Throughout the years, 1911—also popularly known as M1911 or M1911A1—has remained largely unchanged. The original has been reinterpreted countless times. Manufacturers, however, have largely remained true to the original design. That’s why the 1911 pistol has stayed as an iconic firearm, delivering a reliable and aesthetically pleasing design. Hence, earned a great role as an ideal all-around handgun.
While the best 1911 pistols of today are great for different shooting applications, the 1911 back then has served as a reliable service pistol for decades. That said, it is no wonder it was on the list of the most reproduced pistols worldwide. That proves a lot about 1911 being among the favorite firearms of a wide variety of shooters. As time went by, the 1911 pistols manufacturers incorporated modern improvements as time marched on and technological advancements were made.
Since there is a wide variety of companies offering 1911 guns, there is a high chance that you will get really confused and overwhelmed really fast once you start searching for the best 1911 pistols on your own. Lucky for you, there’s no need to feel bothered about that fact because this guide discusses the best 1911 pistols worth buying. But before going to the most exciting part, let’s first dig better into 1911.
What is 1911?
While it is clear that 1911 has served as a dependable pistol for decades, you might also be curious about what it really is. Well, it is quite a good firearm that you can count on for different applications, such as target shooting, hunting, and self-defense. Despite changing a fair bit, different manufacturers have produced different models of the 1911 firearm, featuring various changes and modernization.
Remarkably, the core of the M1911 design centers around it being a semi-automatic, recoil-operated, hammer-fired, single-action only, all-metal pistol. It primarily utilizes a 45 ACP round in a single stack magazine. That was the core design back then, but it has changed over time because of various reasons and a wide array of manufacturers. Of course, the iconic firearm has not changed dramatically since what people loved about it is still there.
After some changes, the 1911 pistol remains to be a single-action-only, single-stack, recoil-operated pistol. The distinct change is that the pistol is now available in a ton of different calibers and even polymer frame models. Also, double-stack firearms exist, but they are not referred to as 1911s. Instead, they are typically referred to as 2011s. The 1911 pistol has been existing for over a hundred years. While it is really bound to change, some parts of the designs are only changed, primarily fitting it with some new calibers.
Although the 1911 pistol will probably fail to hide some facts about its history, showing its age, it remains a worthy choice for different shooting applications. In fact, it is highly impressive that it successfully stands the test of time and is still popular in the firearms market. One thing is certain; the best 1911 pistol is worth trying for many good reasons. More importantly, shooting a 1911 pistol is just a ton of fun and is always a highly enjoyable experience.
An In-Depth Look at 1911: What Makes the Pistol Great?
There are a lot of good reasons that make 1911 pistols great, primarily because of their proven track record. Also, recoil is the fundamental operating principle of the 1911 weapons. These guns force bullets down the barrel by expanding combustion gasses. As a result, the barrel and slide receive reverse momentum.
Let’s take a close look at the in-depth inside of the 1911s.
The slide and barrel of 1911 become locked together during this phase of the firing cycle. The slide and barrel continue moving backward after the bullet leaves the barrel for a very short distance after the bullet leaves the barrel. A lock recess in the slide is removed by pivoting down the rear of the barrel, allowing the barrel to move forward.
The operation effectively stops the barrel. It is accomplished by connecting the lower barrel lugs and the above link. An extractor claw to pull spent casing from the firing chamber is designed to keep the slide’s rearward projection during operation. Afterward, the case is ejected from the weapon utilizing the ejection port when an ejector hits its rear.
Feeding and Reset
Continuing from the firing cycle to the feeding and reset operation, the rearward movement of the slide is then stopped. In this way, the recoil spring propels the firing chamber forward, allowing a fresh cartridge to be stripped from the magazine. Slides lock themselves into barrels as they reach the forward end of their travel. Once again, the 1911 weapon can be fired. The last round in the magazine is the last round fired unless it is the last round in the magazine.
Moreover, slides will lock in rearward positions if this is the case. Handguns use this action to signal that reloading is necessary. A loaded mag would be inserted at this point, and the empty one ejected. Depending on the type of gun, you can either push down on the slide stop or pull the slide back slightly once the full magazine is in place.
Finally, the slide will be released from its forward position once you release the spring pressure that holds the slide in place.
