Citadel M1911 Officers's Model 9mm Pistol
(Virgil Caldwell for TTAG)
Previous Post
Next Post

By Virgil Caldwell

The 1911 handgun is an American icon, one recognized across the globe. John Moses Browning’s 1911 pistol platform is generally available in three frame sizes, the government model, commander model, and officer’s model, with a number of micro and long slide pieces out there as well.

The modern 9mm 1911 has become a popular handgun and the officer’s model is perhaps the best fit for the 9mm Luger cartridge. I recently obtained a decent, but affordable 1911 from K-Var Armory, the Citadel . The pistol has proven reliable, accurate enough, and fast handling which is all I can ask in a carry gun.

While the .45 ACP is the king of wound ballistics, the occasional shooter may have a difficult time dealing with the .45 in an officer size pistol. You’re missing something if you do not consider the 9mm 1911 platform. Today’s 9mm 1911 handguns are reliable and have all the best traits of the 1911, including a low bore axis that limits muzzle flip, a well-shaped grip that fits most hands well, and straight-to-the-rear trigger compression.

Citadel M1911 Officers's Model 9mm Pistol
The 9mm Citadel 1911 Courtesy Legacy Sports

With the Citadel M1911 officer size 9mm you have a handgun that has proven to be the fastest to an accurate first shot of any pistol platform, and cambered in an even more controllable caliber. And while it isn’t a thousand dollar pistol it works every time I pull the trigger.

Manufactured in the same facility as the Rock Island Armory Armscor handguns in the Philippines, the Citadel has upgrades in finish and grips that make it more desirable.

The Citadel features good sights on the famous Novak Lo Mount pattern. A speed safety, a beavertail grip safety with memory pad, good fit and finish for the price, and checkered wooden grips are part of the package. Each sight is properly dovetailed in place and the rear sight is adjustable for windage. The cocking serrations are well executed.

Citadel M1911 Officers's Model 9mm Pistol
The Citadel 1911 has a checkered backstrap, beveled magazine well, extended beavertail, and a skeletonized trigger and hammer. (Virgil Caldwell for TTAG)

The Citadel 9mm features a 3.5 inch belled barrel and a shortened grip frame with checkering on the backstrap below the grip safety. The belled barrel is necessary due to the different dynamics in the locked breech action of a short slide 1911.

The ejection port is lowered. The Parkerized black finish is eve a there were were no visible tool marks when the pistol was field stripped and final machine work looked good.

Citadel M1911 Officers's Model 9mm Pistol
(Virgil Caldwell for TTAG)

Slide to frame fit is good. The wooden grips are lightly checkered, adequate for adhesion, but not raspy.

The M1911 9mm ships a lockable hard plastic case with two magazines. The low bore axis limits muzzle flip, straight to the rear trigger compression offers good control, the grip frame fits most hands well, and speed to an accurate first shot is excellent.

Citadel M1911 Officers's Model 9mm Pistol
The Citadel M1911’s backstrap checkering under the beavertail grip safety…the front strap is smooth (Virgil Caldwell for TTAG)

The Citadel M1911 and its 9mm ammo are economical to obtain and easy to shoot. While the 9mm Luger operates at higher pressures than .45 ACP — as much as 30,000 psi compared to the .45’s 21,000 psi — the 9mm has less momentum. I didn’t expect any magazine or ammo-related problems as the pistol is supplied with two Metalform magazines and I didn’t experience any.

In size the Citadel officer model is reminiscent of the SIG P 225 and is smaller than the GLOCK 19 (though the all-steel Citadel isn’t lighter). Like many shooter’s I’m a fan of steel handguns and in this case, the weight penalty isn’t severe. The Citadel weighs 32 ounces. That means felt recoil is less than practically any other 9mm in its size class.

In testing the Citadel compact M1911, the abbreviated grip length didn’t preclude obtaining a full firing hold on the pistol. The trigger span and circumference of the 1911 grip remains the same with the short frame.

The long bearing surfaces were well lubricated out of the box and magazines loaded smoothly.

