Coonan 45 ACP , the Next Generation 1911 Pistol

Is the Coonan 45 ACP 1911 pistol a real innovation of the classic 1911 pistol? Mike thinks so…

Coonan 45 ACP
Coonan 45 ACP

USA –  -( Coonan  ( firearms became famous for two very different firearms: Their FAL receivers and their 357 Magnum semiauto pistol.

Recently they rolled out a 1911 variant in 45 ACP that may represent the most significant design changes to a factory pistol since the Series 80 firing pin safety.

A Little Coonan Arms History

Dan Coonan designed a 1911 style handgun to chamber the 357 Magnum round while he was still a college student in the 1970s. The Coonan 357 enjoyed an almost two decade run, until the company producing it went out of business in 1998.

The 1990s were a tough decade for firearms enthusiasts and with advances in ammunition engineering and firearms manufacturing, the idea of a semiautomatic pistol chambered in 357 Magnum was relegated to range toy status by many shooters.

Coonan reintroduced the 357 Classic pistol in 2000 and they were kind enough to send us a test pistol for review a few years ago for another publication.

As impressed as we were with the Coonan Classic, we did mention to the powers that be, that they should start making a 1911 in 45 ACP as the improvements that Coonan made to the design were that good.

Coonan 45 ACP – The Pistol

Coonan 45 ACP and Magazines
Coonan 45 ACP Case and Magazines

At SHOT 2016, we got to see a few prototypes and could not wait to get a finished pistol on the range. It took 9 months, but we grabbed one of the first of these beauties to roll off the line.

The Coonan 45 ACP 1911 is based not so much based on the original 1911, but rather as a 45 ACP version of the Coonan Classic in 357 Magnum but most parts will interchange with the legacy 1911.

It does borrow a few notes from John Browning’s later design, the Browning Hi-Power by utilizing a link-less barrel and a pivoting type of trigger. The extractor is external and while purists of the 1911 may howl at that one, it really is superior to the original.

Also, the dust cover runs the full length of the slide. This makes for a very impressive looking pistol.

Coonan 45 ACP – The good

Fit and finish was stellar, with a stainless steel slide and frame. Grips and flat mainspring housing were an attractive reddish G-10 that fit the hand well.

Sights are three-dot fiber optic, the profile of the rear resembles a Novak cut and if you want to go with tritium sights or something else, they should swap out with little to no fitting. We have grown fond of these sights for shooting outdoors as well as at night time when a hand held or weapon mounted light really lights them up. In the day time the sun does an excellent job of lighting them up for fast target acquisition.

The full length dust cover is a stroke of genius in that its weight soaks up much of the pistol’s recoil. It really adds to the good looks of this pistol.

Coonan 45 ACP Trigger
Coonan 45 ACP’s Trigger
Coonan 45 ACP Barrel
Coonan 45 ACP Barrel

Shooting the Coonan 45 felt more like shooting a Hi-Power chambered in 45 ACP as opposed to a 1911. It broke at 4.5 pounds and had an amazingly short reset.

Using Freedom Munitions 230 grain FMJ we averaged 1.75” groups at 25 feet with all rounds touching in a tight group.

Coonan 45 ACP – The Bad

While we are fans of the full length dust cover, it does add a bit of weight to the pistol and can make finding a holster somewhat problematic. Our only other criticism is that while it may be a winner in the looks department and aid in recoil reduction, it has no provision for mounting a weapon light.

The link-less barrel worked fine, but we imagine finding a suitable threaded aftermarket barrel will be an expensive proposition. The same could be said for the external extractor, yet in our experience we have never had to replace one of those on any of our 1911s that use them.

If you want a holster, at this point in time you will need to go the custom route. We have a nice collection of factory and custom 1911 holsters from over three decades of shooting this pistol amd always owning at least five and none of our holsters would fit.

Coonan 45 ACP Field Stripped
Coonan 45 ACP Field Stripped

Coonan Arms 45 ACP – The Reality

All in all, we found this to be a mild shooting 1911 with tremendous accuracy potential. We passed it around to some bonafide 1911-haters at the range, but every one of them said some form of, “I don’t usually like 1911s, but I like this one.”

Some firearms are classics and the testament to that is to see how long they last in their final form. Even if they evolve or influence later models, if there is still a demand for them as they were made 100 years ago, the design has to be a winner.

Coonan took a classic design and really improved upon it in some ways that are significant beyond better materials, metallurgy or manufacturing.

Hopefully they will continue to push the envelope and we could see a 7” long slide with full length dust cover, threaded barrels and most importantly rails.

