Purchase question: Full sized 1911 v.s. a compact version


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billyp
November 25, 2007, 01:18 AM
Im looking at getting a 1911 style gun but am torn about getting a full-sized gun v.s. a more compact model. This will be my primary CCW and as of right now I carry a Khar MK9 and like the size but want a little more stopping power and I like the 1911 platform.

What do you guys think?

Thanks,
Billyp

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Rexster
November 25, 2007, 03:26 AM
Based on owning compact, Commander-sized, and full-sized 1911 pistols, several examples of each over time, since 1983, I have learned that full-sized pistols are more likely to be reliable. I will never again buy anything but full-sized.

gggman
November 25, 2007, 06:42 AM
From my experience, the very short barrelled 1911's aren't reliable, but I have never had a problem with Commander length guns. (that's 4.25 inches)
Stay away from anything shorter than that, unless it's been fine tuned by a good smith.

duckjihad
November 25, 2007, 06:43 AM
Have a kimber compact. No reliability problems. Carry it a lot. Wouldn't carry a full size as much. I know some do, but I find times when my compact seems a bit large/heavy, and wind up carrying a tomcat or j frame, so I'm sure a full size would sit in the safe more. I highly recommend the Kimber compact, but am sure other guns are out there of equal quality. Guess you have to judge for yourself. Do you already have other full size guns? Betcha do. And bet they're in the safe. Mine are. Good luck.

redneckrepairs
November 25, 2007, 06:57 AM
Well as long as you are not getting rid of the kahr mk ( you did not say ) I feel you have the sub compact niche pretty well sewed up , so look at a commander sized ( possibly a bobtail dan wesson or similar ) or full size 1911 . If you are selling/tradeing the kahr that changes my opinion some tho since even a 3" 1911 is not going to be near as easy to tuck out of sight as your kahr is now with some dress options .

Pilot
November 25, 2007, 08:19 AM
I like the Colt lightweight Commander XSE for this role. A friend has one and its a great shooter and beautiful gun. I keep trying to trade him something for it but he always wants too much. Guess I'll just have to buy one sometime. The Commanders are very reliable.

1911 guy
November 25, 2007, 09:42 AM
Do you want a reliable pistol or do you want to gamble that you got the one good compact they turned out this week?

Yeah, I know I'm opinionated and some disagree. When you buy a compact 1911, you take your life in your hands. At some point it will fail and do so miserably. Maybe right out of the box, maybe it will run decently for a few months. It's been my experience that those with micro-guns who claim they run well haven't run them very hard for very long.

I'd consider a Commander length (4.25") if I felt the 3/4" difference would aid in concealment. It doesn't, so I don't.

redneckrepairs
November 25, 2007, 09:54 AM
It's been my experience that those with micro-guns who claim they run well haven't run them very hard for very long.

Hmm i must fit in there somewhere , I have an original Detonics that i have owned since the early 80s , took to some instructor courses , carried off duty from time to time , it must only have 10 or 15k rounds thro it by now and the wife has co opted it for her ccw .

Geno
November 25, 2007, 10:10 AM
If you have one, and only one 1911, I suggest a full-size or commander-size due to reliability. I would carry a 3" only as a back-up piece. This is in fact what I do.

My Kimber Ultra Eclipse was very unreliable, as in literally 90% unreliable when new, and even after the 2nd trip back to the company, it remained 70% unreliable even after far more than 1,000 rounds of all sorts of ammo. In all fairness, there are other Kimber owners whose Ultras have been "Ultra"-reliable.

My Colt New Agent is been completely reliable, but I have only fired around 150 rounds through it. So, I can't really claim that it has been thoroughly tested. After I have launched 1,000+ rounds through the New Agent, then I'll have a better idea of its true ability.

But, I do know that most 1911 owners will assert that the full-sized 1911 pistols are more reliable than the shorter 1911s. So, in closing, full-size or commander-size. Use a 3" for back-up.

Here are a couple pictures of me, putting my money where my mouth is. The first picture Colt Series 70 reissue (5"), with Colt New Agent (3"). The second picture is a Kimber Warrior (5") with a Colt New Agent (3"):

http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e364/Doc2005/IMGP0256.jpg

http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e364/Doc2005/IMGP0255.jpg

redneckrepairs
November 25, 2007, 10:14 AM
Damm man i would need a ratchet strap instead of a belt to keep my pants up with that much iron in them LOL . But then i am an old cowboy with no butt to speak of .