Citadel M1911 Officers's Model 9mm Pistol
The Citadel M1911 has a Colt style series 70 firing system and a matte black Parkerized finish. (Virgil Caldwell for TTAG)

A word on magazines and capacity — there are high capacity magazine handguns available by the dozen and these handguns offer a bigger reserve of ammunition. The 9mm may demand rapid follow-up shots before the assailant is incapacitated. But so may a bigger bore.

A compact pistol with a thinner grip like the officer M1911 is generally easier to conceal and also easier to control and handle. A relatively limited magazine capacity is a tradeoff I’m willing to make for a handgun that’s fast and accurate.

Nine rounds isn’t exactly a low capacity handgun and the officer-sized 9mm Citadel 1911 is perhaps the easiest shooting “slimline 9” you will ever holster. The single action only adjustable trigger is 1911-crisp and light at 4.5 pounds. I would set the trigger for travel and then Loctite the screw in place.

I have test fired the Citadel M1911 with a variety of loads. The sights are properly regulated for 115 to 124 grain loads. The pistol effortlessly ran through over six hundred rounds without a single failure to feed, chamber, fire or eject. There were no break-in period malfunctions and no problems.

The pistol was loaded with Winchester Forged 9mm FMJ loads. These are clean burning, reliable and accurate enough for meaningful practice. In the final session my opinions were born out.

The Citadel 9mm compact pistol is easy to use well. Recoil is not a consideration. To repeat, the pistol weighs a solid 32 ounces nearly as much as full size service pistols. As such the steel frame absorbs momentum. The low bore axis also limits muzzle flip. Trigger compression is controllable and while there is some take-up but no discernible creep or backlash- this is a good trigger action in an economy handgun.

The pistol came out of the Galco holster smoothly and lined up on target easily. First shot hits were obtained quickly firing at man-sized targets at self-defense distances (5, 7 and 10 yards). Rapid follow-up shots were accurate.

Citadel M1911 Officers's Model 9mm Pistol
(Virgil Caldwell for TTAG)

When practicing speed loads, the magazine release was tight, maintaining good contact with the magazine, but easily manipulated to quickly drop the empty magazine. The slide stop functioned properly. Novak style sights offer an excellent sight picture. All who fired this compact semi-automatic single action handgun commented on the efficiency of the sights.

As for personal defense loads, I prefer the 9mm +P. Winchester offers a 124 grain PDX +P with a good balance of expansion and penetration. I don’t like trick loads or unknown reliability for serious business. Winchester has been producing military and police loads for over one hundred years.

This load breaks 1190 fps from the Citadel’s 3.5 inch barrel length. Shot placement is most important, but these Winchester expanding bullet loads make the most of the caliber. I have bench rested the Citadel 9mm on several occasions, with good results.

Here are a few results from the range at 15 yards, 5 shot groups:

Winchester Forged, 1166 fps, 2.0 inches
Winchester 115 grain Silvertip, 1159 fps, 1.5 inches
Winchester 147 gr. PDX, 940 fps, 1.2 inches
Winchester 147 gr. Defender, 960 fps, 1.3 inches
Winchester 124 grain PDX +P, 1189 fps, 1.4 inches

Citadel M1911 Officers's Model 9mm Pistol
Citadel M-1911 9mm officer model in a Galco Summer Comfort IWB holster is far more comfortable to carry than a full size pistol. (Virgil Caldwell for TTAG)

The Citadel M1911 in 9mm is an ideal concealed carry handgun. An inside the waistband holster such as the Galco Summer Comfort features a dual belt loop and excellent molding. The Citadel 9mm is well worth your time and effort to investigate.

Specifications: Citadel M1911 Government

Caliber: 9mm (.45 ACP model available)
Capacity: 8+1
Action: Single
Finish: Black Parkerized
Barrel Length: 3.5″
Overall Length: 7.5″
Weight: 33.6 oz.
MSRP: $599 (street price about $400)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and appearance: * * *
The 1911 design is inherently attractive. The Citadel is credible, but pretty it isn’t.

Reliability: * * * * *
It fed, fired and ejected every bullet type from subsonic loads to +P.

Accuracy: * * * * 1/2
Compared to other compact 1911 9mm pistols it’s in the same range for accuracy, but much better than others with a real advantage in accuracy for the first shot.

