Are Beauty and the Beast different creatures? Smith & Wesson has one of the most attractive 9mm 1911s on the market today and it is the SW1911 9mm Pro. The Pro is a full-size 1911 built with a stainless steel slide, frame and barrel, with a matte silver finish. As you can see from the above picture, the slide features modern sculptured sides, which not only provide a distinctive look but reduce weight, and the RoCo wood grips are beautiful and also feel great. Yes, I discovered you can indeed partially “judge a book by its cover.” While not the most important variable by far, classy appearance is a criterion for me, albeit #10 on my top 10 criteria (which are below.) I was impressed with its eye-catching appearance, but what about its reliability, trigger press, balance, fit and finish, ergonomics, accuracy, etc.
While some think a 1911 must be only chambered in .45 caliber or else it is blasphemy, I like them in 9mm IF it functions very well without feeding and extraction problems and being finicky with ammo and magazines. Some 1911s in 9 mm have feeding and extraction problems. For me, I think a 9mm 1911 is fine for consideration for improved accuracy in competition shooting with less felt recoil, as well as being cost-effective and viable for range and perhaps home defense purposes. But, it must be reliable and accurate, without having to spend a lot of bucks for adding or upgrading sights, triggers, match-grade barrels, magazines, mag well, etc. Certainly, 9mm ammo is less costly than .45 ammo and this translates into more critical practice time. Today’s improved 9mm cartridges (especially hollow points and +P) with their increased velocities and muzzle energies, penetration, and expansion properties make them effective for most situations. Given our present ammo limitations and the high-cost differential between 9 mm and .45 and .40 caliber ammo, I just want to go to the range and plink frequently, comfortably, accurately, and have fun at a reasonable cost. I don’t want to worry about malfunctions, stoppages, jams, feeding issues, mag compatibility, and reliability issues. I have plenty of guns, but really like a 1911 for its comfortable grip with less movement for better accuracy. So, is the SW 1911 Pro 9 mm a viable option? Will it live up to all my expectations? Well, I shot it and studied it, and want to offer my opinions. First though, here are the SW 1911 Pro 9mm Specifications:
SW 1911 Pro Series 9 mm
|Action/Trigger||Single Action; 4 – 5.5 # Press|
|Weight (Unloaded)||41 oz|
|Magazine Capacity/Number||10+1; 2 included|
|Sights||Rear- Fully AdjustableFront- Black Dovetail|
|Frame/Finish||Stainless Steel; Matt Silver|
|Other||Extended Magwell; 30 LPI front-strap Checkering; Precision Crowned Muzzle;Full-Length Guide Rod|
Below are the criteria that I considered when I examined, analyzed, shot, and reviewed the SW1911 Pro. The top two criteria are most important to me and I considered the Pro primarily for IDPA, fun range plinking, and as a home defense backup gun, not for concealed carry or other uses. Just for your information, “Pro Series” means that the parts that make up this 9mm 1911 come from the S&WPerformanceCenter and the well-known S&W Custom Shop. Assembly is done in the production facility and with the custom features results in an upgraded, better-than-production-quality (entry custom) gun at a moderate production quality price. The MSRP is $1609. for model #178047 with adjustable sights.
Criteria and Considerations
Below are My 10 Criteria for evaluating the 1911 handgun for my purposes. My process is to assign a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my 10 criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria or desires and subtract any of mine. Here are mine:
1. Accuracy and Reliability – Performs well consistently without reoccurring malfunctions, stoppages, and feeding or extraction problems, which results in accurate target hits with a maximum of a 4″ inch hit group and is dependable;
2. Trigger Press maximum of about 5.0 pounds (for single-action)- lessens force applied for less movement & better accuracy- and press that is crisp and identifiable;
3. Trigger with short travel distance (a short travel distance increases the speed the trigger can be fired) and easily identifiable and short reset point; Trigger with consistent press for every shot (less need to transition between presses & make adjustments);
4. Barrel length of about 5.0″ (a longer barrel lessens felt recoil, means higher muzzle velocity & means more distance between the sights (sight radius) which enhances accuracy);
5. Sights that are basic & simple (easy to use & see; fast target acquisition; for my purposes- adjustable for windage and elevation- for Range Targets & IDPA);
6. Proper Gun Weight to minimize recoil (I prefer 30 oz minimum for IDPA, Range use, & home defense); Larger, heavier pistols tend to be more accurate GENERALLY than smaller ones, due to their fit in the hand, their reduced recoil (the weight of the gun tends to absorb more recoil & reduce muzzle flip) and stability); the weight of one pistol can cause fatigue faster than another (different for every shooter) & once fatigued, accuracy can suffer;
7. Caliber match to your needs, characteristics & abilities (consider medical & physical limitations); 9mm is my preference;
8. Capacity of at least 9 in a 9mm magazine, but prefer 10 rounds in mag (quality mag without feeding issues);
9. Ergonomics – Hand Comfort and Fit, controls easy to work and easily accessible; and
10. Miscellaneous – Finish, Tight Fit, & Appearance; Extras (like magwell, checkered front strap, hand-polished feedramp, full-length guide rod, wood and/or good grips, company representatives friendly, helpful, & good service); Ease of Disassembly-Assembly; etc.
