Gun Review: Colt New Agent

 

There comes a time in every man’s life when he longs for the exquisite prancing pony to grace his favorite gun; whether it’s an AR-15, a 1911 or for the lucky, blessed wealthy few, a Python. I’m on a never-ending mission to find the perfect carry gun for the hot weather months. Since moving from the frigid north to the southeastern coast, I have found that a full-sized combat piece prints worse than the National Enquirer when you’re wearing a t-shirt and jeans. These two semi-tangential obsessions of mine collided one day while I was flipping through a gun rag atop the porcelain throne.

New_Agent06

The Colt New Agent piqued my interest with its aptly named ‘trench sights.’ They’re just what they sound like — a gently tapering gutter running the length of the slide. Just the kind of sight to prevent the gun from snagging on clothing or holsters. And I was smitten with the idea of a 3” 1911 platform that draws easily from concealment. The sights are unconventional and frankly not suitable for anything much past about 15 yards, but they’re faster than greased lightning when all you need is to get a general sight picture.

New_Agent04

When that distinctive blue box arrived at my FFL, I was taken aback by its size. Was I one of the lucky ones? Had Colt mistakenly sent me a Python or an AMT Hardballer? Nope, it was just an unusually big box for the size of the pistol inside. But I was happy to see a beautifully blued compact 1911 and two 6-round magazines. I dashed home with the little heavy hitter to give it some oil and familiarize myself with its internals.

NewAgentDissassemble3

It doesn’t matter what 1911 you own, breaking one down is basically the usual SOP. When it comes to field stripping the New Agent, it’s mostly the same song and dance with just a couple of added twists. Chief amongst them are the captive recoil spring, the lack of a barrel bushing and a flared barrel. The bonus: no bushing means no bushing wrench required to take her down.

Begin, as always, by removing the magazine and pulling back the slide while pointed in a safe direction to ensure the gun is unloaded. Check again. Then pull the slide about 60% back and line it up with the disassembly notch located behind the slide stop notch. Push the slide stop from the right side to pop it out. Then pull the entire slide forward and free it from the frame and Bob’s your uncle.

New_Agent05_NoBushing_Full_Length_GuideRod

As a man who owns an ever revolving collection of 1911’s, I wondered how the New Agent would handle different magazines and ammunition types. I tested the gun with four types of ammo that, in my opinion, run the gamut of .45ACP one might encounter.

Low Grade – Tula
Mid Grade – Remington UMC
High Grade – Federal Hydrashok’s
Ultra-High Grade – Match Grade Olympic Reloads

New_Agent01

For magazines I tested Tripp Research’s Cobra Mags, McCormick’s Power Mags in 7, 8, and 10 round varieties, a WWII surplus mag, a series 80 Colt Commander mag, and new production Colt mags. The gun ran 100% with all ammo types and all magazines brands that were tested and pictured above.

Note that a Commander magazine only barely protrudes from the base of the New Agent’s grip, making it ideal for upping your round capacity to 7+1. The other magazines stuck out at least an inch, so you’ll add bulk and printability for extra rounds.

New_Agent02

I initially set up a dueling tree at 15 yards but quickly discovered that the Colt’s sights just aren’t suited to fast precision work at that distance. This is a close-in, CQB defensive gun. After a few moments of aggravation reflection I decided that 3 steel torso silhouettes set up in an “El Presidente” configuration would be a much more suitable test of the pocket-cannon.

Quick drawing and neutralizing 3 targets utilizing two full mags is a good assessment of how the gun does in a concealed carry personal defense situation. I ran the gun alongside its big brother, the Colt Government Model MK IV Series 70.

Basically you sacrifice some controllability when rapid firing due to the New Agent’s shorter barrel and reduced mass. You also give up a certain amount of precision thanks to the trench and shorter sight radius. And Colt’s inclusion of a Series 80 firing pin safety adds a tad of extra creep to the trigger pull, though it’s almost unnoticeable unless you adjust your tigger pull weight to 4 lbs. or less. Not something I’d advise in a carry gun for practical and legal reasons.

If you’re someone who figures adequate self defense doesn’t really begin until your rounds start with a 4, you’ll enjoy having a New Agent inside your waistband. If you think that any pistol worth carrying should be made of metal, you’ll love that it has plenty of fantastic without any of the plastic. If you don’t mind toting an extra quarter pound around (compared to a Glock 30 SF) and find that flipping the frame safety off comes as naturally as breathing, shut your computer down right now, run out and buy one. Assuming you can find one.

