Three Reasons to Carry a .45 Caliber 1911

Cabot 1911 (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

I took a ration of sh*t for my post Three Reasons Not to Carry a .45 Caliber 1911. And deservedly so. A .45 caliber 1911 is a wonderful gun for concealed carry. WTF you say? Take it from a guy who married a drop-dead gorgeous babe who turned out to be an alcoholic (now in recovery), everything has a price. So if you’re willing to put up with the 1911’s . . .

weight, capacity and “danger” (e.g., a negligent discharge via that feather-light single-action trigger), you should be carrying a .45 1911 because . . .

1. 1911’s are comfortable

A GLOCK 19 is 1.18″ wide. A Wilson Combat X-TAC is 1.3″ wide. So how can I laud John Moses Browning’s meisterstuck as a more comfortable carry gun than, say, the venerable GLOCK 19?

When it comes to concealed carry comfort, it matters how you carry and where you measure the gun. The GLOCK’s slide is wider than the grip; the 1911’s grip is wider than the slide.

For folks who carry inside-the-waistband, slide width is the critical factor. That’s the portion of the weapon shoved between your belt and pants and your body. For those who carry outside the waistband, there’s little to no appreciable difference between a G17-sized handgun and a full-sized ,45 caliber 1911, except . . .

2. 1911’s are accurate 

Make that quality .45-caliber 1911’s are accurate. Phenomenally so. And why wouldn’t they be? They’re heavy, which helps tame recoil. They use a single-action trigger, offering shooters a short, light, crisp break. And for many shooters, 1911’s have a natural point-of-aim.

If shot placement is your highest priority — and why wouldn’t it be? — the .45 caliber 1911 is your best friend.

3. 1911’s shoot an extremely capable and proven caliber (vs. 9mm)

A 115 gr. 9mm round zips along at about 1250 feet per second. A 230 gr. .45 hustles to the target at a relatively sluggish 845 feet per second. Add it all up and, in terms of foot pounds of energy delivered at the muzzle, it’s .45 for the win! Only . . .

Who cares? Comparing standard military rounds, the .45’s ballistic advantages over 9mm are too small to make a big difference. Unless you take other things into account, like deflection and barrier penetration. In that case, the .45 is a better bullet (depending on the load).

When it comes to self-defense generally, you need to focus on the size difference between the rounds. A 9mm bullet is roughly .35 in diameter. A .45 bullet has a diameter of .451. That’s a scant .10 difference.

Ah but you have to figure that difference across the entire length of a wound channel. In a 12″ wound, a .45 caliber bullet is cutting an inch more tissue from the bad guy’s body than a 9mm across the same distance. The .45 significantly increases your chances of making the perp bleed voluminously and the chances of hitting something vital.

As long as you know the drawbacks, the 1911 is a terrific gun for concealed carry. And remember: you heard it here first. Not.

comments

  1. avatar Etie says:

    Honestly I’d be all for 1911’s, if they were DA/SA with decocker.

    1. avatar Shotgun Sam says:

      “As long as you know the drawbacks, the 1911 is a terrific gun for concealed carry.”

      Hollow ring to it.

    2. avatar John V says:

      It wouldn’t be a 1911

    3. avatar Josiah in WA says:

      CZ97.

    4. avatar jug says:

      Decocker= the most useless POS that can be put on a gun!

      81 years old, been hand “decocking”, one way or another, all my life!
      Have yet to have a ND!

    5. avatar Wedge259 says:

      I used to think the same thing, and I think what you’re looking fof is a Sig P220!

    6. avatar Mmmtacos says:

      Smith & Wesson used to make some fine semi-auto pistols that’ll fit that bill. Sig P220 also meets your criteria. Especially in regards to S&W their 45XX series of pistols are basically DA/SA 1911s.

  2. avatar Jon says:

    I prefer a 1911 in .9mm. Much more concealable than a fullsize in 45.

    1. avatar Noishkel says:

      Actually I’d be all about a 45 caliber handgun. But 45 inch wide slugs of lead tend to be heavy.

