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By Bob Harvey

Wilson Combat Ultralight Carry Compact 1911

Wilson Combat Ultralight Carry Compact 1911

South Florida Gun School

South Florida Gun School

West Palm Beach, FL --(Ammoland.com)- In this day and age there is a much larger selection of different size and shape handguns then ever before in history.

Ask a hundred instructors what the best gun for concealed carry and you may get a hundred answers. And every one will have objective, subjective and fact based reasoning.

Fifty years ago, there were not so many selections to pick from. Back then, you had revolver fans and then semi-auto fans.

In revolvers, there were Colt (Cobra, Trooper and Python) or Smith & Wesson (J-Frame or K-Frame). In semi-autos, it was Colt 1911s or Browning Hi-Powers. There were very few other firearms that supplied the reliability, parts availability or service availability. These were the standard for military, Leo and civilians.

Today, Glock, Sig Sauer, S&W M&P and FN dominate the Military and LEO community.

Revolvers have become a sort of ugly step sister in everyday carry due to capacity. Although, many including myself, use them for our backup guns.

Back in the 1890’s the semi-auto pistol was in its infancy. John Browning was in the development of his semi-auto pistol which came to be known as the 1911. Hiram Maxim invented the blowback design semi auto rifle which is the founding father of our current semi autos.

DWM Luger pistols

DWM Luger pistols

Militaries became infatuated with the design and put out a request to different manufacturers for a combat pistol that was semi auto loading. During the same time frame DWM supplied the US government with 100 DWM Luger pistols. They were chambered in the 7.65 Luger.

During testing there became a serious problem with stopping power and other complaints. DWM then came out with the 9mm parabellum cartridge. DWM then reapplied to the US Army with 50 of these rechambered guns. Following the problems found in the Philippines during this time frame, the US Army found that the smaller calibers were underpowered for the rigors of war against the Moro tribesman. The Army then changed their requirement to a pistol that should not be of less than .45 caliber.

The end result was a runoff of three pistol manufacturers. Colt, DMW and Savage submitted semi auto pistols utilizing the new .45 ACP (Automatic Pistol Cartridge). During testing, John Browning’s Colt fired 6,000 rounds without malfunctions. The Colt 1911 was officially adopted as the standard sidearm on March 29th, 1911.

So you see, the 9mm or .45 arguments have been around for over 100 years. And you thought you were the first to have a barroom brawl over caliber size.

I started carrying a Colt 1911 in 1973 while in the Marine Corps. In 1976 I became a Primary Marksmanship Instructor at Quantico’s Weapons Training Battalion in Virginia. One of the things that impressed me the most about these pistols, the reliability of being fired day in and day out without major malfunctions.

I became convinced that the 1911 pistol was the most reliable, hardest hitting and most simplistic of designs at the time.

Essex frame 1911 pistol

Essex frame 1911 pistol

My first carry model, was a custom Essex frame 1911 pistol with Bar-sto barrel and Bomar sights. This gun was built by the armorers at WTBN Quantico. They built me a pistol that was worthy of competition yet had the deburring of a carry gun. This gun stayed with me day in and day out for almost 10 years. I carried it in a Sam Andrews leather OWB holster. This gun now resides retired in my safe. I have been carrying a Colt Officers Model for over 20 years and we will go in to reasons why….

I have been asked plenty of times, “Bob, why do you carry a 1911 platform? It is so old school.”

The answer is so simple, more than most can comprehend. In this day and age, the internet will give you all the information you can use in the purchase of a carry firearm. You can search, caliber, size, reliability, parts availability, holster selection, spare magazines…..You name it.

Here are my requirements:

1 Reliability- The gun is worthless if it doesn’t go bang when I need it to. The 1911 is a proven design to me with 10’s of thousands of rounds down range.

2 Concealability- The Colt 1911 and its offshoots have the thinnest overall width of 9mm or .45 caliber that I have seen. Most people think that length is the determining factor of concealability, it’s not. The thickness of the gun dictates how concealable the gun is. At a slide width of .916” and a grip width of 1.27”, you will be hard pressed to find a gun that is easier to conceal. In a good IWB holster the gun almost disappears.