Up close I was impressed with the Pro’s smooth and classy silver finish and, unlike some of the other 9 mm 1911s out there, there was not a rattle or clank when I shook it. It appeared to have tight tolerances and a great fit, but I had to shoot it before any conclusions. The RoCo wood grips are beautiful and function well for me. They have a palm swell that fills the hand nicely and the texture allows for a very secure grip, even with my medium-sized sweaty hands. With the RoCo grips, the checkering on the front strap and main spring housing, I had no trouble keeping a secure grip while drawing from my Galco holster, shooting, moving, and reloading. I really like that S&W shrunk the size of their name and logo on the left side of the slide and included the words Pro Series in cursive on the right. Elegant and not flashy and too big, like some others.
Some claim that an external extractor helps with smoother and more efficient extractions and quicker ejections. The Pro has an external extractor with a big claw for pulling spent cases from the chamber and ejecting them out of the lowered and flared ejection port. So again, let me shoot it to decide for myself.
The SW1911 Pro’s frame has many of the features that are normally seen only on custom-built pistols. Metal has been removed from under the trigger guard so you can get a high grip on the pistol and the frontstrap and mainspring housing both feature 30 lines-per-inch checkering. For me, the frontstrap stippling is a nice plus, since it’s aggressive enough for a positive purchase, but not so rough that it hurts your hand. These contribute to the Pro’s excellent feel and handling. It comes standard with a full-length guide rod for increased reliability while its five-inch, match-grade barrel (fully ramped) has a precision-crowned muzzle for optimum accuracy. It does have a hand-polished integral feed ramp.
It has ambidextrous thumb safeties, extended slide release, magazine release button and a beavertail grip safety with a palm swell. These enhance its ergonomics and reloading speed. The beavertail palm swell improves the grip for recoil control and fast follow-up shots. The Pro has a nice, moderately-sized extended magazine well that helps funnel in the included two Wilson 10-round magazines quickly and smoothly. I can notice the difference significantly when shooting a 1911 that does not have the extended magwell. I love it. The magwell and Main Spring Housing are steel. The firing pin safety is like a blend of the Colt and Kimber-style safeties and is operated by the grip safety, like the Kimbers. I had no problems with it on the Pro.
One minor observation (that I hesitate to even mention for fear of planting an erroneous seed of concern for you) was that the trigger seemed just a little loose, but pressing it without ammo loaded did not affect the trigger press any at all and it was clean and crisp. I was anxious to see if I noticed this or any effects when I shot it at the range.
After shooting and observing the SW 1911 Pro in 9mm, here’s my report. I shot it on 2 different days, with the first session shooting 100 rounds and the second session another 100 rounds. First, I want to say that what follows are just my opinions and observations. While it met and exceeded ALL of my above Criteria, you must try it for yourself. Without any doubt, it was THE smoothest and fun shooting 1911 9mm handgun I have shot, including the several I own and others I have reviewed. It is a great handgun for IDPA ESP Division competition and certainly fun plinking, even as a home defense backup.
1. The accuracy of the Pro-9mm was excellent and effortless for me at medium distances of 7, 15, and 20 yards. Despite my less than average eyesight and average marksmanship, this senior guy was able to shoot decent groups, with the gun doing a lot of the work. I did not have to adjust the rear sight at all, out of the box. All of my groups of about 10-15 shots at each of the various distances were about 3 inches or so (with a few fliers at 20 yards) right “out of the box” drawing from my Galco holster. My close-up hits at 7 yards made a ragged 2.5″ hole, using my Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, and shooting mostly various 115 grain FMJ, 124 grain FMJ, and quality reloads. For better comparison to my other 1911 reviews, I did not shoot hollow points. The trigger was not a problem whatsoever and functioned perfectly. Certainly not great marksmanship by me, but it was really enjoyable and fun to shoot the 1911 Pro. I just couldn’t believe how easy it was to make the hits, the press was short, soft, and crisp, and the recoil was very minimal for this average shooter. It seemed I just had to hold the gun and let it do its thing. Great fun!
Given my past experiences and my knowledge of 1911 9mms and extraction and feeding problems due to their short catridges, I was certainly impressed with the Pro’s reliability. I experienced no malfunctions, stoppages, feeding problems, extraction nor ejection issues, with various ammo brands, bullet weights, and magazines. I used the 2 included Wilson Combat 10-round mags, my 2 Tripp Research Cobra 10-round mags, and my 2 Wilson ETM 10-round mags without any problem. This 1911 Pro 9 mm was not at all finicky and digested every ammo brand and even all reloads smoothly. I used Blazer Brass, Federal, Winchester White Box, Aguila, and quality reloads in 115 and 124 grain FMJ. It did not jam with the heavier 124 grain ammo and liked Federal American Eagle 124 grain. I may use a lighter recoil spring (#14) later for reload reliability, just as a preventative, but no problems with the factory spring. I did concentrate on controlling limp wristing, not riding the slide, and on a steady, firm grip with a locked wrist. It was almost too good to be true, given my previous 1911 9mm gun experiences. The Wilson mags worked really nice and probably were a significant performance factor. I may buy some less expensive Metalform 9-rounder mags with the metal follower, again just in case. But, the polymer followers did fine and are acceptable. Another significant factor is that I always thoroughly clean and lubricate new guns before shooting them. Accuracy and Reliability were BOTH excellent with this gun… 10.