      1. avatar pwrserge says:

        A caliber is 1/100th of an inch… so a .45 caliber would be ~.11mm.

        1. avatar Mark N. says:

          I think you misplaced the decimal point. .45 inches = 11.43 mm.

        2. avatar pwrserge says:

          I did not. 1 caliber is 1/100th of an inch. You can do the math.

        3. avatar Twoboxer says:

          He did the math correctly, since one millimeter equals 0.039″. You need several of them to get to .45″. More than 11 of them 🙂

  3. avatar pwrserge says:

    I prefer firearms developed within the last century. Technology marches on. Carrying a 1911 is no different than carrying a brick cell phone. They might both function, but there are a lot better alternatives out there.

    1. avatar anonymoose says:

      So then carrying a Glock is like carrying a flip phone (doesn’t matter if it’s the fanciest new gen5- I still have a flip phone I got this spring, but a flip phone is a flip phone), carrying a P320 is like carrying an Android, carrying an XD is like carrying a Windows Phone, and carrying a VP9 is like carrying an iPhone. 😀

      1. avatar Ansel Hazen says:

        And carrying any of the latest gen Steyr’s is like carrying a Samsung Galaxy 8.

        1. avatar Joe R. says:

          And carrying a Beretta 92 / 96 is like carrying a Sat phone. It’s like a nice warm-fuzzy call home on deployment right before the SHTF.

      2. avatar Erik Weisz says:

        Why all the hate for VP9’s?

        1. avatar paul says:

          I love my VP9! Indeed, I switched my carry gun to the VP9 after many years carrying an HK.40C. Took my new VP9 to MAG-40 in August and took hi student AND got a autographed $1.00 bill for matching Mass Ayoob’s 300 score as well as the MAG challenge coin. So yeah, I’m staying with the VP9!

    2. avatar PavePusher says:

      So you have no bolt-action or lever-action rifles?

  4. avatar Chuck Rambo VI says:

    “You take other things into account, such as deflection and barrier penetration. In that case, the .45 is significantly better (depending on the load).”

    What are you smoking? The deflection part is more or less true. But regarding barrier penetration?

    *Buzzer*

    Abjectly 100% Wrong

    1. avatar Adub says:

      I guess we need a single-stack .357 Sig for that. But then we’re back to a smaller diameter. Maybe a 10mm? Now it’s too powerful. .40 S&W? Too snappy.

      It never ends!

      1. avatar anonymoose says:

        .460 Rowland!

        1. avatar Joe R. says:

          No, Adub was right, although I think he’s stumbled into it. Beretta 96 is the right answer. Please remember to fill all of the appropriate circles on your answer sheet fully, and turn in your test booklet, scrap paper, and all other test materials, at the end.

  5. avatar strych9 says:

    I like this format of doing an all pros and an all cons article. Not sure how many items you can really cover this way but I like the format.

  6. avatar John E> says:

    I carry a Dan Wesson, either a Guardian in .45 or a Valkilyrie in 9mm. Love them!

    1. avatar Jack Crow says:

      DW Razorback in 10mm here. Best triggers in the world, Wesson 1911s.

  7. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

    You should fight it out with that other guy that gave three reasons it sucks. I’d be careful though, I think he has more cartridges in his gun.

    1. avatar anonymoose says:

      Shooting twice is stupid!

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        Unless you need to…..then it’s stupid not to.

        It takes what it takes.

  8. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    Ive carried both of my Officers sized 1911s. 9mm or 45 for a lot of years IWB. It doesn’t make a bit of difference to me which one. Same exact gun different caliber, 1 more round with the 9mm. I might carry the 45 a few months and switch to the 9mm for a few weeks.
    Always back to the 45acp.
    As long as its a 1911 pattern gun Im happy. I prefer an all steel gun. I own 1 plastic gun out of 12. It might be the highest capacity. 18+1. But least shot gun I own. The least comfy to carry. I had to buy one to see what these plastic fantastic guns were all about.
    Say what you want but I will stick to and have my life depend on a 1911.

