The 1911 pistol is one of the most successful firearms in the world, so there are a lot of variations of it on the market. That’s good for consumers, but it does make it hard to sort out the best 1911 pistols from the rest.
They’re all durable, powerful, and accurate. However, they vary based on the modern features that they add to the old design and the tweaks to their performance.
We’ve sorted through the options and found the ten best 1911 pistols based on their value, overall performance, and suitability for specific roles.
History of the 1911
The 1911 is a 100+ year old design.
Firearms inventor John Moses Browning, or JMB as you may know him, wanted to provide the military with a more potent handgun round.
Browning was a direct competitor of other gun makers, like Smith & Wesson and Savage.
In March 1911, JMB’s auto-loading pistol was officially adopted by the U.S. Military as their weapon of choice.
How was his 1911 chosen? It passed a 6,000-round torture test, was submerged in mud and acid, and shot deformed cartridges, among other tests.
Browning’s design was eventually produced by Colt. It was the only gun to pass all of the tests.
Modern Uses of the 1911
A few select military units still use the 1911. It is also used by some police officers, and is widely-used pistol for self-defense.
When you look at the gun collection of most gun enthusiasts, you’ll most likely see at least one 1911. A lot of people own more than one, because they are accurate and reliable.
10 Best 1911 Pistols in 2019
Now, let’s take a look at what the top 10 pistols are in 2019.
10. Cabot S103
The S103 is one of the most specialized versions of the best 1911 pistols, but it excels as a concealed carry gun for left-handed shooters.
The pistol’s design is a mirrored version of the original, so everything is precisely where a southpaw would expect it.
The weapon is made of quality steel for durability, and an optional coating is available to offer more protection.
The gun’s dimensions are small for ease of carrying, but recoil can occasionally be an issue for some shooters.
The gun’s price is a significant disadvantage, but expert left-handed shooters will often find that it is worth paying.
9. Remington R1 Enhanced
The R1 Enhanced is an improvement over Remington’s traditional variant on the 1911. It stands out for the ease of adjusting the gun since both the trigger and the sights are designed for customization.
The trigger is skeletonized to make it easier to pull, and it pulls quite smoothly. The grips are heavily checkered and unusually comfortable, which makes it easy for new shooters to get a good grip on the gun in the right place.
This is an excellent choice for new shooters who expect to use it for a long time, making it one of the best 1911 pistols on the market. It is easy to use and performs well for more experienced users.
8. Wilson Tactical Elite
|Caliber||.45 ACP/.38 Super/9mm|
The Tactical Elite is a carry weapon that can double as a competition gun. It has an excellent, hand-fitted barrel that provides plenty of accuracy, and is also a little heavier than average to help cut down on recoil.
The trigger pull is very light and crisp for easier handling. The gun offers reasonably good ergonomics, along with a starburst texture on the grip to help secure the hands.
The gun is expensive, so it is only a great choice for competitive shooters who also carry a concealed weapon. It is one of the best 1911 pistols for those individuals.
7. Springfield Mil-Spec
The Mil-Spec pistol from Springfield Armory is a good choice for general use. It is heavy enough to absorb recoil well but light enough to be comfortable when carried.
The steel construction makes it reasonably durable, but not quite to the extent of pistols that are treated for extra protection. It comes with fixed combat sights, which offer excellent performance and convenience for shooters who don’t want to tweak them.
New and intermediate shooters should consider this gun. But experts will probably want something more specialized in their area of interest.
6. S&W Performance Center 1911
|Manufacturer||Smith & Wesson|
The Performance Center pistol is a tiny weapon that can serve well as a carry weapon or in competitions.
The trigger is particularly good, with a light pull and an over-travel stop that makes it easier to shoot rapidly and accurately.
The pistol is designed to take a cable lock, so it is also a good choice for those who need secure storage. It is equipped with both grip and thumb safeties, which ensure that it is just as safe to carry.
The recoil can be excessive, but you should consider this pistol if you prioritize safety and ease of transportation.
5. Taylor’s & Co A1
The A1 is very close to the original 1911 design and is one of the best 1911 pistols for people who need something rugged. The gun’s finish offers extra protection from the elements, and quality manufacturing provides some resistance to wear and tear.
The nickel finish also makes it much more attractive than most 1911 models, which can be appealing to some shooters.
The A1 offers average performance in most areas, so that it will function reasonably well in most roles.
Experts might want something that has been tweaked to offer more power or accuracy, but the A1 is great for the average shooter.
Also, you can find here the best pistol case for carrying your gun.
4. Kimber Master Carry Ultra
The Kimber Ultra is a tiny version of the 1911. The small dimensions and lightweight design make it ideal for concealed carry, but they can make it a little hard to handle the recoil from the .45 ACP cartridge.
The pistol’s shape also helps with concealed carry, since the rounded design prevents snagging.
The grip is equipped with a laser for easy aiming, but the gun also has low-light sights in the normal position.
It is one of the best 1911 pistols for dedicated use as a concealed weapon, but only for people who can handle the recoil.
3. Taurus 1911
The Taurus 1911 is one of the cheapest options, but it still performs well enough for the average shooter.
The gun is chambered in 9mm, so it has less power and less recoil than the traditional best 1911 pistols.
The trigger is ventilated to reduce its weight, and it moves smoothly when pulled. The grip is checkered to ensure that hands do not slip, which is an asset when drawing it quickly.
This is one of the best 1911 pistols for shooters on a tight budget, but it still performs well enough for daily carry by new or intermediate shooters.
2. Dan Wesson Elite Series Chaos
|Manufacturer||Dan Wesson Firearms|
The Chaos pistol from Dan Wesson is one of the best 1911 pistols for competition shooting.
It stands out for its remarkably high ammunition capacity, although that does come at the cost of a lower power level from the smaller caliber. On the other hand, the smaller caliber does cut down on recoil for improved accuracy.
The Magwell is designed for quick reloading during competitions. The components are all built to an excellent standard, which makes this gun both accurate and reliable.
It’s costly, but dedicated and experienced competition shooters will find that this is an ideal weapon.
1. Colt Combat Elite
The Combat Elite is one of the best 1911 pistols for general use, which makes it ideal for people who need one gun for multiple applications.
It comes with low mount sights that are designed for concealed carry, so shooters can aim accurately without worrying about their sights snagging on a concealed holster. It also has a National Match barrel, which boosts its accuracy. Those features combine with sound ergonomics to produce an accurate and comfortable pistol that most shooters can put to good use in any situation.
Making The Right Choice
It’s hard to go wrong with a 1911, but it is worth spending the time to find one of the best 1911 pistols for you. The choice will depend on your needs since each variant is suited for a different budget and use.
If you know of a useful pistol that our list overlooked, be sure to talk about it in the comment section, so other shooters know to give it a look.