Courtesy Wilson Combat
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More than a century ago John Moses Browning created the 1911 semi-automatic pistol. Over time the design has evolved slightly to be safer, better for mass-production, and more accurate. However, the 1911 itself is still essentially the same platform it’s always been.

Josh Wayner for TTAG

The 1911 is a single stack, single action only platform with a manual safety and a grip safety. The design is reflective of its time, but it still continues to be a popular choice for many individuals.

I dare to say the 1911 is likely produced by more companies than any gun outside of the AR-15. You can even build one from an 80 percent lower receiver. The question remains…is the gun outdated? Even hopelessly outdated?

Courtesy Colt

The evidence is against the 1911

What makes me think the 1911 is an outdated platform? There are a number of reasons why I wouldn’t carry or employ a 1911 in a defensive role when better choices are offered.

Those reasons include the gun’s capacity, its weight, reliability, and even its price. Let’s look a little more closely at each of those.

Dan Z for TTAG


How much does capacity matter? Can you get the job done with seven rounds? Of course, you can. The 1911 holds anywhere from seven to nine rounds depending on size and caliber which isn’t that different from a gun designed for concealed carry.

However, the 1911’s capacity and size aren’t comparable to a concealed carry gun. Even small 1911s like the Springfield EMP in 9mm have a low capacity compared to their size.

The Springfield EMP is nearly as tall and as thick as a GLOCK 19, but holds only nine rounds. The SIG P365 with its 12-round magazine is still thinner and shorter than the EMP. The 1911 doesn’t offer comparable capacity when size and purpose are put into perspective.

Courtesy Travis Pike


The all-metal design of the 1911 adds significant weight to the platform. The design of modern handguns utilizes substantial amounts of polymer without compromising the weapon’s integrity. That cuts weight, making those guns easier to carry without sacrificing capacity or size.

The FN 545 weighs 30 ounces and holds 15+1 rounds of .45 ACP. A comparable Springfield double stack 1911 weighs 32 ounces, and costs $550 more.

The gun is just heavy due to its design. Trimming weight is possible, but it’s tough to consider a polymer 1911 a real 1911, though these polymer-frame designs can cut nearly 11 ounces off of the gun. The 1911 is a sturdy design which makes it a harder gun to carry. That boat anchor weight will definitely be felt as the day wears on.

Courtesy Jason Bayne


The 1911 was designed to be a very simple weapon, and it was intended to shoot a 230-grain hardball FMJ round in the so-called Government configuration. If you keep the 1911 in this configuration and test it for the right ammo, you’re usually good to go.

Problems have occurred with these guns when you try to shrink them or get crazy with the ammo. In my experience, you have to find the right ammo that fits the gun. My RIA 1911 is one of the cheaper models and only likes 230-grain FMJs. Some JHPs will be worth it, but not all.

Size is an entirely different issue. Small 1911s are famously finicky. Advances have been made, and companies like Colt, Springfield, K have made reliable production compact 1911s. Not all companies can claim this however and purchasing a compact 1911 should be done after plenty of research.

1911, 1911 holster, 1911 holsters, 1911 guns, 1911 firearms, 1911 handgun
Courtesy Travis Pike


There are lots of budget 1911s available today, most of them imports. But even budget, bare bones 1911s are still nearly as much as some very good modern polymer pistols.

The Ruger Security 9 sells for at least $100 less than the cheapest 1911 I can find on the market. On an apples to apples basis, 1911s are not inexpensive guns, and even budget guns are relatively costly when compared to modern pistols.

Do we write off the 1911?

I enjoy the 1911 as a fun gun to shoot the same way I enjoy single action army clones. They are interesting and integral to firearm’s evolution, but I feel their times have passed. With modern ammunition, the 45 ACP no longer rules the roost.

The 1911 platform is a big, heavy, and relatively expensive option compared to the rest of the handgun market. I don’t doubt that someone with a 1911 can defend themselves very effectively. However, I can do the same thing with a lighter, easier-to-carry weapon that has double the capacity.



This article originally appeared at and is reprinted here with permission. 

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  1. The 1911 had its time in the sun. While obviously still effective, it has been surpassed in every conceivable way.

