Courtesy Brad Kozak
Previous Post
Next Post

I got interested in handguns relatively late in life. My interest was driven by a desire to be ready, willing and able to defend myself and my family, in case trouble comes. Now I am, by nature, an analytical person. I tend to study, gather information, read a lot, ask a lot of questions, and only then, when I feel like I’m at least a little knowledgeable, do I make a buying decision.

Well, that’s how I see myself doing it. The truth is, my decisions are often influenced by other factors, and then I draw my “logical” conclusions to justify an emotional decision I’ve made. I am not alone in this. If it weren’t for this kind of decision-making, I’d be out of a day job, because marketing and advertising wouldn’t work.

When I began thinking about what gun I wanted to buy, all sorts of new terms came into my decision-making process. Revolver. Pistol. Single action. Double action. Magazine capacity. External versus internal extractor. Caliber. Everyday carry.

As I began wading through volumes of information, reviews, opinions, and such. I got an earful of the seemingly timeless debate over the stopping power of the venerable .45 ACP cartridge, versus the 9mm Parabellum, the new(ish) .40 Smith & Wesson, the .380 ACP, et cetera. I also dove into the Ford vs. Chevy vs. RAM-style conflict between fans the more traditional guns with metal frames versus the polymer frame guns from manufacturers like GLOCK.

There are a lot of fanboyz out there in the firearms world and they are passionate about their handguns. Faced with this dizzying array of features, specifications and impassioned opinions on all sides of each issue, I fell back into a time-honored axiom: “If it was good enough for my father, it’s good enough for me.”

1911 A1 .45 ACP
Nick Leghorn for TTAG

So I made my buying decision based on the sidearm he carried in WWII (a battle fought over 50 years ago). Yep. I chose the M1911-A1, a.k.a. “Colt 45” or “Colt government” semi-automatic pistol, originally designed by John Moses Browning. When the US Military standardized on it (in 1911) it was considered a cutting-edge marvel of modern engineering.

It felt good in my hand. It was solid. Traditional. A classic. It was also heavy as Hell. Carrying around a full-size, all-steel 1911 with a steel frame and a 5″ barrel was not for the faint-of-heart. It was also no small feat to carry it concealed at a time when Texas did not offer an option to open carry.

Kimber Pro Carry II
Courtesy Kimber

It didn’t take long, before I decided to replace that weapon with another, a Kimber 1911, “Commander” sized, with an aluminum frame, Crimson Trace laser grips, and a barrel an inch shorter than the full-size 1911. It was lighter. Ish.

If you’re not familiar, owning a 1911 (compared to other semi-auto weapon designs) is rather like having an elderly (yet still sharp as a tack), aunt live with you. They have special dietary needs, certain set-in-their-ways of doing things, and you have to jump through some otherwise-unnecessary hoops in order to keep them around.

Some need a special tool to field-strip it. I opted to make a “bull barrel” mod to mine, which allowed me to forgo the tool, and replace it with a paperclip.

Still, field stripping a 1911 is a fairly labor-intensive, time-consuming process, especially when compared to field stripping a polymer gun. (I defy any 1911 aficionado to field strip their weapon faster than even a novice can take down a GLOCK.) Still I soldiered on in the 1911 loyalist camp.

Now you need to understand, a 1911 can hold up to eight rounds in the magazine, with another in the pipe. Your average equivalent-sized polymer gun has a double-stack magazine that will hold somewhere between 15 and 20 rounds, depending on the caliber. Ah yes…the caliber.

I bought into the claim that the .45 ACP cartridge simply has more “stopping power” than the 9mm. It’s a physics thing. I didn’t understand, at least not all the particulars. But it sounded good and macho. The .45 ACP – a big, slow bullet – knocks down bad guys and they don’t get up. The 9mm Parabellum – a faster, smaller bullet – needed many holes in bad guys to stop them. Ugh.

Well, as it turns out, that’s not entirely true. First of all, if you put a carefully placed additional hole in a human body, it is guaranteed to give them pause, and done correctly, it is likely to set them well on their way to assuming room temperature for the foreseeable future.

A .22LR round (largely dismissed as a “plinker” gun for varmint shooting or target practice) will kill a man just as dead as a round from a large-caliber handgun, if the bullet goes through the heart or brain. It may take longer, but the dirt nap they’ll take is a certainty. The “stopping power” argument stems from the supposition that the larger the hole, the faster the bleeding, the more damage around the wound channel, and the sooner the bad guy will be joining the bleedin’ choir invisible. But past shot placement, we get into the physical characteristics of the munition.