    1. avatar WI Patriot says:

      Hear, hear…

  9. avatar Rusty Chains says:

    The major difference between the Glock 19 and a Commander size 1911 is the weight. The G19 weighs a couple of ounces less fully loaded than even an aluminum framed 1911 does empty. Weight is the most important specification for a carry gun!

    1. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

      No, weight isn’t. The quality of it’s bluing is. You don’t want to look “trailer” if you have to draw your gun;-)

      1. avatar OregunianC96 says:

        Amen!

      2. avatar Specialist38 says:

        Dayum. Some of my carry guns are “bridge overpass”.

        Its ok though….theyre usually concealed.

    2. avatar WI Patriot says:

      “The G19 weighs a couple of ounces less fully loaded than even an aluminum framed 1911 does empty”

      Nope…the G19 fully loaded weighs 30.18oz, while my Sig Sauer 1911 RCS Sport comes in at 29.5oz…

      Additionally, my Sig has both fronstrap(25lpi) and backstrap(20lpi) checkering, Hogue G10 grips with a beveled mag well and Novak night sights, straight from Sig’s custom shop, while the glock, well, it’s just like every other glock…

      Last but not least, there’s that pesky caliber thing again, and while you’re whizzin’ rounds through your target, I’m knockin’ em down with one…

      1. avatar Sarcasm Rules says:

        Yeah cause it’s not like anyone ever customizes Glocks, or that there’s any companies out there making aftermarket parts for Glocks.

        Just doesn’t happen. Ever.

        1. avatar WI Patriot says:

          I never said that glocks don’t get customized, but you obviously have a reading comprehension problem…

      2. avatar Rusty Chains says:

        I will stick with something more modern, my old Kimber is heavier than your Sig, and I don’t feel the need to steal any souls!

  10. avatar WI Patriot says:

    Half-assed attempt at redemption, with a bit of sarcasm tossed in for good measure…

  11. avatar Esoteric Inanity says:

    “A 115 gr. 9mm round zips along at about 1250 feet per second. A 230 gr. .45 hustles to the target at 845 feet per second. In terms of foot pounds of energy delivered at the muzzle, it’s .45 for the win!”

    Incorrect.

    A 115 grain projectile at a velocity of 1250 fps yields a muzzle energy of around 398 ft lbs at the muzzle. (1250^2×57.5/225,217.5=398.9)

    Whereas a 230 grain projectile at a velocity of 845 fps only yields around 364 ft lbs. (845^2×115/225,217.5=364.5)

    Nominal difference, but a difference nonetheless.

    1. avatar Venom40 says:

      Ah yes that’s very true, if you do the math, but it must have something to do with powder type example Double Tap has some 230 g that deliver 521 ft lbs @1014 ft per sec, they also have lighter rounds 185g 616 ft lbs @ 1225 ft per sec, so yea the .45 wins , that capacity thing is hogwash, carry extra mags, best selling pistol 5 years in a row is a single stack in 9mm, 40s&w and, 45acp

  12. avatar Ralph says:

    Reason #4 for carrying a M1911 in .45 cal.: You can handle a man’s caliber because you’re a man.

    Reason #5 for carrying a M1911 in .38 Super: You can handle anything because you’re cool.

    Reason #6 for carrying a M1911 in 9mm: You can’t handle a man’s caliber because you are a girl.

    Reason #7 for carrying a M1911 in .380: You’re an expert on home decor and window treatments.

    Okay, I’m kidding. There is no good reason for a .380 M1911.

    1. avatar Anymouse says:

      Another advantage of the M1911 is grip size. Many people with smaller hands can’t get a proper grip on a double-stack Glock, but they can hold a M1911 and address the trigger correctly. A single stack DA/SA doesn’t work because the DA pull is too long, although they can reach the SA trigger. I haven’t see a full size M1911 in .380, but there are a few companies that have 80-85% scale M1911 that would fit small hands even better. The other guns that fit are pocket guns which have smaller calibers, more felt recoil, shorter sight radius, and often rudimentary sights.

