The 1911 and “Teams”

27-Jun-13 – 11:01 by ToddG

Doctor Gary Roberts (better known ’round the net as DocGKR) has written an excellent article at Modern Service Weapons called The 1911 for LE and Special Team UseGo read it now, then come back here. I’ll wait…


So as someone who has finally come around to understanding the illogical and almost religious appeal of 1911 pistols over the past year, I have to agree with everything DocGKR says. I was at a restricted SOCOM meeting once where the then-current “small arms guy” from 1st SFOD-Delta stood up and told the rest of his SOCOM brethren that they’d be crazy to select a 1911 as a new standard pistol for SOCOM. In fact, his exact words (regarding the 1911s Delta was still issuing at the time) were:

If we jump four guys out of a plane for an operation, one of them needs to be a full time gunsmith.

Clue? Probably. It’s also worth noting that 1st SFOD-Delta dropped their 1911s in favor of Glocks shortly thereafter, as has been widely reported.

I’ve watched the we’re special we need special guns! argument play out a hundred times. I’ve seen it from both sides of the aisle, both as a gun company rep and as a consultant to government entities. I’ve never been in favor of it. As Dr. Roberts points out in his article, the driving force behind most of these “team guns” is often a desire to look cool rather than any real scientifically valid need for a different gun than the rest of the department, agency, or whatever.

Look at a typical LE agency. Who is more likely to need the best, most powerful, most shootable pistol: the patrol officer who is 95% likely to have only his sidearm when trouble starts, or  the SWAT cop who is 95% likely to have a long gun in his hands when trouble starts? Why give a “better” gun to the guy who is least likely to need it?

More importantly, what message does it send to all the patrol guys that the gun they’re issued isn’t good enough for “serious fighting,” chief?

If you took the money needed to procure, tune, and maintain a large quantity of custom 1911 pistols you could  instead provide a ridiculous amount of ammo and training to the entire team and maybe even the entire department.

Which do you think is going to result in better, faster hits under stress?

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

  1. 15 Responses to “The 1911 and “Teams””

  2. check link

    By RobertB on Jun 27, 2013

  3. here is the article link at MSW\

    By markp on Jun 27, 2013

  4. Link fixed. Thanks, gentlemen.

    By ToddG on Jun 27, 2013

  5. 100% agree with your SWAT vs. Patrol comments and weapon selection. Add weapon training also; patrol rarely gets it.

    By Steve B. on Jun 28, 2013

  6. Quite the reading. Gary has a way with saying things. Our agency recently authorized guys to carry their own personal 1911’s for duty. I was against it and gave the Chief’s all the reasons that Gary has shared to not go down that path. But the Chief wanted to give the guys something, as due to the economy we lost some benefits. So, now we have guys carrying any number of brands of 1911’s and a couple of guys who went to the Colt Armorer’s Course for 1911’s to keep the running. I gave the opinion that the 1911 was for someone who was willing to dedicate time and money into training and keeping their gun up to snuff all the time, not just some cop who wanted to look “cool.”

    By KennyT on Jun 28, 2013

  7. Excellent piece. I love the 1911 and carried one in the Army, but there is another thing against them. They’re heavy. I don’t know if that matters much to cops, but when you are already carrying 100 pounds of stuff and walking up and down ridges or through swamps, you don’t want to carry an extra ounce, much less an extra pound.

    LTC John George makes that point about 1911’s in his book about service with Merrill’s Marauders in WW 2, but the Army didn’t learn and instead went to another big, heavy pistol. If I can have hollow points I’ll take a G19 any day because it’s light and it works. If not, then I’ll take a G22/23 with truncated cone FMJ. 1911’s I’ll keep at home to drool over.

    By SteveJ on Jun 28, 2013

  8. I don’t know what type of 1911 needs more work than a Glock to keep running, but it’s either super cheap or too expensive. There are plenty of good service type 1911s that are just as good as Glocks- maybe better.