There’s been a TON of research on this subject, much of it from ammo manufacturers and groups like the NRA. Here’s the TL/DR 50,000-foot view: everything is a trade-off. If you want 15-plus rounds in your gun without reloading and you have average-sized hands, then you’re gonna have to go with a 9mm or smaller round. If you can live with fewer rounds before a reload, the world is your oyster, as far a choice in caliber is concerned. And that’s the argument that got me to thinking about my choice in ‘dream guns.’

I joined a private security firm a few months ago, and stood for a Level III commission as a licensed, private security officer in the Great State of Texas. One of the guys in the group is a…how can I put this delicately…one of those GLOCK fanboyz, who insists that GLOCKs are the only logical choice, and all other pistols — especially a 1911 — are sadly and genetically inferior.

That kind of attitude royally pissesd me off. However, in our training class, he made a logical point. To wit: If you’re in a shootout with one or more perps (and keep in mind, most gun battles last less than one minute) you can assume they have a modern weapon with 15 or more rounds before needing to reload. With a 1911, you have eight, possibly eight plus one. Who do you think has the advantage in that contest?

Wow. Looking at it that way, I had to admit, he had a valid point. This was hammered home when we did our shooting test as part of our qualifications. The test involved shooting five rounds, then another five, then another five. The polymer gun guys could do that one without a reload. Me and my trusty 1911? Not so much.

handgun ammunition ammo
Dan Z. for TTAG

Then there’s the law of marketing inertia. The 9mm cartridge is the NATO standard, used by troops across the globe. It’s also used by a huge number of police departments across the country. The .45 lost out because their size limits the number of rounds you can stuff into a magazine.

The .40 S&W cartridge looked like a “best of both worlds” choice, until the ammo manufacturers turned their attention to improving the characteristics of the 9mm round. And improve it they did. The tech on the 9mm cartridge has gotten so sophisticated that it meets or exceeds all the other standard handgun rounds in performance. So there’s that.

So I decided I needed a duty weapon with a larger capacity than eight rounds. (I know, I could buy extended magazines, but that’s against regulations for the obvious reason that you don’t want a magazine sticking out another six inches from your side.) Now my wife owns a Springfield XD-M, a very nice little handgun. Hers has a short grip/magazine, with an (optional) larger-capacity magazine that adds an inch or so additional grip to the pistol.

I took both the XD-M and my trusty 1911 to the range, to stage my very own “shoot off.” I rented the range’s GLOCK 17, Gen5, just so I could make it a fair test. Full disclosure: I’ve never liked GLOCKs. Didn’t like the angle of the grip, and the whole Cult of GLOCK thing was a real turn-off. I figured a rental gun would be dirty, not sighted-in properly, and generally not in pristine shape…an ideal candidate for me to eliminate it from contention.

At the range, I discovered something surprising. Shooting the XD-M with the short magazine made it harder to control. Much harder. By going from the short to the long mag, I was able to cut my grouping size by about 30%. Impressive.

Then I shot the rental GLOCK. It was…a revelation. My groupings were half the size of the best I could shoot with the XD-M. Twice as tight. And they blew my accuracy with the 1911 out of the water. It was as if I couldn’t miss with the GLOCK.

Okay. Sold. So I ordered a G17, figuring I’d keep my 1911 as my bedroom gun. In accordance with my “it’s not cheating if it means you survive” philosophy, I ordered the MOS version, and promptly equipped it with a Trijicon SRO, Trijicon tall iron night sights (for co-witnessing) and a Streamlight TLR-H1 weapon light that turns a darkened room into a daylight shooting situation. (Bonus: the weight of the light helps control muzzle flip.)

Yesterday I sold my 1911 “dream gun” to a friend. Why? As one wag put it, “The great thing about Kimbers is that you can sell them and buy two GLOCKs for what you sold the Kimber.” That’s true. 1911s are expensive whips, no doubt. And GLOCKs are big winner from an economics perspective. The average GLOCK is well under half what you’d expect to pay for a quality 1911.

Then there’s the whole “I can standardize on one caliber of handgun ammo” thing. Yeah, I know. There’s two sides to that proposition, too. But with range ammo going for almost $60/box in these troubled times, standardizing on one caliber that’s hard to find is better than two that are equally hard to come by.