  13. avatar emfourty gasmask says:

    why is the 9mm vrs 45acp argument even a thing anymore, bullet tech is way beyond that now

    stop living in 1992

    1. avatar Jay in Florida says:

      Black Talon 1992.
      Ranger 2017.
      Same bullet 45acp
      HST a big advantage in 2017. I will give you that one.
      I liked the year 1992 a lot more then 2017 has been……

      1. avatar jug says:

        2017= ARX!

  14. avatar Joe V says:

    X- LEO here; In the 80’s my service piece was a 357Mag, my “bkup” was a 60’s 1911. My service ?, a lot of “interaction” with badboys. Today my CCW?a Remington R1. Great piece! It is the best “tool” for “close combat” the “Patton way”.

    1. avatar jug says:

      R51 with 65 grain ARX 9mm.

      Feels like a .22, makes holes like a .50 Browning.

  15. avatar Samuel Stephens says:

    I do like my Kimber Pro Carry and my Glock 21sf, both in .45.

  16. avatar Ironhead says:

    One reason you all are missing to carry a 1911… say you are in a defensive situation, and it goes hand to hand for whatever reason… you clear the holster but the baddie is on you before you can get into firing position.
    Pistol whipping some one with a 1911 is gonna do a lot more damage than any plastic fantastic.

  17. avatar Sal Chichon says:

    If reason ‘1’ isn’t: Because you’re too much of a bitch to carry a 1911 in 10 mm, then this article has spectacularly failed.

    I kid, i kid. :-p

  18. avatar HorseFeathers says:

    I can not document this but the best story I ever heard about why the US Army chose the 45 over the 9 was from an old campaigner of the war to end all wars. He claimed the 45 would more consistently kill a wounded horse or mule with one head shot. This always made sense to me because that was the primary use of the sidearm by the US Army during that war. As far what you carry…carry whatever you can conceal from those eagle-eyed Austin baristas.

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Im not sure 45 ball with penetrate a horses head.

      I watched a guy bounce 8 off a car hood showing how a 45 was not a good round against cars.

      Penetrating automobiles and other cover was a big reason for development of the 357 and 38 Super in the 30s

      1. avatar jwtaylor says:

        “watched a guy bounce 8 off a car hood showing how a 45 was not a good round against cars.”

        I regularly bounce .308 rounds off a car door. You want to tell me a .308win won’t penetrate a car door?

        1. avatar Specialist38 says:

          Are you just being a dick about the english?

          The office fired 8 45 rounds from a colt govt model from the front of a 73 monte carlo. Hendid not throw 45 rounds at the hood by hand. The rounds skidded on the hood and ricocheted over the car.

          I havent ever shot a car with a 308 but i have shot with 357, 9mm, and 38 spl. The 357 punctured each shot, the 9mm ball about 50% of the time, and 38 special 15i lrn 0 times.

          A 30_30 will easily punch through a car door, hood, and trunk. Im guessing a 308 would do as well or better with its pointy bullets.

          There are plenty of calibers with power and velocity to penetrate metal. The 45 is not a great barrier penetrator with ball ammo the OP mentioned. You are welcome to believe otherwise.

        2. avatar Accur81 says:

          A 230 grain .45 ball at 850 FPS will zip straight through automotive sheet metal on a perpendicular shot. Of course pistol caliber rounds will bounce off when hit at a minor angle.

  19. avatar Joe R. says:

    EVERY time this comes up, I feel like YHM suppressors when they do a dB comparison OP, of all of the other makers. Where’s the love? EVERYBODY knows, the best firearm / carry combination is a Beretta 96 in a HORIZONTAL SHOULDER HOLSTER with dual mag carrier on opposite side.

    you guys are getting caught in the churn, I’m just sitting here trying to throw you a life-preserver.

    man. . .

    ; )

  20. But the 1911 has too much recoil and not enough bullets…whine, whine, whine. : )

  21. avatar joetast says:

    Hope the best for your wife, RF it’s tough at first but it sure is worth it. Recovery that is]………. 7.92 Mauser is a classic, but the Germans had a fail with their pistol calibers.