Overall: * * * *
It may fall a little short in an IDPA match, but for concealed carry and home defense the affordable Citadel M1911 9mm is a strong choice.


Previous Post
Next Post


    • I do too. I bought it used and it eats everything unlike my much more expensive Kimber. It looks like my Kimber too. Not as refined but similar. It’s a great pistol..

      • Thanks for your comments. I am glad to know this pistol is the norm, and the others work well. I like it a lot.
        Sorry about your Kimber. I have the impression that since they began sending pistols to Academy Sports by the truckload for a reduced price quality has suffered. Hate to see that!
        Thanks for reading

  1. It’s 9 rounds in a package that weighs more than a g19. At about the same price. I would rather have the 16 rounds avaiIable in my g19. If I want an all metal handgun with lower round count that’s what my revolvers are for.

        • Why Glock then? Sig, FNH and S&W all make some excellent polymer frame, striker-fired pistols. I would pick a P365 over a G43, and an FNS9 or FN509 over a G17 or 19 anytime. I think this review is more for someone interested in an affordable 1911 rather than someone looking for a pistol in general.

        • M. My choice and my opinion are just that, mine. I’m not mandating anything for anyone. Why are my choices and reasons even controversial? Why insult glock owners because they are glock owners?

    • Higher capacity in a duty gun perhaps but for self defense ten rounds is going to get the job done 99%+ of the time. The extra weight tames recoil especially in 9mm and even at this price point you can’t get a Glock trigger that matches it. Add in decent sights and your $500 Glock is now $750-$800.

      • The Glock trigger works perfectly for a defensive handgun for military, Law enforcement, and the person choosing a self defense firearm. There is no reason to change the trigger. Sights are a different matter. Changing sights based on ones ability to see them or acquire a sight picture quicker is a decision for the shooter.

  2. 1911s are supposed to be in .45, not some lady’s purse caliber. At one time Citadels were imported by Legacy Sports, the folks who brought you Howa rifles – don’t know if they still are

  3. The author makes repeated mention of a 1911 having a low bore axis……. it quantitatively doesn’t which makes the entire article rather suspect.

    • Uh, Sam, if you are right then Jeff Cooper, John Moses Browning, R K Campbell, Patrick Sweeney, and a whole bunch of other guys that know their stuff are wrong! Do you understand what a bore axis is? This is the height of the centerline of the bore above the hand. The 1911 has been praised for over one hundred years for this attribute. Double action first shot pistol necessarily have a higher bore axis because of the need for the finger to arc down and press the trigger- a more complicated action. The CZ fights this by using a slide buried in the frame more or less. For Pete’s sake I learned this when I was eleven years old reading Jeff Cooper.

      • Meanwhile, in the real world. Bore axis of a 1911 is 1.74″ which is quite high…a SIG 226 is 1.80″. In comparison a Glock (usually considered low) is 1.26″

        • There’s more to it than just the bore height. There is the grip angle, grip thickness, etc. As for bore height, fractions of inch count. I can feel the difference between most of the Euro style pistols and the 1911 in relation to recoil and muzzle flip, and almost every one of the Euro type are ‘flippier’ than a 1911. Glocks may be lower but they are distinctly less comfortable to shoot, and more difficult to control for me. Of course, 50 years of shooting a .45 1911 makes it like another body part as far as handling goes, so I suppose I’m more than a little biased.

        • John, I think that has more to do with the weight of a 1911 vs the lighter polymer frame handguns, the grip (single stack mags and overall superior ergonomics on a 1911 imo), and last but not least, the trigger. Even on a budget 1911 the trigger is better than most, if not all, modern “Glock style” handguns.

        • I guess a 1911 has a low bore axis when compared against a revolver, but it wasn’t low compared to contemporary semiautos, like the Luger, and it definitely isn’t when compared to a modern semiauto. Yes, there is more than bore axis to how a gun handles, but the article was making specific and incorrect claims about it multiple times.