To be fair, the GLOCK 17, fully tricked-out with a red dot sight (it’s almost like cheating!) and a weapon light is no svelte EDC. Not in the least. It’s a serious commitment, AND a free weight program in and of itself. But the lovely thing about selling the 1911 is that I now have the loot to go buy a smaller GLOCK (I’m looking at the 43x) and I’ll have money left over.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the feel of a 1911 in my hand, and I think it is a wonderful firearm. Based on my goals (self-defense, protecting my family/property) it’s just not as good a choice as a polymer pistol. GLOCK fanboyz may be annoying, but I simply can’t argue with the kind of accuracy and ease of use I get with that G17.

glock logo grip
Dan Z. for TTAG

So I’ve moved on to the wonderful world of polymer handguns. I just hope that the 1911 versus GLOCK thing won’t turn out to be similar to the left versus right political thing. I don’t want to be thought of as an “apostate” by the 1911 crowd. And I don’t know how well it’s going to go down if the two sides start calling each other “Nazis” and “Satans,” like they do in political discussions. Especially since both the 1911 guys and the GLOCK guys will be well-armed.

As of now, I view the 1911 with a sense of nostalgia. I’m sure that someday, if I have the money for a ‘fun gun,’ I’ll consider buying another one. But given the self-defense goals I have in mind a double-stack polymer pistol chambered in 9mm Parabellum looks to be the way to go. As much as I hate to admit it, if I can shoot better with a GLOCK, then a GLOCK is what I need.

Your results may vary. Void where inhibited.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. I have several of both and have confidence in either platform. You can do a lot worse than these two pistols.

    • I disposed of all my Disposable razors. I shave with a double-sided safety razor and dispose of the blade after every shave so it is SHARP and new every time. Feather blades are about 20 cents each and I can well afford that. I’m worth 20 cents.

      It’s still much cheaper than even the cheapest disposable plastic razors which are dull when new anyhow. If one is even cheaper than $0.20/shave one can reuse the blades a few times or buy less-expensive blades like the Astra (which is owned by those woke Gillette jerk and made in Turkey by folks who still wont admit to genocide and the country is a Muslim police state.)

  2. Gluks have their place. I still own my first one which I bought in the early 90’s. It’s accurate and dead reliable -no doubt.

    But that place is NOT inside my waistband. I won’t carry anything inside the waistband these days that does not have an external safety and a Double-Action trigger with a decocker on the safety if it DA/SA. I just don’t do it. Personal choice.

    My Gluck or my 1911 are too big to conceal anyhow unless it is in a cold climate and I don’t want to ever live in a cold climate again so they are relegated to OWB/open carry in a service holster where that is appropriate or legal. I wear shorts and short-sleeves and stay in a climate where that is most comfortable. I carry every day and prefer a compact and slim .380 or 9x18mm with a real safety and decocked hammer when pointed at my junk, hip, and femoral artery and in a good quality kydex IWB holster. I just don’t have much need for a large service pistol in a service holster most of the time.

    Your Mileage May Vary

    • Does it work for you? Then good to go until it doesn’t then it’s time to reevaluate same as anything else. But this is a 1911 vs Glock thread so…… caliber and/or capacity of your choices isn’t enough to handle a gang of crackheads let alone terrorists.

      • Could you please tell me how many times licensed/legal concealed carry holders were attacked by a gang of crackheads in the last 10 years in the USA and needed more than the “rule of threes” to fight them all off? I’d love to see those statistics.

        • Probably about as many as active shooters let alone legit terrorists. But wouldn’t be a online discussion involving caliber wars, Glock vs 1911, AR vs AK, or whatever else without some outlandish situation presented as a factor so figured knock it out early so real discussion can proceed.

        • The Rule of Threes.

          “Tom’s gift to all of us is the fact that he has created and maintained a database covering the circumstances involving gunfights in which his students were involved. As I write this, his students have engaged in 63 known civilian-sector gunfights. One gunfight took place at contact distance (the student slapped the gun-hand down of his assailant before shooting him) and one took place at 22 yards. However, by far most of them took place at a distance of about nine to fifteen feet (length of a car or less), and typically between two and three rounds were fired by the student. His students won all 63 gunfights and lost none. Several students were shot during the exchanges, with three suffering serious injuries. An additional three students also died during robberies. All three had one thing in common, which is that they all chose to go unarmed on the last day of their life.”

    • I’m roughly in this camp. To get myself to striker fired carry I required grip safety, so political boycotts aside, I carry a Springfield most of the time now. I will probably switch to the S&W Equalizer at some point and regain my political purity (can they just put night sights on a model please).

