Considering a 1911 - what do I look for?


May 16, 2011, 12:36 AM
Already got a .357 revolver and a FNP-40. After reading thread after thread praising the 1911 I'm starting to catch the 1911 bug. The problem is I don't know anything about them. From what I can tell these are the big names:

Smith & Wesson E series
Ruger SR1911

Anyone other big names I'm missing? When looking at the 1911's what features should I look for? At this point all I know is that I don't want the snubby 1911's or the extra long barrel version either. Typical bbl length is fine. However, that still leaves me with a ton of options at the Kimber website alone. Are there any important differences between the above besides cosmetics?

If you enjoyed reading about "Considering a 1911 - what do I look for?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
May 16, 2011, 12:50 AM
Let me give you a link ( to an article on picking your first 1911...maybe it will help to refine your is written by a very knowledgeable 1911 guy who isn't selling 1911s regularly anymore

There is only one on that list that is proven itself over time, but you're too early in the process to be subject to my bias,

I'll add some of the better ones to look into...these are in the mid-priced are very wise to not be looking at snubby 1911s. Reliability starts fallening off as your barrel/slide get shorter than 4.25"

Dan Wesson
Springfield Armory

May 16, 2011, 12:58 AM
Never go wrong with a Colt That's been my pick several times. I have more colts than any other brand of 1911.

You do research on Para Mine was junk

Smith has good record

Ruger just released Let others be tester. I am betting on a recall in less than 6 months That my opinion

Kimber Customer service leaves a lot to be desired. Their finish is pretty but doesn't hold up well

Buy a 5" Gov. or the Commander 4 1/4" for first 1911 I like balance of Commander , but carry the compact 3" Defender most of the time.

Pay now and get what you want It gets expensive trying to up grade because you picked a cheaper model.

May 16, 2011, 01:40 AM
I'm not a 1911 expert but I know a good fire arm when I see it. I've got a Colt CC .45ACP that I really like. It has the 4.25" barrel and blued finish. It has had adjustable sights added which is nice but it's not abolutely necessary. I'ts not a match qualiity pistol but I did get a 7 shot, 2" group at 30' that I'm still trying to duplicate. I had some feeding problems with it at first and had the ejector adjusted and haven't had any problems for the last 1500 rounds. I've loaded it up with every type of standard ammo and even mixed ammo and it will feed without fail. Like I said I'm no 1911 expert but I can tell you Colt makes a good one.

May 16, 2011, 03:56 AM
I would consider either a Colt or a Springfield Armory. I'm a huge fan of the Colt 1911 and I think SA makes one hell of a nice 1911 for the money as well.

The new Ruger 1911 is very impressive and for the price it seems like a great deal, I'm considering one myself but it's not high up there on the priority list right now.

S&W would be a good choice, I just bought an E-Series that I'm extremely impressed with.

Sig makes a 1911 as well but their track record with 1911's is a bit spotty.

Personally I would avoid Taurus and Para Ordnance but there are some people who like them and who might disagree with me.

If you want to talk BIG names you could always buy yourself a Wilson Combat, Les Baer or Ed Brown but you are also talking BIG money.

May 16, 2011, 06:05 AM
I like old original Colts but they're dreadfully expensive. The only one I would consider was made Hispano-Argentina Fabricas de Automoviles SA. It will be marked "Sist. Colt CAL. 11,25mm Mod. 1927.

May 16, 2011, 07:13 AM
Springfield, S&W, Dan Wesson, Colt. Stay away from Kimber and Taurus as their QC is spotty. Ruger makes some fine guns, but thye have no track record with 1911's. As a previous poster said, let someone else be their guinea pig.

Colt went thru a period of poor quality a while back, but seems to be back now. Never truly been a fan, but your money, your choice.

Low end, but reliable, RIA Tactical. Philippines manufactured, but said to be a decent starter 1911.

Good Luck,


May 16, 2011, 07:36 AM
My money would go to Springfield and Colt. I agree with the spotty remark concerning Kimber's QC; no knowledge of Taurus. Don't care for the S&W as it has an EE. Had a real bad experience with DW some years ago, so...

May 16, 2011, 08:04 AM
I’d select the current production Colt XSE Government Model value and longevity is there.

