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Old September 30, 2007, 10:57 AM   #1
Paul-K
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Difference between 1911 and 1911A1?

I'd like to own a 1911 .45 someday, and I'm interested in learning more about the 1911 .45. I see mention of a 1911A1, Commander, etc... I even went to 1911.org but I still confused (not an uncommon state of mind for me...). Can you guys out there "clue me in"?

Thanks,

Paul-K
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Old September 30, 2007, 11:46 AM   #2
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Speaking to the original design the primary difference is the A1 has an arched mainspring housing (the lower back of the grip). The story goes that officer in charge of the tests had huge hands and wanted a larger grip. That's why the arched mainspring housing looks like an afterthought - it was. I have smaller hands and prefer the flat housing that is usually found on higher end 1911 pistols.



The commander is the same pistol with a 3/4" shorter (4.25") slide.
The light weight commander is a commander with an aluminum frame.
The Officers has a shorter grip and a 3.5" barrel.


My personal favorites being the lightweight commander with a shortened (officers sized) grip and the modified full sized 1911 design found in the Springfield 1911 Loaded in stainless steel.
Modified full sized 1911
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Old September 30, 2007, 12:19 PM   #3
ranburr
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1911= 5" barrel, full size grip, long trigger flat main spring housing. 1911A1= 5" barrel, full size grip, short trigger, arched mainspring housing, scallops cut in frame on both sides just rear of trigger. Commander= 4.25" barrel, full size grip, aluminum frame (combat version has steel frame). Officers model= 3.25" barrel, short grip. Defender= 3" barrel, short grip.

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Old September 30, 2007, 12:48 PM   #4
Jim Watson
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I have a slightly different understanding in some details.

The 1911 was the US military sidearm as built from 1911 til about 1925. It has tiny sights, a long hammer spur, a short grip safety, a long trigger, a flat mainspring housing, and flat frame sides behind the trigger guard.

After some transition models of interest mostly to collectors, the 1911A1 was standardized with slightly larger sights to improve the aim, a shorter hammer spur and a longer grip safety to reduce hammer bite, an arched mainspring housing to give a higher natural point of aim for snapshooting, and a shorter trigger with finger clearance cuts in the frame to gain a better trigger finger position.

A commercial gun similar to either the 1911 or 1911A1 is properly called a Government Model.

Dumbing down of the English language has led to a lot of guns being called 1911s that just share the basic lockwork layout. I know a Colt Commander or Officer's ACP when I see one and do not call them 1911s. An "Officer's Model" is a target revolver, not an autopistol.

Other brands are even more mutated and should be identified by make and model, not lumped in as 1911s. For example, there is no such thing as a "double stack 1911" in my dictionary. Watch the caliber. A .38 Super is a .38 Super, not a 1911.
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Old September 30, 2007, 03:56 PM   #5
PT111
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Jim, Thanks for clearing up something for me. I keep seeing all these different models and calibers being called a 1911 and kept wondering WTH. How can all these different ones be a 1911 or is it just a marketing ploy. I can't remember but I think I have see a .22 called a 1911. I know that now it primarily referes to the basic design and mechanism but think there should be some designation to know that parts are not interchangable.
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Old September 30, 2007, 04:04 PM   #6
Paul-K
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OK, so I see that some 1911's have a "tail" in the back of the grip that curves down and some curve up. Is this an indication of something specific or just style?

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Old September 30, 2007, 04:57 PM   #7
Baba Louie
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Is this an indication of something specific or just style?
Both. Look at the photos in sholling's post. The top two have what is now the standard grip safety commonly found. The 3rd photo shows Colt's duck bill GS which droops down a bit and protects the web of the hand from hammer bite.
The bottom photo show an upcurved beavertail GS with a "memory bump" that allows a higher hand hold, still protecting the hand web.
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Old September 30, 2007, 06:45 PM   #8
Army GI
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From 1911forums, courtedy of D.Kamm

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Old September 30, 2007, 07:17 PM   #9
Paul-K
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Ah, now I see! Thanks GI

So I should think that the 1911 A1 would be the more popular choice, but I'm sure personal preference is the deciding factor...

OK, for a first timer like me (I own a Glock 19 and Buckmark .22 handguns) I'd be grateful for suggestions as to what I should look at first. I prefer a full size and my budget cannot afford a custom model. I like some of the Colts but how about Springfield or Kimber or ???
I realize that I need to go to a few shops and at least handle some but I'm thinking that with some of your suggestions I can narrow it down...

Paul-K
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Old September 30, 2007, 07:33 PM   #10
sholling
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I don't think anybody is making a plain Jane original 1911 anymore. With Springfield Armory their GI model is their entry level bare bones 1911A1. Their "Mil-Spec" is the next step up and an excellent choice for a first 1911 - especially the stainless version. It's just too hard to find custom parkerized parts. The Mil-Spec includes what I would consider the most basic options. A beveled magazine well and lowered ejection port.