      I am forced to unholster/reholster a couple times a day on average and DA/SA is great with thumb on hammer while holstering, but with striker i wanted a safety that I thought would prevent shirt in trigger self shooting.

      • I’ve got a S&W M&P 9 Shield Plus with a thumb safety and keep an Equalizer 15 round magazine in it for EDC.

    • He takes soy “milk” in his coffee and raids his mom’s panty drawer when out of underwear.

  3. Came for the boomerposts, left satisfied. The boomer comments are so stereotypical they border parody. Only thing missing is a comment about 357 magnums

    • “Only thing missing is a comment about 357 magnums”

      nothing missing there, just not worth the time to comment.


  4. A big problem in the “gun community” is a lack of faith and a lack of interest in 21st century gun technology.
    But my only reason to buy a glock is to put a binary trigger in it.

  5. I shot a Glock 3 times once, but the guy that owned it wont go shooting with me anymore.
    I told him he should have bought a HiPoint if your going to go asking people if they want to shute your gunm.

  6. That sure is a lot of typing for an “analytical” person to say they really don’t “analyze” their options before making personal purchase decisions.

  7. After leaving my job a few months ago, I sold a really good portion of my firearms. Pistols and rifles.
    I kept the Glock 19X, M&P Steel, an older Springfield 1911 and a Hellcat.
    They all work but I don’t carry the 1911. It’s a great pistol but just not what I think of when I carry a pistol outside of my home.

  8. I accidentally put 5 rounds of 45acp in with a box of 9mm Luger, the next day when I checked the box all the 9mm’s were dead.

  9. I stoppreading when he referred to WWII as “a battle fought more than 50 years ago”.

    I figure that alone proved he was kind of an idiot.

  10. Glocks are Made in Austria, Austrians did the goose-step, the goose-step is G-H-E-Y, GHEY ergo Glocks are Ghey just like Hitler ….there I said what he majority of us are thinking

  11. The idea that the 1911 is a tack driver compared to the less accurate Glock is not always true, not by a long shot (pun intended). When you buy a bargain basement 1911 and not one of the very expensive upper end guns your accuracy will probably be not much if any better than your average Glock that are noted for generous chamber dimensions, lousy trigger pulls and of course the corresponding pedestrian accuracy. Glock-O-Philes will scream you do not need target grade accuracy in a close range blaster. They may have something there,

    The bargain basement sloped together 1911 probably will be more reliable than a super expensive upper end 1911 but weigh more than a ton of bricks compared to the light weight Glock and the smaller model Glocks are more concealable and hold more rounds of ammo.

    On the other hand the Glock suffers from a weak ignition system and an open striker channel that lets in dirt and debris. If you doubt a Glock has a weak ignition system I suggest you test your 1911 with its bone crushing Hammer fall compared the weak anemic ignition system of the Glock by seating a high primer in an empty case and then trying to set it off, the 1911 with its bone crushing hammer fall will drive the high primer down into its pocket, crush it and you will have 100 % ignition, while the Glock with its anemic ignition will fail every time even if the gun is clean and free from debris or excess lube in the striker channel.

    The 1911 is a safe gun to carry if the hammer is in the down position while the Glock is an accident waiting to happen as any snagging of the trigger will cause an accidental discharge.

    The Glock has an unsafe takedown procedure as you have to pull the trigger with the slide run forward, again an accident waiting to happen. The 1911 has less of a chance to cause an accident when taking it down but not as safe as the H&K P30s series of pistols where the safety can be left on when loading or unloading the gun.

    People tend to shoot the milder recoiling 9mm better than the much harder kicking .45 acp and an arsenal full of firepower in the 9mm is way preferable than the ancient low capacity 1911.

    Solution: If you want a Glock have a manual safety put on the weapon and be aware of its unsafe takedown procedure.

    Better yet buy the double/single action H&K P30sk which you can carry locked and cocked or hammer down & safety on or off but that takes a gun owner who has some grey matter between his ears, not your average Jethro Bodine who thinks “It will never happen to me even if I do carry a Glock”.

    • Some of the best 1911’s I ever shot were those that were sloped together.

      If you’re lubing the striker channel…you are doing something WRONG!

      To the ESL Dacian: If you are going to Cut ‘n Paste…please do it correctly and read it, before posting, for continuity and coherence.

      • To Montana

        You Far Right people live in your own little myopic world. The facts are millions of gun owners vote Democrat and yes we know much about firearms and no I do not cut and past that is your subconscious way of saving face from your own lack of knowledge about the subject at hand.

Comments are closed.