Best 1911 Pistol 2020 Review

A 1911 (M1911) pistol is a single-action, semi-automatic and recoil-operated magazine-fed pistol usually using .45 ACP cartridge. From 1911 to 1986, it served as the standard-issue sidearm in the United States Armed Forces.  It is undoubtedly one of the most well-known pistols in the world.

It also played a major part in history as it was widely used in World War I and World War II. As of 1940, the formal designation was Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911.

Ideal for self-defense and concealed-carry, the 1911 pistol is famous for its’ use of a short recoil principle and basic design. The 1911 pistol became so popular especially with civilian shooters in competitive events.

In this article we’re reviewing the best 1911 pistols on the market

Our 10 Favorite 1911 Pistols

Name of prooductWeightCapacityBarrel lengthCartridgePrice
KIMBER MFG. - 1911 MICRO 9 CDP LG 9 MM 3.15IN 9MM STAINLESS/BLUE 6+1RD0.98 lbs 6+13.15"9 mm Luger$$
COLT - COMBAT ELITE 5IN 45 ACP TWO TONE 8+1RD2.25 lbs8+15"45 Auto (ACP)$$$
KIMBER MFG. - 1911 MICRO BEL AIR 380 ACP 2.75IN 380 AUTO STAINLESS 6+1RD 0.84 lbs 6+12.75"380 Auto (ACP)$$
KIMBER MFG. - 1911 MICRO 9 CRIMSON CARRY 9 MM 3.15IN 9MM STAINLESS/BLUE 6+1RD0.98 lbs 6+13.15"9 mm Luger$$
TAURUS - PT-1911 5IN 45 ACP BLUE 8+1RD2.44 lbs8+15"45 Auto (ACP)$
. SIG SAUER - 1911 ULTRACOMPACT 3.3IN 45 ACP STAINLESS 7+1RD 1.75 lbs7+13.3"45 Auto (ACP)$$$
DAN WESSON - DAN WESSON RZ-10 5IN 10MM STAINLESS 9+1RD2.38 lbs9+15"10 mm Auto$$$
ROCK ISLAND ARMORY - M1911-A1 TACTICAL 5IN 45 ACP PARKERIZED 8+1RD 2.47 lbs8+15"45 Auto (ACP)$
KIMBER MFG. - 1911 ULTRA CARRY II 9MM 3IN 9MM BLACK / SILVER 8+1RD1.57 lbs8+13"9 mm Luger$$

The top 10 are decided by certain factors:

  1. Weight
  2. Capacity
  3. Barrel length
  4. Cartridge
  5. Price


If you are looking for the best 1911 pistol for your everyday carry, you may prefer a lightweight 1911 pistol over a heavier one as it could be carried around in any of your handbags, slings and such. A heavy 1911 pistol could influence the accuracy of the shot and comfortableness as well.


Generally, a high capacity firearm is defined when it is capable of holding more than 10 rounds for handguns. There are several exceptions though depending on the firearm. A 10+1 round capacity means that the magazine will hold ten while +1 represents the one pre-loaded on the barrel.

Barrel length

A longer barrel length have provides more accuracy at long ranges because you will get more velocity from the same cartridge. On the other hand, a shorter barrel has the advantage of a lighter shotgun and will be more maneuverable. Plus, it will be easily stored and concealed.


Determining the right cartridge for your chosen 1911 pistol would help you to buy them when needed and it will help you to factor in the cost required to buy the cartridges when choosing the best 1911 pistol.



The first on the list of best 1911 pistol would be the Kimber Micro 9mm pistol. The Kimber 1911 pistol uses 9 mm Luger cartridge and has 6+1-Round capacity. The 9mm Luger cartridge is still lethal at long ranges although it is designed to be lethal up to 50 meters.

Combining moderate recoil and a flat trajectory, the 9mm Luger cartridge provides significant expansion and penetration. In human-sized living targets, it is capable of wounding it due to the energy of 9mm Luger.  This makes it one of the best 9mm ammo for self defense.

