Rob Pincus: Sub-Compact 1911s Suck

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Rob Pincus owns and operates ICE Training. Click here for more information.

106 Responses to Rob Pincus: Sub-Compact 1911s Suck

  1. avatarbontai Joe says:

    Good info to know

  2. avatarLT says:

    I can’t imagine how that would even work – Browning’s design was for a 5″ barrel if I recall correctly. Shrinking that an inch or so is feasible but unless you’re making some major overhauls (which have potential problems of their own) you aren’t gonna get away with a 30-40% reduction in slide length.

    That said, I’m really starting to want a 1911 myself… maybe Black Friday/Christmas will be good this year.

  3. avatarDyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    The lack of slide mass in the 3″ and under barrel lengths changes a whole lot of timing issues, and not for the better.

    The original was indeed 5″. The Commander was 4.25″.

    If someone wants to build a 2.5″ barrel 1911, they’re going to have to break out the physics books and start doing some math.

  4. avatarChris Dumm says:

    Rob Pincus and Larry Vickers agree on this point, and I’ll follow thier advice.

  5. avatarcmd says:

    I’m partial to full size 1911s and I use one for my EDC. I’d like to try a long slide someday.

  6. avatarSid says:

    It really is a real issue. Sawing off a shotgun barrel has a real impact on the effectiveness of the weapon. Accuracy of an M4 clone is directly effected when barrel length changes. Simply shortening the barrel and slide length of a 1911 without making any internal changes is not going to work.

  7. avatarC. Walther says:

    And that’s why I’ll stick to the Glock 30.

    If I was that guy, though, I think I’d keep the Kimber. If it reliably (but not consistently) jams in some form or fashion, seems like it’d be a great training tool to practice failure recovery (after buying a more reliable pistol, of course). Now if I was starting from scratch, on the other hand…

  8. avatarRob Pincus says:

    Glad the posters so far “get it”… In case anyone doesn’t, feel free to take the challenge:
    Take a 2 day CFS course with me with any .45acp 1911, and if you make it through with no operator errors involving the manual safety and no gun malfunctions, I’ll refund tuition AND pay for your ammo. No maintenance or ” time-outs” allowed during class time.

    • avatarpsmcd says:

      Any? Or any compact 1911?

    • avatarI_Like_Pie says:

      Rob,

      So how are the other short barrel .45 guns doing in you classes? Are the glocks and kahrs suffering the same problems? Am curious as I have been mulling around moving from my Glock 27 to a .45 platform. I reload and cast .45 and it would be a lot more economical to practice and shoot in 45.

      Thanks in advance! I do agree that short 1911 guns suck! Lot of people spend a lot of money to figure that out.

      • avatarBlake says:

        Rob,

        I’m fairly certain I can make it through your course without a gun malfunction with my 1911.

        However, I’m equally certain I cannot make it through your course without a user malfunction. And it isn’t going to matter what kind of pistol I use, I know I’m going to make mistakes.

        Hardly a reasonable challenge.

        So, what’s your point? You don’t like 1911′s in general? You prefer Glocks? Or is your bias just against compact 1911′s?

        • avatarBenji says:

          The “operator error” clause is a HUGE CYA to that challenge. Not reasonable at all, you are correct.

        • avatarRob Pincus says:

          I only mean an operator error in regard to the manual safety… Extending the gun and trying to shoot with it on or going to holster with it off.

          While this vid is specifically about subcompacts, I don’t recommend 1911s for defensive use at all because of the high failure rate we see in class and the inherently more complicated nature of the system (as compared to modern striker fired guns)

        • avatarMostlyStupid says:

          If you could make it through an intensive training class with no errors involving the manual safety, you wouldn’t need the class. But, I can see the point that you are less likely to have an error with the manual safety on a Glock.

        • avatarRob Pincus says:

          Disagree: CFS class is about a lot more than running the safetyroperly… mANY students have gone through with ZERO operator errors in regard to the safety.

    • avatarcaffeinated says:

      I have to go with Rob on this. The one platform that chokes up the most at every match I attend always seems to be something based on the 1911.

      • avatarOODALOOP says:

        Uhh, you might need to be more specific about that. He’s raggin’ on 3″ 1911′s in .45 ACP. I train with the gun I carry – a Springfield Armory EMP. It’s a 3″ 1911 in 9mm. I have been thru four 2 & 3 day training courses with 1200-1800 round counts for each one. My EMP has been flawless for every one of them. Apart from replacing a recoil spring at about 7k, it has been able to go shot for shot with anything polymer-based.

        • avatarRob Pincus says:

          We actually did have one subcompact 1911 that bucked the trend and looked like it was a Winner… it was in 9mm also… but it later ran into trouble.

    • avatarJason says:

      Any 1911? Including 5″ government models? I’ve gotten through 2-day classes with a internal extractor Kimber Pro Carry (not II) just fine. I’d love to run a class with my SR1911. Ruger’s done a great job providing a no-nonsense pistol, and it runs just like I’d expect a standard Browning to run. ie. Flawlessly. There’s a reason the 1911 won the contract way back when, and it wasn’t because they were unreliable. Too bad you don’t have anything scheduled in Arizona.

    • avatarElliotte says:

      “Take a 2 day CFS course with me with any .45acp 1911, and if you make it through with no operator errors involving the manual safety and no gun malfunctions, I’ll refund tuition AND pay for your ammo. No maintenance or ” time-outs” allowed during class time.”

      Just trying to understand something here, part of your rating of 1911s in general is that having the manual safety can cause user errors, either trying to fire with it on, or trying to holster with it off, correct? If so, would you then say that anything with an external safety (something other than a grip or Glock-style trigger safety) also sucks and is something to avoid?

