was the same. I lost it at 50’. I had all I could do to keep most of my shoots inside of the Shoot N C. The Para functioned perfectly, but I would note that the trigger was not as nice as on the Smith. However, for personal defense the Para is sufficiently accurate and no doubt with practice I could a lot better.

I really like both of these pistols. The Smith is a lot easier to shoot and more accurate, but the Para is a lot of fun. I shoot a lot of revolvers and almost always in double action so a single action semi auto trigger takes some getting used to. Several times the Smith surprised me when it went bang.

I am beginning to understand why people love their 1911’s, they are a whole different animal. I should just cut up my credit cards RIGHT NOW!! LOL!

March 30, 2006, 12:18 PM
Congrats Goose. Out of your available list I'm a big fan of the SW1911s. I have the scandium commander myself but have shot the full size steel also. They hold up against anything in their price range and plenty outside it too. You don't have to get outside the SW range of 1911s to have an excellent selection and they all seem well made. My 1911PD is very accurate and reliable. I'm a bit surprised at your FTFs to be honest. May be worth buying a couple of CMC power mags and seeing if that cures it - I think the OEM mags are a bit subpar.

March 30, 2006, 01:44 PM
Here are my reasons not to buy Springfield! I purchased a .45 Champion TRP a few years ago, which was a disaster. I sent it back about four times, and they finally sent me a new, totally worked Champion TRP, with four stainless mags, and a fancy shirt. After having to return this at least four times, I had agreed to upgrade and have them install the internal safety lock as well. It came back with an 11 lb trigger pull! I could not believe it. I returned this second Champion, for about the 6th time. On it's final return, the trigger was still heavier than it was prior to the safety being installed. The first time at the range, the follower on the mag got jammed in the newly replaced slide release pin, which was also defective originally. I ran a box of ammo through, and have not used it since. This is the most trouble I have had with any gun ever purchased. Springfield was terrible to deal with, they would not refund my money, and the dealer said it was not his problem.

Best .45 I owned and used for years in competition was a 70 series Colt Gold Cup. One failure with the rear sight pin falling out, and that is it.

On the wish list, is a possible Sig .45. Going to see if I like their Mosquito .22(been on order for some time now), and make a decision after that.

March 30, 2006, 03:20 PM
Look at Springfield Armory before buying. You get alot for the money and they have a lifetime warranty and great customer service.

I own a basic SA 1911 right now and am planning to upgrade to the 650 dollar Springfield Loaded 1911 real soon, due ot my great expereinces with SA's products.

Take a look at the Springfield Armory Loaded 1911...its alot of pistol for the money.

- Brickboy240

March 30, 2006, 04:00 PM
OK, for people who are not paying attention...
There are virtually NO Springfields that can be bought in MA.

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