Over at modernserviceweapons.com the delectably named Hilton Yam offers a beginner’s guide to 1911 malfunctions. You got your vertical stovepipe (above), horizontal stovepipe, feedway stoppage, high angle failure, double feed/failure to extract, and failure to extract in conjunction with magazine failure. While I love me some 1911, I’m loathe to carry one, both for its ammo capacity limitations and the potential – make that certainty – that it will fail. C’mon admit it. It’s not a question of “if.” It’s a question of “when.” The odds that a 1911 will fail when you need it most, especially if you keep it well maintained, are lower than a snake’s belly. So . . . is it worth it? [h/t Pascal]

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303 Responses to Question of the Day: The 1911 – Is It Worth It?

  1. Awesome gun with rich history and a wonderful legacy. It is too big for me to carry comfortably, and combined with the potential failure issues, this is a no-go.

        • Also known as the exception to the rule. How many mechanical devices launched 100 years ago are still competitive with their modern counterparts?. Any automobiles, air planes, phones, refrigerators, radios, come to mind? Any other firearm?

        • I can buy a Glock for about $300 and it will fire almost every time.

          Someone can’t buy a 1911 for that much and expect it to run with the same amount of success without putting extra features and upgrading the weapon.

          A good Kimber, or a Para or something couls cost $1000. But a good glock could oonly cost around $300.

      • It’s not that much of a pain to clean, it just has a few more steps than a Glock.

        Wipe down the feed ramp, clean the barrel, wipe off and then grease the rails, wipe off the breechface, put a dab of grease on the locking lugs and you’re good to go.

        • I think you left out the field stripping and reassembly process, which is — well, let’s be generous and call it inconvenient.

        • I love my 1911. 8+1, it’s full size, I carry it concealed, it’s easy enough to take apart, clean, and put back together. The only issue I have with mine is the barrel bushing wants to be difficult once I’ve got everything else reassembled. But it’s really no biggie, a few moments working with it, and it pops back in like it should.

        • Huh? It takes about 15-20 seconds to field-strip a 1911. And possibly a bushing wrench, if it fits very tightly.

    • 1911 People Problems

      – I just got picked up my (insert brand here) 1911 from the store. Boy, I hope it works.

      – Oh no, the shiny new (insert brand here) magazines I just bought don’t work with my gun
      (or conversely)
      – Oh no, I have 10 new (insert brand here) magazines and only eight of them work for discernable reason

      – I just spent (insert large dollar amount here) on a 1911 from (insert fancy manufacturer here) and it is already having malfunctions!

      – Dammit, I just bought this part and it doesn’t fit!

      – James Yeager hurt my feelings… sniffle

      – Sigh, my 1911 has stopped working. Time to return it to the factory. Again.

      – Ugh. I have to file this part to make it work right and/or fit

      – What? $50 to just to fit new sights? I thought sights were universal…

      – Oh poop. I just pulled a Tex Grebner.

      – Boy those seven rounds went by fast…

      – This thing sure is heavy to conceal carry all day

      – Hurray! A tactical hangun course! CLICK. Awwwww…

      – I use hard ball ammo. Why? Um, no reason…

      “Hello? Glocks? It’s 1911s calling. You win.”

      • I have a kimber pro cdp 11. I’ve Shot I don’t know, maybe 500 rounds with it so so far. Never cleaned or lubed it yet either. It’s never jammed. Never failed. It’s more accurate than any of my other handguns. I can’t help but think a lot the comments here are dead wrong. Maybe if you have a 500 dollar 1911. In that case you are most likely a cheap piece of Shit anyway. I have upgraded the grips (which fit perfectly) everything else is already top of the line. Not sure how you guys can sit here and hate on an otherwise flawless pistol…

        • I’m a cheap piece of shit? What a graceful person you are.

          Your 500 rounds of experience with ONE 1911 is completely anecdotal. Do you truly believe your one gun is a representative sample size of all 1911s? Do you actually think that 500 rounds is a high round count? My Glock 19 has between 4000 and 5000 malfunction-free rounds and to be honest that’s not a lot for the Glock platform. Come back here and post when your 1911 comes even close to that, if it ever even makes it that far. And guess what? For the cost it takes you to get 1 high end 1911 I can get two Glocks, sights, a host of magazines, spare parts and ammo. Funny thing about my Glock is that it never seems to need parts, but in the event I need’em they are there and won’t require any filing to make them fit.

          Have a great day Mr. Classy.

  2. So you’re saying that it will fail AND that the odds of it failing are extremely low?

    Not sure where you’re going with this.

      • Unfortunetly the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. Every gun will fail as it gets older, so with all guns, it’s a question of when.

        I personally see the 1911 series as a luxury, not a tool. Something you buy to show off or to have “just because” or to collect.

      • Yes, it will fail eventually, but won’t any gun? If I had to pick one gun to last me the rest of my life, it would be my 1911.
        Now, I like to think I’m not biased, because I’ve owned 3 1911s (2 currently), a Glock, a Beretta, and a dozen or so single and double action revolvers, and I love them all, and my most used handgun is a HK USP45 compact.
        The 1911 is thoroughly NOT a beginners handgun, or really a handgun for anyone who doesn’t cherish their firearms. It does take some TLC to keep it going, but it will return the love x 2.
        Plus, I like the option of just straight up knocking the piss outta someone with my pretty little heavy steel pig. Try that with a polymer frame.

      • Funny, mine don’t fail. On the other hand, all guns fail from time to time. So mine might fail eventually. But I’ve seen ’em all fail and break……Glock, SIG, SW, – name it. They fail. My vaunted Glock failed me in Afghanistan. Big deal. Guns are machines and machines break. Yawn.

  3. Mine has never failed me in any way. It rattles and its pretty ugly, but it works. Period. I’ve never had a reason to doubt it. I would like to get a GLOCK-brand GLOCK at some point though, interpret that however you’d like…

    • That’s what I’ve always heard. The older ones that rattled like a loose bumper never failed, but when they became an icon and higher end versions with tighter tolerances were introduced, that’s when reliability issues came about.

      For what it’s worth, I would like a 1911, probably a Para or a SR1911, but I don’t know if it would ever be a regular carry. My fil used to carry a Springfield 1911 when he was a range master, he swore by it.

      • I don’t know about Springfield 1911’s but my kimber is my go to gun. Even with my dozens of other pistols laying around. I know they cost a lot but from my opinion, it’s WELL worth it.

    • I have an old Argentine 1911. It rattles, and it eaten everything I’ve ever fed it, though it didn’t like a batch of particularly light target loads and didn’t extract them all, but that was my fault. At gun fighting distances, it is plenty accurate, even with the crappy WWII style sights. I can doubletap or quickly dump a magazine into a nice tight group better than any other pistol. You don’t need target sights, match barrels and extra tight bushings for a carry gun. So yes, it’s worth it.

      • Just goes to show that a 1911 that is as reliable as a Glock (if there is one) is going to only be as accurate or less so.

    • After my wife’s grandfather passed away we were clearing out his house. We found his M1911 he kept from WW1. I stupidly did a quick cleaning job on it and ran about 100 rounds through it with no problems. The slide shakes worse than my mossbergs pump, the hammer has a taste for blood, and it likes to kick the shells right back at your face, but it ran beautifully for a near 100 year old gun. Afterwards I took it to my smith to get properly cleaned up and he swore a blue streak that I just fired walmart ammo through a museum piece

      • *Serious question* Why would it matter what type of ammo you used? The carbon can be cleaned out just the same. Or was it more of a righteous indignation-thing?

        • The odometer doesn’t care if you drove it on a washerboarded dirt road or a brand-spanking-new smooth as glass concrete highway.

          So I fail to see the indignation towards shooting walmart ammo if that’s the rationale. How could you tell just by looking at it that the ammo run through it was, shall we say, not premium gunfood?

  4. I have a Remington 1911r1. I’ve shot about 1200 rounds through it (600 rounds without cleaning), and only had a malfunction when I tried to shoot some semi-wadcutter’s through it. At the same time, for a fight, I would much rather have my sig p229 in 9mm than a 1911 in .45 (and I like .45 a whole lot).

    • I’ve never had a failure of any type with my R1, but then I pay attention to the manual–no P, P+, and use ball ammunition. I don’t use it for self-defense, just paper punching, so the ammo limitation wasn’t important to me, even to the point of finding out whether hollow points or other defensive ammo functions in the gun.

    • The Scorpion suffers from excess tolerance tightness. I had one. DO NOT RUN THIS PISTOL WITH A BUFFER. The slide will not reciprocate fully after each shot if you do and short stroke or fail to return to battery due to momentum lack. Also, as a result of the cerakote, it seems as though it is more prone to cleanliness related malfunction. I sent mine back because it wouldn’t lock back after the final round and they replaced the slide stop.

      I sold it as I was poor and needed to make cash but it was a nightmare.

      • I’ve always thought about getting rid of mine. But I managed to find some hollow points it likes so there’s that. But that thing has sent spent brass into my forehead twice. The cerakote is also prone to holster wear. It’s just so good looking.

    • I owned a Sig and it would fail to feed or fail to hold open… bought some Wilson mags and it ran flawlessly… in comparison the magazine’s followers where slighty different… I highly recommend trying a different magazine.

  5. I own an R1 with some amateur gunsmithery (beavertail, hammer, various other pieces….). The scuttlebutt on the intertubez is that the R1 is especially prone to failure, so I must be the exception. 2500+ rounds and not a single malfunction.

    • I hate replying to myself, but rather than start another comment…

      I suspect that a lot of the problems that even high end 1911s exhibit could be traced back to excessive “tinkering.” Even military issue 1911s included a lot of hand fit components, but at the end of the day it was really a mass produced, slap it together gun. Now, 100+ years on, people are tinkering with recoil springs, polishing feed ramps, filing sears etc. to try and squeeze out some percentage of improved performance.

      Whenever you try to fine tune ANY machine for performance there are a given set of parameters that will make it run flawlessly. Introduce a variable (excessive powder residue, low powder charge, light trigger etc.) and you’re asking it to puke.

  6. Is it worth it? That’s like asking how high is up. Of course it’s worth it! I carried one in the service and it went bang every time. Of course I had skilled armorers who babied it but even the average gunner can keep it running. the only time I ever experienced wny if those problems was with one that I built. I sent it to a great gunsmith and he fixed my mistakes and it ran perfectly ever after.

  7. I carry a 5″ Les Baer on my hip, 2 extra magazines on my belt and a S&W J frame in my pocket with confidence that they will work and that I can place the round(s) where they need to go.

    I feel more confident with this combination than anything else I have tried, and I have tried alot of others.

  8. More BS from the guy who bought an untested Caracal and fell into a swoon over the R51

    To repeat, the 1911 is the most combat tested pistol the world has ever seen. The families of innumerable Krauts, Itaiys, Japs and assorted flavors of commies will testify to the efficacy of the 1911. If it lacked reliability it would have been replaced long before 1985. The full size 1911 is a combat pistol. If you buy one in the $750-$1000 range they will be very reliable. It is the high cost precision competitive target shooting models like the $3000 Wilson Combat that have reliability issues. Precision is the enemy of reliability because the tight tolerances get jammed up with goop.

    You want to see stovepipes? Limp wrist the Tupperware wunderwaffen Glock.

      • I’m either guilty of that or my Glock 35 needs a new recoil spring (already thoroughly clean, inspected mag, polished feed ramp, and checked everything else). How often would you figure that the recoil spring needs replacement? I’ve got about 15K rounds through my 35, with about some of that being +P Underwood ammo.

        • Accur81,

          Get a new recoil spring. Mattress springs soften over time and eventually become too soft; I have to believe the same thing happens to recoil springs. They should be cheap and easy to find.

        • Simple rule-of-thumb test I used for coil springs, not just in Glocks:

          a) get a new coil spring. Measure how long it is.
          b) measure the length of your existing coil spring.

          If your coil spring has decreased 10% or more in length from the length of the new coil spring, you probably should replace it.

      • Yep. Need to be a “lock the wrist up tight” guy with Glocks, especially the little ones.

        Thanks for the 10% spring change test. Simple.

    • Tdiivnva,

      So much fail, so little time.

      See Rabbi’s comments below. Military 1911 are loose and feed ball ammo. Todays 1911s are nothing like military issue. They are much tighter to increase accuracy and in doing so, reliability suffers.

      You are obviously much more educated and experienced than all of the other writers here. I look forward to reading YOUR blog.

