1911 for the girlfriend - Colt Defender vs Colt Officers


Joe Link
December 18, 2008, 01:47 AM
I've been racking my brain for the past few days thinking of a good gun that fits Jenny's hand that she can shoot comfortably on a regular basis, and possibly also carry. This gun would be funded with the sale of my West German P226, which she loves but can't hold properly (though that doesn't stop her from outshooting me with it). I've never shot a mini-auto that was pleasant enough to take to the range for fun and practice, so I began thinking of larger guns with smaller grips. Many were considered, but for one reason or another most were disqualified.

Then it hit me, what about the 1911? It's one of the thinnest guns out there, and it's worth a shot. I retrieved my Springfield Loaded from it's home and had her try it out. Sure enough, proper grip and it fits! Though the full size steel gun was a bit heavy for her (she's 5'3, 100lbs), I'm thinking a small lightweight would work great (if the recoil is manageable).

I started researching the two 3"-ish offerings from Colt, the Defender and the Officers model. Throughout my research I've noticed most people are partial to one or the other, with only a few liking both of them. The main factor is the width and depth (would that be the correct term?) of the grip. I'd love to hear peoples comments that have used both of them and see how they compare.

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December 18, 2008, 07:20 AM
You should probably have her try the smaller 1911s to see if she likes them or if the recoil makes her miserable.

Heavy is easy to get used to, but too much recoil makes for bad habits. Might be worth a trip to a range with a good selection of rental guns.

If you want a smaller grip, what about a revolver? Get something in .38spl +P or .357 mag and shoot softball .38s all day long, with the option of carrying with .357s or +P .38s.

Just a thought.


December 18, 2008, 07:37 AM
Only have experience with a 1991A1 Compact-for years it was my HD gun. I've moved on to others, but still have it and can't see getting rid of it. Tight little gun that's accurate, and I don't think the recoil is bad, but apparently I'm not that recoil-sensitive based on posts I see in here!

I wanted a small, concealable 45 that didn't cost an arm and leg, and really don't care for some of the accessories (or price) that are being hung on smaller 1911's these days.

Like that 1991A1 Compact so much I've been eyeing a few Defenders, but doubt I'll find one at a decent price.

December 18, 2008, 07:43 AM
I just bought a Kimber Ultra Carry II yesterday...I don't know how it shoots yet, but the fit/finish is better than the brand new Colt Commander I bought a couple weeks ago. The Colt is still top notch, but the trigger on the Kimber is "match grade" and it makes a world of difference in the smoothness of the pull. In addition to a better trigger pull, the Kimber also has less movement between the slide and frame, yet has a smoother slide action than the Colt.

Colt still makes a great gun, and the Defender has more of the "modern" features that Kimber uses in their guns anyways, so it is probably just as good.

I just think you shouldn't leave out the Kimber when making your decision. They also make their Ultra Carry II in 9mm, which might be a better idea for your girlfriend.

Mad Magyar
December 18, 2008, 07:55 AM
Money isn't a factor for your best girl, right? :) The lghtwght models you mentioned are good, but take look & feel of Colt's New Agent?

December 18, 2008, 08:44 AM
I carried a Colt Defender for 4 1/2 yrs. Love the gun, but was no longer 100% reliable, so it got replaced. For the same money you can get a Kimber Ultra Carry. Much better gun. Put Hogue grips on it, and essentially have the similiar gun.

But, you say she weights 100#. I do not weigh 100#, but I am an instructor. I suspect a light weight .45 is going to be way too much for her to handle. And then you have a $1000 paperweight. I know your heart is in the right place, but please take her out and rent some guns, and then LET HER PICK OUT HER OWN GUN!!!!!!!!!! My guess, she will be much more comfortable and confident shooting a 9mm, and have fun doing it.

Jim Watson
December 18, 2008, 09:02 AM
Colt hasn't made the Officer's ACP (or 1991A1 Compact) in years. They only overlapped for a short time when the Defender came out.

I think a compact .45 would be more gun than a 100 lb female would enjoy. I KNOW it is more than this 200 lb male enjoys for anything but a short session mixed in with a full size gun. A compact 9mm would be a different matter. My Springfield Ultra Compact 9mm is a pleasant shooting little gun. Unfortunately discontinued, you can either get their runt EMP or a similar size Kimber.

If she does well with your P226, I would get her a look at a P239. That model has a very slim grip and operates like a gun she is already familiar with.

She needs to try out some different guns and make a selection. We usually recommend rental ranges, but the only one I know of here does not have a large selection. Do you have any friends with large gun collections? If not, why?

December 18, 2008, 10:08 AM
One of the considerations for concealed carry of a 1911 is if the user feels comfortable carrying cocked-and-locked. Not everyone does. It took a while for me to get comfortable with it, and that was only after i took one completely apart and saw how it all worked first hand.

There are many smaller, slimmer carry pistols out there in .45, and in the fore-mentioned 9mm. I don't have one yet, but I was looking into getting a Glock G36, which is the single-stack .45 acp. Operation is simple, it carries the large ammo, and reliability is top-notch. Uh, from what I hear.