Gun Components and Fieldstripping
The 1911 gun design has no fasteners other than grip screws. It is the mainspring that holds the gun’s main parts together. If you partially retract the 1911 weapon’s slide and remove the slide stop, you can fieldstrip it. After removing the barrel bushing, you must install the barrel assembly.
Moreover, you will need tools to manually remove and reassemble several components of the 1911 weapon if you want to disassemble and reassemble it completely. Both grip safety and manual safety are included in the 1911 weapon by military mandate.
Furthermore, the M1911A1 series is standard with manual safety features, grip safety features, slide stop features, sear disconnect features, and partial cocking position features. The front sight can also be replaced with a fiber optic one.
Fire pin block safety has been installed on several 1911 weapons. Some manufacturers use a Swartz firing pin safety (operated by the grip safety) instead of a trigger-operated firing pin block safety, such as the Colt 80 Series. Quite a few years have passed since the 1911 weapon’s basic design was introduced to the market.
Consequently, other militaries around the world have adopted and used it. Additional variations have been offered in addition to the basic design model. Other models are available, as well as 45 ACP, 9mm Steyr, 9x19mm Parabellum, 38 Super, 7.65mm Parabellum, and 400 Corbon.
8 Best 1911 Pistols
The best 1911 pistols can impress you with their amazing quality and functionality. Also, they are great for a lot of good reasons, including reliability, accuracy, low recoil, and aesthetically pleasing design. If you pay so much attention to your needs and preferences, you will like to have your own 1911 pistol even better since the 1911 pistols are a popular platform for customization. You can basically tailor one to fit your specific needs and preferences, a unique personalization advantage you can enjoy.
Additionally, the best 1911 pistol is worth trying, given the excellent proven track record of the firearm. If you want an all-around reliable firearm that you can enjoy shooting, this is the right guide for you. Some of the most amazing 1911 pistols are compiled below so that you can choose from them. Whether you are concerned about the price or picky about the design, you will find the reviews below helpful.
So, check out the best 1911 pistols below.
1. Ruger SR1911 Semi-Auto Pistol
You can go wrong with choosing a 1911 pistol from Ruger because it has set a high standard in the firearms market. So, you can expect its SR1911 Semi-Auto Pistol model won’t disappoint you. What makes it one of the best 1911 pistols to buy is the fact that it is only constructed with tough modern materials that are typically dedicated to a custom gun. Specifically, it is made from high-quality stainless steel that is put together with ultra-modern precision CNC-controlled machining. Hence, it can provide a superior slide-to-frame fit and smooth cycling of the action.
That doesn’t stop the killer design and construction of this 1911 model because its barrel and bushing are also machined from stainless steel. Thanks to that, you can expect incredible accuracy from it for a better shooting experience. It is also lightweight, featuring a skeletonized aluminum trigger with an adjustable over-travel stop that unleashes the full potential in terms of accuracy. Meanwhile, the frame and slide are finished with a low-glare bead-blasted finish, while the slide is serrated to promote a positive, non-slip grip.
While you might already be impressed with what the Ruger SR1911 Semi-Auto Pistol can offer, that still doesn’t stop there. Truly, it is jam-packed with nice construction and high-quality features. And because of that, you must know that this 1911 doesn’t come cheap. That means the price you will pay will surely be worth what you can get. For instance, the trigger pull boasts a light and crisp operation with no creep but with a quick, positive reset. The lightweight skeletonized hammer, on the other hand, provides a positive thumb engagement.
Regarding safety features, this Ruger 1911 pistol also has something to boast about. It comes with an oversized beavertail grip safety and an extended thumb safety, together with a slide stop lever, ensuring fast, positive manipulation. Meanwhile, the visual inspection port lets you enjoy a visual confirmation that the chamber is loaded. There are also front and rear sights that assist with optimal target acquisition. Hence, you will be impressed when shooting with it. With its lightweight and compact design, you will find no issues with concealed carrying using a holster.
In terms of customization, this Ruger 1911 pistol utilizes standard 1911 magazines and is made to accept a wide array of standard 1911 parts and aftermarket 1911 accessories. With everything it can offer, you can expect it to effectively prove itself as a reliable firearm for self-defense. If you are searching for a trustworthy 1911 pistol you can count on, this one will never disappoint. Don’t miss the chance to experience its exceptional accuracy and ideal performance.
