Tisas Bantam 9mm 1911 pistol
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Tisas USA has been bringing in some high-value firearms to market lately. The Zigana PX-9 Gen 3 is an incredible striker-fired gun, but they have quite a few 1911s in their lineup as well. Having reviewed Tisas 1911s years ago, I expected good quality basic guns at an affordable price. When I saw the Bantam model listed I was at first taken back by its four-digit price tag. Can they do that? An imported pistol at that price?

Then I stopped to think about the alternatives. From anyone else, a 1911 with half the lightening cuts and style cues of the Bantam would cost double, if not more. I also took time to consider that all of those cuts cost extra machining time. That time, wear, and tear costs money, plus there’s the opportunity cost.

I’m no machine shop manager, but I bet the same machines could produce a lot more plain-Jane slides and frames in the same amount of time than these beautiful Bantam slides and frames.

With that logic the Bantam appears to be a deal. Let’s take a look at what all goes into making this model 1911 different from the rest.

Tisas Bantam 9mm 1911 pistol
The Tisas Bantam features the Ed Brown bobtail which makes concealment easier and shooting MUCH more comfortable.

What attracted me most to the Bantam was the Ed Brown bobtail cut mainspring housing. I experienced this cut once before on the no-longer-imported Metro Arms Bobcut and absolutely loved it.

The rounded edge works much better for concealment and as a range gun, it conforms to palm meat instead of digging into it.

As you can see there are a lot of extra touches that put this import more in line with a high-end custom.

Tisas Bantam 9mm 1911 pistol
The Tisas Bantam breaks down like any other 1911.

Weight reducing cuts that also serve as style points bring this all-metal gun down to just under 30 ounces on my scale. That’s not bad for 1911.

Tisas Bantam 9mm 1911 pistol
Lightening and style cuts galore on the Tisas Bantam

Given the option between 9mm and .45 ACP I committed the “heresy” of selecting an iconic American firearm design in a European caliber. Why? Ballistics.

The Bantam has a 4.25″ barrel which is longer than the standard 4″ barrel that 9mm American loads are designed for, but shorter than the 5″ barrel most .45 ACP rounds need for optimal performance. I’d rather have more muzzle energy (and capacity) than less.

I know the caliber choice will have some 1911 purists rolling their eyes as we’ve all heard that 9mm 1911s just don’t work…round geometry and blah, blah, blah. Fortunately this is now the year 2022 and the challenge of magazine design has long been figured out.

That old lore does, however, hint at a very important aspect of 1911 reliability, especially with 9mm — magazines. I’ve seen “great” 1911s choke because of bad magazines and some “ItZ jUSt gARbuJ” 1911s magically “fixed” with the use of a quality magazine. It’s a bit like 7.62x39mm ARs…you’ve got to use the right magazines.

Tisas Bantam 9mm 1911 pistol
Grips relieved for easy magazine release access that actually work!

Curious how an “affordable” fancy 9mm 1911 might run we hit the range for our standard battery of tests and this time included a smattering of various 9mm 1911 magazines I know to run well in other guns. The tests and results can be seen in our Shooting Impressions video.

I was surprised that both of the included Check-Mate magazines choked, and concerned this might be the time the internet was right about 9mm 1911s, but fortunately some of the other mags I had on hand worked fine. Viewers have since commented that their Check-Mate mags work fine, so I must have the mags meant for MAC.

While handling the pistol for the tabletop portion I noted that the slide-to-frame movement felt a little rough. The slide didn’t want to operate smoothly. By modern standard that might indicate a manufacturing fault. In the 1911 world that indicates a pistol needing some break-in.

On the range we had a few malfunctions that may have been the result of that extra friction, and as the day wore on the action got smoother. After getting the pistol home, cleaning and re-lubricating it, the action felt smoother. I think this is just one of those cases where some break-in is needed.

Tisas Bantam 9mm 1911 pistol
No billboard markings, just clean cuts on the Tisas Bantam

Another note from the range is that the trigger didn’t feel as crisp and clean as the aesthetics of the gun might lead one to expect. I have mixed feelings about this. As a carry gun there’s no issue with this trigger as it’s likely one of the safer-for-carry 1911 triggers I’ve shot. As a range and/or BBQ gun I’d want a different trigger. So, for $1,100 is this a fault or a benefit? That’s up to you.

I’m tempted to put some NATO rounds through the gun to smooth out the action and see if that doesn’t smooth out the trigger as well. If not, aftermarket trigger kits are affordable enough and easy enough to install. I know this because I did that to another Tisas model years ago.

A Tough Conclusion: $1,100 is a serious chunk of cash for most of us. If you’re looking in the 1911 market for a gun with the features comparable to the Bantam, most options start at nearly twice the price. That makes the Bantam a great value.

That said, with these savings you’re likely to experience some growing pains and a break-in period, something most modern shooters are no longer accustomed to. The slide-to-frame fitment is tight. That’s how custom 1911s used to come so they break in to smoothness as they open up over time rather than wear out into looseness.

If a carry-weight trigger isn’t your thing you’re looking at adding a couple of hundred dollars for a trigger kit which still puts you under the cost of a domestic gun with these features.

This is one of the few times when our Shooting Impressions video may not be a fair representation of how the gun would perform a few thousand rounds down the road. That’s just the nature of 1911s.