And to echo what Linda said, give her some guidance and opinion on available choices and options, but let her make the final decision on what to get. She won't want to carry a gun she doesn't like!

Joe Link
December 18, 2008, 03:21 PM
Thanks for all the replies guys!

To start with, I have a good friend dropping off a Colt LW Officers model next week for us to borrow for a while and see how she likes it. This is great because it'll give us more than just one range visit to base our decision.

jr_roosa, she, like most new(ish) shooters, hasn't come to respect and appreciate a good revolver yet, so unfortunately that's not an option.

CPshooter, thanks for the suggestion, but I won't purchase non-Clackamas Kimber guns. I don't want to start a debate here, as I have many friends who absolutely love their Kimbers, but I've seen a few failures with my own eyes, moreso than any other gun (including my mom's Raven .25 :uhoh::D).

Mad_Magyar, I wish money wasn't a factor! I'll be selling trading my near mint W. German P226 to fund most of this purchase. I like the new agent, but neither her nor I like the fact that it doesn't have traditional sights.

Linda, what was causing the reliability issues? I agree 100% about letting her choose the gun and making sure she chooses one she likes to shoot. It was actually her pushing me in the direction of a 1911, as she's getting tired of trying to find a gun that'll fit her hands (which the 1911 does). She's never shot a 3" 1911, but I did start her out on my Sig P220 and she shoots .45 very well. Luckily, she's not very recoil sensitive. She LOVES shooting my 870 12ga., Mosin Nagant M44, and my Colt Anaconda .44mag.

Jim Watson, we'll definitely see how she likes it when we go to the range. If it's unpleasant for either of us, we'll probably look for something else. I had her handle a P239 and for some reason she didn't like it, but I can't remember why. Next time we're at a gun shop though I think I'll have her try it again, for the reasons you've stated.

Darkness, yep, that's a huge decision for her that she needs to get comfortable with. I too had to get used to it before I started carrying my 1911. Right now she's bothered by the idea, but I think she's warming up to it a bit due to the external safeties. While I love Glocks, she hates them :(

Thanks a ton for all your replies guys!!

December 18, 2008, 06:02 PM
EMP, Springfeild Arms

December 18, 2008, 06:21 PM
The G36 is a fine option. I thought hard about getting one before I decided on a 1911 instead.

I have seen many stories about 3" 1911's not being as reliable as the larger models. Not sure if they're true but it would be something to consider in sizing up and trying out a potential gun.

You might try a slightly larger 1911. The commander (4.25") slide on an officer's frame (shorter than the full size frame) seems to be a pretty good trade-off. That's what I was looking for until I stumbled across a killer deal on a commander length 1911 with a full-size frame. I have been very, very happy despite originally looking for the slightly shorter frame.

As for 9mm vs. .45ACP... I have a 9mm that I like a lot. I told myself for quite awhile that I didn't need a .45. Then I shot one. Then I rented one from the range. Then I rented another one from the range. Finally, I admitted to myself that I really wanted one because of how well I shot them. The muzzle energy of one versus the other is pretty much a wash. But the heavier bullet going slower gives a different recoil feel than the lighter bullet going faster. If she can shoot a 9mm, I don't see any reason she couldn't shoot a .45.

Rob P.
December 18, 2008, 06:22 PM
One pistol that hasn't been mentioned is the S&W 3913. IF you can find one, get the 3913LS (ladysmith) as it has a factory trigger job and the pull is smooth.

The S&W is a 9mm DA/SA auto pistol that carries 7+1 in a single stack magazine. It has a 3 1/4" bbl, an alloy frame and is flatter than a 1911. It is also outstandingly accurate out to 25 yds.

These are exceedingly good CCW pistols that do not have ANY of the teething problems that compact 1911's sometimes have. Corbon DPX ammo is a perfect match for the short barrel.

December 18, 2008, 06:37 PM

December 18, 2008, 07:49 PM
their runt EMPI love my EMP from Springfield, runt or not. :D


December 19, 2008, 10:40 AM
I carry the officer's model, but I am neither female, nor small.

Another option I would consider (for a small woman, not myself) would be to trade the Sig 226 for a Sig 232. New modern ammo (like the brand new hornady loads) are beginning to get respectable performance... and if she likes the 226, she'll probably love the 232.

But like I said... _I_ carry an officer's 1911, so take that for what it's worth.

As for recoil...
First: you can always buy 'reduced recoil' rounds. Ga Arms, for example sells bulk 185 gr reloads that are cheap and about as tame as a .45acp is gonna get. Then you always have the choice to have one mag loaded with the buffalo bore hot stuff... if you think you'll need it.
Second: remember more gun weight =less felt recoil. - if you carry the heaviest gun you can manage, you will have the lowest possible recoil. AND vice-versa... So if she's not real sensitive to recoil, you have the luxury of looking at lightweight guns.

December 19, 2008, 10:49 AM
+3 on the Springfield EMP - Perfect solution!

Ergos of a 1911, felt recoil of a 9mm. (Not cheap, but it sure is a purdy gun!)

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