I almost feel like I don’t even need to write an article on the 1911 because it has more than managed to keep it’s proper place as a contemporary handgun. The 1911 (whether Springfield Armory, Kimber, the original Colt, or some other manufacturer) is right up there with Glock and Sig Sauer handguns.
It and it’s famous .45 ACP cartridge was developed in the early 20th century as a response to the U.S. Military’s demand for a more powerful service weapon (in contrast to the .38 Long Colt revolvers issued at the time) as well as a semi automatic weapon that could be loaded from a magazine. This stemmed from U.S. Marines fighting drugged up Moros in the Phillippines.
There is a reason the 1911 has been around for over 100 years. It was on the belt of men from the trenches of Europe to the beaches of Europe, the Islands of the Pacific and southeast Asia and, if given their choice, is still on the hips of U.S. servicemen in the middle east. While I understand many police departments are uneasy about the 1911 due to it’s single action design, i’ve seen more than a few on the belts of Texas lawmen.
Most of us already know this, but what I really want to highlight here is this: Most people think that in order to have a 1911 you have to go out and spend a minimum of $1000 for a pistol that has all the bells and whistles and is perfect. The answer is: you don’t.
A plain jane fundamental G.I. model will serve just fine for average needs and does not cost an arm and a leg. (under $500) It doesn’t have to be stainless, it doesn’t have to have a guide rod, it doesn’t have to have a laser pointer, it doesn’t have to have adjustable rear sights and it doesn’t have to be a Colt or Kimber (which can be $1000+). I’m not badmouthing the Colt or Kimber and they are great guns (I’d love to have a Colt Series 70 blued). But a Rock Island or Springfield Armory built G.I. or Mil-Spec model will do what you need it to do as a self defense handgun goes. I’ve even seen used Colt 1911s for as low as $700. My own 1911 is a Springfield Armory G.I. model and it is a fine weapon that I often carry outdoors or concealed.
Also of the 1911, it does not have to be a compact model either. Chic Gaylord, in his book Handgunners Guide 1960, correctly describes the .45 Automatic as “An extremely rugged destructive and compact defense weapon for those who prefer automatics.” He’s still right even in 2016
Many people pick up the 1911 and say “gee that’s heavy.” Yes it is. But when you put it on your belt or slip it in the small of your back you won’t even notice it.