best "smallest" 1911 for ccw?


October 16, 2008, 08:12 PM
I'm sure this has been hashed out three for four thousand times in the past, but I am wondering what everyones suggestions/experiences are as to which is the best and smallest 1911 out there for CCW right now? I would prefer a .45, but am certainly not opposed to other calibers. I'm currently carrying a J-frame, generally in a pocket holster, and I've got a USP Compact .45 for CCW, which I try to carry in an IWB. The problem i face on the occasions that I do carry is that it is hot here in the south, so I am usually traveling in a T-Shirt/Polo shirt, so my IWB tends to grab the Butt of the HK every time I bend down, etc. and though it is not overly thick, I am wondering if I would be better served w/ a 1911 for the flatness factor, as to cut down on printing, and increase comfort. I like the HK for reliability, and I love the DA/SA setup as I feel a bit more comfortable than with say, a Glock, as I would be unlucky enough to find a way to trip the light trigger on it even in Kydex ( I know, but my paranoia cannot seem be helped) i would feel OK about the 1911 series, as I am familiar with them and I like the manual/grip safety setup, but do not know if there is any real world size difference between some of the compact 1911's and the USP, and am also afraid to walk away from the absolute reliability I have enjoyed with the HK. Does anyone out there have any suggestions as to which is the most reliable, accurate for self defence, slimmest smallest out there? Thanks for your time and thoughts.

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October 16, 2008, 08:30 PM
When I carry a 45 acp, it is either a Kimber Ultra Carry or a Kahr P45. Both are small single stack, thin, light, accurate and reliable.

I shoot the 1911 better, but the Kahr is about 6 oz lighter and (as such) somewhat easier to carry.

That said, my goal is to carry a 1911 year round, and I am wearing the Kimber as I type this.

Edited to add: the Kahr PM45 is interesting...smaller than the P45 by a fair bit, but the resulting marginal ability to get a three finger gip will detract from accuracy and add to felt recoil...and the P45 is semi-barky as it is.

October 16, 2008, 08:31 PM
No problem with my Kimber 3". I believe 3" is the smallest 1911 45ACP. I think SA also make a small 9mm 1911. The stock grips are a little on the thick side for me. Get some thin carry grips. Chip McCormick makes some, but I like my CZ gatorbacks thinline.

Here's a grip comparison, Kimber on bottom - Single stack 1911 vs XD40SC double stack on top.

October 17, 2008, 05:54 PM
701, I'm in the same boat as you. I try and daily pocket-carry my S&W 642 but regretfully, it has just become too bulky and uncomfortable for my tastes. Likewise, I try to IWB-carry an XD-40sc on occasion, but have NEVER found the right combo of pants, belt, holster, cant, position on the waist, etc. to deal with it's thick and blocky shape and my thin build and fitted clothing. I own a full-size 1911 but it's simply too long for me to conceal well.

I've considered a Ruger LCP for pocket carry but just don't want to compromise size and concealability for the .380. I'd love to get a Kimber Ultra in 9mm. I think the short barrel and slim profile matched with a potent round would be the perfect compromise for IWB carry.

I've heard that a .45 out of a 3" barrel can fall short in terms of developing it's full potential when compared to the 9mm round. Plus, the reduced felt-recoil of 9mm vs. .45 ACP out of a small gun make me want to steer toward the smaller round.

If anyone else can give experience on what it's like to IWB-carry a 3" 1911 vs. the common subcompact double-stacks, that would be very helpful. Rustynuts, thanks for the comparison shots, those give a pretty good idea of the difference in frame width between the two. Any more side-by-side photos, like from above?

October 17, 2008, 06:10 PM
Put some thin grips on and the profile will be as thin as the slide itself. Great for carry.

October 17, 2008, 08:37 PM
has to be a 1911? I am happy with my taurus millenium PT145. 9 rounds of concealable 45 aint just whistling dixie.

October 17, 2008, 08:57 PM
I like to carry a small 1911 often. I have a stainless Kimber ultracarry II in 45 that has been absolutely reliable in the several years I have owned it. My pride and joy, however, is a Kimber Aegis II ultracarry in 9mm. The Aegis is a really nice carry piece and has worked without question since the first shot fired through it.

October 17, 2008, 09:40 PM
I carry this one.

October 17, 2008, 09:48 PM
I carried a Colt Defender with lasergrips until I got a XD45 Compact.

October 18, 2008, 01:31 AM
Here's my Kimber. Carried at present in a Don Hume JIT slide. Love it.

October 18, 2008, 01:58 AM
Nice Grips! Where did you get them?

October 18, 2008, 02:10 AM
Colt defender

October 18, 2008, 02:10 AM
I'll carry a Kimber Ultra Raptor II when not pocketing a j-frame or Glock 26

October 18, 2008, 02:49 AM
I dont carry a 3" but i do carry a 4" and love it. being 1 inch shorter would be nice for carry but i went with 4" to give a lil better accuracy and a slightly longer grip. its a pro carry 2. it has been accurate and reliable.

my roommate carrys an ultra carry 2 24/7 and loves it. infact shooting his is what inspired me to buy my own kimber.

