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Entry Level compact 1911

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by BadMotel, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. BadMotel

    BadMotel Bellingham Active Member

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    Hey guys, this'd be my first post here. I've been in the market for a conceal carry gun for a little while now, and while searching I discovered this community. Being a resident of Northwest Washington for so long I figured I'd come here and get your take on my search.

    Firstly, what I'm looking for is a compact 1911. I prefer the shorter barrel, 3-3.5", as the 4-4.5" just don't fit my body type too well with the conceal holsters I've tried.

    Second, unfortunately, price is an issue for me. I know when it comes to self defense, skimping on a potentially life saving tool is unacceptable, so I'm not necessarily automatically discounting higher-end firearms, but I'm not going to go buy a Wilson Combat gun just because it'd be awesome.

    The upper end of what I'm looking at would be the SIG 1911 Ultra Compact or the Colt Defender. Both are pretty much same ballpark in price and features, and I would love to have the dependability that those names carry. However, as I said, I would be more financially comfortable on an Armscor import like RIA, STI or Citadel.

    What I'm posing on you guys is, is spending the extra 3-4 hundred dollars worth it? I'm new to the 1911 world, but I generally do my research. From what I see most people (because there's always going to be haters and fan-boys) are happy with their RIAs. I don't see a lot of talk on Citadel, but they're pretty much the same thing if I'm not mistaken. As far as the STI Spartan III, I know it's also manufactured by Armscor but at a little higher price point, do they use better parts that would warrant the increase?

    Thanks for your input guys!
  2. Skang

    Skang WA Well-Known Member

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    Noting wrong with 1911, but what is the main reason you decide to carry compact 1911.

    3-3.5 1911's are known to not reliable as commander/full size 1911's, also much less ammo counts compare to polymer compact/subcompact handguns.
  3. unklekippy

    unklekippy In The Mountains Near Sprague River Well-Known Member

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    As the owner of a Para Warthog, there is a way to have the best of both worlds. The Para holds 10 rounds in a double stack mag. It will also run you $500-800 used and $1,000 new. It is surprisingly accurate with a 3" barrel and 10 rounds of .45 is nothing to spit at. While I don't think you are necessarily "unfit" to carry a pistol, I do think the idea of a variable intimidation factor is absurd. A compact is a compact. There may be more "fear" with a full size 1911 or a .50 Desert Eagle or a S&W 500. In a dark alley a Glock, XD or anything else will be equally intimidating and of very little consequence. Far outweighing that would be reliability, capacity and bullet performance. You can have those things in a Para Warthog. You can also have them in a FNP45 or Glock 21. I would purchase an RIA over a Citadel. RIA 1911's represent one of the most under rated, best valued pistols out there. Kip
  4. samuelm16

    samuelm16 se pdx Well-Known Member

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    ati titan, or rock island is what im gonna buy,not much for bad reviews about them
  5. BadMotel

    BadMotel Bellingham Active Member

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    Look, I didn't say I'm getting a gun to point at and scare people. I was asked why I was looking into 1911's and I answered. If this community is all people saying "you're dumb for not liking what I like," I regret joining already.

    To Kip and Sam: Yeah, I was looking at the Para as well, didn't find much on them though. 10 rds for a 3" barrel would be nice, I'll have to look at what the local shops have. I agree though that the RIA's have pretty solid reviews all around.
  6. Izzy

    Izzy Oakridge Active Member

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    HIGH STANDARD CRUSADER COMPACT 1911, Great gun for under $500.
  7. slimer13

    slimer13 Deer Park Well-Known Member

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    RIA all the way for a cheap 1911.
  8. BadMotel

    BadMotel Bellingham Active Member

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    I think our confusion is that when I say I don't want to, you're taking it as I won't.
    You may disagree with it, but I don't think I'm the only one that believes that at least some intimidation factor has been present in combat since the dawn of combat.

