1911 Review

The almost 100 year old 1911 is the granddaddy to all modern firearms.  Every modern manufactured handgun has at least one 1911 influence.  Considered by most shooters to be one of the most visually appealing handgun, time has treated the 1911 better than all of us. The 1911 has seen service in every major American conflict since WWI, and still serving special operations groups today.  The 1911 is also a favorite among shooting competitions and is still in use for some law enforcement agencies.

The only other handgun to rival the reverence shown to the John Browning designed masterpiece is the Colt Army revolver.  Considering that the 1911 indirectly replaced the Colt Army it would be considered by most as the best semi auto handgun ever designed.  The pistol was entered into the 1906 pistol trials by Colt and after the final 6,000 round trial the 1911 was added to service under the nomenclature M1911 (Model of 1911).  After WWI, the M1911 was updated with changes to the trigger and the external cosmetics and was designated M1911A1 in 1924.  No changes were made to the internal parts of the handgun and the internal parts were still interchangeable with the original M1911.  The M1911A1 was finally phased out in the early 1990’s in favor of the Berretta M9 (civilian 92F). 

1911 Specifications

The standard models are chambered in 45ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) and have an 8 round single stack magazine.  The slide is operated by recoil to eject the spent casing and load the new round.  The slide also cocks the hammer, which lends the single action (denotes that a single action – trigger pull will fire the weapon) trigger to be crisp and adjustable.  Smaller models with lower magazine capacities are available from many manufacturers for concealed carry purposes.  Double stacked magazine models are also available and are typically used for competitive shooting to reduce the amount of reloads per stage.  The 45ACP round, when used out of a 1911, is a subsonic round that will travel at approximately 802 feet per second.  The heavy weight of the 230 grain bullet combined with the slow rate of travel, lends itself to full energy transfer and reduced over penetration.  The 1911 earned the title of “man stopper” in WWII and is still one of the most popular self defense firearms today.

1911 Safety

Modern 1911’s have a safety switch and a grip safety to prevent an unwanted discharge.  Many manufacturers offer a firing pin block to further reduce the chance of an unwanted discharge.  These safety mechanisms are still no replacement for safe firearm handing.

1911 Offerings

1911’s are produced by a seemingly unlimited number of manufactures.  The gun can be found for as low as $300 to as expensive at $3000 for a custom built, top tier 1911.  Average priced 1911’s with the modern amenities cost around $1000.  That price is much higher than a polymer pistol or other single action 45ACP’s on the market today. 

Popular 1911 Manufacturers

  • Colt
  • Kimber
  • Springfield Armory
  • Smith & Wesson
  • Rock River Arms
  • Wilson Combat
  • Nighthawk
  • Les Baer
  • Ed Brown
  • Para Ordnance
  • Remington

Standard Out of the Box Setup
(varies greatly between manufacturers)

  • 1911 Firearm
  • 2 Magazines
  • Hard Plastic case
  • Manual
  • Gun Lock
  • Bore Brush

Comparable Firearm Reviews

  • Glock  21
  • XD45
  • H&K USP
  • Sig Saur P220
  • S&W M&P45
  • CZ 97
  • FN P45
  • EAA Witness
  • Ruger P97


  • Replacement parts and full firearms kits are available through the aftermarket.
  • Most Modern models offer an adjustable trigger
  • Extremely accurate.
  • Proven design.
  • Manual safety lever.
  • Available in multiple sizes
  • Available in multiple calibers
  • Grip angle is inherently conducive to point shooting
  • 22LR Conversion kits available for training
  • Holds resale value much better than comparable firearms


  • 7 or 8 round magazine capacity.
  • Heavier than polymer counterparts.
  • Much more expensive than the competition
  • Fully tuned models run as much as $2000+
  • Disassembly is Medium level complexity.