Get the colt 1911 dude
Looking to purchase either a Colt Rail 1911 or an HK 45 for Carry/Home Defense and a little IDPA/USPA shooting for fun (Nothing serious for competition shooting or would get a dedicated 1911). I am looking for input as far as reliability of the two firearms as this would also be my SHTF primary. I have small hands so wider double stacked pistols won't do and want the SA 'locked and cocked' ability.
Slim grips will shrink the 1911 a bit more for you. I have no experience with the HK. Every one of my 1911's have been trouble-free. I've carried a 1911 of some make for over 35 years, so I tend to tilt a bit in that direction.
If the funds will allow it buy a Les Baer and you will never regret spending $1800. Abslutely the best hand fitted 1911 on the planet.
As for the pros of the HK45:
No handfitting or replacement parts required
1 Source for magazines
Second strike capability
Cons of the HK45:
Lesser holster selection
Mags are expensive
Goofy mag release
So lets talk about some of those pros and cons. Weight is a no brainer, higher capacity, yeah it's only two more shots but that 25% more than a full size 1911 assuming you're using 8rd mags. If you want to replace the extractor, barrel, sear...whatever you just buy it and drop it in, the only part that's a real pain in the ass is the trigger return spring. Magazines, Chip McCormick? Wilson? Tripp Research? Act-mag? Colt? Kimber? Fake Colt? Don't have to worry about what mags to buy, it's HK or nothing. The controls are ambidextrous*, including the slide stop, if you want an ambi safety you can order it and slap it on yourself, no fitting required. If you decide you want to go DA/SA or LEM you can swap out the part and do it yourself, even shooting the gun from a C&L start, should you desire to use the function there's the ability to give a second strike via pulling the trigger on a failed round. Personally I really don't care about 2nd strike capability, but some do.
As for the cons, holsters for the HK45 are a little harder to come by but they are out there. Yes, the mags are expensive but quality 1911 mags aren't cheap. If you shop around you can find the HK mags for decent prices. CheaperThanDirt has them on sale every now and then. A big problem with the Hk45 is parts availabiity, but it's getting better. HKParts.net and TopGun Supply carry HK parts and Numrich has some as well (Some of the USP parts can be used on the HK45). The mag release, I was concerned about moving to this platform because of this but it's not been that big of an issue and transitioning back to other guns hasn't been a problem either.
Then, there's this:
pistol-training.com » HK45Say what you want about HK, the above quote is damn impressive.50,000 rounds in just over eight months.
And yes, as many of you have guessed, that is Larry “LAV” Vickers himself shooting #50,000. It seemed only fitting that the man most responsible for the HK45′s existence be there at the end of this incredible test.
Over the course of the entire test, just one single spring broke. The gun is still perfectly reliable and suitable for daily use. Now my wrists and elbows, on the other hand…
In fact, the HK45 had fewer problems at the 50,000 round mark than either of the previous two 9mm test guns, the S&W M&P9 or HK’s own P30! The HK45 truly is bomb proof, especially when you consider that except for two spring change maintenance cycles, every single part in the gun is original. Most companies recommend changing the recoil springs on their 9mm pistols three or four times more often than Heckler & Koch recommends for the HK45.
The HK45 fired its first 31,522 rounds without a bobble of any kind, another pistol-training.com endurance test record. But the mere fact that it out-performed those other pistols tells only part of the story. I do not believe another .45 pistol could fire that many rounds, in that short a time, with that little maintenance, and survive. Anonymous internet chest-thumpers notwithstanding, fifty thousand rounds of full power 230gr ammo through a .45 pistol in eight months is staggering.
Yes, the HK45 is big, but I managed to carry mind all summer. Id did take a little getting used to at first as the trigger is no 1911 but it is very serviceable and overall the gun as it is out of the box rivals any 1911 in it's price point. The Les Baers and Wilsons will probably do better from a rest @ distance sometime this winter I will take the Baers and the Hk45 to the indoor range and see what groups I get, however that will be only at 50'. 25 yard groups will have to wait.
Now on to the 1911. I love 1911s but the weight to capacity ratio is skewed. I am very comfortable with the 1911 and it's capacity but more is better in my book. Gun fights are won and lost with what's in the mag, very few incidents require a reload so the argument of "I carry a spare mag to compensate for the capacity" doesn't pass go in my book...and yes I carry spare mags with my guns be it a 1911 or Hk45. I love the 1911 and have had a number of them ranging from bottom of the barrel to top of the line but in terms of maintenance it is more intensive and parts replacement is will be more complicated. In terms of SHTF gun, I'd rather have the gun that I can just swap parts in and out of with a select kit. Most 1911s of quality these days will require some fitting, the more expensive, the more fitting. Colts are in the middle of this and while I have sweet spot for the Ponies, they are edgy and I'd strongly suggest getting at least a mild dehorn on the gun.
