Why The 1911

I enjoy firearms; they are my hobby.  And, out of all firearms, I enjoy handguns the most.  They present the most challenging aspect of shooting (in my opinion) and can be utilized in short indoor ranges or vast outdoor expanses.  A handgun is also a very personal weapon, easily customized to the user and often times carried close to their person.  I own a number of handguns in a variety of actions.  Out of all of them, I have come to appreciate the 1911 above all.

Why the 1911?  I mean, it’s not new… it’s called “1911” for a reason.  It’s big, heavy, and doesn’t hold a lot of rounds.  A magazine holding eight .45 ACP cartridges is standard and, even in 9mm configuration, 9 – 10 rounds is about all you get.  It’s also known for being finicky, with a barrel bushing that must be fit “just right”, feed path that requires just the right angle and polish to work correctly, and an extractor that often needs adjusting.  Finally, the 1911 isn’t cheap.  A “cheap” 1911 runs close to $500, and many consider $800 to be the entry point for a decent model.  Heck, even some $1,200 versions get derided for having MIM parts and mediocre finishing.  The 1911’s detractors say it only survives due to a legion of fanatic “fanboys” who refuse to let it go despite dozens of superior designs on the market.  In fact, on paper there may be no compelling argument to picking a 1911 over a Glock or other similar design.  But, not everything can be quantified on paper.

When you pick up a 1911, the first thing you notice is the weight.  What’s seen as a negative by many is also an advantage.  It’s not a light pistol, which means it’s great for soaking up recoil.  Also, with a 5″ barrel and all steel construction, it’s much more “front heavy” than many more modern designs.  If you’re a target shooter, a little front weight is a good thing as it helps balance a pistol and keep it steady in the hand.  The 1911 also has a grip angle that works surprisingly well for a large number of people.  And, speaking of grip, being a single stack means that it’s easy for people with virtually any size hand to use.  Moving just in front of the grip, you’ll find a trigger that is truly unique.  Cruise the case at your local big box store and the 1911 is likely the only pistol you’ll find with a trigger that moves straight back without a pivot motion.  That translates into a smooth, linear movement that is easy to control.  When it comes to triggers, a well tuned 1911 will have a crisp break that rivals that of a single action revolver.  The “cocked and locked” safety on the 1911 is also a large selling point, allowing the user to keep the pistol in a status where it can be instantly deployed into action with a trigger that’s as crisp and clean on the first shot as every other that follows.

Finally, one of the things about the 1911 that is virtually unchallenged in the handgun world is the amount of customization that’s possible.  It’s nothing for a user to change out grip panels to their personal preference.  Mainspring housings can be easily replaced as well.  As for triggers, a fairly handy person can fit a trigger in 30 minutes.  Pull weight is easily adjusted by bending the sear spring legs, and the entire handgun and can be torn down to its smallest parts and reassembled in less time than an average episode of CSI.  Parts, configurations, factory options, and gunsmiths specializing in this pistols are nearly limitless.  Open up the Brownell’s catalog and/or do a quick online search and you’ll see for yourself.

The fact that the 1911 balances exceptionally well in the hand, provides a comfortable grip, is capable of having a superb trigger, and shoots (on average) more accurately for me than any other semi-auto platform makes it one of my favorite platforms.


About martowski

Garden-variety professional with one too many hobbies.
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3 Responses to Why The 1911

  1. vamosnotebook says:

    I love my Kimber 1911. It is my favorite handgun. Heavier pistols are my preference because, as you mentioned, they really soak up recoil and get back on target much faster than lighter firearms. Once I find a holster that I actually like for my 1911, I’ll end up carrying it more often.

    • martowski says:

      I also love the fact that 1911s are so easy to take apart and work on. I’ve fitted Greider triggers to all my 1911s (except my Kimber, which has a Cylinder & Slide trigger) and have custom fit barrel bushings on order from EGW.

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