      • So much fail on your part for using argument by alleged authority. I go by empirical evidence not the pronouncements of so-called experts. A $3000 Wilson Combat is a precision built pistol. Your basic RAI, Springfield Milspec or Colt Government model is built to the same specs as the GI 45s. Do you think loose tolerances mean that the pistol rattles? (Ok, the first one I qualified on did rattle a little but it was manufactured before WWII).

      • Apparently you have very little experience with the 1911 platform and will parrot off what you read. In my personal experience, 1911s are not happy with hollow points that have sharp edges (think XTP pills). Load one up with Winchester Ranger HP rounds, and it will run like a diesel. The $1500+ range queens are built too tight to be effective, reliable combat handguns. The slide may feel like polished glass when you rack it, but let it go without a cleaning and take it out on a humid day, you will feel a little buyer’s remorse for not doing your homework.

        My inexpensive Rock Island Armory 1911, and my Springfield GI High Cap 1911 are just as reliable as any polymer pistol I have shot, often more reliable. I don’t need an armorer’s kit to strip it down to parts in the event of it getting submerged in clay, mud, sand, etc and I feel the need to clean it. I don’t have to worry about it melting in a house/car fire, and can have it shooting again with some cleaning.

        It has over 100 years of proven reliability and toughness. Wilhelm Bubits may have designed some great pistols (Glock, Styer, Caracal) but he cannot boast the time proven designs of John Browning. Ask yourself one question. Why hasn’t the US armed forces issued any “modern” sidearms?

        • Because they are cheap pack rats, and only care about the big picture on the battlefield, and not about the individual soldier who may have a rifle that jams or runs dry, where he needs a backup. Jeff cooper wrote about this somewhere.

        • If they wanted to be cheap they would buy Glocks. Who cares if the average soldier would break his pistol using it as a hammer.

      • No, today’s 1911’s are built tightly to appease people who think a tight gun is the same thing as an accurate gun. The only problem is, that’s not true. For a 1911 to shoot accurately, you need a correctly made barrel that locks up correctly to the slide. None of the other pieces contribute to the inherent accuracy. If the barrel locks up to the slide in the same place every time, and the sights (being mounted on the slide) are adjusted correctly, your 1911 will be accurate, even if the rest of the gun sounds like a freaking maraca.

        • When I first noticed the maraca (I’m stealing that, by the way) I thought it was a problem. But the thing continued (and continues) to punch jagged holes. And with me behind it that’s saying something.

    • The B17 killed plenty of Krauts and Japs and Itaiys (people still say that?) as well, so I guess pretty much all advancement in aircraft technology since that point has just been a waste of time and energy as well? Carburators were effective enough, who needs EFI? Life on planet earth is great, why is NASA wasting money going to Mars?

      • I considered other pejoratives but went with that.

        In case you missed my post below, guns are a mature technology. The “revolutionary” nature of the Glock comes down to the use of plastic. The striker and modular take down mechanism were all technologies that Gaston Glock combined with Tupperware to produce his wunderwaffen. Even plastic isn’t new. The AR introduced it as a gun making material. A B-17 was ineffective by the early 1950s while the 1911 is still effectively killing the enemy. And just because it’s “new” doesn’t make it better. The Garand action is still more reliable then the Stoner design. A 1960 US infantry squad with its M-14 and M-60 can deliver more effective firepower than today’s equivalent with the M-4 and SAW.

        Here is Hickock45 demonstrating the power of the M-14 against a cinder block wall at 250 yards.

    • I’ve ran a Para expert 1911 for almost the years now. I honestly don’t even remember where I’m at on ammo, suffice to say I’m probably in the low 1000s. Put a beavertail on it, and had to repaint the front sight once.
      Not one failure. I trust this gun. And the damndest thing about it? If it jams, you clear it and put the remaining 8 rounds into bad guy.
      If you honestly believe just because your gun is a modern wonderkind and less likely to fail than my old warehouse, than you have lulled yourself into false security. ANY gun can fail. So, rather than lie to yourself and try to pick the most “failsafe” gun, you pick the one that does the job best for you, and practice and maintain to support that gun.

    • +1

      TTAG Souldn’t post troll articles. Sure a glock or 1911 question will bring out the arrogant and ignorant every time.

      Whats the point of trashing up a good website?

      • I come here to learn from others and have gotten far more useful info and opinions than anywhere else. You do have to put up with some foolishness and trollery but IMHO those tend to self id and dont last long here vs other places. Many thx to staff writers and many wise readers who have much to offer and do. You know who you are…

    • I own 13 Wilson Combat 1911’s and your statement couldn’t be further from the truth.

      I have put thousands of rounds of various quality through mine and can’t recall any failures. That includes 4, 5 and 6 inch barrels.

    • Amen. I have worked over my Kimber Custom II to run fast which for target plinkers is a much different aspect. However, I have burned a few hundred rounds through my daughter-in-law’s Para 1911, fast, slow, and have never had any indication of FTF.

  9. All firearms can fail. Glocks fail after the magazine springs wear out for example.

    I owned a Colt 1911 model 70 in the 80’s I could never make it work reliably, not even after a lot of tuning by my local gunsmith. I got rid of it.

    Fast forward to this century. Dan Wesson 1911s have been absolutely bulletproof. Everything works perfectly, every single time. Run them WET, run them CLEAN, as if your life depended on it.

    If you’re the type that is not embarrassed by a dirty car full of crap and dirt all over the inside, and you only put gas in it and nothing else, then a 1911 is not for you because you’ll keep it the same way. You now who you are….

    • I’ll second you on the Dan Wessons. My father owns one with thousands of rounds through it and it has yet to misfire.

    • If your life depends on your weapon you’d better damn well hope it’s clean and properly lubricated regardless of what make or model it is.

    • I used to have one of those. For some reason no 8 round mags would fit except Chip McCormick’s (which worked great for the most part, I think one mag had issues and it caused FTF almost every time I used it). And I think that’s where I would check first if your 1911 ain’t working well. It should run 100% with good magazines, assuming everything else was OK.

  10. They look awesome, they have great history, and although I haven’t shot one, I believe the people who say they’re great to shoot. And no, they’re not worth it. Not on my minuscule gun budget.

    When I win the lottery or get that $15k/yr raise (similar odds), then I’d love to have a well-crafted 1911 (and I’d still EDC a polymer 9mm). Until that time comes, for all my purposes I’ll stick with economical, ergonomical polymer 9mms with an unbeatable record of durability and reliability. I can’t afford for them to be anything else.

  11. Yeah, its worth it. Even a lowly RIA 1911! Any gun carried for defense should be thouroughly tested and broken in by the user and tuned as needed. Glocks, for instance, are great machines, but theyre still just that: machines. Machines subject to defects and failures. Military and police dont just open the box and get to work, they check out their gear. Polymer or steel, so should you.

  12. That’s why I carry what I carry. I only have one malfunction that is simply a matter of time before it shows up: I empty the mag and there is no ammo left to shoot in the gun (oh no, the gun is not functioning!). I’m sure everyone else could claim their X, Y, or Z is equally perfect, which is why I didn’t specifically say what I carry.

    Seems like this is a filler piece, there isn’t really much discussion to be had on such an opinion. I think this might be a result of the “Caracal Crazies” Rob is experiencing.

  13. I own two 1911’s a 5 inch Kimber Warrior and a 3 inch Kimber Ultra II. I have never had an issue wih either pistol. I carry both regulary and have full confidence in both pistols and my abilities.

    When it comes to failures; ALL weapons will fail at some point. Everyone’s training should include immediate and corrective action.

    • While yours have never failed you, the question is: how hard do you run them? Any gun will work for a few rounds, its when they get hot and dirty that problems arise.

      • I tryo to run them hard. I’m paying for my own ammo, so I’m usually limited to about 500 rounds per session and I try to get to the range once a month. Sometimes I get to the range more oftern, sometimes less. You seem to have your mind made up on the 1911 and that’s great. Even without the Rabbi’s blessing I’m confident in my choice.

      • I’ve got a Springfield 1911 EMP in 9mm that I routinely shoot 1000+ round CQB and defensive handgun classes with. It’s my daily carry and I would be doing myself a disservice to not train with what I carry. I run 500-600 rounds, clean it at the end of the day’s instruction and take it back to class the next day. Never fails and runs like a Singer Sewing machine…

        • Finally, a fellow EMP owner. I love my EMP. I have owned more handguns than most of you whippersnappers ever might, but the nicest I have run is my EMP. BUT, I love all guns just the same…..

    • Ah, one of the fortunate, and rare, few. Kimbers are renowned for their unreliability and spotty to nonexistent customer service. On a forum I frequent, there is a post of a cracked frame on a Kimber Ultra–and he was not the only one with the same complaint. He reported that Kimber initially sought to blame the failure on him, despite the fact that the gun had fewer than a thousand rounds through it and it was bone stock. I own a Kimber Pro Carry II with a 4″ barrel. I love it, but would not trust it with my life. It has been back to the factory once for failing to go into battery, a condition that reoccurs whenever I get up to 75 or 100 rounds of WWB through the barrel. That is with a McCormick magazine, because the Kimber magazine was completely unreliable. Further, when new, the feed ramp was completely coated with Kimber’s proprietary coating, something not even FMJ cared for. Finally, the manual recommends replacing the recoil spring every 800 rounds, which is, to many, unusually frequent.

      I note in closing that the picture at the top of the thread is a Kimber.

      Am I dissing the whole platform? Not at all. I would like to have a WWII vintage Colt with a new bushing and barrel, and I would likely love it to death. There is nothing sweeter than shooting .45 out of a 5″ barrel.

      • Eh, I don’t know about that.

        I’ve got a lowly Kimber Custom II – bottom of the line. It has never misbehaved in the years that I’ve owned it.

        Do I shout my success from the roof tops? Nope, I just take it to the range and shoot it. I suspect many other Kimber owners are in the same boat – happy and quiet.

        Would I carry it every day? Nope – too big and too heavy.

        -ted

  14. Larry Vickers has interesting bent on the subject: 1911’s were designed to be hand manufactured–that was the manufacturing of the day. The design does not lend itself well to CNC machining. The 1911s that work well today are hand fitted.

    I own 1911s, I even hand-built one in a class with a top smith. I love to shoot them, but I stopped carrying them about 15yrs ago. Much rather have the 13+1 capacity of my XD45.

    It’s rare that I see 1911 survive all the way through intensive training classes where 600-800 rounds are fired a day. The opposite is true for M&P, XDs and Glocks.

    John Farnam has an interesting quote on 1911 triggers: 1911s are the best gun there is to shoot someone with, but the worst gun there is to not shoot someone with. What he means is that single action triggers are accurate because they require little pressure over a small distance, but are less safe than other designs because they require little pressure over a small distance.

    It is a proven fact that under stress, subconsciously, your body “confirms trigger placement” and the finger wanders to the trigger. NDs happen much easier with single action triggers. It is NOT just a matter of training to keep your finger off the trigger, the confirmation is subconscious and appears as stress increases.

    David Kenik
    http://www.armedresponsetraining.com

    • but are less safe than other designs because they require little pressure over a small distance.

      Thumb safety.

      And I’d argue that with modern machining being what it is you could achieve the same fit as hand fitting 100 years ago, with the exception (maybe) of surface finish.

      • Thumb safety is disengaged at the most stressful time in your life. “Subconscious trigger confirmation” has been proven.

      • The M9 is the only pistol I’ve ever carried that had a thumb safety, and I trained myself to disengage that safety as a part of drawing to the point that it’s muscle memory. If circumstanced permitted I’d cock it too, because it had an awful DA trigger.

        We went to the range A LOT, and I’d see guys out there all the time pulling the trigger with the safety engaged. Not a big problem on the range – giant problem in the field.

        I suspect most people who EDC a design with a safety either carry it safety off (M&P) or train themselves to disengage it when it clears the holster.

        • Both of my alternating carry guns have a thumb safety, and you are correct, when I practice my draw, I practice disengaging the safety as part of the draw. To me, it’s no different than practicing not to put your finger on the trigger until your gun is on target.

        • I found that on my 92fs the DA trigger smoothed up considerably with a thousand or two rounds. Still, I would take the time to hand cock the trigger if I needed to engage a target at more than 25 yards or if there were non targets in the vicinity. I tend to pull down and to the left a bit in DA.

      • At the risk of my internet existence I’m going to tell a truth of combat, with zero care what ninjas may say: It is absolutely typical to have your finger on the trigger and rely on the thumb safety as the final “go” decision with a 1911, and this also becomes habit for many with the M16/M4. Deny it all you like. I’ve seen it and done it.