October 18, 2008, 09:22 AM thoughts on a SA EMP? I don't own one, haven't shot one, but fondled one at a gun show and think it's pretty nice.

Any owners out there want to share their experiences with this tough to find weapon? The image this picture is super-imposed against is the outline of a typical 3" 1911 in .45acp.

Claude Clay
October 18, 2008, 09:36 AM
emp weighs 23 ounces. defender 23 1/2. emp is a sized to a 9mm. thus the weight is the same but if size in your hand or carry style is critical the emp may be the gun for you. 9 of 9 or 8 of 45--your call. the 9 recoil is tame compared to the defender. practice with the defender and it is a wonderful package . the emp will be faster to learn though.

October 18, 2008, 09:58 AM
Off duty carry for me is either a Kimber Tactical Ultra II in a Comp-Tac minatour IWB holster, it is a 3" barrel with a 5" grip (the extra 1/4" grip length comes from the magwell, which I really like, greatly increases ease of reloading) that I wear in the 3 oclock position and I find rarely prints. For quick trips I carry a G26 in a pocket holster (but you really have to find pockets that can fit it). Good luck with your search.

October 18, 2008, 01:31 PM
I recently picked up a STI escort 3" in 9mm. Haven't chosen a holster as of yet, but it will be my main carry gun.

Virtually no kick in 9mm -- making it extremely manageable. When deciding, I held in my hand a Kimber Ultra CDP II and the SA EMP, which were the other two 9mm, 3", 1911 design. All three guns were within 100$ of each other... The Kimber and SA had night sights, and the SA came with extra mags and a loader. The STI has standard white dot sights (adjustable).

For me the STI felt better in my hand -- your mileage may vary though. Definitely recommend holding each of them -- they all felt a little different.

Tom Fury
October 18, 2008, 04:31 PM
Colt New Agent
Detonics Combat Master
New Detonics Combat Master
Cylinder and Slide Adventurer
Terry Tussey custom
Cheers, TF

October 18, 2008, 06:08 PM
Kimbers and Colt were always what my colleagues and range personell recommend for any 1911.

October 18, 2008, 11:26 PM
Don't know if its the "best" or not, but I'm pretty fond of my Springfield micro compact

October 19, 2008, 01:52 AM
Nice Grips! Where did you get them?From a gun show. Guy that has a bunch of grips in compartmentalized flat table boxes. Couldn't really tell you the brand, but they make up for the lack of an arched mainspring housing with their girth. Handles beautifully now!

J Lambs
October 19, 2008, 07:55 PM
The EMP now comes in .40 and is stock with slim grips. I have the 9mm and it is my favorite carry. I also have the Kimber UC II in 9mm, but the grips just make the EMP feel better.

October 19, 2008, 08:15 PM


October 19, 2008, 09:14 PM
I carry a Para C-645 3" .45 with the LDA trigger. I love this little gun, nice shooter easy to handle and easy to conceal.

October 21, 2008, 04:11 PM
Thanks a lot for the input! Ill definately be looking into several of these. As I have been thinking about this, I am wondering if I would be better served(read more likely to take it with me) if I (shuddering) should look into more of a pocket type pistol. I am loathe to find myself looking at 32 or 380s but it doesn't seem that I may be solving my dilemna by carrying a slimmer gun of roughly the same porportions necessarily. Does anyone have any suggestions? I would certainly prefer an iwb carry of a larger gun, but if I find myself stuffing a j frame into my jeans pocket, I may want to look into a flatter pocket size gun. I have been looking around and I am curious what everyone thinks or has experienced with the kahr pm9 or 40? My main concerns are whether IV can be carried discretely in jeans pocket in a pocket holster, whether or not they are reliable and given that I'm a bit leery of carrying my glock, given its safety design and short, light trigger, so I may have the same fears with the kahr. Nonetheless, my j frame has no safety, but I feel good about the work it would take to get it to fire if snagged given the long tough trigger pull. I haven't really gotten my hands on the kahr, so I don't know much about them. I am assuming there is a marked difference in power between something of that nature and a seecamp or naa 380? I would really appreciate anyones thoughts on this or any other models that may serve me better. Thanks again for all the 1911 input. I will likely end up with a 1911 type based on what ice learned here, as well as a pocket gun.

October 21, 2008, 04:19 PM
My daily traveling companion is also a Rock Island Compact, with CTC lasergrips. Same size as a Colt Officer's ACP, 3.5" bbl. Carries 8 rounds of .45 goodness.

October 21, 2008, 04:37 PM
I vote for the Colt Defender if you want sights, or the Colt New Agent ( if you are a point shoot type.

Here's a New Agent.

