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Old October 2, 2012, 01:09 PM   #1
gaseousclay
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who makes the best 1911 .45acp?

I'm hoping someday that i'll be able to purchase my first handgun, namely a 1911, unfortunately, there are quite a few companies making this particular model I have no idea where to start.

So, who makes the best 1911 on the market? I know Colt, Kimber and Springfield Armory make it but all with varying pricepoints. I'm not necessarily going for the cheapest model but the best quality. So who else is there?
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Old October 2, 2012, 01:16 PM   #2
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Oooh, I'm going to spam your thread just to watch the fur fly!

Seriously, though, you kind of have to define the "market" that you're looking at. In the production market, Colt, Kimber and Springfield all come highly recommended. You already mentioned them. There's also the Remington R1, the Ruger SR1911, Dan Wesson, S&W and Sig. I'm sure I'm forgetting a few.

Moving up in price, you find Les Baer, Nighthawk, Wilson Combat, and Guncrafter. There's also Rogers Precision, and Hunter Customs (though I don't think he's taking new 1911 orders right now. Bob can correct me if I'm wrong.)

The list goes on and on, but the first question is: What purpose? What you need in a CCW may be totally different than if you're looking to shoot one in competition.

There's a very good buyer's guide here: http://www.1911addicts.com/showthrea...u-1911-addicts
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Old October 2, 2012, 01:21 PM   #3
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That's almost like asking "how far is up?". The best of anything is usually a personal opinion for each individual. Certainly part of the answer depends upon how much you're willing to pay for a 1911.

The site Spats suggested is a good place to start your search. Then the difficult part, answering your own question.
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Old October 2, 2012, 06:40 PM   #4
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In my opinion.....

#1 and #2 are very close - Wilson Combat and Ed Brown ...with Wilson having a big edge because of its lifetime warranty and superior service. Ed Brown is a little cheaper...

#3 - but a distant 3rd is probably Les Baer

#4 - Nighthawk

# 5 - 10 ......Kimber, Sig, Springfield, Colt, S&W, etc....

Full disclosure...I own a pair of Wilson, 1 Ed Brown, 1 Les Baer, 0 Nighthawks, 2 Kimbers...( Both Wilson's are 2 of the top 5 guns in my safe...along with a Sig X-Five L1 model in .40S&W, a Freedom Arms single action revolver 4 3/4" large frame in .357 mag, S&W mod 27 4" revolver ) ...My Ed Brown 1911 is a Kobra carry 5" ...and its in the top 10 ...but not the top 5...my Baer is pretty good ....but I'd rank it below both of my Kimbers probably ...a Gold Combat Stainless II model 5" .45 acp & a Tactical Pro II model 4" in 9mm...

I recently broke an extractor on one of my Wilsons after about 45,000 rds thru it -- its 6 yrs old / ...Wilson paid all shipping, fixed the gun inside of a week - shipped it back. They followed up twice - making sure I was happy with how the gun ran when I got it back. Its service like that - that is hard to beat ...even though they don't expect their extractors to break every 45,000 rds .../ they have earned my loyalty. My primary carry gun is a Wilson CQB 5" that is about 12 yrs old...

Wilson Protector model 5" - all stainless in 9mm
http://thefiringline.com/forums/atta...7&d=1341002367

Wilson CQB model 5", armor Tuff finish in .45 acp ...my carry gun..
http://thefiringline.com/forums/atta...8&d=1345227121

Last edited by BigJimP; October 3, 2012 at 12:11 PM.
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Old October 2, 2012, 07:49 PM   #5
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Best 1911? Tough one.

In 1911-land there are a number of true custom 1911 smiths who will build you a masterpiece...exactly what you want, whatever that is...and you will wait for a while, and pay dearly for that priviledge...but you will get what you want, and it will probably be a one-of-a-kind 1911. Price-wise, the sky is the limit in this class. You can use the same master 1911-smiths to build something less radical, but equally high quality.

One step down you will find the "semi-customs"...Baer, Brown, Nighthawk, Wilson (listed alphabetically, and not intended to indicate any preference).
In general terms, you will have some latitude in the options available, and again you will pay a fair bit...call it ~$2000 to $4000, give or take. Everyone who owns one or more of them has his favorite. A few people have one or more of each, and they may or may not be objective. A bunch more of us have had one, and look forward to trying the others, but objectively, even someone who owns one of each has a very small sample size, with the attendant possibilities that implies.

Another step down, and it gets a bit more dicey, and quite a bit more contentious. In my opinion, this includes DW, Colt, Springfield, Kimber and S&W. Here we are talking about 1911s that cost ~$1000-$1500. You will get an awful lot of opinions, and most will be based on the ownership of one 1911 of a certain brand. I have seen an awful lot of people who are exceptionally vested in their one brand, and some of the discussions tend to get pretty nasty. As a result, I tend to take these with a huge grain of salt.

When you get below the $1000 floor, there are a large number of 1911s available. I have owned several of them, and there are good ones out there (IMO). You may find some good ones...or you may not.

