The 1911 Platform Observations

The 1911. It’s a fantastic shooting platform. I had gotten away from it for some years and now I’m back to it for the time being. As an instructor I’ve made many observations on the guns and the shooters and I think I’ve come up with some conclusions.
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1. The 1911 demands loyalty. You can’t cheat on it and have it be faithful back to you. If you are going to carry a 1911, you need to marry it. Here’s why… In most every class I’ve taught that had a 1911 shooter in it, I’ll catch a guy draw his weapon, push out from the high compressed position, and then crush his trigger to no effect because he forgot to sweep the safety off. Most of the guys that do that, do so because their other guns are not 1911’s. They are Glocks or XD’s or M&P’s or something altogether not 1911’s. Don’t cheat on the 1911. Because that’s going to lead some issues.
2. Don’t go shorter than 4 inches. 1911’s that are shorter than a “Commander” start to give up reliability. You give up other things as well to the point that you are detracting from the fantastic qualities that make the 1911 the 1911 in the first place. The long sight radius, the accuracy, the pointability… These things make a 1911 what it is. Chopping them down to 3 inches… you’ve ruined it. You no longer have the pointing, the accuracy, the very things we love the 1911 for. And I’ve never seen a compact 1911 of any sort complete one of my handgun courses without turning into a hot mess of problems. The Commander is 4.25 inches. Many 1911 makers are doing a 4″ version, and they seem to be running just about as well as any good full sized 5″ “Government” model. Shorter than 4, it’s effecting the geometry and the timing and it’s just not worth the risk in reliability for the perception of greater concealment.
3. The 1911 needs to be well lubricated. Some guys like oil, some grease, and others a combo of both in different places. However you like it – that’s fine. As long as you oil it. Most every 1911 I’ve seen with issues that wasn’t shorter than 4″, was a pistol that was bone dry. Just like an AR-15, it can be hot, and dirty… but it can’t be dry. The 1911 likes to be wet.
4. The 1911 is a traditional type of pistol so it needs a traditional type of holsters – leather. Good leather. Most 1911’s are north of $1,000 dollars, so don’t even think about it letting it ride in a cheap rig. And remember what I said about marrying the 1911? That means showing it the respect that it deserves… let it ride in something nice. Let it know you care. Here’s the other reason… The 1911 is not for the Duffers. It’s a pistol for the experts. It’s for the experienced shooters. It should show some miles on it. Let it get some holster wear, let that holster break in… And you do that by #5…
5. You Must Train with it. Practice your draw. Practice your re-holstering. Practice getting that one thing that the 1911 excels at – that fast and precise first round heavy hit. All gunfights have one thing in common. That first shot. Make it count.

17 thoughts on “The 1911 Platform Observations”

  1. I’ve been carrying a sig tacops 1911 for the last year and I absolutely love it. The only issue I have with it is that I need to replace the barrel and I am having trouble finding anyone with one in stock.

    I’ve carried a variety of other guns over the course of the last decade and this is the first full size pistol I’ve acquired that I am comfortable carrying concealed. I don’t see myself cheating on this platform anytime soon

    1. Wait… Why do you need to replace the barrel?

      Don’t tell me you shot it out in just a year….

      1. I got it used in a trade, but no the barrel is still good. The problem is it’s a threaded barrel and extends below the holster. As a result I keep wearing holes in my pants and it will be cheaper to get a non threaded barrel than to keep going through pants.

          1. The thing about 1911 barrels is that they must be fitted to the slide and chances are that a used barrel won’t (safely) work in another gun or won’t even be able to be fitted.

  2. I agree with most of it.
    #1. You can own and shoot other guns, just gotta shoot 1911’s more than the rest. I have the opposite problem of sweeping the safety off on guns that don’t have a safety there.

    #2. I seem to be the exception to 1911 rules in that I have two Kimbers, they both work, and the Ultra Raptor II runs really well. I have carried it for months and THEN shot it with no malfs.

    Lubrication is key. I had a friend complaining about his Springfield 1911A1. When he handed it to me it was bone dry, allegedly coated in Rem Oil. I adjusted the extractor, then applied a generous coat of 2:1 Mobil1 Synthetic and ATF. The next day, I tested 50rds and he ran a USPSA match with no malfunctions.

    1. I have an Ultra CDP and I haven’t had any issues as well and I shoot the snot out of it…so far not a single malfunction. I’ve also noticed that some people shoot their 1911’s completely dry for some reason (I did have someone tell me that they didn’t like it when hot oil splattered on their face) but as noted numerous times that’s a big no-no.

  3. re: #1
    Yup, that’s why the BHP is as far as I stray (except for occasional play).

    re: #3
    Slipstream has made a world of difference in this area. Not near as sensitive to time on the shelf between lubes now. Let one 1911 set for over 6 months and it ran fine off the shelf through a fistful of mags. Previously, that same 1911 would consistently FTF sometime in the first two mags if I let it set for 4 weeks w/out a fresh lube.

  4. Colt Combat Commander , 70 series, bought new back in the day. A little judicious work on the feed ramp and a better pair of sights and its been rocking along ever since. Slipstream is your friend – especially the Styxx formula.

  5. Love the post Ogre. I’m happy to currently have 3 Colt 5″ guns that run great.

    A while back I ran a 9mm SA Loaded model through the 2,000 round challenge (no cleaning no lube) and it passed with flying colors. But I don’t normally treat my guns that way and I agree lube is key. And magazines.

    1. Yes, good magazines are key. There are too many crappy 1911 magazines out there and also ancient surplus “magazines” that have no place to be still in circulation. They do wear out and they do need to be replaced, so spend the money on decent magazines and toss the ones that aren’t performing.

      1. It’s hard to discard something that you paid 30 bucks for… so old mags never get tossed when they should. The Lips, the Follower, the Springs… 3 points of failure.
        Some mags don’t let you change the springs/follower. I wouldn’t spend money on those.

        If you have a bad magazine that can’t be sorted, drop it to the ground, stomp it, and then put it out on the range and put a bullet through it.

        1. What would be your recommended magazine? When I got my sig it came with 2 Chip McCormick 8 round mags and I have since picked up 3 Wilson combat 8 rounders. So far I haven’t had an issue with any of these but if there is something more reliable out there I’d like to know if I need another in the future.

  6. Most sensible piece on the 1911 I’ve read in a while. It very well matches my experience. FWIW I carry a Sig RCS with some regularity.
    JSG

    1. That’s a great gun. The SIG’s are some of my favorites, and the C3 and RCS are my favorites of the SIG line.

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