For additional information on the Coonan .45 ACP 1911 Pistol, please visit

Coonan .45 ACP 1911 Pistol

  • Caliber: .45 ACP
  • Barrel Length: 5.0″ (4340 Carbon Steel W/Hard Chrome Plate)
  • Construction: 17-4 PH Stainless Steel
  • Overall Length: 8.4 Inches
  • Height: 5.3”
  • Width: 1.3”
  • Weight: 40.0oz empty/ 45.2oz Loaded
  • Trigger: Pivoting; 4-4.5lb, pull
  • Magazine Capacity: 7 Rounds
  • Sights: Novak Style Rear, Blade Front
  • MSRP: $ 1,375.00
Coonan 45 ACP Mainspring Housing
Coonan 45 ACP Mainspring Housing
Coonan 45 ACP Pistol
Coonan 45 ACP Pistol

Learn more at

About Mike Searson

Mike Searson’s career as a shooter began as a Marine Rifleman at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire adult life as a Gunsmith, Ballistician, Consultant, Salesman, Author and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1989.

Mike has written over 2000 articles for a number of magazines, websites and newsletters including Blade, RECOIL, OFF-GRID, Tactical Officer, SWAT, Tactical World, Gun Digest, and the US Concealed Carry Association as well as AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.

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this company has screwed over a bunch of customers and went dark in 2018, the site for them is down, expired in 2018, no social media updates since 2018 and here is a dealer that documented all the things about it

Last edited 7 days ago by BaerArms
Henry Bowman

It musta been a really slow day at the Ammoland editorial office…


Meh. The 1911 is a fine pistol for what it is. I’ve evolved past it, and my favorite currently is the Walther PPQ in .45, but I wouldn’t feel disarmed by carrying the beloved 1911A1.

Paul Matzen

Just got my new coonan 45 ! Already put 50 rounds through
And have Decided it’s my most accurate pistol love it a lot
Also have the coonan 357 mag !


Ammoland doing their part by recycling!

Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH

I always wondered what a High Power would look like when beefed up from 9mm to 45ACP?
I guess this is as close as I’ll ever find out.
I’ll need to save my pennies.

Cowboy Jim

I purchased 357 Classic from Bill’s Gun Shop in Circle Pines. I’ve got their lowest priced model. ( more budget friendly) Shawn was very helpful with the purchase.
Right out of the box (after oiling it (they’re shipped dry) it shot amazingly well. Accurate? Oh,yes. Reliability? Top notch! In a 1,000+ rounds no problems. I enjoy the”ring of fire). A terrific well built gun.
Negatives? 1 mag.oh well.
Recommend? Highly! Bill’s Gun Shop? Extremely high!!
I’m also going to be purchasing again through Bill’s Gun Shop.

jack traughber

love my Coonan.

walter green

Would like too hold one but dealer is so far to bad .

Donald Munro

I am ready to win one of these firearms thank you

Glen Healey

At that price it should have ambi controls for us lefty’s


Look at STI, ParaOrd, Caspian, etc., for double stack 1911s.
Also, SIG has some “modernIzed” SAOs that are very similar to 1911s.

Roy F. Wilt

You will not have a Improvement in the 1911 until some one modifies it to a Double stack! Do That and I’ll buy one again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Pretty sure Para Ordinance makes a double stack 1911….


And has for going on 35 years…


This and the other gun companies make good stuff–but a WWI 1911 that is beat and used will still keep them all in a 7-inch circle at 20-yards if we do our part. We do have fun reinventing expensive (Kimber) 1911s and reinventing the wheel. I am not complaining, just saying…


Well, if they’re anything like their FAL receivers, which have had horrible quality control recently, then I’ll pass. They’re been told by many people that the FAL receivers are having bolt over base issues, mag wells not machined right, ect and they blow those people off. Sadly there aren’t many options for FAL parts these days and even fewer options for receivers so I guess they can get away with screwing over customers.


just dont send your kit to Arizona Response Systems… you should be fine…

EVERYONE else seems to have no problem building guns up with the coonan receivers.

i mean, good god, they have thousands of receivers out there…


I prefer to build my own, though I’ll use ARS for a build where I have to have the gas block replaced since they are one of the best places to have a FAL built. It seems that there’s a large number of people who’ve been having issues with the latest Coonan receivers, improper machining of the mag well isn’t something people just blow off. There’s a very long thread on the FAL Files with people listing issues they’re having with Coonan receivers. Though the only issues I’ve had have been unfinished threading for where the screw goes to hold… Read more »


Dust cover ? Is he talking about the slide ?

jeffrey melton

No my friend , the dust cover is that portion of the frame under the barrel.


Coonan has a great reputation and their hardware commands premium prices. What bothers me (I’m a picky F’er) is paying a premium price for a new firearm and seeing things
like the pock marks in the metal of the trigger guard (right side near the top). I feel for premium prices each piece should be looked over and things like this fixed.


in a company the size of Coonan Inc. ALL “production quality” pistols go out to the large number of pre-sale customers.. they are first in line… Journalists OFTEN receive pistols that, while perfectly functioning, have “blems” that are bot going to be sent out to customers…

now a behemoth like colt or someone similar, can set aside 25 or 50 perfect examples of their pistols to be used for T and E. Just not the case for the little guys.