    • The 1911 is the gun equivalent of a Harley Davidson motorcycle. An old design that can be customized to whatever you want it to be.

      • Eh, HDs are actually mostly modern designs underneath trying to look like an old one on the outside. That aesthetic effort seriously limits their cornering ability, unfortunately. The exception being the Pan America adventure bike, which is the only one without a pathetically-low maximum lean angle. Most 1911s seem to be the opposite. The basic design is old with some external modernizations to try and keep them relevant.

  2. I wanted a 1911 since the early 80s. Finally got to a point in life to get one.

    I love the 1911 platform. I don’t mind the weight, capacity is increased with multiple mags, fun gun to shoot.

    I carry regularly in a Yaqui slide OWB holster.

    It all comes down to personal choice

    • My first handgun long ago was a 1911. I’ve owned several, and still have some. Love the platform. Yes, it’s different than a Gluk or striker-fired. So what…a carbureted motor is different than a modern EFI, but is effective and fun if taken care of.

      I own 1911s. I own Gluks. I own revolvers. I like them all.


  3. While I do not currently own a 1911, I have had a few in the past and carried one when in the Army (I am that old).
    I always ask a few things of my handguns, #1. Is it reliable, #2. Is it accurate? #3. How does it feel? The 1911 answers these questions with a resounding “YES”. Just because it’s an older design, it still works fine.

  4. A 1911 is a true experts gun fighters gun. In a gun fight the first person to get a bullet into the other guy is usually going to be the winner and besides a SAA there is no gun faster with the first shot then a 1911.

  5. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
    This premise is so stupid. Carry whatever you like, shoot whatever you like, be good with whatever you shoot. As long as you can defend your choice and back it up with performance, that’s all that matters. If that’s an 1873 Cattleman or a Walther PPQ or a 1911 or a Glock 19x or whatever.

    • I take the guy with the Cattleman very seriously. He might be one of those guys who can throw an aspirin in the air and shoot it out of the sky with it.

      • Hey Gov, you aren’t wrong amigo! You see someone with one of those in public you better just assume they actually are Bob Munden reincarnated. Be most afeared 😉

  6. “The gun is just heavy due to its design. Trimming weight is possible, but it’s tough to consider a polymer 1911 a real 1911…”

    No True Scotsman fallacy.

    Try one, if you like the style, trigger and overall feel, buy one. Or if not, don’t.

    Heck, revolvers are still a popular choice.

    • I have a DW commander and a smith model 60. But my edc is a 15 round Sig p365x. I’m having difficulty finding a better all purpose handgun.

  7. Actually JMB designed the 1911 to use 200gr bullets.
    The Military wanted the 230.
    Heavy reduces recoil.
    115+115=230 so it takes twice as many 9mm to equal one 45acp. That’s why everything you shoot with a 9mm needs to be shot twice and since the gunms so light you’ve got to fight the gunm to get back on target and miss.
    Shucks, 115+ a miss does not equal 230.
    Reliability, I’ve never had anymore failures with a 1911 then any other gunm.
    Is it outdated, maybe.
    But who wouldn’t be proud to get shot with a chrome plated, fully engraved, ivory handled 1911?
    Besides plastic is killing the ocean.

    • What the military wanted was a semi-automatic version of the .45 Colt Peacemaker after it’s failed experiment with the .38. Part of the criteria was it needed to be capable of taking down a horse, so the 230 over the 200 grain bullet makes sense.

      In that sense the 1911 is outdated. There’s rarely a need to kill a horse these days.

    • “But who wouldn’t be proud to get shot with a chrome plated, fully engraved, ivory handled 1911?”

      Conversely, who wouldn’t be ashamed to get shot by some bruh’s gluk? I suppose you’d at least have a chance at surviving.

