Price-effective small/short 1911?


August 25, 2007, 03:46 PM
I'm looking for a carry gun. Thinking of one of the smaller 1911s.

Don't need all the "boutique" features, and any gunsmithing that's needed will be done myself.

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August 25, 2007, 03:52 PM
I had a Springfield Micro-Compact, and also the Kimber equivalent of it... 3" barrel, officer frame. Neither were reliable enough to be carry guns. Good Luck.

August 25, 2007, 03:55 PM
Colt Commander.

But a Glock 26 is better.

August 25, 2007, 04:09 PM
Well, I'm guessing that the Kimber and the Colt are probably priced more than the Springfield.

I can make it reliable. What do they run?

August 25, 2007, 04:13 PM
A size comparison

G26 on a G17 on a 1911 (full-size -- not a Commander)

The Lone Haranguer
August 25, 2007, 05:06 PM
Springfield makes a "GI"-style (parkerized finish, standard grip safety, "bump-and-a-hump";)) sights) in three-inch.

August 25, 2007, 06:01 PM
I have had four Kimbers, and all have been flawless. Three have been three inchers, and one was 4".

Each was bought used; prices ranged from $600-800.

I've also owned 1911s made by Colt (2), Daly (1), Para (4) and Springfield (2).
Kimber is the only brand that I have had zero issues with.

August 25, 2007, 10:50 PM
Well, I've had fewest issues with my Norinco, and I've also done the most to it...

Does anyone know what one of the non-high-end pistols costs?

August 25, 2007, 11:52 PM
Appears the Glock crowd has such an inferiority complex when stacked against the 1911 that they can't stand that someone isn't considering their beloved Glock:neener:

Now, since you say you want a small 1911, I'm not going to suggest other possibilities. Depending upon how "price effective" you are thinking, you may want to consider the 3" Charles Daly or Rock Island Armory (around here where prices seem to be higher than elsewhere, they are well under $500). My full-size Charles Daly has been reasonably reliable (not 100%, but in over 10K rounds you expect some issues), but not everyone has had the same experience so just be sure to wring it out for 200 rounds or so to be sure yours is one of the good ones before relying on it for defense.

1911 guy
August 26, 2007, 12:48 AM
4.25" barrel is as short as you can usually go without sacrificing reliability and without changing things so much it isn't a 1911 anymore. The CCO (and clones from non-Colt makers) have a commander length barrel and officers length frame, which is a bit shorter than a standard frame and uses six round magazines.

Old Dog
August 26, 2007, 02:01 AM
4.25" barrel is as short as you can usually go without sacrificing reliability and without changing things so much it isn't a 1911 anymore. No offense, but this statement, which keeps getting spouted as gospel, just doesn't hold water anymore. There's plenty of four-inchers, and sub-four-inchers out now that function quite reliably. I've got 4 four-inch Kimbers (Pro models) and 2 SA Champions, and each one has been 100% reliable straight from the box. Both my SA Loaded Micro-Compacts are flawless operators (indeed, my first MC did require a bit over 200 rounds to break in, but has been perfection since -- and extremely accurate to boot.

I can't speak to Colt's recent products (I do have an older Officer's Model that works well), but I think Kimber and Springfield have worked out the bugs on their shorter-barreled 1911s.

For not too much dough, the SA GI Champion or GI Micro-Compact might scratch the itch for someone who's willing to take a chance and work on a small 1911 platform for a no-frills carry pistol ...

1911 guy
August 26, 2007, 02:43 AM
The micro guns have significant design changes to get them to run reliably. In other words, changes from the 1911 design. Bull barrels, ramped barrels, dual captive recoil springs, etc. If you want to stick with available, non-proprietary parts, you still can't go smaller than about 4.25" I'm sure someone somewhere makes a reliable .45acp with a two inch barrel. But it won't be a 1911, even if it resembles one.

August 26, 2007, 03:53 AM
If by price effective you mean inexpensive, you might look the Rock Island Armory Officers Model.
In general people are saying good things about these pistols.
I have a nickeled 38 Super, a Mil-Spec High Standard 45 (made by the same manufacturer) and a Officers Model 45 and have to say that they are a whole lot of reliable 1911 for the price paid and I have yet to run across one with a bad trigger.

August 26, 2007, 04:58 AM
Well, 1911s fit me. I'd have to relearn point shooting with a different configuration. I'm looking for the same basic ergonomics (I can dump two mags into two pie plates at 7 yards in five seconds out of a 1911 - without really thinking all that hard about it), just a smaller package.

Don't need the night sights (because I probably won't be looking at them if I ever need to use the thing socially), etc., etc... Just looking for a very simple carry gun.

The Rock Island looks interesting.