        Suitable for civilian life? No. Preferable for hunting? No. Common as hell when entering engagements? Yes. And actually, with the M4 I think it’s preferable from a safety point of view….and specifically for the reason connected to Kenik’s comment. Having the safety on until the last minute produces more safety and confidence than the rightly preached civilian rules. Movement of the safety is a much coarser motion: relying on trigger finger finesse in combat is for the birds. Dead birds. On a Glock, of course, you have no choice but utter “trigger discipline” and so, fortunately, there’s plenty of take-up.

    • So, how often are you going to fire 600-800 rounds in a defensive situation? Somewhere between Never and When Hell Freezes Over, I would think.

        • Correction: newer 1911s fail when they get dirty. The original 1911s that underwent military trials against the savage 1907 survived a 6000 round no cleaning tourture test as part of the trials. That gun fired all 6000 rounds without a single failure. Granted that was with ball ammo, but it goes to show how reliable the original design was. Now everybody is concerned with making them “tight” and they no longer tolerate the dirt and abuse they once did. I do agree that there are better things to defend yourself with these days than a 1911, but the design is sound.

    • I’ve never experienced that kind of problem. I ‘ve gone over 1000 rounds without cleaning mine and it still ran. I have heard that short barrelled 1911s like the Colt Defender or high end, tight tolerance pistols like the Wilson combat having issues but never a standard full sized model. The proof of reliability comes in combat not the range. Again, the 1911 is the most combat proven pistol in history. If Gi Joe trusted his life to a 1911 then it’s good enough for me.

      • As Lee Paige, of “I’m the only one in this room, that I know of, professional enough to carry this Glock 40” fame would attest to.

  15. Combat tested and countless thousands of soldiers have trusted their lives to the 1911. Before the Interwebz there was never this fear of a 1911 failing regularly. All guns can fail. I trust a 1911 with my life on a regular basis and have NO reason to doubt that it will ever let me down. It never did in the service and it hasn’t since.

    • True, but those guns were purposely built loose and sloppy to increase reliability.

      Additionally, the military runs FMJ which feeds much smoother than today’s hollow points.

      With the current rush towards accuracy, reliability in 1911s have suffered. I no longer take one out of the box to see HOW it works, my first test is to see IF it works.

      David Kenik
      http://www.armedresponsetraining.com

      • Not my experience at all except for the crap that Colt was putting out in the 70s and 80s. Dan Wessons are 100%. So are Springfields and most others.

        The way I see it is this: Go to any specific firearm forum and you will find post after post of problems, for ALL of them, not just 1911s. Most shooters these days don’t have the first clue about how to break in, maintain or shoot a handgun. Handguns are not cell phones!!

        And about the 500 round days, the most successful guns in limited and open competition are the 2011s. They get shot A LOT, they are very tight, and very customized. The “loose as a goose” so it works is just another forum/keyboard myth.

        • I agree with this. The only reason I don’t carry one of my 1911’s is the weight and length. I carried a WWII era 1911 refitted during the Korean war and issued in RVN. It was beat to hell and worked fine.

          If 362 manufacturers made Glocks, G17’s would not be known for reliability.

        • RABBI Says:
          “2011s are not mass produced guns, they are hand fit which proves the point”

          That implication is not correct either. You need to research things. Comments like yours are what create these “forum myths”. Call Keith Lawson at Dan Wesson for example before making such unfounded generalizations. And, I believe most Name Brand PRODUCTION (not custom) 1911s made today are the same in this regard:

          From the 2014 CZ/Dan Wesson Catalog:

          “We produce only a few thousand handguns a year, using the best components and finishes the industry has to offer. We painstakingly hand-fit and polish each and every part, creating the best possible production 1911.”

          From Greg Rodriguez – Guns and Ammo on Dan Wesson:

          “Every Dan Wesson pistol is built on a forged slide and cast frame, with the exception of the new Valor, which is built on a forged frame. Each frame and slide is run through Dan Wesson’s state-of-the-art CNC machines, then sent to the polishing department to be de-burred.

          Those same folks then hand-fit the barrel, frame and slide. Finally, they hand-radius every sharp edge, blend the rear of the slide and frame, sandblast every radius, polish the flats, and throat and polish the feed ramp. This is all done by hand.

          Next, they stake the plunger tube, pin the ejector and thoroughly clean the gun before sending it to the assembly department. There, the small parts are polished and fitted to each pistol. Dan Wesson does not use any drop-in parts on its 1911s, which is one reason they are so accurate and reliable.

          Every trigger job is tuned by hand with the use of a Power Custom Jig. The extractor hooks are polished and tuned, and the match barrel bushing, oversized firing pin stop, grip safety, thumb safety and slide stop are all fitted. After assembly and function testing, each gun is test fired in the test tunnel before a final quality-control check.”

          Hope this helps dismiss those myths!

        • JAS,

          There is a big difference between slamming parts together by hand, and true, hand-fit 1911s.

          Hand-fit 1911s that are smith by true professionals cost upward of $3000. Dan Wesson does not qualify.

        • “There is a big difference between slamming parts together by hand, and true, hand-fit 1911s.”

          OK, you win.

          After that statement there’s nothing else I wish to say because an educated discussion is no longer possible.

      • Sorry…I’m not buying that either. I have a post WWI 1911 and 8 different modern 1911’s. Not a single one of them has had any major problems. I carry Speer Gold Dot and Hornady Critical Duty and they feed in all of my modern 1911’s with no issues at all. My modern 1911’s have ranged in price from $500 to $1400. All are accurate and problem free.

  16. I have an STI Trojan 9mm, it’s my “class gun”, 2000+ rounds so far and the only failure I’ve had was a double feed when my shirt caught the slide during a ‘draw from concealment’ drill.

  17. I’ve owned, carried and shot many 1911s since 1958. Most, particularly the G.I. issue, were totally reliable. Only one, a 1989 Colt stainless Gold Cup, was a total POS. The most accurate was a High Standard G.I. model I bought through Lipsey’s several years ago.

  18. I own 4 Rock Islands, GI’s in 45, 9, and 38 Super and an Officer’s in 9. I also a Ruger SR1911 CMD in 45. Not had a failure in any of them. I would trust my life with any of them.

    • I’ll second you on the RIA 1911s. I bought one used that had seen (supposedly) about 500 rounds through it, mostly cheap FMJ. I have put close to 1,000 rounds of FMJ and at least 200 JHP of all mixed brands from the cheapest TulAmmo to Hydrashocks. Zero malfunctions. It’s a heavy beast to carry, but I have no trouble concealing it IWB. Granted, I’m a skinny guy with broad shoulders, so that helps, and the beavertail probably wouldn’t be very comfy if I had much more of a spare tire than I have. But I’ve noticed two things that almost never have exceptions: Those who complain about reliability in 1911s have never owned a cheap one, and they’re the same crowd that won’t buy Rugers.

      If your gun is a status symbol, you’ll buy a ‘nice’ 1911 and have reliability issues. Or you’ll buy a Caracal or other mid- to upper-range polymer gun and have issues. Or you can buy a Ruger SR series and fall in love. And yes, you can get used to the tiny safety.

  19. I carried a Colt Gold Cup National Match for a long time, now carry a Glock. Technically speaking, from an engineering perspective, mechanical things have a MTBF – Mean Time Between Failure. This is a complex calculation. Simplistically, I shoot my guns, inspect them and clean them as required so I ensure they work when I need them. Is the gun maintained, is it modified, is it beat to ish? All of these have an impact on the MTBF. I love my 1911, it is more of a capacity issue and bulkiness for me than confidence in whether the gun will fail or not. I don’t keep guns that are not reliable.

  20. I think it just depends on the one you get and who you get it from. I’ve two S&W 1911’s. An older model made in their Springfield plant and an 1911TA e series made in their Houlton plant. The Springfield made 1911 had a few minor jams when I first got it but after 1000 rounds it’s run flawless ever since. The TA from Houlton had so many malfunctions and had to be sent back so many times that S&W ended up replacing it. The replacement seems to function just fine so far.

    I’ve also seen very cheap models from cheap manufacture work great too while stuff from a company like SIG offer crap.

    • That, to me, is completely unacceptable. I don’t have the time, patience, or money to deal with something that has to be sent back to the manufacturer repeatedly.

      Until I have time and money to waste, I’m skipping 1911’s entirely. They may not have the same rich history or look as nice, but if I buy another Springfield XD or XDm, I know it’s going to work perfectly right out of the box, and keep on working perfectly under far greater demands than I’ll ever put them through.

      • It was pretty disappointing and I did find it unacceptable that a $1000 pistols was basically broken from day one. I couldn’t complain too much as it didn’t cost me a dime to send it back. It was just time without my shiny new pistol that ticked me off the most but in the end S&W came through. The replacement seems to be fine. Haven’t had a single malfunction with it. As I said, it just depends on the one you get. I wouldn’t count all 1911’s out because of my bad experience. My first 1911 from S&W is a beast. I’ve put nearly 10,000 rounds through it and the only thing I’ve had to do to it is replace the recoil, firing pin and main housing springs due to normal wear.

        • Good point. I’ve read a fair number of stories from people whose XD/M&P/Glock had issues that needed fixing on day one, and I can’t say they were all wrong — nor do their stories necessarily represent the actual quality of the product. It’s possible to get a bad one of just about anything.

          For me it comes down to the unavoidable fact that a 1911 is relatively expensive — and on top of that, they come in so many variations (some with verifiably poor reliability, others hit-or-miss, still others superbly dependable) that finding out which is which becomes a hobby in itself. So to me they represent a risk of time and money that I can’t afford to take. Maybe someday…but not in the foreseeable future (alas).

        • That’s about where I am at.

          If you already own one and it has functioned flawlessly from day one, great!

          But too many of them have problems. It does seem to be somewhat brand/model dependent, but unsnarling the bullshit from real data would take more time than I have–and I might have to spend twice (or even more) as much as I would to get a different brand whose probability of lemon-hood would be very small.

          I find it indicative, BTW, that during the recent panic the biggest LGS here had SIX GLASS CASES full of 1911s, everything from “low end” stuff still safely in three figures, pricewise, up to six grand. And every other fullsize handgun brand was totally sold out. They now have nine cases of them, and the other cases of non-1911s are refilling nicely. I don’t honestly know why they keep that much floorspace tied up with the things if they won’t move even during a panic.

  21. While the 1911 can be less reliable then modern choices, for the average Joe it’s irrelevent.Special forces and other high volume users might blow 5000 rounds in a single month, which of course means such a 1911 user is swapping recoil springs every month.

    For the average Joe who shoots once a month and doesnt mind cleaning the lint out of the piece monthly, a 1911 will work just fine. We must remember that the odds of actually having to shoot someone as John Q Public are remote.

    Of course a trainer or person who shoots tens of thousands of rounds a year for fun or for work either has to get used to servicing the weapon frequently, or choose another piece to abuse.Such is life, much like driving a classic musclecar to work as a daily driver.For some folks the juice is worth the squeeze.

  22. S&W got the 1911 right. I’m sure someone somewhere had some trouble though. My 1911DK never ever failed to fire or extract, shooting factory loads, self made SWC loads etc. It was a bet your life on gun. Unlike Kimber, Smith got the extractor right. I don’t own it any more as it was too heavy to CC. I wasn’t too skippy about carrying the hammer back on a live round even though it was safe. As a comparison, I shot competition with the Glock guys & they had jams galore, although that could have been due to sloppy reloads. My wish list gun is the S&W Scandium Bobtail(4 1/4″ barrel). I feel the Smith 1911 is well worth the considerable expense./// Poster formerly known as R…., Prince eat your heart out.

    • I think the build quality of S&W 1911’s has taken a dip. The ones being made in their Houlton Maine plant just aren’t the same when it comes to quality and reliability and even accuracy as the ones made in their Springfield plant. See my experience above.

    • I agree, Randy, with the S&W assessment. The only 1911’s I’ve kept are a pair of Smiths. One is an early (but not too early) stainless steel base model. The other is a higher-end melonite-treated version with the larger extractor. Both just run. Neither has needed any tinkering. Neither shows any ill-omen wear marks. If either was smaller and lighter I’d carry them, and I shoot them more accurately than my carry gun. Such is life. I sometimes carry one in the winter just ’cause.