3 Size and Weight- At 8.27”inches in overall length and 5.8” in overall height the gun is slightly larger than your hand. That is the dimensions of a full size. The Commander and Officers Model are shorter overall length. Coming in at just over 3 lbs. loaded the gun can be easily supported with a strong belt and holster system.

4 Accuracy- There are few pistols that can compete with a tuned 1911 when it comes to putting shots on target. There are reliability and accuracy aftermarket components that will make the gun a 1 hole gun at 15 yards without giving up on reliability. The trigger on a 1911 sets the standard that all others are measured by.

5 Pointability- How quickly and smoothly does the gun come on target when drawing from a concealed holster? I contend that nothing will come on target faster or smoother.

6 Fit and finish- I have found very few Colt 1911 or clones that had poor fit and finish. The guns are very easy to deburr to make them easy to present without catching on clothing. They are trimline.

7 Parts availability- There is nothing worse than a pistol needing a part and having it sit in a shop on a gunsmiths bench for 6 months. Most decent gunsmiths have enough 1911 parts ( http://goo.gl/crd5Ez )  on their bench to build one or two guns. If not, availability is overnight.

8 Resale- A Colt or Colt clone continues to hold its resale value long after the enjoyment of owning it is done. We have seen Colts that have increased tenfold over a ten year period….Hard to argue with success.

9 Cost to maintain- You can buy a spare magazine for 14.00 or cheaper ( http://goo.gl/U8qSU9 )  for GI issue. Other parts are inexpensive as well and readily available for sale in any gun shop. I can’t say that about many guns. This gun is easy to breakdown and clean. If you have a decent knowledge of the gun, you don’t even need tools to take the gun down for a thorough cleaning.

10 Fun to shoot- If the gun is fun to shoot, you will practice more with the pistol. It is human nature, that if the gun is not comfortable or fun to shoot, you won’t practice with it. Learning how your gun acts in an actual gunfight never works.

And last but not least, without starting a caliber war……….38’s, 9mm’s and .40’s may expand on impact but .45’s never shrink in size……Almost all ballistics test state that (name your caliber) doesn’t give much in the way of expansion or penetration to a .45.

Why is that?

Because the .45 is the standard that all others are measured against. And if you are still a believer that the 9mm is just as good. Great, Colt and others make a 1911 platform for you in 9mm and .38 super.

Why I carry a Colt Officers Model from a crusty old Marine Veteran PMI.

Bob Harvey
President/ Chief Instructor
South Florida Gun School
www.sflagunschool.com

Colt Officers Model 1911

Colt Officers Model 1911

About South Florida Gun School
SFLA GunSchool is committed to providing safety, knowledge, and skills to you in an easy, understandable training format. We have a safety record second to none. From New Shooters to Instructor Candidates we can help you in the advancement of your marksmanship and firearms skills. Ask about our money back guarantee on all firearms training classes. SFLA GunSchool is located within Gator Gun & Archery Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. Visit: www.sflagunschool.com

  • 20 User comments to “Why the 1911 for Everyday Carry, Advice from Crusty Old Marine Veteran”

    1. […] GA_googleFillSlot("ColtForum-300F"); Here's a nice read reaffirming what "we" already knew Why the 1911 for Everyday Carry, Advice from Crusty Old Marine Veteran […]

    2. C.E. Bradley on June 11, 2014 at 6:59 PM said:

      When you are in a SHTF situation, and your heart is beating like a triphammer, nothing feels as good as a 1911 .45 in your hand. It’s the best feeling in the world, bar none.

    3. David R. Munroe on June 11, 2014 at 7:59 PM said:

      I enjoyed your article, and appreciate the points you made in support of the 1911 as a carry gun. I carry a Glock 26 in my pocket, something that could never be done with a 1911, unless you wanted to rip your pants to shreds.

      I don’t care if my comment is published or not, but it doesn’t do your credibility much good if there are two glaring errors in the second sentence of your article:

      “In this day and age there is a much larger selection of different size and shape handguns then every before in history.”

