Best lightweight commander-size 1911?


Rick O'Shea
November 2, 2007, 07:54 AM
Talking about value as well as quality, here.

I've recently become intrigued by the idea of a lightweight commander .45 1911 for carry.

Well, last night at my friendly gun-rental range I shot a Kimber alloy frame, and... oh boy!

As I jokingly told the guy at the counter - this gun has everything I, as a 1911 traditionalist, dislike: a firing pin safety, a full-length guide rod, even a bushingless bull barrel.

The hitch? The dadgum thing kept putting all the bullets into one hole. Seriously, the phrase that occurred to me was one I had read about a gun being "monotonously accurate".

The other hitch?
When I went down to the shop area of the range (along with another shooter who was likewise very interested in this little gem), we saw prices starting at a cool grand and climbing rapidly upward.

Fellas, my Springfield GI was less than half that (I've probably put several hundred into it since, but not all at once; 'nother story...).

Is there any such thing as a good, old-fashioned no-frills lightweight commander out there that a good 'ol boy can take down with his fingers like JMB intended?

Something that won't cost me a divorce+$1000?

Maybe throw in that one-hole accuracy thing?

I ask too much, but I'm in love and it hurts.

Help me THR members, you're my only hope...
(actually, I might also post this on - but you guys get first crack at me..)

Thanks in advance,

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November 2, 2007, 09:33 AM
but I'm in love and it hurts.
A gun that will keep puttin' em in the same hole will do that to a fella. :neener:

November 2, 2007, 10:07 AM
Look into the SW PD series. I have not heard a bad thing about them. One of the mods here is also a big fan:

Ala Dan
November 2, 2007, 10:18 AM
Another vote for the Smith & Wesson Scandium (PD) Commander length
firearms. If you don't believe me, take a quick trip to your favorite gun-
shop and ask to see one. Inspect this fine firearm, making sure its clear
of a loaded round in the chamber. Now, cock the weapon letting the slide
return to battery. Push down on the barrel hood, checking for the slightest
movement. I think you will be pleasantly surprised (in most cases) too see
that there is absolutely no movement- just the way it should be. It earns
my vote as the best 1911 Commander length carry gun in the current US

November 2, 2007, 10:30 AM
A third vote for S&W. I picked up a 1911Sc Commander back in May and it has been excellent so far.

Ghost Tracker
November 2, 2007, 10:35 AM
There's WAY too much agreement going on here this morning gents! The S&W 1911Sc Commander is THE current pick-of-the-litter among LW 4.15" 1911 designs.

November 2, 2007, 10:55 AM
Here's another vote for the S&W pistol. I had a SW1911SC before I bought my current full size SW1911 and it was a very nice gun. It was accurate and handled recoil better than you might expect.

Rick O'Shea
November 2, 2007, 12:13 PM
Holy Cow!

A consensus of opinion!

I checked it out on the website, and it looks sweet...
AND.. it's a Smith!
Xavier's blessing is just icing on the cake (I'm as big a nut about old S&W wheelguns as he is).

And yes, I paid attention to the recoil factor last night; really not significant. I was very pleasantly surprised.

"Honey, guess what I want for Christmas?" :D .

November 2, 2007, 01:06 PM
I just picked up a Springfield Champion alloy frame bushingless 4" gun. It's the no frills GI model. Got it used for about $375. Haven't shot it yet (that's on Sunday), but it handles nicely.

Rick O'Shea
November 2, 2007, 01:11 PM

Let us know how you like it, please.

I like my full-size GI, and that sounds a lot closer to my price range (actually that sounds like a freaky good deal!)

Thanks again for all the input, Roaders...

November 2, 2007, 02:15 PM
From a previous post: (
I have owned four. Each one of them was reliable enough for range duty, but 1 out of 10 times on the last round of a magazine they would jam the head of the empty case into the feed lips of the magazine effectively locking the gun up. This made them useless for USPSA or carry.

The extractor is .125 high while a regular internal extractor is .175 high. Draw your own conclusions. Also be aware that as the hook wears it can drastically affect performance and reliability because the bottom corner of the hook is the critical surface when it comes to preventing this jam and there really isn't much material left after the hook has been dressed to aid feeding at the factory. This is not a problem that will always show up immediately as there are a number of other tolerances that affect its appearance.