The barrel length is 3.15″ and the overall length of the Kimber 1911 pistol is 6.1″. The finishing is stainless or blue so you have 2 types to choose from. The magazine type is removable. The detachable magazine speeds the process of reloading for quick access to ammo.

The Kimber Micro 9 features tritium night sights, laser grips and ambidextrous safety. The recoil spring is 16 pounds while the height 90 degrees to barrel is 4.07 inches. The frame is made of aluminum while the width is 1.06 inches.

The front strap checkering is 30-lines per-inch and the twist rate (rate of spin in the rifle barrel) for left hand is 16 inches per turn. This means that in 16 inches, the rifling will spin the bullet in one revolution. A low number of twist rate is a good thing because the bullet will spin faster.

Featuring a carry melt treatment, the Micro 9 1911 pistol was purpose built for concealed carry. the muzzle is plain while the rear sight is a night sight. The stock material is laser grips and the total weight would be 0.98 lbs.

The 3-dot tritium night sights are fixed and low-profile with 4.3 inches radius. The grips are rosewood and checkered while the trigger is solid aluminum. Factory setting of the trigger is approximately 7.0 pounds.

You’re not getting this best 1911 pistol hung up on your clothes due to the snag-free design. The edges are rounded in accordance with the carry melt treatment. The 1911 pistol is an Every Day Carry pistol which could stands up against the competition.

You could use it as a backup pistol as well since it is small enough for that purpose. If you prefer for more capacity, you’ll have to step down because the 9mm round isn’t any smaller. Instead, you can carry extra magazines.

A total of 3 are given which seems generous. Many manufacturers throw in one or two only. Also, due to the smaller size and short barrel, there is some kick but it could be manageable without being uncomfortable.

However, it might take some adjustments if you have large hands to adept to your normal shooting grip. My palm certainly did slip off the bottom edge of the grip.

Suitable for:

  • Fixed night sights
  • Significant expansion

COLT – COMBAT ELITE 1911 Firearm

COLT - COMBAT ELITE 1911 Firearm

Second best 1911 pistol review is the Colt Combat Elite. The Colt Combat Elite is a single action pistol with forged steel receiver. Also, the steel slide is forged carbon, forged steel slide stop and forged stainless steel barrel.

Novak low mount carry sights with dots are included as well with front and rear slide serrations. Along with the enhanced 3-hole trigger, an extended single side tactical safety lock is featured as well.

Meanwhile, the grip safety is upswept beavertail. The grip allows more comfortable shooting as it keeps you hand very high on the gun and doesn’t chew on your hand like several grip safeties do.

The rosewood grips are half smooth and half checkered with embossed Colt logo. The two-tone finish 1911 pistol has lowered and flared ejection port.

The best 1911 pistol uses 45 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) caliber and the barrel length would be 5.0″. The capacity is 8+1 and the safety is ambidextrous. Therefore, it is suitable for both left and right handed users.

The weight would be 36 oz and the frame finish is stainless. The slide-to-frame fit was good and there was no discernable play in the middle of the muzzle and the bushing or at the breach face. The barrel lock-up was solid and I was pleased that it goes without the hard “clunk”.

At the base of the trigger guard, the frontstrap has a ball cut. There were no malfunctions as I ran 100+ rounds of ball ammo. The Novak sights presented the customary sight picture. What’s more, even with a variety of loads, the Combat Elite was 100-percent reliable.

When tested for accuracy, I managed to produce a 2.16-inch group from using ASYM Precision’s 185-grain TSX load as well as a 1.29-inch group when PNW’s TacOps 185-grain SCP load is used. Meanwhile, I got a 1.93-inch group when I used the Hornady’s Critical Duty 220-grain +P load. The results were very satisfying for me.

You might need some thought with the proper setup for carrying this full-size 1911 pistol. For that, I would suggest the Galco V-Hawk concealment holster. It will offer maximum support for an otherwise large pistol.

