John May, Wilson Combat: Why the 1911 is Still a Favorite for Self-Defense

After more than a hundred years of deployment, the 1911 still keeps its owners safe. I know that many gun owners have chosen another type of firearm for personal defense. But no other handgun has been serving us as long or as well. There are many reasons why John Moses Browning’s design has stood the test of time. . .

The 1911 feels right in the hand. It’s slim and ergonomically sound. It feels like what it is: an inherently accurate tool for self-defense. With a single [relatively] light trigger press, an experienced shooter can use the 1911’s single action operation to place their bullets with unerring accuracy.

The 1911’s combination of manual thumb safety and grip safety offers an extra level of protection against negligent discharges and failed weapon retention—while not presenting a puzzle for an operator in a high stress environment. When built correctly, fed a diet of good quality ammo and properly maintained, a 1911 offers both mission critical and life-long reliability.

That doesn’t mean John Moses Browning’s design has been frozen in time. For decades, gunmakers have added their custom touches to the 1911, up to and beyond a polymer lower portion that holds double stack magazines.

Modified 1911s have been the leading pistol for handgun competitions all over the world, where the 1911 has been tested and stressed to its limits. Through war and peace, through ongoing improvements in design, materials and production, the 1911 has evolved, gaining accuracy and reliability in leaps and bounds.

At Wilson Combat, we like to say we paint on JMB’s canvas. Like hundreds of other American gunsmiths, we pay homage to Browning’s work by trying our best to improve or adapt the basic design to our customers’ needs. Not replace it.

I’ve been carrying a 1911 for over twenty years. Due to conditions and dress code, it’s not the only pistol I carry. But my Wilson Combat 1911 is never far away. It offers me the ability to place shots on demand under stress. I bet my life—and the life of those I care about—on my 1911’s ability to perform without failure, when needed.

Granted, the 1911 isn’t for everyone. But I’ve never heard or seen a good reason to give it up for something “better.” For me, a Wilson Combat 1911 is perfection. Improved.