Easily one of the most iconic and beloved semi-automatic pistols of all time, the 1911 is a timeless design that has been around for over a hundred years and will likely be around for a hundred more.
But what makes the 1911 so adored by shooters? Just as importantly, what specific brands of 1911 stand out above the rest and should be the top ones for you to consider should you decide to buy a 1911? We’ll answer these questions in this article.
WHAT MAKES THE 1911 SO GREAT?
The reality is that there is a great multitude of things that make the 1911 a great pistol. The 1911 is not for everyone.
There are pistols out there that are lighter, simpler, and carry more bullets, but no one can deny that there are specific attributes about the 1911 that have made it such an enduring pistol.
These attributes include:
Accuracy. The 1911 is a highly accurate pistol thanks to its fixed barrel design, light trigger, soft recoil, and longer sight radius. Is it the most accurate production pistol made? That’s debatable, but its accuracy is a major plus.
Light Trigger. The trigger of the 1911 alone makes it a dream to shoot. It’s very light and crisp, with a relatively short reset.
The light trigger pull makes it unsafe to carry the 1911 chambered and cocked without the safety on, so you must train yourself to manually switch off the safety when drawing the weapon to fire.
Nonetheless, the trigger on the 1911 is one of the biggest appeals. It makes it an excellent handgun to shoot for target practice, competition, or for tactical training.
Slim Design. The 1911 is a naturally slim possible, which means shooters with smaller hands can comfortably grip the weapon and it’s easy to conceal carry. The obvious trade-off is fewer bullets in the magazine (the standard 1911 magazine holds either 7 or 8 rounds).
Customization. The 1911 is one of the most customizable firearms on the planet. The AR-15, Glock, and Ruger 10/22 are the only other guns that can match it for the number of spare accessories and add-ons that you can buy.
This means you can customize your 1911 to be exactly the way you want it to be. For SHTF purposes, this means that spare magazines and parts will be relatively easy to find in comparison to other pistols.
Power. Most 1911s are chambered for the .45 ACP caliber, which is a very powerful bullet that will put a big hole in its target. While 1911s are also available in other calibers such as .22 LR or 9mm, if you’re going to buy a 1911, most would agree that it should be in .45.
None of this is to say that the 1911 is not without faults. It has a more complicated takedown procedure than more modern pistols. It is heavy, only holds 7-8 rounds in the magazine.
And most 1911 guns require a break-in period of around 200-300 rounds before they can become reliable.
Still, the 1911 reigns supreme as one of the most popular pistol designs of all time. It’s a perfectly valid option as a range gun, for professional competition shooting, as a home defense gun, or for an SHTF sidearm.
Since the 1911 is so popular, there are naturally many different brands and models available.
Narrowing down our selection to just five brand recommendations above the others is difficult, but here are five of the best 1911 brands available:
Colt was the original manufacturer of the 1911 (using John Browning’s design), and the phrases “Colt 1911” and “Colt 45” have now become iconic. Colt 1911s today are known for their reliability right out of the box.
Go to Colt’s website, and you will find a wide variety of different models available. Colt produces classic models such as the Mark IV Series 70 based on the original M1911A1.
It was issued to troops in World War II, but they also make modern options such as the Rail Gun that are made for duty use, the Gold Cup built for competition shooting, the Commander model with a shorter barrel, and the Defender with an even shorter barrel and grip.
Colt 1911s are not cheap by any means, but you will get what you pay for due to their exceptional quality. Besides, there’s something cool about saying that you own a true ‘Colt 1911.’
Another high-quality option for a 1911 is Kimber, with their custom model available in a wide variety of calibers and configurations.
Not only can you buy the Kimber Custom in .45 ACP, but it’s also available in .38 Super, 9mm Luger, 10mm AUTO, and even .40 S&W.
The Custom model uses a full-length guide rod (in contrast to most 1911s that use a shorter length guide rod), and modern upgrades such as forward serrations, a beavertail grip safety, extended thumb safety, and a beveled magazine well for faster and smoother reloading.