2. Rock Island M1911 GI Standard FS Semi-Auto Centerfire Pistol
Contrary to the Ruger 1911 pistol, which is jam-packed with incredible features, the Rock Island M1911 stands out for its amazing simplicity. It comes with everything you need and does not include features you don’t need. That means that it is obviously a lot more budget-friendly compared to other high-end 1911 pistols. Nonetheless, you can still expect that this M1911 model can impress you in many ways.
Chambered in .45 Auto, you can expect that its performance is obviously close to the original military-issued 1911. Well, it is constructed based on that, so that is quite an obvious fact. That’s why this M1911 pistol also has its name on the list of iconic pistol models to try. In terms of construction, it sports fixed, low-profile sights together with a durable parkerized finish that incorporates a tough, smooth, non-reflective surface. That kind of surface is non-slippy, regardless of whether you are wearing gloves or not.
Additionally, the hardwood grips offer a classic appeal and maximum comfort when shooting. That is an advantage to enjoy whether you are practicing shooting or using this pistol for other applications. Your shooting experience can also be upgraded because the 5″ barrel guarantees a balanced weight for superior accuracy and low recoil. More importantly, it features a crisp 4-6 lb. trigger, assuring you of an enjoyable shooting experience with rugged and reliable performance.
All in all, this Rock Island M1911 can be among your top options if you don’t want to spend much with your M1911 pistol, yet still the best quality. The only way to fully appreciate this pistol is after you have given it a shot so it fits your budget and preferences, you might already have good reasons to try this.
3. Taurus 1911 Semi-Auto Pistol
Looking for a high-end 1911 pistol that will not cost you much? If that’s the case, you will surely like the Taurus 1911 Semi-Auto Pistol. It is known as a 1911 pistol that is loaded with the kind of features you can only see on pricey models. Specifically, it has its frames, slides, and barrels all hammer-forged and excellently machined to put adequate strength and tolerances needed to lock up tight for precise accuracy when shooting.
Moreover, this semi-auto pistol features two sights—a Heinie dovetailed front sight and a genuine Novak LoMount rear sight—making this 1911 model highly adjustable for windage. The sights are also easily replaceable with a myriad of aftermarket sight options. As long as you are utilizing the right sight model that complements this pistol, you will have no problem focusing on your shooting target and not missing out on it.
In terms of the trigger, this Taurus 1911 9mm pistol has a skeletonized trigger that features a light pull with minimum over-travel. There is no trouble with operating the trigger for a smooth shooting performance for a comfortable experience. Meanwhile, safety features are also included in its construction—the enhanced beavertail safety and ambidextrous thumb safety—that add to this pistol’s safe carrying options. Whether you are right-handed or left-handed, you can access the safety features with ease.
One thing you must remember about this 1911 pistol is that it especially focuses on giving great comfort to the user. That’s why it has its polymer grips checkered and comes with the classic double-diamond style for its design. Hence, its finish and feel surely come close to what other high-end 1911s can offer. Since it is loaded with features that are typically only available to many pricey pistols, you can trust that this one will give great value for your money.
This Taurus 1911 can shoot really well with impressive accuracy for smooth performance and low recoil, proving that you don’t have to spend much just to get a 1911 model that can get the job done.
4. Browning Black Label Medallion Pro 1911-380 Semi-Auto Pistol
If it is just about appearance, the Browning Black Label Medallion Pro 1911-380 Semi-Auto Pistol will surely not fail to steal your attention. Rocking a stellar build quality, it can impress you more with its functionality. You can expect that it can offer more than just its sophisticated looks. In fact, it is a compact pistol that is ideal for concealed carry applications because it is constructed just 85% of the size of the Black Label Pro Model 1911.
Compared to other .380 ACP pistols, this one from Browning has a longer grip and is also wide enough, which promotes much greater shooting control that will help you to achieve your best shooting results. It is also similar to full-size 1911 pistol models in terms of operation. This one functions with a locked-breech recoil-operated system and utilizes a much lighter recoil spring. Due to that design, it has an easier manual operation of the slide compared to other blowback-operated .380 ACP pistols.