      If that’s the case, could your opinion be stated that “manual safeties suck. And sub-compact 1911s doubly suck b/c they have a manual safety and they’re not engineered correctly for the shorter barrel/slide.” Would that be one way to say it? Sorry if I seem dense, I can’t watch the video and I’m trying to piece it together reading the comments.

      • avatarMatt in FL says:

        Elliotte: The video actually had nothing to do with safeties, specifically. It showed a Kimber sub-compact that was having repeated cycling issues (looked primarily like FTEs), requiring lots of mag-dropping and slide racking. The safety discussion started here in the comments.

        • avatarElliotte says:

          Cool, thanks for the info. For some strange reason, Youtube is blocked at work, funny thing.

    • avatarRich Mogel says:

      Ok so you say you will pay for it huh. I have 2 Taurus 1911 both 45s. The one I use for accuracy and the other is my edc (when clothing permits) in the winter time in the summer I carry my Glock 30. My Taurus 1911 is at 1500 rounds without cleaning. I loosened the gun up everywhere and haven’t had 1 problem with GI mags. Now the target gun doesn’t see more than 250 rounds without cleaning and oil. My Glock is my dirty bird or old faithful as I call it 3000 rounds and 2 jams overall. I use nothing but factory mags and factory loads Remington umc 250 bulk in all guns. I would take your challenge with any of these. Basically because I have used them so much I feel that confident. I run my own courses a lot for fun. However that being said to take a course I would say the best gun would be a Glock 17 (gen 2or 3) or h&k mark 23… Just my opinion though

  9. avatarPaul says:

    It’s also worth mentioning that Kimber recommends a 500rd break in period and an 800rd recoil spring replacement schedule on their compact 1911′s.

    Not sure how many people follow that, but I’d be curious to see if religious adherence to that schedule has any impact on reliability.

    • avatarMark N. says:

      Funny thing about the spring. I went to replace mine after 800 to 1000 rounds, and the guy at the LGS tried to convince me that as long as I wasn’t having malfunctions it really wasn’t necessary!

      No matter how people diss them, there is something to be said for plastic guns. My XD has been flawless, my Kimber took 500 plus rounds before it became reasonably reliable.

      • avatar"Dr."Dave says:

        The problem with Kimber guns is that they’re made by Kimber, and that people will pay far out the ass for a mediocre 1911 that only comes with one mag and horrible customer service.

  10. avatarLeftShooter says:

    What I hear is Mr. Pincus giving us his opinion that sub-compact 1911s don’t work well. What I don’t hear him say is why he thinks so. I have heard first hand and believe about what a good trainer he is, but I’d say if he wants to post on TTAG, he need to meet higher standards and give us reasoned analysis.

    As an aside, I have a Para LDA Carry subcompact .45 ACP which, although I don’t carry it, I have never had any failure when shooting 50 rounds per range visit.

    • avatarKen says:

      Well, “reasoned analysis” aside, I think direct, first hand observation that none have made it through one of his classes without a problem is probably a good indication of why he thinks they don’t work well.

      • avatarLeftShooter says:

        Right, first-hand, repeated observation is invaluable but is typically the first step. The second step is to try to explain why something happens. The third step could be improvement or innovation. It’s curiosity that extends knowledge–and gives teachers like Rob Pincus things to teach.

        If you are incurious or happy not knowing the “why” of things like the problematic compact 1911 then perhaps it is a matter of personal preference. It’s OK by me, but since I own one I find I am curious about why someone thinks “they suck.”

        • avatarRob Pincus says:

          Furthermore… Anyone who has worked with me will tell you the lengths I go to to research and innovate in areas that I am concerned about: teaching, training methodology, shooting & gun handling techniques, drills that teach complex concepts on simple ranges, etc, etc… Making bad guns work is NOT on the list. -RJP

    • avatarRob Pincus says:

      I’m a teacher, not a gunsmith or engineer.

      I honestly don’t care why they suck, I’m interested in keeping well meaning people looking for a reliable and conveniently carry-able defensive gun from making the mistake of investing in these things and trusting them to run.

      • avatarLogan wells says:

        I have a Wilson cqb with a 4in barrel and a Springfield trp that I would put to the test any day. Have ran 2k threw the Wilson without a single cleaning only adding a few drops if lub and 0 failures of any kind . The trp has seen over 5k and seen 1k in one day and no failures. But these are high quality 1911, I’ve ran plenty of low end 1911 that fail, so I would like to know if these 1911 you have failing are good quality 1911 that are kept close to the original design or just any 1911 no matter the maker. Cause you have many different makers of 1911 with slightly varying designs to drastic differences in design vs glock that all have the same mechanics. So to be fair run a 5in barreled Wilson, Springfield trp, of Nighthawk and see how consistent your results are,

  11. avatarRichard says:

    The gun question in vidoe was one of Kimber 1911 that used spring loaded ejector instead of internal ejectors witch Kimber had alot issue with spring loaded ejector. Which forced them go back to internal ejectors. Infact Sig had same issue with 1911 when bad batch spring loaded ejector 1911 left factory. Sig fixed issue spring loaded ejector pistols Kimber stop put spring loaded ejectors in there guns. The fact that gun fail fire in video was becuase useing spring loaded ejector that Kimber no longer puts in guns.

    • avatarJason says:

      I believe you mean extractor. And yeah, those Kimbers were pretty bad. If you can find a Kimber with no external extractor and no firing pin block, it’ll probably work ok.

  12. avatarWill says:

    My ultra covert II begs to differ. Not a single malfunction yet. Granted, I’ve never ran more than 100-150 rounds through it w/o a cleaning.

