Do you have a budget you're trying to stick with? I'm sure that will help the 1911 gurus (I am not in that group) help with suggestions.
I'm no stranger to guns and rifles, I've been around them for most of my life. However, I know absolutely nothing about 1911's other than I really want one. The main use would be some target shooting and home defense. What make and model would best fit that bill? What are the pros and cons of one manufacturer's version over another?
Do you have a budget you're trying to stick with? I'm sure that will help the 1911 gurus (I am not in that group) help with suggestions.
I know that 1911's are expensive, so I realize that there's going to be a toll to go down that road. That being said, somewhere between $600 and $800 would be nice, but then again by the time I've got $800 saved what's another $200.
Like I said, I don't know much about them at all. I guess I'm looking for a good entry level 1911 that won't have any reliability issues and would be a good platform for customization if I ever decide to get it worked on.
I have a Taurus PT145 that I really like, and my wife has a Taurus 24/7 9mm. I know that Taurus makes good guns, but I just hadn't heard much about their 1911. I looked at a couple of them while I was at the Bass Pro Shop earlier today, and they sure are pretty...the price isn't bad either. I've also looked at a Kimber which I really liked the price of (just a shade under $600 if I remember correctly), but I've heard that their extractor isn't up to snuff.
That price range there are many different brands. I have a RIA that has been a great pistol.I have several Colts these are my favorites.
In that price range you're looking at a"
Springfield Mil Spec or GI (The Mil Spec has better sights and a couple other perks over the GI)
Para Ordinance GI Expert
I'm sure I'm missing one or two but any of these will not ill your wallet while getting you into a decent 1911 that can be upgraded as you can to suit your needs. Any of the as is will do their part if you're doing yours.
Getting into the 1k range there are several more choices. I wont say to head that way or not. That's something you will have to take into consideration when the time comes. I can go as far to say that my first Springer Mil-Spec is still by far my favorite 1911. They don't have to cost a fortune to do what you want them do do. I will also say that target model pistols, especially in 1911s are not good defense weapons. They are built much tighter and that leads to issues with dirt and a defense weapon is going to get dirty.
This might be a little long, but here's a blog series I wrote on the matter:
It's broken up into parts.
So you want to buy a 1911(Part 1)
So every now and then (every other week) it seems someone asks for input on which 1911 to buy, or which 1911 is best. This is going to cover most of the bases on 1911s, some of you may be reading this and thinking ďWhy should I give a hoot what this guy thinks or has to say?Ē
Weíll let me just say it now, Iím no expert, Iím not a gun smith, Iím not a professional shooter, Iím not some ex-Navy seal thatís killed umpteen million people with a 1911 and one arm tied behind my back, Iím just a prior Marine Corps Radio Tech that moderates a gun forum and has had over a dozen 1911s from different makers, some have been good, some great and some horrible, Iíve had (between the wife and I that is):
1 Llama, 2 Colts, 4 Paras, 4 Kimbers, 1 Springfield, 1 Les Baer, 1 Wilson Combat, and one Ithaca that just sits in the safe telling war stories to the other guns in itís company. Iíve learned a lot about 1911s, shot plenty of other 1911s, and heard many a horror story about them as well has lived my own horror stories, and Iím the last person that will give a ratís ass what you have to say about what I have to say, so letís get to it shall we.
To say that one 1911 is better than all the others is just not accurate, some are better than others, but there is no "One 1911 to rule them all"
Before we get started, letís take a minute to familiarize ourselves with some 1911 terminology.
Series 80: In most terms this refers to the Colt series 80 and mainly it reflects that it has a firing pin safety, most makers of 1911s incorporate this type of firing pin safety in their design. The series 80 firing pin safety incorporates a firing pin block that prevents the firing pin from moving unless the trigger is pulled. Personally, I canít tell the difference in trigger pull, but thatís just me and I donít obsess over what my trigger pull is, itís sweet, thatís all that matters.
Here is a picture of the series 80 firing pin system.
Kimber uses a different firing pin safety known as the Swartz Safety that was originally used in Colt pistols (briefly) but was abandoned, this design is actuated by the depressing of the grip safety and care must be used in assembly that the grip safety is not depressed as that will cause the lifter to protrude from the frame and can be damaged by the installation of the slide.
