Guns, Quartier LeBlanc

The 1911 Pistol

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Meet Andromache, my personal Colt Combat Commander. The caption pic is one of my favorites and she loves to be photographed. I give my handguns female names because in many ways they behave like women. Andromache always attracts attention at the range and she loves to flirt. Men just want to pick her up and hold her. She began life as a stock gun that stayed in a gun shop case for years, unable to be sold. Nevertheless, she caught my eye and it was love at first sight. She went to the gunsmith and like many dangerous females had “some work” done. This included a Videki trigger, Trijicon night sights, replacement of her spring sets with those made by Wolf, as well as the very special grips that define her personality. I’ve spoiled her with Chip McCormick magazines and a variety of holsters. She loves Remington 185 gr +P Golden Saber HP’s. Andromache is beautiful, deadly and classic. After all she is a 1911.

A gun writer of some repute wrote about the 1911 saying, “it is big, it is old, it is heavy.” It also fires the formidable 45 ACP cartridge (the 45 has been thoroughly field tested on crazed Muslims, homicidal German SS soldiers, Mexican bandits, various tough Asian groups as well as domestic hoodlums) It is also a legendary weapon, that served as the standard US military firearm from 1911 to 1986. You can’t see a World War 2 movie without seeing one. A number of authorities considered it the end all as a fighting pistol in its more modern form. With product improvement it survives to this day and sales are still strong (All 5 of its competitors in the early part of the 20th century are no longer in manufacture) The weapon dominates many types of pistol competitions and SWAT entry teams use them because of their speed. Currently its been modernized and improved with various forms including lighter and smaller packages using a variety of other calibers. There are also a huge number of after market parts and the weapon is a dream (or a nightmare) for the part time tinkerer/gunsmith. Pick one up and you’ll want to save Private Ryan too. There’s just something about the 1911. For you people who have high capacity magazine phobia, most of them have 7 or 8 round capacity though high capacity weapons exist.

With all these superlatives you’re probably wondering about why you haven’t bought one yet. Despite all the kudos the pistol is really obsolescent. (I’m sure Jeff Cooper is rolling over in his grave right now) It’s also expensive. No matter what you do to them, it will never be as reliable as a Glock, H&K or Sig. Virtually all the major malfunctions I’ve had or seen have been with the 1911. (This includes a broken main spring in an instructor’s weapon, a high end Wilson Combat, a shock buff that disintegrated on a qualifier with my own Wilson, broken extractor on a friend’s Kimber Custom Shop pistol, broken recoil spring in my Colt Lightweight Commander, broken recoil plug on some guy’s Springfield) In addition I’ve had to replace a mainspring as well as more than one recoil spring when functioning was less than optimal. It’s like having a superhot girlfriend; they require constant attention and money to keep around. Plus, you can never ever really trust them. Like most who have carried one (And had a hot girlfriend), you’ll eventually break up and move on to something else. Larry Vickers, a true 1911 guru, who knows as much about this particular weapon in the world reportedly now carries a Glock.

It’s also a single action semi-auto with its various nuances and single light trigger pull once both of the safeties have been deactivated. You will have to decide what “condition of readiness” to keep it in. However that topic is a matter of training and is really beyond the scope of this article. I went to a several day course just on the use of the 1911. When it runs well there is no better fighting handgun on the face of the planet. Did I mention that it can also be a real bitch to sometimes get back together after cleaning?