Sporting a composite mainframe together with a machined 7075 aluminum sub-frame and slide rails, this 1911 pistol from Browning is never of lousy quality. Good thing that its looks match the quality and functionality it can offer. Also, it is loaded with upgraded features, such as steel 3-dot combat sights dovetailed to the receiver and checkered rosewood grip panels. That said, no need to worry if your hands easily get sweaty because they will not easily slip with the kind of grip this pistol has.
Moreover, this Black Label Medallion Pro comes with a stainless steel slide that is finished with a blackened top and silver brushed polished flats. Really, this pistol is ideal for shooters who want a stylish 1911. If you are among those shooters, it will always be a good idea to trust this model. Appearance-wise, this will never let you down, and it also looks ready to be your companion for your different shooting adventures. It is also easy to disassemble for easy cleaning and maintenance.
As for the grip, this Browning 1911 pistol has one that features a flared beavertail grip safety with a checkered and raised memory bump. Its flat mainspring housing is equipped with a non-aggressive textured pattern, ensuring a sure, no-slip grip. Meanwhile, the extended ambidextrous thumb safety is effortlessly to reach using either hand. There is no hassle and trouble operating it, making it an ideal companion for shooting adventures.
This Browning Black Label Medallion Pro 1911-380 Semi-Auto Pistol sure has an undeniable stellar build quality, wonderful compact construction, and solid accuracy, this one can be a great companion that you can conceal carry for your defense or shooting adventures. Since it is not perfectly constructed, little malfunctions and jamming can happen to be frank. Still, this 1911 model can be your favorite and go-to companion.
5. Sig Sauer 1911 Scorpion Full-Size Semi-Auto Pistol
At one glance, you might actually think that the Sig Sauer 1911 Scorpion Full-Size Semi-Auto Pistol is pricey. And that is true in some ways because it cost more compared to 1911 pistols. But it is surely worth showing off to other shooters and your friends, and a fantastic handgun to own. In fact, it can be part of your most prized possessions. After all, Sig Sauer is one of the most trusted manufacturers in the firearms world, so you can be on its 1911 pistol.
Sig Sauer made its 1911 Scorpion Full-Size Semi-Auto Pistol combat-ready right out of the box. It is loaded with amazing features that are fully functional for the wonderful performance you can expect from a high-end 1911 pistol. For starters, it boasts a beautiful slide with front and rear cocking serrations, night sights, and an external extractor. The components can assist in helping you in achieving a non-failing shooting performance for combat.
If you like to take advantage of this 1911 pistol for defense applications, you can upgrade it by attaching a light or laser that can help to build better tolerance with low-light shooting applications. That’s all possible because the frame comes with an integral Picatinny accessory rail. That sounds like a fine feature that can help with shooting performance, right? Well, there are more components that you will be impressed with about this Sig Sauer 1911.
Moreover, this Sig Sauer Scorpion sports an ambidextrous safety, making this 1911 pistol an ideal handgun for both left-handed and right-handed shooters. With that said, you don’t need to waste your time thinking about your dominant hand. This pistol will make you experience comfortable and solid shooting. The extended and upswept beavertail safety feature, on the other hand, provides another layer of protection and safety, sporting a sharp design. Like other pricey 1911 pistols, what comprises it is all worth your money.
Thanks to the G10 grips, this combat-ready pistol can ensure solid adhesion when shooting with it. It is completed by a flat-faced trigger that helps mitigate some of the vertical spread in your group sizes. What makes it more wonderful is that it is lightweight and compact, that you can carry it everywhere with you with no worries to think about.
From its superb build quality, amazing weight, and great grips to its superb fit and finish, incredible trigger, and flawless night sights, Sig Sauer proves that its 1911 Scorpion Full-Size Semi-Auto Pistol is almost close to perfection. It is an epic, all-around handgun that can easily be your favorite. Of course, this one is not for all, but it is definitely worth your money—a 1911 pistol that you will love to boast about.
6. Walther Colt Government 1911 A1 Semi-Auto Rimfire Pistol
The Walther Colt Government 1911 A1 Semi-Auto Rimfire Pistol has an amazing reputation for its superior performance and reliability. What makes it interesting compared to other 1911 pistol models is that it incorporates modern and classic designs. To be specific, it combines modern expertise together with its classic, functional build. That’s why you can effectively count on this 1911 pistol in terms of your personal protection.
