1911 Education Request


March 23, 2013, 04:18 PM
I'm in the market for the first 1911 of my collection. I own over a dozen other semi pistols, primarily springfields, glocks, FN, Walther, SW, etc. However I have yet to own or even really work with a good 1911 model, so looking for an education on the subject.

Now, obviously there's tons of articles on this out there already. However most I found were out-dated by years and I imagine there's some new things on the market these days to consider.

So was wondering if you might share some experience / insight on the best 1911 style I could get for around $1200 or less?

I have some wiggle room in the budget if it means a better lifetime purchase. I'm looking for reliability, durability, accuracy, you know....the usual stuff.

Oh and please, no shiny "blingy" show-off crap please, this would be a CC option. :)

Thanks fellas.

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Flt Simulation
March 23, 2013, 04:50 PM
Not really that difficult ...

1. Want the 'real thing' in a 1911 ... look for a Colt, and look for it in .45 ACP

2. Decide whether or not you want a Series 70 or a Series 80 (there is a slight difference in the safety mechanisms) ... a Google search will give you info on the differences.

3. Decide whether or not you want stainless or a blued finish (a brushed stainless gun with polished flat surfaces on the slide will normally hold up a little better over time than a blued finish if you plan on regularly shooting the gun ).

4. Your probably looking for a 5" barrel (full frame 1911) ... if so, decide on a standard "Government" model, or the more expensive "Gold Cup" version. Since you have in the neighborhood of $1,200 to spend, I would look real hard at the Gold Cup.

Enjoy :)

Here is a good example of a late model series 80 Colt .45 ACP Gold Cup National Match, available in either stainless or a blued finish.

Obviously, the grips are aftermarket.



Some may not agree with me, but I feel the original Colts hold there value over time better than some other brands (clones) of the 1911 design.

Just my opinion

March 23, 2013, 07:25 PM
I'd recommend you get a full size, 5" 1911. They are typically the most reliable, and when you are looking up information, most of it is geared towards the full size. If you wear it IWB, which is the easiest way to conceal anyway, it makes very little difference whether you choose a 3", 4.25", or 5" barrel, so you may as well get the most reliable version anyway.

The other thing to consider is if you want fixed or adjustable sights or a GI grip safety or a beavertail grip safety. Making the wrong choice, and deciding to change later, will require some grinding or welding on the frame or slide.

At that price range, I second the recommendation for Colt.


Sauer Grapes
March 23, 2013, 08:06 PM
You might also consider something from Springfield. They offer a loaded model in stainless and blued. Available with fixed or adjustable sights and ambi thumb safety for lefties. My favorite for the money from them is there ''Range Officer". This model is parkerized with single thumb safety, adjustable sights{only} and bevertail grips safety. Both have stainless steel barrels.
Both solid guns and accurate. These are both under $1,000.

Other than these two, I agree with the others, Colt is a great gun.

March 23, 2013, 08:23 PM
There are 3 highly informative 1911 links in my signature, under the Forum Rules, about selecting a first 1911...I'd start there.

For reliability's sake, I'd stick with a 5" or 4.25" barrel/slide to start out.

I've always thought $1200-$1500 was the sweet spot in mid-priced 1911s. I usually recommend the Dan Wesson CBOB or the STI Trojan as good values in that price range

March 23, 2013, 08:45 PM
And one more link for good measure: http://forums.1911forum.com/showthread.php?t=356544

March 23, 2013, 09:10 PM
Is your $1200 for the gun only? Do you have a budget set aside for additional mags, ammo, a holster, etc? If I had a $1200 budget total, I would think hard about a Sig nitron or stainless in a commander size if you plan to carry it from time to time. If you can find one, a nice used Colt Combat Commander or lightweight commander would be a great option, too, and you wouldn't have to have anything that is LNIB because you plan for it to be a shooter / carry gun.

I like to have at least 4 magazines, plus a dedicated HD and/or CC magazine. Figure that you will spend $40 per mag for good quality 1911 mags like Wilson Combat. If you get anything other than a Colt, plan to leave the factory mags in the gun case as they will likely be junk. Also, plan to run about 500 rounds through the gun initially, which would run you $200-$250.

Anyway, just some food for thought. It is easy to spend $500 on mags/ammo/accessories for a new 1911.

March 23, 2013, 09:25 PM
In that range I like the S&W version the best. It is often overlooked, but I think you get a lot for the money.

March 23, 2013, 09:30 PM
In the $1200.00 price range, I would start with Springfield and second would be the new Sigs. STI is also a good choice. Personally, I wouldn't even look at a Kimber. Way over priced and not worth what the charge compared to the others.

March 23, 2013, 09:36 PM
I'll second the Dan Wesson CBOB idea. If you can find one they are very nice pistols.

March 25, 2013, 01:17 AM
Great info, a lot to digest. I kind of like the idea of a Springfield since I've had such great luck out of their other products. As for the Dan Wesson, I'll have to look into that more since it's a new name to me. I only wish guns were like shoes and I could try them on first haha Thanks again!

