Please Explain 1911 Models, Commander vs Compact


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Foto Joe
April 18, 2013, 10:20 AM
I need help with my ignorance level. I've been a fan of Colts pattern guns for years but largely ones patented prior to 1899 so I'm pretty out of touch with modern guns like the 1911.

I've only owned two 1911's over the years and both were Government Models. My question is: Is a Compact 1911 just another name for what Colts would call a Commander?

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Sauer Grapes
April 18, 2013, 11:02 AM
The term ''compact'' is subjective. Anything smaller than a Govn't size 1911 could be called a compact.
Commander generally is a Govn't frame with a 4-4.25'' barrel. Officer's model uses a smaller frame and shorter barrel. {under 4''}
Some opinions are that the Officer's size 1911s and some Commanders can be less reliable than a fullsize.

Foto Joe
April 18, 2013, 11:10 AM
One of the reasons I'm asking this is because I'm looking at a S&W Pro Series Compact. I'm curious as to whether it would be the same frame size as my S&W Gvt model. Also I'm curious as to what to look for when searching for replacement grip panels. Functional as the factory ones are, they're ugly.

jmr40
April 18, 2013, 11:14 AM
Traditionally Colt offered the 5" Government model and a 4 1/4" Commander. Both had the same frame, just a shorter slide and barrel. They also offered a shorter framed Officers Model with a sub 4" barrel.

With the MANY 1911 models being made by dozens of manufacturers you are finding all sorts of configurations today.

smalls
April 18, 2013, 11:17 AM
If I remember correctly, their Pro Series sub compact is a 3" barrel, so technically .5" smaller than a true officers model. But it uses the same sized frame and parts as an officers. With the obvious exception of the barrel.

JTQ
April 18, 2013, 11:24 AM
There are two frame sizes in reference for 1911 grips and magazines. They are Government/Commander which would have full size grips and magazines and Officer/Compact which would use the smaller size grips and mags.

Greg528iT
April 18, 2013, 11:35 AM
It IS confusing.
Most clones follow the original blueprints very well. Llama being an exception as well as a few others. S&W I believe follow it, short of the external extractor.

Government Model : The typical 1911.. 5" barrel and standard length frame holding 7 bullets. (be careful, some magazine makers slip an 8th bullet it.)

Commander : This is the same frame as the government, but with a shorter barrel. Colt uses 4.25" and they own the name Commander. Kimber I believe puts on a 4" barrel. STI, puts on a 4.25" barrel but calls it a "IV"

Officer: / Compact I think Colt coined this name as well. They shorten the frame by 1 bullet in the magazine. So a 7+1 goes to a 6+1.. etc.. (except of course if a newer style mag is used they squeeze an extra bullet in there. So you can't really go by the capacity listed). The frame/ grip being shorter, it uses shorter grip panels.. by about .45" The idea is, that, the pointy end of the grip is the hardest part to conceal. The barrel length is generally shorter than 4". Kimber makes some 3" ers.. My Springfield has a 3.5" as well as the Rock Island Armory compacts.

C.C.O. - another Colt term. People will jump up and down that any 1911 barrel shorter than 4.25" will just not work. (OK my 3.5" is flawless) (it's a machine it has not choice in working or not) But.. being the barrel is usually laying against the body, it is the easier portion to conceal. So.. take a 4.25" barrel and slide and marry it to an Officer frame and viola you have a very nice sized package.

It'd be hard to tell on the internet which is which.. Look for the terms "officer frame".. it is says it's an 8+1 capacity, (in 45 acp) it's a full sized frame.

http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x349/jaggoett1/2013-04-07194802_zpsb0e84883.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jaggoett1/media/2013-04-07194802_zpsb0e84883.jpg.html)
Here is a Compact (Officer) / Commander (with bob tail) / Government (full sized) / Government (with compensator) for a side by side comparison.

WC145
April 18, 2013, 12:51 PM
In Colt terminology the "Compact" was the 1991A1 (low buck) version of the Officer's ACP - same frame & 3.5" barrel.

1911Tuner
April 18, 2013, 08:26 PM
Traditionally Colt offered the 5" Government model and a 4 1/4" Commander. Both had the same frame, just a shorter slide and barrel.

Not quite. There are subtle differences between the two.

The rails and impact abutment on the Commander frame were moved rearward a tenth of an inch. The dust cover is shorter. Likewise, the slide's spring tunnel is shorter.

The front of the lower lug on the Commander barrel is vertical in order to create clearance with the guide rod flange. Moving the rails and impact abutment back .100 inch places the flange too close to the front of the lower lug to leave the ramped portion of the 5-inch barrel intact.

The extension forward of the third upper barrel lug was removed in order to provide clearance for the bushing.

Officer's ACP...3.5" barrel.

3.75 inch.

9mmepiphany
April 18, 2013, 09:15 PM
Just for clarification of the above. My understanding is that the Colt Officer's ACP (OACP) has a 3.5" barrel.

The development engineers wanted to go with a 3.75" barrel for increased reliability, but the Marketing guys thought is would fit better if it maintained the .75" difference in slide/barrel length between the sized (5", 4.25" & 3.5")

1911Tuner
April 19, 2013, 08:57 AM
My understanding is that the Colt Officer's ACP (OACP) has a 3.5" barrel.

I've only owned two. One was an early Officer's Model, and the other a 1991A1 Compact. Both measured 3.78 inches. Later variations may have changed. I can't say because I was never tempted to buy another one.

Greg528iT
April 19, 2013, 10:47 AM
I'll stand with my answers as I didn't think anyone would be going into a shop with a micrometer to measure the differences. :D :D

JTQ
April 19, 2013, 11:09 AM
Greg528iT wrote,
I'll stand with my answers as I didn't think anyone would be going into a shop with a micrometer to measure the differences.
A reasonable response, especially when we need remember the reason the OP asked was...
Also I'm curious as to what to look for when searching for replacement grip panels.

