First 1911 - What do I need?


May 20, 2008, 12:52 PM
Well, the 1911 bug has finally bit me. I've already got a good, accurate .45 ACP pistol, but it's polymer (I know this sends some of you running and screaming out of here). I'm not looking for one as a primary carry weapon, however, I will probably OC it when I feel so inclined.

So, that being said, what are the "must have" features for the 1911s? I know that I want a 5" barrel, and full sized frame. No rails. I'm pretty sure I want the stainless finish, and that I prefer the look without the front serrations. I'd like to keep it inexpensive, as I have a very hard time justifying more than $800 for a gun. It has to be accurate and reliable, which I don't think is too much to ask. I don't believe in safe queens, but I do want something that looks good. I like the Springfield Mil-Spec, mainly because I like their customer service and lifetime warranty. So, does anyone else have any suggestions of what I should be looking for, or what gun I should be looking at? Thanks for the help.

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May 20, 2008, 12:58 PM
My advice...
First thing you do, is throw out the mags.
I bough a $1000 Springfield Aromory 1911, and had to trash the mags, and polish the feed ramp and barrel throat.
Now, it's flawless.

May 20, 2008, 01:05 PM
I think the Mil-Spec is about the ideal starter 1911. Agree on the mags, though - you'll probably find the gun runs better with Wilson or CM mags. I run strictly Wilson and Colt mags now. I sold my Springfield (whoever made them) mags cheap.

May 20, 2008, 01:09 PM
What poly frame are you looking at?

ETA: sorry misread OP, you already have a poly gun!

May 20, 2008, 01:11 PM
As far as the polymer pistol goes, I've already got 2 XDs (45 Service, 9 Subcompact). Good to know that the magazines aren't worthwhile, it shouldn't be too hard to find replacements though.

May 20, 2008, 01:12 PM
I bough a $1000 Springfield Aromory 1911, and had to trash the mags, and polish the feed ramp and barrel throat.

:uhoh: Both of mine came with MecGar mags (100% sure one did, fairly certain the other did as well) and worked perfectly.

But to OP - Good mags and lube are essential, don't cheap out on them. Having had a SA GI and Loaded, I would recommend any of their 1911s, and the mil-spec is a great place to start.

May 20, 2008, 01:16 PM
Stainless Series 80 Government Model, or Springfield Armory Mil-Spec in stainless. They should both be in your price range, and are excellent guns.
I will tell you that I totally disagree with Mr. Cartman, and I have 30 or 40 Springfield armory magazines, and all of them work fine in all of my 1911s (.45 ACP that is). Stick with seven-round mags and use a good magspring, and everything will be fine.
They are very, very good out of the box. Unfortnuately, some of them come with a plastic mainspring housing. This is inexpensive to replace, and should really be steel. Otherwise, the stainless finish is nice, and the fitting tends to be top-notch for a working gun.
Springfield Armory:
They have an annoying feature (flaw) that they call ILS, for Internal Locking System. Luckily, this, too, is easy to replace, and inexpensive. The factory mainspring tension is a little high, to account for their use of a titanium firing pin, which is, in my opinion, silly. These guns are required to be "drop safe" to sell them in Kommifornia, and they had to make them this way to sell to the subjects of that repiblic, who are basically screwed. Don't take this to mean that SA messed the gun up, because they really did a very nice thing for those individuals, and got them a good 1911. This is my ONLY grips with the SA guns, which is really saying something.
Either of these guns will give you very good service for many tens of thousands of rounds, and you will find them to be extremely accurate. I had an Springfield that cut one-hole groups all day long with ball ammo at 15 yards. I liked it, and I sold it here to another user, who still likes it.
The only other choice in your price range that is a really good gun but DOESN'T have forward holster destroyers errr cocking serrations, is the Smith and Wesson. They have a really nice gun in that configuration, but there's only one problem: to my knowledge they don't make a stainless gun without the damned forward CSs. Their blued gun is superb, and nicely fitted. It departs from the SA and Colt in that it uses an external extractor, which, luckily, S&W has some experience making. They tend to run very well, and the ones I've handled were solidly built.
Good luck. Factor in the cost of holsters, magazines, and ammo for break-in. This will maybe sway your choice to the most inexpensive quality stainless gun out there with useable sights: The Springfield.
Let us know what you get, and please post pics here.
My SA is in this thread:

May 20, 2008, 01:23 PM
I am also ready to jump into the 1911 world! The two that I have been considering are:

RIA Tactical (budget gun and, by most reports, a great performer for the price):

Taurus 1911 -- not sure which model.