Once again, my opinion and experience are that when we are working below the $1000 line, I will buy a better used 1911 than a questionable new one. I would advocate meeting the current owner at a local range and test-firing the 1911 in question. Then again, that same advice applies regardless of whether it is a 1911 or any other firearm...

If you would like to see (what I consider) a fairly objective and fairly compreshesive review, take a look at this thread.
http://glocktalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1269683

Start with post #14. This one goes on for a while, but is a good read. This guy can apparently afford to buy "one of everything" and has (God bless him). His thread covers 50+ different 1911s, and he owns each. As such, I don't believe he has a dog in the fight, and cannot see any favoritism in this post...

While my experience has not mirrored his 100%, he has owned and tested more 1911s than I have, by a factor of about 2x. And it appears that he currently owns all of them now, so he can make a timely assessment. My 1911 ownership has been one or a few at a time, over a period of 30 years, and as such, in a number of cases, his specific experiences with certain brands may be more recent than mine.
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Old October 2, 2012, 07:59 PM   #6
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THE best?

Guncrafter Industries.
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Old October 2, 2012, 08:05 PM   #7
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Good luck. There are lots of well made, accurate and reliable 1911s out there. Wilson and Ed Brown clearly are great guns but it's hard claim either one is the best.

Look around, see what you like and if you stick with Ruger, S&W, Springfield, Colt as well as the others listed above, you are going to get a very good gun.
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Old October 2, 2012, 08:10 PM   #8
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deleted.....best solved with a PM
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Old October 2, 2012, 10:27 PM   #9
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The OP implies a production 1911 rather than a full custom 1911. I'd prefer an Ed Brown or Wilson Combat (based on reading about, seeing and touching, but not shooting, either brand).
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Old October 3, 2012, 03:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
The OP implies a production 1911 rather than a full custom 1911.
Of production-line 1911s, my overall pick is Colt. They are not cheap (even the "base" model M1991s have crept to the $1K mark), but the Colts being produced today are some of the best they've ever made, and their customer service is outstanding. Made in the USA, forged slide and frames, very few MIM parts (just 3), and a prancing pony rollmark. What's not to like? Well, the nylon backstrap is a little bit of bummer, but it's been a non-issue in my experience. Some folks don't care for the Series 80 triggers, but that's also been a non-issue for me (they can be just as good as those without firing pin safeties), and the Series 70 pistols are still available anyway.

For a lower-to-mid range 1911, I really like the Ruger SR1911. Ruger really did there homework and offers a made-in the-US pistol with all the features most folks want. That said, with the lack of availabilty and price gouging you see, to me it makes sence to save a few more hundred and get a Colt.

Of the truly budget-priced 1911s, I've head only good things about the Rock Island Armory pistols. The one's I've handled seemed very-well put together, and perhaps I'll pick one up one day as a project gun. They certainly aren't the most nicely finished pistols in the world, and I hate the though of imported 1911s for some reason, but a few minor changes (dehorning some rough edges on the safety and installing some decent grips) would make for a great shooter. PSA recently had the RIA Tactical for $429. That's a screaming bargain. They didn't last long.

Last edited by Fishbed77; October 4, 2012 at 08:32 AM.
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Old October 3, 2012, 04:22 PM   #11
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Spats gave you the best link

Spats gave you the best link there is.

Check the BAC1093 buyer's guide, there is a lot to digest, a must reading for anyone interested in 1911.
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Old October 3, 2012, 04:39 PM   #12
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If cost is not an issue, I'd find a nice 1960s Colt and send it to Heirloom Precision. I'd choose the Colt as the base gun for its modern materials, original G.I. specs, and simple, attractive rollmarks. I'd have Heirloom do the work, because they sweat every little detail to make the gun a piece of functional art.
I would avoid the "production custom" makers like Wilson, Baer, Brown, et al., not because they don't make excellent guns, but because the guns they make are designed to suit the preferences of 90% of the people, 90% of the time, and I'm not going to pay $3000 for gun that isn't exactly what I want.
For a gun at a more reasonable price, in the $800-$1000 range, I'd go Colt.
In the $600-$800 range, at the low end I'd say STI Spartan, and at the high end, Springfield RO.
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Old October 3, 2012, 05:30 PM   #13
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I would avoid the "production custom" makers like Wilson, Baer, Brown, et al., not because they don't make excellent guns, but because the guns they make are designed to suit the preferences of 90% of the people
So, 90% of the higher end 1911 buyers would be pretty happy.

Jim
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Old October 3, 2012, 05:40 PM   #14
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Wilson Combat, Ed Brown, Les Baer. They all have their pluses and minuses. When you're talking about these three, you're really having to be a harsh critic to separate. Personally, I think Les Baer is the best concerning fitment of the gun. His guns, by FAR have the tightest tolerances while still keeping reliability at a premium. He's extremely picky on how he and the gunsmiths that work for him produces his products. After touring his facility and seeing the quality of parts that go into his firearms, I see each and every one of them as a work of art. The only thing I see is his blueing is fair to midland on wear resistance. I don't give a rat's behind because I know of no blueing that's rich and beautiful and is as tough as, say, NP3. And if I was worried about it, I'd get his stainless. Wilsons and Browns provide a tougher finish if that's a concern.

