Why I Choose To Carry A Full Size 1911

Why I Choose To Carry A Full Size 1911
Why I Choose To Carry A Full Size 1911
Springfield Armory USA
Springfield Armory USA

Geneseo, IL – -(Ammoland.com)- There are plenty factors that play into the decision of what pistol to use as an everyday carry gun.

After carrying a pistol in one form or another for the last 17+ years, one thing I can conclude is that a full-size 1911 is one of the easiest pistols to carry in a concealed format… at least for me.

With all the various options, formats, and configurations available, people still ask me why I continue to choose a full-sized 1911 over other popular sizes.

For me, it’s a pretty easy answer that can be broken down into three basic parts: carryability, reliability and shootability. 

(This blog first appeared on the Springfield Armory Blog)

Carryability Of A Full Size 1911

While some might consider a full size 1911 to be large and heavy, there are two significant advantages to carrying one; it’s flat and balanced.

The “flat” part is easy to figure out. The 1911 has always had exceptional ergonomics due to the location of the controls and its single stack configuration.

It's thin, flat profile helps make the gun disappear under most garments, which for us in Arizona, is often a light t-shirt.

When carried in a proper holster mounted on a quality belt, the entire package is remarkably well balanced with the loaded magazine being offset by the length and weight of the steel slide and frame.

My preference is carrying in an inside the waistband holster because the flat profile of the gun / holster against your body further enhances this balance making the gun all-day comfortable.

Reliability Of A Full Size 1911

Size plays a huge role in the overall reliability of any gun. 

A full-size 1911 has a cycle length that produces a generous amount of slide travel (stroke) resulting in a longer dwell time when compared to 1911s with shorter slides.

Shortening the cycle length of a 1911 directly affects how much time the gun has to eject the spent casing as well as the amount of time the magazine has to feed the next round to the top of the feed-lips.

This may be one of the reasons some shorter 1911s have not worked as well (or at all) in the past. The slides were simply outrunning the rest of the gun.

A pistol with a shorter cycle length will typically be less forgiving of faulty, fatigued, worn out magazines or magazine springs.

That’s not to say they can’t work, but over a long period of time, a full-size 1911 will typically be more forgiving and reliable.

Shootability Of A Full Size 1911

The size and weight of the full-size 1911 results in largely unparalleled handling characteristics.

The long, slow recoil impulse of the .45ACP round combined with the slide weight and full-length grip frame helps the gun remain flat during recoil to allow for a true full-firing grip on the pistol.

This full-length grip not only makes the pistol easier to handle but also helps to eliminate the potential pinching of your fingers during a magazine exchange or reload; something that lots of shooters experience with pistols that have a shorter grip frame.

The slide on a full-size 1911 allows for a generous sight radius and does not require a special configuration for the recoil spring / recoil assembly.

When you combine the full weight and grip length of the steel frame with the slide travel of a full-size 1911, the resulting product is best summed up by what a wise man once said…

“It’s a big gun when you carry it and it’s a big gun when you pull it out to shoot.”

Now It's Your Turn

Tell us what your carry method of choice is and why on Facebook or Twitter using the hastag #WhyICarry.

  • 24 thoughts on “Why I Choose To Carry A Full Size 1911

    1. I cannot argue any of the three points. My main concern remains the safety of the “cock and locked” carry. Yes, the issue has probably been argued to death, but it still seems inherently less safe than some of the newer striker-action SAs or even a DA revolver. I’d go full size 1911 if I could get over this one hangup.

      1. I carry mine with one in the chamber and hammer down. Due to the inertia type firing pin it is very safe. Since most will fire with a two-hand hold it is very easy to cock the hammer as you place your supporting hand

      2. I carried a 1911 many decades ago and just out of personal preference don’t now but I’d like to address your point. Suppose you carry it “cocked & UNLOCKED”? As long as you keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot there is absolutely zero problem. Let me repeat the operative words “keep your finger OFF the trigger until you are ready to shoot”. Solves all problems for all handguns. I’m also assuming (not always smart I admit) that you’ve got enough sense to have the gun holstered and not stuck in a pocket or your waistband.

    2. While I do agree with most of your points about carrying a full size 1911, the idea of having to carry it cocked and locked is not one I’d be comfortable with. I have had a number of guns over the years, and I still like a single stack, striker fired gun for dependability and concealability.

      1. And your problem with cocked and locked is? Or even cocked and unlocked? That’s assuming you can keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot (not always a good assumption I admit).