        • No, it’s an early black PC version. While it has different slide grooves and a longer extractor piece than the non-PC, it doesn’t look much like the current PC versions. I think it is very much like the S&W 1911TFP, except with an FP safety. The TFP had a melonited frame and slide essentially identical to the PC version, but had no FP safety. I would willingly buy one of the more recent guns. I just don’t need one. I don’t have time to shoot the ones I have enough, whatever ‘enough’ is.

          I am completely sold on the external extractor if done well. It works on the BHP. It works on the S&W 1911’s. Implementations vary. I do not think the longer extractor hurts, but I don’t think it’s necessary, either.

  23. “…it will fail. C’mon admit it. It’s not a question of “if.” It’s a question of “when.” ”

    It is a machine, it will fail. So will Glocks, Sigs, HnKs, etc. Ford, Mercedes, or Rolls Royce. Machines fail. Usually when you need them most. This is known as bad luck.

  24. The M&P9 has a mean rounds between stoppages average of 20,778. I have yet to see another gun equal this rate. A 1911 would need several tune ups just to make it to 20,000 rds fired. 1911’s are kind of last century. They certainly have a proven combat record. So does the mosin nagant, I don’t see people arguing that they would rather have a mosin than a modern bolt gun because of combat pedigree. I like my 1911’s as what they are, relics of the past and fun range toys.

    • The Mosin is kind of novelty item because it’s cheap. There are still people using Mauser 98s and ’03 Springfields to hunt. Nobody has mass produced a better bolt action rifle.

      • Your absolutely right about mosins being a novelty, that was the point I was trying to make about 1911’s. Both are great guns with combat proven heritages. Both are novelties in the modern world. I’m not trying to say that either one is a bad gun, just that for serious purposes there are better choices.

      • I love my Mosins. But I’ll be buying a new scoped bolt gun for deer and pig hunting this year. The Mosins are 70+ years old and while they’re good rifles and could be used to hunt I have better options for that activity.

  25. I have an old GI model Springfield that I’ve put about 10k rounds through. I’ve only had 3 FTEs and most of those were recent so rebuilt the gun. Hard gun to beat

  26. Every gun has the potential to fail.

    Would I be willing to trust my life to a 1911? Yes, after I had shot that specific one for a period of time to know it is defect free.

    But I apply that same standard to Glocks, M&Ps, XDs, and so on.

    I own exactly one 1911, a Kimber. That specific Kimber has never given me an issue of any kind in years of ownership. In terms of reliability, I would trust my life to it because I have seen it operate. The real reasons I don’t carry it daily:

    1. Manual safety. I want my carry gun to have the minimal amount of fine motor skills to operate it in a defensive shooting
    2. Cost to replace. If I did have to use a firearm to protect myself, the odds are real good that I would lose that firearm for at least a little while, and potentially a lot longer. Look at the way police have treated firearms confiscated (either for a criminal investigation like GZ’s trial, or like in the post-Katrina New Oreleans). They generally don’t come out of their time with the police looking like they went in. I’d rather lose something in the $4-600 range than something in the $1k world. And I can find reliable options in that price range.

  27. IMHO, absolutely not. In fact, I tend to give those who carry one a hard time. I love to shoot mine, but there comes a time where in the best interests of personal safety, you need to grow up and be an adult. I truly believe the reason most people want to carry one is to show it off. THAT is not why one should carry. I do not like people who need to show me their “nickel plated sissy pistol.”

    Secondly, it is a technologically inferior piece of gear. There are so many better options that run circles around what the 1911 brings to the table. Weight, capacity, accuracy and safety were my primary concerns when I chose a carry gun. While the trigger and thin grip on a 1911 makes me very accurate, the 1911 gets blown out of the room on every other one of those criteria. I may not be bulls eye accurate with the Glock, but I’ll do just fine. Finally, I’ve yet to shoot a 1911 that feeds hollow points 100% reliably…though the need for hollow points in a .45 ACP could be a debate of its own.

    • “…I truly believe the reason most people want to carry one is to show it off…”

      You carry the pistol that you are the best with regardless of what it is. For me and many others it is the 1911. Your results may differ. I own two polymer pistosl and XD 45 and a XD/m compact 9. I like them but I am no where near as accurate with them as I am with the 1911. I may have almost twice the rounds in my XD than I do with my 1911 but I am more likely to get rounds 1-8 on target with the 1911 then I am with the XD. That should be your criteria not some measure of coolness. In today’s world the Glock is cool gun not some old guy’s 100 year old pistol. I wonder how many Glocksters carry one because it’s cool?

      • Glocks aren’t cool. They’re ugly, all black, and ubiquitous.

        But they do work well and are relatively cheap. I’m also pretty good with them

        I love both my Glocks and my 1911.

        • You make the mistake of equating looks and cool. Think of the plain jane girl in HS who was popular because she did cool stuff. That’s the Glock. It is coolness of the Glock image that makes the Glock popular with the general public. Think about it, there are many pistols that are just as reliable and in the same price range as the Glock. Why would someone pick the Glock over the Springfield or Walters or M&P?

        • I still think you’re wrong. The “cool” guns are the HKs. They’re what operating operators who operate use, you know?

          Problem is their .45s catastrophically choke on Hornady ammo and the V1 triggers suck.

          My 1911 and my Glock eat Hornady ammo just fine and both have better triggers.

  28. i have BEEN carrying a springfield 1911a-1 for over ten years now and like your other gear if you dont know how to use or maintain it it will fail mine has been trouble free for almost 10,00 rounds now,,, i carry it daily and will not give it up for some 9mm gizmo gun,,,,,,

  29. I hate to break this news to you but to paraphrase Fight Club a bit, on a long enough time line ALL guns will fail so all guns have that question of “when.” The 1911 might have a higher rate of failure or a smaller number of rounds between failures but it’s a bit disingenuous to say it is failure prone and making it out like other guns are completely and entirely foolproof.

    If your gun has not failed you, you haven’t shot it enough.

  30. I do find it interesting that at the local IDPA and USPSA matches that I’ve competed at (albeit relatively few compared to most folks here I imagine)… the gun that always seizes up in the worst way is a 1911 and it is usually not a “budget” 1911, but a high-dollar carry gun (not a race gun). On several occasions I’ve seen failures so severe that they have to shutdown the stage and go get the senior RO in an attempt to just make the gun safe, if not restore it to a functional state.

    Not saying that it doesn’t happen, but I haven’t seen a failure anywhere near as severe with a non-1911 handgun at one of these competitions… nothing that a competent tap-rack-bang couldn’t resolve.

    With that all being said, I do own a Colt 1911 Government and while I haven’t used it for competition, it has always worked reliably for me at the range with FMJ ammo (it’s not my SD/HD/carry gun). Granted, that gun gets cleaned and lubricated regularly and lives in my safe when it is not getting used.

    • My 1911 application is NRA Bullseye for the “45” leg of a match and sometimes also for the “any centerfire” leg. I don’t recall at a match ever seeing anyone using any 45 other than a 1911. Apparently for 50 yard shooting the 1911 is still the best or is regarded as the best anyway.

      I had to get through a problematic period of finding magazines that worked, learning good reloading recipes and dealing with bullet technicalities. Eventually it came together and now my Bullseye 1911s run trouble free.
      However I’ve also developed a bias that 1911s can be ‘prima donnas’.

  31. No.

    Weight vs firepower.

    If the 300blk weighed negative pounds, held 40 rounds in a magazine and was the size fmof a glock 42 but operated like a 1911 and operated with 100% reliability, I would carry it.

    And I don’t like the 300blk or 1911s

    • I love my Kimber and she gas not failed me once. Only problem is sometime I get brass straight back and one has even bonked me on my safety glasses.

  32. My Springfield Range Officer is as reliable as my Sig. If we could just win a carry lawsuit or get Gore out of office, I would happily carry it.

  33. Here we go again…

    Go read all of Hilton Yam’s articles on the 1911. Yes, there are reasons to carry more modern designs, but the user who is willing to actually care for his or her pistol will have a reliable, accurate, and durable weapon.

    And tightness does not lead to malfunction. Go read Hilton’s stuff. He knows more about 1911s than all of us here.

  34. The capacity issue is easily resolved by getting a double stack version, such as from Para. As someone who carries 6+1 in my Beretta Nano, 7+1 in a 1911 isn’t a step back.

    • Presumably you are carrying that Beretta Nano because it’s small and therefore more easily concealable. If I had to guess, I’d say you were probably among the many who cannot due to climate and or size, conceal something larger. If I am wrong about that and you can conceal a full size, I’d have to ask why would you *prefer* a gun that is so hard to shoot? (Mine is, when compared to just about any full size–you should hear my shooting instructor critque me on how my fingers fly off it when it goes bang, but the damn recoil is insane.)

      Where I am going with this is, it makes perfect sense for a small gun to have a small capacity. The 1911 is a LARGE gun with a small gun’s capacity. You’ve taken on one of the two worst limitations (the other being greater difficulty controlling it during rapid fire due to low mass) of a small gun without getting the benefit of the additional concealability. So yes the 1911 isn’t a “step down” in capacity for you and your Nano, but it’s a *gigantic* step down for you in concealability–or you’d *already* be carrying it or something with more capacity (i.e., just about any other currently popular full size) instead of your Nano, right?

      • Presumably you are carrying that Beretta Nano because it’s small and therefore more easily concealable. […] I’d have to ask why would you *prefer* a gun that is so hard to shoot? ([…] the damn recoil is insane.)

        One man’s meat is another man’s poison. For my hand the Nano is more comfortable than e.g. an LC9, a S&W 442 snubbie or a NAA 380.

  35. Have owned 2 Colt 1911’s. A used Series 70 was my first handgun. The only failure in about a 1000 rounds was one failure to go completely into battery during an IPSC match my cousin shot with it. The other is my 1991A1 Officer’s Model. My EDC when I was City Prosecutor for 61/2 years. It has yet to fail, and accurate enough to break clay pigeons set up at 100 yards. (not every time, gotta allow for drop and all that). But in any case, I would and have trusted my life to both all day, every day. Both were stock. The 70 had Pachmires on it. I used Silvertip hollowpoints in the 70. Still use Hydra-Shoks in the Officer. Maybe it’s just when people start “improving” them is when they start becoming unreliable.

  36. I own three, my father’s service piece that went through WWII and Korea, a Sig Scorpion on 5in and a rock island armory in 3.5 in. for concealed carry.

    My dad’s is all original and is what I learned to shoot with, never a stoppage.

    Not one of them has had a failure to feed or a stove pipe. The scorpion had issue with the magazines it came with and I replaced them with Ed Brown. It is an absolute tack driver.

    The rock island has never had any issues even with hollow points. and for $450 you cannot beat it.

    Not as clumsy or random as a Glock,
    It is an elegant weapon for a more civilized time.

  37. If I had the choice to carry my personal 1911 vs the M9 I’ll inevitably will be issued downrange-i’d take the 1911 in a heartbeat.

  38. “While I love me some 1911, I’m loathe to carry one…”

    I am generally of the same opinion. I let my ignorance hang out a little bit over on MSW and Mr. Yam politely and thoroughly admonished me of his experiences, which controverted some of my premises.

    But when you consider the limited capacity, the ammunition limitations (Mr. Yam does not recommend the use of +P ammo in .45 caliber 1911s), and the amount of tuning required to achieve and maintain the proper balance of all the variables that result in a reliable 1911, there are other less expensive, equally or more reliable, higher capacity, less ammo sensitive, options out there that are more versatile than the 1911 in some ways, e.g., M&P45, XD45, G21, Sig P227, etc.

    While I shoot a 1911 almost every weekend, just for fun, when it comes to strapping on an EDC for my own personal safety in my urban environment, I almost always choose something with more ammo, that is as reliable as an auto loader can be, and in which I can use whatever defensive load I prefer.

    Anymore, I only ever carry a 1911 when I am fiddling about the ranch or when I am hunting. The rest of it’s use for me is as a range gun.

    I had a P227 for a while and loved it, but let it go to fund other projects. If Sig ever came out with an Elite all steel P227 in SAO, I imagine that would probably end my love affair with 1911s all together . . . well, except for their historical/nostalgic value. That’s just me though.

    • Now let’s say you live in California, and you are stuck with a 10 round mag limit. Which would you go for, a 9mm with 10+1, or a 1911 with McCormick 8 round mag, giving you 9 rounds? Would that change your choice?

      • There are several guns I would consider in that case. G26/27, Ruger SR9C/SR45, M&P40c/45, Sig P220/227, G21 and I am sure I could think of several others.