If you don't believe me then see what Hilton Yam has to say: (http://
I am awaiting updates from S&W re: the proposed changes to their external extractor. Some samples of the extractor system work well, others not so well. The placement of the extractor is a bit high and the round slides off the hook during barrel linkdown. As the round slides off the hook, the extractor loses purchase. Some guns will continue to work ok, but you will occasionally see a casing eject to the front or up over your head. This is less than ideal and indicates marginal purchase of the extractor on the casing.

Another issue (http://%5D
Just wanted to add my experience with the S&W 1911s to Ned's excellent analysis.

The fit of the beavertail to the frame tangs - specifically the side to side play at the junction of the frame radius/thumb safety hole and the grip safety - can also affect the timing issues. If the fit is loose, the safety can actually be depressed along more than one line, allowing more than one variation in the timing. When I was up at S&W, they recognized this issue and were working to tighten the tolerances in this area.

In experimenting with the firing pin and safety plunger, I tried a number of mods to increase the clearance between the two parts in order to favor the timing lag. All the mods were ultimately unsuccessful, and the parts ended up peening each other.

The S&W extractors need to be closely monitored as they age and wear, as they all seem to work pretty well when very new. As the part wears, the performance starts to vary dramatically. Most users do not notice problems with their guns, as the bulk of the guns out on the commercial market do not get very high round counts on them.

For a few years, Smith has been planning the introduction of a new extractor and the deletion of the firing pin safety on their 1911s. These changes do not happen fast, but if/when they do, I feel that their 1911s will be an extremely solid offering for a duty 1911.
Buy a Colt or a Springfield so you don't have to deal with non-standard "improvements" to the design. If you must go S&W then go for the PC version which has an improved extractor design.

If you are unfortunate enough to have one of these problem guns I know of several partial solutions that may get it running well enough for gaming.

If I could buy any 1911 I wanted (and I can't) I would get a Springfield armory lightweight. Unfortunately they don't seem to offer a lightweight commander right now.

November 2, 2007, 08:44 PM
I have to second the S&W SW1911PD

November 3, 2007, 12:48 AM
I have a 2 Colt LTW Commanders Early 9mm and a lot newer 45.

Slvr Surfr
November 3, 2007, 08:05 AM
Yup, Another vote for the SW Scandium commander. Its my off duty carry piece and is one of the most comfortable guns I've carried. Its as accurate as can be. I like the gun so much its at Jess's (On target CGW) getting upgraded.

I have not had any issues with the extractor not operating as it should.

November 3, 2007, 09:56 AM
how about the taurus pt 1911? it's a little bigger than the commander, but it's lightweight, and shoots well.

November 3, 2007, 11:42 AM
I own the S&W 1911PD with the Crimson Trace grips. Great gun. I did have one slight issue with brass in the forehead. A little bit of filing on the ejector resolved that. I have it bedside, and will carry it if I want more power than my CZP-01.

I have the SA Black Stainless loaded as well. The S&W had a MUCH better trigger out of the box.

November 3, 2007, 12:03 PM
My Gunsite 1911PD has a GI guide rod,is dehorned ,very light trigger tight tolerances everywhere.It is not has accurate as a Full on Custom Combat commander or 1911, but weighs ALOT less, which is the key for CCW. It has over 5K rounds, with no malfs. I had S&W replace the gold bead front sight with a Tritium one and fit a new extractor sring and pin and return the old one that still worked fine.

Rick O'Shea
November 3, 2007, 03:41 PM
Is the Gunsite the only version that has the normal GI guide rod assembly? And does that mean that it has a normal barrel with a bushing as well?

Shooters Plus
November 3, 2007, 04:28 PM
Not sure which Kimber you shot but the Pro Carry alloy frames can be purchased at well under a grand. I've seen them new for around 695. for stainless. Not a true commander size though as it is a 4" rather than 4.25".

Good luck :)

Safety First
November 3, 2007, 09:55 PM
I love my Sc,as couple of others mentioned, just minor complaints, like the brass hitting me in the head once in a while...Very good chance that down the road I will add a PD , simply an excellent carry gun at a reasonable price.

November 4, 2007, 11:35 AM

November 4, 2007, 12:43 PM
Colt still makes Lightweight Commander's and they are great.

November 4, 2007, 12:52 PM
I like the Colt LW Commander XSE.

November 4, 2007, 07:17 PM
Kimber Pro Carry pre-Series II does not have the firing pin safety. There is one for sale on TX CHL. $750 obo, and for a pre-Series II that's not a bad price...