Specifications:

Caliber: .45 ACP
Capacity: 6+1 rounds
Weight: 24.5 oz(695 g)
Length: 6.7″(171 mm)
Height: 5.0″(127 mm)
Width: 1.26″(32 mm)
Barrel Length: 3.0″(76 mm)
Action: Single Action Only (SAO)
Frame: Aluminum alloy
Slide: Carbon steel
Finish: Blued
Grip: checkered rosewood
Sights: Snag-free trench style
Safety: Frame-mounted manual safety, Grip safety, firing pin safety
MSRP: $995.00

Ratings (out of five stars):

Accuracy * * *  ½
With those sights, I can’t give the Colt a perfect score. Make no mistake, the firearm is extremely accurate. However, the average shooter will have a difficult time squeezing every last drop of precision out of the gun with its trench sights — a necessary sacrifice to maintain the New Agent’s sleek lines.

Ergonomics * * * * *
Anyone who has ever handled a 1911 knows the gun truly shines in this department; it’s one of the few guns that’s absolutely comfortable to shoot one-handed.

Fit & Finish * * * * *
Beautiful deep blue finish. Flawless checkering on the grips. Smooth, solid lock-up. Buttery trigger-pull and safety manipulation. It’s a Colt — you get what you pay for.

Accessories * * * 
While a myriad of grips and non OEM magazines exist, you’re stuck with the existing sights unless you have a smith carve up that slide. I couldn’t find an officer’s length laser guide rod but Crimson Trace makes lasergrips for the gun.

Value * * * * *
A quick Googling of New Agent for sale shows a street price well under a grand. That’s pretty reasonable for a genuine Colt 1911. And I’ve never met a Colt firearm that depreciated in value.

Overall * * * * *
The New Agent is a niche piece. It’s not something you’d bring to the range to for precision practice, but it’s mighty fun to shoot. It’s a purpose-built concealed carry handgun that shoots a big slow projectile with a proven history as a man-stopper.

62 Responses to Gun Review: Colt New Agent

  1. avatarjwm says:

    Colt’s Detective Special. My favorite Colt.

  2. avatarJoke & Dagger says:

    I will no longer confirm nor deny that I own certain firearms or any at all. That being said, my hypothetical experience with the New Agent is identical. Wonderful weapon for it’s intended function.

  3. avatarHuman Being says:

    I note you only show the port side and make no mention of ambidexterity, so no left-handed folk need apply?

    • avatarJames Grant says:

      Fair point – The New Agent does not come with an ambi safety installed. I do know that Kimber and Wilson Combat make one that could be fitted the the pistol.

    • avatarKirk says:

      Springfield Armory Micro is a lovely option for south paws.

    • avatar2Wheels says:

      Sorry, single side thumb safety (and slide release, but that should go without saying).

      Ambi thumb safetys aren’t a big deal to have installed on any 1911 though, won’t cost much either.

  4. avatarCody says:

    Good review. I’ve been wanting to see one of these in person ever since picking up my new Colt Gold Cup. I’ve been impressed by the fit and finish of the new CNC Colts. Can’t wait to check one out in person.

  5. avatartdiinva says:

    As a 1911 fanboy I am impressed with the artistry of the New Agent. However, I won’t go below a 4″ barrel on 45 but if I wanted a subcompact in the big caliber I think the XD-s, at half the price, is a better buy even though it lacks the panache of a JMB design

    • avatartdiinva says:

      I forgot to add that if you live in a warm climate and you want to carry you have to give up the undergraduate look. Short sleave LL Bean shirt in xtra long gives you all you need to conceal any firearm. So unless you are out to impress the post-pubescent crowd dress like an adult when you carry.

      • avatarJoke & Dagger says:

        I’ll bite. What is the undergraduate look vs. the adult look? Just interested which I’m doing.

        • avatarDrewR55 says:

          I believe the undergrad look would be those nylon workout shorts down to the knees, thin soled flipflops, and a longtailed tanktop. At least that’s what all those brats wear around campus here. :-)

        • avatartdiinva says:

          That’s the modern look. For us boomers it would be cutoffs and some sort of message tee shirt. OK, I was being a smart a$$ but if you are going to carry dress the part. If you do that then you won’t worry about printing.

  6. avatarDrewR55 says:

    I’ve been carrying a government for some time now and it isn’t until the summers that I think about a smaller model. Would you say there is much of a difference between the officer model and a commander in feel, weight, and concealmet? I’ve been torn between the Defender and an XSE and I’ve been unable to make up my mind.

    • avatar2Wheels says:

      I can’t compare a New Agent/Defender to a Commander, but I can compare a New Agent to a CCO (Commander slide, Officers frame).

      To me, the CCO isn’t really any harder to conceal than the smaller Officers models but it does shoot better.

      On the other hand, my alloy framed CCO is definitely easier to carry than my steel framed Government model.

      IMHO, CCO style 1911s are a hidden secret in the 1911 world. Best CCW 1911s out there.

  7. avatarA-Rod says:

    4th picture has the sad mark of the idiot scratch. Sigh… So sad.