        My feeling is that the 1911 is an enthusiast weapon (and Hilton Yam often points out his opinion that the 1911 is an enthusiasts weapon) which demands a high degree of attention to maintain a sufficient balance of factors necessary to maintain reliability, and even then you only have a capacity of 8+1 in an ergonomic package. There are higher capacity 1911s out there and extended magazines but FOR ME those present ergonomic challenges not worth the compromises to overcome.

        Now the 1911 has an excellent trigger, that’s part of why I love them, but even with their less refined triggers, I’ve found that I can shoot all the pistols I mentioned as well as I can a 1911 (not that great because I’m just an OK shot), with the exception of the M&P series which just don’t seem to fit my hand no matter what I try (but that’s no fault of the gun but just a user interface issue). So while I am a 1911 enthusiast and have had some success at keeping my 1911s running reliably, aside from my recent foray into trying some +P ammunition, I am personally just not enthused with accepting such a limited capacity of ammunition on a carry gun when I can find cheaper, higher capacity, equal power, equally or more reliable, less expensive, options that all weigh less fully loaded than a 1911, with exception maybe of the P227.

        Granted, I have my personal reasons why I consider 10 on board before a reload to be bare minimum capacity for MOST guns I carry on my belt in urban environments, but by no means do I require anyone else to adopt the same requirements since they may live in different environments with different considerations than I have. If a person is knowledgable enough to maintain reliability in a 1911 and the is comfortable with the limitations on magazine capacity, then for that person a 1911 is very well worth it. But to me a 1911 is like Eleanor, the GT500 mustang from Gone in 60 Seconds, which is a beautiful, historic , powerful, and expensive automobile that anyone would be proud and honored to own, regardless of the fact that it could probably be outperformed by Subaru BRZ costing a fraction of the price. A quality 1911 is an heirloom quality firearm that will probably last to be treasured for many generations, but for my purposes, that doesn’t make it more useful on a day to day basis than any of my other guns.

      • Yes they did, and that gun tempts me greatly if I can’t hold out long enough to wait for an Elite Stainless 227 SAO I just might spring for the 226 version someday.

  39. The question of the article was “is it worth it?” and my answer to that would be a very emphatic no. Sig’s 1911’s are notoriously bad, so really your cheapest 1911 that I would consider carry-able would be a kimber. You’re looking at about 1000 bucks, if not 12 or 15 hundred bucks. I understand that glocktards are a pain in the ass, but no product that is inferior in production (save your ass reliability as a carry weapons) to another that is half or 1/3 the price is ‘worth it’.

    If the question is “are 1911’s good enough” the answer for almost all of us is yes. In the same way that most bargain pistols and rifles are more than good enough for 99% of us. Soldiers, police officers, tactical trainers, instructors, etc, do require a next-level weapon, something that will perform when abused, neglected, dragged through the sand used as a hammer. OFWG’s like the majority of CCW holders aren’t going to be dragging their pistol through anything worse than spicy mustard and will probably never fire their weapon in fear or anger.

    Personally? I don’t understand 7+1 with a RELATIVELY low reliability for 1000-2000 dollars @ 2.5 pounds when 13+1 with RELATIVELY extreme reliability for 500 dollars @ less than 2 pounds is on the shelf next to it.

    • I got news for you, Kimbers are terrible. Their quality control is about as bad as SIG’s, if not worse.

      Modern Colt and Springfield are the only ones I trust at this point.

    • An aluminum framed Commander sized 1911 weighs in at about 27 oz. And there are plenty of 8 round mags that are probably more reliable than the factory mag. Depending on brand, 1911s start as low as $400. My Kimber cost about $700 (had it so long I forget). So with changed facts, how does that change your perception.

      Caveat–my main problem with carrying a 1911, reliability aside, is that I can’t figure out how to hide the tail of the grip. Sticks out like a sore thumb, or pokes me in the ribs.

      • Can you get an aluminum framed Commander sized 1911 weighing 27oz with an aftermarket 8 round magazine that is as reliable as an old Kimber for 400 dollars? Or even 700 dollars? The cheapest at buds was 890, when I looked. I can’t imagine you’re saying that a 400 dollar 1911 is something you would bet your life upon.

        Even if you could, what are you getting over a modern polymer striker fired pistol? I’ve never understood the appeal. Heavy, complicated operating system, requires constant maintenance, requires fine muscle control to deploy, picky on feeding, picky on ejecting, specific ammo requirements, low round count, complicated field strip, etc. I fully admit that the trigger on a 1911 is a great thing, but sub-MOA accuracy at 7 yards is not possible for anyone short of a navy seal in a combat scenario anyway. If you’re putting out that kind of accuracy at reasonable fighting ranges, you aren’t shooting fast enough.

        I love 1911’s. For range use. They are fun. They are extremely accurate. And they are excellent for practicing your failure drills 🙂

  40. Nah, it’s too big and too heavy for me to comfortably carry concealed.

    But would I trust my life to my Springfield USGI? You bet. I’ve got 1500 rounds through it without an issue. In fact, it eats crappy Tula .45ACP all day long without an issue and devours all the various hollowpoints I put through it.

    After reading about a lot of problems and experiencing them myself in the SIG I bought, I’ve come up with a few PERSONAL rules regarding 1911s:

    1. Buy modern Colt or Springfield.
    2. Stick with a full-size model.
    3. Use seven round Metalform magazines.

    You want to go with a company and model that sticks damn close to the original specs.

    I bought a SIG 1911 RCS (commander style) that was a total piece of ****. Now that I finally got my Glock 30S, I’m selling it.

    1911s get a bad rap because there are so many variations between the various manufacturers. If everyone built them exactly the same, like all Glocks are built the same, there’d be less issues.

    • Agree with all of this. And though I carry a fake G30S (36 top on a 30SF lower) I think the 30S is very close to a perfect carry pistol.

  41. I own the 1911 that was my grandfather’s in ww1 and my my Dad Carried from D day on Omaha beach to VE Day in Pilson CZ,

    God knows how many thousands of rounds of ball they put through it and I have put through 10,000+ more over the last 50 years since it was passed to me and the only failures to fire with ball ammo (almost all of which I have had as surplus stock) have been a small handful of primers that did not go bang. I never saw a smokestack or a fial to feed till I tried to shoot some modern hollow point ammo… I once had a box of 50s or 60s vintage “state police metal piercing” ammo given to me that was a FMJ truncated cone shaped slug of about 200 grains as best I can recall and it too was fine….

    The gun was designed to fire ball ammo and critiquing it for problems with hollow points seems a bit unfair.

  42. Best quote that I ever heard about 1911s: Would you trust your life to a car designed in 1911 or are there more modern, safer and more reliable options?

    • Actually, yes, depending on your situation.

      Here in Wyoming where a failure of your car can mean your life in winter, I’d absolutely trust a simple car that I could fix with my Leatherman and some bailing wire.

      A modern German auto with their now-infamous electronics problems? No thanks, wouldn’t drive one in winter even if I got it for free.

      • You can use Wyoming interchangeably with the “In Russia…” jokes.

        In Wyoming you don’t hunt animals, animals hunt you…

        In Wyoming you don’t shovel snow, the snow shovels you…

        Etc, etc, etc.

    • I don’t know, would you trust your life to a rifle like a Winchester Model 70 whos designed dates to 1898 when face with an aggressive Kodiak bear? I would trust an actual Mauser 98 or ’03 Springfield in that situation over any “modern sporting rifle.”

  43. Sometimes I think stories sound good, get momentum and take on a life of their own. I think the idea that new, precision-fit 1911s like to jam may be one of those. I own a Wilson and a Nighthawk and I shoot the daylights out of them and I never have any problems with jamming. I usually run 600 to 800 rounds through them between cleaning and they are solidly dirty when I finally take them apart. Still… they seem to run.

    Anyone have personal experience with high-end 1911s that live up to the reputation as being too precise to run well? I just haven’t run into it myself.

  44. A collectible gun with a rich history, yes. A highly, customizable race gun, yes.

    Carry gun, nope. Home defense gun, it’s a pistol, so still nope.

    1911s are slick guns, but they aren’t worth the money, and they don’t really rev my engine, like they seem to do with some other folks.

  45. Sigh. Hopefully in a few decades when I’m an OFWG I won’t have to have this conversation every damn day. By then most of the 1911 fans will be dead and we won’t have to endure the non-stop drivel of nostalgia, stubbornness and emotional investment.

    YES, I understand if you buy a $3,000 nighthawk it will be good, provided that it is maintained meticulously.

    YES, I understand that the old guns with loose tolerances ran better.

    YES, I understand that it has a long track record.

    YES, I understand that it is ergonomic and easy to shoot.

    I. Don’t. Care.

    • If any of these guys had actually slept with Marianne, they wouldn’t be saying “Ginger.”

      My view is that guys who carry X for years know how to keep X working. I also think people differ. Some are prone to limp-wristing. Some change carry cartridge models too often, and without testing, and think it doesn’t matter. Some don’t lube their guns. Some over-lube. Many don’t perform function checks knowledgeably. And for others all I can say is “The gun you bought is no good and you’re holding it wrong.”

  46. No, cause the only 1911’s I like, and could trust, are extremely expensive (Wilson Combat, Nighthawk, Ed Brown, Les Baer) and I would probably never carry them in fear of damaging the finish. I’ll stick to Glocks and M&P’s cause I could care less what happens to them. Custom hand fitted 1911’s are art, and I ain’t a art collector.

      • I’ve never found myself in a situation where I could conceal the G19, but not the G17, the difference is minuscule.

        • 10000% agree. I carry a G17 all the time. It fits the bottom of my hand better. Nothing against a 19, I just don’t see the reason for it.

          If I wanted a smaller Glock in 9mm I would go with a 26.

        • G26 or G17, that’s the way I see it…

          And, if I need to go super Secret Squirrel carry, I go for the pocket rockets.

  47. All tools are made by man, and man is a decidedly very deeply flawed creature.

    The biggest mistake that manufacturers made with the 1911s of today is that the tolerances are far too tight. Yes, it ensures better ‘dead-nuts’ accuracy than literally just about every other sidearm out there, but it always seems to lead to more and more problems. I’m not an engineer (yet), so I can’t put into words exactly why that seems to be the case.

    Stacking tolerances, maybe, would be my best guess right now.

    I, like some other PoTG here, learned on an original 1911A1. Mine in particular was a 1943 Remington Rand. The only stoppages I had with it were due to the dud magazine that came with it. Buy some Wilson Combat 8-rounders, and the problem was solved. Even without a fully-ramped and supported match barrel (but running some Black Hills 230-gr. JHP match), rested and off-hand accuracy was better than every other handgun I’ve ever owned — even my H&K USP — at any practical distance.

    Would I carry one? Sure, I would. If it hurts, it works. Last I checked, a .45-caliber 230-grain hollow-point at 1,000 feet-per-second hurt like a sonuvabitch. Then there’s the 1911’s rich history and heritage, which just adds to that second kind of cool that comes attached to it. It’s got an enormous after-market selection of accessories, too (as does just about every other handgun these days). There’s nothing even technically wrong with the 1911, other than the abysmal round-count.

    Would it be my preferred carry piece? Nope.

    Why? Way too damn expensive and damn too few bullets. (You can never really have enough, right?) I’m not going to fuss about the weight, though, because I feel that steel definitely has it advantages over polymer (and vice-versa).

  48. I will say the same thing here that I said on TFB.

    I think one of the big problems with modern 1911s is that so much has changed when compared to the old military ones from the first half of the 20th century. They are building them to much tighter tolerances and trying to feed hollow points in a gun that was only designed to use ball ammo. The modern ones that seem to work best usually are the ones that are closest to the original design and aren’t built to insanely tight tolerances.

  49. Tactically, for my money the .45acp just doesn’t have enough extra oomph over 9mm to justify the low round count. (Cue the cartridge wars.) A +p 9mm in a 4.5″ – 5′ barrel will spit out 425 – 450 lbs./ft. of energy as compared to the standard 230gr. @ 850fps load making 369 lbs./ft. out of a 5 inch 1911. The hotter standard pressure loads get you close and the +p .45 loads will get you a little ahead, but then I can carry a Beretta 92fs loaded with 18 rounds of 9mm that’s about the same weight loaded as a 1911 is empty and other than a tad thicker in the grip, the same size.

    On the other hand there are a lot of really nice 1911s on the market and if you’d prefer to carry something classic and shiny, I have no issue with that. Very few gunfights last longer than 8 rounds anyway. Personally I’m not a big fan of cocked and locked, mostly because I’ve found that safeties, especially ambidextrous safeties can accidentally be knocked off safe. Which is also a reason to keep weapons with safeties on safe and practice disengaging them because under stress it may take several seconds to figure out that your safety got bumped on. Anyway if you like 1911s have at it. If weight and concealablity weren’t issues I’d probably carry my .44mag Blackhawk. Just something about a BFR.

