1911 Buyer’s Guide Video

Hey guys, welcome to The Armory After Hours. It’s me Jeff, and today what I what to do is basically make a 1911 buyer’s guide for all you folks out there. In this guide, basically, what I want to talk about are the different kind of levels of quality and the different classifications and such for 1911 pistols. They’re very, very popular, the design is over a hundred years old and used by the military. I think some law enforcement, of course, civilians for both target shooting and self-defense.

With the popularity of the 1911, of course, there are tons of manufacturers out there and models and it just goes on and on and on. When someone’s shopping for a 1911, they might have a budget, let’s say it’s a $1,000. Well there might be dozens, I mean I don’t even know, even hundreds of different models in that price range from different manufacturers and some people can have some difficulty finding out which ones right for them.

Of course, I can’t have every single one here, so if I leave out your favorite brand or I don’t have it here, or I say this one’s a really good one and I didn’t mention your favorite 1911. It’s not because I biased against that brand, it’s just because I just don’t have it here to show. These are all just representations of the different 1911s out there.

Let’s get started with size, there’s three major sizes of 1911s. The Officer’s model, an Officer model typically has a 3 to 3 1/2 inch barrel and a little bit of a shorter grip. These are really popular for concealed carry.

There’s the Commander size, the Commander size is a little step up, it’s got a 4 or a 4 1/4 inch barrel and a slightly shorter grip than a full size.

Then we have the most common, which is the full-size or government model, this is a 5-inch barrel, full-size grip, and so on. Now, they’re what I love to call high breed sizes and that would be something like a Commander size slide with a full-size grip. It’s just kind of — You know you can call it a Commander, but it’s whatever. You can also get Double-Stack 1911s, the old Double-Stack high capacity mags.

When you’re out there shopping for your 1911, I’ll go in terms of budget from small to large. Typically what you’re going to have, starting here at the bottom which will be the cheapest, are going to be the import 1911s.

This is a TISAS ZIG it’s made it Turkey. The imported 1911s can often be produced at a much lower cost than it was made domestically and these aren’t typically bad 1911s, but you know they’re your budget 1911. This will allow you to get into the pistol without spending too much money and typically these are going to have very basic features. They might be like an original 1911 or like an A-1 model. Typically, what you have is this very low, low profile sites that are kind of hard to pick up for some people. They are definitely not, probably the most desirable sites for most people. You know very standard serrations. Now, in this particular one, it does have slightly lowered ejection port that helps in ejecting the rounds. It’s going to have very, very basic features.

Now, what you’re going to get for a 1911 like this is, you know there might be a little bit of play in the slide to frame. Once of the big factor for a 1911 determines its accuracy is the bushing and barrel fit. That’s this bushing here and how it fits with this barrel. Typically, if you can press down on your recoil spring-thing here and start rotating that bushing, just with your fingers alone, it’s not bad, not bad at all. That is not like a match gray, like a gunsmith type of thing where it’s no tool required. If you want a target, accurate, very, very accurate 1911, you’re going to want one that need to use a tool, a bushing tool to get this off the gun. If you don’t if you can get it off without that tool, by no means is it a bad 1911.

Now, this is super sloppy, like you can just freely just wobble that thing all around, then yes, you might have some accuracy issues but again, it’s not necessarily going to inaccurate, it’s just not going to be very accurate.

Sometimes your typical military style features does not have like an enlarged beavertail by any means. On this particular one, like when I pull the trigger the grip safety slaps my hand, so that’s just kind of, again, that’s not bad, it’s something you can work around. I know you can go in there and bend the springs and stuff, it’s just something we’ve noted. They can be a little rough sometimes, a very plan grips and so on a so forth, so this is going to be in like the three to $500 range usually, very, very bare bones.

Moving on up you might get into something like this Remington R1, which by the way, being a very basic 1911 is an awesome buy. When you move up in price like this, now you’re moving into the like I’d say five to $700 ranges. You’re going to have much better sites in this one, you have a nice three dot arrangement, very easy to use.

Another thing to note is on this cheaper one, the rear site is dovetailed, you know you can move that. The front site is staked. Now, you can have that dovetail, but it’s gun-smithing and it’s just an extra step.

This one is dovetailed in the front and rear, so you can easily swap these sites out for whatever you need. Typically on these types of guns, you can have a pretty good barrel and bushing fit. Yes, these ones pretty dang tight. That’s a nice a plus, you can see these grips are checkered, the double diamond, that’s a really nice feature. Every single one of these Remington’s we have in our store has had, what I consider an excellent trigger for the price you’re paying. A really nice finish, won’t come off super easy.

