8 Best 1911 Pistols (2020): Best Starter Guns with Model Reliability and Durability

Best 1911 Pistols Feature Image

The 1911 pistol is a pervasive and well-known handgun that has become synonymous with power, reliability, and durability under hostile conditions.

Most of us have learned that the best rifle or shotgun always tops having a sidearm; however, the 1911 pistol, loaded with seven hard-hitting .45 ACP cartridges, is so praised for its stopping power that some gun authorities have suggested that pistol vs. rifle gunfights are not as irregular as previously thought.

Pistols Name Editor’s Comment Rating Get The Best Deal
Springfield Armory Pistol 1911-A1 9mm

1. Adjustable target sights with a fiber optic front sight
2. Versatile pistol for duty, defense, or concealed carry
3. Unlike .45 version, this model has a larger capacity at 9+1

10/10 Currently unavailable
Sig Sauer Pistol 1911 XO .45 ACP 1. Comes with two quality 8-rounds steel magazines
2. Uses a traditional GI guide rod
3. Hand-fitted internal parts
9.5/10 Currently unavailable
Colt Delta Elite 10mm Stainless Steel Pistol 1. Chambered in 10mm
2. One of the most potent pistol calibers
3. Composite grips with Delta Medallions
9.0/10 Currently unavailable
Colt 1911 .45 ACP Rail Gun 1. Decobond Brown Coating for increased durability
2. Novak low mount 3 dot carry sights with fiber optic front sight
3. The trigger pull weight of 4.5-6 lbs is not ideal for precise shooting
9.0/10 Currently unavailable
Kimber Custom II .45 ACP 1911 Pistol 1. Kimber’s premium aluminum match-grade trigger
2. Slide and frame machined from black carbon steel
3. Designed without sharp edges
8.5/10 Currently unavailable
Dan Wesson Bruin 1. Major firearms brand in the 1911 world with a host of great offerings
2. A duty carry finish
3. Fiber optic sights
8.0/10 Currently unavailable
Rock Island Armory 1. Great price point for something that has great tacts
2. Designed by Armscor
3. Manufactured in the Philippines
7.5/10 Currently unavailable
Remington 1911 R1 1. The capacity is 7+1
2. The caliber is .45 auto
3. Traveling at 850 fps through a 5” sized barrel
7.0/10 Currently unavailable

History of the Best 1911 Pistols

Mastermind firearms inventor John Moses Browning (so famous on online forums that he is just JMB) was pursued out to give the military a more powerful handgun round. By the end of the 1800s, during the Spanish-American War, the US military realized that their service revolvers (the Colt New Army Model 1892 chambered in .38 Long Colt) did not have sufficient power to stop attackers in their tracks.

 The US Army considered two possible cartridges – the .41 and .45 calibers – and after broad testing, they settled for the new .45 ACP round. At the offer of the government, Mr. John Moses Browning, a mastermind known for creating and developing some of the best firearms ever made, traveled from Europe to help with the situation.

Using the Colt Model 1905 as a groundwork, John Browning established a final version of the soldier’s sidearm, the Model 1911. The name of the handgun was instigated from the time when the U.S army officially implemented the pistol as their official side carry. The first modification and any changes made to the Colt .45 M 1911 was carried out specifically on the 15th of June 1926, and since then it has been officially named the M 1911 A1. After it became regular in 1926, where the .45-caliber M1911A1 became the longest-serving US weapon until the Beretta M9 pistol slowly pulled it out in the late 1990s.

While at the start of the 20th Century the 1911 pistols were made primarily by Colt or Springfield Armory. Currently, you can find over 100 different firearms companies manufacturing 1911 pistols all over the globe. One of these pistols manufacturers is particularly curious. In the 1980s, the Argentinian manufacturer HAFDASA offered a duplicate of the Colt .45-caliber M1911A1 pistol under the name Ballester-Molina 11.43mm Modelo 1938 Pistola as excess in the US market.

The marketing campaign in the gun readers periodicals pushed the fact that the World War II production Modelo 1938 pistols are made of steel reclaimed from the sunken German “pocket battleship” Graf Spee. That claim was a clear story-building, given that the structural steel of this well-armored ship (Panzerschiffe), as well as armor plates, would be poor for firearms manufacture. 

