Why Carry a 1911?

Why Carry a 1911 – today there is a tendency to want to upgrade to the newest technology, the latest and greatest and there are a lot of reasons to do so, because by and large there are technological improvements, quality improvements, and the like. So why, after over 110 years of service is there such a cult following for the Colt 1911 platform?

I get it, it is a great gun.

But surely the 1911 Fans have to admit there are some serious shortcomings with the platform especially in a SHTF/Carry scenario.

There are some serious drawbacks that the 1911 crowd tends to overlook. The first has to do with ammo and ammo capacity. I lump the two together as I think they can go hand in hand. Let’s start with the capacity. The standard amount for a 1911 is 8 rounds, with some being a bit less at 6-7 depending on the size of the gun, and reasonably concealable/shootable 10-rounders. So, with the smaller ones holding the same as a six-shooter, why not just carry a small frame 357 Magnum which is arguably more reliable and more powerful?

With the larger capacity magazines (8-10) you are still 3-5 rounds short of the standard capacity Glock magazines for their very popular Glock 21, which holds 13 rounds standard. While this may not sound like a lot that is over 2 mags worth if you are shooting the smaller framed 1911s.

The second major issue with ammo is the type of ammo. If you have ever shot a wide variety of 45ACP rounds with a 1911, you know there are some that just don’t feed well. The feed ramp, even when polished is very steep and can have reliability issues with some hollow points, the preferred round for self-defense. The Glock doesn’t have this issue from my extensive testing. However, I will admit that you can shoot lead ammo without a barrel swap in a 1911 whereas you can have serious issues in a Glock.

One of the other major takeaways is the weight.

A 1911 when empty weighs somewhere around 38-40oz, with a full magazine it tops out right around 4 lbs. Glock 21 comes in about 10oz lighter empty, and about the same weight as a 1911’s empty weight when fully loaded with 5 extra rounds. That makes a huge difference when carrying it all day or deciding on what clothes to wear.

For fun, I tried to see how much of a difference that made, and I can tell you I can get away with carrying in gym shorts with pistols of newer polymer construction but all my 1911s definitely pulled my shorts down.

Something else to consider is the initial cost and maintenance or upgrade costs. A standard run-of-the-mill Mil-Spec 1911 starts in the low $500s (Rock Island Armory) but the median price is closer to $1,000, with several coming in well $2-3k for the higher end. Compare that to Glock ($540ish), it does make you wonder if the extra $500 for a middle-of-the-road 1911 will shoot that much better than a Glock.

Now I will give you that the trigger on a 1911 is WAY better than a standard Glock, however, even if you upgraded with a better trigger, you would still come in way under for price. I can also concede that there is nothing quite as nostalgic and good-looking as a 1911 but for daily use, is it viable to carry such a nice gun? I will admit when using a KYDEX holster I scratched the hell out of my first carry gun, a 1911, and have switched permanently to JM4s Leather holsters from here on out.  Their magnetic gun holster can even be used as a car gun holster.

I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, I love the 1911 platform. But if the zombies are coming tomorrow and I need to be sure to be able to use any bullet, with the utmost reliability, and the least number of issues, I am sadly not going for my 1911. And, if I am not trusting it for the End of the World, why would I trust it should bad things happen on day to day?

Author: Ian Bolser