    3. I recently switched my EDC pistol from a compact (Bersa Thunder .380) to a full size (Sig 226 MK25 9mm) and have been very happy. I don’t really notice a big difference in the size/weight for the reasons explained above, and the difference in sight acquisition and accuracy is night and day. The fact I have 15 rounds is a big bonus, and why I went with a 9mm over a .45 1911. Also, as mentioned, the cocked and locked wasn’t a deal breaker, but I’m happier with my DA/SA with no safety than I would be with a traditional 1911. To anyone thinking they would never carry a full size weapon every day, I challenge you to give it a shot, you may be surprised.

    4. I’ve carried a SA LW OPERATOR 1911 for some time. The dependability of the gun is outstanding and the .45acp delivers excellent stopping power. I carry IWB or OWB depending on what I’m wearing. I tend to dress around my 1911. Carrying the 1911 cocked and locked is the only way to go. It was the first handgun I ever received professional training with so this comes natural to me. I’m not concerned with the round count as I carry 2 extra magazines and shot placement trumps 15 in a nagazine all day. The 1911 has a natural point of aim that makes the gun an extention on your arm. I too carry the full size 5″ frame.

    5. I carry a AMT 1911 redone by Wilson, except when its hot out or my clothing is limited and I will switch to something plastic and smaller.

    6. I am 74yrs. old & my body went South 30yrs. ago. My back is the worst of the problems & the weight of a full size 1911 will have me walking sideways within an hour. There are a large number of older gun carrying folks down here in South Eastern North Carolina, & NONE of them carry a full sized 1911. I have gone through quite a few 9mm pistols, looking for that magic fit. No such luck. KEL-TEC came out with the PMR-30, this pistol is a 22WMR . The 22 Mag. is a devastating round with over 2,000ft. per sec. it makes up for the weight & size of the bullet with the speed out of the muzzle. This Gun shoots in right where you point it & ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?????. The KEL-TEC PMR-30 holds 30 rounds & weighs only 1 1/2 LB. loaded. It is almost the exact size of the 1911 but weighs about 1/3 as much as the 1911. I grant you may not feel comfortable with a 22cal. but the WMR is not your old 22LR. Try it out on some water jugs & watch them explode. It does hurt the ears though but it will save your life without beating you up with the weight. I have carried for many years & have never needed to use my side arm, it is a safety thing to carry so be safe & carry comfortable.

      1. We oldsters are looking for less punishing ways to enjoy our trips to the range.
        I purchased a PMR-30, and took it to the range with CCI ammunition. The failure rate was disheartening. I’ve acquired Hornaday WMR, and hope for better results.
        Meanwhile, I purchased a Rock Island .22 TCM, and found it both reliable, and a delight to shoot. The downsides are that it is a full sized double stack pistol, and the heavy muzzle blast can frighten people in adjacent firing lanes.

    7. Off-duty, I prefer my Springfield XDs, with Cor-Bon DPX 185-grain loads. Light, and has the perceived recoil of a G26. What I like about it is 1) grip safety; 2) loaded chamber indicator; 3) very light and unobtrusive.

    8. Nothing has the knock down performance of a 1911 , 9mm and they are still coming for you.
      A full size 1911 is the best for accuracy .
      I live in New York on Long Island and that Fascist Governor Evil eyes Couomo has tried to enforce his illegal Safe Act.
      Nothing stops a bad guy with a gun ,like a good guy with a gun.

      1. Gregg, you nailed, dead center, why one should not carry a 9mm or smaller for self defense. Calibers beginning in the .40 range are best with the .45 cal ACP being just what the doctor ordered. Not long ago, the troops in Afghanistan began trading in their 9mm Barettas for the trusted 1911, why ?? Because multiple rounds fired from a 9mm or smaller bore hand gun, into a half crazed individual does nothing but piss off the combatant and they keep charging you, this is the exact reason why the Marines in the Phillipine Is. 100 years ago needed a major upgrade in pistol calibers to stop drug crazed individuals from overrunning their lines. The M1a 1911 .45 cal ACP semi-auto pistol quickly emerged as the favored weapon of choice for CQB, because just one round fired from a .45 cal hand gun usually/normally did the trick (Big hole going in..Bigger hole on exit). The 9mm took 3 or more rounds to stop n’ drop a determined combatant…1911’s were prized side arms in WW-II for just that one reason, the German soldier also knew this & prized the power and advantage of a .45 cal hand gun over their 9mm’s, they would sometimes pick up 1911’s on the battle field and use them. I’m ex military & 75 years old and I chose to carry a 1911 for self defense, the weapon affords me a distinct feeling of self confidence and a peace of mind than any 9mm, or .38 pistol can ever do.