    • Point taken but there is more to lethality than just foot lbs. The 45 ACP cause more tissue damage which gives it a much higher lethality. For a given velocity, and it is particularly true for pistol velocities, mass is king.

      • Shot placement is the king, mass is just another consideration. Mass is only effective when it’s in the right place, unless we are going to add long guns to equation, then velocity does hold more sway, 150gr .308 > 230gr .45 acp.

        Nothing wrong with the .45 acp, but it’s still just another low powered, pistol round.

        • Good shot placement is not independent of other factors like mass and caliber. A 500 S&W has a much larger “good shot placement area” then a 22lr.

          I wasn’t very clear in my statement about mass. Long gun velocities are in a different regime for lethality then pistols. I should have stated that.

      • If velocities were the same the 230gr. bullet would have twice the energy of the 115gr. However velocity increases energy exponentially.

        If two bullets encounter flesh and penetrate to the same depth, the one with the more energy will do the most damage. Consider the damage a 55gr. bullet can inflict when traveling at 3000fps. The limiting factor is that if a bullet over-penetrates it will carry a portion of it’s energy on to other non-targets inflicting damage elsewhere. 9mm and .45acp are different ways to accomplish nearly identical results. The variations between rounds with each caliber are more than any inherent advantage of one caliber over the other. A 230gr. at 820fps just won’t inflict the damage of a 124gr. at 1250fps. Of course a 200gr (.45) slug at 1100fps tops them both.

        • You are vaguely right. It the total amount of energy dumped into the body that matters. 9mm FMJ has a lot more retained energy than a 45 FMJ. Most JHPs will expand and dump all their energy into the body. However, you still get more tissue damage with the larger round. That makes it more lethal. Shootingthebull explained that one well in his video on the RIP round.

        • Just to touch on some of the finer points, in addition to the energy of a bullet raising exponentially with velocity, so too does wind and flesh resistance. One effect is that if you take a 115gr 9mm and a 230gr .45 and launch them at equal energies the 9mm will decelerate faster and have less energy at 50 yards. Another is that as the bullets encounter flesh, the flesh has less time to get out of the way of the faster bullet and that energy will pushed outward, so all else being equal the slower bullet will penetrate deeper but temporary stretch cavity will be wider with the faster one. Also, heavier bullets tend to take more energy to expand their hollow points, so in many cases the expanded sizes are quite similar.

          True, a 5% difference in energy does not necessarily mean a more lethal bullet but when it’s a 25% difference that become pretty significant. Anyway, I wasn’t making the claim that 9mm was better in any way except it’s economical use of space and weight (and while I’m at it dollars).

    • It really shows your ignorance if you think a 1911 carried in condition 1 is any less than a striker fired pistol without a safety. Arguably, even in condition 0 the 1911 is just as safe as a striker fired pistol without a safety.

        • So am I (fan of safeties).

          Engage safety, holster 1911A1, and disengage safety. Unlike all those Glocks on Utube.

        • You can brain fart on disengaging the safety, I’ve done that, with long guns and pistols.

          I’ve had so much adrenaline that I disengaged the safety while still raising my weapon on target, simply because I knew I wanted to shoot, but my finger off the trigger kept the weapons from going bang before I was ready.

          Hell, I was checking out my buddy’s new 1911 not too long ago and accidentally disengaged the safety because I used a thumbs forward grip out of habit, finger off the trigger and muzzle awareness ruled the day.

  50. Eh. I’ll stick to my CZs for my alloy frame needs. Tried the 1911 and it just didnt do anything my CZ 97B couldnt do as good or better.

  51. I have never, in hundreds if not thousands of rounds, experienced a failure with my series 70 colt. I would argue that a quality 1911, built to gi specs, will treat its owner right, provided the owner likewise takes care of it. That said, I’ve managed squeeze failures out of my AK on occasion ; a firearm famed for its reliability. Sometimes, an angel just comes along and pisses in the lock of your musket, I suppose.

  52. If you’re so desperate for page views that you have to resort to topics like this, then I might just have to stop reading this site and stick to Ammoland and other reputable RKBA sources. Isn’t this really a question that trolls ask on gun forums? I’m surprised you didn’t post a link to James Yeager’s rant on YouTube, or Rob Pincus’ similar rant on sub-compact 1911’s. This topic has been beat to death without any resolution.

  53. For every day civilian life, and even home defense, the wheel gun seems a very practical choice. Point and pull, easy to clean, and if you need more than 5-6 shots in a legal self defense situation, you’re really in trouble anyway. Not as sexy as the semi-autos, but can’t see the downside.

    • Wouldn’t the downside be not having those extra rounds? Odds are good you would not need them, but odds are good you’ll be dead if you do and they aren’t there.

  54. No love for the 1911 here. Why bother with a pistol that consistently fails when there are lots of other pistols that consistently perform properly? I really believe the 1911 is as popular as it is because so many people love to tinker with their guns and they love the challenge of trying to get the 1911 to work right. And there are so many pieces in the silly thing to play with…tinkerers love stuff like that.

    Capacity doesn’t bother me. Eight or nine shots with a few reloads is more than sufficient for any foreseeable purpose I might encounter. And I like me some .45 ACP as well.

    But, c’mon, guys. Who can love a gun that needs 10 parts just for the grip panels?

    (It’s really a gun I sort of admire but it’s not a gun I will ever use or own again.)

  55. I’ve owned 3 1911s (Springfield Range Officer .45 ACP that I sold, Dan Wesson Guardian .45 ACP that I love, and an STI Trojan 9mm that I love and compete with) and none have ever had a failure or malfunction of any kind. The only hiccup any of them have ever had is that the Dan Wesson doesn’t like to eject some longer loaded rounds. That particular gun doesn’t have the forward part of the ejection port relieved to help with this. Common 1911 issue and my only real beef with the platform.

    I love the 1911 format for it’s good looks, amazing trigger, historic appeal, customizability, vast options available on the market, slim profile, feeling of quality, and recoil taming weight in steel frame versions. Most of these are things my Glocks and other more modern handguns can’t replicate.

  56. A Colt Government Model was the first pistol my dad taught me to shoot when I was about 12 years old. I have always revered the rich history of the 1911, the 45 ACP cartridge and the timeliness of Browning’s design. When I got older, I purchased a Kimber Ultra II for carry purposes, mainly because of my loyalty to the iconic design along with its accuracy, reliability (provided it is well maintained and lubricated) and simplicity of use. Just can’t beat the single action trigger.

    Over time, my enthusiasm for the 1911 has waned. Later, I discovered that the Sig Sauer P220 SAO was what the 1911 should have evolved into, with its simple design, single-action trigger, thumb safety, easy take down and great out-of-the box accuracy. However, I found that even the P220 with a single-action trigger had been eclipsed by modern offerings from Glock and especially H&K.

    My new favorite 45 ACP handgun is the HK45 Tactical (or non-tactical) with the Law Enforcement Modification (LEM) trigger. It holds 10 rounds, which is as much as the P220 SAO with an extended magazine, and is chambered of course in the venerable 45 ACP cartridge.

    Why the LEM trigger? Simplicity, and you get all the benefits of a very light double-action first pull coupled with the accuracy benefits of a single-action. No more long, hard and difficult first pull of a traditional DA/SA trigger. Also, the LEM trigger option provides “second-strike” capability, something the 1911 does not have.

    Where the HK45 really shines is in ergonomics, accuracy and weight. Even though it is a full-size duty handgun, I find the HK45 very easy to carry due to its light weight and thin design. The grip is incredibly comfortable and no doubt partially responsible for the low felt recoil. I find the recoil from the HK45 no more offensive than shooting +P self defense loads from a Glock 17.

    Some may say that the o-ring on the barrel, which helps improve accuracy by allowing for a tighter lock-up between the barrel and the slide, is a problem. I can say that even without the o-ring the HK45 is plenty accurate, but just not as pin-point as can be achieved with it.

    It is a bit costly, with current prices around the $1200 price point for a Tactical version with threaded barrel, tritium night sights and LEM trigger pack. However, in this market where custom 1911’s cost upwards of $2,000, the HK45 seems like a downright bargain. Extra magazines are outrageously expensive, and for now no one is making an extended 14-round magazine. There are holster options, but not as many as for the 1911.

    To me, those downsides are nowhere close to being deal-breakers. After nearly 800 rounds from the first to the last using different loads, bullets and brands, I have not experienced one malfunction.

    I am no H&K fanboy, having moved from Colt to Sig, Glock and now H&K. I simply look at guns like tools. I loved my old corded electric drill compared to my dad’s old hand drill, but I gave it away when cordless came around. Later, I traded in my cordless drill for one powered by extended-life Lithium batteries. When a gun made from superior materials, design and performance comes around, I simply recognize it and use it. Oh by the way, I still have my Sigs and Glocks!

    In my view, the HK45 is the next incarnation of the 1911. The 1911 is dead! Long live the 1911!

  57. Google “Caracal recall”, “XD recall”, “M&P recall”, “SR9 recall” and “Glock recall” and tell me again if I trust a 1911.

  58. Not a 1911 fan here. It’s a great platform, but it’s a great old platform. It was designed to be rugged, saftied (I made up that word) to a fare-thee-well so that farmboys in uniforms — experts with rifles — wouldn’t be shooting off their own balls with their first handgun.

    The same farmboys could repair a tractor with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers, so they could figure out how to maintain the pistol while carrying it in a holster with a flap to keep out the crud of battle.

    It’s also chambered for a big, slooooow round with a lot of mass, which was perfect for shooting half-naked, hopped-up Moros.

    Now it’s 100 years later. For range work, sure, go with a 1911. For collecting purposes, what could be better than a battle-carried original M1911? For open carry, well, it’s your choice, but why not? For concealed carry, the 1911 is too big, too heavy by half a pound and too finicky with HP ammo.

    YMMV.

    Most 1911 problems, aside from HP problems, are really 1911 magazine problems. If the pistol didn’t work, it would not have lasted for over a century.

    • Most semi-auto feeding problems are magazine problems, almost without regard to the type/make/model of semi-auto. This holds true even for tube-magazine semi-auto rifles, in my limited experience with them.

      How the cartridge is presented to the chamber makes a critical difference.

        • It can also be an issue if you use the wrong powder for a gas-operated gun, or you change the recoil spring on a recoiling semi-auto.

          There’s a very intricate interaction going on in semi-autos, which is why for my money, my bedside gun is a S&W revolver in .45 Colt. I like big, fat bullets and I like a gun where I don’t have to think about “tap-rack-bang” nonsense. I just keep pulling until the noise stops.

          Simplicity. It’s a beautiful thing.

  59. ANY mechanical device can malfunction, including your beloved Glocks and the ill-fated Jackal, Civit Cat, oh – Caracal, that was it.

    In the pistol classes I’ve taken, the instructor never told the Glock owners to take a rest while he drilled the 1911 owners (which would include me) in stoppage drills. By making the inane statement that your 1911 WILL fail, are you somehow failing to recognize that your plastic pistol de jour will also fail? Is it going to come as a big surprise if your Glock fails to eject, or will you just tap,rack, roll and get on with business?

    I carry 1911s of various brands and sizes, XDs of various flavors, a Steyr now and again, and even a few wheelguns. Any of them could quit at any time – so I train for that.

    • So, 1911′s are bad because the design is old but you have no issues carrying a cartridge introduced in 1902?

      No one is saying that. They are saying that in the last hundred years better (less finicky) designs have come out.

      Some are going so far as to say that 1911s are bad because they are bad. Given the number of times I see people clearing 1911 jams vs. Glock/Sig/CZ/Beretta/H&K/S&W jams I am at least initially inclined to agree.

      However, it IS true that most 1911s are being *misbuilt* and *misused* today; they aren’t being built to spec (too tight) and/or they are being fed hollowpoints. They work better when properly built and fed.

      But then you run into the last issue: with a whopping 7+1 in a large package, you get all the minuses of a tiny pocket gun without any of its plusses.

