Help me enter the 1911 world

Howdy folks. I’ve shot a few 1911s over the years but don’t own one. I’d like to pick one up but need some help sorting through everything. There’s obviously a huge disparity in prices. Budget wise I’m not too shy, I don’t think I’m looking for the extreme top of the range, but a good solid looker and shooter. What should I be looking for in terms of quality, brand, etc? What should I stay away from? I’m a visual person by nature and by career, but I don’t want to base a decision solely on that for obvious reasons.

Let me know what you’ve got, what you would do if you were looking, what you might not do again, things like that. Much appreciate the insight!

Help me enter the 1911 world

I only have one 1911, a Sig Fastback Nightmare Carry, that I like very much. Hardcore 1911 affectionados might consider it a sham 1911 with its external extractor, bobbed grip, etc but it has been totally reliable, accurate, and, in my opinion, very handsome. Not cheap though.
Before I bought the Sig, I looked at the Ruger 1911s and was impressed by their value for a reasonable price. I was seduced by the Sig’s pulchritude.

I am still looking for the right Dan Wesson...

Re: Help me enter the 1911 world

You have several good choices that won't break the bank. Here are my favorites, in no particular order, with which I've spent some quality time.

- Remington 1911R1
- Springfield 1911 GI-MILSPEC
- Ruger SR1911
- Rock Island Arms 1911

The first three are made in the USA and should require no further introduction. All three of them are high quality and are recommended.

The fourth is made in the Philippines and happens to also be a quality firearm; Armscor, I believe, got their original start on Colt factories made during WWII and shipped over to the Philippines for wartime M1911A1 production to fight against Imperial Japan. Armscor, like other arms companies, has advanced their tooling since then. Sad that they can't sell their own pistol to their own countrymen due to the strict gun control....

If you want to go a little more "Gucci", you can go for a Kimber 1911, which has been my range's main rental 1911 for over 10 years. As you can imagine, it's gotten a whole lot of use. Still works great.
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Re: Help me enter the 1911 world

i shoot a springfield armory milspec, lightly modded. just about any generic parts will fit.
i also have a llama minimax "subcompact". good shooter, many parts not generic.
both good guns, but if i had to choose, i'd stick with the SA. i've heard that Rock Islands are quite good, too.
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Re: Help me enter the 1911 world

For the money, it's really, really hard to beat the Dan Wesson line right now.

Their alloy framed Vigil is a great looking piece, in my opinion...and not bad for around $1200. Or, for a bit more, you could look at a Pointman or Valor in stainless.

But, those are on the higher end (I figured you weren’t interested in full high end pieces, like Nighthawk, Wilson, etc...).

My next bit of advice would be to find an older, unmolested Colt.. I wouldn’t touch a recent production (post 2012 or so) Colt, though...last two I’ve bought were problematic.

Re: Help me enter the 1911 world

WOOOOO. First thing you do is you start chanting.


But in all seriousness, the main constraints are cost and cost.

Looking for a GOOD midgrade 1911? Dan Wesson. They are fantastic for the 1000-1600 range.
A bit high? There are some good 600 (used) to 1000 Springfield Armory 1911s out there.
Not wanting to spend that much either? Rock Island Armory.

I've owned Paras, Springfields, Colts, a Sistema, more Springfields, a Dan Wesson, a built-on-a-Springfield-by-a-1911-smith custom thing, and hey look, another Springfield. Out of all of these, the Springfields are the best value for the money but the Dan Wesson blows all of the stock guns out of the water.

Custom tuned/built 1911 is its own level of ridiculousness but I'm not going to recommend buying something like that as your entry 1911. Fine wines turn to ash in your mouth and you question why anyone ever needs more than 8+1 of .45ACP.

Personal experiences with 1911s that I don't own:
Not a fan of Kimber. I've had some people who have never had a bad experience with theirs but I've also had people have nothing but problems. My experiences were limited but fell more towards the latter.
Colt: Model 70? Go for it. Colt Delta Elite Mod 70 is still on my need/want list.
STI: usually higher priced but fantastic to shoot. 2011s built by them are fun, expensive, accurate, higher capacity, expensive, and expensive.
Para: nope nope nope.
Taurus: see Para.
Sig: not really a fan of the styling for the slide because my understanding is that it doesn't work with typical 1911 holsters. Great guns otherwise though.
Wilson Combat: they are really nice semi-custom 1911s. For the price though, find a reputable smith and have them build one the way you want it. If I'm dropping $4k on a 1911, I'm going to go look at Harrison Custom and drop me some monnnneeeeeey.

There are probably others that I'm just not remembering right now but my supply of hyperbole is running low.

Re: Help me enter the 1911 world

I've got a Rock Island 1911. I think it was a good value, but I've never been accused of having refined tastes. I figured I was new enough to handguns that I wasn't going to drop a lot of coin on a gun until I knew I would practice with it and take good care of it. So far so good on both accounts, but it's still more accurate than me.

I love shooting this thing. Big holes in paper. Surprisingly comfortable to shoot. One thing is ammo. I accidently bought a box of flat point jacketed bullets (or whatever they're called). Wouldn't feed well. I have probably run several different brands of nothing fancy round nosed 230 grain FMJ through it with no problems--other than those caused by me. I had a few stove pipes early on, and I think that had more to do with me not gripping properly. No problems with that for a long time.