Now, if you can to get REALLY serious, I recommend something that I honestly don't see ANY production minded business even touching his 1911. And that's Cylinder & Slide's 100th Anniversary 1911. Now, I know you might think, "Oh, dear God. This is one of those cheezy commemorative guns that has all the gawdy embellishments and enough gold plating to choke a horse". I beg to differ. Bill spent unfathomable hours researching what it would take to make a true 1911 right after the bugs have been worked out back in the day. He designed, engineered, and fabricated all of the tool & dies to make it happen. In the polishing alone, he averages over 40 hours labor...JUST TO POLISH. Here's the link. Be sure to read up on the updates he has on his site, too. They're a bit dated, but they give you a good idea how much he's invested in making a 1911 the way it originally meant to be.

http://www.cylinder-slide.com/reproduction.shtml

I ordered an Army designated one. He's only producing 100 representing the Army, Navy, and Marines.
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Old October 3, 2012, 05:53 PM   #15
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Quote:
Quote:
I would avoid the "production custom" makers like Wilson, Baer, Brown, et al., not because they don't make excellent guns, but because the guns they make are designed to suit the preferences of 90% of the people

So, 90% of the higher end 1911 buyers would be pretty happy.

Jim
Exactly. Of course, it appears that the same proportion of happy customers have been buying the $500-$600 Philippine imports!
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Old October 3, 2012, 08:14 PM   #16
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Of course, it appears that the same proportion of happy customers have been buying the $500-$600 Philippine imports!
True. But you weren't advising folks to avoid those.

Jim
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Old October 3, 2012, 08:51 PM   #17
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Colt
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Old October 3, 2012, 09:17 PM   #18
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I tend to agree with your position on the Guncrafter Industries 1911. I was fortunate enough to own one for about a year.

Very nice 1911...but it was a $3000 1911 (bought used).

And honestly, it was not so much nicer than my DW, my Baer or my S&Ws and Kimbers, all of which were (give or take) $1000 1911s. Maybe you think that I cannot discern the difference, and you may be right. But... I have been shooting 1911s since ~1964 or so, and have owned a whole bunch of them since.

I don't claim to be an expert on 1911s, but I have spent a lot of time reading about and working on them...and have spent a lot of time and money on 1911s in the last 25 years.

As far as Colt goes, yeah, I have owned three of them. Note the use of the past tense.

I am in no hurry to own a fourth. Same thing for Springfield. Three down, none to go.

Do a lot of reading, and shoot everything you can. Then make up your own mind.
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Old October 3, 2012, 09:58 PM   #19
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thanks for the advice everyone. at this point I don't know what i'm specifically looking for in a 1911. Ideally i'd use it for HD and target practice. I haven't given much thought to CCW as I live in a very safe neighborhood and when i'm out and about i'm usually with my dog who is fiercely protective.
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Old October 3, 2012, 10:12 PM   #20
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I haven't given much thought to CCW as I live in a very safe neighborhood and when i'm out and about i'm usually with my dog who is fiercely protective
A dog can be put out of commission rather quickly.....They are good to alert you to danger, but are not the best to get you out of it once you have found it....
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Old October 4, 2012, 12:34 AM   #21
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Here is an interesting one, the Cabot 1911

http://cabotgun.com/

The other 1911 that I always had in high regard was anything that Armand Swenson did. Like one of his full custom jobs. He was a 1911 genius.

http://www.handgunsmag.com/2010/09/2...1911_081109wo/
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Old October 4, 2012, 06:17 AM   #22
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I've owned a few, including Colt, Springfield Armory (including their full Customshop builds), Kimber, Ed Brown, Wilson Combat, Les Baer and a few others I'm forgetting. I put Les Baer as the best off-the-shelf maker - fairly easily.
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Old October 4, 2012, 07:03 AM   #23
Hal
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who makes the best 1911 .45acp?
Colt...

There may be better - but - Colt makes the best.

If that doesn't make sense to you it never will.
Some people though are going to agree w/it 100%.....
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Old October 4, 2012, 08:18 AM   #24
gaseousclay
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A dog can be put out of commission rather quickly.....They are good to alert you to danger, but are not the best to get you out of it once you have found it....
true. I guess I don't really feel the need for a CCW at this point in my life. Maybe it'll take getting held up at knifepoint to make me change my mind. Either way, I think I have a better chance of a meteor landing on me than getting mugged in my neighborhood
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Old October 4, 2012, 08:23 AM   #25
gaseousclay
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Colt...

There may be better - but - Colt makes the best.

If that doesn't make sense to you it never will.
Some people though are going to agree w/it 100%.....
are you saying Colt because it's your brand of choice, or do you have other brands to compare their 1911's to? I only ask because orionengnr linked a pretty lengthy discussion over at the glocktalk forum and one of the users posted a ton of photos of his personal collection of 1911's, of which many brands/price points were represented. seemed fairly objective to me. I'm not going to run out and buy a Colt just because a few of you say it's the best. Why are their 1911's better than other brands like Kimber, Springfield Armory or any other company for that matter? Pls give me specifics
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