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Say I buy a 1911 with same features from Colt, Sig, Ruger, Smith.. Will I see a diff?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by wacki, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. wacki

    wacki Well-Known Member

    Say I buy a pistol with the exact same external features from:

    • Sig Sauer
    • Colt
    • Smith & Wesson
    • Springfield
    • Wilson Combat
    • Ed Brown
    • Ruger

    Will the average shooter be able to tell a difference? If so, where will the differences show up? And how dramatic will the differences be?

    Just trying to figure out if the huge price differences are justified from a practical perspective.
  2. wickedsprint

    wickedsprint Well-Known Member

    Nothing wrong with any of the brands you listed.

    You won't be able to magically shoot a $2000 1911 better than a $500 1911.

    A $2000 1911 won't be necessarily be more reliable than a $500 1911.

    You *might* notice some minor cosmetic / QC differences if side by side and you know what to look for.
  3. rswartsell

    rswartsell Well-Known Member

    SOME of the reasons for additional cost in the myriad world of 1911s from multiple producers using differing components and methods are directly attributed to increased reliability, accuracy and durability. Some are cosmetic or subjective. I believe the most successful efforts toward these goals (accuracy, reliability, durability) would be apparent to the average shooter if least is compared to best.

    Some degrees of increased accuracy for example can be lost on shooters who do not posses the necessary skill to realize them. Some may be immediately apparent to anyone. Your question covers too much ground for too many variables and options to be answered definitively. The average shooter can indeed pay pretty big bucks for refinements they will never need or appreciate. Conversely, many may never know how good the 1911 platform can be because the examples they are familiar with cut too many corners. All a matter of education, experience and degree.
  4. Coltdriver

    Coltdriver Well-Known Member

    So a 1911 is, IMNSHO, the most tunable pistol out there. Nothing I can think of comes close. You can build one from all custom parts from frame and slide down to the smallest parts.

    In my experience, the more you tune it the better it is to a degree. But the problem has always been keeping it tuned.

    In reality it would not be possible for you to get the exact same features on pistols from those makers to compare. That is because little details, like ramp, and extractor shape and dozens of other details have all been done slightly differently between each of those makes when you are looking at their high end offerings.

    If you compare pistols from the makers you listed you may note a detail here and a detail there in differences. Would there be an overwhelming difference? Probably not. Is there one you might like better, sure.

    But in the end what is better than a 1911 that goes bang every time and that you can hit a pie plate with at 25 feet? Really not much. And the truth is you can get that, arguably more reliably, in a good old, loose, bone stock GI class model from a reputable maker. Don't confuse junk with quality just because the profile of the pistols is the same.

    There are many strong advocates for the old 1911 platform. I have owned a few and I have a Colt Officers today. But I take it for what it is, a 1911 platform.

    If you want utter reliability and a modern battery of arms there are many of those out there. If I were off to war and had to take a .45 I would definitely not take a 1911. Now we're going to hear from everyone who absolutely loves the 1911 and swears they are better than anything out there etc.....

    So why put $1000 or more into a 1911? Because you have it to spend and you like it. It gets down to your personal likes and dislikes.
  5. litman252

    litman252 Well-Known Member

    Yes, you will notice differences. Not necessarily from make to make but even from model to model. I have a Sistema up through a Dan Wesson and a SA that was tweaked by a pistolsmith and some in between. The smoothness and crispness of its function is what you notice. Insert a mag and rack the slide, there its a difference. How it travels in your hand during recoil is different. But my second least expensive is 90% of my most expensive at 40% of the cost....


  6. khegglie

    khegglie Well-Known Member

    Good question; Great answers.
  7. wacki

    wacki Well-Known Member

    I don't get this. Explain please.

    Are you saying that the profit margins on a $1000 pistol is a lot slimmer than the profit margins on a $900 pistol?
  8. rswartsell

    rswartsell Well-Known Member

    IMHO the reasons that I like the 1911 so much have nothing to do with it being a superior combat weapon to more modern alternatives. It is because the ergonomic experience of shooting them is unique in the handgun world. The combination of grip feel, control ergos, pointability and sweet trigger form a symbiotic relationship that creates a shooting experince that I prefer and has not been duplicated. There are plenty of ways to pick the 101 year old platform apart and I won't disgree or argue with most of them.

    That does not eliminate the fact that it served for many years successfully and feels like no other handgun. I shoot with good ones as reliably and well as anything I have experienced. That does not equate to irrational loyalty, "fanboyism" or ignorance of new developments.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2013
  9. litman252

    litman252 Well-Known Member

    You get 90% of a great 1911 (accuracy, function) by spending 40% of that on a good basic 1911.

    A rugger can do at least 90% of the Ed Brown at (approx) 40% the money.

    But that last 10% is awesome, can't put it in words!

  10. wow6599

    wow6599 Well-Known Member

    IMHO, no. You can take a $1000 Kimber and a $3000 Ed Brown to someone who isn't a "1911 connoisseur", and they won't know the difference.
  11. JTQ

    JTQ Well-Known Member

    The car analogy is often a good one.

    "Hey, why should I buy this BMW that costs $20,000 more than my Hyundi? The spec sheet says my Hyundi has all the same features as the BMW."

    Sure there is some of that, pride of ownership, and name brand stuff going on, but if you've driven the two, and enjoy driving cars, you can tell why one costs more. That extra cost may not be worth it to you for how you like to drive your cars, but if you really like to drive cars, and you've got the money, that BMW will most likely be worth the price difference.
  12. buckhorn_cortez

    buckhorn_cortez Well-Known Member

    If you'e a shooter that can use and discern the differences - yes, you can tell the difference in pistols.