        1. No offense, Tim, but that is foolish thinking.

          You carry and shoot what you are comfortable with. Proper placement of rounds stops the bad guys better than the caliber of the weapon fired. That is a fact. Some reading for you:
          http://shootingthebull.net/blog/does-caliber-even-matter/
          http://www.ammoland.com/2015/01/handgun-caliber-doesnt-matter/#axzz3dKqMft3u

          And for those people who are hyped up on drugs, going up a size may or may not make any difference. Bringing up an example over 100 years ago, when there were no computer models, possible unusual powder loads in the ammo does not prove anything today. And the results of the round I found from the Generals in theater didn’t do much to back up the difference:
          “Another account of Moro determination:

          …he was finally felled by a .45 slug through both ears… He had thirty-two Krag balls through him and was only stopped by the Colt .45 – the thirty-third bullet.”
          Oddly enough, it was in the head. Pretty sure any bullet would drop anyone delivered to their head. The .45 left a bigger hole.

          In short, practice with your chosen caliber weapon, make sure you are as accurate as possible. If you prefer the .45, then go with it. But just choosing based off of “stopping power” is pretty dumb.

    9. I carry a Taurus 840C. .40 S&W. I know the .40 is what the LEOs carry, so I got it as my EDC. It is light and comfortable. I know the purists won’t touch a Taurus but with the price and lifetime warranty I don’t think I could go wrong. I’ve put 1000+ rounds through it without no malfunctions whatsoever. I have now purchased the TCP738 as a backup and I like shooting that as much as my .40.

    10. I carry a J Frame in 38 Special +P. I used to carry a full size S&W M&P.40, but I switched to a revolver for the dependability. While some may criticize the lack of capacity, I go with the theory of most shootings are three shots, inside three yards, in three seconds. I don’t personally imagine I will be getting in any protracted, long range firefights, and I feel like the ability to stick the gun in a baddies gut and pull the trigger without worrying about cycling issues is more important then having a magazine with 12 extra rounds in it after the situation is handled. Besides, I carry 10 extra rounds in a couple of speed strips in a pouch on my belt. The only thing I am a little unhappy with is the slightly anemic 38 Special round, and will probably bump it up to a 357 Mag J Frame (or one of those ugly Chiappa Rhinos) once the funds become available.
      And by the way, just to do my part to dispel the myth that young people aren’t interested in revolvers anymore, I’m 28.

    11. Sorry, but the Glock model 21 in 45 ACP puts the 1911 to shame. No safety to mess around with, more reliable than the 1911 (the truth hurts) and many more rounds in the magazine. Plus far less parts and much easier to field strip and reassemble. The 1911 was great; back in 1911……….

      1. Shame on you Clark for your dig on the trusty 1911. Back during my service days, late sixties to early seventies, I couldn’t stand my 1911. We complained that we were lugging around an anvil. But later in life, after many different pistols, I’ve come to appreciate the 1911. I’m one of those guys who can’t adjust to the Glock, it doesn’t fit right in my hand and doesn’t point right either. I’m sure that is just me. Too bad for me because every model that Glock has put out, it just so happens to be one of the most reliable pistols out there.

    12. I have owned and carried various pistols in the 1911 format for close to 40 years, 20 of those years as a law enforcement officer. They are always “cocked and locked ” and Not Once in all those years has any of them gone BANG unless I pulled the trigger. John Browning designed it to be carried “cocked and unlocked ” but the powers that were in the military at that time objected. If you’re not comfortable carrying the pistol this way, find a different format or practice to get some experience. Fumbling to rack the slide or pulling the hammer back is much more likely to cause a negligent discharge than would carrying the pistol as designed, and the added time involved might just get you killed when in a self-defense situation. Back in the ’70s when my department was transitioning from revolvers to semi-autos, a concerned little old lady approached my partner while we were at lunch: “Excuse me, officer, but do you know your gun is cocked?” “Yes, ma’am, I’m aware of that.” he relied. “But isn’t that dangerous?” she asked. His reply: “Yes, ma’am. It’s supposed to be!” The only true “safety” on any firearm is the connection between one’s brain and trigger finger. Familiarity with one’s firearm comes in a close second.

      1. Good comment. I would have been impressed that the little old lady recognized the pistol was cocked. One thing too, most people are not aware of the multiple safeties built into the 1911. Furthermore, the best safety feature is the one built in between one’s ears, the one safety feature that is first taught when handling firearms.

    13. Don: My experience has been the opposite. The 1911 does not point or feel right for me. Plus I am a fan of a ‘yank and crank’ handgun (read: revolver or semi auto with a Glock type trigger with no manual safety/decocker). Under a stressful situation the KISS principle is paramount. And you won’t find a more stressful situation than defending yourself with a handgun.

    14. Please no bashing,but my ccw weapon is a Taurus PT 1911 SS. Today I put #1200, 230 gr FMJ through it. Now some of you won’t believe this, but I have not had the first FTF, or FTE, in my Taurus. I’d say thats pretty damn reliable. Oh by the way, it behaves the same way when fed JHP’s also.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *