S&W 1911's


April 4, 2012, 06:53 PM
So I always see a bunch of threads on Springfield, Kimber, Colt, and other much "higher end" 1911's. Some are nothing but complaints, and others are all praise. I hardly ever hear a word about S&W 1911's though. I'm thinking about buying my first 1911 and am wondering about the new E Series. That 's what I'm leaning toward.

So please vote, and give your opinions of S&W 1911's, good, bad, or ugly.

Also, please don't go on some rant about how I should be looking at brand "whatever". I'm interested in hearing from the S&W owners, not the fan boys of other companies.

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April 4, 2012, 07:31 PM
I don't have an E series, but I have a S&W 1911 Stainless that I bought brand new back in 2005. It was the first gun that I ever bought myself, so I'll hang on to it forever. Besides that, it is a fantastic gun.

Purists don't like the S&W 1911 series because of things like the external extractor, and firing pin safety. However, unlike Kimber's early attempts, S&W got their external extractor design right, right from the start. I've had no extraction issues in 1,800 rounds. Also, unlike Colt's early firing pin safety design, S&W linked theirs to the grip safety, so it doesn't effect the trigger at all.

The S&W 1911 series all come with things originally only found on custom 1911s like an extended beavertail grip safety with speed bump, front slide serrations, full-length guide rod, lowered and flared ejection port, aggressively-checkered mainspring housing, the list goes on and on.

I have always wondered why the S&W doesn't come up more often in discussions of 1911s. I think people either overlook it because S&W so heavily promotes their M&P line and their revolvers, or people think that an all-American 1911 that costs under $1,000 must not be that great.

Mine has been great. I paid $750 NIB out-the-door in 2005, and the gun has been worth every penny. The E series looks like a great value for even more modern, custom, refined touches on a 1911.

April 4, 2012, 08:04 PM
None of your choices fit me.

I'd need one that said, I'm happy with my S&W 1911, but would upgrade to an E-series in a heartbeat.

I had a S&W 1911Sc for a couple of years and was very happy with it. It's new owner is even happier as it is accurate, reliable and light enough to carry...Scadium frame and Commander length barrel/slide. I even have another client who bought an Sc after shooting mine.

The E-series is a significant upgrade to the prior S&W 1911s. The extractor in the E-series had previously only been available in their Performance Center 1911s.

I wouldn't put the E-series in the class of "higher end" 1911s, but then I wouldn't put the Springfield, Kimber or Colt their either. They are all pretty mid-range 1911s. The S&W Performance Center 1911s would be at the higher end, as would the Springfield Armory Professional

April 4, 2012, 08:19 PM
I've been a S&W 1911 fan for several years. I've had a couple of government size 1911PDs and sold them both - I just prefer a steel frame in that size. I carry a commander size 1911PD that I had bobtailed and I recently bought an government size E-series. I believe they are a great value and superb performers.

The War Wagon
April 4, 2012, 08:31 PM
I like my '08 vintage stainless Smith, but I would sell/trade it for a railed version... if it came up. I'm NOT actively looking, I might add...

April 4, 2012, 09:11 PM
I don't have the E-Series, but I do have he GunSite Commander. In a word...WOW, it is fast becoming my main carry. I have been told the Gunsite's with serial numbers under 500 were made at the Performance Center, I hope so mines 211.

April 4, 2012, 10:57 PM

Have one, it's been pretty great so far. Hard to beat for features/price, there are nicer 1911s out there but you're looking at spending almost twice as much.

April 4, 2012, 11:42 PM
JRD serial numbers denote the first batch of S&W 1911s, the design engineer's initials. They were assembled in the Performance Center because new production areas were not available at the time. They are not fitted to PC standards but did use Briley barrels (to S&W spec.) and some misc. small parts from other vendors. Unique, but not mythical by half.

Another no vote for me. I currently have an E-Series govt. and while it has fired without fail it was far from perfect. This may take a bit of typing.

First things first, the new fitted trigger had half the vertical travel of the previous generation. Poorly fitted compared to a Colt I purchased around the same time but better than some others I have perused. I replaced mine. Trigger pull had perceptible creep and a bit stiff, solved some of it with stoning and a new sear spring.

The machining was excellent with one exception, the J cut which was slightly stepped. I sanded and stoned it even with the breechface. No real sharp edges but a large void at the rear of the frame that housed Swartz safety parts in previous generation.

Feeding and firing were fault free in the 500+ rounds I put through it, it feeds empties with a variety of magazines.

Some issues...the springs were the worst I've ever seen, replaced all but the hammer and plunger tube springs. The thumb safety was rather thinly profiled and bent to the point of contacting the plunger tube. The slide stop pin was inconsistent in size and undersized. Examining it for wear it was noted that this one was riding the link and wearing severely on the stop. The culprit? Overcut lower lugs.

It may never have caused more grief than a broken barrel link or slide stop but I insist on everything I own running well enough to trust my life to. With that in mind I had a new barrel and bushing installed and the TS and slide stop replaced. That bit of work will push the price well above the original MSRP and while I'm sure I'll be happy when I pick it up tomorrow I'm also sure that other options in hindsight would have won out for the final price.

S&W offers a lifetime warranty so any problems will be addressed free of charge but I suspect without some modifications there may well be issues. For the record, I had the Colt worked on as well but the only functional changes were a loose plunger tube (standard on Colts) and a slightly undersized slide stop pin- both replaced.

Sorry for the novel.

April 5, 2012, 02:45 AM
I think the reason I don't mention my smith in most '1911' threads is to spare myself some of the auto-reflex purist -bleep- that some people are just compelled to immediately rant about: the extractor and internal safety as already mentioned in previous posts. Neither has been a problem for me, and I'm GLAD it has the internal safety, extra-glad that it uses the grip-safety and not the trigger.

I've just reached the 3000 round count with mine. I've had a total of one failure, and that was a stove-piped winchester-white, very likely the round's fault, as I've fired countless JHPs through it no problem. I did replace the recoil spring with a better one. Mine came with a traditional-style guide and plug system, which i prefer. It is my most trusted semi-auto, just above my 5906. I carry it more than any other handgun due to its thin profile, reliability, and accuracy. It is as accurate as I am. I like the full-size full-weight for accuracy and recoil. One other problem I had was my slide-stop broke right where the link sits around it, early on somewhere around 300 rounds in. I replaced it with a forged-steel one and hasn't been a problem since. It is my favorite semi-auto and quite possibly my favorite handgun (and I'm a handgun guy!).

Didn't know they started with JRD, mine is JRH anyone know what year that might be? It's a ltd edition of 231, found that out randomly during the phone call to S&W about the slide-stop. If anyone knows more about this ltd run I'd love to know more, also looking to purchase another just like it :)

sorry about the crappy lighting, it's shiny as a mirror, except for the top of the slide

April 5, 2012, 07:36 AM
The only S&W 1911 I have is a 9mm Pro Series. I've had it a few years and it has been a great gun, 100% reliable. Very accurate and fast shooting. It's a keeper.

April 5, 2012, 07:54 AM
None of the poll options fit me either. Since I'm not allowed to mention any other brands, I will simply state that it is my opinion, based on my own experience, that the S&W 1911 pistols are too expensive for what you get; the individual parts quality is lackluster and the fit/finish leaves a lot to be desired, especially when you get to the $1200 price point that the E-series Round-Butts are fetching.

April 5, 2012, 09:51 AM
I'm an S&W and 1911 fan, but don't own an S&W 1911 yet.

From my research, the firing pin safety design S&W used/uses in their 1911's is a robust and well designed set of parts. I was really never put off by the firing pin safety on the S&W as I have a Series 80 Colt, which while a different design, is still a firing pin safety equipped 1911. I also like the external extractor. While probably not something the kitchen table gunsmith can work on like the internal extractor used on most 1911's, it is probably going to work better, longer than a standard internal extractor.

I do think the E-Series is an improvement in both of those areas. Removing the firing pin safety and going with the titanium firing pin simplify's things and should still be safe enough. I also think the upgraded extractor is an improvement for the E-Series. However, I don't care for what appears to be a more squared front strap on the new E-Series though. I haven't handled them enough to know if they don't feel "right", but they sure look bad to me. That change is so noticeable to my eyes, I almost don't even see the new slide serrations or grips on the new E-Series.

April 5, 2012, 01:54 PM
I received me E series as a Christmas present.
I admittedly dont have a ton of experience with 1911s, but I absolutely love mine.
Its not a top end 1911, but I feel that it more than holds it own with the various Springfields, Kimbers, etc.

April 6, 2012, 07:35 AM
Ok my opinion FWIW:

I currently own a few 1911 pistols from various makers: Colt, Kimber, Sig, and have owned a RIA pistol which was very reliable and accurate but has been sold to fund something else. I'm most certainly NOT an expert, but have owned and shot a few different 1911s and I am definitely a fan.

I was recently in the market for a stainless steel 1911 and after getting tired of waiting for a Ruger SR1911 to appear, I went to my LGS and compared two pistols: a S&W E Series and a Sig traditional reverse two-tone. After handling both, I didn't like the thumb safety at all on the Smith. It seemed sloppy or soft and didn't engage and disengage with a positive click, whereas the Sig was perfect. I bought the Sig.

To be fair, I do not know if this is typical, but on that day, with these two particular pistols, the Sig was superior IMO. I really wanted to like the Smith as I am a big fan and love my Smith revolvers and M&P pistol and AR15.

I will add that as far as fit and finish the E Series gun was beautiful, as was the Sig. It really just came down to the safety for me.

April 6, 2012, 03:00 PM
^ I guess some days are better than others! My older-model S&W 1911's thumb safety is a crisp click, on or off, every time, but I've heard this complaint more than once,

April 6, 2012, 05:45 PM
I guess some days are better than others! My older-model S&W 1911's thumb safety is a crisp click, on or off, every time, but I've heard this complaint more than once,

I was thinking the same thing. I've heard this complaint as well as the loose trigger complaint the most out of all the complaints with S&W 1911s. My trigger does have a tiny bit of play up and down, but my thumb safety is crisp and secure, with a definite "click". And I have swept that thing off and on thousands of times.

