so many 1911s so little money

I want a 1911 but dont know were to start series 70 vs 80 1911a1 1991 and how many brands are there and the price is from 500 to skys the limit. I am looking for a single stack 5'' only but am kind of in shock at all there is to know. I stopped in a locale gun shop and picked up a colt XSE and loved it and to me it felt better than a kimber but I think people like kimbers better but for what reson. So my question is what is good and more so what is bad. Should I buy a low end 1911 and do some trigger work. But beaver tail or not. let me know what you think of brands and models I am really thing about that XSE.
I don't know everything about one of JMB's greatest inventions, but after wrenching on them for over 20 years, I'll give you my insight from what I've found personally, and what I've heard from trusted people in the industry.

First off, you get what you pay for, I don't care what anyone says about their new 4-500.00 1911. If they paid that much for it new, it didn't cost the maker more than around 200 bucks to make.

Every maker tries to make their gun look like the top end models, but yet ask for a price that's a fraction...which means corners are cut somewhere.

Ask yourself honestly what you're wanting to do with it. Are you the average shooter that takes their gun out 4-5 times a year, shoots a few hundred rounds, and back in the safe it goes? if so, any of the lower cost models will do you well.

If you have any thought of becoming or are a high round count shooter, bypass the low end junk and get something much better. You'll have less headaches in the long run.

I know I'll get blasted from some people on here saying their 100.00 1911 has had x amount of flawless rounds thru it. But very few make it to the 10K round mark without some kind of implosion. Notice I didn't say "NOT ONE", I said very few.

Anything made over seas, yes the Philippines etc. is junk. Cheap made parts, lack of QC in the machining process, tolerance stacking issues all add up to a problem child waiting to happen.

There was an article put out by Hilton Yam, who builds 1911's. In the article he gets very candid about the 1911 platform. He states, and I agree, the 1911 is not the handcrafted gun it once was back when it started production in 1911. Back then Colt made everything, even the magazines, and even had their hand in the ammo end of things. Now you have a zillion 1911 makers, and parts makers with tolerance all over the you toss the dice with what you're going to get.

If you don't have the time and effort to keep up on the maintenance of the gun, get a Glock. As has been said...if you treat your 1911 like you treat your lawnmower, get a Glock. If you gain knowledge in how to keep your 1911 running as it should, it will take care of you like no other handgun ever thought of.

Now onto the top three makers;

Colt - They made the first ones, they have the original blueprints and still to this day go with them. What else can ya say. Yes, they will throw out a bad apple now and then, but for the most part, all is well there. You'd be hard pressed to find a better production gun.

Down side, if you lose your razor you can shave with them. The newer models have sharp edges, so watch out...which is why I prefer anything made form early 1983 on back. I don't like firing pin safeties, but the Colt Series 80 system is more robust and trust worthy than anything else on the market.

Kimber - The original models were second to none in fit and finish and overall quality. Can't say the same today. With poor choice of parts & QC, as well as the firing pin safety (Swartz) debacle, which I've seen too many go 'click' instead of bang. I'd steer clear of anything other than the original Clackamas or early Yonkers guns. Anything made today is glorified junk.

Springfield - Not bad, but they have had some barrel fitting problems, and have seen quite few lower lugs on the barrel shear off after a few thousand rounds.
They have a lot of MIM parts, which I think all MIM is junk...but their MIM don't seem to break as other makers have. They are still pretty rough guns, not a whole lot of love put into them, but they seem to run pretty well.

Yes, I know if you get a 1911 and it fails, you can always send it back to the maker under warranty, because x maker has the best customer service. The problem with that line of thinking is, we have been lulled into the fact that x maker can't make a quality product so we should look at their customer service. If x maker made the product as it should from the get go, we would have no reason to get to know the customer service rep on a first name basis! UGH!

Sad to say, gun shops are the worst place to get opinions on guns...they are trying to sell them, not scare you away from them.

The best people to ask about 1911 reliability etc., are reliable, quality, independent gunsmiths etc. They have no dog in the fight, and are not brand loyal. But if you get one that says they are all pretty good etc., that should throw the flags up. If they have spent any time under the hood of any 1911, they should know what brands have what problems...just like your mechanic, they know what makes/models have problems and what to look for.