    “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

    Izzy: I haven't seen many High Standard 1911's, I'll keep an eye out for one of those as well next time I'm shopping around.
  9. Swedish K

    Swedish K SW Washington Moderator Staff Member

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    You might consider reading this thread http://www.northwestfirearms.com/handgun-discussion/75243-buying-1911-a.html as it covered a lot of ground in the 1911 purchase arena. One of the things that is brought up in the thread is that there are many functioning 1911s out there that are out of spec and just waiting to break down. Don't get me wrong, I have a commander and do carry it so don't think I'm opposed to 1911s for carry. If you are new to the 1911 arena you might be well served to have a qualified smith who is well versed in 1911s do a reliability checkup on it - make sure its timed correctly, maybe polish up the feed ramp, make sure it will feed the ammo you plan on carrying in it, etc. Also - my personal opinion when it comes to a 1911 (full size, commander, officers, etc.) is that less is more. I would definitely not want an extended slide release, oversize mag release, or an oversize safety. I would avoid ambidextrous safeties as well unless you are left handed. most of the options are used on match guns for the sake of speed when competing in timed events and can lead to problems on a carry piece. I've known more than one person who had an oversize mag release on their carry gun who bumped it accidentally and had their mag drop on to the floor - so much for concealed if that happens. The problem with oversize slide releases is that it is much more easily accidentally pushed up locking the slide open when you don't want it to (oops I have to hit the slide release before I can fire a follow up shot). The reason to avoid the ambidextrous safety is directly related to one of the reasons you stated you would prefer the 1911 (manual safety). With most carry holsters for most right handed shooters a standard safety is covered by the holster and remains secure. When you go to an abmi safety it is no longer covered by the holster - if you lean against something or even bump it on the seat belt getting in /out of the car you might knock the safety off of safe (the extra leverage from an extended safety can cause this as well). Considering you prefer the 1911 because it has a manual safety, if you were to accidentally bump it off of safe you now have a firearm with a much lighter trigger pull than the glocks, XDs, etc. and you unknowingly have a weapon with out the safety being on. In and of its self that isn't a problem if you treat all guns as loaded and never put your finger on the trigger until you are going to pull it but I thought it was worth mentioning.

    Just my $.02... good luck in your search.
  10. orygun

    orygun West Linn Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Get used to it. It's getting worse all of the time.

    I had a Para P12-45 for many years. 3.5" barrel and a double stack mag. Small and held a bunch-O ammo. The only times it wasn't reliable was when my buddy was shooting it limp-wristed and later on when the firing pin safety went out of time. It got sent back and was fixed, but I became distrustful of the "Series 80 style" of firing pin safety after that.
    I'd entertain owning another Para-Ordnance gun, but I believe they all have a FPS and I'd want it defeated. That brings up the point that a defeated safety on a self defense firearm may not be a good thing if you were ever in court because of using that gun.
  11. wichaka

    wichaka Wa State Well-Known Member

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    I tend to stay out of these threads more and more, but I'll throw on the hip waders and jump in...

    As been posted, the shorter models tend to be more persnickitey. There's a more careful balance of components, and all have to have the stars along with Mars and Jupiter in alignment for them to keep working...or so it seems.

    The two models you mention should be good to go, with a Colt new Agent or older Officers model in the mix.

    But whatever is chosen, I would highly recommend that it is looked over and 'reliability' tuned before carry use.

    I see more and more of these short models with high end sights etc. These guns are made for up close and personal use...fire your rounds, put the subject down and get the h-e-double hockey sticks out of there. These are not bullseye guns, so don't expect it. They should however, be capable of combat accuracy...2-6" groups at any reasonable range, the average size of your hand with fingers stretched out.
  12. iamme

    iamme Lane County Well-Known Member

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    Have you thought about a CCO? (Commander slide/officer frame) It seems most people have trouble concealing the aditional grip length, not slide length and this gives you the concealability of the officers with reliability of commander. Give a look at the DW CCO :)

    Also what holster are you using? a quality holster will go a LONG way in comfort.
  13. wombat

    wombat Kirkland, WA Member

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    Welcome to 1911 ownership!