    For example, I have a semi-custom that was built with the set of features that I wanted, and they all make the gun better for me to use.

    4-inch slide / full size grip (Commander size) - my preference in a carry size.

    Extreme dehorning - gun is easier to holster and unholster.

    Strong side only safety - my preference.

    Adjustable combat rear sight with tritium inserts / tritium front sight - my preference in sights with yellow / green dots.

    Magazine well - my preference for easier magazine changes.

    Serrated slide top - my preference as it cuts down on glare in some lighting conditions and makes the front sight easier to see.

    Rear of slide checkered - my preference as it makes the sight easier to see in some lighting conditions (back of slide appears 'blacker").

    Trigger guard / frame under cut - my preference as I can grip the gun higher.

    Front and rear of grip frame checkered - my preference for better grip.

    Does any of that make it cyle ammunition any better? No. Do the features make the gun function better for me? Yes.

    There are other internal features that make the gun run better. It has a coned bull barrel with a full length guide rod and no barrel bushing. The heavier barrel makes follow up shots faster as the recoil is slightly less. The full length guide rod is used by the manufacturer to ensure reliability.

    I asked for the barrel to be fluted so that any crud would collect in the flutes and not affect the gun's functioning. Does that work? Yes, the crud/dirt collects in the flutes.

    Is the gun fit better than lower priced pistols? Yes. Does this affect the functionality? Probably the accuracy, as the barrel lockup is tighter and more consistent shot-to-shot.

    The gun puts the ejected brass into a 5-foot diameter circle, so the extraction / ejection is extremely consistent.

    But, really -what does all of this mean? All it means is that I have a well tuned, accurate, 1911 that is setup exactly the way I want the pistol. Does it "shoot better" than a lower price production pistol?

    It functions exactly to my requirements because of its features - so, yes it is a "better pistol" for my use.

    Is it more accurate? No. There are production pistols that are just as accurate.

    Is it more reliable than a production pistol? Probably not if you buy a good quality production pistol that you prove as reliable through shooting it.

    Is it worth the extreme cost? For me - yes. For many other people - probably no.

    Do you get what you pay for? Yes, but it's a diminishing returns type of equation. You end up paying a lot for features that are far into the personal preference area, and for many people they aren't worth the extra money as they don't affect the gun's accuracy or ability to cycle rounds.

    Is the Supergade worth $4K more than a Dan Wesson Valor? For accuracy and reliability probably - no. For personal functionality features - yes.

    In the end - as always, it's a personal value judgement that only you can make.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2013
  13. tarosean

    tarosean Well-Known Member

    Fit, finish, edges, MIM parts..

    It can range from what looks like a 3yro was let loose with a can of krylon, to a thing of beauty. Subtle checkering differences can make a huge difference in feel too.
    If you have the chance to compare them all side by side you might answer your own questions.
  14. bannockburn

    bannockburn Well-Known Member

    I think litman252 hit it on the head: try going to a gunshop that has a decent selection of M1911's and check them out. That's what I did awhile back when I bought my Colt Lightweight Government.

    How smoothly does the slide travel on the frame, how tight is the slide to frame fit and the barrel to slide fit, how well does the grip safety and the thumb safety engage and how's the trigger pull? Does the gun seem like it's fairly well assembled or are there a lot of rough spots and cosmetic issues to deal with. With a little help and if you know what to look for, odds are nowadays you'll probably get a good one at whatever price point you're considering. How much you want to spend is of course entirely up to you.
  15. Auto426

    Auto426 Well-Known Member

    Litman252 is right. In the 1911 world, there is such a thing as a point of diminishing returns. It seems that once you get past the $1000 mark, you start paying large sums of money for relatively small gains in performance or fit and finish.

    As far as the individual makers listed in the first post, yes, you will find differences in all of them, but not all of those differences will be extremely obvious to the uninformed. For example, the quality of steels used in the gun's construction varies by maker, but that isn't something that will jump out at you if you see all those guns laying side by side on a table.
  16. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    This has been my experience as well. Substituting a $550 STI Spartan for the Kimber.
  17. MCMXI

    MCMXI Well-Known Member

    You will always find exceptions, but in general the majority of $2,000 1911s should be more reliable, more accurate, contain superior parts and exhibit better fit and finish than the majority of $500 1911s. Not only will they be more reliable from day 1, they'll be more reliable after 5,000, 10,000, 15,000 or even 20,000 rounds. Other differences may not show up for the casual user, but if you're going to push the pistols hard you'll have better results with any 1911 from Wilson Combat, Les Baer, Ed Brown etc. Of course you can find folks like 1911Tuner who will tinker with a $300 bare bones pistol and report that it's run without issues for tens of thousands of rounds but that's not comparing apples to apples.

    When you consider how many hours go into 1911s from Ed Brown, Les Baer, Wilson Combat, Nighthawk Custom, etc. and then consider how many minutes go into Kimbers, Colts, Rugers, S&Ws, SIGs, etc. I think you're getting more for your money with the high end semi-custom offerings.
  18. wickedsprint

    wickedsprint Well-Known Member

    Valid, but not guaranteed.
  19. huntershooter

    huntershooter Well-Known Member

    The "average Joe" would most certainly be able to see and feel a difference between the Brown and Wilson gun over the others you've listed.
  20. Pilot

    Pilot Well-Known Member

    I have Colts and Springfields with similar features, and yes I feel a difference. I can't put my finger on it, both are essentially basic 1911's, both are accurate and reliable. I prefer the way the Colt "feels" for some reason. I have heard the specs may be a little different from 1911 brands, so maybe that is it. Maybe it is just the picture of the horse, who knows.

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