Best value 1911


April 27, 2009, 01:15 AM
I'm think about a 1911... whats the best one for the money? Can you get a good one for $500 or so? How does the reliability of different 1911's compare to a Glock or an XD? Whats the best deal in general? Thanks

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April 27, 2009, 01:48 AM
Can you get a good one for $500 or so?

Some people get good use out of their RIA's and Springfield mil-specs. Some have problems with them and require some working and tweaking.

How does the reliability of different 1911's compare to a Glock or an XD?

With a quality gun and good mags, the same. Most problems originate from scrimping on mags.

Whats the best deal in general?

I believe the best deals price/quality are used Colts, 70 or 80 Series. Shop around, $600 to $750 for decent quality and when you find a good deal.

April 27, 2009, 02:41 AM
I paid $510 yesterday for a new Rock Island Armory 1911 Tactical in .45ACP. I stripped it down for a thorough cleaning and I'm impressed by what I found. It appears to be a very serviceable pistol. The barrel lock-up is tight, the slide/frame rails have very little wiggle and the trigger is clean and light. The ramp has been polished and the chamber throat radiased. The sights are quite good.

Two things I'll be changing: the grips (I like checkered wood) and the magazine. Otherwise I think it's well worth the price I paid.

I hope to run about 100 rounds through it tomorrow and see what it does.

FWIW, I do not like the Series 80 firing pin blocks. That's one reason I didn't bother to even look at the Khar Thompson Auto-Ordnance 1911. The 1911 has two safeties already and the firing pin block is a needless feature that often causes the trigger to be less than it should be. It's the answer to a non-existent problem IMO.

April 27, 2009, 04:12 AM
A funny thing happens on forums like this. Folks come out of the woodwork to promote their favorite guns.

Many people who are budget-minded promote inexpensive guns as being on the same quality level as pricier products. I'd recommend you go to the 1911 forum where the forums are broken down by manufacturer.

A recent perusal of the Rock Island/Armscor forum at least half the subject lines had to do with guns that required some sort of fix.

The Charles Daly forum was about one-third about malfunctions. I was surprised to see very few complaints in the Taurus forum.

The Springfield forum had more complaints than any of the other three I've mentioned. Colt was interesting because I only saw one post about a malfunction.

I tend to push Norincos for entry level Government models because they are so well built and fairly available under $500. The Norinco forum only had one post about a malfunction.

I suggest that rather than asking people here what they like that you check out the various makes and models through the brand-specific forums at Those are people asking real questions about guns they already own.

Personally, I like very expensive 1911s. I don't have any worth less than $1,000. The only one that doesn't have a the barrel replaced with a match barrel is a Norinco. Why? Better steel than Colt, Kimber or Baer and it is chrome lined to boot. Of course that gun only has nine original parts - the frame, slide, barrel, link, plunger tube, sear, disconnector, extractor and ejector.

I'll be honest though, don't listen to me. I, like everyone else who will post here, have my own preferences that may or may not meet your criteria. See what actual owners are saying about the issues they have with their own guns.

April 27, 2009, 04:39 AM
I tend to push Norincos for entry level Government models because they are so well built and fairly available under $500.

I forgot to mention that, too. I have one I bought new in '94 for like $225 at a show in FL. ANIB ones can be had for $450 today if you just keep watching the ads and pawn shops. It runs 100% when fed with good magazines. It's 1/3 the cost of other guns, but it is 90% as much fun and just as reliable. That's good value.

April 27, 2009, 08:01 AM
Check out the Taurus PT1911s. You can generally get a basic blued one in that price range.

April 27, 2009, 11:39 AM
+1 on Taurus PT1911. It is hard to beat for the price. I have had mine about two years with no issues.

April 27, 2009, 11:51 AM
Ok then +2 on a Norinco & Colt.
I use to promote SA quite often in these forums. Not so much any more.
I have always felt Colt was the best, and still do. But if you can find a Norinco you will beat RIA, Taurus and SA in the entry level.

I have owned and currently own 80 series Colts. The trigger can be very smooth. Period.

April 27, 2009, 01:12 PM
Another 1911A1 that may interest you - if you can find one priced reasonably - is the 1927 Argentine. I rarely see them any more but some years back they were very common. Then people discovered just how well they were made and the stampede was on. They are an exact clone of the Colt 1911A1 and made to extremely high standards.

April 27, 2009, 01:45 PM
Even a M&P, XD, SR9, or a Glock are well over your $500. Expect double that for a decent 1911.

ie: Kimber TLE, Dan Wesson.

The best bargins I've seen are for the basic milspec models from Springy and Colt.

Theres alot to learn about 1911's before you make your choice. Check out all the 1911 forums and The Sight,, etc...

April 27, 2009, 02:05 PM
STI Spartan is a great choice for around $600.

April 27, 2009, 02:09 PM
I absolutly love my STI Spartan, shoots really well good price, id say easily comparable with a Kimber Custom II

April 27, 2009, 03:07 PM
Look for Colt, Rock Island, STI Spartan. Colt will hold it's value, be good base for customizing later.

April 27, 2009, 04:01 PM
A funny thing happens on forums like this. Folks come out of the woodwork to promote their favorite guns.

I agree. "Best value" is very personal and subjective. USUALLY it means "what is the best I can get for the features and price I have in mind". One man's "best value" is another man's "cheap" or another man's "golden paperweight".

There are going to be "Best values" at different price points. I would suggest the following five ranges: < $500, $501-$750, $751-$1000, $1000-$1500, > $1500.