August 26, 2007, 07:00 AM
To each his own - but I don't subscribe to the notion that because a 1911 frame is topped by something other than a 4" or 5" barrel, or it doesn't have a barrel bushing, or it has captive springs, etc., that it isn't a 1911 anymore.

Still, to your question - as you have mentioned that style fits you well - it wouldn't matter what we called a short barreled 1911. I have 2:

This gun was purchased back in 2001. When purchased, the slide would occasionally lock back prematurely. I trimmed the slide-lock tab back a little & have had no problems since. I carry it often. Very light weight aluminum frame & SS slide. The CDP guns are rather expensive. The Stainless Ultra Carry, on which it is built, can probably be had for about $750. The Ultra Carry (with a carbon steel slide) would be a little less expensive - probably about $675.

I just purchased this gun used a week ago, & have yet to shoot it. It has a 4" barrel. This is a newer "II" model, with a firing pin safety. Also light weight with an aluminum frame, I bought this gun (which is practically in new condition) for $675. I've seen them new for about $750-$775; the PRO CARRY (with the carbon steel slide) for about what I paid for this gun - $675.

Keep your eye open at your local shops, Guns America & Gun Broker for a used guns & you could have one for much less.

Someone mentioned Rock Island Armory. I'd also recommend you look at them. I checked one over at a local gun shop & was impressed with what you can get for the money. If he would have had the 4" Commander version there, it would have had a new owner on the spot.

Happy hunting....

August 26, 2007, 07:08 AM
I do not own one, but the Colt Defender ( is a compact 1911 with a solid reputation for reliability. Most compact 1911s do not share the same reputation.

With a Defender, you get a basic compact 1911 with no frill, although earlier Defenders did have "swept back sights" and a beavertail. You also get a lightweight frame to help with carry. They sell for about $750-800 new around my area.

For myself, I found a Colt Compact 1991 ( at a gunshow for $400. I modified it ( myself. Total investment was about $725.

August 26, 2007, 10:06 AM
From all I can hear this Para Ordinance Stealth Carry model with a 3" barrel is superb. Been eyeing this double-action only model for a few months now.

August 26, 2007, 01:43 PM
I read on another board that the Rock Island Officers Models coming from Sarco recently are upgraded with a beavertail grip safety and a commander hammer.
You might call them and see it it's true.

August 26, 2007, 02:01 PM
I had a Springfield Micro-Compact, and also the Kimber equivalent of it... 3" barrel, officer frame. Neither were reliable enough to be carry guns. Good Luck.
What kind of ammunition did you use in your MicroCompact?

A friend has one and between 230gr. ball and Aguila 117gr. IQ, I've never seen it malfunction.

Springfield Armory has a tradition of heavily discounting these at their Camp Perry Hut.

Ala Dan
August 26, 2007, 02:45 PM
I own a 3" Kimber Stainless Ultra Carry II that has proven to be 100%
reliable; even with all major brands of JHP ammo~! ;):D

August 26, 2007, 10:48 PM
I'm probably going to be fairly vanilla about ammo... Big slow chunks of lead.

Just want something small enough to not worry a lot about. Full size 1911 can be a pitsob...

August 28, 2007, 10:22 AM
I cant speak of the quality but I have seen some Charles Daily in 3.5" for real good price. But you know what they say about that.

August 30, 2007, 01:06 AM

i bought the compact a few weeks ago and havnt had a problem yet. its accurate to and didnt break the bank. i have absolutly no complaints. on second thought........ ammo prices are a pain. ;)

August 30, 2007, 01:28 AM
+1 for the Rock Island Compact - great buy!

August 31, 2007, 08:11 AM
I have to second the Para Carry suggestion. It has the feel of a 1911 but has the best features of a concealed carry pistol.

It has a single stack design, which is ideal for concealed carry because it allows for a slimmer pistol that doesn't print so easily.

It also has a great trigger system. I find its LDA (light double action) trigger to be the perfect fit between SAO, DA/SA and DAO. Like a DAO and SAO trigger, the first shot is the same as the rest. Many people dislike DA/SA pistols because unless you carry "cocked and locked" its first DA shot is much longer than the rest.

However, when it comes to SAO guns, many people do not like to carry "cocked and locked," they see the safety as just one more thing you have to operate in the heat of the moment. With the Para Carry, you have a light DAO trigger that has a long enough trigger pull to not have to carry with the safety engaged but, as mentioned above, it is much smoother and lighter than a DA/SA trigger.

In short, I believe the Para Carry is the perfect concealed carry piece for 1911 lovers. I found my used in like-new condition for $600 + tax and NIC call.

August 31, 2007, 03:09 PM
Of the folks I know who have the Colt New Agent all have been well pleased with it's reliability, myself included.

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