    • avatarjeff says:

      I think most of his classes are going to shoot much more than 150 rounds before you get a chance to break down and clean your weapon.

      • avatarWill says:

        But why would you ever carry a gun, no matter what kind, that has not been recently cleaned and lubed so as to have the best chance of being functional if and when you might need to defend yourself? I don’t see myself putting 1000 rounds through a gun and then just throwing it in a holster and hoping it works

        • avatarRob Pincus says:

          Why would you carry a gun that needs that kind of attention when they are cheaper, more reliable options??

        • avatarRobert Farago says:

          For the same reason that people buy Harleys.

        • avatarJason says:

          Because you’re a little woman with arthritis who can easily limp-wrist any of the polymer wundernines, but finds the mild shove of a big four-five in a steel frame perfectly tolerable – and reliable?

          It’s good to have a deep toolbox of options if you’re teaching a wide variety of people. 1911s are probably not the best choice for a lot of shooters, but there are good reasons to use ‘em, and any instructor worth his salt should have more to offer than, “Sell that thing.” There are very few 1911s that won’t run with a spot of good lube, a GI magazine, and a properly tensioned extractor. And maybe a replacement recoil spring. It takes a couple of minutes to hit those points, and it doesn’t take a gunsmith. You can mark ‘em up a couple of bucks and make a profit, and the student goes away with a warm fuzzy and a gun that works.

          Or you can keep having them sell their guns at a deep loss to jerks like me who turn them into shooters in 5 minutes and laugh at the fools who throw away a perfectly good gun. (Just got another one on Friday!)

      • avatarRob Pincus says:

        Jason, I recommend a lot of guns for a lot of people with a lot of problems… the 1911 simply isn’t on the list. Name a problem and I’ll offer solution that I feel is a better option. Saying “sell it” isn’t a cop out… it is a reality check.

        Unless the Government is issuing you your gun you have the freedom to choose. If you are spending the time/effort/energy/dollars to take a two day top level defensive shooting class, you shouldn’t be picking your gear based on tradition, emotion and ego. Save that “any gun will do, if you will do” machismo crap… I used to buy into that line of thought too, then I realized how silly it was when we are talking about life & death to remain beholden to lesser options because we “like” them.

        • avatarJason says:

          Who said any gun will do? I want a handgun that is ultra-thin for concealment, and to fit my girlish hands. It must have a short reach to a consistent, light, crisp trigger. In fact, make it a world class trigger. After all, this is my life I’m defending. And since it is my life, I demand major power – but modest recoil – and it must cycle reliably with nothing more than the resistance of its own inertia. Oh, and while we’re at it, I want accessories to be readily available in any gun shop. Goes without saying it needs to be in production currently. Nothing I’d have to stalk auctions to find.

          These are all practical considerations. In a combination that no other sidearm meets.

        • avatarDirk Diggler says:

          Glock 26

        • avatarJason says:

          I’ve seen ladies who can limp-wrist any Glock you hand them. Not acceptable. Not to mention that while the Glock trigger can be cleaned up to be very good, it’s still a compromise compared to a true single action. Good enough for “any gun will do, if you will do”, but one of the reasons I recommend Glocks for training is that it’s challenging: if you have flaws in your trigger control, the Glock will reveal it. A single action trigger is forgiving. Small flaws don’t make a big difference, the way they do with a two-stage striker-fired gun.

          Be honest: if you’re making that head shot on a bad guy holding your child hostage, what would your rather have under your finger? 4lbs. and no perceptible movement, or 5.5lbs and plenty of travel? Heart’s going 180 bpm, people are screaming and yelling, sweat’s in your eyes: go!

        • avatarTom says:

          Whoa! Me thinks I detected a thinly veiled swat at Front Sight there.

  13. avatarzeos says:

    I’ve never had a problem with my new agent.

    • avatarpastubbs says:

      That’s because its a Colt I loved the new agent in 9mm. I eventually sold because I didn’t feel comfortable carrying a gun with that style of manual of arms. But I might get another full size 1911 in the future Colt Delta Elite maybe.

  14. avatarjeff says:

    It is going to be very hard to move the “mine has never had any issues crowd,” they tend to be very stubborn, and don’t realize the total round count through their gun is less than 1 day of shooting in class like that.

  15. avatar"Dr."Dave says:

    I’ve put over 900 rounds through my Springfeild GI. With out cleaning. In a single day. Not a hiccup, not a light strike, not a stove pipe.

    Keep in mind that the original 1911 design blew the socks off the ordnance board when it fired multiple thousands of rounds with out failures.

    What causes problems is when people monkey around with the design, and over engineer them for accuracy.

    I wouldn’t trust a 1911 that doesn’t have some rattle to it.

    That being said, the 1911 is a great design…From the 1911. The GLOCK is a great design…from the 1980s.

    Technology does improve.

    Problems with M1911s:

    *Under lubrication. They like to run wet. I found a very thin synthetic lube works best.
    *Crap quality mags.
    * Operator error. Quit limp wristing. Lock out your arms and your wrists.
    *Cheap ammo. Most 1911s are picky eaters.
    *Buying anything made by Kimber

    • avatarTom says:

      Interesting. It appears people either love or hate the Kimbers. One thing is certain. The consistent issue I’ve heard as a complaint was their customer service. Or should I say, lack thereof? I like the Supercarry HD, but not the price.

  16. avatarJOE MATAFOME says:

    Rob’s right on target, and I recently turned to the “GLOCK SIDE” after years of making fun of all Glocks. I own plenty of expensive guns and they all get put to shame by a cheap ole ulgy Glock.

  17. avatarMALTHUS says:

    In keeping with recent trends, my state of residence recently approved concealed carry legislation. My gunsmith promptly bought a Colt Officer Model for his son and himself.

