1911 Cult: Cracks in the Armor

9-Feb-11 – 10:49 by ToddG

A recent article about a small agency in N.C.’s Kimber problems has led to widespread discussion about the 1911 being a “hobbyist’s gun” (see, e.g., View From The Porch But it says “Custom” right on the gun! and Gun Nuts Media 1911 as a hobby gun). All of which echoes what Ken Hackathorn and Larry Vickers said in the recent pistol-training.com interview about the HK45:

“The 1911 is an enthusiast’s pistols. In order to keep that gun running you have to, it’s not optional, you have to become your own armorer to a degree. You have to be able to diagnose and fix minor problems on an end user level. If you’re not willing to sign up for that, frankly you have no business running a 1911 for anything other than occasional recreational shooting. If you’re going to put yourself in harm’s way with that gun and you’re not willing to sign up for that, then you need to avoid it.”

And across the country, the chorus of “I carry a 1911 every day you bastards!” has rung out.

I see 1911s in class all the time. Admittedly, no one is showing up to Aim Fast, Hit Fast with a Taurus or RIA. Mostly it’s Springfields or semi-custom guns (Wilson, Baer, Nighthawk) with Colts & Kimbers (often heavily ‘smithed) thrown in for good measure. Do they all work? No. Do they all break? No. Are there some common themes? Yes.

  • There is a direct correlation between IQ and 1911 reliability. I know it sounds harsh, but it’s true. The smart guys are the ones who understand the weaknesses of the system and prepare for it through proper selection, custom work, and maintenance.
  • Maintenance is key. We’re not just talking cleaning and oil. To run a 1911 well, you need to understand extractor tension. You need to understand what each of those little parts does, how it does it, and how it can go wrong.
  • You usually get what you pay for. While I’ve seen guns from the big name semi-custom shops crap out, that’s far less common than breakages or reliability problems with off-the-rack bargain 1911s. Of course, the guy who spends $3,000 on a Wilson probably also tested his gun and had any problems fixed by the manufacturer immediately. Which leads us to the final thought…
  • Folks who shoot 1911s because they shoot them well do better than folks who shoot 1911s because they think the 1911 is cool. Before class ever begins, I can usually figure out whose 1911s will run and whose won’t. The guy bragging about his 1911 will almost always (a) suck , (b) have a problem gun, or (c) both.

What this all amounts to is pretty simple:

Yes, you can get a 1911 that runs and you can keep it running. The operative word is “you.” There is a lot more you need to do when choosing the gun, running the gun, and maintaining the gun than if you bought a (Beretta Glock HK SIG S&W). That doesn’t make the 1911 a bad gun. But it does make it a hobbyist’s gun.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

  1. 58 Responses to “1911 Cult: Cracks in the Armor”

  2. I have three 1911s that I CCW.

    Two are exactly as taken from the box, and one is a 45-year-old Colt that has been customized to make it more shootable (beavertail, Trij’s, lockwork) but is untouched in the “reliability” area (it still has a GI-profile chamber throat.)

    If a 1911 needs “tuning” to run out-of-the-box, it is busted, broke and unsat.

    If it runs right out of the box and will hold up under heavy usage, it also probably cost more than two HK45s, and is only marginally easier to shoot fast and accurately, and is going to need more attention paid to maintenance. (Although I would argue that a knowledgable garage-level tinkerer can probably maintain a 1911 easier than any of the current guns stuffed with toaster parts; guns from the blacksmithing era tend to be that way…)

    By Tam on Feb 9, 2011

  3. Great Post!!!
    I’m so glad that this truth is finally hitting the main stream. Remember, “1911’s are what you show your friends… Glocks are what you show your enemies.”

    By Stephen on Feb 9, 2011

  4. Wow, by comment number two!

    That didn’t take long at all… ;)

    By Tam on Feb 9, 2011

  5. Amen, reverend!!

    By gtmtnbiker98 on Feb 9, 2011

  6. In fairness though, Tam, you’re smarter than the average bear. If you were my next door neighbor and promised to pull maintenance on my gun every Tuesday night, I could run a 1911 forever, too!