    By Patrick H on Jun 29, 2013

  9. OK, Patrick. Which 1911’s take less or the same work as Glocks to keep running? Personally, I’ve fired tens of thousands of rounds out of 1911s. I love them, but I have never had one as reliable as my least reliable Glock.

    By SteveJ on Jun 29, 2013

  10. I mostly agree with the idea that 1911 generally do not make a good choice for an issue gun.

    However, there are few exceptions. In LAPD’s case LAPD SWAT adopted 1911 in the era of revolvers and then M92. So, it was not competing against modern low maintenance pistols that have manageable medium resistance triggers like that of M&P or Glock. It did make sense at the time.

    Also, even though I would not think 1911 good for an issue gun. I see more risk and evil in policies that forces officers to use one model or only one brand of pistols. If an officer desires to use a non-standard issue at his or her own cost and the gun can be factory serviced, I would be against polices prohibiting 1911.

    As a police officer who is stuck with a certain gun when I have other brand model that I know I hit faster and more accurate with, I learned to despise “One brand, one model fits all” type policy. This does not mean I don’t try to be good with the issue gun. But, if you picked up a gun that you hardly shot before and shoot it a whole lot better than the gun you trained thousands of rounds with, and actually tried to be good with, and you are stuck with the issue gun, you would not be in such a good mood either.

    By Eui J on Jun 30, 2013

  11. I can agree with most of what has been said. One point I don’t agree with is the $2000 for a service-level 1911. There are several semi-custom 1911’s that are quite good: SA, Kimber are a couple. (Don’t know how much Colt’s new military model is, now do I have experience with it.)

    It’s hard to make a good case for 1911 as a LEO service pistol. Just from a finance point of view, “plastic fantastics” cost half, even custom ones.

    The one argument I haven’t heard is the slimness of a 1911 making it easier to conceal for undercover LE. Sig makes a single-stack .45 that is lighter, reliable, and less costly. I assume about the same width. (Honestly, though, this is a very minimal point when it comes to LE gear.)

    By GhettoSmack on Jun 30, 2013

  12. Unless Glock, HK and S&W are paying Yam, Hackathorne, Lau, Vickers and Mr. Green, among others, to say that the 1911 is not the choice for a neophyte, a law enforcement organization or a special operations team I can’t find too much fault in the advice.

    Any monkey with an internet connection (or a little mechanical inclination) can work on a Glock or M&P. Not so much with a 1911.

    By TigerStripe on Jul 4, 2013

  13. Sorry, not buying the opinions of a Dentist over the actual first hand experiences of people who spent entire careers in units like Delta…

    By John P. on Jul 5, 2013

  14. And you think they differ how?

    By ToddG on Jul 5, 2013

  15. John P:

    Putting aside the fact (and it is a fact) that Doc Roberts knows more about terminal ballistics than pretty much anyone else around, and putting aside the fact that his opinion on the 1911 takes into account the opinions of a lot of people with pedigrees in special operations, all he is saying is that a pistol is a tool and should be evaluated solely as a tool.

    In picking that tool, first choose your caliber, then your acceptable standards of accuracy. When you have those, you want to pick the one that is the most reliable, easiest to work on when it does break, and (as I argue above) for most infantry applications the lightest.

    For generations, I think that based upon those criteria, the best choice was the 1911. I no longer think that is the case. I think that Glock, M&P, SIG and H&K all provide superior alternatives. The Marines don’t agree, but except for perhaps some Special Forces CIF companies, every other special operations unit seems to have adopted Doc Roberts view. That isn’t an accident.

    By SteveJ on Jul 5, 2013

  16. I know from reading and personal conversation that both Kyle Lamb and Kyle DeFoor have little use for 1911s, and for some very well articulated reasons.

    Neither of them is a dentist.

    Just sayin.

    By Chuck Haggard on Jul 6, 2013

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