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Considering a 1911 - what do I look for?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by wacki, May 16, 2011.

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  1. wacki

    wacki Member

    Sep 16, 2006
    Reminiscing the Rockies
    Already got a .357 revolver and a FNP-40. After reading thread after thread praising the 1911 I'm starting to catch the 1911 bug. The problem is I don't know anything about them. From what I can tell these are the big names:

    • Para-ordinance
    • Smith & Wesson E series
    • Ruger SR1911
    • Kimber

    Anyone other big names I'm missing? When looking at the 1911's what features should I look for? At this point all I know is that I don't want the snubby 1911's or the extra long barrel version either. Typical bbl length is fine. However, that still leaves me with a ton of options at the Kimber website alone. Are there any important differences between the above besides cosmetics?
  2. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

    Dec 27, 2002
    northern california
    Let me give you a link to an article on picking your first 1911...maybe it will help to refine your question...it is written by a very knowledgeable 1911 guy who isn't selling 1911s regularly anymore

    There is only one on that list that is proven itself over time, but you're too early in the process to be subject to my bias,

    I'll add some of the better ones to look into...these are in the mid-priced range...you are very wise to not be looking at snubby 1911s. Reliability starts fallening off as your barrel/slide get shorter than 4.25"

    Dan Wesson
    Springfield Armory

    MICHAEL T Member

    Feb 3, 2004
    outback Kentucky
    Never go wrong with a Colt That's been my pick several times. I have more colts than any other brand of 1911.

    You do research on Para Mine was junk

    Smith has good record

    Ruger just released Let others be tester. I am betting on a recall in less than 6 months That my opinion

    Kimber Customer service leaves a lot to be desired. Their finish is pretty but doesn't hold up well

    Buy a 5" Gov. or the Commander 4 1/4" for first 1911 I like balance of Commander , but carry the compact 3" Defender most of the time.

    Pay now and get what you want It gets expensive trying to up grade because you picked a cheaper model.
  4. Bmac1949

    Bmac1949 Member

    Jan 3, 2011
    Crockett Texas
    I'm not a 1911 expert but I know a good fire arm when I see it. I've got a Colt CC .45ACP that I really like. It has the 4.25" barrel and blued finish. It has had adjustable sights added which is nice but it's not abolutely necessary. I'ts not a match qualiity pistol but I did get a 7 shot, 2" group at 30' that I'm still trying to duplicate. I had some feeding problems with it at first and had the ejector adjusted and haven't had any problems for the last 1500 rounds. I've loaded it up with every type of standard ammo and even mixed ammo and it will feed without fail. Like I said I'm no 1911 expert but I can tell you Colt makes a good one.
  5. nwilliams

    nwilliams Member

    Dec 10, 2006
    Albuquerque, NM
    I would consider either a Colt or a Springfield Armory. I'm a huge fan of the Colt 1911 and I think SA makes one hell of a nice 1911 for the money as well.

    The new Ruger 1911 is very impressive and for the price it seems like a great deal, I'm considering one myself but it's not high up there on the priority list right now.

    S&W would be a good choice, I just bought an E-Series that I'm extremely impressed with.

    Sig makes a 1911 as well but their track record with 1911's is a bit spotty.

    Personally I would avoid Taurus and Para Ordnance but there are some people who like them and who might disagree with me.

    If you want to talk BIG names you could always buy yourself a Wilson Combat, Les Baer or Ed Brown but you are also talking BIG money.
  6. PabloJ

    PabloJ Member

    Oct 17, 2010
    I like old original Colts but they're dreadfully expensive. The only one I would consider was made Hispano-Argentina Fabricas de Automoviles SA. It will be marked "Sist. Colt CAL. 11,25mm Mod. 1927.
  7. rduckwor

    rduckwor Member

    Jun 4, 2008
    Springfield, S&W, Dan Wesson, Colt. Stay away from Kimber and Taurus as their QC is spotty. Ruger makes some fine guns, but thye have no track record with 1911's. As a previous poster said, let someone else be their guinea pig.

