The Best 1911 Pistols

What are the best 1911 pistols available today?

Few handguns are as recognizable as the 1911. Despite the hundreds of different variations on John Browning’s 100+-year-old design, you always know when you’re looking at a 1911. The variety of 1911s on the market can be daunting to navigate – but with a little guidance, we’re sure you’ll find the perfect 1911 for your collection.

John Browning’s original design hasn’t changed much since he delivered the US Military its replacement for the .38 Long Colt back in 1911 with the original Colt 1911 pistol. Manufacturers are always adding new features, calibers, and functionality – making what is already a modern classic even more capable.

The good news is whatever you’re looking for in your 1911 – be it a budget addition to your collection or pair of custom 1911s – we’ve broken down all the key price points below $1,500 help you make the most of whatever you’ve got to spend. We stuck with sub-$1,500 options because if you’re looking to spend more than $1,500 on your 1911 there’s a fair chance you’re looking for a custom firearm, which is beyond the scope of what we’re covering here.

Best 1911s Under $700:

Specifications:

  • Caliber: .45 ACP
  • Capacity: 7+1
  • Magazines Included: 1 (Blued)
  • Barrel Length: 5″
  • Overall Length: 8.6″
  • Height: 5.5″
  • Weight: 39 oz / 2.4 lbs
  • Frame: Forged Carbon Steel Parkerized
  • Slide: Forged Carbon Steel Parkerized
  • Sights: 3 Dot
  • Barrel: Forged Stainless Match Grade

While there’s a 1911 in every caliber – JMB’s original design used the .45 ACP round due to its 230-grain projectile capable of reaching 850 feet per second – making it a very capable self-defense round

Considering Springfield Armory was one of the first manufacturers Colt contracted out with to meet demand for the 1911 during the war, we thought it only fitting to include Springfield in this guide.

They know the 1911 as well as any manufacturer, and this budget-friendly version (often under $500) is a great way to add a 1911 to your collection without breaking the bank.

Specifications:

  • Caliber: 40 S&W
  • Barrel: 3″
  • Length: 6.5″
  • Height: 5″
  • Barrel: Stainless Steel Match Grade
  • Sights: Tritium 3-Dot Fixed Low Profile  (Combat Rear, Dovetail Front)
  • Trigger: Long Aluminum Match Grade
  • Trigger Pull: 5-6 lbs
  • Frame: Black Hardcoat Anodized Steel
  • Slide: Forged Steel, Satin Finish
  • Grips: Thinline Cocobolo Hardwood
  • Weight: 27 oz / 1.6 lbs
  • Recoil System: Dual Spring, Full Length Guide Rod

The second Springfield 1911 on our budget list, the Enhanced Micro Pistol (EMP) is a .40 CAL 1911 variant Springfield introduced in 2007. They shortened the action ⅛” from the original 1911 design which translates into a much smaller grip radius – enhancing controllability, hand fit, & shooting comfort. It’s one of the smallest 1911s out there at just 1.6 lbs.

That smaller footprint means the EMP is a fantastic choice for anyone interested in a 1911 for concealed carry. The 3-Dot tritium combat sight is easy to use and it offers a 3” national match grade barrel as well. Capacity is 9+1 with 9mm or 8+1 rounds of with .40 SW. 

That focus on a smaller package does come with some tradeoffs – you don’t get a rail or mounting options. What you do get is a fantastically useful It 1911 at a great price point.

Specifications

  • Caliber/Gauge: 380 ACP
  • Capacity: 8
  • Magazine Type: Single Stack
  • Sight: Combat White Dot Front and Rear
  • Slide: Black Stainless Steel
  • Grip Type: Rosewood with Gold Buckmark Inlay
  • Barrel Material: Steel
  • Receiver Material: Composite
  • Frame Material: Polymer/Aluminum
  • Barrel Length: 3 5/8″
  • Overall Length: 6 7/8″
  • Weight: 16 oz / 1 lb

The first Browning on our list, the BLACK LABEL MEDALLION PRO is a tight single-stack pistol that integrates composites into multiple components of the platform – lightening the overall package and making it incredibly easy to handle.

In addition to the composite/alloy frame upgrades, our recommendation for this Browning Black Label is the 380 ACP, as it offers a nice compromise of capacity and weight – with 8+1 capacity and just over 1 lb in weight

Specifications

  • Caliber/Gauge: 22 LR
  • Capacity: 10
  • Magazine Type: Single Stack
  • Barrel Material: Steel
  • Receiver Material: Composite
  • Frame Material: Polymer/Aluminum
  • Barrel Finish: Matte
  • Receiver Finish: Matte
  • Frame Finish: Laminated Black
  • Barrel Length: 3-5/8″
  • Overall Length: 6-7/8″
  • Weight: 13 oz

The first 22 pistol on the list, the Browning Black Label compact in .22 LR is a sleek 1911 variant that pairs the look and feel of the classic with a smaller 22 caliber package.

That makes this both one of the easiest shooting 1911s on this list – and the lightest at just 13 ounces

Built at 85% of the scale of the original 1911 pistol in 45 ACP, the Black Label compact also shaves weight by integrating lightweight composite materials. In addition, a 1913 Picatinny accessory rail runs the length of the barrel, enabling you to upgrade this variant with a laser sight, flashlight or other accessories.

Best 1911s Under $1,000:

Specifications:

  • Action: Single
  • Caliber/Gauge: 45 ACP
  • Capacity: 8
  • Sight: Novak
  • Slide: Damascus Cerakote
  • Safety: Ambidextrous Beavertail Grip
  • Grip Type: Wood
  • Frame Material: Steel
  • Frame Finish: Madagascar Cerakote
  • Barrel Length: 5″
  • Overall Length: 8.87″
  • Weight: 36.8 oz / 2.25 lbs

The first of our sub $1,000 selections, the Legacy Sports Citadel 1911 is a full-size .45 ACP caliber 1911 manufactured in the Philippines by Armscor and distributed in the US by Legacy. It’s not a brand that’s on everyone’s lips, but these are surprisingly capable pistols.