The Custom TLE II and Warrior models are also available, which are designed for military and law enforcement use. These are an excellent choice for a duty weapon or as a durable SHTF sidearm.
As with Colt, Kimber 1911s are highly expensive, but as the old saying goes, you have to pay for quality.
Ruger began producing 1911s only a few years ago, but they have quickly proven themselves to be one of the best 1911 manufacturers on the market. The Ruger SR1911 is their standard line, which is available in both the full 5-inch and the shorter 4.25-inch Commander sized barrel versions.
Whereas most 1911s use a Series 80-style firing system, the SR1911 uses the more traditional Series 70-style firing system just like the Colt Mark IV Series 70.
Many 1911 aficionados prefer a Series 70-type model. It’s regarded as being the original firing system of the 1911, and 70 models also tend to have a lighter trigger system than 80 models.
‘Series 70’ and ‘Series 80’ are currently trademarks owned by Colt, but the terms are still used to denote the specific firing systems. The Series 80 simply has an internal safety system that prevents the possibility of discharge should the gun be dropped and the hammer falls on its own.
The Ruger SR1911 also comes equipped with modern parts such as an extended thumb safety and beavertail grip safety, and forward cocking serrations.
In essence, it represents the traditional 1911 firing system integrated with modern upgrades. The SR1911 is also very reasonably priced in the $700 to $800 range and sometimes can be found for even less than that.
Many consider Springfield to offer the best quality for the money. Their 1911s are routinely priced less than $1,000 (other than the premium models), and they make an extremely wide variety of model options.
Springfield makes practically any kind of 1911 you can think of, from the standard G.I models, like what the troops carried in World War II, to competition ready guns or duty 1911s with modern upgrades and concealed carry variations with shorter grips and barrels. They are also available in different calibers as well.
The neat thing about Springfield is how they will ship many of their 1911s with three magazines (instead of the standard two), with a holster and double mag holder.
This essentially gives you a complete kit right out of the box and can save you on money for accessories that you would have to buy anyway.
If you want the best 1911 possible and are willing to pay for it, many would say that you should go with Wilson Combat. Not only does Wilson manufacture high-quality parts and accessories for 1911s that can be added to other brands, but they also manufacture actual 1911’s themselves.
Wilson originally got started manufacturing spare parts and customization options for the 1911, Smith & Wesson Model 10, and Remington 870. Since then, however, they have become the most well-known for the aftermarket parts they produce for the 1911.
Some other 1911 manufacturers will even install Wilson Combat parts on their production guns, and many people also will customize their 1911s with Wilson Combat parts to enhance performance.
Wilson Combat 1911s are not only popular with civilians. They also have been utilized extensively by military and police forces.
They have seen action all around the world, and are guaranteed to deliver one-inch groups at twenty-five yards.
For a premium 1911, Wilson Combat should be a top option. Even if you can’t afford a Wilson Combat 1911, you can always buy from another manufacturer and then customize it with Wilson parts.
If the 1911 is your dream gun, these five manufacturers should be your top choices. Even though the 1911 has become a little outdated in some ways when compared to the more modern, polymer framed guns, it’s not a gun that’s going to be going away anytime soon either.
They truly are a joy to shoot, and if you spend the time learning how to use one, the 1911 can save your life in a life-or-death situation as well.
Like what you read?
Then you're gonna love my free PDF, 20 common survival items, 20 uncommon survival uses for each. That's 400 total uses for these dirt-cheap little items!
Just enter your primary e-mail below to get your link:We will not spam you.
12 thoughts on “Top 5 Brands of 1911 to Own”
Not to throw a wet blanket on your fine article, but the 1911 does not have a fixed barrel.
I have a number of M1911A1 pistols, including several you mentioned. I am not a target shooter, so accuracy per se is not a big consideration with me. My favorite M1911A1 is a Mitchell Gold from 1994, but any well made version will get the job done.
I DEFINITELY AGREE SIR.