Since the classic 1911 design is already legendary, Walter has just decided to instill the classic configuration, function, and feel of the legendary 1911 pistol that U.S. troops have trusted for decades. Moreover, this single-action 1911-style pistol is loaded with a lot of nice and functional features, including beavertail grip safeties, manual thumb, matte-black finish, fixed sights, and black rubber checkered grips.
Of course, you can’t miss out on the fact that this Walther Colt Government 1911 A1 Semi-Auto Rimfire Pistol looks amazingly classic and pleasing in the eyes. So, this is a good go-to handgun to choose if you are looking for a great firearm companion you can count on for your personal protection. Surely, it can also have a role in other shooting applications.
7. American Tactical GSG 1911 Semi-Auto Pistol
One of the high standards of 1911 pistols is aesthetically pleasing design, and the American Tactical Inc. GSG 1911 Semi-Auto Pistol surely did not fail to reach that standard. It simply looks stunning and has its own charm. It is patterned from the classic American 1911 in an affordable-to-shoot .22 LR cartridge that combines a threaded barrel. That makes this 1911 pistol model a fun suppressor host you will love to own.
Even though this GSG 1911 Semi-Auto Pistol is not that pricey compared to other high-end 1911 pistols, it is still loaded with fully functional features. In fact, it has an interesting construction that combines GI (Government Issue) 1911 45 and upgrades from the GI German Sport Guns. It looks patterned from the GI (Government Issue) 1911 45, including a short dust cover, vertical cocking serrations, and diamond-checkered grips.
As said, this American Tactical Inc. 1911 is equipped with upgrades from the GI German Sport Guns. And those include extended beavertail safety, dovetailed sights, ambidextrous safety, skeletonized three-hole trigger, and skeletonized hammer. Thanks to all the features, this pistol is fully functional and can be your favorite classic .22 LR plinker handgun. This can be an ideal handgun companion that will not break the bank if you like to upgrade your shooting skills.
Basically, the American Tactical Inc. GSG 1911 Semi-Auto Pistol is the one you can pick if you want a neat handgun that you can add to your most prized classic-styled firearm collection. You can’t go wrong with its price. After all, it is an incredible handgun for the money because it shoots accurately, has great feels, and has an excellent trigger. It will not be surprising that it will become one of your favorites.
8. Kimber Custom LW Night Patrol 1911 Semi-Auto Pistol
Sporting true quality craftsmanship, the Kimber Custom LW Night Patrol 1911 Semi-Auto Pistol proves that it is a classic model you can choose if you want a highly attractive 1911 pistol that does an exceptional job for different shooting applications; this one should be among your top picks.
Of course, this 1911 pistol does not just steal people’s attention because of its stunning looks but also because of what it can offer. It initially catches curiosity, but what really makes people stay to consider buying it is its excellent build loaded with classy features. If you are looking for a nice, reliable, and lightweight 1911, don’t miss out on this one.
For starters, this Kimber Custom LW Night Patrol boasts a nice slide that features front and rear-angled cocking serrations. They are also topped off with a white dot rear sight and a fiber optic front sight—all are finished in black for nice protection without ruining the classy appearance. Also, it comes with a match-grade barrel that boosts accuracy and performance. Surely, this 1911 pistol is more than just its fancy looks.
Thanks to the grey frame, this Custom LW Night Patrol 1911 has a subtle combination of black and grey, making an interesting build and classy contrast. Meanwhile, the 3-hole, skeletonized trigger comes in at 4-5 lbs. That’s a bearable trigger pull for a great shooting performance. As for its safety feature, it is not ambidextrous but just a classic right-hand only. With that said, you must keep in mind checking for your dominant hand because if yours is left, operating the safety feature will not be as smooth as you think.
Compared to other 1911 pistols, this one has a smooth front strap that has no serrations or checkering in the design. That’s why some are curious if it easily slips out of hand. Well, that should be a problem because it incorporates grips that are actually Hogue rubber grips that feature classic diamond checkering. Surely, Kimber pays much attention to making attractive pistols and has also done an exceptional job. Definitely, the Night Patrol is no exception to that.
