View Full Version : 9mm 1911 Feasibility?

November 2, 2005, 04:33 AM
I am contemplating my first 1911 build BUT I would like to, for personal reasons, build it in 9mm vice .45. The question is this: does the design of the 1911, which was built from the ground up around a straight-walled, large bore cartridge, function well with a significantly smaller, tapered round? I have read that some of the early factory 9mm 1911s had some very serious reliability issues. Does anyone have practical, real world experience with this type of project that they can share? Any sticky details I should be aware of, if I do decide to proceed with this build? Outside of having to explain to everyone at the range why I built a man's gun around a sissy cartridge, that is :D
Oh yeah, if anyone knows of a good, affordable source for mil-spec frames I would like to see the links. Thanks in advance and shoot safe.

November 2, 2005, 05:56 AM
They have built Commanders in 9mm for years. I would think the problems with the standard sized pistol might be the slide weight and recoil spring weight being too heavy to cycle properly with the 9mm. You could always split the difference and get a standard size 1911 in .38 Super!

Jim Watson
November 2, 2005, 07:12 AM
They are quite common in IDPA competition, adequate power for the ESP Division and cheap ammo. Mine are modified Colt and Springfield, I have also seen Kimber, STI, and total custom buildups.
If you can assemble a 1911 there is nothing keeping you from making it a 1911; just order the caliber specific parts and tell your frame maker what you are up to so the feed ramp will be correct. I have had super duper experts who must be as sensitive as The Princess and The Pea say a 1911 9mm P felt "sluggish" in operation, but they do fine for me. A good stout 9mm is little if any less powerful than a standard .38 Super.

November 3, 2005, 07:04 PM
My own experience with a small tapered cartridge is that it works just fine and lives up to all the hype on being even more reliable than many 1911's in .45 ACP. Mine is pretty snappy being a 9X23 but I do believe that sitting higher in the magazine - higher centerline - doesn't hurt and might help.

Layne Simpson's book on the custom 1911 speaks highly of small bore 1911's. Consider the number of switch barrel 1911's - 9X19 and .38 or 9x23 -or the number of people who fire .38 Super or 9X23 (both .900 long headspace on the mouth) in the same barrel. I'd not fire 9X19 in a long chamber that would create excessive headspace but smaller and tapered does seem to work just fine across the board.

November 3, 2005, 08:33 PM
Here's a future national contender I shoot with weekly. She's using her new STI race gun in 9mm(her daddy LOVES her) and she's nothing to sneeze at. That gun ROCKS. No "sluggishnes" observable. If its a 9mm 1911 you want GO for it!

November 3, 2005, 08:43 PM
Outstanding! Thanks for all the info and the pic. Nice to see the young'ns showing good form.
Again, thanks for the references and feedback. I'm about 75% convinced I need to do this just to prove to myself that I can--and who among us couldn't use a 1911? I like 9mm because just about everything else I own is 9mm and it is probably the most affordable 'major power' cart I can think of since I don't do the reloading. If I decide to go for it, I'll keep you guys posted and try to get some pics of the build and the finished product.

Jim Watson
November 3, 2005, 08:50 PM
9mm P is not "major power" under the rules of USPSA, IPSC, or IDPA.

November 3, 2005, 09:02 PM
I have seen many of the outshoot the 45ACP and they do quite well when it comes to functioning, maybe better than the 45ACP like what was stated previously

Harry Bonar
November 5, 2005, 09:37 PM
Dear Shooter:

The 1911 single stack is the only one we at Novaks will mill for a ramped barrel - they work fine in a single stack 1911.
Harry B.

November 6, 2005, 01:19 AM
9mm major is legal in Open class.

November 6, 2005, 04:50 AM
.38 Super can be loaded major.

Jim Watson
November 6, 2005, 09:14 AM
Yes, but they can't be storebought Major.
Anyhow, I suspect I was being a little too precise for his definition. You know, 9mm P is major power kind of like a .30-30 is a High Powered Rifle... in the newspaper.

November 6, 2005, 05:20 PM
Not hijacking but maybe you where gonna ask this. When they say 9mm p do they mean +p if so what about +p+ in comp.also is the 9x23 win the same as I hear called " 9mm mag or win mag" sorry and thanks oh and if this helps I built my first 1911 with was CUSTOM made barrel chambered in 356TSW and it was a learning expearience i must say , didn't have the internet so be very fortunate that this wonderful place is online.Everyone had great advise and remember LET THE FRAME SUPPLIER KNOW exactly what you are building.for me third frames a charm:barf: not

Jim Watson
November 6, 2005, 05:31 PM
When **I** say "9mm P" I mean 9 millimeter Parabellum, not 9mm +P (high pressure.) I don't know about the other guys.

9x23 (Winchester) is NOT the same as 9mm Winchester Magnum, which is a 29mm caselength originally meant for the Wildey guns.

November 6, 2005, 08:42 PM
Mr. Watson, All:

When I said "major" that was obviously a poor choice of wording on my part. Not shooting IDPA or USPSA (or what have you) matches, I didn't realize that it would spark such debate. I should've used the word "acceptable" as in "acceptable to me as a defensive cart." And I too, when saying 9mm, am referring to the good old, run of the mill (i.e. standard pressure) 9X19 parabellum.

Terribly sorry for any confusion this may have caused and thanks again for all your input.

November 6, 2005, 11:00 PM
Not to worry wayniac, everyone here looks for any reason to start a good rant! :D

We just like spouting off and exchanging opinions - be they relative to the subject or not. ;)

Harry Bonar
November 15, 2005, 06:21 PM
Dear shooter:
Forget the 9 - use a 45.

Harry B.