    He had to spend long hours tinkering with the design to get those cut-down .45s to function reliably.

    Anyone who wants a compact .45 would be well advised to consider a Glock 36 or Springfield XD-S instead of buying a shorty 1911. Rob Pincus deserves credit for bringing this problem to the attention of those who plan to buy a pistol for concealed carry.

    • avatarjeff says:

      don’t forget the M&P line.

      • avatarC. Walther says:

        I think Malthus meant compact *single stack* .45, since he specifically mentioned the 36 and XD-S. The only single-stack M&P is the newly released SHIELD, and it doesn’t come in .45 (yet).

        • avatarMark N. says:

          Is there such a thing as an XDS? I’ve seen the pics, read the reviuews, but never seen one for sale. Not that it matters, its not on the Cal roster either.

          I prefer single stacks for CCW. I can’t imagine carrying an XD, XDM or glock. There are few single stack .45s other than 1911s; so what do you do to substitute?

  18. avatarGary says:

    Thanks Rob Pincus for showing the brand as well as for the post about these small 1911′s. I actually have a full size in this brand that works fine. I used to think this brand was the shizznit until I heard the word about how many were having issues. Now I know I am lucky having an older one (pre 2) They seem to be pushing these small versions. Hopefully more people will get the word and this will stop.

  19. avatarGreg Steel says:

    Guys, when you finally get the balls to GET OFF the Internet and actually go and train to fight with your pistol you will understand what Rob is talking about. I don’t blame your 1911 loving ignorance on you personally since its easy to get caught up in the illusion of “macho” metal 45 guns of the past but it’s all bullshit. Take a fighting / combat / self defense class and you’ll quickly understand where Rob’s challenge is coming from. He speaks the truth, I’ve trained all over the country with le & mil orgs and it’s literally painful watching the guys with ANY 1911 platform spend their time clearing failures to “—-”, while those that don’t have their head up their asses and can run a 9mm Glock19, M&P9, etc, etc…all put rounds on target ALL day / week long.

    • avatarPhrederick says:

      It’s not necessarily “metal vs plastic” either. Steel and alloy framed Sigs, HKs, and CZs preform well, damn well. It’s about having a modern weapon designed appropriately and tested sufficiently to meet its role.

    • avatarJason says:

      Y’know, I’ve taken classes with both polymer pistols and 1911s, and they both worked. Yeah, there’s a lot of sad 1911s out there – mostly a product of companies and gunsmiths who think they have to be “modernized”, and don’t understand that the original got to become the classic it is by running thousands of rounds without a problem. If you see something with a 1911 that’s jamming a lot, something changed from 1911 to now. If you figure out what that difference is, it’s often not difficult to fix. A lot of times it’s as simple as swapping out a poor quality magazine for a good one. Nobody blames Glock when a student brings a Korean knock-off magazine to a class and it jams, but a student brings a $15 Promag (oops, sorry, but if we’re naming and shaming Kimber, it’s only fair…), and suddenly the 1911 is an outdated platform that can’t be relied on?

      • avatarMatt in FL says:

        It’s funny to me that you mention Promag. I picked up a Sig P238 recently, and the mags were kinda painful. I saw the ProMag prices, but when I looked them up on the internet, 3/4 of the links said “don’t bother.” It’s amazing to me that they stay in business with references like that.

        • avatarDirk Diggler says:

          I have a Sig238 also, and bought a ton of pro mags for it because they are cheap and easy to get. They work “ok” but nothing that I would rely upon for CCW, which is why I leave the real OEM mags loaded with Hornady rounds. I practice my clearing activity with the pro mags.

  20. avatarMr. Lion says:

    Well, I’ve put several hundred rounds per given range day through several 1911s, including a Defender, without a single issue. Operator error involving the safety, phase of the moon, or what have you is a training problem, not a gun problem. If I had the time I’d take that challenge.

    With that said, I fail to see how running hundreds and hundreds of rounds through a gun in a training situation is anything like the real world situations one is presumably preparing for, and as such an indication of its performance in said real world environment.

    Running a upwards of a thousand rounds through something, not cleaning it, and bitching when it stops going boom is relevant to feeding one’s biases and little else. Relevant for a machine gun. A pistol? Not so much.

    • avatarRopingdown says:

      Agree with the critique of many contemporary pistol courses. Pushed aside is the accuracy of the first shot as a criteria, among other consequences.

  21. avatarMichael says:

    Great info Rob. Hope to be able to train under you soon. I own an HK 40C. Have you had students have sucess with HK? Another high priced gun. I have been fortunate to not have a failure personally for years. Just good to know before i show up to class with it. i appreciate your honesty. I think we should all put our egos aside and accept what you have been witnessing first hand. It will ultimately save a life. Thanks again.

  22. avatarRopingdown says:

    There are many oddities about the 1911 vs. “other” discussion. For transparency, I use a G36 for pocket carry, a G30SF for holstered CCW, and 1911′s for “open carry” sport shooting, if a Gen4 G21 or a G20SF isn’t more appropriate: The US Army insisted on the manual safety. William Fairbairn, training the Shanghai Foreign Concession Police, had the manual safety removed on all the guns, figuring the grip safety was enough, like an XDs. The 1911 wasn’t meant to get a tight slide fit, or an extra-heavy spring “to save it from getting battered.” It wasn’t meant to have an additional firing pin safety. It was meant to have small parts made of very good quality steel. Configured that way, lightly lubed, and with a 5″ barrel, it is very reliable. Trouble is, roughly none of them are configured that way today, and short models cannot be. Pushing 25 and 50 yard accuracy in “training” ruined the 1911 thing, changed its purpose. Concealed carry? Who wants a hammer or beaver tail sticking out? Who wants a grip safety that rattles? Who wants the “heavy” of metal? Who wants a long mandatory break-in period? The 1911 was sabotaged, in my opinion, by the obsessions of Cooper (who actually never was in combat, to my knowledge, either in WWII or Korea) and Wilson et al. So I mainly use Glocks. I think it would be wise to fall back on the opinions of people who have actually had to shoot people to save lives: They tend to drop the pretty-boy concepts and the historical perspective. The gun absolutely has to work and with good 10 meter accuracy. If you subvert it for a better target score you get your wish: It’s subverted.