May 20, 2008, 01:23 PM
I'd say a Springer Loaded and buy some Wilson Combat mags to go with it. The Loaded has most of the bells & whistles you need right out of the box and will be a good basis for a custom gun should you want to go that way.

I have a Loaded, a Commander-sized Para LTC, and a Rock Island GI. If I only kept one it would be the Springer (barely over the LTC)...

May 20, 2008, 01:31 PM
are there any Colt 1911s (new ones) to avoid?

May 20, 2008, 01:34 PM
I suggest the stainless, Colt Series 70 reissue.

May 20, 2008, 01:35 PM

I have a RIA tactical. If you are interested in my experiences, see my report at

May 20, 2008, 01:47 PM
The Sig XO model should be in your price range, and doesn't have the silly stuff like ambi-safety, front serrations, or FLGR. They are also VERY accurate. EDIT: Oh, and it's stainless steel.
EDIT: I carry my Nitron full size (a bit more expensive) cocked-&-locked openly almost exclusively. The slide is supposed to be thicker but it fits perfectly in a Serpa holster.

May 20, 2008, 01:48 PM
Read the OPs post, guys. Springfield Loaded models have front cocking eyesores, abominations, serrations. He doesn't want those. (I understand)
The Mil Spec is the way to go, or, like was posted before, the Colt. and to answer your other question: No, there's no reason to avoid any new Colt.

May 20, 2008, 01:50 PM
Mainsail was posting when I wrote mine. I like the Sigs, but they are a little thick int he slide, and therefore don't fit some of my leather. Their CCO-sized and dehorned gun is really, really nice, and maybe on the steveracer buy list.

May 20, 2008, 01:52 PM
Thanks for the link chbrow10!

May 20, 2008, 02:01 PM
scandium s&w

Old Fuff
May 20, 2008, 02:11 PM
The poor Ol' Fuff is confused and confounded... :confused:

If it's a matter of record that these pistols come with junk magazines, and don't work until they are tinkered with...

And you have to polish this or that (and possibly void any warrantee)...

And maybe you have to spend your hard-earned money to buy several hundred rounds of ammunition to "break it in," and "make sure it's reliable" ...

Why do you still buy such junk??? :neener: :banghead:

May 20, 2008, 02:24 PM
Your initial thoughts of SA mil-spec in stainless is a very good choice, don't let anyone talk you out of it.

May 20, 2008, 02:46 PM
"scandium s&w" has front serrations. Do you guys read before you post?
Fuff has it right, but there is still a need to make sure YOUR gun with YOUR mags and YOUR carry ammo work together.
If you have to polish anything, you have a faulty gun.
The mags that come with Colt, Springfield, and S&W all work well in all of my guns.

May 20, 2008, 02:51 PM
Okie dokie, I will help you with some of the features you asked about...

Lowered and flared ejection port is normally one of the first upgrades made to a GI spec gun unless it is being kept stock. Lowering and flaring the ejection port helps the firearm more reliably eject the spent casings by widening the ejection port.

Beavertail grip safety with a memory bump is a big +. The memory bump allows the grip safety to be positively engaged while shortening the grip where the web of your hand contacts the backstrap.

Front slide serrations, while this feature is not everyones favorite, it does serve a purpose. Having more than one place to grip the slide when clearing the firearm is a good thing in some peoples opinions. I like the look of a 1911 without the front slide serrations but I will not carry a 1911 without them.

GI guide rod vs. Full length guide rod.
This is a hot topic. Some claim that the full length helps reduce muzzle flip and helps accuracy. I have tried both in the same firearms and saw no noticeable difference. They only difference is ease of disassembly. With the full length, you are going to need a bushing wrench, or allen key to remove the guide rod plug (Tool required depends on the design of the guide rod itself). With the GI guide rod, you can remove the plug and bushing by pushing the plug in with your finger/thumb. This makes field stripping easier by requiring less tools. The second advantage of the GI guide rod is that you can rack the slide without your hand if you ever had to. You will most likely never do this, but it could come in handy one day.