2. The trigger press out of the box averaged about 4.6 pounds without modification for the SW1911 Pro 9mm, with 6 readings with my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. It was not broke in yet after only firing 200 rounds. For comparison, my other (broke-in) single-actions Sig 1911 Match Elite .45 has a 5.1 pound press; my Kimber 1911 Combat Custom .45 has a 4.8 press; my Taurus 9mm 1911 has a 4.5 (modified) press; and my Colt XSE .45 has a 4.5 press. All of these are close to my desired range of 5 pounds and under for a single-action trigger. My previous review of the Springfield Range Officer in 9mm showed the hardest and longest press of 6.1 pounds… 9.
3. The single-action trigger was crisp, smooth and excellent, with no creep, with a short travel distance and short reset, so I could get off quick follow-up shots easily. The reset was very definite and identifiable.The single-action trigger was very good and consistent shooting with pretty much the same press each time. I really enjoyed pressing it… 10.
4. The 5-inch barrel helped to provide stability and to reduce recoil. This was very noticeable and I had no problem at all with the recoil and it helped my accuracy. The long sight radius helped. The barrel was match grade quality… 10.
5. The rear adjustable sights were fully adjustable, easy to dial in and worked fine. The black rear sights were easy to use and different than focusing on the front sight with my usual 3 white dots. I did have to work at it, since I have not regularly used all black sights before. The plain black rear sight did help my visual focus speed since there are no distractions at the rear sight and this helps to drive my attention to the front sight. I did like the black rear sight and it was very wide and the front black dovetail sight is narrow, which make for a good combination for speed and accuracy. However, I was not accustomed to this Black/Black sight picture, but got use to not having to use the dots. Some like the white dot or fiber optic (FO) front sight and the black rear sight. I think this would be my preference for this type of gun and its purpose, so I would probably add a FO front, to speedup my front sight access. I might put a Dawson .100″ wide fiber optic front sight on later… 9.
6. The stainless steel Pro weighed 41 ounces and was a nice heavy gun with a long sight radius, so there was much less felt recoil and more stability than smaller and lighter-weight guns, as expected… 10.
7. The SW1911 Pro in 9mm caliber was a joy to shoot and I barely noticed the recoil because it was so light and I could hardly feel it. Of course, shooting the 9mm ammo was much less expensive and more readily available than my .45 caliber 1911s… 10.
8. I liked the 10+1 capacity of the Pro 9mm and it was better than other 1911 9mms with 8 and 9 rounds or the 7+1 of my .45s… 10.
9. The ergonomics of the SW1911 Pro 9 mm were excellent and I was easily able to easily and comfortably reach all controls like the thumb safety, slide lever, and magazine release. It felt like it was custom-made for my medium-sized hands, like most 1911s. I had no slide nor hammer bites and it felt very good to hold it. The grip safety was natural and comfortable to use. The slide-to-frame fit was near perfect when racking the slide back and forth with hardly any binding. It was really smooth as butter… 10.
10. I easily disassembled and re-assembled it before I shot it. The hard plastic case included 2 mags, a nice barrel bushing wrench, a lock, bore flag, manual, and fired casing dated 3 weeks ago. The gun looks excellent and I liked the classy silver matte finish so much better than the visually-inferior parkerized black finish. It should wear better than the parkerized finish also. I want to stress that Smith and Wesson did NOT pay me for this review, nor did they pay for my ammo, nor give me a discount for purchase. This review represents my sincere objective evaluation of the gun. I actually purchased the gun because of its fine performance, accuracy and reliability reputation. In fact, I want to disclose that I paid market price for the gun without any concessions. This is a high-quality accurate handgun and I had to add it to my arsenal… 10.
Total Points = 98 out of 100 Possible. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this Smith and Wesson 1911 Pro Series 9 mm pistol, especially for fun plinking and competitive shooting. It would also make a nice home-defense handgun or backup there. As always, these are just my opinions and you should try it for yourself.
I hope this review of the Smith and Wesson 1911 Pro Series 9 mm has helped you gain some information for YOUR decision. Consider that this is just my point of view with limited live-range fire and using only 200 rounds of available ammo. I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, and what’s important to you ahead of your range live-fire time. Then critically evaluate the gun YOURSELF per your criteria and purpose, with various ammo types and brands, different magazines, over an extended break-in period of about 500 rounds.