Of the two, I prefer the Colt series 80 design as removal of it does not require the removal of the rear sight like the Swartz safety, not that I would ever advocate the removal of a safety device.
Government Model: This now a days generally refers to any 5Ē 1911 in standard configuration, it has the full 5Ē barrel with bushing, (although some models do exist with the 5" bushingless bull barrel) and full frame which will hold with modern magazines 8 rounds of ammunition.
Commander model: The original Commander model has a 4.25Ē bbl with bushing and full frame, several makers do not use the bushing barrel, but instead have a 4Ē bull barrel instead with a full frame, for Kimber this is the Pro model, and Springfield refers to it as the Champion.
CCO: This was the Concealed Carry Officers model since discontinued by Colt; this was the 4.25Ē upper from a Commander mated to the compact frame of the Officers model which with modern magazines hold 7 rounds. For Kimber this is the Compact model, several others make guns in this configuration or a similar variation and their nomenclature differs.
Officers: Originally this was a 3.5Ē barrel on a compact frame which is .5Ē shorter than the full frame of the Govít model and Commander. With modern magazines this will hold 7 rounds of ammunition. Springfield refers to this size as the ďCompactĒ model.
Defender: This is a 3Ē upper on a compact frame, these models in most if not all cases will have a 3Ē bushing-less bull barrel. Kimber refers to this as the ďUltraĒ, while Springfield refers to it as the Micro, other makers have different nomenclature for guns of similar size.
Looking at the factors you have listed:I know that there are 1911 pistols with 3 inch, 4 inch , and 5 inch barrels available. Which length is the best choice for a balance of reliability, accuracy, proper ballistics performance, and concealment?
- Ballistics performance
A 5" gun will have the most accuracy and ballistic performance, but the least amount of concealment.
A 4" will have better accuracy and performance than a 3" gun, and is moderately easier to conceal.
A 3" Has the least amount of accuracy and terminal performance of the sizes, but generally is the easiest of the 3 to conceal.
Now looking at my statements, please understand that concealing a 5" gun is not a hard thing to do, as you can see above, a great number of members here (myself included) do it every day, as a matter of fact I'm doing it right now.
So to answer your question, a new in the box, 4"-4.25" 1911 will most likely be the balance of what you desire without being currently familiar with the 1911.
The Commander sized guns are the happy man in the middle so to speak, they are not as long as the 5" so they will clear the holster more quickly, and still offer more recoil absorbing mass, while still maintaining a longer barrel and sight radius.
So here's where it gets tricky, the hardest thing to conceal on any gun, is the grip area of the firearm.
While the smaller Officers size gun have a shorter grip to ease concealment, you're cutting your slide mass, sight radius, and barrel length.
While some have no problem concealing the grip (see my bit on the 5" guns) some do.
So if you want the benefits of a Commander sized gun (4"-4.25"), but also want the benefits of an Officer's size gun (3") you need to get a gun with the Commander length slide and barrel, but has the officers size frame like the Colt CCO, and the Kimber Compact. There are other makers of this style 1911, but I'm not going to list them all for you.:bier:
The original mags for the Government held 7 rounds, while the Officers model held 6 rounds, so how do you get 8 rounds in a 7 round mag? You chop the skirt of the follower. Generally I prefer the Tripp Research Cobra mags, Wilson 47D mags, or the newer version of Chip McCormick mags, I could probably do a whole other Blog on 1911 magazines, and probably will so I wonít go into detail, all Iím going to say in this piece is in most cases, youíre better off ditching the mags that come with your thousand dollar shooter and spend about $100 on good magazinesÖ
Öthat kind of sucks doesnít it?:thinking:So you want to buy a 1911 part 2
So first letís look at some of the different companies making 1911s, this is a really long list and it's not even complete.
I group the manufacturers in to three tiers by overall cost of their average gun.
Rock Island / Armscor
Rock River Arms
Pending on what you want, there are MANY fine providers of 1911s out there, of this list the only one's I would suggest to totally stay away from are the Charles Daly models, the Llama/Firestorm or any "home brew" 1911 that you may come across unless you know a thing or two about 1911s, there are many home gun smiths that can make what looks like a great 1911 that may or may not be worth the money.
To keep things simple, I'm not going into buying used, all the following info is based on the assumption that items being purchased are new in the box from a reputable dealer.