The Rail Gun is a nice specimen, ambi safety installed, match barrel, rail, and the Colt rep. & warranty and while it will have "better" trigger, it won't do anything that the HK45 can't do. I find that too many people obsess over “the trigger” and while I do prefer a SAO platform and do believe whole heartedly that few if any triggers can rival the 1911, the HK45 in SA mode is not bad and can be made better by a few competent smiths. Yes the 1911 will be more customizable, but in terms of SHTF times those customizations can become a drawback. The more custom it is, the harder it can be to maintain without the aid of outside sources.
I’ve been starting to collect my HK45 repair kit and there is not a single part that will require gunsmith attention.
There are some things on the HK45 that one (especially us died in the wool 1911 guys) may want to change. I removed the decocker functionality as I had a tendency to ride down on the safety very hard with my firing hand and would decock the gun on occasion. A simple part swap and it was no-longer an issue. Some have issues with the “trough” in the bottom of the trigger guard. Dave Bowie of Bowie Tactical and Grayguns can remove that trough and do some action work on the gun. The trough does not bother me and I’m ok with the action as is for now.
In terms of competition, both guns can serve well. If I were shooting bulls-eye I’d want a 1911 for it’s adjustable sights. In IDPA both the Hk45 and 1911 do well. I’ve actually been shooting a 1911 again at the last couple of matches but will probably revert back to the HK45 as that’s what I’ve been carrying more often. My little sojourn back to the 1911 was spurned by a recent purchase that I wanted to wring out. I’ve ran the Hk45 in USPSA and IDPA along with the 1911 and both are good peformers.
In IDPA (pending on configuration) you can shoot in CDP or ESP with the HK45 in the DA/SA or SAO config, if you end up going LEM you can shoot in SSP. In USPSA the Hk45 is better fit to limited 10 only unless you want to shoot in the production division but there is no power factor advantage in Production. With the 1911 you can shoot CDP or ESP in IDPA and Single stack, limited 10, or Production with a 1911. Why anyone would want to shoot a 1911 in production I don’t know but you could if you wanted to. Does any of that [i]really[/] matter? I think not, but competition was brought up.
The 1911 is a fine pistol, but it does have it’s drawbacks, it’s going to be a little more maintenance dependant, you’ll want to learn how to check extractor tension but those are not that difficult, nor is the overall break-down procedure. Some make it out to be rocket surgery but it’s not that bad and the Hk45 is no piece of cake past the basic field strip.
Yes there’s more aftermarket goodies for the 1911, but the HK45 doesn’t really need them.
All in all I’m really happy with my HK45, I picked it up in the Spring and have just shy of 3K though it. It’s been a solid gun and I find myself carrying it more and shooting it more than the $3K purpose built 1911 I had made. In all honesty had I bought the Hk45 first, I probably wouldn’t have ordered my Nighthawk.
Out of Brown, Wilson, NHC, SA Custom, and Baer, I really do think Baer has the most bang for your buck with some really nice offerings but I don’t think you can really hold them above and beyond the rest.
All in all, you can’t go wrong with either the Rail Gun or the HK45, but I think the HK45 would be the smarter role as a multi-purpose gun due to the ease of maintenance….if you can get the parts.
I looked really hard at the Rail Guns, I dig the Black Cerakoted model, but some of the examples I’ve seen have been a little rough, particularly in the safety engagement area, but they’ve all been new guns and a little break in could work wonders. As previously stated, you may want to think about a dehorn which will require a refinish of the gun if the Cerakoted model is purchased so I would recommend the stainless RG if you decide to go that way.
Some other alternatives are the S&W M&P45, make sure you try one with the small back strap, that can be had with a thumb safety as well and with the Apex trigger kits they get eerily 1911 like in their trigger feel and are of a thinner magazine as welll.
There’s also the Sig 220 SAO which is a railed gun which allows for C&L carry and has a wider array of aftermarket support than the HK45.
Wealth of information from experience, great read. H&K has always been known for being extremely durable under any conditions as far as I can remember. A top dog that's for sure.
Thanks for the input. I love the 1911, but it can be biased. Never the less I plan on buying one down the road.
HK45 no question
I feel like Ive seen alot of threads saying Colt aren't as classic and reliable as they used to be but i cant say that for certain (although this is certainly true for a friends M4 model he purchased from colt), If I were to buy a 1911 over the HK45 itd be from Kimber or Springfield