Your non-1911 friends will poke fun at you for having a jam-o-matic. I don't get that. I'm a relatively inexperienced shooter with a cheap 1911 who shoots cheap ammo, and it runs great. Anyone else able to explain the reputation? Is it just lore that gets passed around because everyone says it, or are these really jam-o-matics?

Again, I'm pretty inexperienced but to me the trigger on this cheap 1911 of mine feels great. I've only compared it to a few other semi-autos, so what do I know. I did try a friend's double action semi, and I thought the damn thing was broken. It finally went bang--I just had to keep squeezing the trigger. Felt like those old grip strength tester games that had at arcades when I was a kid.

Re: Help me enter the 1911 world

ah. there's a phenomenon called "limp-wristing", which i've encountered with my SA. i assume this also occurs with other, inferior pistols but don't know. .45acp, being god's proof that slow and fat can be good things, makes the 1911 a delicate, sensitive little flower of a handgun which you must grip firmly and hold steady or it may malfunction. be sure to do whatever exercises yoo need to keep your hands and wrists strong. ;) and yes, that "heisenberg's uncertainty principle" feed ramp can make it picky (again with the delicate sensitive flower) about ammo especially flat or hollow points. i only shoot hardball out of mine, i figure a nearly half inch hole will do just fine.
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Re: Help me enter the 1911 world

Hahaha. You guys are wonderful, thank you so much for all the feedback, advice, laughs. This gives me a lot to go on but helps focus my energy, so very much appreciated!

I might be selling a Dan Wesson revolver from my uncle, planned on rolling that back into a 1911 and there might just be something poetic about that 1911 being a Dan Wesson...

Help me enter the 1911 world

Only have one - RUGER SR1911 CMD. It Eats anything, from .45 230 gr ball to 200 gr LSWC hand loads. My oldest son has been shooting it, quite accurately since he was 12. Steel framed, .45ACP, 1911s are soft shooters. Overall I think it’s a great pistol for the money (or at least what I paid for it in 2014.)

I don’t carry it as a primary Becuase I don’t train to a manual safety. Sometimes, I even forget the thumb safety during practice. But for those used to a manual safety on their carry gun, it’s a dandy.

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Re: Help me enter the 1911 world

I've got a Rock Island 1911 (the plain jane GI model) and I love it. I haven't had any issue with feeding ball, wadcutter, or HP, and the fit and finish are fine for what I need- a sidearm for hog hunting and home defense. Accuracy is perfectly acceptable once you get your grip figured out. The trigger is a crisp "glass break" like a 1911 trigger should be, and the stock mags are actually pretty nice. The only drawback I see to this pistol are the stock GI style sights, which take some getting used to if you are accustomed to something a little more user friendly like you get on most modern pistols. Honestly, though, if you're using this for self defense you're going to be firing at a target within 7 yards and ought to be able to hit center mass with anything that goes bang.
The only upgrades on mine are the grips and the backstrap. I installed nylon GI grips that are a tad slimmer and much more textured than the stock wood grips (and they cost 10 bucks on Amazon!). I also installed a curved backstrap that feels more comfortable in my palm.
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Re: Help me enter the 1911 world

I've owned a dozen or so, different brands, and my first choice would be (and is) an RIA milspec, my second choice would be a Springfileld milspec, and the only brands I would avoid across the board are Kimber and Wilsons.

I would not buy into any of the bells or whistles again, the weapons I sold the fastest were a Springfield Loaded and a Springfield Micro. They both had crap you don't need on them, and a couple things you don't want, and the Micro was too small to be reliable. Size affects reliability in 1911s, stick with government.

Good luck!

Re: Help me enter the 1911 world

A thought. Any “GI” styled 1911 will have the standard grip safety. If you are new to 1911’s expect to get bit a time or ten while learning to shoot it. Can be a bit painful/draw blood. Anything with an extended beaver tail grip safety will be more comfortable. I have a plain jane Tisas GI style that is otherwise a great shooter, but has bitten me more than once and that risk always serves as a distraction. And a Kimber UCII with Beaver tail that is very comfortable to shoot, but isn’t as accurate due to the shorter barrel.

Re: Help me enter the 1911 world

Have the Sig XO for yers and love it. Have neve had a problem with it. An old friend of mine ha a Colt Gold Cup that he brags about. He shot my XO and did it is as good if not better than the Gold Cup.
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Re: Help me enter the 1911 world

A well used Colt in .38 Super with ivory grips. It's my primary "working gun". Goes with me in the field mostly, but sometimes concealed carry. But it gets shot a LOT, and the bluing is gone on the front strap, backstrap, and most of the corners. Sometime this year I plan on having it bright nickeled...get my pimp on!!
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Re: Help me enter the 1911 world

This is a couple months old but I think one of the best value 1911s right now is Springfield Armory's recently discontinued Range Officer series or or the Loaded series.

I have a pair of STI's - one of them is picky and the other just keeps running. Batting 500 might be good in Baseball but I expect more from pistol manufacturers.

On the other hand, both Springfield's I've owned just ran. I only have one now because I went to small primers only for reloading purposes, but I've been very happy with SA. Dan Wessons are also very highly regarded though I've not had personal experience with them.

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