For Those Who Carry A 1911, Does Size Matter?


December 4, 2007, 01:23 PM
I was just reading an article in a gun rag about choosing the correct size CCW piece. It was pretty well laid out with pocket guns, sub compact, compact, mid, etc... but when they got to large, or duty size guns, the author stated that "despite the existence of smaller options in 1911's almost everyone who carries a 1911 concealed on a daily basis carries a Government model."

So if you carry a 1911 (any caliber) what barrel length do you carry?

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December 4, 2007, 02:27 PM
When I did carry a 1911 (I'll get another one soon!) it was the full-size. JMB designed the thing that big and it works well in that configuration, plus I'm big enough to conceal it.

The wife has a Kimber Pro Carry Eclipse II, which I think is a 4", but it's been a while since I looked at the specs. I've never seen it malfunction, but I'd still prefer my Government 5". (Springfield for those of you who keep track... but my next will be an STI of some variation...)

USMC - Retired
December 4, 2007, 02:37 PM
Full sized Kimber Classic Stainless Series 1 with CrimsonTrace grips.

I normally open carry but was visiting Florida last week and had to conceal as per thier laws. Did so all week in my normal OWB Blackhawk Serpa by simply wearing my golf shirts untucked. Either no one noticed or no one gave a dang. Who says you can't cc a real gun?

December 4, 2007, 02:43 PM
Yes size does matter, fullsize Govt. model for operational reliability and performance of 230gr fat & slow bullets. If you go for a Officer's size, they either work or they don't depending on temperament.

If you plan on shooting from a short barrel, make sure that the JHP bullet is designed to function properly.

December 4, 2007, 02:44 PM
I carry a fullsize (5") without any problems. I find the width and grip length of the gun to be the biggest factors for concealability.

December 4, 2007, 02:49 PM
I carry both of the following:

Colt 5"
Colt 3"

Since I could not vote for both, I voted for other.


December 4, 2007, 03:27 PM
I voted the same as Doc, for much the same reasons. I vacillate between my SA Champion and a full-size RIA.

December 4, 2007, 03:38 PM
I’ve carried just about every different configuration of 1911 at one point or another. You, can conceal a Para p16 with an ICE mag well and Dawson +4 base pads under certain circumstances. Others might demand a smaller “package”, even smaller than a micro 1911. I find the two most important factors are weight and the quality of your belt. A good “instructors” belt can make a full size 1911 feel like a Glock 26 over a common “dress” belt. If I’m in the mood for something lighter an alloy frame single stack or an SVI/STI double stack frame fills the bill.

December 4, 2007, 04:19 PM
I often growl at the industry and the magazines for trying to convince everyone they MUST carry a compact. If it's in your waistband, you are going to know it's there no matter how big it is. A full-size auto has a better sight radius, balance and recoil. I want to use the gun I shoot best to defend my life.

December 4, 2007, 04:19 PM
I always had better reliablity with the 5" 1911 pistols, and it is not more difficult to conceal the larger weapon.

December 4, 2007, 04:33 PM
so far over 59% of you carry the full size Gub'ment. I am very interested to see how this plays out with more votes.

When I carried a 1911, I carried a Commander, a S&W 1911PD. I carried it because it was lighter, a lot lighter, than my full size 1911's, not because it was easier to conceal. I did also like that my pants fell down less.:D

For the record, I do feel, in general, that the Government size is the most reliable. That said, I never had a problem with my Commander.

December 4, 2007, 05:01 PM
The reason I would vote for the full size (the poll’s wording doesn’t give me the option of making a choice without the added silliness) is that the longer barrel is necessary to achieve the proper velocity. If a 230 gr bullet is traveling at ~850fps from a 5” barrel, shooting it from a 3” barrel might make it too slow to penetrate.

December 4, 2007, 05:03 PM
I like the ''Goberment'' 5.

B. Adams
December 4, 2007, 05:29 PM
I've been carrying a 4 1/4" for a while, which suits me just fine. I have no doubt that I could conceal a 5" just as easily, and have considered doing so. But I don't have an IWB holster for a 5", so for the time being I'll stick with my commander. :)

I have very little interest in Officer's or other compact 1911's.