May 16, 2011, 08:08 AM
I just bought a Springfield. You may want to take a look here:

Jed Carter
May 16, 2011, 08:29 AM
S&W, Colt, SIG, STI, Springfield Armory all make good entry level 1911 pistols. STI may make the best shooting 1911 under $1000. I would pass on Ruger, Para and Kimber for a first 1911, Ruger too new, Para GI Expert too poor quality ( I own one ), and Kimber too many owner/detractors to want one. If you want a 1911 for range use, I would get one with adjustable sights, for HD or as a carry weapon I would get Novak style night sights. My two most used pistols these days are my STI and SIG 1911s, the STI Trojan I use in USPSA and IDPA matches, the SIG RCS 1911 I use for my CCW.

May 16, 2011, 12:38 PM
Anyone other big names I'm missing?



They're the original and still one of the best. Others are good, but only Colt's 1911 has been around 100 years. Their success is no accident.

May 16, 2011, 01:50 PM
Everything you need. Nothing you don't.

I carry a Kimber, I would gladly buy another. I owned a colt, it wasn't anything magical. For the money, right now, I would look at Ruger, RIA, and an STI Spartan.

May 16, 2011, 03:16 PM
I would recommend sticking with a production model at this point. Springfield, Colt, or S&W would be my recommendation for now. I'm not a Kimber basher, I just think they aren't as good of a deal as they once were. Once the 1911 bug has a firm grasp then you can start looking at the semi-custom and custom models. For now it depends on what you want to use it for - CCW, range, HD, competition, etc. There are tons of options available, some make a difference, some are personal preference. Depending on what you want, be prepared to spend $700 - $1300 on something you will keep for a long time.

Not that you asked, but here is my take on some of the choices you'll face:
Barrel: 4.25" for CCW, 5" for range and home defense. Match barrels are nice but not required at this time.
Sights: Fixed for CCW. I'm re-evaluation my stance on night sights and have taken a liking to fiber optics - depending on application.
Grip safety: I prefer a beaver tail to a duck bill. Also prefer one with a memory bump.
Hammer: Commander style (also called cutout or outline) over the GI spurred.
Front strap checkering: Some sort of texturing/checkering for CCW.
Guide rod: I hate the two-piece GR. Prefer the GI to the full length but it isn't a deal breaker.
Main spring housing: Prefer the flat to the curved.
Thumb safety: I'm not a lefty so I have no need for the ambi-safety and think they are a nuisance.
Front cocking serrations: Don't like them but not a deal breaker.
Finish: Prefer stainless if it is going in a holster.
Frame: Scandium or aluminum for CCW. Steel for range or competition shooting.

And then, a lot of times it boils down to what feels good in your hand.

Some suggestions for your consideration:
Springfield Range Officer:
Springfield Loaded:
S&W 1911 E-series:
Ruger SR1911:

May 16, 2011, 03:28 PM
Might also throw the Remington R1 in the consideration pile.
Reasonably priced, nicely finished, well fit, SS match barrel & bushing.
It's eaten everthing I've fed it so far without a problem.

May 16, 2011, 04:17 PM
i have a 67 colt government. i have the standard barrel that came with it also the same era colt national match barrel, fitted to the gun. standard will shoot 2" group at 20yds, match will shoot 1 1/2" at same distance... i would recommend an earlier era colt , just because they (colt) still have me a little spooked from a few years back.... besides for that, i like kimber but your looking at mass production issues. the more that is made the more there will be guns with flaws. and my crappy luck.... im the one in the million.

if you really want bang for your buck, buy a wilson. they are still made every year in lower numbers than most Competitors and i think there margin of error is much lower than the rest because of the personal way they build there guns... les bear and ed brown too.... they cost about twice as much as some of the other guys, but which would you rather have? two guns or one that could out shoot both?

but if all else fails... buy a colt, they are only the real 1911 everything else is a clone..

May 17, 2011, 05:53 AM
Why folks don't consider Colt and Springfield second when buying their first 1911 surprises me. I have all Colts and they are utterly reliable and just define a classic 1911. The only problem with Colt is that they can be hard to find locally. My shop sells pretty much whatever they get from Colt withing a day or two. I did own a Kimber once...yes the finish was pretty but Quality was spotty as I had several problems with it. It seems Kimber is all about finishes... From your list, the only gun I would consider is the Smith E series, but then I'd have to get use to those goofy slide serrations. :)

May 17, 2011, 12:02 PM
If you're looking for a carry gun, 3 in. bbl, Kimber without question.

May 17, 2011, 01:32 PM
What are you looking to use the gun for? Carry, home defense, range fun, gun games etc...