So you want a 1911? What exactly do you want? Do you want a "Government" size all steel frame, or how about carbon steel, not stainless? Do you want a light weight frame? Compact? Sub-compact? Micro?
There's a ton of different options out there regarding which size you even want and pending on what size and options you want will greatly influence the opinions given regarding what kind of 1911 you want or should buy.
If you want a basic 1911 like your Grandpa use to carry in WWII, you don't go to Kimber, if you want a 4" bushing-less bbl, on a compact frame, you don't go to Colt.
So looking at the list of manufactures above, and starting at tier 1, we'll go over some of the options.
1: Auto Ordnance
AO makes mainly GI model 1911s, and one Custom Stainless, that's not alot of options if you want a carry gun, as they are 5" guns, and if you don't want stainless, why invest in refinishing an Auto Ordnance? I have heard few complaints on the AO line and have had absolutely ZERO experience with them, most of the time they don't even get brought up when people ask for advice on which 1911 to buy, why this is I don't know, but if I recall correctly, I've only met one guy who carries one and he was very happy with it. But looking at the Custom Stainless with it's MSRP of $813, I'm not surprised that one would look elsewhere.
My pick from AO would probably be a GI model, as thereís no way Iíd pay the $700ish for the Custom AO, Iíd rather have the GI and put about $300 into work and probably end up with a better gun than their custom, thereís just not enough value in the AO line to justify spending over $600 IMHO.
2: Rock Island Armory
These are probably the best low budget 1911s out there IMHO, but again I don't have one, but everyone that does have one seems to love it, they do come in more than one size, and they offer a GI style model, a Tactical Model with Novak or Novak style sights, an ambi-safety, and a nice beavertail, all for on average less than $550. They also offer a compact model. Alot of the misgivings about the RIA guns is that there is no "Company" website to view the models, the guns are associated with ArmsCor and some info can be found on the ArmsCor website listed above, oddly enough the most info on RIA guns I've found as been on M1911.org and the SARCO Inc. website, which unfortunately isn't working right at the moment, but usually they have a nice lay out where you can see some of the different RIA models.
If I had only $500-$600 to spend and I wanted a 5" 1911 with some of the "needed" add-ons, the RIA Tactical would probably be the gun I would buy if I didn't want to buy a used gun, as the case is I managed to find an older, used, Springfield Loaded back when they still came with a blued finish for $450 and that was my first "Real" 1911.
My pick from RIA would have to be the Rock Island Tactical, this puts you pretty close to a Springfield Loaded at a lower cost than the PT1911, all you need is some night sights and you have a damn good 1911.
Taurus began making 1911 models about 2 years ago, boasting that they gave all the great smith work that the highend gun makers charge you more for. Personally, I think that's a load of crap because all those options minus the checkering are almost standard on the center piece gun of the major players, you look at the Springfield Loaded models, the Kimber Pro Carry II or Custom II, the SIG GSR, or the S&W 1911s, and all those things are standard.
It doesn't change the fact that Taurus' just cost less than any other major gun maker, if you compare a Beretta 92FS and a Taurus PT92, or a Taurus revolver and a S&W revolver and you'll see why there's a price difference, the same can be said of the PT1911. I'm not bashing the gun, I think it's great that there's a lower cost 1911 out there filling the gap between the bare bones GI models and the other 1911s out there, but it's not the end all, be all of the 1911 world that some make it out to be. It is what it is, a well priced 1911 that isn't quite as nicely fit or finished compared to the other guns, and the price is climbing on them.
Think of it this way, if they are giving you all these options for free, how are they making a profit?
The PT1911 currently only comes in 5" configurations, and a railed version is also available which you won't find on a Rock Island.
At this time, the PT1911 is only available in .45ACP
My pick for Taurus would have to be the Stainless Pt1911 as the blued finish reportedly doesnít hold up for squat and Iíd hate to have the gun refinished for almost half if not more than half of what I paid for the gun.TBC...So you want to buy a 1911(Part 3)
Call me crazy, but I'm just not impressed with Cot's current options from the factory, I find them to be too edgy, and not equipped with the same features that I can get on a similarly priced gun from the other major players. HOWEVER, if you're looking for a 1911 to take to the range, or just want a 1911 that won't loose value, or want something that you plan to have smithed to your liking, I would greatly advise getting a Colt Series 70 reproduction, if you plan on spending in the $1300+ range and want a 5" gun, the Colt Special Combat should be an item on your list of prospective purchases, after all Colt is the original maker, and they've been doing it a LONG time.