Markbo
November 25, 2007, 10:35 AM
I ain't no flat belly muhself.
I have a Kimber Pro CDP Commander size that is not only reliable, it is very accurate. Not being LEO, former military, nor feel the need let alone want to carry multiple sidearms the CDP is my choice on the hip.

Being thicker in the middle than I used to be I find it very difficult and often uncomfortable to try to conceal a full sized 1911. If it isn't comfortable, what happens next? You start to not carry it. How many among us has made one choice and never questioned or changed it? How many 1911 holsters do YOU have? ;)

I know I still go through it occasionally. Lead me to get my first pocket gun for carry in hot weather where concealment is near impossible for me. It is very hot and humid for 6 months of the year. I digress... I suggest if at all possible borrow a full size version for a week from a friend and carry it ALL the time and see if you are comfortable. Do the same for a smaller size and you can make an decision from personal experience instead of others.

billyp
November 25, 2007, 10:38 AM
Thank you for the quick replies. I like the look of that Dan Wesson, but if I'm thinking full or comander that really opens up my options for makers. Sigh...what have you guys done to me again :rolleyes:. I thought I had everything thought out and was sold on the Kimber Ultra Carry II. Oh well, I just wont tell the wife and I will get both :).

Thanks,
Billyp

redneckrepairs
November 25, 2007, 10:49 AM
Billy I just picked up a Colt gvt XSE in stainless the other day and it offers a lot of bang for the buck . My only real complaint so far is directly related to the fine polish job colt put on it , the edges are Sharp!! as are the front serrations on the slide . I may dehorn it , and i may get the front serrations milled off , i am checking into that now . I carry one of a couple of Kahr 9s also for ccw and dont plan on changing that tho lol .

1911 guy
November 25, 2007, 11:15 AM
Quote:
I have an original Detonics that i have owned since the early 80s , took to some instructor courses , carried off duty from time to time , it must only have 10 or 15k rounds thro it by now

Alrighty then, that's 15,000 rounds divided by 27 years. 555.55 rounds per year. I've got twice that through a pistol I got back from the 'smith in October. Run hard means several thousand rounds in a few days, clean 'em at the end of the day. If you need to clean by lunchtime, it isn't reliable.

I'm not trying to pick on you personally, but those little pistols just aren't made to take the abuse a sidearm can be subjected to. Something designed from the ground up as a compact can work out well. 1911 variants, not so much.

redneckrepairs
November 25, 2007, 11:24 AM
1911 ill bow out with the note that the little detonics has done several 500 round days with no cleaning or further lube . Its been a journyman pistol for years of service . I do own an xse gvt also and would much prefer to shoot the xse for both comfort and accuracy . I am in no way saying full sized 1911s are bad just that there is a place for the sub compacts , and that they can be just as reliable as any other . That is my experiance anyway if yours differs that is fine , however neither of us are up to makeing stone tablets on the issue lol .

orionengnr
November 25, 2007, 11:51 AM
...and my experience has been the opposite.

I've had more reliability issues with a 5" Colt than all three 3" Kimbers I've owned. Actually, all the Kimbers were (and are) perfect to date.

The alloy framed 3" is concealable and reasonably comfortable for my purposes. FWIW, I've been carrying a Kahr PM9 during the summer months, but am trying to move up to 45acp year round...

Good luck and let us know how it works out for you.

76shuvlinoff
November 25, 2007, 04:54 PM
I started out carrying a 3.5 (or is it 3.625?) used Springfield Ultracompact V10 .45. Stovepiped like a pos until I put a new extractor in it. I tried the Farnum class with it, I was soon outclassed with 6 rd mags and finished the class with a borrowed Sig 40. I never got used to the ported barrel on that little .45, it hangs in the safe most of the time now and I carry an XD40 subcompact. I then bought a Kimber full size and contrary to popular opinion I have had no issues so far at approx 500 rds. Maybe someday I'll find a holster that'll work for cc on my 5'8" 180 lbs no butt old man body and I'll give it a try. :D


Springfield says if I send em the V10 and $150 they'll fit a non ported barrel to it. Sounds like a fair offer.

and one of these days.......

SEMO Shooter
November 25, 2007, 05:16 PM
I have both full size & compact 1911's. My guess is that if you buy a full size you will carry it less than your Kahr. I like my full size 1911, but for CCW it is just much harder for me to conceal due to the type of clothing I have to wear for work.