  60. Any gun can fail, the only reason it’s not “worth it” for me to carry a 1911 is the thing weighs a freaking ton and makes my pants sag. I love my RIA 1911 for shooting at the range and adorning my nightstand from time to time, but it’s inconvenient for a dude with a slender frame to schlep one around every day. The same can be said about my S&W 686, Glock 19 and 17, CZ-75s, SIG 228 and 92F…

    I often find my G26 to be too cumbersome. It might be that I’m just not hardcore enough. I feel that an EDC should be unnoticeable both to the person carrying it and the public. I don’t like making lifestyle changes to accommodate a handgun. In fact, I recently bought an NAA Pug to carry in my pocket on days when I really don’t feel like carrying an extra 2+ lbs of gun around.

  61. All pistols are mechanical, and all mechanical things fail. How about we stop the nonsensical brand war and just accept that all things have their place, benefits, and downfalls.

  62. 1. The government (ie, GI) 1911’s were not “hand-fit.” The parts were made in mass production on manual machines with lots of fixtures, jigs and fitments. So were 1903 Springfields, Winchester Model 12 shotguns, and S&W revolvers – as well as most everything else machined in those days.

    The higher quality civilian market 1911’s might have had some hand-fitting, as well as better finish, but the government levels of arms production left no room for the sort of match-grade hand-fitting that people associate with 1911’s today. The parts were made to tolerances/allowances that made the gun work and made the manufacturing churn along at a pretty nice clip. This latter point required the looser tolerances, because tooling would wear, and if you’re replacing your tooling too frequently to maintain sizes, you’re spending a lot of money you might need to if you loosen things up a bit.

    One of the things that most people don’t realize about CNC machines is that I, as a machinist or operator, can program a CNC machine to adjust the tool offset as the tooling wears. If I re-sharpen an end mill (for example), I can measure the now-undersized end mill, put that into the tool library spreadsheet on the controller and the machine will adjust the cutter offset to produce the same size results on the workpiece. If I keep re-grinding a 0.500″ diameter end mill down to (eg) 0.430 diameter, I just tell the machine “this is a four-flute endmill, 0.430 in diameter” and the CNC controller will compensate everything for me. I don’t need to change the program at all.

    Furthermore, I can tell the machine to adjust itself as it warms up. I can adjust the machine’s movement calibration as the machine wears. In short, I can, with proper records-keeping and programming, make a CNC machine get mileage out of tooling and machines that we never used to be able to achieve when we (the US) were making guns on manual machines with fixed-dimension fixtures.

    In Ye Olde Days, the common method of making anything requiring machining in large numbers was the “long row of machines, each doing one operation.” eg You’d have a row of mills, each with one fixture on it that might hold a half-dozen pieces to be machined. The mill would have specialized cutters and tooling, and the man at that one mill would do the same operation on batch after batch of a half-dozen parts, day in, day out. When the tooling wore down, the tool and die man would either re-grind the tool or supply a new tool. There was no insertable carbide tooling back then – the specialized tooling was all made from ground high speed steel blanks, and these specialized form and profile cutters could be quite an investment in and of themselves.

    The parts would flow through the shop, going from machine to machine as various operations needed to be done. If you tried to achieve today’s level of tolerances/allowances on a 1911 100 years ago, you’d slow the production down to a crawl, as you’d have to check every part that came off, and to achieve today’s level of accuracy in measurement, you’d have to allow the parts to cool off, then take them into the temperature-controlled metrology lab and start sampling. Back then, they figured out what level of size variance would happen in the normal course of machining and they’d design that in. Hell, it wasn’t until the 1903 Springfield blew up a few times that heat treating was done in an oven with a thermometer – before that, it was done by eye. “Yep, that looks to be hot enough before we quench it…” didn’t have good repeatability from cloudy days to sunny days, it was found.

    The other thing that most people don’t realize about gun production is how important these fixtures, jigs and fitments were to manual-machine production of goods 100 years ago. To give an example, when Winchester finalized the Model 12 shotgun design, they spent over a year and something like $1.4 million (this was back before WWI) for making custom fixtures, jigs and tooling to make ready to produce the Model 12. That would be over $10 million today. For $10 million, I can buy a snootful of CNC machines that will remove the need for much of this fixture/jig/fitment manufacture, as well as reduce the overall number of machines in the shop. Modern tooling removes another huge input cost that used to happen in production.

    2. As a result, typical 1911 accuracy “out of the box) with 230gr ball was, oh, 4″+ at 25 yards, maybe 5″ as things wore with usage. For combat usage, that was just fine. No one was going to try picking off an enemy combatant at 100 yards with a 1911, that’s what rifles and carbines were for. Once the bowling pin guys started tightening up 1911’s, and it was found that you could actually achieve a 2” group with a 1911… everyone wanted to do “just a little better…” and here we are today.

    3. Today, everyone seems to want to run everything tight. Everyone is obsessed with accuracy, which is a fine thing, but with accuracy achieved through tight fits, comes reliability problems, and not just in pistols. eg, you could conceivably go hunting with a modern benchrest rifle. But, you’d probably be able to do so only if you loaded it at home, put on the safety and didn’t open the bolt until your deer/elk/etc was down. The tolerances are so tight in some bench guns now that the smallest bit of dirt in that action will bind them up pretty tightly.

    Are they accurate? Oh yea. There are modern bench rifles that can throw down groups of 0.050″ at 100 yards, with repetition.

    Are they “reliable?” Hell no. They’re meant for a pampered life on the covered bench firing line, being attended to and pampered like a fussy child.

    • Regarding accuracy, at Bullseye matches I only see folks shooting 1911s for the “45” leg. Is the 1911 the best for some reason for achieving 50 yard accuracy?

    • DG, I enjoyed this comment. Thanks for taking the time to provide a picture of the early factory and a description of the CAM periodic adjustments.

  63. I would say the problem here is the use of the term 1911.

    There are 1911’s and there are 1911’s. I personally own several dozen of them. In just about every caliber they can possibly be chambered in. From probably 20 different normal manufacturers(i.e. Kimber, Colt, S&W, SA, etc.); plus some of the high end custom ones and some home built ones. Some work 100%, some don’t.

    Here is the thing. They are not all the same gun, even if we are talking about just the .45acp ones. Heck even if we say Colt 1911 in .45ACP, they are not all the same. There are different generations and different internals.

    You can’t really compare 1911 to a Glock. You could to an extent compare Springfield Armory such an such model 1911 to a Glock. Now we are talking about two specific manufacturers and specific models and can compare that reliability more fairly.

    It’s lazy to say is a 1911 worth it, you have to be a whole lot more specific than that. If someone really likes the look, feel, trigger, etc. of the 1911, they can absolutely find one that is as reliable as any other firearm out there. They may have to do some research and may even have to try a few different makes and models, but they can. It can still be “worth it.” Especially since there is just nothing like the trigger on a 1911. 🙂

    • Exactly so. The term “1911” now refers to a whole host of products, much as “PC” now refers to a slew of products that sometimes only faintly resemble a PC.

      PC’s are notorious for widely varying results in terms of price, reliability and usability. But they’re all called “PC’s.”

      The Glock is a lot more like the Apple Mac: It is made by one company, who controls the design, doesn’t license it and controls all the update issues as well.

  64. I’m still waiting for my my 16 year old “series 1” Gold Match or 12 year old light weight CCO to fail to feed or function, really. These two unmodified 1911s are my carry, competition, and recreation firearms and are counted on to protect my family.

    The article question is contemptible

  65. I am not sure I can figure out the purpose of the post. Is it to drool over Hilton Yam’s knowledge of the 1911, the gun, or what?

  66. Springfield Armory Mil Spec with Chip McCormick 8 round mags for my duty pistol, Kimber Ultra Carry II (2007 production) as my off duty, and Rock Island as my plinker. They all work all the time, every time. Sure, the 1911 is a dinosaur but so am I. Its what I learned to shoot with back in the days when Nixon was president.

    Confidence with a handgun exists on two levels – you have to be confident that the weapon will work and you have to be confident that you can hit the target. All of my pistols work with commercial ball, handloaded ball and hollow points and even the dreaded Hornady hollow points. The grips fit my somewhat arthritic old hands and I can hit the target. I like to see big holes in the target.

    So I will carry my old dinosaur pistol and if this tired old man ever gets in a gunfight I think that I will do okay. As far as the rest of these arguments go, you shoot what you want. Just leave me alone.

    Be safe

  67. Hello, GOD here. I carry a 1911. Rounds of infinity. Never a malfunction. Made by Hilton Yam. Your credentials are what? Cannot find them in the Good Book.

  68. When I bought my very first pistol, a 5906 Smith&Wesson, I reasoned it was the best gun to have because the magazines said so and the Illinois State Police carried them (at the time). Problem was, I couldn’t shoot it for sh!t. Nor a Sigma, or a Glock. Then I bought my first Kimber 1911. The damn thing fight my hand right. The trigger was very good. I could shoot it. You can debate the reliability factor versus a Glock or whatever, and you would probably be right. But my 1911’s work. The design is still here, 100 years and then some later. There has to be a reason why.

  69. Oh, boy….. R.F. has a death wish daring even to ask if it is worth it.

    : )

    I am not a 1911 fanatic by any means, but I honestly think any gun lover must have one in his collection. My first handgun was a Springfield Loaded 1911 which I stupidly purchased on a sort of whim, not really understanding much about 1911s. I dumped the stupid Springfield ILS locking junk, replaced the mainspring housing, backstrap, customized the trigger, got rid of the silly two piece guide rod system requiring me to use an allen wrench to take it down.

    I keep it nice and clean and have fun shooting it a few times a year.

    It is just a joy to use, nothing like a 1911 and nothing better than a well tuned 1911 trigger.

    • Dang! I did lie earlier calling my Kimber unmodified: I did get rid of the ridiculous full length recoil guide an put on an arched main spring housing. I change the recoil spring when it occurs to me.

      Lets see, a bit of testing with a Clark .460 Rowland and kimber .22 conversions. 10,000s of standard .45 jhps and thousands of +Ps. Three 8 rd mags of 230 +P HST sit with a full 9 rounds cocked and locked accurate and precise $900 1911 that has never failed.

      It is on safe without being stuck in the the hideous big and slow safety any glock requires – its holster.

      This is not the first time R.F.has insulted a large percentage of his readership with this stupid question. I guess online magazines have their out of touch, elitest writers too.

  70. Gotta love the Kimber bashing going on here.

    I’ve owned a cheap Kimber Custom II for about 11 years now. Only 1 FTF, in about 11000 rounds, including JHP. I keep the gun clean and oiled. You know the old saying: there are two enemies of firearms, politicians and rust.

  71. Any weapon CAN fail, the fact is most any well cared for weapon wont fail on the first round. Therefore if you are really concerned, practice your tactics and strategy so you save your ass with the first round you fire. Then you dont have to worry if your second or 50th round doesnt work.

  72. If your 1911 runs good, I don’t think it has any more of a chance of failing than any other well-functioning pistol.

    Oh, and it’s not a matter of if, but when, ALL guns will malfunction. I watched an inexperienced female shooter suffer malfunction after malfunction with my G17 and a G19. She had no issues firing my 1911. Was the shooter the problem? Sure. However, whatever she wasn’t doing right, my 1911 didn’t care.

      • Interesting how all the 1911 fanboys posting here have never had a 1911 jam. Either you are all lying or 1911s are completely reliable. And I know you guys would never lie on the internet. Because 1911s NEVER jam like Smuckers, they just run and run, in all conditions, year after year, with any ammo, no matter how hard you try to get it to jam. Because 1911s were created on the 8th day and all that.

        • Apparently you missed the earlier posts regarding Sig 1911s, especially the ones about the Scorpion model. That’s okay, other people just skim and comment too…

  73. So…basically Zimmerman still didn’t do a mea culpa to the exponentially more experienced shooters at Hilton Yam/Tim Lau’s MSW 10-8 Performance crew, on his overzealous 1911 fanboy-dom vs… actual SWAT operators who have eons of more real world 1911 experience, who actually had the ‘gall’ to recommend, gasp: most people NOT carry it!

    omg! omg! omg! he only recommended that based on his and his buddies’ extensive experience, that people first intimately familiarize themselves with intricacies, to the point of gunsmith-dom, before deciding to depend one’s life on them. OMG! that’s so evvvvilllll!

    Mea Culpa. It’d be the adult thing to do, Zimms.

  74. It’s interesting that the malfunction showed on the post pic is a “vertical stove pipe”. This is a very common malfunction in the FTE category for all auto pistols, not just the 1911. I have even seen them in movies.

    Why does it happen? Well, there a number of causes. In a perfect world, with a clean, lubricated 1911, and in the hands of an experienced shooter, with prime ammunition, the fault is in the extractor tension. The extractor needs to be replaced.