    By ToddG on Feb 9, 2011

  7. Tam – And comment number one took even less. :-)
    I agree w/ Todd. If you were my neighbor, I would carry my 1911 too!
    It’s sometimes fun to BE the cliche!!!

    By Stephen on Feb 9, 2011

  8. As primarily a 1911 shooter I would say this is highly accurate. People also forget the springs need constant replacement and not keeping up with it can lead to real problems.

    To address this custom v. out of the box argument though I will say of the dozens that I have tested, 8 1911’s I own and two that I carry, I have only ever seen ONE 1911 properly timed without after-market adjustment. Will a 1911 function if not properly timed? Sure. Is a jam and/or breakage more likely? Absolutely.

    Mike at Schuemann has been kind enough to post an in-depth method of testing the timing of a 1911 and I highly recommended it.
    http://www.schuemann.com/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=jWUIcpla6NU%3d&tabid=67&mid=445

    Todd, can you shoot me an email, I seem to have lost yours…

    By Matt NRA on Feb 9, 2011

  9. “The 1911 is an aficionado’s weapon, and still has a place in the modern arsenal for those who are dedicated to it. With proper setup and maintenance, the 1911 can serve you like no other weapon.” Hilton Yam

    By Stephen on Feb 9, 2011

  10. I do not know this first hand, but I hear a similar discussion from sports car enthusiasts about whether someone should own a classic Porsche or classic Corvette. The Porsche allegedly can be much more temperamental and requires more attention to detail to keep running.

    This discussion also generally reminds me of the personalities contrasted in Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. 1911’s are not for the Sutherlands of the world and it is unfortunate that they’re marketed so romantically.

    By Bob on Feb 9, 2011

  11. I’ve spent years of my life, thousands of dollars and thousands of rounds running 1911’s on duty, off duty and in competition. I agree 100% with Todd’s commentary.

    The platform does hold and will always hold a very special place in my heart, but quite frankly sometimes it can be more trouble that its worth. That being said I’ve had a hell of a time leaving it for something else.

    I work for a PD that carries 1911’s throughout the department. What I’ve learned is that most modern factory guns will work just fine for the occasional recreational shooter, but when run hard will choke. I’ve also learned that most 1911 “smiths” don’t know what the hell they’re doing. They fit parts, but don’t truly understand how they interact to make a reliable solid gun.

    At this point in time the only folks I trust to build/work on a gun are John Jardine, Chuck Rogers, Bob Rodgers, Dave Berryhill, Ned Christiansen, John Harrison, Steve Morrison, Larry Vickers and the Springfield Custom Shop. I’m sure Hiton Yam also builds a great gun, but I have yet to have the chance to handle/shoot one. The guys I mentioned I have personal experience with.

    If you aren’t willing to really learn the 1911 platform and invest the appropriate amount of cash to start with then you have no business depending on the 1911 platform.

    By KevH on Feb 9, 2011

  12. 1911 is a generic term. It covers lots of levels from lots of makers. Saying my 1911 is reliable is like saying my PC is reliable.

    By Ken Rihanek on Feb 9, 2011

  13. The LAV also had this to say:
    “This approach has been used with great effectiveness in Tier One special operations units for years. I am a product of that school of thought, and I have trained a great many of these soldiers with that approach uppermost in my mind. … By these criteria it is not hard to see why a tuned 1911 pistol is so popular in selected spec ops units.”
    http://vickerstactical.com/tactical-tips/accuracy/

    CDI Factor much??

    By Dropkick on Feb 9, 2011

  14. In fairness, I think a bit much is being made of “maintenance”, in that changing recoil and FP springs and checking extractor tension every few thousand rounds is hardly rocket surgery and no more time-consuming than a regular cleaning.

    Of course, this assumes a pistol built to quality specs and that puts us back to paying 2x what you’d pay for an HK or 3x the cost of a Glock/M&P, just to get into the game. And even then the gun will be shot to death at half the round count you can expect from the newer guns.

    On the other hand, you get the hobby shooters who bought, say, a Glock on the advice of Tommy Lee Jones and think that means they never have to replace or inspect springs or keep the striker channel degreased and clear of debris because, hey, it’ll shoot a million rounds underwater just like Chuck Taylor’s…

    By Tam on Feb 9, 2011

  15. I like the way Larry Vickers said it “If you treat your gun like your lawnmower then get a Glock” The point being that a 1911 requires a bit of maintenance, more than your modern polymer guns. They also cost more, and rightfully so.

