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Accuracy:1911 vs. S&W Revolver?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by coosbaycreep, Aug 24, 2011.


which is more accurate?

Poll closed Sep 23, 2011.
  1. 1911 is more accurate at any range the caliber is suited to

    5 vote(s)
  2. revolver is more accurate, period.

    35 vote(s)
  3. close enough in accuracy not to matter

    47 vote(s)
  1. coosbaycreep

    coosbaycreep Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    near Roseburg, Oregon
    Are the high end 1911s (les baer, kimber, etc) more accurate than revolvers, specifically a S&W 686 or 629?

    I hear a lot of people claim that their 1911 is the most accurate handgun they own, but not many of them say what size of groups they get. I've read a lot of folks claiming 2" and 3" groups at 100yds with revolvers though, which is quite impressive for a handgun.

    I know most of the common revolver calibers will shoot flatter at long range than a .45acp will, due to the .45acp being all fat and slow and whatnot, but what about shorter distances where bullet drop isn't as big of a deal? How about the 1911s in high velocity calibers like 10mm and 9x25dillon? Will those hang in there with revolvers at long range?

    Basically I want to know if the 1911 design is inherently more accurate than a S&W revolver.

    I'd like to hear what size of groups some of you are getting too.
  2. Tallinar

    Tallinar Active Member

    Jun 4, 2010
    Des Moines, IA

    Revolver vs automatic. Automatic vs revolver. They are both simply platforms for sending a piece of metal spinning out of a tube at high speeds.

    There is nothing inherent in the design that makes either "more accurate." Will simply come down to what each individual happens to shoot better.

    If you want to compare cartridge characteristics, that's another can of worms entirely.
  3. klutchless

    klutchless Member

    Feb 21, 2011
    London , Ohio
    If shot in single action there is no accuracy difference between the two.The double action trigger pull of most revolvers in unexperianced hands is what gives the 1911 the advantage the shooter is what limits the gun.As far as long range shooting the 45acp out of a 5 inch barrel doesn't shoot that as well as say a 357 or 44 out of a revolver.To directly answer your question at short distance the 1911 with its single action only trigger is capable of better accuracy simply because it takes less practice to shoot well.At long ranges 100 to 200 yards I shoot a 454 cassul with a 7inch barrel at 100 i'm getting 2 in groups on a rest at 200 it widens to a 4 inch both good enough to kill a deer.
  4. tipoc

    tipoc Senior Member

    Mar 9, 2006
    The answer to that question is no. The 1911 was designed as a combat sidearm. Reliability and strength were emphasized with accuracy being on a par with other combat sidearms of the time that the gun was introduced. But one of the strengths of the design was it's adaptability and gunsmiths soon found they could tune the 1911 up to an excellent target gun.

    So, some 1911s will be more accurate than some revolvers. The reverse is also true. In terms of accuracy, with a quality gun and good ammo, the difference will be with the shooter. This latter is especially true today with so many makers of 1911s.

  5. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

    Apr 29, 2006
    California - San Francisco Bay Area
    It's going to largely be a matter of the individual gun. In a revolver, mechanical accuracy will principally be a function of the precision with which the forcing cone is cut and how true and consistent the alignment of each chamber is with the forcing cone.

    In an auto-loader, mechanical accuracy will principally be a function of how well and consistently the barrel locks and aligns to the slide after each cycle.
  6. SharpsDressedMan

    SharpsDressedMan member

    Feb 18, 2007
    NE Ohio
    Are we talking high end guns here? I think a properly fit 1911, built for bullseye, can do 2" @ 50 yards. I think a custom built revolver, buitl on the one's mentioned, CAN do that, but the average for a STOCK gun would be not as accurate. If you spend the money on either, and have a competent gunsmith & quality parts, they most likely would be equal. Before custom fitting for accuracy, it would be a crapshoot between the two, with both revolver and autos rendering a few, if not more, guns that just don't do well, or up to a standard of 4" @ 50 yads (machine rest).
  7. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

    Dec 27, 2002
    northern california
    These are not the same questions

    Before you can solicit an accurate answer, I think you'll have to better define your question.

    1. Are we talking about stock 1911's?
    a) Out of the box?
    b) Did you want to know about high end production 1911s, like the Les Baer or did you also want to include the Kimber offerings?

    2. Did you only want a comparison with the S&W L-frame and N-frame...just a regular production model?

    3. Did you want to compare the inherent accuracy potential of the two designs?

    4. How do you measure accuracy?
    a) What distance?
    b) How many shots?
    c) Handheld, supported or in a rest?

    Answering question #1,
    1. Highend production 1911, like a Les Baer
    2. Compared to a production 686 or 629
    3. At 50 yards...anything shorter really limits comparison
    4. Handheld, but shooting off a rest (sandbags)
    5. 5 shot group

    My experience has been that the Baer will be more accurate...shooting inside 1.5" (a custom 1911 can shoot tighter)...if for no other reason than the smaller variations of the slide returning to lockup more consistently than that of all 5 chambers of a revolver lining up exactly the same with the forcing cone
  8. PreMod70

    PreMod70 New Member

    Aug 17, 2011
    Statesville, NC
    I've owned several match handguns and at 50 yards it is hard to beat a 1911 yet it can be done but at 100 or further the newer CNC produced revolvers take the lead due to more powerful cartridges and equal tolerances.
  9. wep45

    wep45 Active Member

    Aug 21, 2008
    S&W.....there is NO substitute.:cool:
  10. Prosser

    Prosser Participating Member

    Sep 7, 2009
    ? WHY are we comparing 600-800 dollar revolver against custom built 1911's?
    Les Baer has a 1.5" guarantee at 50 yards.

