Help, Buying a Compact 1911


June 30, 2004, 09:21 PM
I finally decided I want a 1911 as my primary carry. It took renting one to make up my mind. This thread probably sounds like I know nothing about pistols but when I rented this 1911 I knew nothing about 1911's. I was just handed the box of ammo and the gun. I rented a Para Ord LDA 12.45 with out knowing, until the first trigger pull that it was a DA. I was very pleased with it although I never loaded tha mag to full capacity because I didn't know how many it held, I know, now, 12.

Problem now is which brand to purchase. I don't mind paying for a kimber if it's worth it. I've never shot a Spriingfield, but thought that would be my first brand of choice. Even though I've never fired the SA 1911s I don't think I'll mind either way. I think I'll go with single stack and I liked the 5" heigt of the 12.45

What other kind of things should I consider or be aware of. For instance, I read here that the mags to para ord guns are specific. Is this the case even with single stack?

Thanks for the help. I've been waiting to pick up just the right gun for a while now.

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June 30, 2004, 09:46 PM
Hard to help you except to advise you to rent, beg, borrow or fanagle the temporary use of as many different ones as you can. I like the PO's but have full size ones only. I have a Kimber Compact stainless the I love for carry. I have nearly a twin to it but it is a Colt Officers model that I have had hard chromed. Both are VERY accurate, completely reliable and 'just right' for carrying FOR ME. Good luck with your search-that is half the fun!

July 1, 2004, 12:46 PM
There are tons of things to consider, and everyone has their own opinion. But here are some facts:

1. Para's have a "series 80" firing pin block safety. Some consider this bad and say it affects trigger pull. Others say it is good for a carry gun as an added measure of safety -- if the gun is dropped it won't fire from the impact to the ground. There are tons of debates on this.

2. Kimbers have a "Schwartz" type internal safety. There are numerous internet threads about these safeties impacting the way the gun functions or actually making the gun inoperable and incapable of firing. Some say the safety is good.

3. Springfields do not have a firing pin block safety. They instead rely on the half cock notch of the hammer, as this is the way the arm was originally designed. They do have a lock mechanism in the mainspring housing though.

4. Para doublestacks do in fact use proprietary mags. Their singlestacks use standard 1911 mags which are available from numerous suppliers.

Now for the opinion -- if it were my choice between Para, Kimber and Springfield, I would choose Springfield. I believe they offer lots of value, I like the sights better than either the Para or the Kimber, I like the fact that there is no firing pin block safety (although I don't have a problem in general with the Series 80 style), I like the beavertail on the Springfield better than the Kimber, I like the fit and finish of the Springfield better than either of the other two.

You may also want to look at offerings from Colt. I will say that most Colts will not have all of the "bell and whistle" features of the Springfield (better sights, upswept beavertail, extended thumb safety).

Good luck to you in whatever you decide.

July 1, 2004, 01:28 PM
I vote Kimber. Don't be fooled by the Para's. They are the dog of the 3. Springers are good, but they just don't speak to me.

If possible, try to find a Colt Officers. They can be had for around $550 and hold their value well. In fact, if you don't like it, you can probably get what you paid out of it.

July 1, 2004, 03:21 PM
I vote for S&W 1911. Not a compact but mine shoots extremely well and has been 100% reliable (until I messed with it. It's better now).

July 1, 2004, 03:47 PM
I have a Colt Compact - which is the working man's version of the Officer's Model. Not as flashy, but small and shoots nicely.

July 1, 2004, 03:55 PM
I've shot many of the models out there and I settled on buying three .45s over the years.

I would rate them Kimber #1, Colt 70s Series a very close second and my SA as a distant third.

However, any other person could pick up the same models as I have and find theirs shoot and handle differently than mine.

July 1, 2004, 05:21 PM
I believe all full-sized single-stack 1911s can use the same magazines. Well, they'll fit, but some guns might be a little pick about the feeding.

I have a Dan Wesson Patriot which is a great gun. Whatever you get, Kimbe, Para, Springfiiedl, etc, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

July 3, 2004, 10:30 AM
Thanks for the info, that's the kind of things I was looking for.

What is the reliability issue with the short barrels, is there one?

Are there any models that are considerably lighter than another and if there is, are they more difficult to control?

July 3, 2004, 01:00 PM
my Kimber Tactical Ultra II (3" barrel) is VERY accurate and has also been a very dependable carry gun .... for me anyway

July 3, 2004, 04:23 PM
I would not get a Para. I just wouldn't.