    Unfortunately there is a lot of crap for 1911’s on the market these days and people want the shorter 3″ or 4″ guns for carry. The combination of mediocre build quality and components along with a cropped action (as in the case of the mentioned agency) are recipes for disaster.

    The 1911 is an easier gun to shoot than something with a striker fired or double action trigger but with proper training and some practice, most shooters can learn to run a gun well.

    By Kirk in Utah on Feb 9, 2011

  16. Your last bullet point is classic … and true.

    One thing I’ve been working hard on for the past year is keeping my mouth shut & my mind open. Talking/posting less means there’s less chance I will show how little I know. It also allows me to read/listen more to those that actually know WTF they are talking about.

    Lots of “us” fancy we are experts on guns, maintenance, ammo, training, etc. because we have access to the Internet. It usually all sorts itself out once “we” get to the firing line.

    By VolGrad on Feb 9, 2011

  17. Truth.

    If I were to change one thing in your post, Todd, it would be to say “But it does make it an enthusiast’s gun”, not “hobbyist’s”. Perhaps “aficionado” is also a better word. A subtle distinction.

    I had no trouble with my 1911s at Thunder Ranch… but then, I have spare parts, know how the gun works, replace springs, spent the time to do a decent cleaning each night, and spent a lot of money to get good tools. Me and “the revolver guy” were pretty much the only two people in that class who didn’t need any schooling on the basics.

    The folks on the firing line who were less “enthusiastic” — to whom the term “extractor tension” would have been met with a “extractor what?” — were well-suited by their XDs and other recent designs. The age of mainstream guns with safety switches, wood grips, and extensive machining are past, I think, just as the age of men maintaining their tools and tinkering in the garage are largely gone.

    All of which supports your point, I think.

    Would I have been better served with an HK or an M&P? Maybe. They certainly would have cost less. I generally agree with Hilton Yam. I can shoot just fine with other guns, but none feel quite as right, or point quite as well, as that old block of steel… and I’m willing to put in the time. And so I expect to continue to pay exorbitant sums of money for, and carry, custom-made pieces of hand-crafted steel, even if I also buy more practical pieces of plastic.

    By Richard on Feb 9, 2011

  18. I think what it comes down to is that the 1911 was designed before modern manufacturing existed and has the kind of unit to unit variability that can be expected as a result. Most modern handguns are designed around relatively simple, easy to machine parts making for the kind of reproducibility we expect from a HK, Glock, or M&P. You don’t have the same requirement for careful tuning and fitting because these newer guns were at least partially designed around the expectation of being able to stick any mix of parts into them and have them just work.

    E.g., the toggle links of a 1911 certainly work, but the solid machined timing lugs of a more modern design are easier to reproduce and generally more rugged.

    By commandar on Feb 9, 2011

  19. If Kimber and Glock diversified into making aircraft, which one would you want to fly in?

    By Jody H on Feb 9, 2011

  20. @ Jody H- In what caliber?

    By Kirk in Utah on Feb 9, 2011

  21. My love for revolvers equals that of the typical 1911 cult member so I can’t really say anything simply because they drink from a different glass than I.

    By David on Feb 9, 2011

  22. Excellent post Todd! Thanks. Whould you consider the CZ75 design more reliable than the 1911 design? BTW I do carry a Glock 17 but also feel the need to have a steel frame pistol.

    By Irfan on Feb 9, 2011

  23. I’m in recovery for 1911iction and coming up on 1 year of reliability.

    By Matt on Feb 10, 2011

  24. Great post Todd. I’m with KevH, and although i have several HK’s and enjoy shooting them, I have a REALLY hard time leaving the 1911 platform as my CCW. I know the others are more reliable and less prone to any sort of failure, but the best of the best of the plastics, just dont have the feel for me of the 1911. and I feel more comfortable with MY ability to shoot the 1911 quickly and accurately than the others. It also doesn’t hurt that the 1911 can conceal easily under a t-shirt.

