Opinions on Colt Defender?


August 14, 2003, 10:00 PM
What do you guys think about the Colt Defender as an all around .45 and carry gun? I'm thinking I might get one of these and a Bersa .380.

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Andrew Wyatt
August 14, 2003, 10:09 PM
a commander makes a better all around .45 than a defender, since it has a longer sight radius.

IMHO, the defender makes a pretty decent back up gun, though.

August 15, 2003, 01:09 AM
Wow just one opinion :)

Isn't the commander a bit larger?

August 15, 2003, 01:30 AM
It's slightly longer in the barrel, but the same size in the grip. Kinda backwards if you're trying to make an uberIWB CCW gun. ;)

Andrew Wyatt
August 15, 2003, 03:28 AM
uuh, commanders are larger in both directions, being a government model frame with a 4.something inch barrel.

defenders are basically officers models.

August 15, 2003, 05:35 AM
The Defender from all accounts is a sweet piece of machinery!! I was ready to get one(and a CCO), but ran into financial challenges. My LW Officer's was/is doing a real good job anyway!!
I think that it would make a GREAT carry piece!
I friend has the Kimber version....the Ultra carry CDP and loves his.
When you use an IWB holster, the barrel and slide length do not matter as much as the grip length! And that is why I like the Officer's frame! A little shorter...it can be concealed under a Polo/T-shirt with ease(cut alittle larger for sure).
My pair of Officer's, my ParaOrd LDA Companion and the Kimber ALL shot very well!! The accuracy at 15 years and beyond is adequate for 95 percent of all real defense applications. The reliablity of mine has been VERY good!
But you gotta give your's a work out to see how it performs, and get a good IWB(and belt). I think your will find it very nice!!
I carried a Commander for quite awhile too...they are a nice slide length, and the lightness was hard to beat...until the shorter grip frame came out!
IMHO the CCO or the Kimber Compact...both using an Officer's frame and 4-4.25 inch barrel/slide...represent one of the best balanced carry pistols made!
Thin, light and 8 rounds of Thump in a hideable package!!!

August 15, 2003, 12:27 PM
You're right, I was thinking of the last Offen... er, Defender I'd seen, which was a "Defender Plus" with the standard length 1911 grip. I remember thinking "An eight-round frame with a 3" upper? That makes about as much sense as a kickstand on a tank..." :uhoh:

August 15, 2003, 12:41 PM
Good post jercamp!
Said pretty much everything I was too lazy to type when I read this thread at 4am.
So long as said Defender was shown to be reliable, it sounds fine for CCW. For an all around .45, its a bit on the small side for me. My all around might vary from yours though. 5" does everything a .45 needs to do well, with the possible exception of concealment (though the rig really determines this last one).

Do remember that chopped 1911s have less slide travel than the full size guns, so everything must function quicker for the gun to be reliable. Good maintanence and regular inspection of the magazine and recoil springs are a must.

August 15, 2003, 02:16 PM
I'd rather carry a full size 1911. The Defender is too small for my tastes. Hard to manipulate, shoot, etc. The full size is easy to conceal so why not? Just buy good leather and a good belt and you'll be surprised how well it hides.

August 15, 2003, 04:15 PM
IMHO the CCO or the Kimber Compact...both using an Officer's frame and 4-4.25 inch barrel/slide...represent one of the best balanced carry pistols made!
I think you are correct on ability to hide and the balance. I have a Kimber Compact. I was surprised how balanced the front end is. I suppose it is the bull barrel set up. Mine is a tight shooter too. Even for a small package, this gun does not recoil that much, and is actually fun to shoot. I have the all steel version.

I really haven't shot the Colt, but I can highly recommend the Kimber Compact.

August 15, 2003, 04:33 PM
Whoever thought up the 3 inch slide-barrel and full sized frame at Colt was obviously smoking something funny. If I recall correctly they tried it with the 1991A1, a solid steel Recon something or another. It was soon dropped from the line. The Defender Plus? Wel, I see no reason to bother, it is a silly idea.
I like the five inchers to, and have two Government models. But Once the Officer's came out, that became my carry gun(I bought a Commander in 1979, and experimented with the Detonic's Combat Master and Star PD in 80-82). I can and sometimes do carry a Government concealed, but since I have two Officer's and a ParaOrd LDA Companion(duty gun...no cocked and locked....blah!)...I DO NOT want to get my mags mixed up, AND I prefer the feel of the Officer's frame in my hand.
So my next .45 will be a 4incher with Officers frame!!
But, the beauty of this country AND the 1911, is we get ta pick what we like!!!

August 15, 2003, 06:04 PM
I've never found overall length of grip or barrel to be key issue with concealment.
I have more of an issue with width and weight. One of these days I'll break down and get one of those thin STI guns - do they make those with an aluminum frame?


August 15, 2003, 08:58 PM
When did the Defedner comes out? When did Colt change the sights on the Defender?

August 16, 2003, 08:51 AM
Lightsped- can't remember what year the Defender was introduced, but was several maybe 3-4 years ago? Bought the first one seen, and it has been extremely reliable, but not a target or gaming pistol. The later version, maybe brought out last year?, has some distinct differences. Haven't seen one of the new ones in person, but pictures show the older version of the beavertail (kinda downswept) and standard sights. The original has snagfree sights and upswept beavertail. Mine came with 2 mags, both seven rounders with an orange plastic follower.

Many seem to be able to carry a 4 or 5 in pistol just fine, gotta believe the 3 in is easyier to conceal, especially for those of us with smaller frames and paunches.