If you are in a gunfight with your CCW and you have to take a lunch break to stop & clean your compact or subcompact after 1000 rounds because it is dirty and jammed you should have brought your rifle! I'd have more trouble concealing and carrying that 1000 rounds of ammo than the pistol. :)

Charles S
November 25, 2007, 05:30 PM
I've had more reliability issues with a 5" Colt than all three 3" Kimbers I've owned. Actually, all the Kimbers were (and are) perfect to date.

The alloy framed 3" is concealable and reasonably comfortable for my purposes. FWIW, I've been carrying a Kahr PM9 during the summer months, but am trying to move up to 45acp year round...

I personally think your experiences are outside the norm.

To date I have owned 4 compact....sub compact 1911s and none have been reliable. The most reliable was a Springfield compact that had been tuned by a 1911 gunsmith, however it still is not anywhere near as reliable as my cheapest full size (a Norinco).

I have had great luck with sub compact 45 ACPs as long as they were not 1911s. I love my Chief Special 45, reliable, light, and accurate.

Full sized 1911s are not that hard to conceal, if you need a smaller gun look to other designs. If you love the idea of a compact 1911 then contact a good gunsmith to have them tune it.

I contact quite a few gunsmiths before I found one interested in the work. I even PMed our local 1911 smith Tuner...he never contacted me back so I assume he was not interested.

I hope this helps.....

Rexster
November 25, 2007, 05:39 PM
BTW, the only bad-luck 5" 1911 pistols I owned were Kimbers, three up, three down, you are out! All were made right, with parts replacement, but I don't like project guns. A friend also had multiple major issues with his compact Kimber. Another friend bought two good 5" Kimbers. I won't spend any more of my money on Kimbers, four bad out of a sample of six is not good enough for me to gamble again on Kimber.

Markbo
November 25, 2007, 05:50 PM
Weird. Both of mine have been accurate and trouble free from day one.

10-Ring
November 25, 2007, 06:01 PM
If you like the Kahr 9's, have you tried their 45? Nice sized pistol ;) In a carry piece, that little difference in the commander makes a world of difference if you're carrying -- in the last few months, I've learned to really appreciate my DW CBOB :cool:

Rustynuts
November 25, 2007, 09:02 PM
My 3" Kimber UC CDP II has been perfect. Feeding it all kinds of +P JHP and no hiccups, even with crappy Kimber mags! (I did buy some Wilson Combats and TR Cobras though!)

Still I feel 3" is a little short for +P 45 if you feel the need to shoot'em (I do!). I would recommend staying in the Officer or Commander length (3.5 to 4.25)

Walkalong
November 25, 2007, 09:10 PM
I am kind of partial to the Commander length guns with full size frames, but I have them in every length up to 5" and like them all. :)

Big Boomer
November 25, 2007, 09:23 PM
*chants*

"Full Size", "Full Size", "Full Size", "Full Size", "Full Size", "Full Size"

Yeah, I'd go with a full size...knocking 2 inches off the barrel is not going to help you hide it any better! In addition the 45ACP really needs the extra 2 inches of barrel length for performance, as well...any pistol.

MICHAEL T
November 25, 2007, 09:44 PM
Alrighty then, that's 15,000 rounds divided by 27 years. 555.55 rounds per year. I've got twice that through a pistol I got back from the 'smith in October. Run hard means several thousand rounds in a few days, clean 'em at the end of the day. If you need to clean by lunchtime, it isn't reliable.



I sure everybody shoots they way you do I wouldn't have time to carry let alone afford the ammo. Most people that Carry a pistol , have a life other than shooting.They can be well served by a Compact . I to have a old Detonics and at present carry a Defender. Both of these serve me well and by my shooting approx a 1000 per year per pistol will last and my children Will enjoy them. I have a new Colt Agemt I will pick up 1st of Dec. I sure it will also be relieable by most peoples standerds Not yours of course.

Big Boomer
November 25, 2007, 11:43 PM
*chants*

"Full Size", "Full Size", "Full Size", "Full Size", "Full Size", "Full Size"

Yeah, I'd go with a full size...knocking 2 inches off the barrel is not going to help you hide it any better! In addition the 45ACP really needs the extra 2 inches of barrel length for performance, as well...any pistol.