There a huge number of manufacturers out there ranging from low end Philippine and Turkish importers to high end custom makers like Wilson, Les Baer, and Ed Brown to name a few. The problem with the 1911 is that you get what you pay for. IMHO the absolute minimum you can get by without modification and still be reliable will set you back at very least a bit over a grand. Most of them will need tweaking except for the very high end. You won’t even get to the Wilson line till you pay well in excess of 2 grand and that’s just the beginning. I would consider the standard as a Colt or maybe a Springfield Amory and work from there. Especially if you get a cheaper one, there are a number of things you can do to make it more reliable. If it’s a GI spec weapon just use hard ball ammunition in it, that’s what it was designed for. Magazines make a difference and I would throw away anything that came with it and replace them with high quality after markets ones. Wilson and Chip McCormick have the reputation. In addition, I’d consider replacing the recoil spring (so easy even a Millennial could do it) with a heavier 17 or 18,5 lb spring and see which one works best. Don’t scrimp on cheap ammo either and thoroughly test it. This can get expensive, because good defense ammo is not cheap. A proper break in is considered to be at least 500 rounds. You can do a lot of this with less expensive ball ammo, but it will take this much to check reliability. Also if you have an economy weapon, consider getting the extractor replaced by someone who really knows what he’s doing. (Sorry ladies, I’ve never heard of a woman 1911 armorer) It also needs to be properly cleaned and lubricated (you tube videos are good at this) at regular intervals. Despite all this, do you still want one? Some of you will, I know I did.

 

 

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20 Comments

  1. ragincajun

    I have a stainless steel sig 1911 no problems so for and fun to shoot.

  2. Sold my Colt 1911 for $1,000. Kicking myself every day since. Beautiful piece … made in 1961 … Sigh.
    Kick!!!
    Now I have the Glock 17. Fine … double action, which is okay. I’m not a strainer. Oh, and yeah I’ve got an AR15 with red-dot, front hand grip, rails all over the thing, and four 30 round magazines. It rests in a Fender guitar case, believe it or not … but they’re made as rifle cases, I guess so you can carry it around like you’re a musician. Damn, what will they think of next?
    Nice enough to get the job done.
    To me, that’s the deal I suppose … getting the job done when the job needs doing.
    Great article!

  3. Inherited a Colt Mk4 from an uncle who had unspecified work done on it. Current carry is a Para P12 for hot weather, and a Para P14 for winter, and I also have an early (90s) Glock 30. I have never had a part break, and the only failures were due to cheap ammo. In fact, for me, the 1911s have been entirely reliable, which is why I have been so loyal to them for decades.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have other handguns that I have never had trouble with, with the exception of a Beretta 92 (POS), but I always came back to the 1911.

  4. PrepperDaddy

    Big Sexy, got my Colt Delta Elite in stainless and am having a close personal relationship with that bad girl. Have been working up a load using 180 gr JHP and Power Pistol. This is my 3rd 1911, also have the Springfield Armory EMP and the RO Champion, both in 9mm. Also have other pistols; DA only and DA/SA and hands down I prefer to shoot my 1911’s.

  5. NJ conservative

    I love the 1911, I had the good luck of working for Kimber a while back and was able to get a Custom 2 at cost. I call her Penelope and she is a sexy lady!

  6. Disgusted Caucasian

    Forgive me Quartierleblanc, AWD this needs to be a thread. Notice how the ‘undocumented immigrant’ just trying to make a better life for his family, attempts to hijack a bus. If successful I’m sure many would have died as in France. This border jumper got just what he deserved and saved the taxpayers some coin. This made my day!!!

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=e23_1468942010

  7. Max & Eric

    I really do have a love affair with the 1911. My wife and I both carry Colt Defenders which is the perfect carry pistol with enough knock down power and fast on the draw. I also have a 1991a1 which rides on my armour cross draw. But Sexy, Brutal Yes. Now sexy is Sister Juliette she’a a sexy Ruger M77 in 7mm Rem Mag. Before all you marksmen start snorting. I’m fifty to fat half blind you could give me a 20k custom rifle and I truly wouldn’t know the difference but I regularly hit center mass at 800 yards just can’t tell you where, and my dad handed me it and said your gonna need this. And Please sell that pos savage and buy some ammo for it

  8. Quartier, great piece! AWD owns two 1911’s. One a Springfield 1911 with a smoothed out trigger and three-dot sights added. Never could shoot that sumbitch and hit the ground. Still can’t.