If youíre looking for a base gun for custom work, you canít beat the Series 70 reproduction guns.
Colt has offerings in .38 Super, .45ACP and one the Delta Elite is reissued, 10mm. They have been previously offered in .40 and 9mm as well.
My pick from Colt: XSE Combat Commander
5: Dan Wesson
If you want a bobtail from the factory (most makers will consider hacking of a corner of the frame grounds to void a warranty, or so I would think) costing less than $1K, a Dan Wesson Classic Bobtail Commander is just the thing for you. I have not heard one complaint on a CBOB yet, and if I had an endless budget, I would buy one in a heart beat, but as it is I have several guns that fill the bill as a compact carry gun but if I were to want another commander sized 1911 for under $1k, this would most likely be it.
Dan Wesson also offers several 5" guns in varying calibers, .45ACP, .40S&W, and 10mm
My Pick from Dan Wesson: Dan Wesson Classic Commander Bobtail in .45ACP
Here's where I catch a little hell every now and then. Kimbers are the guns that I hate to love, I want a Tactical Pro in 9mm, I want a TLE Pro RL in stainless, I want a CDP Pro, I want a Warrior, I want a Gold Combat RL...hell, I want one of them all.
But I won't be buying another Kimber for a while if not ever, but that's subject for another blog.
Kimber has a vast offering of different models in all manner of sizes and different calibers. Kimber does have a bit of an on-line history of having issues with QC and guns not functioning properly, and horror stories of customer service. I'm just stating the fact that such a history and opinions exist. There are literally thousands of people that have Kimbers that work 100% and never have an issue, and rant about great customer service. All I'm going to say is don't let the majority over ride the minority, take both sides into account before making your decision to buy. The one thing that did drive me nuts about our Kimbers is that for some reason the ends of the barrel near the muzzle had a tendency to rust, Iíve NEVER had that issue with any other 1911 including my Llama. If you get a Kimber and it runs 100% itís hard to find a 1911 that you will like better. If it doesnít run and you get a raw deal, donít say I didnít warn you.
Kimber does have something that not all the makers offer, and that is a CCO sized gun offered in the Kimber compacts. Thatís a 4Ē upper on a compact frame.
Several calibers are available pending on exact package.
My pick from Kimber: SIS Pro, as much as I hate the cocking serrations on this gun, I love the fact that itís a steel framed 4Ē gun, does not have the series II firing pin safety, and has the other things I like having on a 1911, those being some nice wood grips, night sights and the 30lpi checkering.
7: Para Ordnance
I've had 4 Para models, both single stack and double stack, some single actions, some Light Double Action models (LDA) I only have a few complaints on the Para family of pistols, one being that the Parakote finish on their pistols is not the equal of other "baked on" finishes, such as that of Kimberís Kimpro finish. My other issue is that the double stack mags cost around $50.00 ea.
However, if you want either of the following, a ramped barrel, a double stack hi-cap 1911, a single stack 1911, a double action only 1911, or a combination of the above, Para is the gun maker for you. I will also add that if you do go with a double stack 1911, that you get a good belt and a holster with off set mounting attachments to better offset the weight of the heavier gun.
Para offers guns in .38 Super, 9mm, .40 and .45.
My pick from Para: Tac 4 LDA, I hate the ParaKote finish, and 13+1 of .45ACP is nice thing to have, but as they only offer that in the ďCarryĒ line of Paras, Iíd remove the bobbed grip safety for an upswept model as the bobbed one was not comfortable for long periods of shooting.
Sig has been making fine guns for many a year, when the GSRs started hitting the line there were some issues that were accredited to a bad batch of either slides or frames, They have an impressive line up of 1911 models including 5" target guns, standard 5" guns, 4.25" Commander variants with an honest to goodness bushing barrel, compact guns with officer size frame and 4.25" bbls.