    Colt went thru a period of poor quality a while back, but seems to be back now. Never truly been a fan, but your money, your choice.

    Low end, but reliable, RIA Tactical. Philippines manufactured, but said to be a decent starter 1911.

    Good Luck,

  8. EddieNFL

    EddieNFL member

    Nov 9, 2009
    My money would go to Springfield and Colt. I agree with the spotty remark concerning Kimber's QC; no knowledge of Taurus. Don't care for the S&W as it has an EE. Had a real bad experience with DW some years ago, so...
  9. Hangingrock

    Hangingrock Member

    Mar 10, 2010
    I’d select the current production Colt XSE Government Model value and longevity is there.
  10. mbopp

    mbopp Member

    Aug 10, 2009
    Upstate NY
  11. Jed Carter

    Jed Carter Member

    Oct 19, 2008
    S&W, Colt, SIG, STI, Springfield Armory all make good entry level 1911 pistols. STI may make the best shooting 1911 under $1000. I would pass on Ruger, Para and Kimber for a first 1911, Ruger too new, Para GI Expert too poor quality ( I own one ), and Kimber too many owner/detractors to want one. If you want a 1911 for range use, I would get one with adjustable sights, for HD or as a carry weapon I would get Novak style night sights. My two most used pistols these days are my STI and SIG 1911s, the STI Trojan I use in USPSA and IDPA matches, the SIG RCS 1911 I use for my CCW.
  12. skoro

    skoro Member

    May 2, 2008


    They're the original and still one of the best. Others are good, but only Colt's 1911 has been around 100 years. Their success is no accident.
  13. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Member

    Jun 5, 2006
    In a part of Utah that resembles Tattooine.
    Everything you need. Nothing you don't.

    I carry a Kimber, I would gladly buy another. I owned a colt, it wasn't anything magical. For the money, right now, I would look at Ruger, RIA, and an STI Spartan.
  14. ichiban

    ichiban Member

    May 2, 2009
    Colorado Springs, CO
    I would recommend sticking with a production model at this point. Springfield, Colt, or S&W would be my recommendation for now. I'm not a Kimber basher, I just think they aren't as good of a deal as they once were. Once the 1911 bug has a firm grasp then you can start looking at the semi-custom and custom models. For now it depends on what you want to use it for - CCW, range, HD, competition, etc. There are tons of options available, some make a difference, some are personal preference. Depending on what you want, be prepared to spend $700 - $1300 on something you will keep for a long time.

    Not that you asked, but here is my take on some of the choices you'll face:
    Barrel: 4.25" for CCW, 5" for range and home defense. Match barrels are nice but not required at this time.
    Sights: Fixed for CCW. I'm re-evaluation my stance on night sights and have taken a liking to fiber optics - depending on application.
    Grip safety: I prefer a beaver tail to a duck bill. Also prefer one with a memory bump.
    Hammer: Commander style (also called cutout or outline) over the GI spurred.
    Front strap checkering: Some sort of texturing/checkering for CCW.
    Guide rod: I hate the two-piece GR. Prefer the GI to the full length but it isn't a deal breaker.
    Main spring housing: Prefer the flat to the curved.
    Thumb safety: I'm not a lefty so I have no need for the ambi-safety and think they are a nuisance.
    Front cocking serrations: Don't like them but not a deal breaker.
    Finish: Prefer stainless if it is going in a holster.
    Frame: Scandium or aluminum for CCW. Steel for range or competition shooting.

    And then, a lot of times it boils down to what feels good in your hand.