George Hill
November 4, 2007, 07:28 PM
S&W 1911Sc: "Two Thumbs Up" from me. I have one. It's my daily carry gun most days.
Look for an article about it in the next issue of Concealed Carry Magazine.

George Hill
November 4, 2007, 07:35 PM
Big Picture Warning:

November 5, 2007, 01:56 AM
I shot the Champion earlier today. Actually did a little head to head comparo with another 1911 I just picked up.

The other gun was a Colt Commander with every add on possible. Hand fitted beavertail, hammer, sear, CMC trigger, novak sights, FLGR, ramp and throat job, everything. A real nice piece my gunsmith had built.

The Champion was pretty much stock with a round count of 200 rounds or so. The feed ramp has been polished, as well as the sear. The trigger is much improved, but still needs to be replaced. A lot of take-up and over travel.

I had better groups with the Champion. This could be because of the smaller GI sights, I had to concentrate a bit harder. I put three rounds into one hole at 5 yards one handed (the other was supporting a ballistic shield). Maybe it was just luck, because I'm normally not that great of a target shooter. Had a few stoppages with the Champion. It didn't seem to like the Chip McCormick mags, once I switched to Novaks it was good to go.

The colt was definately heavier being a all steel gun. But it was much more comfortable to shoot with the extended grip safety, wider ambi safety, flat MSH, and rubber grips. The extra heft did help with the recoil, but the Champion wasn't excessive by any means.

I would recommend getting the Milspec model over the GI if you can. I didn't care for the arched MSH, or the sights. Other than that it was pretty lightweight and a good shooter. For what I paid, $375 with a WC mag and 120 rounds, I would definately recommend it.

Note- We were running a tactical type course. All shooting was done standing, or one handed, or moving. It was pretty hard to guage the accuracy of a gun while doing this.

November 5, 2007, 02:41 PM
I also have a Kimber Stainless Pro Carry, pre series II. Picked it up used for $675. I absolutely love this pistol. It shoots much better than it's owner. After 400 rds. I'm still waiting for the first malfunction. Also, the Taurus PT1911, bought one just to see. Amazing pistol at any price. It shoots as well as any of my Kimbers. It will eat anything you feed it, IMHO you can't go wrong with either.

December 19, 2007, 05:43 AM
:)Randall 1911 SS Custom Street Gun]
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December 19, 2007, 07:01 AM

December 19, 2007, 07:13 AM
Its called a Colt Lightweight Commander (LWC) XSE in 45 auto.

December 19, 2007, 09:11 AM
Can't beat a Colt!!

December 19, 2007, 10:29 AM

Tom Fury
December 19, 2007, 01:04 PM
I just don't like the grips; everything else is about perfect; I prefer the S&W beavertail to the Colt XSE.
Cheers, TF

December 19, 2007, 06:03 PM
My daily carry gun is an original configuration Colt CCO. Its a cross between an officers model and a commander size 1911. I love this gun.

December 19, 2007, 11:08 PM
I have one and I love it. It's light wieght and accurate. I only have about 200 rounds through it and haven't had any problems.

December 19, 2007, 11:29 PM
I have a Champion that I bought used in the $400ish range a few years ago. I think it is a loaded model. The guy before me put on the Hogue grips which somedays I like and others I think about replacing. It does not seem to be as refined as a Kimber but for the money it does pretty well. It likes Gold Dots and Hydra Shoks just fine but when I try shooting 200 grain SWC's it hiccups once in a while. It may just be that I'm not loading hot enough for it but they function just fine in my Kimber Target.

I am either going to keep it and have a gunsmith go through it (smoothing, trigger, etc.) or I am looking seriously at the S&W Sc or one of the smaller Sigs.

The Novak night sights that came with it are really nice.
Here is a pic:

I am either going to keep it and have a gunsmith go through it (smoothing, trigger, etc.) or I am looking seriously at the S&W Sc or one of the smaller Sigs.

December 19, 2007, 11:40 PM
Man, I was just wandering by and now you have me wanting a Scandium S&W Commander. :uhoh:

I got to add, I love my lightweight Colt (A CCO, not a true Commander), but I've been looking for a while to get a stablemate for it.

December 20, 2007, 12:33 AM
Colt Lightweight Commander

December 20, 2007, 12:50 AM
Ya, count me in also. My S&W 1911SC is the cats meow. It is as accurate as my Les Baer Concept 2 and a hell of a lot lighter.

December 20, 2007, 12:37 PM
Colt --XSE LW Cmdr's are available in .45 an .38 Super.

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