My favorite 1911 Configuration.

To me, saying “1911” is like saying “Pickup Truck”.  There are many Makes and Models out there, all different, all with different purposes. But they are all 1911’s so they are pretty good and should all pretty much run the same way.   But one configuration of 1911 that always makes me drool…
A Lightweight Commander.  Specifically a two tone LW Commander.  As far as pistols go – these are my Redheads.  My Kryponite.  My weakness.



This one is very nice… Subdued colors.  A big visible dot on the front sight… Very nice indeed.  I’m not a huge fan of the ramped rear sight, but I can deal with that.  On this gun the higher end red wood grips are a little dressy on the flat finished gun.

colt_04860txt_commander_eliteThis one is nice too… Subdued colors again, but with a set of black grip panels.  I like that a bit better due to the fact that it’s more in keeping with the motif.  The first one is like having White Wall tires on a Mustang GT.   I guess that would be fine if that’s your thing… it’s just not my thing.   And if it is your thing… and you like that… Well, “America”.   Bully for you!

kobra4Here’s one that’s very good.  Micarta grips, brushed stainless and a moderate polish on the slide… Not Subdued, but more natural.  I really like that.  I also like the Bobtail… a lot.  But it’s not necessary…  Just really really nice.  Like Navigation or a Back Up Camera, or XM Radio.

Yost_left_rearOh man… Here we go.  This is the higher end.  We have a high polish on that blued slide and burled walnut grips.  This one is so nice that it’s almost too nice.  We call guns like this “BBQ Guns”, but it’s what you wear to a BBQ at your friends place… your nicest gun in a nice leather holster.  Not something I’d EDC, but wear to special occasions.  It would be like having a date with a Super Model… You are not going to take her out on the rounds of your usual haunts, but to some place special.  (Unless she asked to go to the regular haunts mind you)   So for me, that last one there, the more natural one, that’s the one I’d pick.

What do all these Commanders have in common?  Two Tone Finishes, with Dark on top of Light.  The current Vogue due to the advent of stainless slides on polymer frames is to have a light colored slide on a dark frame.  This I don’t care for.  It makes all manner of sense though, sure.  It’s PRACTICAL.  A stainless slide will show less wear than a blued slide.  And frames will typically show less wear than slides… So putting a stainless slide on that black frame makes Reason and Logic smile.  But it doesn’t make me necessarily smile, no, just the opposite is true.  And let me tell you why.

Growing up reading every gun magazine I could get my hands on as a kid, I stared with wide eyes and great wonder at the custom 1911’s made by true master level gunsmiths… and all of them were two tones with stainless frames and high polished blued slides.   That LOOK defined “Custom” for me then and it does so now.  So the stainless slides on black frames just look “off” to me.   So my ultimate has to have a black slide on light frame.   That just visually tastes right to me.

9 thoughts on “My favorite 1911 Configuration.”

  1. IIRC, the rationale for blued slides and chromed frames on custom 1911’s was three-fold:

    – Since the frame was the serialized part of the gun and thus hardest to replace without requiring a new Form 4473 and registration in certain jurisdictions, the frame was finished in industrial hard chrome or electroless nickel for wear-resistance and corrosion-resistance;

    – Since the slide was going to be milled/ground/fitted by the gunsmith for new sights, match barrel, etc. it was simply blued or Parkerized by the smith in his shop, rather than sending it out to be chromed/nickeled with the frame, thus adding more time and expense to the project;

    – A darkly-finished slide was less likely to glare in bright sunlight, which could interfere with the shooter’s sight picture.

  2. i like two tone in a 1911 to, but I have never cottoned to stainless steel guns as I feel they are two flashy/relflective/noticeable. if I could I would want a full size government model with good low profile sights, a lowered ejection port and an amby safety. as far as two tone goes how about a phosphate desert tan frame with a phosphate olive drab slide. all this and pacmeyer wrap around grips. I think that is a gun that say’s “I’m hear to take care of business”.

  3. I agree with you 99%…the ONLY change I would make is to a CCO rather than a full-sized-frame Commander. If forced to sell every 1911 I own, the CCO is the one I would keep. In fact, if forced to sell every other HANDGUN I own, the lightweight CCO in .45 ACP would be the last one to go. Period.

  4. Well apparently we share thr love of redheads. I always lusted after the Lt. Weight Commander, two tone, and rosewood grips, ambidextrous safety set (not extended), great set of sights.
    Not a picky bastard am I. Never bought one, I have owned Colt Government model series 70’s all in .45 and a old Webley and Scott revolver one of the last ones .455, which would always outshoot my Colts.
    But the lust for a Colt lt weight Commander custom never went away. Sure there are more concealable, practical guns, but then too I love Ferraris, and only the redheads are worth the climb.

  5. There’s a first-gen Kimber lightweight Commander style pistol waiting at my local gun shop for the clock to run out on the sale delay (traded guns can’t be sold for something like 21 days while the PD checks to see if they’re stolen property) before I can pick it up. Melted slide, finished in black, alloy frame finished in bead-blast. Night sights. Beautiful thing. Can’t wait.

  6. Not a fan of two-tone guns, but otherwise, I’d have to agree with your assessment. My Kimber Pro Carry, with the bobtail job, snakeskin front strap, and slim-line grips is the nicest carry gun I’ve ever had, in addition to being boringly reliable.

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