Wilson combat magazines
Credit: wilsoncombat.com
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For those of us in thrall to Ol’ Slabsides, or at least those of us who just own one, Wilson Combat 920 Series 1911 magazines are the best bang for your buck when it comes to magazines for your 1911 pistol. I’d give you pictures of my mags, but my phone camera sucks and my digital camera is still at the office. Besides, it looks better on their site anyway.

If you buy a 1911 (one that isn’t made by Wilson Combat – DUH) I recommend you grab at least a couple of their magazines. A lot of other 1911 guys will, too.

As many of us know, the magazine is the most common cause of feeding problems when it comes to this make and model pistol. There are others to be sure (extractor, recoil springs, not lubricated enough, etc.) but crappy magazines are often the culprit.

Take a poll of guys shooting 1911 pistols with any frequency, and chances are they’re running Wilson or Chip McCormick magazines, in most cases. There are some other good magazine makers out there; MecGar and ProMags 1911 magazines are supposed to be pretty decent as well, but I haven’t used them as yet so I can’t offer an opinion.

My 1911 is a Remington R1. As far as budget-ish 1911 pistols go it’s a pretty darn good option. But it had some initial feeding problems which I first attributed to break-in. And then I blamed it on that one time I hadn’t lubricated the thing in a few weeks. Until eventually I thought, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore.”

Because I’m a cheapskate, I ordered the 920’s instead of the 47 series magazines that most people think of when it comes to Wilson Combat. You know, these guys:

Wilson Combat 47 Series Magazine. Credit: wilsoncombat.com

The 920, as you’ve no doubt gathered, is a GI-style magazine and much more affordable. They start at $19 from Wilson per 7-rounder in black, $22 in stainless, and $23 for an 8-rounder in their range for .45 ACP pistols. You can also get them for 1911 pistols in 9mm, 10mm and .40 S&W, though those will run you $30.

The 47 series magazines start at $33 for 7-round units (in .45 ACP) and go up from there. Granted, that’s still not nearly as bad as what HK makes people pay (Gott im Himmel!) but still.

Since then? My R1 feeds like a goat whose stomach thinks its throat’s been cut. JHP, hardball, whatever.

Going forward, regardless of what the name is on the slide of my 1911, it’s going to be fed with Wilson Combat magazines. Because they definitely don’t suck.

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  1. Wilson mags are my “go to” mags for pretty much all my 1911s. Always kept a baker’s dozen for range and competition, and a separate batch strictly for defense that were tested numerous times (but not dropped). Mainly stainless 8 rders and a few 10s.

  2. I’m kinda amazed that people will accept reliability issues with 1911s. If I bought a gun and it wouldn’t feed with the magazines that came with it I’d be sending it back.

    • That’s because they cut their teeth on Glocks and expect malfunctions.
      Ps., I love the 47 series and feed all my .45ACP Colt 1911s from them. Still about 2/3 the price of most wonder-nine magazines.

      • Since when were glocks known for malfunctioning? I haven’t owned one but that’s hardly the reputation I’ve heard about them.

    • It’s got nothing to do with reliability. I’ve got boxes of all kinds of miscellaneous mags for different systems. I’d say 99% are reliable. I’ve tagged maybe 3 or 4 over the decades that I will not use except as “examples” when teaching a class on malfunction drills, including Glock mags.

      It’s about overall quality and staying consistent after the choice is made.

    • We accept that a 1911 may not function with ammo other than milspec ball because, most of us anyway, bought it because 1911s can have very good triggers once the parts are properly fitted and tuned, and because that makes them fun to shoot at paper targets on the range. For me, at least, if they shoot my reloads with 200gr SWCs that’s a bonus. I have other handguns to go to war with. Though I have read that the factory ramp-and-throat work on post-2007 Colts is very good and makes them compatible with either all or almost all currently manufactured factory .45 ACP defensive ammo, most of the 1911s I currently own have never had a round of hollowpoint ammo through them. I plink with them, and shoot them in the very occasional IDPA match.

      We know and understand that, by modern standards, the 1911 has three damning flaws. One is the steep two-step feedramp, which causes no problems with hardball. Two is the internal extractor, which is perfectly fine if retuned or replaced when it wears, but external extractors don’t wear that way. Three is the singlestack magazine, and I can’t help you there. Once there was a company called Para-Ordnance that made 1911s around a more modern doublestack magazine design. There were others. Entreprise Arms. Elisco Machine & Tool in the Philippines makes a Para clone in 9mm that is imported by the people at Rock Island Armory. STI and Caspian still sell doublestack frames but I don’t know what magazines they’re even supposed to use. Remington is now making Para clones but I don’t know if they sell. None of these is popular or commonplace in the US. I have a Smith M&P in .40 that I intend to use as a sidearm should circumstances dictate my need for one, despite my deep and abiding love for 1911s.

      If you have a bit of a sense of history, you understand that there was a time, and it wasn’t so long ago, that the 1911 was a perfectly viable first choice for a handgun for self-defense. Prior to the 1911 semiauto handguns didn’t work worth a damn and serious men carried revolvers, often Colt SAAs, if they were going into dark places and might have to fight for their lives with a handgun. The 1911 amazed everyone with how well it worked under adverse conditions in two World Wars and Korea. By Vietnam the guns in military service were worn badly and probably should have been replaced, and their reliability wasn’t so impressive, but if you were an armed citizen, a commercially manufactured 1911 still looked pretty good when the alternative was either a six-shot revolver in .32 or .38 Special or a foreign military surplus pistol in a foreign caliber called “nine millimeter” which was not highly regarded in the US, and for which the only ammunition that existed was FMJ roundnose, and that not widely available.

