8 Best 9mm 1911 Pistols To Try Before You Go Custom
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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.

8 Best 9mm 1911 Pistols To Try Before You Go Custom
Ruger Competition. Credit: Ruger.com

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.

8 Best 9mm 1911 Pistols To Try Before You Go Custom
Taurus 1911. Credit: Taurususa.com

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.

8 Best 9mm 1911 Pistols To Try Before You Go Custom
Springfield Armory Range Officer. Credit: Springfield-armory.com

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.

8 Best 9mm 1911 Pistols To Try Before You Go Custom
Colt Defender. Credit: Colt.com

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.

8 Best 9mm 1911 Pistols To Try Before You Go Custom
Colt Competition. Credit: Colt.com

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?

8 Best 9mm 1911 Pistols To Try Before You Go Custom
Kimber Pro Carry II. Credit: Kimberamerica.com

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.

8 Best 9mm 1911 Pistols To Try Before You Go Custom
Sig Sauer Match Elite Stainless. Credit: Sigsauer.com

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.

8 Best 9mm 1911 Pistols To Try Before You Go Custom
Ruger SR1911 LWC. Credit: Ruger.com

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.

8 Best 9mm 1911 Pistols To Try Before You Go Custom
Image courtesy Jason Bayne

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!

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  1. Star BM and BKM, to bad they quit making those. I think if I was going to buy a Colt in 9mm it would be a .38 Super.

      • You ain’t whistlin’ Dixie! Years ago I bought a Star 9MM on a whim (plus it was only $200) and I don’t know if I got lucky or what but this has been one sweet pistol. It’s a tack driver and I’ve never had any problems with it whatsoever. Already having a couple Colts I thought I’d like to have another but there’s no such thing anymore. The guys at my LGS look at me like I’m crazy and tell me, “Good luck finding a Star these days”.

        • There are still a bunch of ex Guardia Civil Star BM pistols out there for around $200. The only downside is a big Century Arms marking on the frame, 2 circular marks where the crests were ground off and very expensive magazines

  2. I say go Hudson H9 with the company now in Chapter 7 you can get one super cheap maybe even as low as $500 in somewhat functional condition!

    • Finish on them is ugly. That being said I have one of the last large rollmark ones. Detailed stripped it and soaked in brake cleaner and then soaked it in cold blue. The combo of the parkirizing and blue looks really good and the rollmark looks like a shadow on it.

    • I have 5 of their 1911s. Best bang for the buck in the 1911 world.
      And yes they are ugly. But why care? They go bang every time.

  3. SA EMP in 9mm – a little pricey, but it comes in two barrel lengths (3″ and 4″) and it functions great out of the box. With a 10-rd mag (I think it comes with three mags), it makes a good carry gun.

    • This is why TTAG is now as bad as buzzfeed. The quality of writing is as bad as it’s ever been.
      Recycling articles? Recommending a Taurus as a best of anything in the market is embarrassing. Sam Hoober thinks you can get a custom 1911 for only $2600? Where?? It’s also obvious that he doesn’t realize Wilson, NH, Les Baker are not custom guns.

  4. I say toss all of the high end name brands. I know I did. All my high end 1911guns are gone.
    All have been replaced with Rock Island Armory 1911s. In one size or another. All under $700 each.

  5. Didn’t read comments last time a similar article was done, but are we still suggesting Springfield?

  6. Similar article? I think it was the same article. Don’t mind a reprint, but let a little time pass. This was just done. And 9mm 1911s are as dumb then as they are now.

    • I feel the same way about 9mm 1911s. There are so many lighter 9mms that have a higher capacity than the guns listed here. There is no way I’d ever carry a 9mm 1911. I understand other people can like stuff that I don’t care about, but these I really don’t care about.

      And to ignore Rock Island is stupid.

      • I get it you live in certain Latin American countries and have to carry .38 Super. They have to. We have a choice for the time being. When the 1911 hit the world they couldn’t get enough of it south of the border. In .45 ACP. They weren’t really interested in 9mm even though Germany was very interested in them. After all, Mexico embraced the Mauser quickly enough. Wonder what Mexico learned from the .45 Colt?

  7. STAR BM, all they need it to be resprung and some better sights… they can be had for 199!

  8. I liked it better when Sam was the acting TTAG fashion Czar and telling us we couldn’t carry with ugly shorts and photojournalist vests.

    • Wilson Combat EDC X9. 15+1 unless you get the 18 round magazine. But that’s only if you like high end customs, I do. For the guy who said 9 mm 1911’s are stupid, if you like 1911’s weather its .45 or 9mm should make no difference, I like all 1911’s and find 9mm 1911’s to be real sweet shooters. Not really sure why you would call them “stupid”. I guess that’s just your opinion.

  9. Really a 1911 in 9mm? I might be dating myself but I carried a issued 1911 (45 ACP everyday when I was in the army, (probably before most of you were born) and while they are a fine weapon, I choose a Glock 9mm any day of the year. For me it’s about reliability, accuracy won’t matter if the it does not go BANG!. Please don’t get me wrong, most 1911’s are nice, they fit your hand, they feel right, but when my life matters, it’s just not for me. Your mileage may vary.

  10. Beware the Taurus…unique rear sight cut and limited/non-existent aftermarket options. Also, 9mm 1911s with the original style extractor can be problematic…you have to bend them to get them out which can relive the tension and lead to FTEs. The Sig with the external extractor is the way to go with 9mm 1911s. Ask me how I know…

  11. Sigh. You guys just don`t get it. Friends don`t let friends shoot..much less own 9mm.
    Time to man up ! 😉

    • Man up ??? Nothing wrong with 9mm, how many Federal law enforcement 9mm HST’s are you willing to take center mass ??? Just sayin.

  12. All sub-caliber hasslin’ aside, 9mm 1911 is a good Steel Challenge gun choice…and if you need more than 10 rounds per string, some practice might be I order!

  13. After this sales piece, you need to follow up with the best 9mm magazines for 1911s. Typically the first round will get hung up and fall out of the magazine when the magazine is removed. Very annoying.

  14. Can’t believe that the Rock Island 1911 9mm didn’t get a nod…one of the best, outa’ th’ box triggers you’ll find.

  15. The Springer EMP4CC is an awesome 9mm in a commander size format. It is guaranteed to put a smile on your face when you shoot it. 135 grain pills shoot best.

  16. Why oh why does Dan Wesson insist on putting an ugly Stainless Steel barrel bushing on a black gun? Seriously. It looks horrible.

  17. Just bought Rock Island in 9MM,paid 368.00 for it,, not a bad deal,,also have one in 38 Super that I like quite a bit,,really think that they are the best bang for the buck out there!!

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