The main issue with the Sig GSR line is that the countours of the slide that scream Sig, will not fit in most 1911 holsters, I have tried squeezing a GSR into my Galco Avenger OWB hoslter and it could be done provided I loosened up the tension scew, most holster makers that I've researched don't have a listing for GSRs speciffically, so if you go the GSR route, do your holster research beforehand, make some calls, send some emails and see what's what with the holster selection for a GSR.
Sig is not offering the GSR in other calibers than .45ACP
My pick from Sig: GSR Carry in black Nitron.
S&W came out with their 1911 line a few years ago and they have a pretty impressive line up, they are the only ones to my knowledge offering a scandium alloy framed 1911. Personally, I think the scandium framed guns will be too light for enjoyable prolonged shooting, but that's just a thought as I've never had one or fired one. My one gripe with S&W is that they do not offer a steel framed Commander sized gun.
S&W 1911s are only available in .45ACP
*ETA: S&W 1911s have an external extractor, Kimber tried this and failed miserably or so it seems as customer demand drove them back to the internal extractor, but by all reports S&W got the external extractor right.
My pick from S&W: Gunsite Commander
10: Springfield Armory:
In my personal opinion, Springfield is the best option out of this category of 1911s and even has a good bit of overlap into the custom section with their custom shop guns, the "Professional" models from SA are extraordinary guns and I lust after them almost as much as I do for a NHC built to my specs.
Springfield has different categories based on package options.
GI: This is just your basic no frills 1911A1 pattern pistol, it has that GI look of your Grandpaís issue pistol and generally sells in the $450 range on up.
MILSPEC: Take your basic GI, and slant the cocking serrations, and beef up the sights a bit and this is what you get, it is available in stainless steel or a parkerized version.
Loaded: The loaded line is a bread and butter 1911, it has everything that is general considered a must on the 1911, it has you're night sights, beaver tail grip safety, good fit and finish, and ambi safety.
The Loaded comes in different sizes as does the above mentioned GI, the loaded can be found the following sizes:
Loaded Full Size = 5" bbl, full frame
Loaded Champion = 4" bushing-less bbl, full frame available in stainless steel, or two tone black over OD w/ alloy frame.
Loaded Compact = 3.5" bushing-less bbl, compact frame, available in stainless only.
Loaded Micro = 3" bbl, compact frame, two tone stainless over black alloy frame.
Then you have you're Operators, which is Springfieldís name for their railed guns. These come in several variants and sizes.
Springfield as has the TRP which is the top end of their guns without going to the custom shop.
The 5" loaded can be found in 9mm, as well as the Springfield EMP which has been redesigned to work better with shorter cartridges, the EMP also comes in .40S&W
IMHO, a Springfield Loaded in any configuration is the best "Starter 1911" out there, you're not spending over 1K for a loaded if you shop around, and if you decide that the 1911 is not for you, you have something with some retail value.
My pick from Springfield Armory: Parkerized Loaded model.
Con't Parts 4 and 5
So you want to buy a 1911(Part 4)
STI spans all three tiers, they have an excellent lower cost gun that is the STI Spartan, this gun offers alot of perks and only has an MSRP of $660, in the lower tier guns, this one is hard to beat, but as STI is mainly higher priced guns, not many first time buyers are familiar with it and may overlook it. It's features are listed as:
STI has a great amount of mid to high tier guns as well such as the Lawman, Legacy, and Ranger II.Crafted with classic 1911 design, the STI International Spartan is a traditional 1911 pistol with high-end standards at an affordable price.
The Spartan is built on a steel, government length, standard width frame. The grip includes a checkered mainspring housing to provide a sure grip. The controls are an STI International single sided thumb safety and high-rise beavertail grip safety. The slide features traditional 1911 styling with front and rear cocking serrations, and the barrel is 5.0" with a match grade fitted bushing. This excellent firearm comes standard with an STI square hammer, patented STI trigger system, and STI sear and disconnector for smooth, reliable function.
The Spartan has a Parkerized finish and is available in .45 ACP
STI also offers several double stack variants in varying calibers.
My pick from STI: Ranger II or Tactical 4.15
That pretty much sums of the first two tiers of 1911s, I'm not going to go into much detail on the third tier, as generally speaking, you're looking at a minimum of $1500 on up.
These are your custom makers, they turn out less guns than the big players listed above, but what they turn out is usually grade A awesomeness and perfection. Generally, you can call them and get what ever you want on the gun with not too much of fuss, before we purchased Limaís Wilson, we were looking into a Nighthawk Custom, she called them up and basically any change she wanted they were willing to do.