In my opinion, the trailing edge of the thumb safety might better serve you if it were beveled instead. Also, I’d like to have radiuses on the sharp edges designed on the slide and frame of the Combat Elite.

To sum up this best 1911 pistol review, the Colt 1911 pistol has good fit and finish along with very functional sights and controls.

Suitable for:

  • Functional sights
  • Functional controls



Next best 1911 pistol would be the Kimber Micro Bel Air. The Micro Bel Air pistol uses 380 Auto (ACP) cartridge with 6+1-round capacity. Comparing it to the 9mm cartridge which is more powerful, the 380 ACP round is cheaper and easier to handle and conceal.

The barrel length is 2.75” while the finishing is stainless. The total length of this best 1911 pistol would be 5.6″. The magazine is removable and has fixed front sight and rear sight equipped. The single action 1911 pistol includes 1 x 6-round magazine.

The muzzle is plain and the stock material is Micarta. Micarta refers to a material which is sort of like a composite of linen, canvas, paper, fiberglass, and other fabrics in plastic which has been thermosetted. The weight would be 0.84 lbs.

The Micro Bel Air 1911 pistol features a stainless steel slide along with a solid aluminum match grade trigger. The frame has Blue Air finishing and there is a high cut under trigger guard which will provide a better grip on the pistol and there would be no drawback.

The Kimber also provides carry melt treatment in which the sights and edges are rounded and blended. This is to ensure that those parts will not catch with the clothing. In short, it will be less snaggy and easier to pull it out of the holster.

It weighs 13 ounces when empty so it fits perfectly in a pocket or a handbag. Also, it releases right where you expect it. Hit it with your thumb on the side of the pistol slide release and then safety up. Safe down for fire again.

The factory set trigger is about 7 pounds and fires from a single action mode. The trigger pull is always going to be the same. You are not going to have a long double action trigger pull for the first shot and then a short single action trigger pull for shots after that.

For smaller framed shooter, they would be overjoyed with this best 1911 pistol since it is a fact that the recoil spring is only 8 pounds. This gun is very easy to charge and you don’t have to struggle to pull that slide back and get the first round into the chamber.

There were no issues when I shot using Full Metal Jacket 100 grain ammo from Black Hills ammo against a steel target placed around 10 yards from me. Since it is so small and light, the recoil jumps back and may cause you some problems.

Furthermore, practicing with this pistol was painful since the frame mounted safety dug into my thumb. Overall, this is a great and handy pistol.

Suitable for:

  • small framed shooter
  • set factory trigger



It goes without saying that I was a little skeptical when I learned about Kimber’s new Custom Crimson Carry II. Why would a company with one of the most attractive lineups available today alter anything, even by adding something as seemingly innocent and functional as Crimson Trace Lasergrips? When two of the firearm industry’s giants work in partnership, though, it’s worth a look.

Its vertical orientation was a smart move. Were it horizontal, the odds of inadvertent disabling upon presentation would have been increased. It’s also smartly located in a recess that measures less than 1⁄16 inch deep.

to further minimize the chances of accidental movement. The toggle itself does not protrude above the recess, and as a result you don’t know it’s there when handling the gun. Nothing extrudes to hang up on a holster or clothing. It took a little more than 2 pounds of pressure to activate the master switch on the test gun. After the conscious effort it took to move it with my fingernail, that figure came as a pleasant surprise.

The switch is located at the lower right side of the grip panel, again a smart move considering most shooters are right handed. While it’s worth noting, the fact that the switch is covered by a southpaw’s palm upon presentation shouldn’t be a concern. When you draw is not the time to decide whether you want the laser on or off.

Even with the master switch on, the laser-sighting device is only activated when a pressure-sensitive switch located on the front of the grip is depressed. There’s really no movement involved—hold the gun and the laser appears downrange.

All the products feature an over-molded, pressure-sensitive switch that’s ergonomically located. We position the switch so that holding the gun in a normal firing grip will activate the laser.

