In a lot of ways, the 1911 is a terrible carry gun. It’s not the gun for newbies or casuals and frankly is outclassed by a lot of other pistols in almost every single respect.
However, the pistol is not entirely without virtues…IF, that is, you’re willing to put up with the shortcomings. If it’s what you had to work with, you could do a lot worse.
How so? Here are 7 reasons a 1911 is actually not so terrible a choice of a carry gun.
1911 Parts Availability
You can replace literally every single part in your gun if you need to. You can wear out every single part in the gun and rebuild it from the ground up. Pistols with the same level of support are few and far between.
Think of it like this: an SBC is not the best choice of engine in the modern era. (For the low and initiated, that’s a Chevy 350 V8.) But if that’s what’s in your car or truck, you’ll always be able to get parts, and you’ll be able to pass everything on the road.
Just not a gas station.
1911 Magazines Are In Basically Every Gun Store
On a related note, only a few pistols have magazines in every gun store. Glocks, Sig P320s, S&W M&Ps…and 1911s.
If you needed to replace one or just get one or two more to have on hand…you don’t need to wait on the mail. You can just go buy ’em. Most stores have both .45 ACP and 9mm magazines on hand.
Say whatever you want about the gun as a platform or whatever; that kind of parts and magazine availability is nothing to sneer at.
You Don’t Have To Carry The Full-Size Gun, Dummy
The Gov’t frame is a pain, but Commander (4.25-inch barrel) and Officer (3.5-inch barrel) frame sizes are much easier to live with, as are the CCO (Commander slide/barrel, Officer frame) pistols.
If you opt for the lightweight frame models (which have an aluminum or alloy frame) unloaded weight can be as light as 28 oz, in some cases. Are they as light as a Glock 19? As short as an M&P Shield?
No, but they’re much easier to live with than the 5-inch gun. In fact, a lightweight CCO is only slightly larger than a Glock 19 in overall dimensions.
It Meets Magazine Restrictions
A few states in the union have restrictions on the number of bullets that can go in a magazine. If the restriction is, say, 10 rounds or less…1911 pistols meet that requirement.
Granted, so do plenty of others, but if you’re in a restricted capacity jurisdiction, you’ll never have to worry about running afoul of the magazine restriction.
You’ll Never Lack For Holsters
Another upside is the wealth of 1911 holsters on the market. Hybrid, kydex, leather, whatever you want. IWB, OWB, drop leg, duty rigs…they’re all out there. You’ll never lack for gear.
Trying to find a decent holster for a more exotic pistol, even one from a relatively popular maker, can become something of a scavenger hunt. (Try finding a CZ 75 Compact holster, for instance. They’re out there, but good examples are few and far between.) A Gov’t or Commander frame? No sweat.
The 1911 Has More Built-In Safety Than Any Other Pistol
The 1911 pistol has two positive safety devices that must be deactivated to fire the gun. If the pistol is a Series 80 design – meaning it has a firing pin block – that brings the total to two active and one passive safety device.
In engineering, that’s called a “redundancy,” which is a good thing when it comes to safety equipment.
If you’re concerned about tiny humans, having a pistol with more than one safety device adds one more layer of security.
That isn’t to say that, say, a Glock or a revolver can’t be safely stored away from children. It IS to say that if you wanted the greatest number of safety devices involved, you can’t get more than Old Slabsides.
The Bad Old Days Of 1911 Pistols Are Over…Mostly
In the 70s and 80s, you could either get a custom gun like a Swenson, Clark or Pachmayr pistol or buy a Colt and send it off to a gunsmith for tuning. Either way, it was expensive.
While getting a higher-end gun is probably the best idea, the truth is that plenty of factory guns at relatively attainable price points are as reliable as anything else on the market when cared for.
When the army tested the original gun in 1910, they fired 6,000 rounds over two days, pausing only to dunk it in water when it got hot and without cleaning it. There were no malfunctions.
When it’s made right, the 1911 pistol is a warhorse even if an outdated one. Granted, you do have to put in some time to find out what brands/models are made correctly, but if you do…it can pay dividends.