      I’m sure the mistake was an error not recognized by your spell checker, since the words are not misspelled, they are the wrong ones, and the checker wouldn’t “understand.” But you or your editor should do a better job of proof-reading. Nothing worse than having a good article where the content is distracted by silly errors.

    4. My Colt New Agent .45 ACP…..never leave home without it !

    5. jimpeel on June 12, 2014 at 2:32 AM said:

      “… utilizing the new .45 ACP (Automatic Pistol Cartridge).”

      The ACP in .45 ACP stands for Automatic Colt Pistol.

    6. jimpeel on June 12, 2014 at 2:39 AM said:

      David R. Munroe,

      I can’t believe you would grouse at the author for a simple misspelling and gloss over the fact that the author believes that .45 ACP stands for “Automatic Pistol Cartridge” which is totally untrue.

      Factual errors are important. The spell checker missing a real word is not.

    7. I carry a Sig 1911, so of course I agree with most of what this article claims. But there is a bit of irrational 1911 worship going on here. First of all, 6,000 rounds without a stoppage is attainable nowadays with almost any Sig, HK or Glock auto of any caliber. Accuracy and reliability are a compromise in the 1911 design; the more you have of one, the less you have of the other. Revolvers generally offer excellent accuracy and, in .357, plenty of punch as well.
      His point about thickness deserves lots of credit. I can’t stand handguns that feel like family Bibles, but writers seldom note this factor.
      My own reason for favoring the 1911 is the superbly crisp, short-pull trigger. I have never accepted – and will never accept – a trigger that feels like you’re wrestling an angry sow with one finger.

    8. TSgt B on June 12, 2014 at 7:13 AM said:

      Bob, I couldn’t agree with you more. I was introduced to the 1911 .45 ACP while in the Air Force in the 1970s (I retired 21 years ago). I’ve owned many 1911s, and all types of others, over the years, some of which I still kick my self in the ass for trading or selling.

      In the 80s, I bought a Colt Officer’s Model which I gave to my oldest brother, who was then flying Combat Search & Rescue HH-3s out of Osan AFB, South Korea, to replace his issue S&W Airweight .38.

      After I retired, I bought a Colt 1991A1 Compact Model .45 ACP, which I have carried since. I had Master Gunsmith Gary Cleland of Cleland’s Outdoor World in Swanton, Ohio, do a combat action job, and installed Wilson Combat “Night Eyes” night sights and Hogue wraparound grips on it. I have since replaced the very finicky dual recoil spring set up with a Wilson Combat full length recoil spring and guide rod, and had it Cerrocoated in flat black. I carry it as I write this.

      Even with the 3 1/2″ barrel (still stock) it will shoot one hole groups at 15 yards, and put 7 inside 3″ at 25 yards. I’ve run just about every make and type of .45 ACP ammo through with nary a bobble. Needless to say, I will (and have) bet my bacon on this pistol. The only ones I’ve owned that compare are a Colt MKIV Series 70 (that I sorely miss)and a Kimber Custom II.

      Ignorant, new wave youngsters can bitch all they want about the 1911, but if I knew I was going to be in a serious social encounter, and had to choose only a pistol, the 1911 would be my first, and only, choice.

      Thanks for the time trip, my friend.

    9. TSgt B on June 12, 2014 at 7:22 AM said:

      “Accuracy and reliability are a compromise”

      Dave, I respectfully disagree. If you are experiencing these problems with a quality 1991, you need to find a new gunsmith.

    10. Vanns40 on June 12, 2014 at 9:25 AM said:

      As a retired LEO who’s been on the wrong end of a gun more than a few times I respectfully say to each his own. My own is a gun that went 200,000 rounds before I completely rebuilt it in less than 25 min. My gun carries 13 rounds of 40 cal. and never, EVER cares what brand of ammo I feed it. My gun has been covered in blood, sand, dirt and just about everything else you could think of in a tactical situation and kept right on shooting. My gun is a Glock 23.

      While I do own a 1911 and I do like it, it IS 1911 technology and modern ammo (Gold Dot etc.) does a great job in bringing 40 and even 9mm to the capable caliber range. That said, again, to each his own.