    Had a look at the RIA 1911-A1 CS Officers Model (3.5" barrel $450 or less)? With my smaller hands, it felt good and the recoil wasn't that bad at all, but ... I only got to shoot with 10 rounds.

    Have you considered the Taurus PT145? Used can be had for somewhere around $300, new average is $350. The Millenium model comes with 2 x 10round mags.
    A friend of mine has a Millienium; he uses it for CC. He has changed the sights and has an aftermarket grip - I don't know the details of either - but says it now feels and shoots better at 25 yds.
    He's real happy with his choice and I know he looked/feeled/fired a lot of compact models in the process ... the $ price was his breaking point.

    Let us know what you eventually decided on ...
  14. BadMotel

    BadMotel Bellingham Active Member

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    A few have asked about what holster I use. I don't have a conceal holster at the moment, but my boss let me borrow his Kimber Ultra Carry II and his Galco holster to allow me to get the feel for carrying/shooting the compact 1911 45. I was comfortable wearing it all weekend, although when standing in certain positions the handle became obvious so I wouldn't want to extend that too much. The barrel had a little room for lengthening, but with it's 3" barrel I wouldn't want to go much past 3.5 without trying out a 4" first and seeing how it feels.
  15. Misterbill

    Misterbill Yakima County, Washington New Member

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    IMO a "cheap" 1911 of ANY variety is likely to be problematic as a carry gun.

    I love 1911s. I have owned several over the years and carry one frequently. But all the less expensive ones I've had have had issues of one kind or another that took some non-trivial gunsmithing to fix.

    For a carry gun, working well MOST of the time is unacceptable. It has to be utterly reliable absolutely every time, under a variety of conditions. A 1911 that works that way out of the box tends to be expensive ($1000+) or you just got lucky.
  16. pioneer461

    pioneer461 Columbia County, Oregon Active Member

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    Springfield isn't selling them any longer (I don't think), but if you can find one of their "G.I." models, they are a well made, reliable pistol. Not exactly a mil-spec 1911-a1, but is very close, and some come with 3 inch barrels. I have a 4" that I bought about 8 years ago, and it is a very reliable shooter that digests any kind of ammo I feed it. Yeah, they are made in Brazil, it has a parkerized finish and no bells & whistles, but for an entry level lower cost pistol, they may fit the bill. I have a good supply of Wilson Combat 8 round mags that work 100%, and the only alteration was to replace the rather puney sights with fiber optics. I know when many people think of Brazillian guns the first thing that comes to mind is "Taurus," but the guns are made by Imbel. If they are of sufficient quality that Springfield is willing to put thier name on it, I figure that says a lot. Imbel is owned and operated by the government of Brazil, and manufacturs military grade firearms.

    I have many higher quality, more expensive carry pistols to choose from, and I am as well armed with the "G.I." as with any other handgun I own.

    Gun store commandos and forum snobs, should read "Your Gun Sucks." In fact, I'll post it next.

  17. pioneer461

    pioneer461 Columbia County, Oregon Active Member

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    "After some years now of reading internet bulletin boards, I think I’ve got the pros and cons of possible SHTF choices figured out. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the following is my analysis based upon the wisdom of numerous gun board gurus (you know them, they’re always the first ones to tell you a particular model gun is “junk” and enlighten you as to why they have made the only logical purchases)…

    Butt-ugly plastic shooting appliance with the ergonomics of a caulking gun. Five-pound trigger with no external safety makes it ill suited for its target market (cops who shoot a hundred rounds a year for qualification). Favored by gangbangers because the product name is short and rhymes with other short, rap-friendly words.

    Beretta 92F/M9:
    Clunky and overweight rip-off of a clunky and overweight German design from the 1930s. Shear-happy locking block, ergonomics that are only suited for linebackers, barely adequate sights that are partially non-replaceable, and low capacity for its size. Favored by Eighties action movie fanatics and John Woo freaks.