To end this long winded post, I'll leave with two thoughts;

I refer to the old Snap-On Tools statement often when discussing 1911's; I'd rather explain the price of quality, than apologize for something less.

And...if it isn't durable, it isn't reliable.


I have two.
Neither has had any problems, save for reloading OAL of Horn.XTP in my 38 Super.
One is Colt 'new' 70 Series; the other is Lt Wt Commander SS XSE in 38 Super.
My Fav is the Commander. 38 Super is a perfect pistol cartridge.
What is your price range? It's hard to recommend 1911 without the price range.

If you want entry level, Springfield G.I or STI entry level 1911 is good choice also.
I'd recommend Colt or Springfield myself. I just picked up a new Springfield Armory Range Officer that is right in your budget at $800. Its an out-of-the box nice pistol for range & defense use. If you are going to carry, maybe check out the Loaded model. Here's a review of the Range Officer by Hickok45: YouTube - Springfield 1911 Range Officer

My next 1911, other than a Les Baer I have on order, just might be a Colt. I just can't figure out which model sits right where I want for the price I want to pay. They can get pretty pricey.


I'd have to say that I believe Wichaka knows what he's talkin' about here.
I've owned several 1911s and have two favorite, never for sale guns.
One is an 50's vintage Colt Government. One like it should be able to be picked up for a $1000 or so. I'd carry it but I have a Commander length gun that I prefer for carry.
The other is a Dan Wesson CBOB. I carry it and it's not as pretty as it was 3 years ago. I've shot the h-e-double toothpicks out of that gun with never a problem that wasn't attributed to an iffy magazine. It has a few "bells and whistles" that come standard and are very nice on a carry gun. (Bobbed frame, night sights, beavertail safety and a super smooth trigger)
Neither of these guns is on the lower end of the price scale that the OP mentions. But I believe I've gotten excellent quality firearms for my $$$.
My last word(s) on the matter.

One cannot compare some of the regular production 1911's to a semi-custom from the likes of Wilson, Baer, Nighthawk, Brown, Volkmann, Berryhill etc. It's like comparing a Ford Pinto to a Bentley. You can put zillions of dollars into the Pinto, but in the still have a Ford Pinto.

There are different quality levels of 1911's, as there are quality levels of cars, watches, tools and just about any other product in life.

Larry Vickers, an esteemed 1911 gunsmith and all around firearms guy, said this...

"The 1911 is an enthusiast's pistols. In order to keep that gun running you have to, it's not optional, you have to become your own armorer to a degree. You have to be able to diagnose and fix minor problems on an end user level. If you're not willing to sign up for that, frankly you have no business running a 1911 for anything other than occasional recreational shooting. If you're going to put yourself in harm's way with that gun and you're not willing to sign up for that, then you need to avoid it."

I talked with Larry a few times when I wrung out a Nighthawk Vickers model some years ago. It's not the looks that makes a reliable 1911, its the quality put into it.

Be well...
My downfall is having a War Trophy "Bringback" mixmaster WW2 1945 Colt Slide/Ithaca Frame USGI 1911A1 and that entails having an original early/middle WW2 USGI Pistol Belt rig with dated 44 Walsh Holster & period correct dated Mag pouches and a Black Shoulder rig from Korea & Vietnam Era Rig with period correct dated Pistol belt Holster & Pouches and a early 1980s end of the 1911A1 run USGI rig (Pistol belt & holster Dated attachments) and lastly (But not completely) a 1990s more modern era (M12 ) Set up/rig then there is the Collection of Magazines & Pouches & belts & Brass Belt Hangers & attachments & various Pouches ... it Never ends (Without even owning another variety of 1911 Pistol ...


Arms Collectors of SW Washington Gun Show
Battleground Community Center
912 E Main St, Battle Ground, WA 98604, USA
Cerberus Training Group - Run the Gun Pistol
Cerberus Training Group
47 Cattle Dr, Goldendale, WA 98620, USA
Cerberus Training Group - Run the Gun Rifle
Cerberus Training Group
47 Cattle Dr, Goldendale, WA 98620, USA


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