A 1911 pistol in a CrossBreed SuperTuck: An iconic American duo.
The M1911 is arguably the most iconic pistol in American history. It is undeniably the most frequently copied pistol design in the world and certainly one of the most recognized pistols on the planet. But there's much more to this iconic firearm than meets the eye.
In Part 1 of The Ultimate Guide to the Iconic 1911 Pistol, we covered the M1911, the M1911A1, various military models, and more. Since the 1911 pistol designs are accurate, reliable, and - let's face it - visually stunning, it's no wonder many law enforcement and government agencies use it!
Which brings us to the various sizes and models of the famed pistol as well as the diverse shooters that use them.
At the birth of the M1911, police were a stubborn lot who were in no rush to swap their trusted revolvers for the new-fangled semi-automatic pistol. Plus, how could many local police departments justify the cost of a new handgun in a country that had been mainly tamed?
Prohibition and the great depression hit, and in a matter of years, a new class of criminals was born. We saw the rise of the professional bank robber with men like John Dillinger. The dastardly duo of Bonnie and Clyde wreaked havoc across the country. Organized crime became extremely powerful due to bootleg liquor sales.
The 1911 quickly became a favorite pistol of those faced with hunting down and apprehending violent and well-armed criminals. The FBI, the Texas Rangers, the Border Patrol, and the Prohibition Service quickly chose the hard-hitting, fast-firing M1911 as their gun. Rounds like the 38 Super became famous for their ability to penetrate the metal doors and frames of the vehicles of the era.
To this day, teams like the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, Marine Corps Special Operations Command, and LAPD's SWAT and S.I.S. still carry the M1911.
John Browning’s masterpiece has been a favorite for civilian shooters in various roles. This includes master class competition guns used in action shooting sports. The M1911 was always a popular choice for bullseye competitions and remains a favorite.
This history of competition guns leads to highly customized weapons. This included everything from more accurate designs to faster shooting, lower recoiling weapons. Customization came from all corners of the gun world, and it started an industry that remains strong to this day. These days custom shops like Wilson Combat, Ed Brown, Nighthawk, and many more produce beautiful, class-leading weapons.
1911s in calibers like 10mm are even popular outdoorsman’s guns. Used for hunting and even defensive use against animals like bears, M1911s in powerful calibers are excellent hunting tools and provide a challenge for those who desire it.
The most prominent use of this blessed piece of weaponry perfection is for concealed carry. The gun is a product of its time, but it still retains many features that make it an attractive concealed carry weapon. It’s very thin thank’s to its single-stack design, the gun’s trigger is legendary, and the M1911 is a stand weapon available in a multitude of sizes
You wouldn’t know it, but there are a ton of different sized 1911s. These include everything from full-sized pistols down to micro compacts. Here’s a brief overview of the different M1911 frames and sizes.
This is the classic 5-inch slide and barrel with a full-sized frame. It’s the most common and generally most popular 1911 platform. It comes in every caliber you could ever want.
The Kimber Rapide is a great example of a modern-day Government model 1911. Picture via Guns.com
Railed guns are typically government-sized models with a Picatinny rail. They are distinct because their frames will not work with most standard Government holsters, as most aren't formed to accomodate a rail.
Double stack guns use a higher capacity magazine and are also commonly known as 2011s, although that term is trademarked by Staccato 2011, formerly STI Firearms. Many companies produce these higher capacity 1911s as they remain popular with gun owners.
The highly-desiredStaccato XL comes with one 17-round and two 20-round magazines, making it a popular competition pistol.
Long slide M1911s are quite common for competition shooting, and barrels can be as long as 7 inches. These guns are prevalent in more potent calibers like 10mm.
These guns sport 4.25 or 4-inch barrels and full-sized frames which make them slightly lighter and more comfortable to conceal. This smaller and lighter model can be temperamental, and you must choose one made from a reputable company.
Officer models are inspired by the M15. These ultra-small M1911s have a 3.5 or 3-inch barrel and slide and a very short frame.
The Taurus 1911 Officer shown here unholstered from a classic CBH SuperTuck.
Another Colt design that’s become popular with other manufacturers and shooters alike is the Defender 1911. This subcompact gun comes in .45 ACP and 9MM, sports a shorter 3-inch barrel and frame, and is the smallest-sized pistol that’s still technically an M1911.
The original: Colt's Defender Series pistols are available in 9 MM and .45 ACP
We can make it smaller, lighter, and easier to carry. What I’m talking about is the M1911. There are several offshoots of the M1911 that change the pattern but retain most of the M1911 design. These offshoots are highly popular for concealed carry for their small size, but they keep the fantastic ergonomics of the M1911 pattern.
This includes the perfectly placed manual safety, the fantastic trigger, and the smooth and thin design. They often lack the grip safety found on standard M1911s, but with modern internal safeties, the grip safety can be tossed to the side. These guns come in mostly 9mm and 380 ACP, but they also occasionally appear in 22 LR.
A few examples of these guns include the SIG P938 and 238, the Kimber Micro 9, Colt's Mustang, and Springfield Armory's 911, pictured below.
Finally, let’s talk calibers and the M1911. Basically, if you can dream it, you can find a 1911 to chamber it. Well, almost but as far as pistol calibers go, you can find M1911s in 45 ACP, 9mm, 10mm, 40 S&W, 380 ACP, 357 SIG, 38 Super, 357 Agnum, 44 Magnum, and beyond!
The platform can be adopted and altered at will to serve you and your caliber demands.
The M1911 can be found in any caliber, at any budget point, and in any size you desire. This legendary weapon has been around for over 100 years and remains prevalent in the world of firearms.
The M1911 is an old workhorse that is still willing and able to pull the plow!
Do you have a favorite model of 1911? Is there one you've been wanting to get your hands on and into your favorite holster?
Sound off in the comments below, we want to hear from you!
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.
He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms based hobbies.
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