This is probably going to be an ideal pistol for someone who doesn’t want to get the cheapest thing, but they also don’t want to put a $1,000 into their 1911. This is probably going to be a great shooter, it’s going to function very well. Its tolerances aren’t so tight that you have to worry about functionality issues.

Yes, it’s not super custom and all that stuff, and if you want some of the nice features like your enhanced beaver-tail, a really nice target hammer, it’s got the nice trigger, this has A1 Short Trigger, you know things like that. That stuff you can upgrade in these pistols, but it’s not going to come with it.

Then, if you want to move up and you start looking at let’s say the seven, $700 to maybe like $1100 range, or maybe a little bit — Let’s make it a little bit wider, let’s say $700 to $1400 or something like that. Then you start getting into what I think is the most popular realm of the 1911, which is a 1911 that is fully featured, has a lot of modern features and it’s going to be considered highly an accurate pistol. It’s going to have some extra quality measures in it.

Here’s a 20/13 Colt Government model, and basically what you’re going to get these higher dollar 1911s is very nice finish, this is a really beautiful blued finish with polished slabs and more of matte on the top, that help with anti-glare. That’s why they do that, by the way. This one, of course, your front, and rear sites will be dovetailed. You have a front and rear cocking serrations. Even if you don’t like to press-check like that, or you never use these, some people do find them attractive, I do. I see it as functional and attractive.

A very nice Rosewood grips, you see you have your skeletonized hammer here, skeletonized trigger. It’s going to have a lowered and flared ejection port again that’s going to help in ejecting those front casings. The slide to frame fits is nice and tight, but one thing you do need to look out for is in this category is a lot of manufacturers making 1911s in this category. Something like this Colt here, you can buy with confidence knowing that it’s going to probably function for you, awesome, it’s going to always work. It’s going to really hold it’s resale value, especially Colts and Kimbres and stuff like that, more so the Colt.

Some of these manufacturers, they try to build a nicer 1911 that really what they have the tooling or knowledge and skill for. What I mean by that is, let’s say they want to make a 1911 on a 1200 budget range. They try and make is so tight or have so many features on it, they do something called stacking tolerances. Stacking tolerances in layman’s terms basically mean that you made the slide really, really tight on one side, but a little bit too loose on the other side, that’s going to run into functionality problems. It’s not going to be a reliable 1911m sometimes it can mess with your accuracy.

They’re plenty of 1911s out there that people buy that will have issues and problems from day one. Typically if you’re going to shop in this kind of price category, stick with a brand that has a very good reputations. These days, you know, companies don’t enter into the market and then instantly get a good reputation. You just don’t put any 1911 out there and say, pay $1200 for this, and people are like, okay. It’s kind of rare. Their reputation is built up over many, many years of all they feedback that they get from their customers.

Colt has been around for a very, very long time and they’ve definitely built that reputation. With a company like this, you know that if you have an issue, they’ll take care of it. Also, in here you’ll have like an Ambidextrous safety, usually that’s an option, you can get this with our without. Some people don’t like having Ambi-safety. Really nice, you have very tight barrel and bushing fit. Sometimes in this price range you’ll have guide rods that actually you have to take an Allen wrench to, to just get it apart.

Also in this category is going to be Kimbres and Kimbre’s can come with cool features like lightweight alloy frames for carry. This particular one has Crimson Trace laser grips, front and rear cocking serrations; it has blacked out serrated sites. Now, one thing to be wary of, now I’m not saying that this will cause problems and I’m definitely not hating on Kimbre, but the mainspring housing is made out of plastic as well to some other parts. I think, I’m not sure, I know the magazine always is. That’s something to be wary of, if you don’t, I’m not saying it’s bad but, if you don’t want those features, you might want to look into getting something else. These are definitely regarded as very nice pistols and attractive ones as well.

Oh, yes, Sigs. Sign falls in that category — Now, here’s something interesting to when you’re looking at buying your 1911, the traditional 1911 design, you can see there’s not extractor hanging off the side. Some 1911s will have an external extractor. This is a very debated topic. Some purist says, no, no, no, you need to have the internal extractor. Other guys say yes, the external extractor will make it more reliable. They’re easier to swap out, stuff like that. That is really up to the consumer to judge. Do you want an external extractor, do you not? Most modern pistols these days have an external extractor and I know that they all work just awesome. Very rarely will they have extraction issues. That’s just something, it’s up to the buyer if they want that feature or not.

That’s probably the most popular price range and category for 1911s for let’s move it up now. Let’s say you want something really nice. Maybe it’s an investment, maybe you want the utmost accuracy out of your pistol. You’re just looking for something really, really nice. You figure that if I want to buy a 1911, I want one of the best.