I will go on about Fusion Firearms as they are relatively new and taking the 1911 world by storm, I donít frequent the 1911 forums as much as I did as we donít have the budget that we used to and seeing all those fine guns kills usÖany way.
Fusion Firearms is run by Bob Serva former owner of Dan Wesson, they are turning out some fantastic guns at prices lower than the other makers in the third tier. Currently, the word is to buy one now before prices go up. From what Iíve been reading they are worth every penny and those that have them seem to like them.
Regarding the high end guns, Iím not saying that you should rule these out due to price, but $1500 is a big chunk of change, if you are buying your first 1911 and you have the money, buy whatever you want, we have 1911s from Les Baer and Wilson, and while I can tell the difference in fit and finish between them and the 1911s Iíve either got in the safe or have had and sold, the guns themselves do not make me a better shooter, we have those guns because we love 1911s and we could afford them at the time. I took my Colt XSE along to a two day class with Insights Training and my groups did not magically get better when I was shooting my Baer, or vice a versa. Iím not saying that a better quality gun doesnít shoot better than a lower quality gun, Iím just saying that Iím not a good enough shooter to make the gun perform to itís maximum performance level. If I were to take my Baer and Springfield to a range using a ransom rest, I think Iíd see a difference, maybe one of these days Iíll get the chance to test that theory.
Well, thatís pretty much it, there are a lot of 1911 makers out there, and some are better than others.
Regarding which one should you buy, thatís all up to you. Each maker and model can have itís positives and negatives. Two guns from each maker can run totally different, and the $450 used Springfield I have can run just as good as the $1300 used Les Baer that I have, it all depends on the EXACT gun in question, I do think you can cut potential head aches by staying in the mid tier, but thatís just my opinion.
One thing I did not go into detail about is warranty, before you buy check out the warranty program of the manufacturer in question, something just bothers me about a maker that doesnít warranty their work for the life of the gun. :scruntiny:
So you want to buy a 1911(Part 5)
So we've all heard that most if not all 1911s NEED to be broken in in order to work properly. This simply is not the case, and is mainly rumor/superstition/misunderstanding.
Personally I find the idea that a gun needs "X" number of rounds fired down it to make it work properly a load of BS and quite frankly, I don't think I'll ever buy another gun that has this "requirement"
There's testing a gun to make sure it works, and then there's blowing a weeks pay in ammo to get the gun feeding correctly.
I went through over a dozen owners manuals from various makers of 1911 pattern pistols and while gun manuals aren't the most friendly regarding some aspects of operation (mainly having a round chambered) odds are that if the manufacturer thinks there should be a break in period, the info should be in the manual.
Looking at my list from So you want to buy a 1911(Part 2)
Auto Ordnance: No break in mentioned in the manual, however they do have the weapons conditions code wrong...might have to call them about that one.
Charles Daly: No mention of a break in period.
ArmsCor: No mention of a break in period, although it does specify to use standard "round nose" ammunition and that if you choose to use wad-cutters, you may want to have the feed ramp re-worked...OK, good to know.
What was of interest was their stance on ammunition.Before shipment, your firearm was carefully inspected and test fired in order
to ensure that it conformed to our specifications and standards. Should your
firearm require adjustment or repair, we strongly recommend that you return
it to Taurus for factory service.
If there is any question regarding the performance of your firearm, please
write to our Service Department fully describing all circumstances and
Also, they did get their carry conditions correct and I like the way they presented them.
I know this is slightly off topic, but as this is my blog, I can say pretty much what I damn well please, but I just have to say while I don't think much of the PT1911, I do think Taurus writes a pretty damn good manual, or maybe I'm just too much of a geek by appreciating a well written manual...
Oh yeah, nothing written about a break in period...
Colt (Series 70): I didn't see anything about a break in here either...apparently Colt is of the opinion that if the gun doesn't function as it should that it just might be broken. Now that's an interesting thought....(can you feel the sarcasm? Good)
What the Colt manual does say regarding what might be construed as a "break in" is this:
Again, I'm not really surprised.