He was in direct competition with other firearms makers like Smith & Wesson and Savage. So in March 1911 his auto-loading pistol was officially taken on by the US Military as their top sidearm of choice. The 1911 stood up to a 6,000 round torment test, being water-logged in mud, acid, shooting distorted cartridges, and other tests.

Not only did Browning’s design (to be produced by Colt) win with flying colors, it was the only gun to pass all categories of this grueling test.

Who Uses 1911?

Designed as a combat pistol, the .45-caliber M1911A1 is chiefly geared for the armed professional market. As a leading option for professionals, a 1911 pistol in .45 ACP caliber is uncontested ineffectiveness. When properly set up, it is equally consistent with G.I. hardball ammunition as well with modern ammo of soft-point, hollow-point, or semi-wadcutter edifice.

Considering that 1911 is an easy gun to customize, it is an idyllic handgun for self-defense and concealed carry purposes, due to its narrow slide profile, slim grip housing, and single stack 7-rounds magazine. On top of being used normally for home and personal defense purposes, current applications of 1911 are included in the target shooting and the major shooting sports. 

Other 1911 Manufacturers 

Many traditionalists decry other brands and makers of 1911s (or calibers) as fakes. Some may go as far as to say that the other participant is unworthy to bear the name. One thing that many people don’t comprehend, however, is that the pleasure for them is so high during the Korean war that Colt contracted out to other companies to help keep the production numbers up and running. 

Some very well-known handguns companies helped, to include Remington Rand, Ithaca, Springfield Armory, and many other foreign companies, and even the Singer sewing machine company. As the matter of fact, pistols from these other companies can demand a very high price when they are sold.  Some of the Singer pistols can be worth up to US$30,000 if sold to the right buyer because so few are made.

Who Uses the 1911 Pistols? 

Designed before as a combat pistol, the .45-caliber M1911A1 is basically geared for the armed professional market. As a top choice of professional gun enthusiasts, a 1911 pistol in .45 ACP caliber is unparalleled inefficiency. When properly set up, it is equally dependable with G.I. hardball ammo as well with modern ammo of soft point, hollowpoint, or semi-wadcutter construction works. 

Considering that 1911 is an easy gun to modify, it is an ideal handgun for self-defense and concealed carry, due to its narrow slide profile, slim grip housing, and single stack 7-round magazine. Besides being used regularly for home and personal defense, current usage of the 1911 pistol includes the target shooting and the major shooting sports.

Modern Uses

The M1911 style is still currently in service in a few selected military units, some police forces. Furthermore, it is a widely accepted pistol for self-defense purposes, regardless of the maker or size of the cartridge.

If you have a look in the gun cabinet of many gun lovers, you’ll most likely see at least one M1911 pistol.  Many pistol owners own more than one because as far as pistols go, they are accurate, reliable, and aesthetic on the eyes.

Many of the major shooting sports also allow a division for shooting M1911 style pistols, because, even though the original design is well over one hundred years old, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

In fact, if you were to look at one of Colt’s current contributions, the Model 70 (worth US$900), it’s as close to the original M1911A1 as you can really get.  It’s as if it came right out of the factory in 1924 when the M1911 was first reworked into the A1.

The Criteria: Aspects to Consider Before Buying a 1911 Pistol 

Like every other firearm, the 1911 pistol has some pros and cons. 1911 pistols come in four main formats that vary in barrel length; they are Government, Commander and Officer Model, and Match Target (aka “Long Slide”). 

As the leading option for a base gun, some gun followers advise choosing a Government-model carbon steel Colt. They also recommend circumventing pistols with a stainless slide and frame because most of these handguns have non-stainless sections and the gun will not match well. 

For the barrel length, it is best that you choose a 5-inch stainless steel barrel, as it will offer fine performance, reliability, and corrosion resistance. The guide rod should be a shorter standard length one (GI) instead of an aftermarket full-length guide rod (FLGR). 

Much like every other semi-automatic of the time, 1911 originally had small, mediocre sights. That means you should look for a slide that is already cut with Novak dovetails. This will enable you to upgrade your 1911 pistols with unique sights according to your preferences and intended use. 

While the 1911 pistol is available with four trigger choices (long, medium, short, and flat), for practical use you should chiefly focus on the length and weight of trigger pull and look out for one that is no lighter than four pounds. 

1911 is a mainstay pistol, and the addition of a Picatinny MIL-1913 rail may be of utmost importance. Therefore, you should choose for a frame that comes with an integral rail that will allow you to attach common accessories like lights or lasers to the gun. 