The original Series I Kimber Compacts were terrific. I wouldn't get a Series II though. Especially not in a Compact, which is where most of the Series II problems happened.

The classy way to get a compact 1911 is to get a Colt Officer's model or CCO and send it to a 'smith for some fancifying. Then again, they'll usually run bone stock. If you can stand the grouty-looking beadblast and general roughness, it's hard to beat The Original. Or find a rare XS model and be the cool kid on your block.

Another option is the now-discontinued Springfield Lightweight Compact. I just picked this one up from a photographically gifted forum member:

I've got thin Micarta grips for it, and I'll be putting on a single-sided safety if I can hook up with my 'smith.

What is the reliability issue with the short barrels, is there one?

Sometimes. The 1911 was made to run with a 5" barrel. Chop off two inches and things work differently. That said, it's rare to get one that can't be made to run.

Are there any models that are considerably lighter than another and if there is, are they more difficult to control?

Sure there are. Anything with an aluminum frame is going to be about a half-pound lighter. They'll be a little more difficult to control, on average, but not much. My Springer shoots great.

For the record, there are three or four basic kinds of smaller 1911s:

Commander: Normal grip, 4.25" barrel. (The KimField clones tend to be 4".)

Officer: Shorter grip, 3.5" barrel.

CCO: Officer grip, Commander barrel.

Super-tiny things: 3" barrel (apparently the most likely to be problematic).

The Springer above is a pseudo-CCO: Officer grip and 4" barrel. I don't generally go for Springers, but this one appears to have a one-piece barrel and pretty good guts. And the grips sure are nice...

July 3, 2004, 08:36 PM
Aeroscout.....I read through the other posts and saw some endorsement of the Kimber Ultra Carry II. I have been through many of late.....finding what to me was the ultimate in a 1911 carry. The Kimber Ultra Carry II .45 is top shelf stuff. I recently flew with a seasoned undercover state law dog from the NE....he has had much "one-on-one" experience. He and all others in his group of professionals carry the SIG P239.......40SW...w/Federal HydraShocks. It is DA. For me....the Glocks still rule. I dont like a hammer.....ever....and I dont like the long pull of the first round in the Beretta or SIG. The Glock 30 is .45.....I carry the Glock 27 now.

BTW.....How'd you get that name Aeroscout? Rucker ring a bell?

Can you still list your fundamentals of reconnaissance? :)


Zeke Menuar
July 3, 2004, 09:34 PM
Colt Lightweight Commander. The first, and in my opinion the best.


July 3, 2004, 10:16 PM
ArmyAviator- I think I made about 8 return trips to Rucker and spent most of my 10 years as a scout pilot. As for the fundamentals of reconnaissance… it goes something like this: GORD-E, Gain and maintain enemy contact, Orient on the recon objective, etc. etc.
But now I’m working on the fundamentals of Search and Rescue, my most rewarding job in the Army was Medevac so I sought a new career in the Coast Guard with a real mission everyday, even after the war’s over. Plus I now have my own army of four to take care of at home.

It took me quite a while to decide that I wanted a 1911. I currently have a Beretta 92 and a Beretta 21, Bobcat.
Now that I have my CCW I want a better suited gun. After putting 1000s of rounds down range in the 92 that’s what I shoot best. But I figured if I’m going to get something new I should go bigger caliber. I’ve shot a few 40’s including the Glock 27. The 27 was my first choice until I shot it side by side with my 92. I just don’t like the recoil of the 40. Also I’ll be carrying IWB so the thinness of the 1911 appeals to me. Also having just rented my first 45 I really liked the way the round felt. Of course I like the size of the Beretta 21 but .22 is just to small. I’ve also entertained the idea of a Keltec P3AT but keep coming back to the 1911.

It’s frustrating though because there are so many things to consider in the 1911 selection. I don’t know why but I’m naturally drawn to the Springers but, I do like the weight and reputation of the Kimbers and that’s the way I’m leaning at the moment.

July 4, 2004, 04:36 AM
Greg... nice looking piece dude! :p And good call on switching to a single sider... I've had a few instances of ambi safeties being swept off accidently in a fanny pack or pocket! I've vote to the standard Colt mil-spec thumb safety... they work great, look great, and would be difficult to accidently "sweep off". Hope you're enjoying it!

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