April 27, 2009, 04:13 PM
I've got over 13,000 rounds through my oldest RIA. Paid $280+tax for it a few years ago before word got out about how good they really are.

These days, I think the RIA "Tactical" is the best bang for the buck in a 1911. I'd rate the EAA Witness Elite Match series guns as the best overall bang for the buck semi-auto, but the RIA are very close. If you need a tie breaker, EAA loses on customer service and support.


Ala Dan
April 27, 2009, 04:54 PM
Well, I'm gonn'a promote the Smith & Wesson, model SW1911~! For
a'round $800 you can have a very fine 1911, with a few bells and
whistles; like a stainless finish, combat style hammer and trigger,
beaver tail, and Novak three dot sights. Its much like a Maytag
washer- you simply can't wear one out~! :D ;)

April 27, 2009, 05:04 PM
I owned a Taurus, and due to the minor issues decided to part with it for a newer design.

With the first 200 rounds over the first month or so I owned the pistol I had probably about 5-6 jams. It did eventually smooth out after this "break in" period.

A bigger issue is that I also had trouble with the safety. With enough shooting the left handed safety would loosen up to the point of leaving the gun unfireable. I could get it back into place, but it would always start to loosen up again.

Also, the "gold" colored etchings would wear away with enough shooting as the gun got hot...very minor, but still annoying.

This last part was probably my own fault, but I had trouble ever getting a decent grouping with the Taurus...once again this one was probably completely my own fault I never got to do enough experimenting with other 1911s to confirm this.

I just wanted to report my experience. I'm not a gun expert by any means.

Past these problems the pistol did everything it was supposed to, and the price is definitely good.

I have now moved on to a "newer" gun and haven't had any issues in about 250 rds and counting. Hope this small amount helps someone. :)

38 Special
April 29, 2009, 08:41 AM
I just bought a teflon coated DW 45 cal CBOB in desert tan. Will be taking it to the range soon. I bought it because of the reviews and wanting to save all the gunsmithing costs of making it reliable. Ordered another, without the teflon.

April 29, 2009, 11:16 AM
I started with a Norinco and was my gateway 1911 to a Colt and Les Baer. Has anyone heard that Norinco was being imported into the U.S. again? I was poking around on and saw this ad for a Norinco shotgun that the guy claims is 2009 production. If that's the case, might their 1911 find its way back here too?

April 29, 2009, 11:46 AM
The Norinco long guns are being imported, but only some of them. Still no M-14s, AKs, or 1911s.

electric wombat
April 29, 2009, 12:29 PM
Obviously if you go with a name like kimber, colt or springfield you'll be getting a a great 1911, but you'll also be paying a hefty price. If your on a budget and are just wanting a good reliable 1911 the base gov't model from those mamafactures listed above will do the job but you'll still be a bit more than other manafactures because of the name. You can also look into Rock Island Armory. I picked up a double stack 1911 at the gun show a few months ago for $450. It's not the most accurate gun on the planet but you'll hit your target. Mine is very reliable too, I haven't had any failure to fire or feed/ejection issues. My friend had a Llama that served him well. Same thing as RIA, not the most accurate but you'll hit the target, pretty reliable & very durable. He put probably close to 100,000 rounds through it before it finally gave out, the firing pin broke. I've seen those selling for around $400 or so, maybe a little cheaper.

April 30, 2009, 12:40 AM
The RIA Tactical would be a good be one of the best values today. The Stainless PT1911 would be a good one too IMO.

A couple years ago I purchased a PT1911 and haven't been disappointed. Very accurate and 100% reliable with ball and HP's well over 3000rnds.

While I understand some people haven't had the same experiance with Taurus I've owned a number of their products and haven't ever needed any work.

April 30, 2009, 07:24 PM
JPWilly has a good point. I did a lot of research like you're doing right now to find the perfect "entry level" 1911 without sacrificing on quality. Taurus ending up winning out in my book vs. Springfield Armory and Kimber as far as fit and price respectively. Although, I did have a mildly bad experience with Taurus the issues I had weren't deal breakers just minor annoyances that needed to be addressed. I would give them a shot, or hold out for a few more months and pay the extra cost for a Kimber.

I really don't think you can go too wrong with the the companies listed. Just remember you generally get what you pay for.

April 30, 2009, 08:50 PM
Do not pass up a good buy on a Colt series 80. I own both, and the trigger is every bit as good as a series 70. If that is keeping you from a nice series 80 it's a mistake.

May 1, 2009, 02:23 AM
i recently paid less then $400 for a NIB RIA Tactical and am very happy with it. it is well built for the money. very little play between the slide and frame. so far its more accurate then i am. i probably have more then 500 rounds of FMJ and JHP through it without 1 hiccup. its definitely not as tight as the pro carry 2 i used to have, but i feel like i got more then my moneys worth.

good luck in the search

May 1, 2009, 03:41 AM
+1 for the RIA Tactical (

May 1, 2009, 02:14 PM
Inexpensive 1911? The Taurus hands down. We sell a ton of them and have never had a complaint.

All around 1911? Colt. We sell the daylights out of the Colt line as well as carry them ourselves.

Tightest 1911? Springfield Loaded Target and Trophy Match.

Least appreciated 1911? S&W. Guys while higher end they seem to be excellent quality. Their advertizing dept is falling down on the job...

My personal favorite 1911? Dan Wesson Bobtail :-)

My 2 cents,


May 1, 2009, 02:25 PM
The new Para GI Expert is a very nice pistol in the $500-600 range. They're being built in Charlotte NC now, so you don't have to get something built in a 3rd world country at that price point anymore.

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