I WAS IN THE GUN BUSINESS IN THE EARLY 80”S
I HAVE SOLD AND SHOT MANY DIFFERENT MAKES AND MODELS OF WEAPONS
AND I KNOW PEOPLE SAY THAT THEY WOULD PREFER MORE ROUNDS IN THE MAGAZINE
(EVERYONE WANTS MORE AMMO )
WELL THIS IS WHAT I HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THAT
IF YOU ARE GOING TO BUY A 1911. 45 CAL.
ARE ANY OTHER WEAPON
YOU REALLY REALLY NEED TO LEARN HOW TO USE THE WEAPON
IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW MANY ROUNDS YOU HAVE IN THE MAGAZINE
IF YOU CAN’T HIT YOUR TARGET
WELL IN A LIFE AND DEATH SITUATION
IF THE OTHER PERSON WHO REALLY KNOWS THERE WEAPON
EVEN IF THE WEAPON IS A .22 CAL
THAT PERSON WILL WALK AWAY FROM THE
GUN BATTLE WITH YOUR 1911 .45 CAL
AFTER A WELL PLACED .22 CAL. ROUND HITS IT TARGET
BECAUSE BELIEVE IT OR NOT
MOST GUN BATTLES DOESN’T LAST BUT 10 TO 45 SECONDS IN REAL LIFE
IF YOU ARE CLOSE
BECAUSE THE BAD GUY WILL NOT SAY
HEY GET READY BECAUSE YOU ARE ABOUT TO BE ROBBED ARE SHOT
THIS IS WHY GUN BATTLES DOESN’T LAST BUT SECONDS ARE AT MOST A MINUTE ARE SO
BECAUSE THE BAD GUYS ARE NEVER GOING TO LET YOU GET READY FOR THEM IN REAL LIFE
UNLIKE THE MOVIES WHEN THEY RARELY
RUN OUT OF AMMO
IN A REAL LIFE GUN BATTLE SOME PEOPLE REALLY LOSES THERE LIFE
EVERY ONE LOVE’S MORE ROUNDS IN THERE MAGAZINE
BUT IF YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO SHOOT YOUR WEAPON WELL
IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW MANY ROUNDS YOU HAVE IN THE MAGAZINE
AS FOR THE. 45 APC ROUND ALL IT WILL TAKE IS ONE ROUND IN 99%OF THE TIME
AS WITH 9MM THAT HAS MORE ROUNDS
IN THE MAGAZINE
YOU WILL HAVE TO DO WHAT IS CALLED THE
DOUBLE AN TRIPLE TAP SYSTEM
FOR PEOPLE WHO DOESN’T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS IS
YOU REALLY NEED TO HIT YOUR TARGET IN A VITAL ORGANS TO STOP THEM FROM SHOOTING BACK AT YOU
THIS IS HOW YOU HAVE TO TRAIN WHEN SHOOTING 9MM
SO IT’S LIKE THIS IF YOU HAVE TO SHOOT THE BAD GUYS TWO ARE THREE MORE TIMES TO STOP THEM
YOU REALLY WILL NEED TWO TO THREE TIMES THE AMOUNT OF AMMO IN THE MAGAZINE
BECAUSE IN A REAL LIFE GUN BATTLE
YOU MAY NOT BE ABLE TO HIT THOSE VITAL ORGANS
AGAIN AS WITH THE .45 APC ROUND
IN 99% OF THE TIME
ALL YOU WILL NEED IS ONLY ONE ROUND TO TAKE THE BAD GUYS DOWN AND KEEP THEM DOWN
THE. 45APC ROUND WILL KNOCK EVEN THE BIGGEST BAD GUY DOWN
AND WILL MOST LIKELY KILL THE BAD GUY WITH ONLY ONE SHOT
AND THEN THE GUN BATTLE IS OVER
I PERSONALLY KNOW MANY MANY PEOPLE
WHO HAS A WEAPON WITH LOTS OF ROUNDS IN THE MAGAZINE
THAT WILL IN MOST CASES LOSE THERE LIFE IN A REAL LIFE GUN BATTLE
JUST BECAUSE THEY WILL NOT LEARN HOW TO USE THERE WEAPON IN A SUFFICIENT WAY TO SAVE THERE OWN LIFE
IN MY COLT GOLD CUP 70 SERIES 1911 .45
ALL I HAVE IS 8 ROUNDS IN MY MAGAZINE
AND I PERSONALLY BELIEVE THAT I WILL SURVIVE A GUN BATTLE WITH MY 8 ROUNDS
AND THE OTHER PERSON WHO HAS 12 TO 14 ROUNDS IN THERE MAGAZINE
WHO ARE NOT SUFFICIENT WITH THERE WEAPON
IT’S NOT ALWAYS THE NUMBER OF ROUNDS THAT YOU HAVE
ITS BEING ABLE TO PUT YOUR ROUND ON THE TARGET
THAT REALLY REALLY MAKES THE LIFE OR DEATH SITUATION
I REALLY HOPE AND PRAY THAT MY LITTLE INPUT HAS HELPED SOME PEOPLE REALIZE