    That’s the short story in a perfect world.

    However, this type of FTE is quite common with all auto pistols. The most common cause is operator error, as in “limp wristing”. With that kind of stove pipe the slide “fast cycles” and catches the round before it has time to exit. This happens because there is not enough counter recoil pressure applied to the gun so the slide never reaches the end of its cycle and starts going forward before the case clears.

    The lower the mass of the gun in relation to its caliber, the easier it “limp wrists” – that much should be pretty obvious. This is why GLOCKS put out some impressive stove pipes because they have less mass while using snappy calibers like the .40 S&W. The more mass on a handgun, the harder it is to stove pipe one by limp wristing.

    It can still happen for other reasons. Another one is a dirty chamber. A dirty chamber makes extraction more difficult because of friction. If the extractor spring tension is just so-so, the gun will stove pipe because the extractor will let go the brass. Still another one is a too strong recoil spring. Again the slide “fast cycles”, the gun gets out of timing and the slide moving forward catches the the brass before it clears.

    Auto pistols are not cell phones. Cell phones have no moving parts per se. Auto pistols are very intricate spring and explosive driven machines with lighting speed movements and critically delicate timings between all the moving parts. They all demand attention to maintenance and proper operating form. To me it’s a miracle that they even work at all and this alone is a testament to the ingenuity of the people that first brought them into existence.

  75. All weapons malfunction, nobody can argue that. But people can talk all day about how they gun of choice has fired so many rounds without problem, and yet the other guys gun always jams. But how about we talk about the fact that 1911s force you to use the gun in a certain way more than any other firearm. A grip and thumb safety. Look around for pics of CAG guys who were still running 1911s in Iraq before they did they mass exodus to glock, you typically see the guys rocking either taped or zip tied grip safety’s. Even with that it still forces you to have complete function of your hand to disengage the safety. People always talk about muscle memory and how many reps they have done to get something down, but don’t recognize the fact that if you are pulling a pistol everything has gone wrong and you are typically on defense. As a guy who has suffered through a couple TBIs, I can tell you, you want as little steps as possible to fire your gun in a shit hit the fan moment. I personally know of quite a few lives that have been saved from having a pistol that didn’t have a manual safety, either from taking multiple rounds through the door, or blast and frag from a explosion and having to work a pistol with a injured arm and hand.

    • I concur. You need thumbs to shoot a handgun. Any handgun, I think. Grip safety is a anacronism perhaps. Disable it.

      And buckaroo, I get your point. However these two pistols have seen very heavy useage, throigh some very troubled times. I use good and mags and use good springs. Question my
      integrity ig it humors you – humor is a good thing. These two specific 1911s have performed as I have reported.

      No firearm has failed as much or have been as flawed as the Glock fanboys spew.

      Nelson, ill try to let a century of U.S. vetrans know how lucky they were to survive using a weapon they just couldn’t hope to understand

      • Were you drunk when you typed that cause that is cool if you are. And you shouldn’t have to need thumbs to use a pistol in a emergency, that is my point. I personally know of one individual who is alive only cause his pistol didn’t use a manual safety. Went into a room, room went loud, and had to cross draw and fire his pistol holding it upside down using three fingers not including his thumb. People never contemplate having to use their pistol if injured, or physically disoriented from a blast or blow to the head. Pistols are a shit hit the fan weapon, cause if you were planning to get in a gun fight you would have brought a rifle at the least. But people never plan for what happens if they get shot or injured first.

  76. Are you a history fan or have a family connection to the gun (grand pappy carried one 80 years ago)?

    No?

    Then a 1911 isn’t for you.

    Go get a Glock, HK, Walther, CZ, or M&P.

    For an implement of war designed by the Gods and put into the hands of mere Earthly mortals, there sure is a lot of time devoted to defending its problems.

    There’s a reason why we’re not driving Model T’s or using the telegraph to send messages…..technology has advanced. Stop using an antique as a sidearm.

    • The AR was designed 50 years ago. By any reasonable standards that is an antique. Why would you want to own one? How about a Winchester Model 70? It”s basically a Mauser 98. Who would want to use a 100 year old technology? Don’t get me started on lever guns. That’s Civil War technology that is just a step above a musket.

      Get a clue guns are an old technology. Not much has changed in over a century. You think a Glock is new technology? The striker concept predates the 1911. I think the Beretta FS 92 was first gun to use the modular take down system. Wow, it’s made out of plastic. BFD.

      • Or any of the John Browning designed Winchester lever action rifles, all of which, as far as I can tell, are manufactured by someone, even if that someone is Italian or Japanese. And all of the Browning designs were stronger than the 1876 Centennial rifle his designs replaced, and THAT rifle is still being produced. Pump action rifles (and shotguns I am sure) go back to the nineteenth century as well, yet they are still reliable and still produced. The need for reliable firearms, and the production of arms to meet that need, is ancient. Old does NOT mean obsolete.

        • Right off the top of my head the first pump action shotgun was put into production by Spencer. Sometime in the mid 1870’s to 1880.

  77. I carry a Springfield 1911 that I’ve had for 20 years. It started not locking up after 2 magazines through it last week. I replaced the recoil spring and it works just fine. Granted I don’t shoot but a couple of times a month and always use ball ammo, but it’s been reliable for twenty years. If it ain’t broke …

  78. While any weapon can fail I haven’t had a 1911 fail in over 20 years. I’ve seen plenty of revolvers locked up tight though.

  79. My summer carry is a RIA 1911 CS 9mm, and it runs fine. My sweatshirt/coat carry is a RIA 1911 10mm or a EAA Match 10mm. All guns fail, and none of mine have ever failed enough for me not to trust my life to them.

    The only gun I have ever owned that I didn’t trust was one I bought as an emergency gun I was gonna bury in a capsule in the back yard… a HiPoint. That gun was sold and replaced with a used Gen 2 GLOCK brand GLOCK 17 that I bought broken and frankengun’d to life with used parts. $250 total and I’m satisfied with its performance.

  80. Truer words were never spoken.

    Time to bury these antique POS has-beens and get something more modern and reliable.

    Like a Glock.

  81. Most ignorant post ever, Robert. And what the HELL is an “horizontal stovepipe”?

    Envision, if you will, a “horizontal chimney”.

  82. I am very pleased to have read your troll article. Had I not I would have never known that only a 1911 can fail. If only I had this information 25 years ago.

  83. I’ve owned a Glock .45 (Model 36? Can’t remember) and 1911s. Still own a 1911 and a Colt Officer’s model.

    They are all good guns. They are all more than accurate enough for the intended purpose – who cares about super accuracy when at pistol range good accuracy is good enough.

    The Glock was reliable with ball and the big brand hollow points at the time (Black Talon and Hydrashoks). The 1911 is extremely reliable with ball but doesn’t like hollow points. I don’t carry my 1911 because it is too big, not because there is anything wrong with it. I would trust my life to .45 ball any day – it’s big enough and penetrates enough that stopping all boils down to shot placement.

    Bottom line: the 1911 is still great gun, and if you don’t like ’em, there are lots of other great guns out there. This article is a little silly.

  84. Yep, it’ll fail eventually.

    But I’ve owned a few AK’s that were trash right out of the box. And I saw another perfectly functioning AK break a firing pin. One second it worked, the next it didn’t. The AK is the most reliable design short of a hammer, right?

    So any gun can fail. A Glock is cheaper, but I’d trust a good 1911 just as much.

  85. I have no interest in a 1911 beyond just having another gun. My Kahr is much easier to carry, and my g19 is more simple. My FNX-45 has twice the capacity of a standard 1911. I may own a 1911 once all my children graduate college and I’m just rolling around on piles of money.

  86. I love the history of the 1911, I love the fact it pretty much is the foundation of all modern automatic pistols.
    With that said we have learned plenty since 1911 time to move on.
    Its Heavy, its big its design flaws require you to spend more money to make it a good pistol.
    Its a rich mans range queen and is beautiful to show off when its custom.
    The STI platform fixes just about all the flaws in the 1911 but costs 2 grand for a pistol.
    For PD any modern polymer framed pistol will be more reliable, more affordable and more compact.
    glock ,ruger SR, Springfield XD all run in the 500-700 range and all will still perform just fine after 10,000 rounds

  87. I had a problem with stovepipes when I first got my Colt 1911. My dealer said that it was because my grip on it was the same as when I shoot a revolver. He explained that automatics need a firmer grip. They need the resistance for the slide to function properly. I tightened up my grip and have not had a stovepipe in the past 20 years.

  88. My two main game guns (semi-auto) are a G23 and a S&W 1911. I shoot them about equally and have probably had the same amount of failures (few). Quality hardware of proven design taken care of appropriately doesn’t fail much.

  89. Wow, all the comments about mass produced guns have just about convinced me I need to trade my crappy mass-produced Kimber in on a lovely, precise, hand-fitted Glock!

    Glock advantages:
    Cheap
    Carries about half a case of ammo per magazine
    Goes BANG when you pull the trigger.

    Glock disadvantages:
    Feels awkward
    Long, spongy trigger with no feel
    Doesn’t “feel right” to “point.”
    Generally makes little holes.

    Kimber 1911 advantages:
    Goes BANG when you pull the trigger.
    Short, precise trigger (I started on rifles, with somewhat similar trigger feel.)
    Great “feel”
    Heavy, so not as “wobbly.”
    BIG holes
    Feels like a precision machine not a toy

    Kimber disadvantages:
    $$

    On second thought, I’ll keep the Kimber. YMMV. If we were all the same, there wouldn’t be a need for so many choices.

  90. Pretty good job, Brad.

    While there are other comparisons I would debate give a the advantage to the 1911; thinness and countours for concealability, thumb safety versatility, cheap customizing enhancing individual speed an accuracy- the most accurate single word to describe why the 1911 is “worth it” is precision.

    Precision in speed. Precision in placement. Simple precision in effectivness.

    NYPD shows the strengths and weakness of the Glock. Like the Colt SAA its a equalizer. Any csn afford it, any fool can shoot. Spray and praybis effective and makes the newbie feel competant. Consequently few master if beyond supressive fire”. I choose to try and protect my family by ending the threat or threats. Not by delaying or praying.

    • How does the NYPD showcase the weakness and strengths of the Glock? No matter what gun an officer chooses in NYPD, they’re forced to have the standard NYPD 12lb trigger, even on the Glock, which for anybody else, comes with a 5.5lb consistent trigger pull. Is the problem really the Glock, or the bureaucratically enforced “Safety Weight” of the New York trigger job forced on all of NYPD’s finest?

      • My Glock 30 has the NY-1 trigger. I’ve done a day long training session with it shooting 400-some-odd rounds. My accuracy was OK. One gets used to it. I’m skeptical that a heavy trigger has as much to do with the NYPD’s reputed accuracy problems as factors like training time or maybe just their attitude.

      • Holy cow… I couldn’t shoot a Glock with a 12+ lb. trigger. Nor could I shoot a 1911 with a 12+ lb. trigger. No wonder the NYPD can’t hit anything when they shoot!

        The lovely light precise trigger is my favorite thing about my Kimber. The way it fits my hand is my second favorite thing… but honestly, anything that would be a decent fit and have a trigger feel like a 1911 would be acceptable.

  91. I, for one, learned a lot from this post, especially from comments like Dyspeptic Gunsmith’s. I’ve always loved the 1911, and it’s good to know that an RIA may actually be less of a hassle than a Sig or other “better respected” brand costing 2-3 times as much as long as I stick to a GI and leave well enough alone.

  92. 1911s are nice, personally I carry one here in the states sometimes, but not concealed. I really like the looks of a couple of STI models, especially the tactical 4.0.

  93. Is it worth it? Yes. It’s a beautiful machine, not as plain jane as a generic tool called a Glock, but not that I have anything against Glocks. Browning’s pistol has seen over a hundred years of American history and service in every war. It’s also a very good design as in the trigger, the comfortable ergonomics of the grip angle and single stack thin frame, the thumb safety being right where it should be, all the custom options available, and of course the powerful cartridge. It’s heavy and clunky, but solid, you can whip someone to a pulp and it soaks up recoil. For those that can shoot .45 well and is good with a 1911, this is the gun for you. I think it’s a good choice for those that live in 10 round magazine limit states. I like Colt but most Colts usually don’t come included with tritium sights, match barrel, match trigger, and rail like the Kimber TLEs. Do prefer the original spur hammer over skeletonized, for aesthetic purposes. It was good enough for GIs for over 70 years through two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, and beyond so it’s good enough for me.

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