  8. You gotta be kidding me. No, the 1911 is not outdated. The reason is that there really is nothing new under the sun. The same thing that made the 1911 a superior fighting pistol in 1911 are still valid today. Magazine capacity? The author referred to 9mm. A non-issue. 1911s are chambered in .45 ACP. Weight? My heart bleeds. I carried a 5″ 1911 for twenty five years. Add to that three spare magazines, radio, handcuffs, ASP baton and a can of pepper spray, etc. That’s just on the duty belt. Reliability? The 1911 was designed to be used with ball ammunition. After all, that’s all there was for semi-auto pistols at that time. Reliability issues with modern defensive ammunition have been resolved for decades. Cost. Like anything else, you can spend just as much, or as little, as you would like. Within reason of course. A couple of things the author failed to mention about the 1911 are the ergonomics and the trigger pull. I don’t know many pistols that can beat a 1911.

      • Gov. got those too. sitting on my couch watching a documentary on General Olds. Within touch is a 4″ S&W 3rd model hand ejector .44 Spl and a ’72 mfg Colt Detective Special. They’re actions, especially the Smith, are as slick as snot on an oyster.

        • Hanging with the 4″ stainless GP today. All my revolvers have SA pulls under 3 lbs. The Uberti came out the box at 2 lbs. flat. The GPs required some lighter hammer and trigger return springs. If I ever break down and give Volquartsen a call my Mark IV target will be in that league.

    • Let’s see… single action only, heavy all metal design, limited ammo capacity, unable to clean in a dishwasher.
      I’ll take two more, please.

  9. I don’t have a 1911, but I do have 3 SAAs. Maybe the author can have me shoot him with each one and then tell me which one felt the most outdated. I’ll start with the.44 mag.

    • Looking to pick up something in single action for less than wise magnum pistol loadings. Would use it if my home was invaded as needed same as I would have used my 45-70. Neither would be my first choice for multiple invaders and have a few better options now. Outdated doesn’t mean harmless but it can mean surpassed in intended purpose.

  10. Capacity is over-rated. Performance is far more important. I would rather carry a .357 or .44 magnum revolver than a 1911. More powerful cartridge, easier to clean and maintain (especially Rugers), and more reliable. I’ve owned two 1911s (a Kimber and a Colt), and I got tired of buying and trying different magazines to get different types of ammo to feed properly. Cleaning and maintenance was also a sore point. Is it outdated?? Wrong question. Is it effective and reliable?? That is the correct question. Even more modern firearms fail that test, and older designs like revolvers answer in the affirmative.

    • I have three 1911s, a Kimber 4″, a Springfield Garrison model 5″, and an EMP. Admittedly the Kimber gave me all kinds of grief, but it wasn’t the mags, it was the recoil spring. Once replaced with a Wolff, it has run flawlessly with any ammo I put through it. I haven’t shot the Springfield enough to know its attributes. The EMP in 9mm has never failed and is delightful and accurate to shoot. I use McCormick 8 round mags for the .45s, 9 round EMP/MEC-GAR mags in the 9.

      Oh, I live in one of the 10 round max states (at least at present), so I am not missing out on the greater capacity of the plastic fantastic shooters.

  11. The 1911 is nothing but a whisky gun now, a slow enjoyable experience to be sipped and admired as a craft.
    There is not a single advantage if going to war or with the focus of self defense to take a 1911 over a .45 acp Glock, M&P, or FNX. Lighter, more durable, more capacity, better recoil management, extended frame life.

    • CC, sorry to disagree, but I do. Extensive experience with every platform you mentioned except the FN. I’ll take the 1911, but I am comfortable with lots of other pistols and revolvers.

        • CC, knives are oldest tools/weapons man invented. They still work pretty well. I buy the best I can afford. Oh, I have a couple of 1903A3s and a case of Danish M-2 ball in stripper clips and bandoliers. I know that’s WW1 stuff, but I bet I can worry you with them.

        • “Who am I to fight natural selection when one prefers WWI implements for modern self defense.”

          How does firearm/ammunition reliability, and accuracy, differ between the two?

  12. The development and refinement of handguns in the 100 plus years since JMB’s semiautomatics designs were brought to fruition has given great choices to the user. What has been difficult to improve on is the ergonomics of grip and the quality of a tuned trigger on the 1911.

    I always advise someone to pick up every pistol/revolver they can and see which ones fits their hand best and go from there.

  13. I’m not even sure why this is even a question in anyones mind???

    Sure it doesn’t hold that many rounds by todays standards. But the 1911 is hardly the only one like that. That’s the way it is for most handguns chambered in 45acp.

