There is a sense of nostalgia that comes along with the 1911 style pistol. For me personally, that nostalgia takes me back to memories with my grandfather. Whether it’s when I’m holding, shooting, or even just thinking about 1911’s, I can’t help but smile and remember when I visited my grandparent’s place. I would go down into the basement with my dad and grandpa, and I would watch as he unlocked the gun safe . I remember how big the gun safe appeared to be back then, and how I was always excited because each time we would go into the safe I felt like there was always something new I hadn’t known about or seen before.
He had war and weapon paraphernalia, including a couple metals, firearms from his military days including the best 1911 for the money back in the day, boxes of ammo, and firearms he had collected through the years. The firearms and other items that he gained during his military career were always more fascinating to me because each item came along with a multitude of stories. Among them were in M1 grand from World War II, an M3 submachine gun that unfortunately no longer’s was able to shoot, an over-under shotgun that was both 20 gauge and 12 gauge, an even older side-by-side 20 gauge shotgun, and a few more I don’t remember. My absolute favorite was his classic 1911 colt .22 caliber pistol from The 1940s.
I know it’s nothing like the Colt .45, or any other higher caliber pistol for that matter. Yet, there was something about it. I don’t know if it was the way it looked; rugged and plain with a sense a resilience. It was old, and I could only imagine what that pistol had seen. Maybe back then I knew it was one of the few firearms I was capable of shooting, and shooting well which is why I liked it. It could have been the feel. When I was first handed the pistol it felt like a brick in my hands, but once I had a proper grip it felt like an extension of my arm, perfectly balanced, and fun to hold.
The 1911 style pistol can be traced back to the late 1800’s when company’s and users were looking for something powerful to take over the standard revolvers carried by military and law enforcement. Originally designed by John Browning , the 1911 style quickly became one of the most popular sidearm designs in the United States. Being well made, durable, and very powerful, all kinds of companies began to make their own version of the 1911 style.
And why not? Aside from being in high demand throughout the years, 1911 pistols are great for just about anyone and for just about anything. They come in many variants, and depending on the specific company you’re buying a 1911 pistol from there will be all kinds of slight differences. No matter if you plan to use your 1911 for hunting, target shooting, or for home and personal defense, it will prove to be a go-to sidearm. Those are of course the main uses for 1911 pistols, considering with many you can mount scopes or other add-ons that aid in both hunting and defense. You can also use many 1911 pistols for superb target shooting, even up to the competition and professional level.
Today the market is saturated with 1911’s. It would seem that any and every company, whether start-up or well known, has a 1911 style pistol. This can make it very difficult to discern what 1911 is right for you. Even when you begin to search the internet for the “best 1911’s”, the “most affordable”, or the “most popular”, you’re met with different pistols on each and every website. It can also be especially difficult to find the best 1911 for the money when so many 1911’s are highly priced. It can be even more difficult to figure out which company or which pistol is going to give you what you need.
Hopefully, this article will help you choose the best 1911 for you, or at the very least, help you narrow the search by figuring out what you want to get out of your new 1911.
To begin, there are a few general categories of 1911’s that any potential buyer or enthusiast should be aware of.
The cheapest models are typically made in second and third world country’s, but they aren’t necessarily “bad” by any means. They are however cheap, so if the price is your number one concern then looking into some foreign gun makers may be the best option for you.
Popular “American” 1911’s
These 1911 pistols and the companies they came from are more well-known and maintstream in the United States; including:
- Para Ord.
- Dan WEsson
- and possibly the most famous – COLT
These 1911’s are made from companies who produce virtually all parts of the firearm and create unique features known only to the individual brand. Those features allow any buyer the ability to find and “order” the perfect 1911 for them. The only downside is how expensive they are. If you’re okay with spending one, two, or three grand plus on a custom pistol then great. If you are reading this article then chances are you are more like me and are looking for the best 1911 for the money. Just in case, some companies who make custom 1911 pistols include:
- Heirloom Custom
- Wilson Combat
- Cabot Guns
This is typically when the buyer can choose different stock components the company offers, but nothing will be built to the buyer’s exact specifications. It is one step above just picking one off a shelf and buying it.
*Note: Just because a firearm is a custom or semi-custom, does not necessarily make it better. Typically speaking true customs are of a higher quality, but the true value of the pistol is solely determined by the buyer and shooter. You can find gorgeous 1911’s that are on the cheaper end of the price spectrum that will perform, or in some cases outperform, firearms on the opposite end.
5 Best 1911’s
The best way to go about your next 1911 purchase is to handle as many as you can and shoot as many different models as you can. This way you will be able to accurately determine what feels best, looks best, and shoots best to you.
In no particular order, here’s our list of the best 1911’s for the money.