DogBonz
November 26, 2007, 12:03 AM
I have a few full size 1911's and all run great. So did the S&W 1911PD that I had which I foolishly sold. Everyone here seems to concur that the full size 1911 is the most reliable, but no one has stated why. You see the shorter the barrel on a 1911 the steeper that angle that the barrel must pitch to unlock from the slide. The steeper the angle, the more abrupt the cycling and the more violent the chambering and extraction of cartridges/ cases. The 1911 was designed as a 5” barreled gun. When you deviate from the original plan, you are bound to increase the chance of malfunctions. Now, that said, I have seen commander size guns run just as well as their full size brethren, and in a few cases, even better. I personally would not go shorter than a commander, with the exception of the Wilson “commanders” which are 4.00 inches.

-Fred

DHart
November 26, 2007, 03:29 AM
Billy... if the gun is to be your primary concealed carry gun I strongly suggest you go directly to a bobtailed Commander. This is the best of all 1911 worlds as the gun takes full size/full capacity mags, but has an abbreviated butt for better concealment; it has a 4.25" barrel which makes for quicker clearing than a 5" model but gives up very little in terms of velocity and terminal ballistics. Commanders are noted for exceptional reliability (typically better than that with the shorter models). Recoil springs are super common and have a very long life in the Commander (vs. recoil springs in the 3" models, which are verrry short-lived). I honestly see no point in putting up with the compromises you have to suffer with the little 3" 1911's (reduced mag capacity, great loss of bullet velocity, short recoil spring life, tendency to reduced reliability) when you can have a bobtailed Commander with next-to-no compromises. For CCW, I think the bobtailed Commander is the ideal 1911. I have two Compact 1911's and have had two 3" Micro/Ultra style 1911's. I also have three bobtailed Commanders (two Colts and an Ed Brown) and they're the best choice by far among 1911 models for carry use, in my view!

Here are two of them:

http://www.legendportraits.com/Images/Guns/Cmdr_NC_1432.jpg

http://www.legendportraits.com/Images/Guns/EdBrown2914.jpg

I must admit that these days I believe higher capacity is increasingly important, with the likelihood of multiple assailants increasing. For that reason, my primary carry gun is (pardon me) my Glock 23 which carries 14 rounds of 180 gr. Gold Dots in a super reliable, compact, accurate, and all-around great gun platform. I abhorred Glocks for many years but have finally come to realize that the Glock 23 is one of the very finest carry guns a person can have. Don't love my 1911's any less, though!

Big Boomer
November 26, 2007, 11:35 PM
*chants*

"Full Size", "Full Size", "Full Size", "Full Size", "Full Size", "Full Size"

Yeah, I'd go with a full size...knocking 2 inches off the barrel is not going to help you hide it any better! In addition the 45ACP really needs the extra 2 inches of barrel length for performance, as well...any pistol.

Big Boomer
November 26, 2007, 11:41 PM
*chants*

"Full Size", "Full Size", "Full Size", "Full Size", "Full Size", "Full Size"

Yeah, I'd go with a full size...knocking 2 inches off the barrel is not going to help you hide it any better! In addition the 45ACP really needs the extra 2 inches of barrel length for performance, as well...any pistol.

Dos
November 27, 2007, 01:12 AM
Doesn't matter the size. Either your piece works or it doesn't. If it dont get one that do.

bannockburn
November 27, 2007, 10:22 PM
I have all three; Government, Commander, and Officers models. All three have been very reliable, over many years, and with just about any load that I can run through them. I have pretty much settled on 185 or 200 gr. bullets for the shorter barrel guns; it's just been my experience that they run better with those bullet weights than with a steady diet of 230 gr. hardball. For CCW work, I just prefer the Commander and Officers size guns for comfort and concealability.

dmazur
November 28, 2007, 06:34 AM
I like the Commander length barrel w/ full-size frame. I have an older Combat Commander and a 1991A1 Commander. Had quite a few problems with the older version, no trouble with the 1991A1.

I also have a Colt Officer's model and this thing has given me fits. After quite a bit of parts changing (mostly springs), it is finally reliable.

+1 to comments about being careful with the "compact" models (3" barrels), as the original Browning design just didn't include slides with that much less mass than the 5" slide. Stiffer springs, harder to rack the slide, things move faster -- magazine springs can be critical for proper feed. Can make a pistol into an ongoing maintenance nightmare instead of a reliable carry weapon. Some folks have good luck with them, but there can be problems...

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