    His guns are between 2500-3000 dollars with that level of accuracy.

    If you want comparable accuracy out of a revolver, spend comparable money.


    1.5 inches at 25 yards is pretty good for a stock revolver.

    .75" at 25 yards. My guess is that probably equals the 1.5 inch at 50 yards Baer gets, but, with a much cheaper gun. If you look at the chart in this article, it clearly shows how picky guns are, accuracy wise. Some loads just flat out shoot, others don't.

    However, I suspect that Gunblast gets guns that are already tuned, or tested, prior to his getting his hands on them.

    If you want a REALLY accurate revolver:



    3/8" with a .475 diameter bullet is incredible, and, a short barrel
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2011
  11. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Elder

    Jan 27, 2006
    West Tennessee
    It takes a properly built $2000 1911 to shoot as well as your average $500 revolver.
  12. jmr40

    jmr40 Mentor

    May 26, 2007

    Generally I'd say most S&W revolvers will out shoot most 1911's. Especially the inexpensive models. Once you get into the upper end 1911's it is probably an even race, but I've got a couple of S&W 1911's that are a virtual tie with my S&W revolvers. There may be better 1911's, but these 2 are the best I've owned.
  13. Prosser

    Prosser Participating Member

    Sep 7, 2009

    Do you have more information to back that up? I'm not trying to be combative, but the little I know about Ruger production techniques used to create accuracy variations depending on where in the production run the gun was.

    1911's: My experience has been buy a gun with an excellent barrel, decent frame, and you can tune the rest of it to work. As far as a production gun, I found the Kimber Custom II at 700 dollars VERY accurate.

    I really can't comment on the S&W revolvers, and how they are produced now, since the one I own has too many factors that make it super inaccurate, starting with a factory 16 pound plus trigger pull, on a 1000 dollar gun.

    That said , I'm sure the revolvers mentioned here are more accurate then mine is. How have new production techniques and materials by S&W effected your chances of getting an accurate revolver stock, from them?
  14. Drail

    Drail Senior Member

    Jan 17, 2008
    OK, years ago I worked for a shop that did custom work on S&W revolvers and 1911 and we had a Ransom Rest and we used the hell out of that thing. Either type of gun can be just as accurate if a good barrel is used. (and good ammunition) I am very happy shooting revos and 1911s and all of mine will drill the X out of a traget if I do my part. There are, however, poor examples of both types out there. Lots.
  15. mmitch

    mmitch Member

    Dec 26, 2010

    It, to me, is about the trigger. I believe the straight pull of the 1911 design is easier to master for most folks. But since I finally learned how to master a revolver's DA trigger, one I tuned, it's a "dead heat" for me. I can shoot similar groups at like ranges from either.

    Master that trigger and either platform will satisfy!

  16. Prosser

    Prosser Participating Member

    Sep 7, 2009
    Just food for thought. DA shot SA,and SA revolvers are some of the best triggers on the planet. So are 1911's.
  17. Boomerang

    Boomerang New Member

    May 24, 2007
    I did test a Baer bullseye gun to a S&W 14 in a ransom rest.
    The 14 shot around 1.5" groups at 50 yards and the Baer shot around 2".

    The test told us nothing.
    They were both so close it didn't matter.
    The Ransom rest could have been the difference, or the load.
    Factory ammo was not used.
  18. coosbaycreep

    coosbaycreep Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    near Roseburg, Oregon
    I'm talking about stock S&Ws compared to high end (maybe shouldn't have put kimber in the first post) 1911s.

    The reason I ask this, is because a few weeks ago I was bicycling on some BLM roads with a 629 on the rear rack of my bike (I usually have the 629 or a G17 with me this time of year when it's not raining because they're better than the P32 I normally carry), and a dude driving by stopped and asked me directions. He noticed I had a gun, asked me what kind, and then spent the next ten minutes saying how S&Ws are basically garbage, and his fancy schmancy 1911 (think it was Ed Brown?) would shoot circles around my gun.

    I've never owned or shot any 1911s other than a norinco and a firestorm, neither of which are even close to being "high end". I know 1911s are used to win all kinds of competitions and that people have no problem spending obscene amounts of money on them, but despite that, I still have a tough time believing that they could be THAT much more accurate than a revolver.

    As far as comparing accuracy, I don't know how people test for ultimate handgun accuracy, but I would imagine it would be from a rest at 50 yards maybe?

    And another thing, the guy told me his 1911 cost almost $3k, and after he showed it to me, it didn't look much better than a $350 RIA does, so maybe I'm just clueless altogether. Either way, the guy was a jerk.
  19. lucky-gunner

    lucky-gunner New Member

    Jan 4, 2010
    As long as you compare apples to apples I would lean towards the S&W revolver. If you put equal amounts of money into each you are going to have a handgun that will probably out shoot your ability.

    Real accuracy comes from years of practice with a single model whichever you end up preferring. I shoot better with revolvers, but the few revolvers I have are old Colts and PC Smiths.
  20. Prosser

    Prosser Participating Member

    Sep 7, 2009

    The gunblast test I posted shows the effect on a gun you mentioned, and how ammo dependent that gun was to shoot accurately.

    That said, your not Jeff Quinn, and your chances of buying an off the shelf gun that is tack driving accurate is just that, a bigger chance. When you buy an Ed Brown, you are buying the fact the gun has been tested, and, that it works and shoots VERY well.

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