The Remington R1 is a wonderful American made 1911 that is both affordable, between 700 and 800 dollars and well built. It will give you a long life and consistent shooting. Remington has been making grade A firearms for a long time and the R1 is no exception to their high standards and great products.
This sidearm features modern components and technology including its pleasantly clean design and feel. Whether it’s the checkered walnut grip or the black satin metal finish, this 1911 is just as fun to look at as it is to shoot. It comes with a 7 + 1 capacity which means 7 rounds in the clip and one in the chamber. The R1 comes with front and rear dovetail sights, a lowered and flared ejection port, and both the frame and slide are made from carbon steel.
This has great performance straight out of the box and is sure to make any shooter happy, regardless if they are new to 1911’s or long time users.
Auto-Ordnance 1911 BKO
The 1911 pistol from Auto-Ordnance, called the BKO, is a classic U.S army inspired pistol. Even though it would appear to belong in the hands of a soldier during world war two make no mistake, this full sized pistol is built for the modern shooter.
Chambered for the classic .45 caliber round, the BKO features a smooth trigger pull with three safeties. Those include a firing pin block, the thumb safety, and of course the traditional 1911 grip safety. It also is built with a front blade sight and adjustable rear sight. This is a very rugged sidearm that is built to last, and with a price of just under 600 dollars, this is a fantastic budget 1911. If you want a classically inspired, full size, solid 1911, and money is the main concern, the Auto-Ordinance 1911 BKO might be the right pistol for you.
Colt Combat Elite
When it comes to being made in the United States, and having a name synonymous with cowboys, army rangers, and practically any war the U.S has been a part of, Colt is the ultimate American classic gun brand. Their revolvers were used during the civil war, and the newer Colt .45 that took over all revolver use at the turn of the century, is actually being reintroduced as a standard military pistol once again. Something about the 9mm not being strong enough, caused politicians to agree to the reintroduction.
When people think of pistols and America, they tend to think of Colt. Whether you love the older revolvers, the classic Colt 1911, or any of the modern sidearms produced by Colt, one thing is for sure; they are a great company that produces great products and have been doing so for a very long time.
The Colt Combat Elite is no exception, and the best part is this pistol is reasonably priced. Actually, at right around a thousand dollars, and when including all this 1911 has to offer, this is arguably the best Colt 1911 for the money.
First, the Colt Combat Elite is great to look at with its two toned finish and half smooth half checkered rosewood handle. Then, it has been designed for the combat target shooter with precision and reliability at the forefront of the design. It has an upgraded hammer, a full-length guide rod, a lowered ejection port that is also flared, and Novak® sights that are lowered and have dots for superb target acquisition.
This 1911 is built to higher demand for shooting and reliability. With a smooth, consistent trigger pull this 1911 will prove time and time again to be the only 1911 you need to own.
Kimber Custom II Two-Tone Handgun
Kimber is another American brand that has proven repeatedly that they can create amazing firearms. Their custom two-tone 1911 closely resemble the Colt Combat Elite and is arguably just as good. This Kimber 1911 is no exception to high standards and not only can keep up and outperform similar pistols, it is very reasonably priced. With an MSRP of just under 800 dollars, this is a great 1911 at a great price.
The Kimber Custom II 1911 is nice on the eyes and feels fantastic in the hands. The frame forged from one solid block of steel giving added durability, a longer life, and a great feel in the hand. It shoots really nice as well, given its upgraded smooth and consistent trigger. That, and considering the 5-inch match grade barrel, this sidearm is about as accurate as they come.
Para 1911 Expert
The Para 1911 Expert holds true to its name; however, it is not just great for expert shooters, but rather shooters of any level of expertise. It doesn’t hurt that it has a very friendly price as well, selling for about 700 or slightly less depending on where you buy it from. The Para 1911 Expert Stainless features a green fiber optic front site which makes for incredibly quick target acquisition, a match grade skeleton trigger for consistently smooth pulls, and a larger than average ejection port to help eliminate jamming and malfunctions.
This comes with an 8 round magazine for a total of 9 rounds of .45 ACP with one in the chamber. It also has a nice lighter pressure beavertail grip safety and has an all around solid and balanced feel. This is a great 1911 at a great price, and will most certainly give you years of reliable accurate shooting.
Remember, when you are about to buy the best 1911 for the money, be sure to consider a couple key things:
What is your intended use?
If you are looking for a hunting or personal defense sidearm, think about which ones are designed for that, or have the ability to add extras such as aftermarket sights or lights. Likewise, if you want something for competition shooting, be sure to look into those 1911’s designed for such activities.
What is your budget?
This is both personal and very important for a lot of people. You don’t want to feel like you didn’t spend enough, or that you spent too much on something that is proving to not give you what you expected. Remember, there is no shame in second hand 1911’s. Actually, in many cases, you can find like-new 1911’s typically way out of your price range for cheaper than you may think.