The small pressure switch contact inside the over-molded button is very thin and requires very little pressure to activate. Thus we can produce a button that doesn’t interfere with the ergonomics of the grip.”

The over-molded switch wraps around the front of the grip, covering about 5⁄8 inch at its thinnest and nearly an inch at the sides. When compared to a standard 1911, it did not compromise the feel and handling of the Custom Crimson Carry II, despite the slight 1⁄16-inch swelling needed to accommodate the pressure switch and enclosed circuitry.

Replacing batteries is a snap; the unit is entirely self-contained and the wood finish is befitting a classic two-tone handgun like this. The pressure-activation switch even anchors in the grips with a stylish Kimber logo. All the products are water-resistant. The diode itself is sealed water-tight. One model, the LG-204M for Beretta M9 pistols, is waterproof to MIL-STD 810-F and is designed for military applications.

Suitable for:

  • Military applications
  • water-resistant

TAURUS – PT-1911 Compact Gun

TAURUS - PT-1911 Compact Gun

For some reason, I’ve had this deeply held belief that a 1911 shouldn’t be a noob’s first gun.It’s an expensive, complex gun with a large and powerful caliber round that spits forth from it. While I’ve shot 1911s on many occasions, I’ve yet to put one through the tests.

Granted, this is partially because I haven’t been able to get my hands on one long enough to actually run my gauntlet. For some odd reason, people don’t like the idea of me conducting my “limp wrist test” on their $1500 Dan Wesson Custom.  Can’t say I blame them, mind you, I cringe a bit when I do it to my own guns.

That’s the other problem with 1911s: most people aren’t going to drop more than $600 on their first pistol and, for the most part, a solid 1911 falls in the $800+ range. There are a couple of exceptions, however.

I won’t go too far into their history but this is a gun that was designed over 100 years ago and has remained in service for that entire time. Some parts of the US Military are still issuing it and other are still adopting it over more modern firearms.  The most interesting part, to me at least, is the fact that this gun has remained relatively unchanged to this day.

Sure, they’ve added the checkering and skeletonizing but those are arguably cosmetic. The core functionality, however, is just the same as John Browning created long ago.  It’s a testament to his engineering genius, really.

For starters, they didn’t use their normal casting method to make this gun. It’s hammer forged and machined to very exact specifications.  They also have pistolsmiths match everything and tune it.

A 1911 shouldn’t be an forge, stamp and ship type of gun and Taurus is taking their time with each one so we can check that requirement box.

Secondly, the thing people love most about 1911s is that super sweet single-action only trigger. It needs to be short, smooth and super crisp.  The Taurus trigger achieves this as well.  It’s super short and weighs in at about a 5 pound pull.  It feels no different to me than the Kimber’s triggers that I’ve shot before.

Third is accuracy. A 1911 should be a tack driver.The general rule of thumb is that a 1911 should be able to shoot 2” groups at 25 yards out of the box.

Another bit of full disclosure: I can’t personally shoot 2” groups at 25 yards with any of my pistols. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m just not there yet

Suitable for:

  • Accuracy
  • Penetration



The Ultra is SIG’s entry into the small 3 inch barreled 1911 market. For many, many years of my life the conventional wisdom said that making a 1911 shorter than a 4.25 inch barrel was sheer folly.

Conventional wisdom told us that the short slide would recoil and return too quickly rendering the pistol completely unreliable. Conventional wisdom surmised that the recoil would be too intense.

Conventional wisdom determined that the short barrel would lose a tremendous amount of velocity because the powder in .45 ACP cartridges required 5 inches of barrel to burn completely. The great thing about the market place is that demand drives innovation and the shooting public wanted their beloved 1911 in a smaller size.

Where the conventional wisdom saw roadblocks talented gunsmiths saw challenges in need of solutions. As more and more states began granting concealed weapon permits the public wanted smaller pistols to be chambered in larger calibers and one by one the talented gunsmiths began to overcome the challenges that the conventional wisdom felt were neither possible nor practical.