  4. On capacity- if you do not get your man down in the first three rounds your battle is probably over. The 1911 is very fast to an accurate first shot. Partly due to the low bore axis, partly due to the straight to the rear trigger action, and some like the safety.
    That being said I suppose this does sometimes turn to the Glock LOL
    The Glock works and always works. If you buy something cheaper then perhaps corners have been cut. If you pay more be certain you get more for the money.

  5. I’m probably the only person who doesn’t like 1911 guns. Don’t care for the controls and the single action nature of it.

    • No your not. I have a couple because the collection didn’t feel complete without them but not my first choice…..or second……or third……for the same reasons you mentioned.

  6. If you want to get technical, there is only one Browning designed frame size on which two different slide lengths are used. Everything else is a 1911 “pattern” pistol. Some people might consider the light weight Commander as a separate frame but it is only a different alloy. As far as the 9mm goes, I suppose if you can’t handle the .45 it is a viable caliber, but no 9mm has ever crossed my threshold and never will. The only lesser caliber I would consider in the 1911 is the .38 Super, which is far superior to any 9mm. But I’m a hard core old school type and have been accused more than once of being a Luddite.

    • Yeah, modern technology and more information has really changed things.

      In 1911 the size difference between 9mm. and .45 probably did make a difference. Today the advances in bullet design and materials used have even made Evan Marshall’s observations in the 1990s no longer relevant. From .357 Magnum down to .380 there just isn’t a significant drop in terminal performance anymore.

      Even the apparent multiple shots required to stop by 9mm that Marshall documented turned out to be a data collection error artifact of the ability to get multiple shots on target before the OODA loop completed and the shooter realized the shootee was disabled.

      And dare I even mention the outright dishonesty of the FBI in reporting on their own 1986 Miami shootout that lead to development of the .40 S&W when the real problem were strategy, tactics, and procedure and not caliber?

      When it comes to guns and calibers I identify as trans. I like all guns and all calibers. But last year I switched to 9mm for daily carry.

      • I also like all guns and cartridges, even (or especially?) .40sw. But let’s not get carried away and start with easily falsifiable claims like “From .357 Magnum down to .380 there just isn’t a significant drop in terminal performance anymore.” No matter how tricky the bullet construction, significant mass and velocity differences still translate to significant terminal performance differences. TANSTAAFL

      • Data collection era is a nice way to put it.
        Most of this work if not all was simply a hoax.

        Remember Marshall and Sanow also promoted the famous Strasbourgh goat shoot!
        It never happened, but fanboys ate the stuff up

        There is a huge difference in the .380 and .357, double the energy——-
        Penetration is the key along with shot placement.

  7. “The Citadel 9mm features a 3.5 inch belled barrel and a shortened grip…”

    Can someone please ‘clue’ me as what a ‘belled barrel’ is, please?

    “The long bearing surfaces were well lubricated out of the box and magazines loaded smoothly.”

    I have some of this steel-cased ammo. It has a pronounced ‘gritty’ feel to it, making magazine loading more difficult that brass. Of numerous reviews online about this ammo, reviewers also noticed this.

    “The pistol was loaded with Winchester Forged 9mm FMJ loads. These are clean burning, reliable and accurate enough for meaningful practice. In the final session my opinions were born out.”

    Oh, boy…

    There are numerous reviews online describing this ammunition to be about as far from clean-burning” as it gets. The usual description of it is “filthy”.

    Here are a few of those reviews :

    “I bought 500 rounds of this ammo, thinking that with the Winchester name I could not go wrong. I have fired over 250 rounds in a variety of 9 mm pistols with different barrel lengths,and I honestly have to say it is the worst ammo I have ever shot. Accuracy was horrible. Consistently shot 5-6 inches to left and down as much. I had two other shooters at range with me and all had same issues. It is also very dirty to gun and magazine and even your hands”

    “First; This ammunition is dirty. Dirty to handle and dirty shooting. It says clean burning powder is used and I was thinking, compared to what?, sticking my hands into a bag of coal dust. I’ve been to courses where I shot 1500 rounds in a day and my hands were not this dirty. Second; There was a large noticeable powder cloud after firing each round and from time to time un-burned powder pieces would ignite in the air after firing rounds. It seemed to be as dirty shooting as any other steel-cased foreign ammo. Third; The above mentioned difficulty loading magazines. The rough, dirty and inconstantly coated shell casings just made loading more difficult.”