    Sure it’s a 100 plus year old design. So what! nearly everything in the gun world is like that. 9mm is one of the most popular cartridges out there and it’s not exactly all that new.

    There are many designs. I see nothing about the 1911 that suggests it should be considered ‘outdated’. Are you thinking about the fact the the military and the police have moved to something else? Because that makes no sense at all. The fact that sgt. Bilco doesn’t carry a 1911 for his duty gun has no bearing on what I would choose to protect my life with. Such thinking is just plain ridiculous.

    The next thing you’ll tell me is that .308Win is useless just simply because the 6.5 Creedmore exists.

  14. This is why 1911s have been continuously updated for over 100 years. There are more and more 2011s being produced to keep that trend going…They’ll be around until Jesus comes back. Which might be pretty soon.

  15. i truly love a nice 1911, have had 4, now 3. While my EDC is mostly a SA xdm 45acp, sometimes it is a trusty, tried & true 1911. If one knows a lil mechanics behind the 1911, one can ‘slick it up & fine tune’ it well. My well kept & self tuned 1911’s have always been extremely reliable, feeding holler points reliably as well

  16. The 1911 has been outdated for decades that is why the U.S. Military dumped the gun and it was long overdue.

    The 1911 only remains in production today for two reasons. Its the primary gun used in NRA bullseye shooting and its a religiously worshiped icon by the far right.

    The 1911 is obsolete for the following reasons.

    Its price if made by reputable quality companies is usually much higher than competing plasticky pistols. Yes you still can buy offshore made junk 1911’s at bargain basement prices.

    Its way to big and heavy to carry as compared to modern and smaller plasticky pistols

    Its cartridge is not superior to the 9×19 because of the now available advanced bonded expanding bullets,

    Its recoil is unpleasant and most people do not shoot it as well as the 9×19

    Its low capacity makes it way less popular than the 9×19

    The cost of .45 acp ammo is usually way more expensive than the ubiquitous 9×19 ammo and not as easily availably especially during ammo shortages.

    The 1911 is not the easiest gun to strip for cleaning compared to some of the more simplistic take downs of modern designed pistols.

    The 1911 is not the most reliable of pistols with expanding bullets because of its outdated steep feed ramp. It must be tricked out to work reliably with them.

    Unless the 1911 is made of stainless it’s frame rusts compared to plasticky framed guns that cannot rust.

    It must be carried in the dangerous cocked and locked mode to be instantly ready to fire which makes most people uneasy because the safety can be accidentally bumped off and that is why they usually buy a more modern pistol. Tricked out holsters that put the retaining strap between the hammer and frame often let the leather strap slip out of the way of blocking the hammer. Ask me how I know this.

    • The “Far Right”? Yup that’s exactly why my choice of carry includes two 1911 clones, Spanish ones, one of my two Star BMs or my Star PD after all I gotta represent when with my fellow Ultra MAGAS and honor the greatest statesman in European history, Fransisco Franco.

      Now get your back up against the wall where you belong right alongside your Stalinist/Trotskyite/Anarchist pals.

  17. In the hands of a capable shooter the 1911 is superb. Most users are too damned lazy to achieve “capable”. Haven’t been without one since ‘75.

  18. Different guns for different situations. If the wife and I are going to the store in daylight it is a .38 special LCR. If we are going to an area for dinner out it is the Shield. And if I am driving cross country and will be gassing up at night in out of the way stations it is a .45. Home defense is a shotgun. No one gun does it all.

  19. You know, I thought about this for a minute. It occurred to me that the 1911 was invented about the same time as the gasoline engine. I think one is as about as obsolete as the other.

    • Outdated? Maybe. Shoot what you like. And can afford. I’m getting another plastic fantastic 9mm but my state is making my life difficult. A stash gat or 2 is a good idea🙄

  20. the author says he has a RIA 1911, who makes a 3.1″ barrel model that holds ten .45’s in it’s magazine. i purchased a model made by them, under a different name. read about it’s problems first, bought all the fixes and installed them, for about $400–extra mags included. being a knucklehead, broke and replaced things with simple hand tools. now ir shoots any hollowpt., and drops the empties and 2 feet to my right. very accurate, after i got use to the 3 dot sights—-

    • I suppose you’re referring to the issues with the Rock Island/Armscor “Tanker”, they withdrew that model and replaced it with the “Tank Commander”, it appears they have fixed the problems as reviews are good. The “Tank Commander” though a bit larger than my Star PD is on my wish list.