October 21, 2008, 04:42 PM
In the short, slim .45 category I've had good luck with my Colt Defender. With slim grip panels and a Kramer horsehide belt scabbard holster, it rides high and tight on my belt and conceals easily. It has been reliable through about 700 rounds of mixed ammo. With a Wilson 7 round magazine, the gun holds 8 shots total.

Ala Dan
October 21, 2008, 06:38 PM
Kimber 3" Stainless Ultra Carry II .45 ACP for me~! ;) :D

McCain-Palin on Nov. 4th~!

October 21, 2008, 07:09 PM
I carry a Kimber UCII, with thin Alumagrips. I added a relibility package myself, by cleaning under the rear sight, so to speak.;)

October 22, 2008, 01:20 PM
For a materials snob like me, which small 1911 based .45's (Or 9's) have a stainless frame? I have throw away guns and "For the rest of my life" guns, no aluminum or plastic. I carry a throw away plastic gun now, but would like to carry a real lifetime gun. (Don't flame me, if you think guns should have plastic and aluminum I hope you enjoy them.)

October 22, 2008, 09:05 PM
HisSoldier asked:

For a materials snob like me, which small 1911 based .45's (Or 9's) have a stainless frame?

Two that come to mind are the Colt Officer's model in stainless (3.5 inch barrel 1911) and the Wilson Combat Sentinel (carbon steel with available stainless looking Armor Tuff finish, 3.6 inch barrel). Here is the Wilson Sentinel:

October 22, 2008, 10:22 PM
Along with the Colt Officer's ACP is the Colt Compact. Here's mine (

October 22, 2008, 11:14 PM
"best "smallest" 1911 for ccw?"

What, nobody has answered "full sized" yet?

Well, if you must deviate from the general consensus, the Colt Combat Commander.

October 23, 2008, 01:01 AM
I've been very happy with my Kimber Pro Carry II 4"... alloy frame so it's relatively light, too

October 23, 2008, 05:38 AM
That Sentinel looks so sexy.

October 29, 2008, 12:43 PM
I absolutely LOVE my Springfield EMP 1911 9mm.......for bedside, conceal carry, as my backup weapon (for work), etc. GREAT all around small frame easily handled reliable flawless beautiful handgun (can you tell I like it). It was a bit TOO well made (high tolerances/ the ramp angle was SO steep that hollow points would catch at the top of the ramp going into battery) until I got about 200-300 rds. through it. Now it's smooth as silk......

October 29, 2008, 01:28 PM
Kimber Ultra Carry is my next purchase. Currently have the Eclipse Ultra, it is the right size but a little heavy for summer carry. Also have a Kahr P40 which works well .

October 29, 2008, 04:43 PM
They say once you shoot a compact 1911 it just feels natural.

Is this true I only own a full size (5in)

October 29, 2008, 05:11 PM
Don't know who they are, but I say here are two that work well for me.

October 29, 2008, 11:50 PM
In my opinion a "keep for life" gun shouldn't be carried. From what I understand, if you have to use it, there is a chance it will be gone forever.
I almost bought a real nice Kimber, but I would be upset if while carrying I had to part with it.

October 29, 2008, 11:52 PM
I carry a 4" Kimber Pro Carry II Stainless.. great carry gun, light, smooth, and reliable.

October 30, 2008, 05:43 PM

November 3, 2008, 06:07 PM
Wow Im sold on the EMP...

November 4, 2008, 12:06 AM
Why has noone said the STI Rogue? 9mm, 21 oz, 3" barrel, shorter than an officer's grip.

November 4, 2008, 10:00 AM
My Baer Thunder Ranch Commanche, 4 1/4 inch .45 cal is perfect in a Sparks VM2H. I carry the Wilson ETM model for mags.

November 4, 2008, 10:14 AM
I bought my EMP 9mm for daily carry. I like it and it is a very accurate little pistol.

On Sunday I let a long time shooter (marksman) at the state range shoot it and, having never used the EMP - not to mention with my handloads in it - fired five rounds at 15 yards in a nice two-inch group. I was impressed, and it's my pistol!

November 4, 2008, 10:19 AM
So, how does the Para Warthog stack up in this discussion? I don't own one, but had been looking at them, only because a friend said it would be his favorite carry. I personally will hang onto my Springfield P9 until I find a suitable replacement. By the way, lots of nice hardware displayed here.

The Bushmaster
November 4, 2008, 10:21 AM
Kimber Ultra Crimson Carry II .45 ACP 3" 25 oz unloaded.

The warthog had problems when it first came out. I have no idea if they solved those problems

November 4, 2008, 03:29 PM
Have about 900 trouble free rounds thru it. Very accurate. Had a Colt Defender and can't say enuf good about it, but couldn't get my mind around carrying cocked. Thus, the Kahr, at about 20 oz empty suits me better. Also, carry a Mak on occasions; slim, works every time, accurate.

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