My current picks for the best production 1911’s you can buy. I’m going to roll with some specific guns and give some more details. But following the recent AR-15 article pattern, I’m going to stick with regular production 1911’s and not touch on Custom and Semi-Custom. Otherwise this list would be all about Nighthawk, Ed Brown, Les Baer, and Wilson Combat.
1. Springfield Armory: I’m putting Springfield as a top choice because their guns are consistently well above par, and their customer service just might be The Best in the entire gun industry. Their policy is that they want you to be happy with your gun. So you can buy a Springfield without hesitation. Any complaints I have heard about Springfield usually involved the person having some extreme form of Unrealistic Expectations. “I had a problem with my GI Model so I think Springfield should give me a TRP! With a 3 day turn around!” That kind of thing.
Picking 3 guns out of their line up, the TRP, the MC Operator, and the Champion LW Operator. (Champion being Springfield lingo for “Commander”) I would really like to see Springfield do a “CCO” type pistol, and Loaded LW Commander, er… Champion.
As some do not know, MARSOC was buying and using the Springfield MC Operators for years and years before Colt snagged the contract. Considering Colt’s new CEO is a former Marine General… Hmmm… I’m sure that contract award was completely legit.
2. SIG. SIG really hit the ground running making just what could be best overall 1911’s you can buy. Problem with them though, is that they departed from tradition with a sharp turn. Non traditional external dimensions/profiles, with external extractors. Then they came out with their “Tradition” series – which does look like a regular 1911, but still has that exterior extractor. However, these guns are so good… I just love them. Very much so. Their C3 and RCS are amazing CCW guns. And this gun here…. It hits all the right buttons. Make this a Commander sized, SIG. Please. You can’t go wrong with a SIG 1911.
3. PARA USA. It’s not a secret that I’ve just never really cared for Para’s guns. But ever since Para Ordinance became Para USA, they have been making huge strides. Their LDA trigger system, I still don’t care for. If you like it, that’s fine. I just don’t. However their regular 1911’s… They have evolved into guns that are just excellent. Their new Black Ops 1911 is unquestionably a fine 1911 handguns by any measure. But it’s their Elite series that I really dig. Simple, no front slide serrations… and this one is almost perfect. Just please, get rid of that fiber optic FSP. I’ll take a regular tritium FSP, thank you. I’ve talked with some of the guys from PARA USA, and they are taking their guns very seriously. They want to be the best. And you know what? They keep on this road, they sure will be. I’m liking where they are going.
4. Remington’s 1911 R1. This comes as a surprise to me… but Remington’s R1 family of 1911’s are just flat out excellent. All of Remington’s problems do not exist in or effect their 1911’s. And they are offering these well built and solid 1911’s at extremely reasonable prices. They make one that I would be very tempted to add to my own collection. Tell me that isn’t just gorgeous. Remington is using a very good steel alloy, and are sporting very nice finishes.
Now if they could just put this attention to detail into the Marlin Lever Actions – I’d be a happy happy Ogre.
5. STI. Specifically, STI’s Lawman 4.0, and the Nitro 10. I favor the Single Stacks, and I favor the guns that use the bushings… but that Nitro 10 is just too cool, so I can forgo the bushing requirement.
6. Dan Wesson. Because Dan Wesson. Their Bobtail Commanders are probable the most FLAWLESS 1911’s I’ve ever seen that didn’t cost more than a good used car. Their 10mm Razorback is just too damn good. But the ones to really look hard at, are the Valor Black and the CCO. Perfection. Where is the Valor Black Commander though? Oh, and hey, CZ USA – Make these in 10mm as well. I don’t really dig the Titan 10, because I don’t hunt Vampires, professionally, so I don’t need all the race-gun hints. I want a clean and simple 1911, in 10mm… that’s not stainless.
Here’s what I look for in a 1911: Simplicity and understated elegance. I don’t like bushingless bull barrels. I don’t like full length guide rods. I really don’t even particularly care for ambi-safeties. And the one thing I really don’t like – but they are almost universal… The Novak style ramped rear sights. But I can live with it. I will also stay away from anything that even resembles a “Series 80”. I prefer Commander length barrels. The 4″ to 4.25″ barrel lengths. They balance just right to me. I do prefer if I can get it, the light weight frames, but will take solid steel happily. I also do not like extended slide releases and safety levers. The “Tear Drop” style safety lever is my favorite. I do prefer a bobbed hammer or commander style hammer, followed up with a nice wide high ride beaver-tail. Those work for me.
One to keep an eye on: Rock Island Armory is getting better and better, not every year, but every day. They are like the Kia Motors of 1911’s… they used to be cheap and laughable, but now they will make you turn your head, “What is that? THAT’s a Kia?!?” RIA is having that same effect. While not one of my top choices now, they could be at some point in the future sooner than anyone could expect.