The timeless design of a 1911 pistol is intimately linked to the .45 ACP as the standard caliber, but you can choose 1911s chambered in smaller calibers than the usual .45 if you so choose to. As a matter of fact, you can buy 1911s chambered in a number of different calibers, including .38 Super, .380ACP, 9mm, .40 S&W, and 10mm specs. There is also solid demand for .22 rimfire 1911s, either through a conversion kit or a devoted rimfire firearm.

The Best 1911 Pistols – Revealed

There are some 1911 pistols for almost everybody, with many options ranging from those for the budget-conscious in mind to those who are looking for the absolute best in terms of refinements and upgrades. Concerning that, we have put together the following list that may guide you to choose your best 1911 pistols.

1. Springfield Armory Pistol 1911-A1 9mm

Springfield Armory Pistol 1911-A1 9mmThough the Springfield Armory that retails firearms today is not the Springfield Armory that assists as the arms manufacturer for the American military. They are still a dependable and well-known brand known for their well-made 1911 pistols.

Springfield ranges its models anywhere from workhorses to match-grade custom pistols, and their Range Officer Model puts together the same accuracy features as the competition models with the compactness of an Officer model, at an affordable price. The competitive nature of the 40-ounce Range Officer translates into the fact that it can hit targets with less than 1-inch grouping at 25 yards out.

Since it is chambered in the compact hitting 9mm Luger, this powerhouse is also a daunting home defense pistol for concealed carry purposes or personal uses. While the Springfield pistol under manufacturer number PI9122L asserts frame and slide made of forged stainless steel for better corrosion opposition and sturdiness, its match-grade steel barrel measures five inches for an extended sight radius. The barrel has incorporated steel dovetail to take on adjustable target sights with a shielded fiber-optic tube as a front sight.

A long aluminum match-grade trigger is skeletonized with a jagged face and provides a crisp, clean trigger pull of 5 pounds. However, you can adjust it if you want to lower it more. Aside from its durable all-steel edifice, to add an aesthetic appeal, the Range Officer comes with cocobolo double diamond checkered wood grips with the imprinted Springfield Armory logo. However, these wood grip panels are not very resilient; you can expect to get some scratch marks over time.

Model PI9122L is the 9mm caliber version and comes with a 9+1 magazine capacity. The handgun offers soft recoil that doesn’t affect your overall performance. 

The Springfield Armory Range Officer 1911-A1 is a great option for new shooters and for everyday carry purposes. At the same time, it is also perfect for free-range shooting, as its name already suggests. A Range Officer in 9mm is made to enhance comfort and control in an easy to carry and concealed 1911 package.

2. Sig Sauer Pistol 1911 XO .45 ACP

Sig Sauer Pistol 1911 XO .45 ACPSig Sauer 1911 is a famous small arms manufacturer well-known for making only the best handguns. Adding a breath of the cultural soul of the old continent to this classic American design, Sig Sauer 1911 style has offered the kind of handgun you can buy for a lifetime of use. To put it simply, it is definitely one of the best pistols for the money you’re looking for.

The model with number 1911-45-B-XO comes in hard-wearing black Nitron finish that seems to counterattack any kind of scratching or marking during any shootouts. Like most of the top grade 1911s, the 1911 XO from Sig Sauer does not have front rails. Unlike the classic Colt 1911, the Sig Sauer XO has a peripheral extractor, which puts a lot of hook onto the case rim.

It has a 5 inches match grade barrel, hammer, and sear, and utilizes a half-length guide rod fairly than a full-length guide rod. This “Government” size model comes in a Series 80 style, meaning that it has a hammer intercept notch and a firing pin safety.

The stainless steel frame and slide are made to challenging tolerances and are hand-fitted to provide rugged and long-term hard use. While this Sig XO is a full-sized, 41.6 ounce, entirely steel frame gun, it also uses a minimal number of MIM parts due to the value level control.

Rather than an aluminum trigger, the 1911 XO has a steel trigger that comes with a heavier trigger pull (about 5 pounds) than some of the competition triggers; which is very appropriate for a law-enforcement firearm. The Sig 1911 is armed with contrast sights and Ergo Grip XT life-threatening use grips. Since Sig Sauer does not withhold on magazines, their XO .45 caliber package comes with two 8-rounds steel magazines made from invisible welds and quality followers.