    • avatarI_Like_Pie says:

      Does said mark detract from the performance?
      Does it mean that the owner is an idiot?

      It is akin to seeing a windsheild wiper scratch on the hood of a car and assuming the owner is a toolbag.

      I can understand the observation, but it really isn’t indicitive of anything.

  8. avatar2Wheels says:

    I’ve had a Colt New Agent for a while, it’s an awesome gun once you understand its limits. It’s a chopped down 1911, so no it won’t run like a Glock… But take care of it, and it’ll take care of you. Colt has done a good job of making these little 1911s run a lot more reliably than the internet would have you believe.

    Honestly, chose it over the Defender and other competing 3″ 1911s because I love the way it looks. Clean and simple, classic blued steel and wood grips. No modern frills, just a classic 1911 chopped down to a more manageable size. Makes a great companion to my WW2 era GI 1911.

    It’s got a bit of a kick to it, but it shoots better than you might expect. The “sights” (or lack thereof) are not as precise as traditional sights and take some getting used to, but they definitely work.

    Made the “mistake” of buying a Colt CCO, and fell head over heels in love… So my New Agent doesn’t get carried much anymore. But it’s still a great gun, I’d recommend it if you’re a 1911 fan and want a 3 incher.

  9. avatarscooter says:

    I picked up a S&W 457 for about half the price. It is reliable and accurate and 7+1 with a decocker safety. If you want handful of .45 in a relatively compact package for less cash, it is a great shooter. Mine has very little wear and came with four mags. I have a feeling a 1911 variant will eventually find its way into my hands someday… but I can’t say enough good stuff about my 457!

  10. avatarEnsitue says:

    As usual Colt is 40 years behind the curve

  11. avatarTaurus609 says:

    Ah, a Colt Python. Of all the guns I have traded for something else, that’s the one I regret the most. Six inch Stainless, wood grips, as smooth as butter even in double action…..tears flowing down my cheek as I write this!

  12. avatarWill says:

    Damn you Colt and your awesome guns priced just outside of what I’m willing to pay!

  13. avatarMark N. says:

    Funny that I can buy a Defender in Calif, but not a New Agent. Isn’t there a version with a DAO trigger in 9 mm? I thought that would be a tasty ccw. But then I hear all of these reports of epic fails with 3″ barreled 1911s during sustained use. Some claim about how JMB’s system does not readily adapt to the faster slide speed of the short barrels. Usually they are talking about that other major brand starting with “K”, but if the critique were true, it should apply to Colts as well.

    • avatarDan Ess says:

      I have a Springfield Armory EMP 40 which has had ZERO issues; of course it’s not a 45. It is nice though, and holds 8+1, came with 3 mags. Also have one of those “K” guns in Ultra / 3″ barrel. Very important that you hold it very securely and do not limp wrist. I haven’t pinpointed anything else as an issue, but it does have sporadic feed/extract issues. Still enjoy shooting it a lot, very accurate for a short barreled 45. I’ve run a good dozen different types of ammo through it, only one seemed to be a problem child. That was Winchester SXZ 45HP (only at Bass Pro). I’ve considered the New Agent for quite some time, still find it intriguing, but I think the EMP 40 as made it a thought of the past; unless I win the lottery.

  14. avatarDyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    As much as I like 1911′s, I have a difficult time being enthused by radically cut-down 1911′s. Commander sizes… eh, OK. 3″ barrels? Hmmm. I’m glad to see that Jim tested this with a good variety of ammo. The usual complaint I have about 3″ 1911′s is that they get very persnickety about their ammo diet.

    Once we start chopping down the dimensions of the 1911, many of the reasons why many people shoot them well start to disappear – quickly.

    When we get down to 6+1 capacities, the advantage over a good revolver (say, a S&W 696 in .44 Special) starts to narrow considerably. I wish S&W would made more 696′s – they’d be the revolver of choice for those of us who like Big Fat Slow Bullets, and they have excellent reliability.

    The Series 80 parts can be slicked up some – or you can order replacements that are TiAN plated from Cylinder & Slide. They reduce some of the Series 80 annoyance… but not all of it.

    I was going to make a comment about Colt’s finishing shop slipping… until I saw that the frame was aluminum.

    As for Pythons: Pythons are for collecting. S&W’s are for carrying.

  15. avatarrsu11 says:

    Hmmm…my Dan Wesson ECO is the same height, but is 7+1 with a flush mag. The comment about a “Commander” mag almost fitting flush (maybe actually an Officer mag) and making the New Agent 7+1 makes me wonder how DW did it and why Colt couldn’t or wouldn’t.