The Citadel has tight construction – no rattles or play between slide and frame. The main components (barrel, frame and slide) are all forged steel with a Parkerized finish for enhanced wear resistance. The slide is coated in a Damascus Cerakote – which certainly enhances the firearm’s looks and enhances wear resistance, and the lowered and flared ejection port ensures your brass gets spat out far away from that lovely finish. 

We’ve seen tests of more than 3,000 rounds on the Citadel with no hiccups or issues reported. Not surprising considering the design is based on the original 1911, which was designed to take a licking and keep on ticking.

That adherence to the original design – steel components and all – means it’s not as light as other options. But for a full-size 1911 that looks this good the Citadel makes the cut.

Specifications:

  • Action: Single
  • Caliber/Gauge: 380 ACP
  • Capacity: 8
  • Magazine Type: Single Stack
  • Sight: Night
  • Sight Radius: 5-3/8″
  • Barrel Type: Target Crown
  • Slide: Satin Stainless Steel
  • Safety: Beavertail Grip
  • Grip Type: G10 Black/White
  • Frame Material: Composite
  • Barrel Length: 4-1/4″
  • Overall Length: 7-1/2″
  • Weight: 18 oz

With similar dimensions as the Browning Black Label 22 LR, the 380 1911 variant is 15% smaller than the .45 ACP model – so you get full-size feel in a smaller package – ideal for concealed carry or home defense.

The smaller dimensions make for comfortable shooting, adds control, and makes follow-up shots easier to get on target. In addition, the natural grip angle speeds instinctive pointing, and when paired with the low bore axis you get tight recoil control even with rapid follow-on shots.

We really liked the flat profile trigger, which offers a clean, snappy pull. This Black Label Pro model shares the composite frame and components of other Browning Black Label Pro pistols, but we liked how this model pairs 4.25” barrel with the accessory rail, which makes room for a wider array of accessories than the sub-4” barrels.

Specifications:

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Action: SAO
  • Barrel Length: 3.3″
  • Capacity: 8 Rd
  • Sights: Low-profile SIGLITE Night
  • Grips: Custom Rosewood
  • Frame Finish: Alloy
  • Slide Finish: Natural Stainless
  • Trigger Pull: 5bls
  • Sight Radius: 4.8″
  • Length: 6.8″
  • Height: 4.8″
  • Weight: 25.3 oz

If you’re in the market for a high-quality sub-compact 1911 you can’t go wrong with a Sig. There are quite a few Sig 1911 models, but the Two-Tone Ultra Compact in 9MM caught our eye.

It offers the Sig quality in a drop-dead gorgeous two-tone slide/frame combination – and when paired with the rosewood grip panels make for a stand-out firearm.

Of course, you get a number of Sig touches that round out the package – a natural stainless slide, 8+1 capacity, low profile night sights, snappy 5lb trigger pull, and 3.3” barrel keep it under 7” in length

Best 1911s Under $1,500:

Specifications:

  • Caliber .45 ACP
  • Height: 4.75″
  • Length: 6.8″
  • Magazine capacity: 7
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Finish: Satin Silver
  • Grips Zebrawood grips with scale pattern and Kimber logo
  • Width, in: 1.28″
  • Slide Material: Stainless steel
  • Finish: Satin Silver
  • Barrel Length, in: 3″
  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Sights Tactical Wedge 3-dot tritium night sights

You wouldn’t be mistaken if you thought there are a lot of Kimber firearms based on the 1911 platform.

They tweak their firearms for both performance and a hint of flash – all while making some truly outstanding pistols in any caliber you’d want to take home. 

This sub-compact Kimber pistol comes with a 3” flush-cut barrel chambered in 9mm or .45 ACP and Tactical Wedge Night Sights that give you incredible low-light performance with a fail-safe, maintenance-free light source that doesn’t require any external power source.

Specifications:

  • Action: Single
  • Caliber/Gauge: 45 ACP
  • Capacity: 7
  • Sight: Fixed Night Front, Tactical Night Rear
  • Slide: Duty Finish, Black Aluminum Alloy
  • Safety: Manual Thumb, Grip
  • Frame Material: Forged Aluminum
  • Frame Finish: Anodized OD Green
  • Barrel Length: 3-1/2″
  • Overall Length: 7-1/4″
  • Weight: 27.1 oz
  • Height: 5″
  • Width: 1.45″

It was clear that Dan Wesson wanted to balance achieving the smallest, lightest 1911 they could without sacrificing accuracy, dependability, feel or stopping power.

That balance was brought to market with the ECO, a single stack officer size 1911 that tips the scales at just 25 oz. The ECO pairs tritium night sights with the Dan Wesson tactical ledge sight on the rear for incredible low light performance.

Like the Kimber, the barrel is flush-cut. This gun is incredibly easy to disassemble and slightly more compact than the original 1911. The recoil system is unique as well – using a solid, 1-piece guide rod and a flat recoil spring that – according to Dan Wesson – is rated for 15,000 rounds in .45 ACP and smoothes out slide operation and minimizes less felt recoil.

Trigger pull a crisp 4 lbs.

Conclusion

Ultimately, each of the above 1911 pistols are great choices overall, especially when you consider the breath of options in with this handgun.  The best overall choice is dependant upon the price point, versatility, features, and overall use case you’re shopping to fulfill, and we hope this guide makes it easy to find a great fit for your needs. Good luck!

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MICHAEL CRITES is el jefe around here. He writes about guns and gear.

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