The 1911 XO from Sig Sauer is definitely one of the best 1911 pistols that are available on the market currently. Combining hand-fitted internals and match quality construction with an excellently checkered mag well and comfortable polymer grips, Sig Sauer has achieved to produce a top-quality 1911.

3. Colt Delta Elite 10mm Stainless Steel Pistol

The 1911 style semi-automatic chamber in many different calibers. However, the Colt Delta Elite in a hard-hitting 10mm is a long-time fan-favorite among many combat pistol shooters. The Colt Combat Elite is a Government-style, single-action Series 80 Colt 1911 pistol re-calibrated to fire off a more prevailing and faster cartridge. It also came with an upswept beavertail grip safety.

The Delta Elite has checkered composite grips and grip safety with an upswept beavertail grip method to allow more comfortable shooting experiences as it keeps your hand very high on the gun. The Colt Delta Elite model O2020XE boasts an extended single-side tactical safety lock and lowered ejection port.

Overall, the Colt Gold Delta Elite 10mm pistol comes with a stainless steel slide and forged frame with a brushed finish. It also comes with a stainless steel 5 inches barrel with a polished finish. As a proven 1911 design, the Colt Delta Elite restatement comes with wide slide serrations and moderately sharp edges on the slide and frame of the weapon.

Combining both the Novak white dot front sight and Novak low mount carry rear sight, the Delta Elite 10mm delivers the customary sight picture intended for the quick combat shooting. An improved 3-hole aluminum trigger with 4.5-6 pound pull is optimized for both law enforcement and personal defense use. The gun comes to you in a nice box that includes two 8-rounds magazines, cable lock, and the instruction guide.

As a piece of firearms manufacturers history and for many Colt aficionados, the Colt Delta Elite represents love at first sight and a valuable collector piece. It was the first retail successful semi-auto chambered in 10mm and it is easily recognizable by the wrap-around composite grips with the exclusive Delta medallions.

4. Colt 1911 .45 ACP Rail Gun

The first thing that catches your attention when probing this pistol is its impervious Decobond Brown final product that can resist corrosion, chemicals, dirt, and abrasion. Furthermore, the Colt’s model O1070M45 features a hard-wearing forged stainless steel 5 inches barrel and tanned stainless steel receiver/slide, coupled with flat, serrated mainspring housing with a lanyard loop.

Another thing that makes the M45A1 stand out among its peers is a MIL-STD 1913 accessory rail that has a more actual surface area for an accessory to grasp on it. This rail gives the handgun a slightly more heft at 40 ounces when compared to a standard Government Model 1911. Besides its weight, the soft gun recoil is also compounded by using a dual recoil spring system, similar to what you find in a Colt’s 1911 Delta Elite chambered in 10mm.

The Colt 1911 .45ACP Rail Gun M45A1 pistol is made and gloved with genuine Novak tritium front and rear 3 dot night sights that allows the shooter to acquire targets in low-light or at night.

Because the long, solid aluminum trigger measures 5.3 pounds on average, it is pretty much evident that this gun is not made for precision work in mind. With that being said, the accuracy is fine considering this pistol’s envisioned purpose. This Colt Rail Gun does utilize the Series 80 trigger system, Upswept beavertail grip safety that comes with a palm swell, and extended ambidextrous tactical safety lock.

It is shipped with two Wilson Combat seven-shot prominent magazines. Designed in a full-sized Government profile and containing an ability to attach a tactical light, the Colt Rail Gun is a model candidate for the shooting fanatic and the personal defense user.

With more than 100 years of providing America’s armed forces with quality firearms, Colt’s Manufacturing Company, LLC has received a new contract for its classic battle-proven M1911 pistol updating. After an arduous selection process, the Colt .45ACP Rail Gun was espoused by U.S. Marine Corps as their Close Quarters Battle Pistol (CQBP). The pistol is named M45A1 and is envisioned to be used as a secondary weapon when directing CQB operations.

5. Kimber Custom II .45 ACP 1911 Pistol

Kimber Custom II .45 ACP 1911 PistolKimber Manufacturing is an American company that has become identical with mid-to-high level 1911 pistols made to suit just about any taste, from their basic large-frame Custom II models, down to the very compact models. The name “Custom” means that Kimber’s 1911s vacated the factory including many features that are considered the field of custom-built pistols. To be more accurate, each part is machined to the tightest acceptances and fit together by hand.

