New innovations replace old ideas and we call it progress. The plethora of modern high-capacity magazine handguns has caused many to relegate the 1911a1 to the trash heap along with the Model T Ford. Hold on cowboys, not so fast!
There are a lot of modern high-capacity magazine, polymer framed handguns on the market today. And a lot of them are outstanding designs. I personally have been carrying a Glock 19 as my primary carry gun for a number of reasons. But I also still have my custom combat 1911a1 which I also carry in certain situations. The modern gun press, as well as many military and Law Enforcement organizations have taken the view that a high-capacity handgun in 9mm is God’s gift to the shooting world, and have decided to relegate the 19lla1 and it’s cousin, the Browning High Power ( even though the High Power carrys 13 in the mag) to the dust bins of history. Why? Are there valid reasons? Personally I do not think so. And I still consider my 1911a1 as a modern and viable self-defense weapon.
So lets take a look at some of the criticisms of the 1911a1 and analyze their validity. Many of these criticisms come from service members who had to train on and carry the 1911a1.
I spent 8 years of my Army career assigned to various Marksmanship Training Units and I shot on the Army Pistol Team 8 years at the National Matches at Camp Perry. I hold the Army Gold Distinguished Pistol Shot Award. Most of my time though was teaching soldiers how to shoot with off the rack 1911a1’s. The accuracy complaints had more to do with the tiny issue sights than the inherent accuracy of the pistol itself. With the modern sights that come on modern 1911a1s this is no longer a valid criticism. The 1911a1, out of the box, is inherently an accurate pistol. I was successful at teaching a number of 95lb. soaking wet female soldiers to qualify with the issue pistol even using the tiny sights.
Size, Weight and Recoil
1911 series pistols are made in a number of reduced size versions. The Colt Commander started it off years ago and a number of manufactures make Commander sized versions today. Many are no larger or heavier in practical terms than my Glock 19. The 1911 is a man-sized pistol though. Many people with small hands (like myself) can have difficulty getting a proper grip to allow proper trigger finger placement. I solved the problem by installing a flat mainspring housing like the one pictured on the Commander above. In regards to recoil, again, I have trained small women to handle the .45acp very effectively. It’s about training folks! I am not going to revisit the old argument on caliber effectiveness. The .45acp has proven itself as an effective defensive cartridge around the world for a long time. I have had private students that shoot the .45acp better than the .40S&W.
Ahhhhh. Now we are entering the real problem many people have with the 1911a1. They seem to think they are safer with 15 or 17 rounds in the magazine than 7 or 8. Are they really? How many misses are you planning on shooting in defending yourself? And how many armed assailants are you planning on taking on with just your handgun? Now, before all of you high-capacity mag fans start throwing rocks, let me explain what I mean. Lets define what the purpose of a defensive handgun actually is.
To begin with, any handgun is a relatively poor defensive weapon compared to a rifle or shotgun. But is has two advantages over either: It is smaller and easier to conceal and much lighter and easier to carry. It is designed as a last-ditch defense against an armed aggressor. If you need more that 8 rounds in a defensive situation, you should have had a rifle, or a shotgun with you in the first place! Granted there are many Law Enforcement Officers that can only carry their issue handgun normally, and have to leave anything else in the squad car. But that is a function of bad policy and politics. There are some (very few actually) soldiers whose primary weapon is a handgun. In combat zones, most of then scarf up a rifle anyway or their commanders issue one to them. These two groups may feel that they have a legitimate need for more rounds in the mag. But to me, the real issue is training. Now I am going to say something that is going to offend many of my military and LEO friends: Way too many police officers and soldiers couldn’t shoot their way out of a wet paper bag in a serious situation. I know this for a fact as I have trained and trained with many of them. And it’s not their fault. Training hours and ammunition are expensive and many police departments, and even the military, will give the minimum training to get by and that is it. These organizations feel that they can substitute “firepower” for training. But to their credit, many fine police officers and soldiers spend their own money to attend world-class shooting schools to get really proficient.
There is a valid place for the high-capacity magazine 9mm. But those who choose to arm themselves with a 1911a1 in .45acp are most certainly not under gunned, if they are willing to take the time and effort to train with it properly and keep it’s intended use in perspective.