In our first ever edition of the new Make Up Your Mind Monday video series, I cover the basic arguments for and against using the 1911 as a defensive handgun in a market with a plethora of other options. Take a look and then cast your vote!

Is the 1911 still a relevant self-defense firearm?

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  • Jon Register

    I have a Colt Government model 1911 and I love it. It is a classic gun design that is proven and deserves to stick around this long. I recommend if someone is looking for a .45 ACP gun to look into a 1911.

    • LG Chris

      Just to play devil’s advocate, what if someone only had a budget of $600 or so? Would you suggest a low-end budget 1911, a different .45, or a different caliber/gun all together?

    • Jon Register

      LG Chris There are a wide range of 1911’s out there. Taurus makes a “budget” model and there is always finding a good used one. I am not saying a 1911 is for everyone… I have polymer guns as well and love them. I just think that most people overlook the 1911 when buying a gun. Choosing a gun is a personal choice and I recommend that when someone is purchasing one that they keep an open mind and not just go straight for a Glock or S&W M&P. So I guess what I am saying is YES, the 1911 is still relevant.

    • Joe Ondish

      LG Chris Easy. One of the most “Low End” 1911s on the market is the Rock Island. While they may not have hte 4 lb trigger and fancy extras that more expensive 1911s may have, they are reliable and a workhorse for sure!

    • LG Chris

      Joe Ondish , I have heard a lot of people rave about the RIA, but I have to admit I remain skeptical. I just have a hard time believing that a reliable 1911 can be had for that price. I think I’d have to see a Rock Island that’s seen a high round count and kept ticking in order to be a true believer. FWIW, the one RIA that I’ve fired seemed fine for a GI style.

    • Joe Ondish

      LG Chris If you supply the rounds, I’ll put a huge round count through my Sig TacOps. I’m a firm believer that a better handgun cannot be found on the market anywhere close to that price!

    • Gary Laffoon

      The Rock Island guns I gave owned so far have wo4ked well. I have had 45, 9mm, 22tcm, and 22lr. Just rune your brake in and use good ammo. And high round count 1911s aren’t the problem. Newones are.

  • Travis Rouse

    It’s truly personal preference

  • Karl Joyner

    Marines reissue it, Rugers 1millionth gun, 3 times as many 1911’s for sale on as Glock 17’s,…..this is a hard one. Thank you Mr. Browning!

    • LG Chris

      Those points are all true, Karl. But as with anything, popularity is not always indicative of superiority. Also, the Marines have only reissued the 1911 in very limited numbers, partly because of the intense maintenance requirements. The 1911 has a lot going for it, but I wouldn’t count its over-saturation on GB among the design’s more admirable qualities.

    • Karl Joyner

      Popularity is indicative of relevance which was the question. I would not argue the superiority of any design as the variables in shoot situation

    • LG Chris

      Karl Joyner, that’s true. I probably should have clarified. I wasn’t referring to relevance in the sense of its popularity in the marketplace, but rather relevance in the practical sense. To rephrase the question, “should people continue to adopt the 1911 as a primary self-defense handgun considering all of the other options available today?” (that is closer to what I intended to ask, but doesn’t make for a very catch video title). Obviously, you and many others are big fans of the platform, but there is a solid case to be made either way.

  • Joe Ondish

    Leave it as it is. Don’t touch it. I love them…I love them so much! I think the perfect weight balance as well as the various options that provide carry ability to everyone make it a clear winner. While it may take a little more initial tuning to have it running smooth (I’ve never had to tune mine). The overall benefits and function make it the perfect platform for me.

  • Brad Hurley

    The 1911 will always be relevant, but there have been so many advancements in technology, it’s hard not to stray!

  • Patrick Payne

    If you drive a Model T Ford to work, you might be a candidate for a 1911. Otherwise, get a Glock.