    • avatarMark N. says:

      Points well taken, but you would also have to agree that there are reams of internet posts decrying jamming issues with most of the plastic/striker pistols by S&W, Taurus, Ruger, Kahr, etc

      • avatarRopingdown says:

        Yes, absolutely agree. Polymer + striker ≠ guaranteed reliable. I keep a pair of very reliable 5″ 1911′s. They are set up for reliability, not competition. I turned to Glock compact pistols only after trying (buying, using, trading in) a variety of other brands. I’m no expert. I only know what works for me. The G36 and G30SF have proved extremely reliable, so I’m not looking anymore. I don’t trust my 5″ 1911′s less than G’s, but they’re just too big and heavy for me to carry concealed. I’m not that good at concealing, perhaps.

      • avatarRopingdown says:

        Yes, absolutely agree. Polymer + striker ≠ guaranteed reliable. I keep a pair of very reliable 5″ 1911′s. They are set up for reliability, not competition. I turned to Glock compact pistols only after trying (buying, using, trading in) a variety of other brands. I’m no expert. I only know what works for me. The G36 and G30SF have proven extremely reliable, so I’m not looking anymore. I don’t trust my 5″ 1911′s less than G’s, but they’re just too big and heavy for me to carry concealed. I’m not that good at concealing, perhaps.

        • avatarRob Pincus says:

          FWIW, the success rate for 1911′s in class is less than 10%. For the major Striker Fired guns it is over 80%…

        • avatarDirk Diggler says:

          Glock 26 for concealed carry. Period. She may be ugly, but this broad can cook.

        • avatarDex says:

          Im with dirk. Ill add that I will gladly go toe to toe against any (i mean any) 1911 on the range anywhere and anytime. What makes me laugh every time is people bragging about carrying their 1911 in a SHTF scenario. After your 1911 turns into nothing more than a paperweight, my Glock will keep spittin out lead.

    • avatarJason says:

      Now, now, no need to go slandering the dead. Cooper had guns built to his specifications, and they were in no way uber-tight bullseye pistols. In the man’s own words:

      For years now we have maintained that the only things that need to be done to any of the standard versions of the Colt .45 auto are the fitting of a trigger that can be managed, sights that can be seen, and a “dehorning job”.

      Modifications were minimal, and primarily ergonomic. The main functional modification was replacement of the fragile collet bushing with a solid bushing to bring it back to the original 1911 design. That’s no longer necessary, as everyone has abandoned the collet bushing. Cooper liked simple and reliable. It’s a travesty to go blaming him for any 1911 that isn’t.

      • avatarRopingdown says:

        What you say is certainly true. However, the competition organizations he set in motion led to the encouragement of ever more accurate 1911′s, and the “tightening up” began. There were many other pistol designs (some of the S&W and German/Swiss semi-autos come to mind) which were very good, but the cult status led to the proliferation of mini-1911′s. I recognize in myself a bias, however, and admit it. I found Cooper one of the main proponents of an “I’m sensible, most people aren’t…. I’m patriotic, most people aren’t” style of writing. He may not be around, but his writing lives on. When I ask those I meet that are fond of his writings if he was ever a combat soldier shooting in the front lines, they all seem to think that he had been. How did that come to be? The question answers itself. I would be more than happy to hear that assertion rebutted with facts (unit ID, date, location). I’d equally like to learn it was untrue the John Wayne ducked WWII. Call me disillusioned.

        • avatarJason says:

          First you misrepresent him, then you blame him for things he had no control over? And which aren’t true anyway: bullseye shooters were welding up 1911s years before combat shooting was ever invented. And combat shooting is generally not a pursuit in which supreme accuracy is of paramount importance. It just has to be good enough to hit the A-zone, not the X ring.

          The three greatest causes of 1911 nonsense are lawyers (extra safeties), market competition (a need to be different from the next guy by “improving” the design) and the rise of concealed carry. (“People love CCW and 1911s, let’s make a 3″ 1911!”) While there are a lot of strange things done to competition guns, you won’t see too many compensated .38 supers with red dots sold to the average consumer.

        • avatarRopingdown says:

          Jason: I agree with the “extra safeties” comments and the rise of concealed carry and did mention those in the Fairbairn and short-1911 comments. Skip my comments about Cooper if you wish. I doubt in any case that he found only 10% of 1911′s made it through his courses if they were made-to-standards copies. The first pistol ever put in my hand was given to me in RVN to protect the captain I worked for. The second was bought on the Long Binh black market to take north to Dong Ha for Lam Son 719. I was aircrew. I never needed either since my long guns never failed me, but they always functioned well in practice, despite their age and wear. I take the creation of unreliable versions as a personal affront. Professional ethics prevents me making disparaging comments about attorneys. I’ll leave that to you, without disagreeing.

  23. avatarChad Hendrix says:

    Thanks again Rob, you always tell it how it is! Appreciate all you do, your saving lives every time you teach, write or do a tv show. Was a pleasure meeting you at the NRA convention this year! Made the drive to St. Louis from Memphis, so worth it!
    Cheers!
    Chad

  24. avatarChas says:

    Kimber Ultra Carry (Series I) – the first service caliber weapon I bought. While I never had any failures with it, the short sight radius was enough to make me want to get rid of it after about a year. Compact does not always equal good choice for SD.

