The M1911, picked up for use in the year 1911, is coming up on its 100-year anniversary. The M1911 has been through two World Wars, the Korean War, Vietnam and thousands of successful military missions. It’s still holstered by some of the world’s most elite special ops teams. Marine Force Recon, FBI Hostage Rescue, LAPD SWAT, Delta Force, and many other organizations all issue 1911’s to those who desire to carry them. I’m a fan. So allow me to go through the original post and point out the common misconception expressed by Yankee Gun Nut in his controversial post The 1911 Sucks . . .
I am not surprised that the 1911 is out of place in today’s world, and you shouldn’t be surprised either.
Out of place? I’m not sure where or how Gunnutmegger came to this conclusion. After taking a trip to my local gun shop (needed new .223 phos-bronze brushes), I can say that Gunnutmegger is a bit out of touch with on-the-ground reality. There was a wide selection of pistols: Glock’s, Springfield’s, S&W’s, SIG’s and more. That more included a nice selection of over two dozen M1911 pistols. That’s a lot of inventory and capital investment for a pistol that is “out of place”.
It needs tools to disassemble. It has unreliable magazines. It is finicky about ammo. And, as a single-action pistol, it is unsafe for 95% of its users to carry.
Any long-time 1911 owner will tell you that a classic 1911 does not need any tools to disassemble for field-stripping. Some manufacturers have added full-length guide rods in order to increase reliability and accuracy. It was once assumed that the guide spring of a 1911 snakes and spirals around under the dust cover during recoil. Thanks to some pretty cool X-ray work, we know that this isn’t the case. For those who have never torn-apart a 1911, here’s my YouTube video from TTAG’s Wilson XTAC Review.
Others assumed that full-length guide rods helped keep the recoiling barrel/slide moving “straighter,” which ultimately increased accuracy. The truth of the matter: most full-length guide rods actually impair accuracy. Of all the studies that I’ve seen, even the most accurate shooter isn’t accurate enough to notice the increase in group size.
Magazines for the 1911 are no more or less reliable than those for other manufacturers and models. While there are no stats in the subject, and I’ve seen 1911 magazines have issues right out of the box, I’ve also seen brand new Glock, M&P, SIG, and Walther magazines with issues. I’ve also encountered brand new revolvers that were out of time straight from the factory. Bottom line: no manufacturer is perfect.
Gunnutmegger brought up a valid concern for some 1911 owners: which magazine to use. The original 1911 pistol uses a controlled-feed magazine and follower. Over the years, manufacturers and magazine producers have tried to increase the 1911’s reliability (a relative term) by using JHP ammunition. Modern 1911 manufactures have pretty much solved any issues feeding JHP rounds by using tapered barrel feed-ramps to better facilitate loading. This is no different than guns that have been designed in the past two decades. Look at any Glock, XD, CZ, M&P, etc and you will find a nicely angled feed-ramp (polished on some models) designed to decrease feed angle and increase feed relability.
Gunnutmegger claims that the 1911 is finicky about ammo. Many modern guns are finicky about ammo. I have a SIG P220 that didn’t like Remington UMC ammo. Is the SIG P220 also a poor gun design? The truth of the matter: ammo made at the extreme ranges of its stated specification, or even out of range (RF has had issues with this) may not work in pistols and firearms made to modern, exacting tolerances. My Springfield Trophy Match feeds anything and everything: FMJ or JHP, steel or brass-cased.
I agree (as does Rabbi) with Gunnutmegger that the 1911 isn’t the best option for new or novice shooters. The light trigger and the pistol‘s single action design can be a problem for new shooters. Does this make it a poor pistol? Well, look at it this way. The Nissan GT-R is a world-class track car, giving the Porsche GT3 (a car that costs almost three times as much) a royal smack-down on many tracks around the world. Is the GT-R the better car for a 16-year-old driver? No. Perhaps a teenager shouldn’t be driving a supercar in the first place . . .
The same applies to the 1911. New shooters often find the ergonomics of the 1911 pleasurable (especially novice shooters who have only been “Glocked”). Many first-time 1911 shooters will notice how much more accurate they are with the single-action trigger. But running the gun successfully requires careful attention and lots of practice (especially in terms of drawing from a holster and manipulating the safety). This is not a “fault.” It’s an opportunity to excel.