Manufacturer-Specified Features (specifications not yet available)

Custom Level 1911 Pistol from Tisas
Available in .45ACP & 9mm
Hammer Forged Slide and 4.25″ Barrel
Commander Length Slide w/ Machined Lightening Cuts
Aluminum Full Size Frame w/ Textured Front & Back Straps
Features the Ed Brown Bobtail® Cut
Durable Cerakote Black Finish
Flared and Lowered Ejection Port
Ambidextrous Safety
Combat Sights, U-Notch Rear w/ Fiber Optic Front
Series 70 Internals
Includes 2 Magazines, Cleaning Kit and Owners Manual
Waterproof and Lockable Hard Case, w/ Fitted Cut Foam Insert

Ratings (out of five stars):

Reliability * * * * 
Magazines and ammo selection certainly play a role with this one. I’ll have to see over time as the action smooths if the gun performs better with softer loads, as I expect.

Ergonomics * * * * *
This to me is how a 1911 should feel. The Ed Brown bobtail certainly makes it comfortable and the grip includes the most useful pathway to the magazine release I’ve ever used.

Accuracy * * * * ½
While load sensitivity seems to impact accuracy, repeatable points of impact were no problem. Mechanically this gun is capable of it. With a nicer trigger it’ll be easier to accomplish.

Concealability * * * * 
If you’re thinking of carrying a 1911, this is a nice size and the Ed Brown bobtail certainly reduces that classic 1911 “point” under concealment clothing.

Overall: * * * * 
This was a tough score to come to. See the article conclusion for details.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. The Springfield Armory EMP Concealed Carry Contour meets and mostly exceeds every spec here in a 1911 with magazine actually designed for the 9mm cartridge.

      • My “regular” EMP is sweet with a fine trigger and no malfunctions to date. Stainless slide, 10 mags, range bag, night sights, Rosewood panels; what’s not to love? So maybe they are like Kimbers–some are perfect, some not so much. (My Kimber ran 1400 rounds and a new spring before it finally broke in and stopped choking.)

  2. I got the tisas high power clone new and it’s a solid shooter.

    That being said, Tisas are unlikely to retain much resale value and you aren’t going to impress any collectors or fudds. If you buy a pistol like this, buy it to shoot it and enjoy it a lot would be my advice.

    Also, I expect a 1911 to have an excellent trigger even on a cheap one. And I personally wouldn’t consider a caliber other than .45 ACP. There’s nothing wrong with 9mm, but I’m not interested in a Glock chambered in .38 special or .45 long colt either. That’s just my view so don’t get too excited.

  3. So the mags that came with it, didn’t work well.

    Graham, what mags did work well for you? Knowing that could maybe save a buyer another couple hundred bucks in experimenting … not to mention the ammo costs and aggravation.

    • Which is exactly why I named them in the video (those that I could, some companies don’t mark their magazines)

      • Which point you didn’t happen to mention in the text.

        You could have just, you know, added it to the text of the article. Or just maybe actually answered the question here in the comments, rather than point me to a 21-minute video to wade through (which is not going to happen when I’m on break at work); and then, that answer would actually show up and maybe help someone in the future if that if someone happened to do a web search for the info.

        But, hey, what do I know?

  4. No one that really knows guns is going to spend $1100 on a Tisas. You could step up to hard-use quality for the same amount with a Bul Armory or a Springfield.

  5. The gun isnt a value at all. It is unreliable. That makes it crap.

    A Glock always works and while I am a 1911 fan I am not a fan of junk 1911 handguns.

    This is a poor gun, sad copy of a Kimber or Wilson Combat.
    Dont trust your life to crap like this

  6. Baates gave us the straight on this gun. There will be a review at Guns and Ammo calling it the best thing in four years with lots of glossy maker supplied photos of a gun they may or may not have fired.

  7. Very sorry to hear about your issues with our Bantam 9mm. We take a lot of pride in our products and attempt to live up to the phrase “Tisas Means Quality”. We’re so confident in our products that in addition to our one year warranty, we recently instituted our Lifetime Service Plan that covers Tisas products for life. In the event a customer has an issue with one of our products, we’ll take care of it. Our customer service department can be reached at [email protected].
    Regards,
    Dave Biggers
    V.P. Marketing
    SDS Imports

  8. ATI FXS-9 Striker Fired 9mm Pistol. This product comes with a 4.1″ barrel and a 10rd Mag. It has multiple loaded chamber indicators. The polymer grip with interchangeable backstraps allows this products to be light and maneuverable.

    Frame Finish: Black
    Action Striker: Fire
    Barrel Length Range: 4″ to 4.99″
    Capacity: 10+1
    Frame Material: Polymer
    Grips: Black Interchangeable Backstrap
    OAL: 7.45″
    Safety Thumb, Firing Pin
    Sight Configuration 3-Dot Adjustable
    Weight: 29.50 oz
    Barrel Length: 4.10″
    PURCHASING INSTRUCTIONS:

    When placing order, please set your shipping destination to your desired FFL dealer. Failure to due so will result in delay in shipment. Please also make sure your FFL dealer accepts transfers to avoid any additional delays.

  9. ATI famous and deservedly so for offering crap chap guns.

    If you want to play sure if you are betting your life never

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