April 7, 2012, 12:37 PM
I have had mine since June last year.
I like it a lot but after I put 1200 or so rounds through fairly quickly (with no problems not user generated) it has been my nightstand gun and has only been out a few times, 2 weeks ago last but probably 2 months before that.
I'm retired and get to the range a lot and so I shoot many bricks of .22 and some 9s for my carry gun.
I have actually thought of selling it for a Smith 617 but I'll keep it and get the 617 when I can.
Anyway, here's mine. It now has VZ desert grips though.


April 7, 2012, 02:25 PM
iLikeOldgunsIlikeNewGuns, Small world isn't it.:D


I really enjoy shooting mine. Great pistol overalll. I have long replaced the grips (still have them though) on mine for Hogue checkered G-10s. The factory grips are very nice looking, but I found them too smooth/slick for range work myself (IMHO).

April 8, 2012, 07:23 PM
Thanks for the input so far folks. I hope some more people chime in.

April 8, 2012, 07:37 PM
Love my 1911PD, it shoots like a dream and have had no problems so far after about 2k rounds through it.

April 8, 2012, 07:51 PM
I have Colts, Kimbers, and Springers, Paras, and I would rate my E-series up with the Colts and Springers.

VIDEO (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBtvwKJQxaA&list=UUEw6dHdKyDmGiURtDZjjcBA&index=14&feature=plcp)


April 9, 2012, 12:17 AM
An older S&W 1911 was actually the first 1911 I ever shot. It's actually the reason I own a 1911, now. Great guns.

April 9, 2012, 11:50 AM
I suppose that I'm not too surprised by the poll results, now that there are a good amount of votes. I voted 'I love my older model S&W 1911 and will keep it.' Not only that, but when the money comes around, after I buy a M1a, I plan to purchase an additional full-length full-weight non-E series SW1911. If it has a full-length guiderod I will swap that out for plug-style.

AZGLock13- very nice! It IS a small world, and every time I forget that something reminds me :)
It's my favorite semi-auto, I originally put hogue wrap-arounds on it, but have been carrying and using it at the range with the original grips for a few months now. If you ever decide you can part with yours, please look up this thread and PM me! :D :evil:

April 9, 2012, 12:43 PM
Well, none of your choices fit me, either.

I don't "love" guns, but I certainly appreciate a well designed & well built firearm.

I own a SW1911SC 5" and find it a fine example of the 1911-style pistol. I'll keep it.

I've also been thinking about picking up one of the Enhanced Series, though ... and I won't be selling my standard SW1911 to get it.

I like the quality of machining in the SW1911 compared to my 4 Colts.

April 9, 2012, 08:46 PM
Time for some pictures.

Replaced the trigger, hammer, sear, disconnector, barrel bushing, barrel, slide stop and thumb safety. A few of the OEM parts:


The slide stop, pin measured .1975-.200 with a MIM dot on the pin and wear showing from the link:


The upper barrel lugs showing wear from poor contact and (hard to see but visible in person) rounding of the lug corners:


The revised E-Series as delivered by Alchemy Custom with hard fit Storm Lake match barrel, Kart bushing, Greider slide stop-custom serrated, Ed Brown thumb safety, Harrison plunger tube and Cylinder & Slide ignition:


My iphone does a poor job of conveying some of the details but hopefully the message isn't lost. I'm by no means disappointed in my Smith with the exception of the barrel fit which is rather common at its price point but in contrast the Colt XSE for less than $100 more needed far less to be just as reliable. Again, I'm not bashing my S&W but these are the "beauty shots" you won't see from other posts.

April 10, 2012, 04:23 PM
So far not many complaints. I am in the market for a 1911 and am on the fence between a Ruger or the Smith. ..So far. I want to see more people post.

April 12, 2012, 09:55 AM
Me too. I'm thinking the SS E series is the one for me. Now the question of the rail. Do I have a use for it? I'm wondering about Sig 1911's too. I'll have to start a new thread.

April 12, 2012, 10:45 AM
I hope my posts didn't have people thinking I hate S&Ws. Three more from my stash I would depend on without hesitation.


April 13, 2012, 12:34 AM
Me too. I'm thinking the SS E series is the one for me. Now the question of the rail. Do I have a use for it?

If I had it to do over I would get the SC instead of the TA I posted above.
I did buy a Surefire light for it though and it stays mounted and loaded in my Gunvault on the nightstand.
If I had the SC I might use it for carry, The TA is just too big for me as a carry.
But I don't like my CZ75 compact for holster carry either so, I guess I'm stuck with my Kahr PM9 for now.
I held a new Sig P250 today though that was nice.

April 13, 2012, 11:37 AM
I very much wanted a SS E-Series but I could not locate one locally. The last store I went to had a gun I had also lusted after, so I ended up leaving with a Dan Wesson Heritage.

I still would like to get one but the Heritage blew my 1911 fund for the year.

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