    I litterly go from my Ed Brown Carry to the HK45c and back again about every other day. Just can’t quite commit…

    By James on Feb 10, 2011

  25. commandar,

    You don’t have the same requirement for careful tuning and fitting because these newer guns were at least partially designed around the expectation of being able to stick any mix of parts into them and have them just work.

    There’s another modern 1911 myth on the internets that’s pretty funny. when you really think about it.

    The M1911A1 was a service pistol, built with interchangeable parts. Over the course of a couple of years during WWII over a million of them were produced by a typewriter company, a sewing machine manufacturer, and a railroad signal maker. It’s not rocket science; the gun is a stone axe.

    However, the result of all that is a reliable, heavy gun with a ~8# trigger pull, mediocre accuracy, and half the magazine capacity of a Glock 21, that still costs over a thousand dollars in today’s economy, because machining steel isn’t cheap.

    So you start tightening tolerances to improve accuracy, and fitting lockwork to improve trigger pull, and substituting cheaper manufacturing techniques and materials for smaller parts in order to keep the costs out of the stratosphere, and you wind up where we are today.

    My ’66 Colt is, in essence, a GI gun with improved sights, ergonomics, and trigger; all the crucial parts are dimensioned properly and made from the correct materials. It’s outstandingly reliable. It’s not particularly accurate, however; certainly no more so than any modern polymer service gun and probably far less so than the better examples of the breed.

    Personally, I mostly stay with the 1911 because of sunk costs. That, and it’s nice to have a sidearm that you know from the ground up, for which you specified every single part.

    By Tam on Feb 10, 2011

  26. Todd,
    I agree with your assessment, after all Hackathorn and Vickers have seen it all, but would change one word. In the last sentence, substitute the word “enthusiast” for “hobbyist”. Just because someone invests the time to learn the 1911 platform, doesn’t mean they are serious about the use of a defensive handgun. Ken has been known to rely on a 1911 quite a bit, but I would not consider him a “hobbyist”. I take my personal defense seriously, and train accordingly, choose the tool that works for me, and that is a properly set up and tested 1911.

    I play with other defensive handgun platforms to satisfy my “hobbyist interest”.

    By Will on Feb 10, 2011

  27. I would humbly submit that when one reaches the point at which one is arguing the nuances between “hobbyist” and “enthusiast” in this context, the discussion has jumped the shark.

    By ToddG on Feb 10, 2011

  28. Glocks rule!

    (see me jumping the shark?)

    By Vjay on Feb 10, 2011

  29. ToddG,

    I would humbly submit that when one reaches the point at which one is arguing the nuances between “hobbyist” and “enthusiast” in this context, the discussion has jumped the shark.

    So… 9mm or .45?

    By Tam on Feb 10, 2011

  30. 9mm, of course.

    By ToddG on Feb 10, 2011

  31. So a zombie if breaking in your window and you’ve only got an HK45 and a 1911 of your choice sitting in front of you. Which one do you grab and shoot the zombie with?

    By Vjay on Feb 10, 2011

  32. Trick question. You pick both of them up and shoot with a pistol in each hand.

    By ToddG on Feb 10, 2011

  33. OHHH, I didn’t know we were talking about handguns for ZOMBIE defense….everybody knows you need Beretta’s and HK’s for that, loaded with EXTREME SHOCK ammo….

    By Will on Feb 10, 2011

  34. DAMMIT! You passed.

    By Vjay on Feb 10, 2011

  35. I don’t think the 1911 is necessarily a “hobby gun”; in fact, do to the maintenance and know-how required to have them run reliably, I’d say it’s more the opposite of that, and these article(s)/discussion bear this out.
    It’s popular, yeah, no debate there, but it’s not the design’s fault that it often times ends up in the hands of the untrained.
    I think considering the difference between whether a 1911 will end up in the hands of a “hobbyist” or an “enthusiast” is very relevant to the topic when discussing these guns, as 99% of the time it’s the man (or woman) that’s flawed, not the machine.