December 4, 2007, 06:42 PM
When I carry a semi auto for CCW it is usually a Colt Combat Commander! :)


Ala Dan
December 4, 2007, 06:46 PM
Well, quite frankly I carry both a 3" Kimber Stainless Ultra Carry; or a 5"
Government model size 1911, as it just depends on the occassion and my
attire for the day~! ;)

December 4, 2007, 07:13 PM
(shirt was pulled behind for pic of can see the holes I guess my gun has worn-LOL I wear a company T-shirt half the time...this one is Holy now it must be enshrined with the rest for weekend duty I guess ) Wilderness frequent flyer belt (also like the instructor belt in 1.5" the FF is what I usually wear with shorts in warm weather...just haven't swapped back yet. Blade is the same beat up Benchmade 943 Osborne I've been using for 3-4 years. Great knife great belt pretty decent holster to (biachi with auto-retention...sporting 19-20 months of EDC as is the customized springfield in it (over 4K rounds on it to date).

I'm told we (1911 guys) don't really carry them everyday...we just say that and then carry keltec 32's or S&W airweights. I decided I'd better check... :D fwew! it's still there (like it is everyday)

It was there with me a little over a week ago (this time with a .460 Rowland kit in place) to drop this 205 pound deer (one tracking involved) The same weekend a buddy shot an 8 point while squirrel hunting (didn't have a rifle or buckshot or slugs with him) with his comander and 230gr also dropped where he shot it. He totes his everywhere but work (where he actually does carry a keltec -as opposed to nothing) Pocket rockets are handy when the other option to anything that may print is nothing. The rest of the time I guess us Bubbas just carry real guns -LOL (actually I have several buds that carry 9mm and am just poking fun...I like my 1911 in .45 better than anything else...a G17/19 is a close second) I've carried the 17 MANY a day in the woods and it's killed a lot of camp varmints. I guess I just like all my guns full sized...I got big hands and plenty of room to hide one. A decent belt and holster makes it just slightly heavier in feel than a GLOCK but slimmer and more comfy for trade-off. Though in this holster they are about the same. With the 1.5" instructors belt and jeans the difference is almost undetectable.

December 4, 2007, 07:18 PM
I carry a Colt Agent Colt Defender. 3" covered. Then I also carry a Colt Officer 3 1/2" covered or LTW Colt Commander 4 1/4" See no reason for the 5" I have never liked the balance.

December 4, 2007, 07:35 PM
These days I tend to carry one of my commander's most frequently, but I don't feel a 5" is THAT much harder to conceal. For the record, I haven't really felt commander's to be less reliable

December 4, 2007, 09:11 PM
I see that the Commander is gaining some ground. I hope this stays alive for a while so that we have a larger sample.

December 4, 2007, 09:27 PM
Never owned anything other than full-size. I think the issue is more a matter of how you dress on a daily basis and can you - or are you willing to - dress around the gun?

December 4, 2007, 09:34 PM
I toted a Colt 5" Gov. around for years, back before "concealed carry" was available in Texas. Most of the time it rode behind the seat of the pick-up.
Once in a while I'd stick it in my waistband and cover it with a shirt-tail.

Since "concealed-carry" became "shall issue" law, I've gone with several
types of smaller pistols, because I like to carry in an OTW holster, when
possible. I tried the PPK, (which I still carry sometimes) the CZ RAMI,
I sometimes carry it, too, but my main "carry" handgun now is the
Springfield Loaded Micro-Compact.

I know a lot of people won't carry a micro because of perceived
reliability issues. Mine has been 100% out of the box, so I have no
fear trusting it. And the size of it makes it easy to carry OTW.


December 4, 2007, 09:38 PM
I can't say I've carried it yet, but I just bought a Bobtail commander for carry. Have carried either a Kel-Tec .380 or NAA Guardian up to now, wanting more knockdown power though.

December 4, 2007, 09:40 PM
I can't say I've carried it yet, but I bought a Bobtail commander for carry. Have carried either a Kel-Tec .380 or NAA Guardian up to now, wanting more knockdown power though.
This one isn't mine but is identical;

December 4, 2007, 10:48 PM
That's a nice Dan Weson you have there. I was looking at one of those my self. I have heard good things about them. You have to give us a range report on the bad boy.