Dan Wesson: All DW says in it's wonderfully brief 7 page manual about what do prior to firing is
Doesn't sound like there's a recommended break in period to me...Before firing your DAN WESSON handgun for the first timeÖ
To assure safe, trouble-free performance beginning with the first time you fire your DAN WESSON handgun, follow the cleaning and lubricating instructions of this manual.
Kimber(full size manual)
Here's where I'm going to ruffle some feathers, but I'm sure some will be too busy scratching their head to argue with me....
Ok, so far that's the only reference of a break in period. Kimber claims this is due to the "tight tolerances" of the gun. Now I'm no gunsmith, but I've had a few 1911s, four of them Kimbers and I've laid hands on I don't know how many other brands that are KNOWN for being tight guns (Les Baer, Wilson, Ed Brown etc) and the Kimber is no tighter than a Dan Wesson. I don't know why Kimber mandates this break in period, but I know plenty of people that have had to go though it to get a working gun. I made it well past 500 rounds (not a cheap expenditure) and still had a POS gun, so basically I wasted the cost of repair trying to reach that "magic number" where my gun would start working.....
OK, I'm going to stop now, not bashing the brand, just stating what my experiences were and my thoughts on the matter....
Here's another one which dictates a break in period.
While this one is similar to Kimber's, I think it's written a little better as it explains in a little more detail some things to try if there are issues and it flat out states that if you have ANY malfunctions to call customer service. The way Kimber words it, it's almost like they expect it to
run like crap during the break in period.
Sig Sauer: No break in period.
Smith&Wesson 1911 Series: No break in period listed.
Springfield Armory: You have to download the manual, but there's no break in period listed. I've seen it posted that if you talk to Springfield Customer Service that they recommend any where from 200-750 rounds of break in / "testing" of the gun prior to carry, I'll have to place a call here and see what they say. I'm not taking hearsay on this one as it just sounds goofy as there's been conflicting information posted regarding this and I don't want to regurguitate bad info if I can help it.
STI: No mention of break in in the manual.
Ed Brown From the sound of things, they expect it to work.
Here's where the break in myth gets really started. Les Baers are probably the tightest damn guns ever made. Seriously have you ever tried just to rack the slide on a NIB Les Baer? And that's not even looking at one with the 1.5 package.
The items I come across regarding a break in period for a Les Baer is 500 rounds, no cleaning during the process. I bought my Baer used didn't have to do this. While I'm not much for here say on this matter, I'll buy into the needed break in for the Les Baer guns just because the guns ARE that tight and the information I've read on the 1911 forums is generally consistent with little in way of differing data. Hmmmm. Les Baer is in IA now, I wonder if I can go and take a tour??? :image035:
Nighthawk Custom: I didn't see any info on a break in on their website, and I'm unaware of if they come with a manual, I guess there aren't that many people spending upwards of $3K on a 1911 that don't know how it works...
But what they do say is this:
That sounds like no break in to me.Craftsmanship is also evident in the way your gun feels and performs. Every model gets a level of attention that only the highest priced guns get elsewhere. We remove every sharp edge, round every corner and smooth every serration on every handgun we manufacture. You will immediately notice the solid way it feels, and how it fits your hand like a natural extension.
The level of craftsmanship we offer is carried over to our Custom Knives, Tactical Shotguns, Hunting Rifles and Tactical Rifles. Your imagination is your only limit to what you can have done. Some of our best ideas have come from our customers, and we welcome them.
No one stands behind their product the way that we do. Every pistol, rifle, shotgun or knife that leaves our building has been thoroughly tested and has met our stringent standards. We make sure that your purchase will provide you a lifetime of flawless performance. We do this because we take a lot of pride in what we do, and also because we back it up with the best warranty in the industry.
Firearms are mechanical and everything mechanical can have a problem now and then. We understand this and stand behind all of our products. If you have a problem, give us a call. If we determine that it needs to be returned for repair or adjustment, our policy is to pay shipping both ways. We will issue a UPS tag that allows you to ship the item at no cost to you.
Wilson Combat: I've seen no literature supporting a break in from the manufacturer. Their FAQ on the website doesn't list any info on break in. Most of the people I know that have them haven't needed a break in. Even Lima's which had maybe seen a total of two mags worth of ammo prior to our purchase of it ran like a scalded dog right out of the box.