      Even as late as the 1980s, the case could be made that .45 ACP defensive ammo was so decisively superior to 9mm defensive ammo, given the dismal state of hollowpoint bullet design back then–bullet expansion was a sometime thing, and if it expanded or fragmented it might grossly underpenetrate–that it trumped the 9mm’s capacity advantage in the then new and expensive double-stack 9mm service pistol designs. Lots of people back then looked at semiauto pistols and said they’d stick with six shots of hot-loaded .357 Magnum, too, which was back then at least as much better than .45 as .45 was better than 9mm, shot for shot, and if you couldn’t get it done with six rounds of 125gr .357 hollowpoints loaded to primer-cratering pressures, you weren’t going to get it done with something belt-fed either. Some of the individuals who said these things were very experienced, knowledgeable men, too, many of them combat veterans.

      We have the great fortune to live in an era where we have more and better choices available to us than they did, but that doesn’t make them fools. And a lot of the things those guys have told us over the years still ring true. “Speed is fine but accuracy is final.” “Watch your front sight.” “Where you hit them counts for more than what you hit them with.”

      • I have a few Para Ord 14.45s, they came with MecGar mags. The mags perform flawless, and the Para feed-ramps will feed EVERYTHING.

    • Saying “1911s have reliability issues” shows a lack of understanding about the platform. You could also say “ARs/AKs have reliability issues” if you’re only judging the vast amount of bargain bin AR/AKs like century or Olympic arms. 1911s are produced by nearly every gun company and all varying degrees of quality. If Glock was subject to the same variation, the you’d have some pretty piss poor glocks too. A good place to actually judge a 1911 as a platform would be to start with the baseline Colt 1911, which you can buy new for 700-800$. There are virtually no reliability issues with that gun, other then genuine factory mistakes which occur in production of every item on the planet. People like to choose Wilson mags as their replacement mags because they’ve made a name as the best.

  3. I’ve never had a problem with a Springfield magazine. A few years ago I bought a box full on sale for $7.00 each and (Springfield basic GI mags) the only mag that I have replaced with one was a Remington mag for my other 1911, my Remington R1 that they reintroduced to the market back in 2011. The baseplate fell off as I was shooting. They, like the cheaper Wilson’s shown here have only the four crappy spot welds holding the baseplate to the tube. Look closely, you get what you buy and these Wilson’s appear to be overpriced junk like my Remington’s. Probably manufactured in the same Chinese sweat mill.

        • I’ve owned 3 SA 1911s over the years, every single one of them needed their throat polished. Doesn’t mean yours did, but every company has QC issues. Until you’ve tried the WC mags I wouldn’t criticize them. They work, and they are the ones I use when I need reliability. My Chip Mcormack mags have failed on the last round (nosedived ftf ) my WC have yet to fail on me.

          Having said that, my daily carry is a Glock, so what do I know 🙂

      • Better still, spoken like a guy who buys Remington.
        When I heard Remington had bought the Para double stack designs, I went out and purchased two NIB/NOS Para 14.45s. Paid around 30% more then what they cost the prior year.

        • We did it the other way around. My brother and I each bought late-production Para Elite Commanders. Priced right at $500.00 from distributor. Both pistols have performed flawlessly since new.

  4. I only have experience with the Wilson 47 series. I probably have 50 +/-. Never a problem except with the 8 rd. Fed fine, but spring would get weak after awhile and fail to lock the slide to the rear. About the third time this happened I ordered 7 rd. springs and followers and never looked back. I mentioned this to Bill Rogers once and he admitted it was an issue. This was many years ago. Problem may have been corrected.

  5. Wilson Combats are the bomb.

    I haven’t tried MecGar 1911 mags, but I have full confidence in their mags as an alternative to original manufacturer mags.

    Not a fan of ProMag.

  6. I carry my Kimber Ultra Carry II with a flush fit Chip McCormick but all my reloads are Wilson Combat 8 rounders.

  7. Wilson now owns Chip McCormick. I’ve been getting e-mails of sales, and the thing that bugs me is that they have all these different mags at different price points, but I can’t tell the difference between one kind of mag and another. As the author noted, you go to a different series, and the price is quite a bit higher. But the web site doesn’t tell me why I should pay more for one over another. I have two I bought at an LGS for my Kimber; I will be buying more.

  8. I’ve always preferred magazines with metal followers. If the mag tends to have followers made with polymer and weak-a$$ springs it’s a potential problem no matter how much it costs. It’s a lesson Iearned from cheap AR mags that wouldn’t leave the bolt locked open on the last round.

  9. I hope they dont suck. I just ordered one and it was hard to find anyone besides Wilson selling them. All my 1911 mags are Wilsons but mostly 47D’s. Narry a problem ever other than some of my shitty reloads.

  10. Chip McCormick has been my aftermarket mag supplier for many years- I have no complaints.
    Factory mags shipped w/ my 2000 production Kimber Stainless Compact are 7 rd shorties for the Officer size frame. They appear identical to the half-dozen CMC spares I bought as spares. These all work fine, though I had to tweak the slide release tab on the follower on two of these mags.
    The MecGar mags supplied w/ my Para function flawlessly in all of my 1911s.

  11. I have a Colt competition model 70 gov with crimson Trace grips. I run only factory Colt mags they run around $32 apiece. I have never had a feed issue! I can run any type of ammo from the cheep Tula to the pricey stuff never been a problem I don’t see a need to change brands

  12. I have 7 Wilson Combat magazines and I actually had a problem with the feed lips on one. WC has a lifetime warrantee on their magazines, so I sent it back to them and they sent me a new one, no hassles.

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