    Overweight and overly complex piece of late 19th century technology. Low capacity, useless sights in stock form, and a field-stripping procedure that requires three hands. Favored by people who are at the cutting edge of handgun technology and combat shooting…of the 1960s.

    H&K P7:
    Wildly overpriced, heavy for its size, low capacity in most iterations, and blessed with a finish that rusts if you give the gun a moist glance. Gas tube has a tendency to roast the trigger finger after a box or two of ammo at the range. Favored by gun snobs who think that paying twice as much for half the rounds means four times the fighting skill.

    SIG Sauer:
    Top-heavy bricks with the rust resistance of an untreated iron nail at the bottom of a bucket of saltwater. Ergonomically sound, if you have size XXL mitts. Some minor parts made in Germany, so the manufacturer can charge 75% Teutonic Gnome Magic premium. Favored by Jack Bauer fans and wannabe Sky Marshals/Secret Service agents.

    S&W Revolvers:
    Archaic hand weapons from a bygone era, the missing link between flintlocks and autoloaders. Low capacity, and reloading requires a lunch break. Heavy for their capacity, unless you’re talking about airweight snubbies, which hurt as much on the giving end as they do on the receiving end. Rare stoppages, but few malfunctions that don’t require gunsmith services, which are hard to come by in a gunfight. Favored by crusty old farts who just now got around to trusting newfangled smokeless powder, and Dirty Harry fans with unrealistic ideas about the power of Magnum rounds vs. engine blocks.

    Browning HP:
    Fragile frame designed around a popgun round. Near-useless safety in stock form that’s only suitable for the thumbs of elementary schoolers. Strangest and most circuitous way to trip a sear ever put into a handgun. Favored by wannabe SAS commandos, wannabe mercenaries, and Anglophiles who think that hammer-down, chamber-empty carry is the most appropriate way to carry a defensive sidearm.

    9mm Luger:
    European popgun round that’s only popular because the ammo is cheap for a centerfire cartridge. Cheap ammo is a good thing for 9mm aficionados, because anything bigger and more dangerous than a cranky raccoon will likely require multiple well-placed hits. Wildly popular all over the world, mostly in countries where people don’t carry guns, and cops don’t have to actually shoot people with theirs.

    Chunky low-pressure cartridge that hogs magazine space and requires a low-capacity design (if the gun needs to fit human hands) or a grip with the circumference of a two-liter soda bottle (if the gun needs to hold more than seven rounds). Disturbingly prone to bullet setback, expensive to reload, fits only into big and clunky guns, and a recoil that has an inversely proportionate relationship with muzzle energy.

    Neutered compromise version of a compromise cartridge. Even more setback-happy than the .45ACP, and setbacks are much more dangerous because of higher pressure and smaller case volume. Manages to sacrifice both the capacity of the 9mm and the bullet diameter of the .45. Twice the recoil of the 9mm for 10% more muzzle energy.

    Highly overpriced boutique round that does the .40S&W one worse: it manages to share the capacity penalty of the .40 while retaining the small bullet diameter of the 9mm. Noisy, sharp recoil, and 100% cost penalty for ballistics that can be matched by a good 9mm +P+ load. Penetrates like the dickens, which means that the Air Marshals just had to adopt it…only to load their guns with frangible bullets to make sure they don’t penetrate like the dickens.

    .38 Special:
    Legacy design with a case length that’s 75% longer than necessary for the mediocre ballistics of the round due to its blackpowder heritage. On the plus side, the case length makes it easy to handle when reloading the gun. This is a good thing because anyone using their .38 in self-defense against a 250-pound attacker hopped up on crack will need to empty the gun multiple times.

    Inadequate for anything more thick-skinned than Northeastern squirrels or inbred Austrian archdukes. Semi-rimmed cartridge that is rimlock-happy in modern lightweight autoloaders. Doesn’t go fast enough to expand a hollowpoint bullet, and it wouldn’t matter even if it did, because the bullet would only expand from tiny to small-ish.