Sights. This is the most important thing in my opinion. I would suggest that if you are planning on carrying to avoid adjustable target sights. Also try to avoid GI sights as they are small and hard to see. You do not need night sights but you will be happier with at least some white dot sights instead of straight black on black. I prefer night sights (Meprolights) myself.

There are more parts like thumb safeties(Both single and ambidextrous, combat, oversized and extended cut), Slide stops (Normal and extended), Triggers and mag releases. These are all parts that you can change out but I feel that the most important decisions to make are the ones that I gave in depth explanations for.

May 20, 2008, 03:09 PM
Now that I've had my coffee my reading comprehension is much better.

For my most recent 1911 purchase I spent a large amount of time researching a bunch of different manufacturers, and the multitudinous array of after-market options. I also used this thingamabob ( a lot. But in the end I held this 1911 ( in my hands and all the research went right out the window.

Sometimes the head wins, sometimes the heart wins.

Zach S
May 20, 2008, 04:55 PM
I would get a Mil-Spec springer or look around for a used Colt. I've seen used stainless Colt 1991A1s go for about what a new Mil-Spec would, and the Colts have much better triggers. Well, overall, the Colt is just a better built pistol. The Mil-spec is still a decent pistol though. Both have the correct guide rod installed and no front serrations. Both also use the GI rear dovetail, so with a little machining by a 'smith you can use whatever rear sight you like.

If you can get past the front serrations, a deal can be had with used series I kimbers. I havent paid more than $650 for any of mine. You can order the correct guide rod and matching plug from brownells.

Since you dont want a safe queen, I would reccomend staying away from polished or brushed pistols. I like the fact that I could blast my beat up EDC and have it look new again. As a matter of fact, I've done it once or twice.

May 20, 2008, 06:44 PM
Got the chance to see STREET KINGS movie preview and you can see KEANNU REEVES is sporting the 1911 in a lot of shooting in the movie.

Its just impossible to resist the 1911. Sores have maligned its low capacity but the 1911 seems to be fighting on against the higher capacity and lighter pistols in the market today.

May 20, 2008, 07:07 PM
Mil Spec Springer is the way to go, I love mine. It's been totally reliable and I too have never had any problem with the SA magazines. That being said, I do buy and use Wilson 47D's they are totally reliable.

I don't think you can go wrong with the SA Mil Spec, it's a great gun.

May 20, 2008, 07:14 PM
I like the Springfield Mil-Spec, mainly because I like their customer service and lifetime warranty. So, does anyone else have any suggestions of what I should be looking for, or what gun I should be looking at? Thanks for the help.

Springfield makes fine 1911's and has very good customer service. Good choice. I have a Loaded SS full size with target sights and the lightweight Champion. I'm with you on the front slide serrations but I got used to them. I actually prefer the 4" Champion. I don't think the SS version of the Champion has front serrations as my lightweight doesn't.

I have a strong urge to buy a Dan Wesson CBOB which is a commander style with a bushing and a 4 1/4" barrel. No front serrations and a very attractive pistol. But, the excellent customer service and lifetime warranty on the Springfield is a big selling point.

The 5" SS Springer feels just a bit muzzle heavy to me. When shooting plates, I can draw and get on the plates a bit faster with my Champion but I think the SS (heavier) Champion would tame recoil a bit and allow me to acquire the next plate a bit faster.


May 20, 2008, 08:48 PM
Thanks for all of the great information here. It sounds like I'd be safe with the Mil-Spec as a first 1911. It also seems that I've got a lot to learn about, as there were a few things mentioned here that I've already had to look up. I really appreciate all the help. Also, thanks for the 1911 builder link, and I saw a link for 1911 forum as well, both great resources.

May 20, 2008, 09:10 PM
Street Kings: anyone know what 1911 .45 he was shooting in the movie?

Springfield: I'm very close to pulling the trigger on a Loaded Stainless for $720 at my local shop. I would have to take it to a gunsmith to have front strap checkering done on it. Would it be cheaper to just buy a Mil-Spec stainless, do the front strap checkering, and put night sights on it and call it a day? I might also go for the 10 round Wilson mags. any thoughts on these?

May 20, 2008, 11:30 PM
Just my opinion but for the $$$ your talking about you could get 2 RIA 1911s or a Taurus PT1911 and LOTS of ammo. Here is a pic of my PT1911 (this is my EDC)

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