  • Ryan Chinn

    i have to say the 1911 was not my first choice in a pistol. when i decided to purchase my first pistol, the only other i had ever used was a M9A1 and a sig 226. i loved the sig, but was out of my price range at the time. after carrying the m9 for the army, i grew tired of the malfunctions. don’t get me wrong, the M9/92fs is a solid gun, but the unit i was in did not order new pistols, only rifles when we deployed. being a medic it was my primary side arm. ours were ragged out, high round count, smooth bored, parkarized finish worn off. my first personal pistol was a springfield XDM 9. love it. was a little big for cc though. so i decided to hunt for a second. still not a 1911 though. after years of steering away from glock, i decided to try it for myself with a G19. love that one too. finally after carrying the block for a few months i found a low count used 1911 for sale, from a friend. it was a Kimber 1911 ultra 2. the price he gave me, 500 dollars, was more appealing to me than the pistol itself. i knew if i didn’t like it i could resell it for more money. took it to the range and it now has me wanting a full size 1911. sure the drawback is a lower round count, and a little more maintenance then the glock or springfield, but i love the way it feels, and shoots. plus theres something romantic about it. having a gun that has stood the test of time is impressive to me. maybe ill fulfill my wish on two things next time and get the sig 1911. my brother has come to love shooting my kimber and i think he will be pleasantly surprised on his 21st birthday.

  • Gary Laffoon

    I have been shooting 1911s for almost 50 years and currently own about a dozen. I have also shot uspsa with 1911s, Glocks, & M&P’s. They are all relevant. Heck, I occasionally carry a single action revolver. They still work.

  • Axel Gibson

    It’s a great gun, and Browning was a great firearms designer who has a hand in practically every modern firearm in some way (directly or indirectly, big or small). That said, it was made in 1911. No matter how great something is, it can always be done better. That’s not putting anyone from the past down, if we had browning again in the modern world he could easily shame his 1911 design with a great, new design. There’s only really one place where a 1911 would be great to have as your defensive pistol (In my opinion) and that’s in a place like California where your only losing 3 rounds with your design. Otherwise I’d use a modern weapon, but I have no qualms with someone carrying a 1911 as their primary gun. I plan on carrying a makarov soon anyway lol.

  • No_man

    I think you hit the nail on the head with your Vickers quote: if you like tinkering around with your Harley… I find the trigger, the fit and, let’s face it, the cool style of the 1911 attractive but I’ve refrained from “pulling the trigger” on a purchase for several reasons:
    1. Cost is a factor. Is, as one other reader asked, a difference in recommendation between a $600 1911 and a $3,000 1911? I bet there is…yet I can find any number of high quality polymer modern pistols for $600 or less.
    2. Cost, part 2: I’ve seen countless recommendations that you should “have a good 1911 smith” in mind before/as you’re purchasing one as many need ” a bit of work to shoot reliably”, not out of the box
    3. This 100+ year design was built for ball ammo as required by the Geneva Convention (or more correctly, JHPs etc are barred) and that’s what it feeds best but ballistically, 9mm (JHP defensive loads), 40 and .45 are equivalently underpowered.
    4. “reliability”: I know 1911’s can be reliable — with more TLC as you note SWAT teams, special forces etc put in that TLC and have armorers to boot; many 1911 shooters I know are passionate about their pistols but most other shooters I know are more relaxed so are served better by modern pistols. Part of reliability also ties into ball vs JHP feeds and the need for “tweaking”. After a high purchase price, no thank you.
    4. Capacity: it is a real issue (see #3 above). Time and again, reputably ballistics sites and analysis of real -world results emphasize shot placement…and the frequent need for 2-3 shots to stop an attacker. If it’s a really bad day on black rock with 3 attackers, I don’t want to have to do a mag change at the start of attacker 3.

    My take is that 1911’s are more than a bit like that other shooting sports pursuit — cowboy action shooting with SA cowboy pistols; both have faithful followings who have lots of fun and love of their niche (great!) but neither of which is highly relevant to the broader shooting public.