There are a lot of 1911 pistols on the market, in many different configurations, at many different price points. That’s because John Moses Browning’s design is a certified masterpiece, a masterpiece. But with so many options, choosing your one can make your head spin.
So let’s stick to something easy:
What are three great starter 1911 pistols for the first-time buyer? Three solid guns, that don’t cost too much, that can get a person into the platform and hopefully show them why JMB’s meisterwerk has remained so popular for all these years?
With the plethora of pistols on the market, there are many, many good candidates, but we’ve tried to keep it simple and present three excellent ones for your consideration.
First, we have the . . .
This is the bare bones 1911. It’s a GI gun with GI sights, wood grips, and a Series 70 trigger system. The finish is Parkerized (a nickel is available, though) and you can choose .45 ACP, 9mm or .38 Super. There are Commander and Officer versions along with Government frames.
While they might lack for flash or refinement, the RIA GI Standard is a solid working-class pistol. The price is very nice (expect $400 or less on the street) and they’re accurate and reliable.
You’ll also get a solid platform to begin customizing if you so chose.
Another fantastic starter 1911 is the Remington R1 1911. The R1 has a few modern touches, including modern white dot sights that are larger than standard GI sights, and a firing pin block (Series 80) added to the trigger system. Checkered walnut stocks adorn the grips, the frame has a parkerized finish, and a stainless steel barrel occupies the inside.
Why the R1? Fit (and therefore lockup) is rather tight for an entry level gun, and build quality is pretty darn good. The R1 series has a little bit of polish to them among the budget segment.
The modern 3-dot sights are easier to see (and thus shoot more accurately with) than standard GI sights. Some would argue that because the name on the side is “Remington” instead of “Springfield Armory” or “Colt,” it has less cachet and thus can be found cheaper than other USA-made entry level 1911 pistols. MSRP is $774, but you’ll easily find them for $550 or less online. At that price point, it’s a steal.
However, if you want to get into a 1911 with some bells and whistles, one of the best bang-for-buck 1911 pistols is one you probably aren’t thinking of.
The guns are made for Magnum Research by BUL Ltd., another Israeli gun company. As it happens, their 1911 pistols are top-notch, ranging from rather plain mid-shelf pistols to mind-blowing competition pistols for IPSC and other action shooting events.
Features are ample. Beavertail grip safety, Novak-style sights (and dovetail cuts) competition safety lever, skeletonized trigger and hammer, in black or nickel finish and with your choice of 9mm or .45 ACP. There are Government, Commander and Officer versions for the choosing.
I shot a few of BUL’s competition pistols at last year’s SHOT Show and they beggar belief. Get your hands on an MR 1911, and you’ll be amazed at the fit and build quality for the price point. MSRP is in the $800 range, but you can find for around the $680 mark…or less, with some hunting.
In terms of fit, finish and features for price paid…I can’t really think of any that beat them.
Any you think I missed? Did you make the same mistake that I did by drafting Tyler Boyd on your fantasy football team? I’d be leading my league if it wasn’t for him. Sound off in the comments.