    By ChipK on Feb 10, 2011

  36. Sing this:

    “I jumped the Shark…. (ca chicka chicka wha wha)
    But I did not jump the Jelly Fish”

    By Stephen on Feb 10, 2011

  37. That gave me a good laugh. Thanks Todd!

    “Trick question. You pick both of them up and shoot with a pistol in each hand. – By ToddG on Feb 10, 2011″

    By Dropkick on Feb 10, 2011

  38. This clinches it: I am taking your October class with my 1911, and at the end of it I’ll get to say my IQ is high since my 1911 runs well!
    If it doesn’t run well, I’ll blame it on Ned Christiansen, who built it, and his IQ.

    Oh, wait, forgot Ned was Mensa member…

    By YK on Feb 10, 2011

  39. Welcome to the club, Todd.

    http://www.yankeegunnuts.com/2011/01/18/1911-quality-ii-short-guns-other-calibers/

    By Gunnutmegger on Feb 11, 2011

  40. I agree with the point about manufacturing capabilities and materials at time of the 1911’s birth.

    I ALSO think people don’t want to take the time to actually learn something about there gun or shooting! “Lazy Polymer Pistol People” are just that … with a few exceptions, they are people that don’t want to clean their gun, or learn how it works, or even learn how to “manipulate the platform”. How many trainees think thay are advanced-level shooters when they can’t even execute a malfunction drill?! I guarantee you a 1911 shooter knows. heh heh

    It’s the same argument for Microsoft Windows vs. Linux. “Windows is so easy to use.” “Yeah, but Linux users really know the ins and outs of their system.”

    In our effort to make our firearms — or anything — easier to use, the users require less intelligence to use them. (Anyone seen the video of the chimpanzee shooting the Glock?)

    Is the 1911 less reliable than the polymer pistols? Well, it requires more maintenance. But ask Vickers or Hackathorn or the like how often they maintain their pistols and I bet it’s the same for both! He is a fool who goes in to harms way without a regularly maintained firearm. You can quote me on that!
    What is Vickers’ famous saying? “I may run my gun empty, but I will never run it dry.”

    By GhettoSmack on Feb 12, 2011

  41. @Tam,

    I really feel you’re getting at the same basic point that I am: with a 1911 you can either have a gun that is mass produced and subpar by modern standards, or a gun that is hand tuned and mostly up to modern standards.

    Guns designed around modern manufacturing are built around simpler mechanisms that are easily machined. I’m not disputing that a 1911 *can* be mass manufactured, simply that a mass manufactured 1911 will not be up to the same overall standards of a modern, mass-produced handgun.

    By commandar on Feb 12, 2011

  42. Spot on, Todd.

    Especially about the IQ thing.

    If I think a shooter cant handle the input required to maintain a running 1911, I wont build him one.

    By mike cyrwus on Feb 12, 2011

  43. I too have spent my whole life with the Colt 1911.

    The same 3 things that make them choke over any other
    seem to be wrong ejector(proper one is crucial for shorter slides), extractor, magazine.

    Todd is right, the 1911 does take alot more commitment,
    there are plenty of ‘out of spec’ junk clones out there to snare the ‘un-informed’ 1911 buyer.

    My builder’s list is somewhat shorter then KevH.
    Steve Morrison, Chuck Rogers, Ned Christiansen,
    Jogn Harrison, Larry Vickers.

    The 1911 is not for anyone who wont take the time or
    commitment to keep it ‘running’

    I have a long time love affair with the Colt 1911,
    custom FN/Browning Hi-Power, and of course all my
    very reliable Heckler und Koch pistols! =)

    By Kost on Feb 12, 2011

  44. P.S.

    I have to agree with the computer analogy …

    OpenSuSE Linux for this shooter!
    =)

    By Kost on Feb 12, 2011

  45. I love both my HK USC and USP Though I have never dealt with customer service for any reason I do know that ALL Germans think we suck and they hate us. So it probably also true with HK

    By JOE on Feb 15, 2011

  46. I just read the comment two above this one aloud in the gunsmithing department. *wipes tears of laughter from my eyes*

    Thank you for brightening everybody’s day. I loved my P7’s. If I had a dollar for every un-returned phone call I’ve placed to Sterling, VA, I’d buy another one. :)

    By Tam on Feb 18, 2011

  47. Comparing a 1911 to the HK and a Glock is like comparing a scooter to a Gold Wing.

    I run a Glock 35 for IPSC & USPSA. And a 1911 single stack. The Glock has cost me big bucks in aftermarket work & parts, just to run production competitively. The 1911 was good out of the box.