    Some suggestions for your consideration:
    Springfield Range Officer: http://www.springfield-armory.com/armory.php?model=27
    Springfield Loaded: http://www.springfield-armory.com/armory.php?version=3
    S&W 1911 E-series: http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product4_750001_750051_785114_-1_757754_757752_757751_ProductDisplayErrorView_Y
    Ruger SR1911: http://www.ruger.com/products/sr1911/models.html
  15. Searcher4851

    Searcher4851 Member

    Dec 20, 2010
    Might also throw the Remington R1 in the consideration pile.
    Reasonably priced, nicely finished, well fit, SS match barrel & bushing.
    It's eaten everthing I've fed it so far without a problem.
  16. The-King-Omega

    The-King-Omega member

    Mar 20, 2011
    i have a 67 colt government. i have the standard barrel that came with it also the same era colt national match barrel, fitted to the gun. standard will shoot 2" group at 20yds, match will shoot 1 1/2" at same distance... i would recommend an earlier era colt , just because they (colt) still have me a little spooked from a few years back.... besides for that, i like kimber but your looking at mass production issues. the more that is made the more there will be guns with flaws. and my crappy luck.... im the one in the million.

    if you really want bang for your buck, buy a wilson. they are still made every year in lower numbers than most Competitors and i think there margin of error is much lower than the rest because of the personal way they build there guns... les bear and ed brown too.... they cost about twice as much as some of the other guys, but which would you rather have? two guns or one that could out shoot both?

    but if all else fails... buy a colt, they are only the real 1911 everything else is a clone..
  17. batex

    batex Member

    Jun 15, 2006
    Why folks don't consider Colt and Springfield second when buying their first 1911 surprises me. I have all Colts and they are utterly reliable and just define a classic 1911. The only problem with Colt is that they can be hard to find locally. My shop sells pretty much whatever they get from Colt withing a day or two. I did own a Kimber once...yes the finish was pretty but Quality was spotty as I had several problems with it. It seems Kimber is all about finishes... From your list, the only gun I would consider is the Smith E series, but then I'd have to get use to those goofy slide serrations. :)
  18. buzzg

    buzzg Member

    Sep 6, 2005
    Oregon Forest
    If you're looking for a carry gun, 3 in. bbl, Kimber without question.
  19. rellascout

    rellascout member

    Dec 22, 2004
    What are you looking to use the gun for? Carry, home defense, range fun, gun games etc...

    How many rounds a year are you looking to shoot?

    What is your price range?

    Do you want combat sights, adjustable sights or night sights?

    Do you like a beavertail on the 1911 or just a stock grip safety?
  20. wow6599

    wow6599 Member

    Apr 6, 2008
    Wildwood, MO
    Why "without question"?

    Anyway..........what will the gun be used for and what is the budget set at? If it's not going to be a CCW, then I would recommend a Government model (5") from Springfield, Colt, Kimber (if you find a good deal), S&W, etc.

    If you want to spend $3000 +/-, buy an Ed Brown.

  21. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

    Jul 28, 2005
    Lewisberry, PA
    That link in post #2 has some extremely valuable advice.
  22. huduguru

    huduguru Member

    Apr 10, 2004
    Colt, thats all you need to know.
  23. wacki

    wacki Member

    Sep 16, 2006
    Reminiscing the Rockies
    I just want an ultra reliable and accurate .45. Home defense, range fun, gun games will all work.

    I have a Ruger SP101 for carry and a FNP40 as well.

    I try to shoot weekly but I have a lot of guns. I guess it depends on how much I like the .45 when I start shooting it. It could be a lot or it could be a little. Either way it should be reliable enough to handle whatever I throw at it or I won't waste my time.

    I like simple straight forward quality. So whatever that costs I'll pay. I don't need expensive glitter. The Ruger SP1911 appealed to me at first but I'll go for Colt or Springfield if there is a quality difference.

    I'm thinking combat sights. Again, simple rugged quality is what I'm about.

    I don't know. Will have to check that out at the gun shop.
  24. jimmygrish

    jimmygrish member

    Aug 4, 2011
    A 1911, an ex-wife and a teenage daughter are going to give you grief and that is a fact of life.

    Springfield Armory gives the best service I have ever witnessed for a 1911 style gun bar none. Cindy and Dave Williams are a pleasure to deal with. That makes Springfield a grief free choice for me. They pay over night shipping also.

    My Springfield stainless steel loaded full size model is my favorite 1911 range toy.
  25. wacki

    wacki Member

    Sep 16, 2006
    Reminiscing the Rockies
    ?!?!?!? I thought 1911's were very reliable. What kind of grief can I expect?
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