Why I don't like 1911 handguns

by Erik  

I'll be one of a few who says I don't like the 1911 platform. There are many (probably millions) of 1911 fans out there. I'm not saying that a 1911 is not a good gun. I am saying that I don't like it and here are my reasons:

  • Design/materials
  • Safety/Action
  • Magazine capacity

My dislike of the design and materials is simply based on the fact that technology has evolved. We can produce guns from materials other than steel. The all steel construction of a 1911 results in a heavy gun. due to the steel on steel design, the 1911 starts to "drag" after the carbon from spent rounds builds along the slide and frame. The same problem exists with polymer frame guns. However, the polymer's natural property allows the slide to move freely even with the extra friction added by the carbon.

Also, compare the break down process of a 1911 against any modern pistol design like a Glock, Sig Sauer, or Springfield. There is no comparison. I could strip, clean, and reassemble all 3 of those guns in the time it takes to do a single 1911.

The design of the 1911 was considered a marvel at the time... in the year 1911. Today, we have many modern manufacturing techniques using EDM, MIM, and CNC. Such techniques yield modern designs which are easy to manufacture, use modern materials, and are cheaper than using skilled labor.

The safety on a 1911 overly complicated. Pick up any modern pistol and you will see the safety is either a safe action trigger (like a Glock or M&P) or simply a lever near the trigger or slide marked "S" or "F". In my opinion, a grip safety is a liability. If you ever need to grab the gun quickly or have an injured hand you may not to able to defeat the grip safety. A friend of mine received a call from his wife when she thought someone was breaking into their house. She asked him "how do you work the safety on your 1911."

Another problem is that fact that a 1911 is a single action gun. Meaning, you must cock the hammer before it can be fired. Modern designs fixed this by creating a double action/single action which eliminated the need for that. Is a single action gun bad? No, but why require an extra step?

Last, the magazine capacity sucks. 8 rounds for a full size gun? 1911 always respond saying it's a .45 and you shouldn't need more than 8 rounds. While I somewhat agree with that statement, I don't agree with a having only 8 rounds in a full size pistol, when the alternatives (Glock 21, FNP 45) hold 13 and 15 rounds.

I'm not saying the 1911 is dead. I'm not even saying it's not a good gun. I'm simply explaining the reasons why I don't like them. Now, there are some companies out there producing modernized versions of the 1911.

Also, as I stated before, the 1911 design does not work with modern mass manufacturing techniques. It requires skilled labor to produce and build. Therefore, they are produced in smaller numbers and cost more than a mass produced gun. Nighthawk Customs is among the best in the business at producing hand crafted 1911s. They also specialize in shotguns and other custom work, but are known best for their 1911 builds. Although, they come with a hefty price tag. Usually coming in around $3000-4000!

Another quality builder called STI International has also taken the 1911 platform and modernized it using double stack magazines to increase round capacity. They named their model accordingly as the 2011. They also produce models aimed towards competition use by adding custom springs, sights, and barrel lengths. Like the Nighthawk models, they come with a hefty price as well weighing in between $1300 and $3500.

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