Let’s say this price range category go probably going to be $2000 and up. The only real representation of that I have here is this Les Baer SRP. There’s lots of 1911s that fit in this category, Les Baer, Ed Brown, Wilson Combat, stuff like that and these are custom pistols. Usually there’s some kind of insane waiting list, if you order these, a specific model.

You can find them at dealers though, but I think if you can’t find it at your dealer you have to order one and it takes quite a while. The Wilson Combats can take several years to get. These are 1911s that are built extremely tight. They’re all usually hand fitted, they have close tolerances and clearances. They are designed and engineered to get the most accuracy, without giving up reliability in this platform.

Just this Les Baer, it is, holy fuck, yes, it is tough even to pull this thing back. Like I’m not even — You can see this is the wear on here and this is not been racked tons and tons of times. This is completely normal by the way if you buy a Les Baer and see that, that’s normal. This will develop after just a few times of racking the slide. That is how tight the bushing and the barrel fit together. Sometimes, when you take this thing apart you have to knock on your barrel with a rubber mallet just to get it off the bushing.

These, sometimes they’ll make guarantees from the factory that these will shoot like a two inch group at like 50 yards, with a pistol. Stuff like that, any manufacturer can make two parts fit together really tight, so why do these costs so much money. Well, because these are hand fitted. There’s a guy, basically, fitting these parts together and making sure that not only do they fit really tight together, but it will still function.

If a guy doesn’t know what he’s doing, I’m going to pick on Remington. If a guy in Remington, who is not like a master 1911 gunsmith, and just takes an over-sized bushing and starts fitting it into the barrel, oh yes that’s super tight, I’ve got to out for the hammer, and just throws this thing together, it probably won’t function right. Because they’re other factors that will play into allowing this to function with that really, really tight fitting part.

These custom guns, they engineer these so they’ll work perfectly. When I first pull one of these back, I was like holy shit. I asked one of my customers who actually collects Les Baers, I’m like do these things have the most ridiculous break-in period? He says, no, they will run 100 per cent from day one. I’ve talked to Wilson Combat owners, Ed Brown owners and they’ll say the same thing. You’re going to pay for that kind of hand-fitted engineering.

Typically you can get these in styles and stuff, but typically you’re going to have a very, very carefully serrated front, front serrations here, on the slide, they’re going to usually have excellent finishes, excellent sites, everything you’re looking for in the flare, a real deep flare on that ejection port there. A very, very nice — This particular comes with a glass display case as well.

Now these aren’t in most people’s price range but, if you are looking for something absolutely awesome then you can get a nice custom pistol. I’ve seen a bunch of them, I think Les Baer is definitely up there. These actually in the world of all the custom 1911s out there, Les Baer actually don’t, they don’t really cost that much. Typically, they are right around 2000, they can get up to right around 2500, right around in there. They do have some that are less and some those are more, but for a pistol like this, that’s actually not too bad.

Last but not least, are going to be collectibles. These are, they’re not really, people don’t really buy these for the features per say, like the shootability part, they don’t buy them because how accurate they are, per say, this can vary obviously. In this category, you can be paying as low as a $1000, but you can go all the way up to tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars and these are going to be like this one. A hand engraved pistol, you guys have seen this in my other videos.

You’re going to see a World War II era, 1911s, I know that a 1911 produced by Singer, which was I think a sewing machine company, sewing machines or typewriters, either way. Those can go for insane money, 1911s that have some kind of special history with documentation, of course, to prove it, big, big money.

A 1911 that was owned by someone famous, say if you had Patten’s 1911 or something like that. Of course, it’s going to go for a huge money and these for collectors value. Now if you have reason for wanting something like that, or if you have something like that, then yes, this can go into a pretty insane price category. Now, when you are buying something like this, try to verify its authenticity. Anyone can walk up to you and say, this was General Patten’s 1911 you want to buy it, 100 grand. Yes, of course, get notarized documents, get everything you can, if it’s engraved like this, get some kind of certification from the guy who engraved it, bearing a serial number, and so on and so forth.

That’s about it you guys, I’m not the end all 1911 expert by any means. I have owned several, it’s a very enjoyable platform, it’s just iconic. If you’re an American, and you’re a gun owner, at some point you’ve got to have a 1911. I love Glocks, I love all this modern stuff, but you have to have a 1911, you just do. It’s just patriotic.

I’m sure I left out all kinds of stuff, this is just an insanely big topic, but this is just my first batch at it. I hope to do more videos like this. I want to do a top five, where I show you guys are at least talk about what I believe are the top five 1911s that you can buy currently. If I think of anything else to touch on this subject, I’ll be sure to add it.

The videos might slow down a little bit, I don’t know, I’ve been moving into my new house, and I’ve got lots and lots of work to do so hopefully I can stay at it, and I won’t be too busy to neglect you guys. Anyways, thanks for watching and you guys have a great day.