    Both are alloy frames, but the DW is only .5 ounce heavier, even with a 3.5″ barrel. Not a big deal, especially if the Colt is meaty where it counts. Old schoolers say the government specs are gospel for a gun that runs. Some say a 4″ barrel is the shortest any 1911 should have. Others say the 3 incher has been made reliable. I picked the middle ground of 3.5 for concealed carry, reliability and aesthetics. To me, a 3 inch 1911 snubbie just doesn’t look right.

    • avatar2Wheels says:

      Reviewer might want to check his mags, or maybe Colt shipped him 6 rounders.

      My New Agent shipped with 7 round flush fitting Officers sized mags, and 7 rounds is what Colts website quotes.

  16. avatarRuss Bixby says:

    Hmmm… Being working poor, I’m not dropping near a grand on anything any time soon, and will stick to a Tokarev.

    Looks like a lovely little machine, though.

  17. avatarAn owner says:

    Colt ships these guns with 7 rd mags. Unless a dealer swaps them on you, 7 rd’ers is what you’ll get.

  18. avatarNew Agent Owner says:

    I was wondering about the 6+1 mentions too. I picked up a New Agent (for $600 – Best deal ever) and mine came with two 7 rounders. That’s part of the appeal for me. 8 total rounds. It’s a Colt. It’s super concealable. Good to know it feeds other mags though, I’ve been looking into getting spares.

  19. avatarLarry Lunker says:

    I have owned a Colt New Agent .45 for about a year now, and it is definitely a 15 yard max gun which I am perfectly fine with. What you want is the stopping power of the .45 in a life or death situation which 9/10 times is within that 15 yard limit.

    I have it down now where I’m throwing bullseye after bullseye shot at 10 yards, dollar for dollar the Colt New Agent is the best, easiest to conceal, .45 3 inch 1911 on the market.

    P.S. The Kimber Ultra Carry 2 I think might be cosmetically nicer, but it is another $300-400 more, and to me that makes it not worth it. Colt New Agent .45 FTW.

    P.S. I have found that my Colt does not like Hornady Critical Defense rounds, which are what my 5 inch 1911 Colt shoots. If you are looking for a great self defense Hollow Point that feeds really well in the New Agent, I recommend the Remington 230g Golden Saber rounds. Absolutely fantastic results with over 200 of them shot.

  20. avatarThatGuyOverThere says:

    I’ve carried one for about a year now. Easy to conceal with belt slide and t-shirt/jeans. It has been absolutely 100% reliable with just about any ammo. I have had some rust issues from sweat on the safety and magazine release (I work outside a lot) but nothing oil didn’t fix quickly.

    I own several 1911 full size, and shoot a LOT including pistol leagues, etc. Unfortunately, I just can’t get used to the trench site. I think that more experienced shooters will naturally or instinctively “look” for a conventional sight picture when they are not prepared to use the trench sight. This would describe me – when shooting at my range, I shoot ok with it at 10-15 yards. Not great, but just ok. I had a friend ask me how I would shoot it under stress, and I thought no problem at all. Simple point shooting drills. Then I got to thinkin’….

    I unloaded the gun and carried it unloaded while in the house one day. I asked my older son to yell “start” at some random time throughout the day, and I was to draw and dry fire at a safe direction. Wow. I was wrong. When startled and under stress, I took more time to aquire a “sight” picture than it takes for grass to grow.

    My mind wanted to see sights. Even practicing point shooting, I still see the front sight, every time.

    If you -don’t- shoot a lot, the trench sight may be ok for you. Just be careful – you will revert to what you practice in a high-stress situation.

    I’m either going to find a smith to put sights on my New Agent, or go back to a Commander. Sad part is that the New Agent is truly a beautiful pistol in all ways and a true pleasure to carry. I just can’t live without sights.

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  22. avatarJohn Linkul says:

    Bought my New agent 45 a few weeks ago.. I was impressed with the fit &finish.and the rosewood grips.Within minutes I was at the range. I was really impressed with all aspects of the small but yet powerful aspects it had..It will take me awhile to get used to the tunnel sights.. and I am a lefty. I will probably get a left hand safety installed later..But I am 70 yrs old and live in a national Forest. tract & remote. I feel its a perfect smaller pistol for just about anything that I would encounter..going outside at night.There are some feral hogs,cougar .and bear in the area. I feel its comfortable to wear and carry. I don’t really know why there is not too much commentary on the Colt New Agent 45acp. We all have a variety of choices on which we personally prefer to carry. And most quality pistols are priced right. I will definetly buy another colt or two over the next few years..I feel lucky.I was even able to find one.My gun dealer said it would take several months to get.I was able to get one from Tombstone Tactical immediately. They were very professional and friendly.Nothing at all negative I can say about the new agent..It handled alot of different ammo with no jams or misfires..with four boxes run thru itso far. My advice is go out and get one .if you want a small very powerful concealable weapon..for both personal and home defense..

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