    .44 Magnum:
    Overpowered round that generates manageable recoil and muzzle blast…if you’re a 300-pound linebacker with wrists like steel girders. Often loaded to “Lite” levels that turn it into a noisy .44 Special while retaining the ego-preserving Magnum headstamp. Considered the “most powerful handgun cartridge in the world” by people whose gun knowledge is either stuck in 1960, or who get their expertise in ballistics from Dirty Harry movies.

    .50 Desert Eagle:
    The Magnum of the new century. Realizing Hollywood couldn’t escape their Magnum fetishes, they had a handgun that fits the same stopping power quota of .44 Magnum and all of its filthy drawbacks. Popular amongst steroid filled movie actors who needs big guns to compensate for the steroid struck testicles. Comes in a baby variant for junior.

    10mm Auto:
    Super-high pressure cartridge that beats up gun and shooter alike. Very brisk recoil in anything other than all-steel S&W boat anchors, with a shot recovery that’s measured in geological epochs for most handgun platforms. Often underloaded to wimpy levels (see “.40 S&W”), which then gives it 9mm ballistics while requiring .45ACP magazine real estate.

    .380ACP/9mm Kurz:
    Designed by people who thought the 9mm Luger was a bit too brisk and snappy, which is pretty much all that needs to be said here. Great round if you expect to only ever be attacked by people less than seven inches thick from front to back.

    .357 Magnum:
    Lots of recoil, muzzle blast, and noise to drive a 9mm bullet to reckless speeds in an attempt to make up for its low mass and diameter. Explosive fragmentation and insufficient penetration with light bullets; excessive penetration and insufficient expansion with heavy ones. Still makes only 9mm holes in the target.

    Ingenious way to make a centerfire .22 Magnum and then charge quadruple price for the same ballistics. Awesome chambering for a police weapon…if you’re the park ranger in charge of the chipmunk exhibit at the zoo, and you want to make sure you can take one down if it turns rabid on you.

    Direct violation of the maxim “Never do an enemy a minor injury”. Designed by folks who wanted to retain the bullet diameter of the .22 rimfire round, but take a bit of the excessive lethality out of it. Favored by people who don’t feel comfortable carrying anything more dangerous than the neighbor kid’s rusty Red Ryder pellet gun."
  18. MarkAd

    MarkAd Port Orchard Well-Known Member

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    Define cheap?
  19. Mikej

    Mikej Portland Gold Supporter Gold Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    I'm still searching for where you were called "Dumb" in any way shape or form??...........................

    These are some of the most giving people I've ever seen on any forum, here at NWFA, except for maybe a breast cancer support forum. Be nice to them and you shall reap their wisdom, humor and other good stuff!

    I'll add my lowly opinion. As a new to carry, and (somewhat) familiar with the 1911 format, I don't think I'd ever want to have a 1911 as a carry/personal defense weapon. Seems to me having a gun with a 5#+/- trigger pull and a large saftey to move before firing is asking for trouble. Draw the gun and either forget to drop the safety, or WORSE, put your finger to the trigger all tensed up and fire without wanting to. Yeah I know, it's all in the training, and that's fine. Me? For now I'll train with a double action such as an LC9, or the likes. Since I've got my permit, my eyes have been opened that the smaller is the better.
    JMO, YMMV.

    I've read this over several times and can find nothing calling you "Dumb".

    Welcome to NWFA!

    I stayed in a Bad Motel once, on Whidby Island.
  20. MarkAd

    MarkAd Port Orchard Well-Known Member

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    Like Mike said, where has anyone said your dumb.
    Everyone has offered opinions about what they like. It can be overwhelming and make you feel a bit ignorant, but that has happened to us all when we first thought 1911.
    I personally had to shoot a bunch of them before I got perverted, uhhh converted from being a 40 S&W lover.