March 25, 2013, 03:16 AM
SG, the simplest style 1911 to disassemble and, IMO the style offering the fewest headaches, is what many people refer to as a Series 70 Style or more appropriately a non-firing pin block model. I don't discourage people from having such safety devices in a 1911 as they do serve a purpose but add a few more parts along with potential issues.

A few more variations that may cause consternation to new owners are the Colt Gold Cup with its increased parts and numerous alternate recoil systems which may require tools for disassembly.

In your price range, the manufacturers offering the highest quality parts in terms of materials (which does not always equate to "best") are Colt, STI and Dan Wesson. All three offer a number of models worth considering though the DWs are rather difficult to procure and doubly so this year. Colt's website is a great place to study features of each model as is STI's.

March 25, 2013, 06:57 AM
I only wish guns were like shoes and I could try them on first haha Thanks again!

Lots of gun ranges have rentals.. A test drive is far better than handling them in the store.. Call around Im sure you can find one within a reasonable distance.

Tom from WNY
March 25, 2013, 07:13 AM
1911's are my all time favorite. Currently, I own Colt and Kimber variations and have never been unhappy with either brand. My 10mm Deltas have not fallen apart (early 1990's vintage) after extensive full power 10mm shooting, my early 1990's 1991 A-1 delivered very good accuracy right out of the box and is still going strong after a lot of full power 45 ACP. All of my Kimber 1911's have delivered great accuracy and superb performance.

Full size 5 inch guns are just about perfect for concealed carry or field use. If you want a concealable 1911, go with a 4 inch barrel on a Officer's size frame (short grip). When 1911's get much below 3.5 inches in barrel length, they become finicky regarding performance. My Kimber Compact CDP carries extremely well and is very accurate to boot.

Additionally, my 1911's are NYSAFE compliant and with Kimber, Remington and Dan Wesson, it's a rigid one finger, "you are #1" to our NY Rulers. All 3 companies have significant local workforce that are paid well.

The notion of renting one and trying it out is a very good suggestion. That will give you a better idea of what you really will be happy with.

March 25, 2013, 01:24 PM
Ya unfortunately our local range generally just has "junkers" for rentals. No new demo's to offer, which is a disappointment, but we're talking about a place where a guy basically just with his feet up watching tv behind a filthy counter all day not doing much...though he is happy to sell you over priced target sheets lol. However would be nice to avoid buyers remorse on such a purchase.

I think for the moment I'm torn between the Colts/Springfields/Kimber and Dan Wesson. Will have to research more as time permits. Excellent hearing about peoples first-hand experiences though!

March 25, 2013, 03:17 PM
I have had the Springfield Range Officer, and the standard Remington. The SS Springer went down the road as I found the stainless took alot more lube over a high round count. IE it had to run wet to run, where the blued Remington has somewhere between 3-4k rounds through it without the rail sticking issues the springer had. It would also feed an empty case out of the box, something the Springfield failed to do before a lot of work. Someone with more than 3 yrs experience might be able to tell better if this was just the difference between SS and blued, but hands down the Remington is a better build IMHO.

March 25, 2013, 05:04 PM
I have a Colt and a Springfield and currently eyeing another Colt... and another Springfield... and a Kimber.... and a Dan Wesson. BE CAREFUL. the 1911 is probably the most serious of serious gun addictions. Once you get your first you may not be able to stop at 5. or 6.

Seriously, though. Something from those four manufacturers that fits your other needs and wants will be dandy. I would also throw Ruger into the mix. I don't personally own one but pretty much everything I've heard and read about them has been positive. For your "first" 1911 I'd suggest you stick with a full-size, steel frame and 5" barrel in .45ACP.

March 25, 2013, 06:42 PM
ya I think right now I may be narrowed down to the Springfield Operator, the Kimber Tac Ultra II, or Colt Gold Cup, or I have yet to really look into the Dan Wessons. I really like the idea of a light rail as an option. Not that it would get used often, but having the option available is nice. Any insight on any of those anyone could share? Or perhaps another option?

Am going with the standard 5" barrel in .45

March 26, 2013, 03:56 AM
I really like the idea of a light rail as an option. Not that it would get used often, but having the option available is nice.

Since you stated Concealed Carry in your OP. A rail does add more weight and can induce a headache looking for a holster.

March 26, 2013, 06:08 AM

I recall seeing something in your original post that you were considering a 1911 that gave you the option of concealed carry. Typically for that purpose my favorite is something the size of a Colt Commander. The aluminum frame cuts down somewhat on the weight of the gun (which is great if you're carrying it for long periods of time), and the slide length always feels just right to me, in terms of balance and handling.

March 26, 2013, 03:06 PM
I'll second the nomination for Dan Wessons. Best bang for the buck right now.
Check out the Valor, Vbob, CCO, ECO.

Keep in mind that it's best to do a little work to the average 1911 to fit it to your hand perfectly. Usually:
-trimming the thumb safety paddle as needed
-selecting a trigger (if needed)
-grips. Not uncommon to see a sharp grippy VZ on the right side and a smooth panel on the left for CCW lately.
-sensitizing the grip safety for retension position shooting

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