December 5, 2007, 01:51 AM
I carried a 5" Colt Combat Elite for several years in my Bianchi 105 "Minimalist" holsters. A nice, solid, full-size and weight 1911. It carried like a dream.

Today my current Bianchi 105 holster is occupied by my aluminum-framed Kimber (1st generation) Ultra CDP, a 3" barrelled auto.

BOTH are accurate .45s. Both have been rock-solid dependable. However, the little Kimber is so much more comfortable to tote due to the reduced size AND weight.

Frankly, I feel just as competent shooting the little Kimber as I did with my highly customized and tricked-out Combat Elite.

Small size + light weight + great caliber ammo + accurate results equal one heck of a great CCW firearm!


PS: Yes . . . I'm left-handed. Yes . . . as you can see, mine gets carried a lot. Great little gun

December 5, 2007, 02:41 AM
the barrel lengh isn't what is hard to conceal, the pistol grip is typicaly. the big facor for me is the weight more than aythng else, that is the reaso i like polymer guns so much for concealed carry.

December 5, 2007, 05:09 AM
All my 1911's are 5" Government type for reliability and the fact that the 45acp needs all the velocity that a 5" barrel can give it to be effective.

My holster of choice is the Milt Sparks VMII. My load of choice is the Remington 230gr golden Saber, if that is not available I use Speer Gold dot 230gr standard velocity.

My primary carry pistol for CCW is my Colt Gunsite Pistol, blue government model of course (70 series).

Go figure.


1911 guy
December 5, 2007, 09:20 AM
I own several 1911's, all are five inch guns. The only other autopistol in the house is my wife's Sig, so I don't get to carry it, either.

The grip length is what makes a pistol hard or easy to conceal, and you're not really saving that much by going to an officer's model. You can make up a half inch by adjusting your holster position.

Five inch guns are still ahead in the poll!

December 5, 2007, 10:18 AM
80 replies and the full size is still at 55%

M1 Shooter
December 5, 2007, 10:51 AM
I like the Commander, and here's why.
1. I like the balance, both in feel and in looks, of it better than the Gov't Model. The Commander just balances better for me, and to my eye it just looks "right". Obviously this is a personal thing and very subjective. I still like a 5" 1911 for recreational/sporting use though, and the Gov't is a fine looking pistol as well.

2. The slightly shorter slide/barrel do conceal a bit better for me, especially when carrying OWB with just an untucked shirt or short jacket.

3. When carrying IWB the Commander is more comfortable to carry than the Gov't Model, at least for me it is. The Gov't Model always seemed to pinch me when carried IWB.

4. The Commander is also a bit faster out of the holster for me. I think that is also because of its shorter slide/barrel.

5. Most importantly, the Commander doesn't seem to give up anything in reliability or accuracy compared to the Gov't Model, IME.

Of course this is just my opinion, my experience, and my preferance. Use what you like and what works for you.

December 5, 2007, 12:31 PM
5" Sig GSR SS (no rail), HBE Com 3 IWB Holster, 4:30 on the right hip. I am carrying it now under an untucked button-down shirt, no problem. My only problem is that my belt digs into my bony hips, but that is also a problem with a Kimber subcompact, to a lesser extent. I also get sick of being told that I don't really carry a full-size 1911 all day. Yes... I do.

December 5, 2007, 12:33 PM
I'm another one who voted "other" as I will be carrying a Springfield 'Loaded' GM, 'Loaded' Champion, or Para C7.45 LDA depending on what is most likely to be the most comfortable, convenient, and discretely concealable that day.

The only things they have in common are that they're all stainless and they're all .45s.

In the worst of a midwestern winter I've been known to put my AMT Back-up DAO .45 in the pocket of my parka or Carharts, too.

December 5, 2007, 12:47 PM
I prefer the full-sized government model. All the shorter ones I've fired have had problems. The first pistol I ever fired was a Colt Officer's Model that stovepiped every other round. For that reason alone I stayed away from the 1911 for years.