    11. Ol' Vet on June 12, 2014 at 9:39 AM said:

      As an old Veteran of Vietnam, I praise the old 1911A1 pistol high above all others for exactly what Bob talked about in his article. It is the best pistol ever designed and issued to the military. It’s knockdown power is unmatched and reliability is unmatched. Damned shame when the US Army decided to go to the 9mm Baretta, and that shamed everyone that had ever carried and used the 1911A1 in combat operations.

      Thanks Bob, good article. I appreciate it.

    12. Ol' Vet on June 12, 2014 at 9:43 AM said:

      ACP stands for Automatic Colt Pistol. The .45 round was designed for the 1911 pistol by Browning and the combination is faultless.

    13. brian winters on June 12, 2014 at 10:45 AM said:

      I cannot use a 1911 due o loss of sensation in my fingers. All my glocks have the 12 lb ny plus trigger and are safe for me. I got rid of my 1911s when i HAD UNINTENTIONAL DISCHARGES WIHT A 7LB PULL WITH TAKEUP. THEY ARE UNSAFE FOR ME. If i by a blender I expect it to work. A glock or sig works fin out of the box. Even today some 1911s do not.

    14. I also carry either one of the following,a 1991A1 Compact 45acp,Kimber Custom 2,or a Glock 34 9mm.All guns are carried Appendix style with nothing in chamber.

    15. Laid my Glock 26 (9mm) on top of Colt Officers .45. The Glock is a tad longer and much thicker. Yes, with the Glock, you can load 9/10 rounds vs. 7-8 for the Colt, depending on one chambered + full magazine, but at 5’1″ and I can carry the slim Colt more comfortably and better concealed. I chose the Colt for everyday carry. Good article.

    16. Rev. Philip E. Evans on June 12, 2014 at 11:11 PM said:

      I carried 1911′s for a 36 year military career and was an armorer most of that time. I have also carried many other fine handguns over the years. While I like the 1911 design, for myself I have found a standard 1911 somewhat hard to master. I am short and have small hands and a full size and weight 1911 is a lot for me. While I can shoot it accurately and qualify with it, I have found others that I enjoy shooting better. I know it’s an old debate, but I prefer “hammer down” carry as opposed to “cocked and locked”. For me, for many years now, my favorite carry pistol is my old Star PD with Pachmayr grips carrying 230 gr. ball. I can draw and fire it, thumb cocking the hammer as I draw from a shoulder rig or an OWB hip rig, just as fast as from an standard “duty” holster. As long as I maintain the buffer in the PD, I have never had a problem.

    17. Max Dolan on June 13, 2014 at 10:07 PM said:

      Amen to you, Brother! I started shooting 1911s in Vietnam in 1969 and they have been my favorites since then. Although I carry a Para-Ordnance .45 (Light Double-Action) on a daily basis, my 1911 is still my favorite.

    18. Hiram Maxim on June 14, 2014 at 9:36 PM said:

      Massad Ayoob summarized it best. “Some people say that 9 mm is okay and .45 is okay. Other people say 9 mm is feeble and .45 is okay. What nobody is saying is that .45 is not okay.” He added that the department for which he was a sworn officer was in Connecticut, and consequently – during the plentiful cooler months of the year, in Connecticut – the hollow-point ammunition of LEOs would be going through thicker clothing, which would clog the HP bullets and make them perform essentially the same as ball: ” … and if my officers were going to be shooting _ball_, I d___ well wanted it to be .45 ball.” ~ Thank you for reading ~

    19. louis santoro on July 12, 2014 at 6:45 AM said:

      I am still amazed after 103 year design, a 1911 just feels so right in my hands. I own many models, Sigs, Glocks, Kimbers , yet my Colt Gunsite 5 inch model ( just purchased the Colt CCO model) has been flawless thru four courses at Gunsite, firing 5,000 collectively. It seems I cannot find a Glock I bond with owng the 22, 27, and the new 30S, 1911 just feels like “coming home” every time I pick it up or compete in IDPA.

    20. Grammar Nazi on July 15, 2014 at 7:04 PM said:

      Couldn’t get past the word “then” where “than” belongs.

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