While the Kimber bids their 1911 variants in matte or polished finishes and your choice of fixed, adjustable, or night sights, the model 3200015 comes equipped with fixed Meprolight tritium night sights and the 5-inch match-grade barrel manufactured from stainless steel.

The full-size steel frame and slide feature a matte black finish that matches the nice black synthetic grips that come paired with double diamond details. Similar to the barrel, barrel bushing, and the trigger, the slide is manufactured to rigorous match grade dimensions. That provides a great fit to frame with a minimal tremble.

This Kimber 1911 Custom II .45 ACP pistol boasts a full-length guide rod, which is presumed to help improve accuracy. Whereas most of the Kimber’s firearm parts are made traditionally, Custom II also integrates a few metal-injection molded pistol parts.

Both the three-hole trigger and hammer are skeletonized, which helps with maintaining weight at 38 ounces for the empty gun. That is about the average weight for most full-sized 1911 pistols. The aluminum match grade trigger comes break even crisp and clean at between 4-5 pounds, which is also normal for any guns carried for self-defense purpose. To many gun owners’ surprises, the Kimber gun package comes with only one steel magazine that leaves a bad impression for some gun owners and enthusiasts.

Indeed, the government-style Custom II is Kimber’s leading model, which combines the slim nature of 1911 with top craftsmanship expertise and reliability making this handgun the cornerstone foundation in carrying and concealability.

6. Dan Wesson Bruin (10mm)

Dan Wesson Bruin (10mm)Dan Wesson has long been a major and authoritative name in the 1911 firearm world with an array of great offerings – but the Bruin is a lot of people’s fan favorite. Probably it’s the burnt bronze, maybe it’s the long slide, it can be the 10mm of amazeballs. The Bruin firearm is certainly a fan favorite.

A duty carry finish and fiber optic sights round off this as not only a 1911 pistol worthy of being a piece of art, but also ready for tangible use. You may have heard that CZ bought Dan Wesson a few years ago. While many are worried that quality will suffer currently now that DW isn’t exactly a small shop anymore. Many people are happy to report that people’s worst fears did not come true.

CZ did not go down the path of Freedom Group and Dan Wesson is still manufacturing some of the finest 1911 guns you can possibly get your hands on.

7. Rock Island Armory

Some gun owners shot their first Rock Island Armory pistol during competition shooting, and that’s no big surprise.  People have always known them but never had much of a chance to try some of the best 1911 out. And try out a lot some people did. Their favorite was their long-slide 1911 pistol, however, their standard 1911 pistols (US$520) are great too.

Sure, it needs some appreciation if you are a little spoiled by other models. However, it went off resoundingly good every time and when people did their part, it hit all the targets best. The pistols are designed by Armscor and manufactured in the Philippines. They have plenty of other models too with the same good price and price point if you are looking for something more tactical and strategic (and for target practice too).

8. Remington 1911 R1

Remington was one of the first firearms and weapons companies to make the 1911 pistol when Colt first asked them to help bank up production during war (and another battle) periods and for family security.

The R1 Enhanced (US$849) pistol is a great and best deal considering and can be upgraded to whatever you want the pistol to be. The pistol’s capacity is 7+1 and the caliber is .45 auto traveling at 850 fps through a full size 5-inch barrel.

Conclusion

The best 1911 single action pistols for the money are certainly out there in the market within your price range. Whether if you’re looking for a three-dot, fiber optic front, two-tone, thumb safety, high-quality pistol designs. The best 1911 pistol as competition shooters, micro carry, target acquisition, made of alloy frame, mil-spec, for law enforcement organizations, for competition use, then this is certainly the place of variety anyone can find game.

You can find everything 1911 – from the best versions everyone is looking for to customization, there is definitely the best type product you will search for. 1911 gun users will go through any category with any materials through several articles, with high standards that will best fit what 1911 they are searching for. 

We hope that this article can lead you to the best 1911 pistols for the money. We hope that the price range isn’t too bad and within reasonable price experience. There are many reasons and differences in why you’d want to get the best 1911 due to your preference. But the best 1911 does not mean it should hinder you from getting it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) some gun owners may have about the best 1911 pistols. 

Q: Who makes the best 1911 pistol?

The best 1911 pistol may not be considered the best one for you. Sometimes the best one is only the best for certain groups of people. As long as it has what you are looking for, then it’s good.

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