August 16, 2003, 10:16 AM
..can be a little persnickety. I've seen some hit the ground runnin' and
go haywire with a recoil spring change or even after a few hundred rounds

Engineer's Rule 1:

Whenever one aspect of a successful design is altered, at least three other changes will be necessary. The original was a 7 round pistol with a 5-inch barrel and slide with a 16.5-pound recoil spring. When you stray too far from the original slide mass and spring rate, things are bound to crop up sooner or later. The lighter slide and higher spring rate causes
higher slide speeds...Especially critical is the speed of the slide after
it hits the impact surface in the frame and begins the feeding/return to
battery cycle. The lighter pistol will also generate higher inertial forces.
The problems generally show up on the first round in a full magazine
due to maximum drag on the slide, and on the last round in the magazine
due to minimum tension on the follower.

Just a little food for thought...


August 16, 2003, 10:16 AM
I had a Recon. It was a 3.5 in. barrel Officers top end on a full size with a matte finish. I wish I still had it. I also had a Tactical Officers, same conig. as Recon with stainless finish and LW frame. During the mid 90's Colt made many short runs of 500-1000 of special config guns.

I've had a few Officers and they all worked fine. The grip frame is too short on the Officers for me so I usually go with an S & A magwell on em. That said I've settled on a Kimber series one LW frame Pro Carry as my carry gun. I won't put a Colt in a holster and ruin the finish. The 4 inch is the shortest you should go.

August 16, 2003, 10:46 AM
I've carried a Defender for about a year, though I'm now carrying a customized Colt Commander. Nothing wrong with the Defender, I just had the Commander worked on and now it's my "perfect carry gun." :)

By the way, the Defender Plus configuration (short slide, large grip) is popular with the shoulder holster crowd, I'm told. Works great in a horizontal shoulder holster.

Brian D.
August 16, 2003, 10:56 AM
Don't know the exact timetable on the Defender, but here's the skinny on why they changed the sights and beavertail. Colt was getting the Novak type sight and fancy upswept 'tail from one aftermarket supplier or another, but kept "forgetting" to pay said contractor. (This was during one of their many periods of fiscal distress over the last 20 years.) So, the supplier cut 'em off, and Colt had to start using in-house parts. Thought you might find that interesting, it's amazing what insiders at SHOT will tell you over a martooni or two, eh?

August 16, 2003, 11:03 AM

My 'smith picked up the term "Offender" from a phone call to Novak... ;)

Brian D.
August 16, 2003, 11:14 AM
Just to play the flip side here, might as well mention that there's a nice pre-owned Defender in my Colt stable. The thing has run so well, that when it's time to replace the recoil spring, I may just pay the asking price and get a whole new dual-spring-and-funky-guide-rod-system straight from the factory. Seems prudent not to monkey with a different, aftermarket setup in this case; I feel sorta blessed that this 3" 1911 has been so trouble free.

August 16, 2003, 06:48 PM
I've got one and am not overly impressed. Yes as a carry piece it is VERY concealable - its also VERY accurate, surprisingly.

But mine appears to be pretty finnicky with the ammo. In fact, instead of
the lighter weight 165-185 gr rounds in +P recommended for this barrel length I have mine stuffed with 230 JHP Winchester whitebox that I carry
in my full size 1911. Seems to like that stuff.

I reason that since it starts as .45 calibre in size, you don't need much expansion for practical effect for it to stop a fight. But lately I've become a bit concerned about overpenetration andI'm wondering if this should be considered.

August 17, 2003, 12:20 AM
If I recall correctly they tried it with the 1991A1

Do you mean the 4inch Colt 1991A1?

August 17, 2003, 09:40 AM
I picked up my defender in 98 old novak sight copy model . Since have ran over 2000 rounds through it . Corbon , ranger , winchester white box, even wolf. And I swear only 4 jams all from a CMC magazine that was dirty

What No Gravy?
August 18, 2003, 02:34 AM
I had a Defender a few years ago that I used for CCW. Great shooting gun and I dont remember it ever jamming. When I starting looking for a replacement recoil spring I could never find one so I contacted Colt and they told me they didn't know when they would have the part in stock but would contact me as soon as they did. Well I'm still waiting for the call.
Maybe some one does have that spring setup by now

August 18, 2003, 05:59 AM
Brownels had , and may still, have stock replacement outer springs. Haven't checked yet, but Kimber's dual spring assembly may fit. Wolff sells a replacement extra power springs for the Kimber Ultra.

August 18, 2003, 07:11 AM
Colt has the recoil springs and assemblies in stock now. Turns out they always DID have them, just didn't have them allocated to the spare parts bins, so the person answering the phone wouldn't see any stock listed and would claim they didn't have them. Over on 1911forum.com there's a Colt employee that has been doing wonders to get silly stuff like this straightened out.

What No Gravy?
August 18, 2003, 10:17 PM
I sure would like to see Colt get a lot of things straightened out and reenter the commerical handgun field in force

August 18, 2003, 11:32 PM
At the risk of blaspheming, you might want to look at the
Glock 36.

August 19, 2003, 03:26 AM
I had one.

It was very accurate as mentioned - probably due to the bushingless design.

I really enjoyed shooting it and I like the size.

Problem was - it was pickier than my little sister at a sushi bar.

When I first got it, it ran like total crap with colt mags. I switched to Wilsons and it was significantly better - but I only put maybe 200 rounds thru it with the Wilsons and I just decided that I could never trust it enough to rely on it. Not that it was unreliable, it was more of a mental thing.

Anyway - I bought a Valtro and at that point, it was like comparing an old Geo to a Shiny new Porsche. Jardine also pointed out how badly the Colt was fitted and I just could not sell it fast enough.

If I had one that ran right and was fitted well, I would enjoy it. Not sure what it woudl cost to get there, I doubt they come that way...

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