    Have a buddy who worked for Remington about 4 years ago and he hooked me up with the Remington 1911 R1 at employee cost. I can shoot that thang as well as my Glock 23! Naturally, my oldest AW Son absconded with it and took it to college several states away. Even though I bought him a Springfield XD in .40 cal for his carry gun, he still has not returned my Remington! He too loves the 1911.

    To me, the 1911 is THE American gun. Look at one and you see John Wayne, World Wars won, and a trail of dead enemies foreign and domestic. Say no more.

    AWD would be proud to take your girl out for a spin. Looking to get over to your ‘burg around Labor Day on my new scooter. Would love to hook up and talk guns, burn a few Cuban ropes, and enjoy some of that special elixir I lent you!

    awd

    awd

    • Quartierleblanc

      All of the above can be arranged. I have the sticks and will introduce you to some small shop products that are simply superb. I’m going to burn an Our Father El Centurion here in just a few minutes.
      The 1911 is as American as Apple Pie and Government Motors- formerly known as Chevrolet. When or if the gun banners ever get their wish of banning modern high capacity handguns, I think that people will go back to this classic but with some redesign to modernize it even more.
      There’s just something about the 1911. It’s like an 1851 Colt Navy. You know you have history and tradition in your hands. Money says when swords were the main weapons that their owners felt the same way when they were passed down.

  9. Joe Stalin

    Colt Gold Cup .45 Series 70. The cardboard box has the “UAW” logo on the flap. Union labor = crappily machined slide; it was supposed to be their “Target Gun.” Buy yourself a more modern gun if your life depends on it. But if you like history, buy yourself one.

  10. Absolutely your best writing on handguns to date. Great read and thank you for posting. Your article is better written than most submissions I see in dedicated gun mags. Well done!!!

    I love all my 45’s but my custom Kimber makes me grin like a mule eating briars every time I pick her up. I would, and do, trust my life to that gun, no questions asked.

    While you are correct in stating the preferred military handgun is no longer the 45, I would like to point out that special forces have always carried, and still do carry, the 45. The slow moving heavy mass of a 45 bullet has the knock down power most calibers only dream about. Yes, there is the 44mag, the 50 cal, ect, but every gun is a compromise in some way or another. The 45 overall does it all.

    Btw, has anyone seen the 2011? It’s a double barreled 45 auto. Expensive but quite the novelty. Here’s a link…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVflbasMUH4

  11. I used to tell my wife that if the house was on fire, I’d save her, the dog, the kid, my copy of “Frank Sinatra and Count Basie at The Sands” and my Colt 1911. Not necessarily in that order.

    • Joe Stalin

      At a church, the dude giving the lecture on life said “In a fire, women grab their jewelry and men their guns.”

      Truer words have never been spoken.

  12. Spooky Mulder

    Hey as a millennial with a colt series 80 I take offense to that haha. Seriously all true though. They’re worth all the “extra love” you have to give them. An American icon!

  13. I have a 1943 Rand M1911. My dad put the pimp ivory copy grips on it. It has a trigger job so just a RCH will fire it. My personal carry choice is a small frame 9MM, but I keep the 1911 in the shop for Trespassers and pigs( guys with badges).

  14. A wonderful article!
    Alas, I have opted for simplicity in a 45.

    I have moved to the Glock 41 longslide. It even has an adjustable beavetail backstrap choice. I put in a KKM barrel and changed the sights and I’m good to go.

    • Guns&Bacon

      I think you have made the right decision. If I had all the money in the world, I’d have a beautiful case hardened 1911. But I’d rather buy an AR for that price lol

  15. Guns&Bacon

    Great article, and I commend you for being truthful about their reliability. A quality 1911 is by no means unreliable, but it is not the most reliable handgun on today’s market. The 1911 fanatics would have you believe they’re absolutely unstoppable.
    There are a few reasons why I’ve never owned one, or even toyed with the idea. Basically you can get something lighter, more reliable and with higher capacity, much cheaper. Granted, it will be much uglier, but I’d be hard pressed to care less about how pretty my guns are.

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