  21. As usual, ‘interesting’ comments 😉
    Here’s my take (since someone mentioned gasoline engines) – the Model T was the first mass produced automobile from which (more or less) all other cars have descended. I doubt anyone would turn down a fully restored one, I sure wouldn’t. Can y’all imagine how much better it would have been had modern metals and engineering techniques been available. It was a product of the time, just like the original 1911.
    FWIW my most recent acquisition is a stainless steel model (brand not specified on purpose) for which I paid the ‘princely’ sum of $500 – and that included five boxes of ammo, so that tosses out the ‘expensive’ part of the equation.

  22. Carry an alloy frame 9mm 5” 1911 everyday as my daily carry. Great combination of concealability , capacity, and superior shoot ability for me.

  23. A little tunnel vision on the evidence. First of all, I can carry 10+1 in my Chip McCormick mag. My P365 holds 12. I am more accurate with the 1911. It’s safer because I can carry it cocked and locked whereas with a semi-auto Sig or Glock, there’s no safety, plus the grip safety on the 1911 is automatically built in. No chance for the 1911 to go off unlike a semi-auto Sig or Glock even though those have safety built into them in case they are dropped. There is less recoil with a 1911 than a snappy Sig or Glock. Don’t get me wrong, I like my Sig and Glock. But the 1911 is so well balanced. My Tisas Tanker is less that a Glock and much less than a Sig and eats everything I put in it. My Kimber, well, no issues there. I also read that a .45 hits harder than a 9 mm even though the wound cavity isn’t all that different.

  24. Simply another alternative to “caliber wars”. All firearms are the same….touch off a small explosive powder to expel a projectile. The rest is advertising.

  25. I dropped mine in a skidder-gemerated mud-hole while getting unstuck – ran over it, buried it so deep I had to go home and get my metal detector to find it. Took <10 minutes, and handy creek, to get it running. Try that with a striker-fired gun.

    Still got it, still shoots, feeds and shucks – and near-max 185 gr XTPs cause catastrophic damage at ranges <30 yds.

    It's 109 years old, going on 110. Try that with a polymer pistol.

    Boutique editions vary a LOT. The real deal is still good.

    The 45acp caliber does have range/penetration limitations.

    But the real reason the pistol isn't dated is safety and ergonomics…

  26. I have a Springfield Armory 1911 I bought 30 years ago. I still love to shoot it, but I no longer CCW with it. I’ve gone to a S&W Shield EZ in 9mm. My arthritis and sciatica no longer enable me to carry the 1911 concealed daily. Getting old ain’t for the weak.

  27. “The gun is just heavy due to its design.”

    We have a lady Arizona Ranger in town. Watched for years as she carried a cocked and locked 1911 in her holster. About a year ago I noticed ‘something different’. Asked her about it. “It just got too heavy.”

    • That argument never made any sense to me. Those that think the 1911 is too heavy seem to think they can dictate my choices for me. How would they know what ‘too heavy’ is for me? Every person is different. Who are they to say that I can’t handle the weight?

      • @Prndll

        don’t be so sensitive about it. Why is it that 1911 people are always so sensitive about any slight or perceived critique of the 1911? Its ok if you can’t count past 1911, we understand.


        • Perhaps it is being overly sensitive. I’ll give you that. It just bothers me that other people think they know better for me than I do. What better place to express that than here (well, other than the ballot box)?

          But ya know, I don’t even have a holster for any 1911 (yet).

      • The lady Ranger is about 5′ 11″, very slim, and grey haired. The Arizona Rangers are a volunteer outfit, no age limits, and for the most part retired LEO’s, but that is not mandatory. They have to buy all their own gear, uniform, vest, weapons, cuffs, radio etc., and horse. On ‘big event’ weekends they patrol in pairs, on foot and horseback.