    What Rob said about the subcompact 1911 also applies to .380 and other non-service caliber weapons, IMO. Gun shops and the gun magazines are irresponsible for promoting these as adequate choices to defend your life.

  25. avatarMike OFWG says:

    Recently acquired an Ultra Carry II, love the look, feel and size! Also acquired a G23 about a year ago. I am seriously considering getting another G23 backup and losing the rest of my battery. Keep it simple, reliable and carry friendly. I’ve enjoyed playing around with a bunch of calibers and models over the years, but I think I am at the stage where you take it back to the basics.

  26. avatarMark says:

    People need to know what works and what doesn’t. I love full-size Colt 1911s but hate carrying them. Obviously, the design doesn’t scale down. I hate Glocks for a number of specific reasons, but suspect there could be a S&W M&P Shield in my future if they turn out to be reliable.

  27. avatarGMAN says:

    Hey Rob,

    What about a 92fs/M9? Mine has been ultra reliable, but I still worry about the slide mounted safety. I use it only as a decocker and rely on the DA/SA trigger as a safety. I tried to sign up for a defensive pistol class, but the instructor, who I highly regard, really tried to get me to go the striker fired route. (He also had the same opinion of 1911′s…seen too many failures.)

    So, I’m torn. Continue to train with my 92fs Centurion…or buy that PPQ.

    Thoughts?

    • avatarJason says:

      Any excuse to buy a PPQ is a good excuse. But there’s no reason not to run a class with a 92 except for the DA/SA transition. You’re going to spend a lot of time training that, and your classmates firing striker/SA pistols won’t have to. But that’s true of carrying a DA pistol on the street too. If you’re going to own it, you should train it.

  28. avatarDex says:

    Rob, yes they do! :)

    Part of the problem is opposing the holy altar that is anything 1911 and blaspheming against it. Ill be the first to say there is a reason why ive never owned a 1911, specifically a subcompact one. Ill stick with my glock or HK thank you.

  29. I am very, very picky about reliability in my firearms (my friends just say insane), I will not own a pistol that is not 100% reliable. If it malf’s in some way that cannot be traced to ammo or magazine I sell it, since I literally have nightmares about it. I also clean and maintain my weapons to a very high standard. I have seen 1911′s that were 100% and they were usually the ‘Sloppy’, ‘Inaccurate’ guns my buddies sent to gunsmiths to be “Fixed” and they were never 100% again. I gave up on the platform a while ago, it is not that they cannot be reliable but that all the crap that has been done to the design over the years to make it “Better” has made it unsuitable for real combat use.
    I have found that most good modern designs (Glock, SIG, CZ {Ceska Zbrojovka}, CZ {Zastava}, Springfield/HS Produkt {XD&XD(M)}, ect.) tend to be reliable guns and I own a CZ-75c a CZ-99/EZ-40 and a Springfield XDsc all in .40S&W, although I am switching to all XD’s since I want to standardize all my spare parts magazines etc. I personally hate the Glock, not because it doesn’t work but because it does not fit me and the kool-aid drinking Glockaholics have deepened my dislike into loathing with their constant mindless droning about it.
    To swerve back to the main topic, I see the 1911 vs Everything crowd like the car-fanatics I knew growing up in Detroit. The constant blather about how “The ’66 Mustang (or the ’67 ‘Vette, or the Model T) is the greatest car ever built!” No, it isn’t, it is the best car to you because it was the first one you owned (or dreamed about owning) or the one you got laid in first or whatever your pathology is. In fact those cars were decent cars but not much more reliable or better performing that others around that time and are nowhere near as good as the better brands and models built today, you have just invested so much of your ego in that piece of machinery you are flatly incapable of stepping back and looking objectively at them. The 1911 was awesome in it’s day, but that day is passed, time and technology has marched on and left it behind. The Glock fan-boys need to wake up too, there are other pistols out there that are every bit as good and reliable and Gaston Glock was just a businessman who saw a profit and came up with a decent design for a pistol to sell to the Austrian Military and Police (So Perfect we are on the 4th Version!).
    I conclude with one of my favorite quotes;
    “You should not have a favorite weapon. To become over-familiar with one weapon is as much a fault as not knowing it sufficiently well. You should not copy others, but use weapons which you can handle properly. It is bad for commanders and troopers to have likes and dislikes. These are things you must learn thoroughly.”
    Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings

    • avatarDex says:

      There is a reason why Glock became popular. Its because they
      offered a product that was plug and play, stupid reliable,
      inexpensive, accurate, and rugged to police and civilian shooters
      that long used smith and wesson revolvers. To make the transition
      from something so drastic required innovation; while S&W and
      other american gun companies were asleep, Glock maneuvered in for
      the kill and gaston’s gamble paid off handsomely. of course, with
      the HS2000 ( I dont give springfield jack shit as far as credit
      goes with the “XD”), USP, M&P, CZ Duty, and FN’s offerings,
      glock finally has some competition, though it took a good two
      decades before they would wake up and smell the roses. Its about
      damn time thats all i can say. I would like to see a american
      company reign supreme in the small arms world. That is why i have a
      love/hate relationship with Glocks. They’re not beautiful nor
      comfortable, though i trust mine with my life and can drive tacks
      with it.