No need to be skeptical with this Kimber 1911 pistol because it has superb reliability and shooting performance you can count on.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the questions frequently asked regarding the best 1911 pistols and related topics. Check them out to learn more.
Why has the 1911 pistol stuck around for so long?
The 1911 pistol has been existing for several decades now, and that proves that it has already succeeded the test of time. It is a classic and iconic firearm that has stuck around for so long for good reasons, such as absurdly awesome ergonomics, extreme accuracy, and a grip angle that is to die for.
What is so special about the 1911 pistol?
The 1911 pistol is well-renowned for its incredible ergonomics. It is also appreciated for having amazing reliability and aesthetically pleasing design. More than that, it is highly popular for its accuracy and low recoil, making it an ideal all-around handgun.
Why are 1911 pistols great for concealed carry applications?
Is 1911 better than Glock?
Interestingly, 1911 has some edge over Glock, and the trigger tops the list. 1911 boasts a stock trigger that is consistently crisp and works slightly better for precision shooting than the Glock’s. While the Glock’s trigger can always be upgraded, many prefer the 1911 because there is no upgrade needed. Nonetheless, the trigger of both handguns is accurate enough for close-quarters shooting, which is ideal for a reliable self-defense weapon.
Will a 1911 fire if it is dropped?
If dropped on either end, the original 100-year-old 1911 design can easily discharge from firing pin inertia. Well, that’s a problem that was already solved long ago since it is incorporated with a modern design that adds safety features. That said, the 1911 pistol won’t fire when dropped.
What calibers are great for 1911 pistols?
The 1911 pistols utilized a wide array of calibers, but the top three were 45 ACP, 10mm, and 9mm. They are different from one another so you must know how to choose right. For a quick guide, the 45 ACP caliber can offer a classic experience with a capable and common round. The only flaw if you have a low budget is that it is not the cheapest handgun round.
Moreover, the 10mm caliber has more power and range to provide compared to the classic 45 ACP round. That means the 10mm caliber can hit hard and shoot flat well beyond other 1911 calibers. The 9mm caliber, on the other hand, offers an exceptionally smooth shooting experience with smooth and well-balanced performance.
Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with choosing from the top three ideal 1911 calibers.
How much are 1911 pistols?
Compared to other handguns, the 1911 pistols are remarkably quite pricey. But that doesn’t mean it is hard to own one since the prices vary due to the uniqueness of the build and materials. With that said, the prices can go about $200 and even go over $1,000. Most likely, you can already be satisfied owning a budget-friendly 1911 pistol, but getting a more expensive one can help you fully experience the best 1911 pistol.
Where to get the best 1911 pistols?
Most of the best 1911 pistols compiled above are available in Cabela’s. But if you like to explore more, you should only check out reliable sites only to make sure that you will not get ripped off online. The best and safe online sites you can visit to look for the best 1911 pistols include Brownells and Palmetto State Armory.
With how amazing the history and track record of the 1911 pistol is, the all-around reliable handgun will surely be worth owning. Since there are so many options available, narrowing down to a few more picks can be quite challenging. That’s the primary reason why this review guide exists. In terms of overall ergonomics, all the best 1911 pistols reviewed above are worth the shot. Still, picking from the 8 best options might be too much to handle, right?
Nothing to worry about. While all 1911 pistols above are stunning and reliable, each of them has particular strengths. If you don’t want to deal with too many buying factors to contemplate, it might be the best strategy to decide by knowing the primary purpose or strength of each 1911 pistol. For instance, the Ruger SR1911 Semi-Auto Pistol will amaze you with its tough modern ergonomics and customizability. If you want 1911 that you can personalize, this is the one to choose.
Meanwhile, the Rock Island M1911 GI Standard FS Semi-Auto Centerfire Pistol can steal your attention with its simplicity, while the Taurus 1911 Semi-Auto Pistol is the go-to choice if you don’t want to spend thousand dollars for your 1911 pistol but still want to get the best quality of owning 1911. Contrary to that, the Sig Sauer 1911 Scorpion Full-Size Semi-Auto Pistol is a pricey choice you can get if you have money to spare to get the full experience of owning an iconic 1911. The other 1911 pistols are also equally great, so don’t miss out on checking them out. Hopefully, you can pick your choice.
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