  22. avatar Michael says:

    If I am going to limit myself to 8 rounds or less, they will be .357 magnum….

  23. avatar Accur81 says:

    I really want to buy a Dan Wesson 1911, but I accidentally purchased a Henry pump .22, Ruger Mark IV Competition, hard body armor, and ammo. Guns shows are dangerous. A quality 1911 is a wonderful gun that is accurate and relatively easy to carry. Hot .45 has more power than 9mm, but will never beat the 9mm in terms of power to weight. It’s a lot easier to buy, carry, and store quantities of ammo. If you’ve ever broken a storage shelf with ammo, you know what I’m talking about. I’ve got less that 1,000 rounds of .45. I have substantially more 9mm.

    1. avatar Wedge259 says:

      Reloading really makes the difference for 45. I reload it in bulk on my progressive press with mostly lead bullets pretty economically. I currently have 4 45acp handguns and only 2 9mm’s. The only calibers I buy now instead of reloading is 22lr(obviously), and 9mm (buy it in bulk!).

  24. avatar Pawl from Florida says:

    I always liked the 1911 since it was the first pistol I ever shot. I was issued a 1943 Remington Rand 1969 – 70 in the army.
    Due to a bulging disk I’m forced to carry a Glock 30S loaded with Underwood 45 120 gr +P Xtreme Defender. Sometimes a Glock 26 with Underwood 115 +P because my belt is pressing against the disc.
    I will be retiring soon and will be getting that repaired. If all works out I will get a another 1911 to carry.

  25. avatar OneIfByLand says:

    Capacity is irrelevant….if you live behind the iron curtain in the People’s Republic of North Korea….I mean, New York. Maximum of 7 rounds loaded in your magazine (10 if you’re at a range) thanks to the [Un]SAFE Act. So, with that playing field leveled by the State Gestapo…(and aside from moving out of NY) which would you choose then? Seven rounds of .45 or seven rounds of 9MM? I’ll take the .45 thank you.

  26. avatar Mark Disilvestro says:

    I’d move out of New York.
    Now someone do ‘three reasons to carry a .25’ !

    Happy Motoring, Mark

    1. avatar OneIfByLand says:

      I’d rather carry a .22 magnum….but here we go…

      1) because it’s better than a BB gun….(although that is still hotly debated)
      1A) because it’s a real firearm….but just barely
      2) you don’t have to pump it 10 times to get it to shoot….although….that might actually help
      3) you can get it in semi-auto, so at least you can lob a few downrange quickly in the hopes that the perp will be busy swatting them like gnats long enough for you to run away.

      1. avatar joetast says:

        They’re tiny. . Out of a short, short barrel they r better then .22

  27. avatar Jimmy James says:

    I never carried a 1911 until Springfield came out with the EMP4C. Made me rethink my whole CC fu. Now I want a S&W E Series round butt in 45. I’m over the whole caliber wars thing. The best caliber is the one you can shoot well and have on you when you need it.

  28. avatar THOMAS L RIGSBY says:

    IMO, Farago seriously damaged his credibility in his previous commentary regarding the unsuitability of the 1911 for concealed carry. I’ll never read anything from him in the future with confidence.

  29. avatar ozzallos says:

    When these comparisons come down, I never see any mention on how thin 1911s are. As I’ve carried various firearms, I’ve found a single stack anything is vastly more consolable than anything double-stacked. Even with a longer barrel length, it simply fits to your body better.

  30. avatar Charles Dwyer says:

    Until I discovered the CZ 75 series I have always been a 1911 (Officers Model, from RIA) carrier. Only mod was a palm grip and better sites.

    Modern ammo and the amazing pointability of the CZ – which is basically an improved 1911 – made me a convert.

    AND – the only mods are, palm grip and better sites.

    The great pluses about the CZ beyond point and shoot? Easier take down and negligible recoil due to the inside position of the slide.

    Downsides? My favorite carries, still cannot decide, are the RAMI and the Compact PCR. Hard to find.

  31. avatar pickle rick says:

    How about a Glock® brand glock in .45?

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