    • avatarKevin says:

      That comment about detroit rolling iron not measuring up to todays products in this disposable, diplomatic red tape era doesn’t fit. Detroit rolling iron was made to last at one point. Now, it’s made to last two years. That said, the same could be applied to the manufacturing of most of the higher priced 1911′s. I believe it’s already been stated that the original design does indeed work. It’s the changes that don’t. MIM parts, poorly cast frames and slides, poorly tuned extractors, etc. Most of them work just fine with a throat and polish, a simple extractor shaping, and a decent magazine. Why don’t the manufacturers provide this? Your guess is as good as mine. That said, if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t go out and buy a 1911 thinking it’s the end-all be-all. If you know what you’re doing, they can be great, but not for beginners. There’s a reason why the 1911 has been used in wars for over a hundred years. There’s a reason why they were used by our military for 70 years. There’s a reason why some groups in our military dropped the M9 for the M11 and then commenced testing and a return to the 1911. They do work in combat.

  30. i started with 1911s. owned half a dozen different brands including colt. My experience is that even with wilson 47d magazines the 1911 platform is very tempermental. Most people who like them are those who do not shoot them regularly or train constantly with them. My experience is that those who shoot a lot of bullets regularly generally carry a glock, h&k, sig, or something equally reliable. My Colt is what i show my friends, my Glock 17 or 20 is what show my enemies.

    • avatarmkygod says:

      I noticed the gun had an external extractor, so maybe that has something to do with it. Kimber went back to internal exractors due to reliability issues.

  31. avatarThatAllFreemenBeArmed says:

    Just finished a firearms training class where I put 500 rounds through my Kimber Ultra CDPII in one day without a single malfunction…I generally like Rob, but for my compact 1911 – he’s just wrong.

  32. avatarAllFreemenBeArmed says:

    Just finished a firearms training class where I put 500 rounds through my Kimber Ultra CDPII (in one day) without a single malfunction. I generally like Rob, but for my compact 1911, he’s just wrong.

  33. avatarMSTee says:

    Just finished a training class where I put 500 rounds through my Kimber Ultra CDPII (in one day) without a single malfunction. I generally like Rob, but for my compact 1911, he’s just wrong.

  34. avatarandy says:

    What size 1911 is reliable for ccw. I agree kimber jams. I like glocks
    Andy

  35. avatarandy says:

    Rob what do you carry or recommend

  36. avatarJustin Bickford says:

    Sig 229, nuff said. CCW and duty carry over 6 years of owning this machine and the only failures I’ve EVER had with it were for Ed errors during the Police academy to see how I’d handle a failure in the field. Thousands of rounds down range have made me believe that this is the best option on the world, because it works perfectly for me. Glock fanatics are obsessed because their weapon works for them, perhaps 1911 works for some but we all come onto this site and follow Rob because we trust that he knows what the hell he’s talking about but every asshole wants to one up him and be a big dog. It’s irritating. Trolls will be trolls I guess.

  37. avatarMenelom says:

    Yes … the design is clearly needed to be changed :)
    What would be brighter , nebudu (

  38. avatarDude1971 says:

    I revere John Moses Browning. I have a portrait of him hanging in my living room, not Gaston Glock. My Springfield 1911 Government has been 100% in the 16+ years I have owned it. That said, I carry a Glock 19 exclusively, always for so many reasons.
    It comes down to the best tool for the job, not romanticism.

    I respect that Pincus calls it as he sees it. Reality can at times, especially when it comes to life and death, have to smack you in the face for safety sake. Sensitivity has no place in a gunfight. Get over it!

  39. “Reality” is an interesting concept. It almost always involves a certain context and point-of-view. What appears to be “pretty girl” from one angle might turn out to be an “ugly long-haired dude” from another angle.

    It’s no differnt when people start talking about “reliable guns” … context is important. If “reliable” means you’ve never had a problem shooting 50-100 rounds at a time at the range for the past 15 years, that’s one thing. Especially considering the probability that you might clean/lube that “flawless” gun after each range visit, or maintain it other ways. Similar observations can be made regarding the context of various shooting competitions.

    What should be obvious – but isn’t to some – is that NONE of the above contexts apply to Rob’s opinions or observations regarding the 1911 design. My own observations are simlar to Rob’s – in the context of the kind of training and use pattern he suggests. This squares up with the opinions of a wide swath of tactical and self-defense trainers. Many of these guys differ angrily in their opinions regarding any number of things, and some can’t even stand to be in the same room with each other, so it’s not a matter of some mutual admiration society or something. They just all happen to agree on this singular point: the 1911 design is not suitable for the kind of hard-driving, low-maintenance, high-round count, rough-n-tumble perspective from which they view the matter. Like it or not, that means something.

    A well-tuned, well-maintained 1911 is a thing of beauty and a joy to shoot. Take that same gun and subject it to the kind of “abuse” it receives in the first few hours of a course from Rob (or Yeager or Suarez, etc.) and the wheels start to come off. I saw it happen a couple of weeks ago in the first 10 minutes of a class, and it’s not the first time or the last time I assure you.

    Almost EVERY class I’ve attended for the past 5-7 years with a 1911 shooter involves watching that guy fiddle with his gun, make some adjustment, make excuses for ammo or magazines, new widget being broken in, etc.

    Why is that repeatable observation a matter of controversy? Isn’t it simply an observation and nothing more?

  40. avatarRuss says:

    One note of caution concerning the XDS. 45. When the slide is pushed about a quarter inch out of battery when one is chambered and the mag Is full it stays out of battery and will not fire until being pushed back forward. Mine was back to SA twice and they tell me it “functions as designed and can not be remedied” That being said, it is worthless as a defensive carry piece and will be down the road as soon as I get it. Back. Test yours, I almost guarantee that it will do the same.