    At any rate I will put my 1911 up against anything.

    By Steve on Feb 19, 2011

  48. Steve,

    At any rate I will put my 1911 up against anything.

    And what kind of 1911 do you have, just out of curiosity?

    By Tam on Feb 19, 2011

  49. I shoot 1911s better than anything else. However, I don’t think there is any particular magic to it. The gun is heavy, has a long sight radius, and a good trigger. I have owned $3000 Novak’s and Krappy Kimber kustoms. I really think a nice Colt XSE, Combat Elite, etc or Springfield TRP is going to run fine for 95% of folks out there who rarely put more than 2-300 rounds a year through their gun.

    However, it is hard to explain why you would buy one (and I have bought zillions) when there are guns like the Hk45c out there. Why, because they are damn awesome! I have two .45s now (OK three including my Powder Springs MAC), a Les Baer TRS and a HK45c. Both are excellent. The phase of the moon is probably the best determinant of which I will carry.

    By Greg Bell on Feb 20, 2011

  50. As a former rangemaster and firearms instructor, I have been right smack in the middle of the 1911 O Frame carry debate for police officers for years.

    Most police officers in my department have carried the 1911 for various reasons., i.e., the CDI Factor (Chicks Dig It), or the cool factor or because the Swat Team carries it. Only a handful of officers I have seen really practiced with the 1911. The others who carry it only practiced with the gun a couple of times a year. This is tantamount to setting themselves up for failure in a gun fight. The 1911 is a thinking man’s gun. You must practice with it all the time.

    If you can’t depress the grip safety and the thumb safety on demand each and every time…YOU SHOULD NOT BE USING A 1911, chose a GLOCK or a REVOLVER, But not a 1911!!!

    The 1911 requires a considerable amount of maintenance. If your not willing to constantly work on your 1911, or have a qualified gunsmith who regularly works on 1911’s then DON’T USE IT FOR DUTY! Again this is my personal opinion of what I have experienced in my police department.

    By Tony on Feb 20, 2011

  51. The 1911 is an american icon, with a hard hitting cartridge, a long service record and looks that can kill. I love it, and if I could I would own many. Trouble is that I am not a “gun” guy and I have limited funds available to invest in tools and training. So I bought a pistol that cost 500 dollars, bought a few extra mags and a laser/light combo and 200 rounds of Speer GD ammo. All together I walked out the door for less than the asking price of a good factory 1911.

    By Matt in AZ on Feb 21, 2011

  52. @Steve – funny you should say that you’ve put a lot of work into your Glock to make it competitive in Production. I talked to a top level Production GM about what he had in his Glock for the 2009 Bianchi Cup (which he won) and all he had done was change the sights and modify the trigger slightly to get a 4lb pull.

    By Caleb on Feb 21, 2011

  53. @Caleb @Steve

    Doesn’t Dave Sevigny* have a rep for running relatively stock Glocks?

    * As previously covered on this website, Sevigny is a cyborg.

    By commandar on Feb 21, 2011

  54. I was issued, used, or carried a 1911 daily from when I was commissioned in 1986 to January 2011 when my 1911’s were retired in favor of M&P45’s. I have been around quite a few 1911’s over the past two decades of military and LE duty, including USGI, commercial Colt, SA (Milspec, Loaded, MC Oper, Professional models), Wilson, Kimber, Nighthawk, Les Baer, and Para Ord, as well as custom pistols by folks like Bill Laughridge, Wayne Novak/Joe Bonar, Ed Brown, John Jardine, Hilton Yam, Larry Vickers, and Chuck Rogers. A properly customized 5″ steel-frame single-stack 1911 in .45 ACP is a superb, unparalleled choice for the dedicated user willing to spend a significant amount of money to get it properly initially set-up and considerable time to maintain it. It has been my experience that in general 1911 pistols in calibers other than .45 ACP and barrels shorter than 5″ induce increasingly greater problems. I personally will not use any 1911 with a Schwartz firing pin safety (like on the Kimber II pistols) as I have seen high numbers of them fail; the Colt Series 80 firing pin safety is the only one I might trust for urban LE use, but they have also been known to fail in harsh environments (particularly surf zone and high dust) so I generally prefer a standard USG style 1911 pistol w/o firing pin safety. However, I personally would not choose to carry most stock or even semi-custom 1911’s on duty without making sure they were set-up properly with reliable function, durable parts, and ergonomic execution. I firmly believe that if you want a 1911 for serious use, the minimum level of quality for a duty/carry weapon is the SA Pro model (either PC9111 or PC9111LR if you want a light rail); if you’re not willing to invest that much into the weapon system, don’t get a 1911…