  28. Out around the homestead, or on quick runs to the small rural village closest to the farm, I carry a revolver on a gunbelt much like people did back in the day of big revolvers. Going beyond local area and needing concealed I carry either my ancient 1911 or my equally ancient Hi-Power. Designed by the same man. Sure, I could carry some striker fire plastic wonder gun. I have a couple in the safe. But, my preference is the old, heavy hand cannons that absorb the recoil and don’t snap so hard on the wrist.
    Neither of the usual Browning designed weapons I usually use have had any issues feeding hollow points. But, I still prefer old fashioned ball ammo mostly out of habit and cost. A whole bunch of bad and not so bad guys have succumbed to old military ball projectiles in the last century. It works, so why do I need to change things? Or why should the personal likes or dislikes of some paid propagandist convince me to abandon what has worked for me for half a century?

  29. Dear Mr. Pike,
    If the 1911 were a woman, I would call your comments sexist and misogynistic. Shame on you.

  30. try arguing any of these points when looking down the wrong end of the 1911. been carrying one for approx 50 yrs. Daily. Qualified and carried it in the Marines. still carry it today.

  31. depends on what features you are looking for in a firearm, really

    if you take advantage of some of the features modern firearms have, then yes the 1911 is extremely outdated

    if you do not, then the 1911 isnt any different and works fine, outside of capacity that may or may not be a concern

  32. This like parking a cherry 1965 Mustang next to 2023 Prius…you won’t find any straight guys looking at the Prius too closely

  33. Using that logic, would Stoner’s DI action be outdated as the military has adopted short stroke piston designs?

  34. Always hear about the advancements in 9mm defense ammo like the same doesn’t apply to .45.
    Sure some 1911s don’t like HP ammo some do. and some can be made to.
    My older kimber pro carry ll eats any HPs I feed it. It’s fairly light with a nice trigger. 8rd chip mc.mags I don’t feel under gunned at all.
    Just switched back to it for edc with the weather change.

  35. Good grief. I put Mr. Pike in the penalty box and did not read his articles for a few years when this was originally published in 2019.

    Capacity? If I go to another war, give me the Beretta or the Sig. 7 with an extra magazine will do for 90% of the counties in the US. IF shootouts that require more rounds than that are common in your area, I’d move if possible. Heard the Sig 365 is pretty good with 12 and still reasonably concealable.

    Weight? Hit the gym and buy a good belt and holster. I carry a Ruger 10MM SR-1911 when I hike in the woods.

    Reliability? Buy a good one and break it in properly. I have a Colt and an R1 and they are both very reliable. Colt HAS NEVER had a malfunction in 25 years. R1 had a few in the first box and none since. Kimber full size needs to be broken in properly. PS: Use factory magazines. Even the M-9 had reliability problems with cheap magazines.

    Price? Yup…good ones are expensive.

    Pros for me? I’m slightly more accurate with single action which is very important when you are not in a war. I can conceal a single stack easier than most double stacks, although the Sig 365 might be the exception. They seem pretty skinny…like me.

    Dan, if I get time, I’ll send you an article by the end of the week completely explaining why this article is lacking.

  36. Article was out a few years ago.
    1. Still single stack gun…check
    2. Still made of metal….check
    3. Still a bit pricier….check
    4. Author still hates 1911’s…check

    If it’s so outdated and obsolete, why do we continue to discuss its relevance 110 plus years later. As I replied in the post from a few years ago….If I have 67’ Pontiac GTO hard or soft top sitting in my drive way, I could give a f$@k what anybody thinks about my old car.

  37. It’s a great competition gun; especially in 2011 form.

    It’s completely outclassed as a carry gun or a combat weapon.

    And this is coming from a 1911/2011 enthusiast, apologist, custom builder, and lover.

    • “It’s completely outclassed as a carry gun or a combat weapon.”

      With the advent of double stack handguns, any single stack is obsolete and outclassed as a carry gun or a combat weapon.

  38. There is something comforting about having a 1911 strapped to your chest, one of the nice things about the 1911 if you run out of ammo you can always throw the damn thing at them. Oh by the way ive has great success with wilson combat mags. And of course practice with you carry if you don’t like get something else.

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