The next step up from there is the "Loaded" version and adds a flat backstrap, and beavertail grip safety and is essentially a fully loaded factory custom 1911. The bottom picture in my first posting. It would be my choice given enough budget. These can be found for roughly $800.

Kimber has been hit or miss over the years. All of their models are all to one degree or another loaded up factory customs at varying price points. Mine came out of the factory absolutely perfect and has never missed a beat, but they had a couple of bad years. I read that their quality is back but I have no recent personal experience.

One thing about 1911s - they aren't Glocks. Some, especially the low end or off brand pistols, come out of the factory badly in need of a tuneup. The better ones shouldn't need it, but sometimes do. But once it's right it will be the best shooting longest lasting pistol that you'll own. There is nothing like the feel of a well tuned 1911 trigger. Just make sure whoever does the tuning knows 1911s! Just my humble opinion.
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Old September 30, 2007, 07:41 PM   #11
tony pasley
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The Rock Island is a good starter 1911 and is a good solid pistol. I have had no trouble from mine. They start about $360.00 to $400.00
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Old September 30, 2007, 08:49 PM   #12
Army GI
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Quote:
Ah, now I see! Thanks GI

So I should think that the 1911 A1 would be the more popular choice, but I'm sure personal preference is the deciding factor...

OK, for a first timer like me (I own a Glock 19 and Buckmark .22 handguns) I'd be grateful for suggestions as to what I should look at first. I prefer a full size and my budget cannot afford a custom model. I like some of the Colts but how about Springfield or Kimber or ???
I realize that I need to go to a few shops and at least handle some but I'm thinking that with some of your suggestions I can narrow it down...

Paul-K
Don't thank me, thank D. Kamm from 1911forums. He's the expert who created the picture

I am a military firearms lover. And nothing sparks the soul like a 1911. I'm not a big collector who buys $5000 originals with factory packaging from WWII. But I do know a thing or two about the 1911 and am willing to share my opinion.

First of all, I was in the same boat as you are in. So many choices! But not enough experience with each company/model to make a firm decision. It seems like internet people have all the money in the world and can buy as many 1911s as they want, but regular people like you and me have to stay satisfied with just one.

Being a military man myself, I have to get a stock pistol. I'm not really all for the extra bells and whistles people think they need. Take all that crap away and you still have a 1911.

For you I recommend the following stock pistols:
Rock Island Armory 1911A1:


Springfield Armory G.I. 1911A1:


Colt Government Model 1991A1:


These are in ascending order from lowest price to highest. The Colt is more prestegious, but the RIA and SA are better values for the dollar. The Colt, many say is better quality, but they are usually priced $150-200 more than a SA.

Also, don't be so sure that the 1911A1's features make it so much more superior to the 1911. There are many people who actually carry this for self defense and have no problems shooting it:


It's a reproduction of a WWI Colt 1911 and about as stock as you can get on a 1911. But it's also about $950 so a little out of your price range. But that's my dream pistol right there. Even though the A1 is technically a mechanically superior pistol due to its rustproof parkerizing, longer grip saftey spur, shoter hammer, and knurled surfaces on triggers and backstraps, I like the style and finish of the WWI 1911 better.

Right now I have to suffice with a Springfield GI to satisfy my urge for a military-style 1911. But once I move to a state that allows the Colt WWI replica, the first thing I'm doing is selling the Springfield to buy one.

I would go for the Colt because it usually has superior quality out of all of them out of the box, if you shop around you can find some at a decent price, and lastly because of the historical aspect. Colt's hold their resale value much better than anything because it's a Colt.

Lastly, here are a couple of well-respected reviews from DK about the pistols in question. Please read them because they are a great source from an actual owner of both the SA and the Colt:
http://www.m1911.org/prodte27.htm
http://www.m1911.org/prodte30.htm

-GI
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Old September 30, 2007, 10:23 PM   #13
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I plan on owning a S&W, SA, and DW 1911 one day as I consider them good and reliable gun makers – but my first 1911 was a Colt, I’ll recommend the same.
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Old September 21, 2008, 09:16 PM   #14
SigJudicata
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For what it's worth, thanks to the people who provided info in this thread. I'm also beginning to get into 1911s from other handguns and this thread is the most helpful I've found so far and I found it through a Google search.
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Old September 21, 2008, 10:19 PM   #15
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I plan on owning a S&W, SA, and DW 1911 one day as I consider them good and reliable gun makers – but my first 1911 was a Colt, I’ll recommend the same.
Not a bad way to go. Also, for a very well fitted and maybe bit higher quality 1911 that doesn't need any aftermarket parts (maybe grips) the Dan Wesson models are great value. You'll hear things about Colt holding value better etc, but when it comes down to it I don't buy things based on how much I can sell it for later. I invest in other ways for that. I buy firearms I like, want, function well, and I plan to use and keep for a long time. That's what I value personally.

Anyhow...that's my thoughts for the night.
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