December 8, 2007, 12:13 AM
Commander Slide / Alloy Officer Frame

December 8, 2007, 02:31 AM
I'm reminded of a Clint Smith quote:

"Guns are supposed to be comforting, not comfortable.

December 8, 2007, 04:14 AM
Usually a CCO, but during winter I will occasionally pack a 5" Government Model. I picked up a 4.25" Commander today, that may replace the 5" for occasional winter carry.

Old Dog
December 8, 2007, 04:18 AM
Full-size, four-incher or the trusty four and a quarter-incher ... Although I do have a couple three-inchers (SA Micros), which get carried occasionally, and don't know that they're not supposed to be accurate and reliable ...

Roswell 1847
December 8, 2007, 04:52 AM
I prefer a five inch barrel because the longer barrel guns ride more securely in an inside the waistband holster, at least for me.
I use a holster of my own manufacter, its similar in appearance to the Milt Sparks summer special but of thinner materials. More like an extra pocket than a holster. I've made a few of these for professionals years ago and still have one for my own use.
The holster is made for the 1911 but works fine for the P35 and S&W 59, though theres extra material at the toe with the last two.

Years ago I just stuck the 1911 in my waistband without any holster at all, it rides well that way, but extended carry might cause rust from sweat.

Short barreled heavy gripped handguns don't ride well in a holster thats thin and loose fitting, or in the waist band. Too top heavy.

I shot a custom extra short slide 1911 a couple of months ago. It gave tight groups and operated well for me, but it jammed several times for the guy that owned it. Perhaps he wasn't holding it properly or something.

M1 Shooter
December 8, 2007, 04:57 AM
I'm reminded of a Clint Smith quote:

"Guns are supposed to be comforting, not comfortable.

True, but if a gun is uncomfortable to carry, then it won't get carried.
That's just a simple fact of life. Even Clint Smith would acknowledge that.

December 8, 2007, 08:13 AM
I'm reminded of a Clint Smith quote:

"Guns are supposed to be comforting, not comfortable.

Though I respect Mr. Smiths comments, I prefer both. I have a 5" CQB that I carried IWB for about a year, before the stainless Professional came out. I have been carrying the 4" Professional exclusively. It is much more comfortable with the 4" barrel and just as comforting as the 5" CQB. Though the "Accuracy Guarantees" that come from Wilson, for the two guns are .5" differences, I shoot them both equally accurate. In my case, size does matter.

1911 guy
December 8, 2007, 11:18 AM
Who made that IWB holster? I've been looking (sorta) for another and I like the look of that one. Loops fore and aft of the gun.

Hank Dodge
December 8, 2007, 11:56 AM
I carry a 5" Combat Elite that has served me well over the years. It is quite comfortable inside the waistband behind the right hip and it conceals well. It has always functioned great and I am confident in that pistol.

I will add that I'm currently considering purchasing a 4" gun. I like the Kimber CDP from what I've seen. I'm looking for a lighter weapon for more options of concealed carry (belt rig under light cover, concealment vest, etc.). It appears that these guns have a good reputation for reliability. The one that I had a chance to shoot was accurate and functioned well.

December 8, 2007, 12:14 PM
Prefer the 5". Seems to fit my biscuit grabbers.

December 8, 2007, 12:30 PM
For the last 60-70 votes the percentages haven't changed more that 1 or 2 points.... Hummm.

December 9, 2007, 01:02 AM
As w/ the snubbie wheelguns, the lighter & smaller the better -- easier to conceal & very easy to deploy, however, I prefer the concealability & the shootability of the commander sized 1911 for CCW duty ;)

Chuck R.
December 9, 2007, 10:50 AM
I'm an "other", Baer Stinger. I find the shorter grip aids in concealment and the 4.25" slide in a VM2 comes right to the top of my wallet instead of behind it. Being an all steel gun it handles recoil well and shoots just about as well as my 5".


December 9, 2007, 02:34 PM
those are some very nice pistols, Chuck.

Also, do you all think that the rounded butt makes a difference when concealing a 1911?

Does anyone own such a 1911?

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