How many rounds a year are you looking to shoot?

What is your price range?

Do you want combat sights, adjustable sights or night sights?

Do you like a beavertail on the 1911 or just a stock grip safety?

May 17, 2011, 02:14 PM
If you're looking for a carry gun, 3 in. bbl, Kimber without question.

Why "without question"?

Anyway..........what will the gun be used for and what is the budget set at? If it's not going to be a CCW, then I would recommend a Government model (5") from Springfield, Colt, Kimber (if you find a good deal), S&W, etc.

If you want to spend $3000 +/-, buy an Ed Brown.


May 17, 2011, 06:37 PM
That link in post #2 has some extremely valuable advice.

May 17, 2011, 10:32 PM
Colt, thats all you need to know.

August 6, 2011, 09:10 PM
What are you looking to use the gun for? Carry, home defense, range fun, gun games etc...

I just want an ultra reliable and accurate .45. Home defense, range fun, gun games will all work.

I have a Ruger SP101 for carry and a FNP40 as well.

How many rounds a year are you looking to shoot?

I try to shoot weekly but I have a lot of guns. I guess it depends on how much I like the .45 when I start shooting it. It could be a lot or it could be a little. Either way it should be reliable enough to handle whatever I throw at it or I won't waste my time.

What is your price range?

I like simple straight forward quality. So whatever that costs I'll pay. I don't need expensive glitter. The Ruger SP1911 appealed to me at first but I'll go for Colt or Springfield if there is a quality difference.

Do you want combat sights, adjustable sights or night sights?

I'm thinking combat sights. Again, simple rugged quality is what I'm about.

Do you like a beavertail on the 1911 or just a stock grip safety?

I don't know. Will have to check that out at the gun shop.

August 6, 2011, 10:19 PM
A 1911, an ex-wife and a teenage daughter are going to give you grief and that is a fact of life.

Springfield Armory gives the best service I have ever witnessed for a 1911 style gun bar none. Cindy and Dave Williams are a pleasure to deal with. That makes Springfield a grief free choice for me. They pay over night shipping also.

My Springfield stainless steel loaded full size model is my favorite 1911 range toy.

August 6, 2011, 10:57 PM
A 1911, an ex-wife and a teenage daughter are going to give you grief and that is a fact of life.

?!?!?!? I thought 1911's were very reliable. What kind of grief can I expect?

F-111 John
August 7, 2011, 10:09 AM
I'm with you Wacki with the 1911 bug, but since it'll be a range weapon more than a carry/duty weapon, the models that I'm interested in are about as scarce as hen's teeth.

I've resigned myself to waiting untill after the 100th anniversary year is over before I go shopping again. My eye is on the Ruger SR1911 because it is about the lowest priced stainless model I can find, and it has a few of the "fun bits" already added, including the beaver tail grip safety, skeletonized hammer and trigger, and a larger thumb safety, along with Novak sights.

Watch, right about the time I'm ready to buy, Ruger will come out with a Commander length SR1911 and it'll be a scarce gun...

Double Vision
August 7, 2011, 12:23 PM
The best advice I can give you is to find a LGS that has several models, and compare them side-by-side. A knowledgeable salesperson can be a big help.

Yesterday I wandered into my LGS just to see if/when they could get a Ruger SR1911. No luck on findng a Ruger.

FYI, I had almost sworn off this store because if you get the wrong salesman you're wasting your time.

Anyway, this young kid did a real nice job showing off a number of 1911s to me. There was another fellow also shopping for 1911s and his input was also helpful. He ended up with a nice S&W 1911.

I decided to leave and come back later with my handgun permit (as required in the People's Republic of NJ). When I returned I was helped by the store owner, a good guy. We spent more time comparing a handful of 1911s.

I narrowed it down to a very nice Springfield Armory Loaded Parkerized and Colt Gold Cup Stainless with 100th Anniverary logos in the grips. FYI the SA did NOT say Made in Brazil and appeared to be a Made in USA pistol. It was neck & neck down to the wire and the Colt won out by a nose. It just "felt" right.

IMHO you have to feel a pistol like this side-by-side with comparable models and brands to see the difference.

The Colt is beautiful. I cannot wait to range test it. Even after choosing the Colt, I had to hold myself back from going back to the Springfield. It is such a nice piece.

If it's still there in 30 days, I may go back and bring it home too.

If you enjoyed reading about "Considering a 1911 - what do I look for?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!