Now that we've been through six-teen maker's websites/manuals, three of them recommend a break in period, two of them are known for being problematic, (Kimber and Para) and the last of the thee is known for being tighter than...well just damn tight.
Now I'm not saying that you should just take the gun out of the box, stick it in the holster and run out the door, EVERY gun should be tested prior to carry, whether it's a Hi Point, a Glock, a Sig, or a Nighthawk. All I am saying is that MOST 1911s do not need a specific break in other than the basic testing of about 200 rounds or so, and that if there are issues, odds are that there's something wrong with the gun. Will parts eventually get smoother and "wear in" with usage? YES, but you shouldn't have to count on it for the gun to work properly. Read your users manual, follow the instructions given regarding cleaning and lube and blast away. If the gun doesn't work, send it back.
My wife and I went to the range earlier and I rented a 9mm Springfield 1911. I really wanted to try out a 45, but they didn't have any 45 ammo for sale at the range. Anyway, the Springfield is an awesome gun. I think I could do without a model that has a palm safety since I don't like them, but all in all I was very impressed. I would like to try a S&W just to see the difference, but I wouldn't hesitate to purchase a mil spec or gi springer right now...if I had the cash.
SERIOUSLY consider Dan Wesson!! They are priced in the $900-$1100 range and, for the money, have got to be better than nearly any other 1911. They are a very tight semi-custom gun hand fit pistol, with amazing slide to frame fit, using no MIM parts, and many Ed Brown parts. Extremely accurate and very reliable, Dan Wesson has great customer service with prompt turn around. Yada yada yada.... check 'em out, they're a limited production set at 3,000 for the 2009 year, and are a little hard to find, as the word on them has gotten out, they don't sit on the shelf long.
The Dan Wesson definitely looks good, but with them as hard to find as you say they are, I don't know if I'll wind up with one. I'd definitely like to try one out before spending that much.
If you picked up a Dan Wesson, you would NOT be disapointed with how it shot! You would be hard pressed to find someone with a bad DW experience. These guns are hard to find for a reason! Just figure out which one you want, and start looking, you'll find it.
For $1000, I would look seriously at the STI Trojan. Brazos Customs or Dawson Precision are your best bet to find one in stock. They are probably one of the best $1000 guns I have shot.
Getting into the 1k club then STI sure gets on the list. Loaded Springfield's, Colt, are both fantastic too. I lean to the Springers mainly because I always seem to get more gun for the money. I have all of 600.00 in a stainless 9mm 1911 and it's a flat out tack driver at 50 yards.
Colt will usually cost a little more but I've yet to see one that I didn't like. And...It's a Colt!
The STI Trojan is a great weapon, I have yet to find anyone that can say a bad thing about them outside of whining they couldn't afford one. But you really can't expect to get that class a weapon for 350.00.
Para Ord. has the most diverse set of 1911's and not quite 1911's out there. They have the traditional single action up to single/double action and double action only pistols. You can even get them in a high cap double stack model(s). I own two Para models (P16 in 40 and a LTC in 45 ACP) and both function flawlessly. I use the LTC as my carry much of the time. They are built tight and are spot on target.
I personally do not like Kimber pistils. I have owned a few and they just didn't function as I would have expected. Many people like them and they hold value so there must be something to them. A weapon that wont perform well will not keep people buying them, not at their prices anyway. So maybe I'm a little too harsh on them. But for me they all were a little too picky feeding for me. They were good shooters when I found ammo that they would eat though.
As YFZsandrider said the CBOBs are just great. I've not seen many weapons of any design that are built as tight that function as well as they do.
1911 people are a little funny when it comes to their 1911's. I can pick one up and I'll usually know weather or not I'll want it. Even though for the most part they are all built pretty much the same they at least to me feel completely different in my hand when I hold them. It's the reason I will tell people to get as many different weapons as they can in their hands to find the one that fits them best.
There are tons of weapons out there that can be great for you but you have to be comfortable with it Otherwise it's an overpriced paperweight that might do you more harm tan good.
I do own a couple of Kimbers, and I hear you, that sometimes they can be hit or miss, I have no issues with either of mine. My Team Match II, shoots the lights out when I compare to some of my higher price weapons.
I was looking at impactguns.com earlier today at the Para Ordinance 1911s, and I really like the looks of the warthog. I realize that it isn't a true 1911, but I still like it. What's the word on them?