If you want a 9mm 1911 pistol, but didn’t necessarily want to go whole-hog on a custom gun, you’ll want to start with a decent gun that gives you all the good parts of the 1911 experience. The ergonomics, the trigger system, the capacity and the unbelievably tame recoil of the 9mm round.
Granted, shooting a government frame in .45 ACP isn’t exactly difficult. It’s easy to control and get back on target even with the larger round. But in 9mm? A 1911 9mm is the Baby Town Frolics.
If you asked me what the best 9mm 1911 on the market is right now, I’d tell you it’s the Ruger Custom Shop SR1911 Competition pistol.
It was designed in conjunction with Ruger’s and competitive shooter Doug Koenig. It’s a full-size 5-inch barrel model, with all the bells and whistles. Hand-fit barrel, slide and bushing, adjustable target rear sight and fiber optic front sight, beavertail grip safety, match trigger, hammer and barrel, 25 lpi checkering…everything that you could ask for.
I shot this pistol at SHOT Show. It is, without equivocation, the finest pistol I have ever shot in every single aspect and dimension. I could wax lyrical about it all day (don’t worry, I won’t). I didn’t recognize Doug Koenig standing five feet away from me and he probably thought I was an idiot. So does the comments section, but then again, they never had potential as a varsity athlete.
Unfortunately, Ruger’s Koenig gun also costs $2500 which makes it unaffordable for me and a whole lot of other folks. Same goes for all the Wilson Combat, Nighthawk, Les Baer and Ed Brown guns that I and other 1911 fans lust after.
So…if you can’t go whole-hog on a custom gun, what would be a good buy in the meantime? Here are 7 prime candidates.
A good budget option is the Taurus PT1911 9mm. It’s only offered in their 5-in barrel model (for now) but you get more value for money than you’d expect.
MSRP is a mere $663, but what do you get for that? Upswept beavertail grip safety, ambidextrous thumb safety levers, skeleton trigger and bobbed hammer, Novak sights, front and rear cocking serrations; even checkering on the mainspring housing and grip. It’s got everything and you can pick them up for around $550 retail. A lot of people insist these are the low-key best guns Taurus makes.
Springfield Armory doesn’t make their Mil-Spec model in 9mm, so the point of entry for parabellum is the Range Officer model. You can choose the standard model with target sights or the railed Operator model with combat rear and fiber-optic front sights.
Either way, you get a 5-in barrel, a pair of 9-round magazines, upswept beavertail grip safety, skeleton hammer and trigger, a match barrel and cocobolo wood grips. The standard model lists for $942; going tactical runs an extra $160.
For some folks, only the original will do and that means Colt. Colt makes a number of 9mm 1911 pistols, and here are two worth the look.
First is the Colt Defender in 9mm. Blued steel slide and blued alloy frame, upswept beavertail grip safety though trimmed for concealed carry, with Novak sights, skeleton hammer and trigger, Colt’s dual-captive recoil spring system, wood grips and a 3-inch stainless steel bull barrel. Carry weight is 24 oz, so it’ll be easy shooting for an almost sub-compact 9mm. It;s $999 MSRP is a bit stiff, but few Officer frames in 9mm go for much less than that.
Another Colt 1911 9mm worth getting into is the Competition model in 9mm. It has Colt’s Series 70 trigger system for a smooth, crisp break. Unfortunately, the actual Series 70 model is only offered in .45 ACP, so here we are. That said, it’s no hardship; the Series 70 costs the same amount had has fewer features. (A collet bushing and arched mainspring housing aren’t THAT big a deal.)
Upswept beavertail grip safety, National Match barrel, skeleton trigger and hammer, G10 grips, Novak sights with fiber optic front and the blued model goes for only $899 MSRP. In terms of features vs price paid, that’s pretty darn good, especially from Colt. A stainless steel model can be had for $100 more.
Not a fan of the rampant pony?
The Kimber Pro Carry II is a 4-inch barrel Commander model with upswept beavertail grip safety, skeleton hammer and trigger, wood grips and Kimber’s gorgeous finish. It has a black stainless steel slide and satin silver alloy frame, with low-profile sights. It’s not quite a barbecue gun, but, with an unloaded weight of 28 ounces and with a 9-round magazine, this is a carry gun that cleans up real good. And a heck of a shooter.
If you want to get downright high-falutin’, SIG SAUER makes a number of 9mm 1911 pistols. Their Match Elite Stainless Full Size features a 5-inch match barrel, target sights, upswept beavertail, skeleton match trigger and hammer, 25 lpi checking on the front grip and 20 lpi checking on the mainspring housing for grippiness and a price tag (around $1150) to match. The cool feature is that it has the traditional slide profile, unlike SIG’s other 1911 pistols.
Since I mentioned them, a standard Ruger SR1911 is a great under-the-radar choice of 9mm 1911. They offer 5-in barrel models as well as Commander (4.25-in) and Officer frames, with a 3.5-in barrel. Their Target series includes a 9mm model but I would actually suggest you get the 9mm Lightweight Commander SR1911 instead.
The SR1911 Lightweight Commander has almost all the features you’d want. Upswept beavertail grip safety, skeleton trigger and hammer, a tactical thumb safety, Novak sights and a Series 70 firing system for a smoother, crisper trigger pull. The gun comes with two 9-round magazines, but Wilson and other aftermarket producers make 10-rounders. The aluminum alloy frame brings unloaded weight to 29.3 ounces, light enough for a carry gun. A LWC in 9mm is a ridiculously easy gun to run and it has every feature you could ask for. MSRP is $979, but you can easily find them for less than $800. In terms of features+build quality vs price paid, it’s a slam dunk.
If you’re willing to go just a tad higher in price, the Dan Wesson Vigil Commander. While DW makes a government size model too, the commander size is a little lighter and a better size for carry. The Vigil Commander is an extremely well-made 1911 platform nine with a forged aluminum frame, drift-adjustable rear sight, 25 lpi front and rear checkering. Yes, the MSRP is $1298, but that’s still half the price of a “custom” gun and you can find one for about $1150.
But what do you think? Is there another model that you think should be on this list? Disagree with any of these pistols? Feeling triggered by any of our selections? Let us know!