WC145
April 19, 2013, 11:42 AM
Just took out my 1991A1 Compact and measured the barrel, it's just under 3.5" measuring from the edge of the chamber. It has been recrowned so that accounts for the slightly short measurement.

tarosean
April 19, 2013, 12:09 PM
Keep in mind that unless your specifically talking about Colts.. There are many many variances out there. For example: I've got 2 commanders one is 4" the other 4.25".

Foto Joe
April 19, 2013, 06:39 PM
You guys have been a big help and I thank you.

I agree there are a BUNCH of variants out there and certain terms are copyrighted i.e. Commander etc. I've got a neighbor who picked up his first handgun at a gunshow I took him to a couple of months ago, he bought an ATI Titan compact. I must say that just because of the price I wasn't prepared to be impressed AT ALL. After firing the thing though I must say it's actually nice little gun for the price.

Personally, I'm one of those people who both doesn't want to pack around a $5,000 gun for self defense for fear of never seeing it again if I have to use it, nor do I want the bargain basement special, again just in case I have to use it. Not exactly the time to find out that after running hundreds of rounds down the pipe it all of a sudden decides that a particular SD round just isn't suitable to its palate shall we say.

Anyway, I'm still chasing a couple of S&W Pro Series compacts and hopefully within a week or so my wallet will be minus all that extra cash that's burning a hole in it and there'll be a nice new shootin' iron in its place. When that happens I'll get a picture of big brother (Stainless S&W 1911 Gvt.) and little brother and put it up for all to fawn over.

smalls
April 19, 2013, 09:47 PM
.... Not exactly the time to find out that after running hundreds of rounds down the pipe it all of a sudden decides that a particular SD round just isn't suitable to its palate shall we say.

This is why you should ALWAYS test your gun with your chosen SD round. How many is up to how much makes you feel comfortable and how much you can afford.

Price does not necessarily dictate quality.

Foto Joe
April 20, 2013, 08:53 AM
I'll add to that, use the magazines that you are going to carry as well. The S&W will also take Kimber mags but before I would put those into my shoulder rig I probably put 200 rounds each out of them. I don't have a lot of experience with 1911's, I've only owned two in my life but I do know that if they don't get along with the magazine then there are problems.

tarosean
April 20, 2013, 09:00 AM
Personally, I'm one of those people who both doesn't want to pack around a $5,000 gun for self defense for fear of never seeing it again if I have to use it,

I really don't understand this line of reasoning? If you cannot afford it that is one thing. If it saves your hide than I would think its worth every single cent.

Fiv3r
April 20, 2013, 11:10 AM
I rather like the Compact/Officers models. For me, the full size 1911 is a great shooter and good for packing around the woods. However, i picked up a RIA CS model that is just a joy to carry. weight doesn't bother me (because its a heavy SOB), but dealing with a long barrel is another. The 3.5" barrel is just about perfect for me.

Dframe
April 20, 2013, 11:49 AM
I own both a compact 1991 and an officers a.c.p. model. In each case the barrel measures slightly less than 3.5 inches. I believe some early short barreled guns may have had some reliability problems but neither of mine do. Neither do my two defenders which are even shorter.

GLI45
April 20, 2013, 09:50 PM
There does seem to be a common perception that shorter 1911s are less reliable and this may have been true in the past. With today's high quality manufacturing processes and so many quality pistol makers I don't know if that perception is still valid. My experience (all with STI pistols) does not support that hypothesis. I own 3", 4", and 4.25" 1911s in .45, .40' and 9mm and have enjoyed excellent reliability. Obviously choosing a quality manufacturer (Colt, Springfield, STI...) can make a big difference.

TarDevil
April 20, 2013, 10:24 PM
From way back...
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=242548

Kramer Krazy
April 20, 2013, 10:26 PM
1911Tuner stated - "One was an early Officer's Model, and the other a 1991A1 Compact. Both measured 3.78 inches. Later variations may have changed. I can't say because I was never tempted to buy another one."
Especially after dealing with my 1981 Colt Officers. LOL ;)

Foto Joe
April 21, 2013, 09:18 AM
I really don't understand this line of reasoning?

Here's the readers digest version: I have a good friend who uses a custom made 1911 as a daily carry gun. He's got north of 5k into this thing and it is basically a work of art, hand forged Damascus slide, some sort of exotic wood hand made grip panels, engraved etc. If the day should every come where he actually has to use that beautiful gun in self defense, the odds of him EVER getting it back are slim. My personal opinion is that I want to carry something that is absolutely dependable and I don't have a problem spending a few bucks on that weapon of choice however... I have no illusions as to what WILL happen should I ever have to use it, both to the gun and to me. Would I carry an inexpensive 1911 such as an ATI or RIA for SD? No. I don't see anything wrong with them and the one and only ATI I have fired is a sweet little beast but I've not put enough rounds through one to trust my life and that of my family with it.

I do agree that if you've got the money why not? But at least in my particular case I might have the money but I choose not to.

Foto Joe
April 24, 2013, 09:48 AM
For me the hunt for a gun that "talks" to me is part of the fun. Having said that I finally found one that talked to me but also my wallet. It'll be a couple of weeks before I get back to Wyoming and am able to take possession but I made a deal for a S&W Compact Pro Series. When I get my hands on it I'll post some pics. It will be interesting to see a side by side comparison of a S&W Stainless Gvt and the S&W Compact.

If you enjoyed reading about "Please Explain 1911 Models, Commander vs Compact" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!