THAT IT’S DOESN’T ALWAYS MEAN THAT THE MORE ROUNDS A PERSON HAS IN THERE MAGAZINE
THAT THEY WILL WIN THE GUN BATTLE
AGAIN BECAUSE IN (REAL LIFE) (PEOPLE DIE)
UNLIKE IN THE MOVIES
TO WHERE PEOPLE GET SHOT TWO ARE FIVE TIMES IN THE MOVIES
AND STILL ARE RUNNING AROUND STILL
SHOOTING THE BAD GUYS
ONLY IN HOLLYWOOD
THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING ME TO PUT IN MY OPINION
AND HAVE A VERY BLESSED DAY
For the most part:
MANY DONT KNOW HOW TO SHOOT and
Refuse to learn – that’s an incredible liability!
Any state providing a carry Permit must obtain prior
Gun safety class education certification from the person
Requesting a GUN PERMIT or a CONCEALED CARRY
Yet have a shooting permit. Incredible liability
Glad to see Ruger on the list. I was checking one out the other day and it looked really nice.
I got an sr1911 in trade and honestly I’ve decided on using it as my CCW. The accuracy is great and it’s been 100% reliable with several types on ammo . I do wish the old 200 grain lawman loads were still Available . Those flying ashtrays had the best ogive for 1911 feed 1911 feed ramps . Now that ruger is producing a officers model I may get one .
I’m curious, I know Kimber is a well respected brand for assembly line 1911’s, but I’ve heard many complain about their build quality falling off in recent years. Mostly QA really but consistantly NOT being fully functional OOB. Other’s, like sig for instance, are consistantly left off lists like this, however when you go look, you see nothing but praise for them. I’m glad to see Ruger make this list, they often get overlooked but I own a Sig 1911 as well, and it is AWESOME. You can feed just about anything through it and it eats it up. Very accurate, great trigger, fit and finish excellent even going on 10 years of ownership and CC. It checks all the boxes. Then you add a WC to your list. Here is another I have a little issue with. WC’s ARE excellent guns, but have a rather bad rep of not feeding low quality/range ammo very well. That’s a down check for reliability.
I agree Sir. In fact. I would have to take the kimber off the list and add Sig. Actually. Kimber belings on the 10 most over priced low-end 1911.
I had a Kimber 1911 custom 2 and it shot well but just didn’t feel comfortable. It’s almost like it was too sharp on my palm. It was a fine gun but it just had something about it that kept me from loving it like I do my Ruger revolver or beretta 92
Hello, I am active duty military and I am curious as to what 1911 in .45 you would recommend. I want something that can take a serious amount of abuse but also be ergonomic enough to whip out of my holster in a flash. Price isn’t really an issue. Ive only been able to hit targets with a .45 and revolvers in .44, .357, and .380, I’m practically cursed with all other handgun calibers never able to hit a target unless it’s in my face.
Dan Wesson and Nighthawk are in my opinion. I have had 2 colts a government and gold cup. Both were poorly made..
Interesting that Browning 1911 Highpower 9mm is not on this list. I understand that they are not easy to find but one of the most reliable and accurate 1911s around.