    “72 1 – star reviews”

    “The other thing I noticed is that the ammunition tends to produce a lot of smoke when fired. Winchester claims to use “clean-burning powder”, but honestly the ammo gives the term “smoking gun” a run for its money.”

    “Forged cases have a weird, grabby texture, almost like they’re powder-coated. It’s also very dirty ammo. These two factors combined are a recipe for difficult extraction.”

    Am I the only one who read this review and wondered if it written on another planet?

    • If you shoot 5-6 inches to the left with a pistol (I am assuming he wasn’t 1/2 mile from the target) the issue is probably not the ammo.

  8. A belled barrel is a barrel for a 1911 that does not use the standard barrel bushing of all other 1911 handguns.
    Original Forged was steel cased, the newer loads are not, they are brass, that may make a lot of difference.
    You need to shoot some for yourself.
    Anything that goes 500 rounds will need cleaning! Just saying. the only thing I have fired that ejects a ‘cloud’ is lead bullet loads with lubricant

    • “A belled barrel is a barrel for a 1911 that does not use the standard barrel bushing of all other 1911 handguns.”


  9. I have a Citadel compact .45. Never a problem with it. Legacy sports import from Phillippines. Same as a Rock island. Mine has the Novak sights also. I guess the author thinks that’s a upgrade over the ROck island.

  10. I personally think that a 1911 in a 9mm is an abomination before Gawd Almighty. Jeff Cooper must be rolling in his grave. It’s the answer to the unasked question. A 1911 was designed to chamber the .45 automatic colt pistol (acp) round. Anything else is heresy, IMO.

    Like the M1 Garand rifle, the 1911 chambered in .45 auto is the ultimate sidearm for battle. This was my sidearm on active duty as a U.S. Army Infantry Officer. They trained me well. I practiced constantly until I earned my way onto the 9th Infantry Division Pistol Team as the Executive Officer (2nd in Command). That was almost 40 years ago. I’ve never stopped the process of mastering the 1911 in 45 auto.

    But I’m not bound to the platform solely. I carry a Sig P365 or P320 9mm as my needs dictate. I carry what I need when I need it. And the 1911 isn’t the only platform I use for the 45 auto cartridge. My home defense is a Sig P227 45 with a mounted Streamlight TLR-1s.

    In the personal defense civilian role the 1911 45 is equally supreme. But it is not a tool to be used by the novice shooter. Proper training is required and constant practice until the muscle memory is irrevocable.

    Don’t get me wrong, the 9mm has it’s place among fighting calibers and has great historical significance. But it is better suited to a different platform and there’s no shortage of available and very high quality firearms for the 9mm. Just not the 1911. YMMV of course. If you feel differently, please keep it to yourself. Don’t start with the flames, please.

    Someday, Hopefully soon, I’ll acquire the 1911 in 45 that I have wanted most of my adult life. A Wilson Combat Carry Comp in 45 auto. In my personal opinion, the ultimate presentation of the ultimate sidearm designed for battle. But still, a tool for a specific use. Again, IMHO.

    • “If you feel differently, please keep it to yourself.” Strange thing to say in an internet comment section…where you just expressed your opinion. It does lend credibility to your claim of once being an XO, though.

  11. If your interested in a work from home opportunity let me know! No prior experiences or degree needed, we get paid every Friday. It’s a great way to create an extra stream of income. Friend visit this site…

  12. I picked one up a couple years ago and agree on everything but the Winchester Forged. Mine positively hates that round. Everything else runs just fine.

  13. A low bore axis the 1911 does not have.

    It shoots phenomenally DESPITE this, because bore axis isn’t everything.

    My last bit – I challenge anyone to find perfectly reliable 9mm single stack magazines once you exceed 8 rounds.
    The taper of the 9mm round in a straight magazine inevitably will cause a nosedive here and there. Yes, even with Wilson 10-round mags. I finally gave up on competing with 10-round single stacks and made the jump to double stacks or single stack in .45 only.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here