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Please Explain 1911 Models, Commander vs Compact

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Foto Joe, Apr 18, 2013.

  1. Foto Joe

    Foto Joe Well-Known Member

    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?
  2. Sauer Grapes

    Sauer Grapes Well-Known Member

    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.
  3. Foto Joe

    Foto Joe Well-Known Member

    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.
  4. jmr40

    jmr40 Well-Known Member

    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.
  5. smalls

    smalls Well-Known Member

    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.
  6. JTQ

    JTQ Well-Known Member

    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.
  7. Greg528iT

    Greg528iT Well-Known Member

    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.

    Here is a Compact (Officer) / Commander (with bob tail) / Government (full sized) / Government (with compensator) for a side by side comparison.
  8. WC145

    WC145 Well-Known Member

    In Colt terminology the "Compact" was the 1991A1 (low buck) version of the Officer's ACP - same frame & 3.5" barrel.
  9. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    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.

    3.75 inch.
  10. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

    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")
  11. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    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.
  12. Greg528iT

    Greg528iT Well-Known Member

    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
  13. JTQ

    JTQ Well-Known Member

    A reasonable response, especially when we need remember the reason the OP asked was...
  14. WC145

    WC145 Well-Known Member

    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.
  15. tarosean

    tarosean Well-Known Member

    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".
  16. Foto Joe

    Foto Joe Well-Known Member

    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.
  17. smalls

    smalls Well-Known Member

    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.
  18. Foto Joe

    Foto Joe Well-Known Member

    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.
  19. tarosean

    tarosean Well-Known Member

    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.
  20. Fiv3r

    Fiv3r Well-Known Member

    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.

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