  41. avatarTodd Mendenhall says:

    Ok, I don’t have the vast experiance of Mr. Pincus, or Mr. Vickers or some of the other great instructors, I don’t make my living doing it (which is one thing that they have many of us don’t, they get more involved information). I love my 1911, in the 5″ platform as Mr. Browning designed it. It has and will work and work great, as long as it is not “re-designed”. I have trained people have have observed the similar position that the above men have. There are alot of physic’s involved in gettint he a semi-auto to function properly, we all know this and have seen design’s come and go over the vast years. A quality pistol is an insurance policy on the life of you and your family, bottom line. Notice, I said quality, not price. Though I personally, never have liked Glock (just don’t feel right to me), I openly admit, they function, are reliable and will be there when you need it. Like they found in the hands-on instruction’s/observation’s, I too have seen over the years, the “3 inch 1911′s”, malfunction ALOT. Let us not forget that LtCol. Jeff Cooper, a passionate man of the 1911, would not carry anything shorter than the 4″, and he stated so. Again, I love the romance of the 1911 and have many and love shooting them and even carried a FULL size many times. But, when it comes to reliability and I want to go dressed in short’s, I slide a modern striker fired pistol or revolver in my holster. Hard to believe but there is a worst sound than a good looking lady telling you no, and that is to hear a click as rounds are flying your way. Keep romance where it belongs, put reality on your hip. Just my humble opinion, don’t mean to offend if I did.

  42. avatarTom says:

    I recently went through a two day course at the “any gun will do, if you will do” school. It’s the first time I ever used a 1911 from the holster. Used my S&W 1911PD Sc “commander” sized pistol. Day one was flawless performance, except that the rounds were grouping slightly to the left of center. By the end of the day I found it’s because my rear sight was out of plane. One of the instructors thought I’d dropped it, but I noted I didn’t. Took it to their armorer who immediately noted it wasn’t dropped, but installed wrong. Said he’d seen this before. Somebody in the factory got sloppy and just slapped the Novak low profile rear sight on. He worked on it and managed to fix it. He noted S&W had managed to damage both the sight and dove tail, but it was minor enough that he thought it should hold. It did. No problems and the slight left gravitation of rounds from the first day disappeared.

    Now, about half way through day two I suddenly started having problems, not with round malfunctions, but the inability to run the slide back manually. It began locking up. The senior instructor, a 1911 man himself, noted it was dry and as someone herein noted, they like to run wet. I went back to the armorer and had it oiled. It still hung up a few times on my when trying to do a chamber check, but otherwise worked well. The funny thing is the only malfunction happened to an instructor who asked if he could fire my weapon. He did so when he noticed my group hanging to the left of center on day one. He put about four rounds through it and the second one stovepiped. Honestly, I think he limp-wristed it. I had put about 250 rounds through it prior to taking the class and never has a malfunction of any kind.

    I’ll say this, having read this string, and with my many years experience with various firearms (over 40; I’ve been shooting since I was a young teen, and served as both a cop and military), I think there’s a lot to be said for the Glock-type firearms. Although I do not own one, I certainly respect them. They are simple and it might very well be that for most people they’re the best option. But for myself, and I’ve used a lot of firearms over the years, my favorites are my S&W Shorty Forty Mk III, .40 S&W, and the commander sized 1911. Their triggers are the smoothest, and they don’t feel clunky in my hands like the plastic models, or the Sig Sauer P228 or the Beretta, or any number of other semi-autos I’ve used.

    My thought is this. Yes, the Glock and its clones might do better in a class where you’re putting hundreds of rounds through them a day over several days. But in a self-defense shooting situation, none of that is relevant. Chances are it’s going to be several quick rounds and that’s all she wrote. My experience with the 1911 is this. If it’s clean, and you’re well versed in it’s use, and you’re using good ammo, if a time comes where you need it, it will work and you’ll be glad you had it.

    I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone to run out and get one. Honestly, for most of my life I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of a cocked and locked pistol in my holster. But the 1911 design has come a long way and a good commander-sized gun just feels so good in my hands and it points so well — like nothing else I’ve shot in my life — I’ve become a convert. I’m now looking to get a combat commander or like all-steel model. My S&W is a lightweight frame. Although the scandium in supposed to eliminate the problems of microfractures and dents with heavy use, I still feel more comfortable with the idea of an all-steel gun for putting lots of rounds down range. Also relieves some of the pounding of hundreds of rounds a day as well.

    I intend to have it when I go back for the four day course. I’m actually looking at a slightly used customized Colt Combat Commander. Just thinking about the price tag, that’s all.

    • avatarKevin says:

      Thank you, Tom. As a fellow retired Police officer and a current security supervisor, I concur. In fact, I’m sure you know the stats as well as I do that most defensive shootings are over and done with two shots down the pipe. And in a defensive situation (which is what most of these people are training for rather than fighting off a battalion which is ridiculous using a handgun in the first place), you can keep your gun clean and ready. Even if you practice regularly, you can clean it before you leave the range… What are they teaching these new shooters these days? As PD we were taught to clean and lube our weapons once a month or any time we shot it.

  43. avatarRobert Seddon says:

    I have used a Colt Defender on my farm for ten or so years without a fail. I carry it open on my hip on the tractor so it sees a lot of dust and grit and it just keeps on trucking. My only complaint is the aluminum frame, it just feels wrong somehow. I am going back for a Commander in full stainless (slide and frame, none of this lets make it lighter crapola) and I will get the same service as the Defender. I did put titanium pins in the Defender to avoid any electrolysis between the iron and the aluminum, and to keep the need to oil it down to a minimum due to tractor dust. ALL of the complaints here are about simple dislike for a brand or model. ( I have a Glock 36 that has just been a paperweight in my office for 10 years) To me, I just like seeing the pony on it, it makes me feel safe and warms my heart some.
    Robert Seddon

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