    As has been stated before by others of greater wit than I, if you are a gentleman with a touch of gray in your hair and you were raised on 1911’s, then by all means keep using them. However, as much as I love 1911’s, for someone new to the game there is no way I can in good conscience recommend starting down the 1911 path when there are currently equally efficacious duty weapons that are much easier to service and that are far more cost effective. For folks who want a .45 ACP pistol, but don’t want to invest the funds and effort into getting a good 1911, they would be better served with the S&W M&P45, HK45c, or even a G21sf. For the price of one high quality 1911, you can purchase an M&P45 w/Apex Duty Kit, 1000+ rounds of ammunition, and a good pistol training course.

    By DocGKR on Feb 22, 2011

  55. @commandar – that’s who I was talking about, but straight-up name dropping seemed ungentlemanly.

    Now, the other day I was having dinner with the Ghost of John Moses Browning, and he told me that if he had access to polymer when he was alive the 1911 would have been a double stack striker fired 9mm.

    By Caleb on Feb 22, 2011

  56. I think its fair to say I have had a significant amount of experience with 1911’s, even on this board. For many years USMC issued but also Baer’s, Wilsons, and others. I’ve had super tight Baers that were very reliable so i don’t buy the “too tight” argument if done right. There was a time when I would have only shot 1911’s/.45. But I’m just fine these days with a Glock in 9 and see no reason to fuss with 1911’s anymore. I’ve said that on forums before and gotten replies very much like the one i quoted from Todd below. I about blew my morning coffee through my nose laughing when I read this.

    “And across the country, the chorus of “I carry a 1911 every day you bastards!” has rung out.”

    I’ve also been told I “didn’t know how to run it”. Allrighty then.

    By Terry on Feb 24, 2011

  57. One other thing, I don’t like seeing people with 1911’s if they don’t know how to handle one safely. Many don’t.

    By Terry on Feb 24, 2011

  58. I carry a 1911 just about daily, and I can tell you this.

    I should’ve bought an M&9 with a Thumb Safety, P30S or an Glock 17.

    Hahaha, 1911’s are nice, but, they’re finicky, and when lives are at stake, I’d take something that’s less accurate (and I say less very hesitantly, maybe I should’ve thrown in an “very slightly”) that doesn’t have the hang ups with magazines, extractor tension, more expensive ammo, etc.

    I’m saving to retire my 1911 to safe duty. It will be fighting dust bunnies and rust mostly as funds allow. I like the gun, just too high maintenance for me. I’ve had parts breakages, magazine issues, finish issues, etc., and it’s a Dan Wesson.

    To each his own though, if lives are on the line and you absolutely need/want that bleeding edge accuracy and can maintain the 1911 consistently to the degree you want, then I’d say it’s still a good gun for you.

    That’s really the problem in the gun community, people can’t seem to get a hold of the “For you.” It all depends on perspective.

    By Brandon on Mar 5, 2011

  59. ToddG, thanks for saying “the emperor has no clothes.”

    I bought a M1911 as my first pistol. Everyone had said how wonderful M1911s were and I believed them. Mine jammed and was not particularly accurate. I tried different ammo and different magazines to no avail. How frustrating it was.

    My understanding is that M1911s require more investment and work to achieve similar practical results as other pistols (Glock, Sig, HK, S&W). The M1911 aficionados usually do not make this clear before leading a newbie down the primrose path.

    Many would be better served by something other than a M1911. They should be given the information to make an informed decision. Your post helps in that regard. Thanks again.

    By Joel on Apr 15, 2011

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