Speaking of safety, I have a problem with Gunnutmegger’s characterization of the 1911 as an inherently unsafe weapon. Safety is not gun related. Safety, whether gun related or in the workshop, happens between one’s ears – not on the back or side of any firearm or tool.
Why does a reliable 1911 cost so much, and need so much gunsmithing?
Gunnutmegger gives no evidence—either statistical or anecdotal—to support this claim and goes on to say that 1911’s are too expensive. Personally, I own two Springfield 1911’s. They’ve performed flawlessly out of the box. My Trophy Match was my single-stack competition gun for a while. In our journey together, we have pushed well over 3,000 trouble-free .45” diameter slugs downrange.
I paid less than $600 for my pre-loved Springfield Loaded in .45ACP. Considering the Springfield Armory XDm-45 costs about $700 new, price points of a modern 1911 and a modern polymer gun are comparable. A new SIG P220 Elite runs over $1000. One can argue that reliable 1911’s are actual more affordable than some other modern pistols.
What Smith & Wesson pistol of recent manufacture won’t feed hollowpoints? What about Glock? SiG? Beretta?
Hundreds of them! RF has had troubles with his new Ruger, my neighbor has a brand-new S&W that jams every other round, and I have had two issues this year alone with brand-new, well-known and popular firearms. As I said earlier, manufacturing is manufacturing. Nothing man or machine-made will be 100% perfect – even a Glock.
Quality control is what separates one manufacturer from another—from parts sourcing to finished product. Is the Wilson XTAC worth $2600? Well, if you had to buy one gun and know that it is going to work all the time, every time – then yes. Worth, or value, is a personal decision. I know many people who make six-figure incomes who drive “cheaper” cars. Not because they have to, or even want to. Because they can’t justify the “value” of purchasing a pricier car.
The shooting public would not accept an unreliable gun of a more modern design.
And they certainly wouldn’t accept an unreliable gun of a 100-year-old design. That’s why, after a century, 1911’s are one of the most sought after pistols on the market.
And God help anyone who buys a used 1911
Again, I’ve purchased two used 1911’s over the past two years and both guns have functioned flawlessly. Of course, the same applies to other used guns that I have purchased over the years: revolvers and semi-automatic pistols. But then I know what to look for in terms of wear and function. It may be easier to find an abused 1911 than an abused Glock, but it’s just as easy to find a good example of each—if you do your research of consult an expert.
The 1911 is too big to conceal.
Quite the contrary: many people can easily conceal a full-size 1911. The single-stack design rarely prints and I never find myself with a grip or hammer digging into my sides.
As shown above, it is all about the holster!
Well, that would be a more convincing argument if those “realistic” shooting sports didn’t have intricate rules that somehow disqualify most non-1911 designs. Purely by coincidence, right? Sure, they come up with semi-plausible rationales for some of those rules, but there is no way to disguise the overall bias towards the 1911.
Both IDPA and IPSC have many classes of pistol competitions. In reality, the traditional single-stack 1911 is only competitive in one class: single-stack. Open and limited classes favor high-capacity firearms (some of which are based off of a double-stack 1911, but that trend is changing). Production class was introduced for modern polymer-pistol shooters.
So what if Jeff Cooper liked the only handgun in use when he was in the military?
Actually, Jeff Cooper liked many other types of pistols. Col. Cooper ranted and raved over the CZ75 pistol, declaring it one of the best DA semi-automatic pistols available. Jeff Cooper also said pistols are merely a last-resort firearm; something that should be used to allow a person to get back to his rifle.
Regardless of his “fighting career,” one does not need to be dragged to hell and back to understand advantages of one type of firearm over another. The same applies to historians: one does not need to be Egyptian to understand hieroglyphics. Besides, I doubt anyone gets to be a Marine Lieutenant Colonel through combat training missions alone.
Am I a qualifications snob? No, I am an results snob.
I’m both; qualifications typically yield the most productive results. You don’t send a janitor to the drawing board to design the best rocket. As a scientist and researcher, numbers mean everything to me. I’ll need a lot more data before I dump, or dump on, a gun that has served me so faithfully over so many years.
To our faithful TTAG readers, please take anything and everything you read on any firearms-related website, TTAG included, with a grain of salt. Opinions expressed by writers are just that – opinions. I respect the Yankee Gun Nuts right to express his opinion on the 1911, as I hope respect my right to consider it hopelessly ill-informed. Meanwhile, I’ve enjoyed writing for TTAG this year and look forward to an even more involved role in 2011.