The solution to the reliability problem also assisted with the recoil issue. In order to get the pistol to function the gunsmiths experimented with heavier recoil springs so that the recoil and return of the slide was timed properly.

The eventually led to the development of full length guide rods paired with double and triple recoil spring systems. They made the dis-assembly of the pistol a little more difficult but the pistols worked.  The stout spring systems also impeded the intense recoil that the shooter would normally experience.

Now, don’t get me wrong, these little blasters are still a handful to shoot but they can be managed and many are capable of accuracy levels that exceeds most shooters expectations. The last conundrum was solved by the ammo companies who began producing powers that burned quicker and mitigated some of the velocity loss with the 3 inch barrel.

So, let’s talk about SIG. From the moment I fired my first SIG 1911 I immediately realized that SIG put their heart and sole into their new line-up.  Some quick research showed me that the SIG 1911’s were produced with parts representing a Who’s Who of premium 1911 gunsmiths.

I’m not going to resubmit the list mentioned in an earlier SIG 1911 review as I do not know that the suppliers are still current but it was impressive. SIG produces two 1911’s which I feel are near perfect carry pistols in the C3 and the RCS.

Suitable for:

  • Compact
  • Every day carry



Out of the box, the Bruin’s a good-looking gun. In fact, it’s aesthetically unique; the slide has an angled cut up from under the muzzle that gives the gun a distinctive outline. It looks great but it’s a pain to reassemble.

The recoil spring plug is also up-cut. The plug is long and heavy. There’s one and only one way to fit the plug into the slide’s recess. It takes a bit of turning with the spring to get it set-up right, and then a few cycles back and forth with the empty gun to get it seated just so.

The Bruin’s slide includes two sets of cocking serrations, front and rear. They’re wide and deep and enable ideal hand placement. That said, the front cuts are completely unnecessary in a firearm primarily made for hunting, and they detract from the pistol’s otherwise clean look.

The rest of the Bruin’s 9.7-inch long slide is minimally marked; the model name in discreet script sits in front of the rear cocking serrations. The 10mm Bruin is available with a black slide and controls and a bronze colored frame, or dressed all in Dan Wesson’s very black Duty Finish. Both models are fitted with simple but functional G10 grips. If you’d like a Bruin in .45 ACP, it’s only available in all-black.

The Bruin’s slide lacks a cut-out for optics and there’s no rail underneath. At this price, for this application, I’d expected to see an optic-ready slide.

The Bruin’s trigger breaks cleanly after a small amount of pre-travel. Although the four-pound pull weight is about what most people would want on a defensive gun, I’d like it closer to 2.5 or three pounds on a hunting gun. Even so, there’s no discernible grit or catchiness to it, and the break is fast and unexpected.

Using American Eagle 180gr FMJ, Blazer 200gr TMJ, and 175gr Hornady Critical Duty store-bought rounds (ED: add to that a box of Creedmoor Sports XTP loads and a box of Underwood Xtreme Penetrator), I had no failures of any type. No problems feeding, extracting, loading or unloading. The magazine never got hung up or stuck on a reload, and the mags always dropped out cleanly.

Considering the extra-long barrel and the accompanying sight radius, I was hoping for sub-0ne-inch accuracy. Off a front bag at 25 yards, my best five-round group measured 1.5 inches, using the relatively inexpensive American Eagle 180gr FMJ. None of the groups I shot ever quite hit the 2″ mark; the Hornady Critical Duty round clocked in at 1.76″.

Suitable for:

  • Every day carry
  • Accuracy



Enter the Rock Island Armory 1911A1. The name itself evokes a sense of nostalgia, though the guns are clearly not the product of the Rock Island Arsenal, or any of the other subcontractors that were making 1911’s during the Second World War. The pistol is an import from the Philippines—a fact most prominently reflected in the price. Around $400.

Yet, the Rock Island A1 strives to replicate many of the old Colt’s iconic features. The gun has a stubby little hammer and a thin beavertail. The pistol is parkerized, like the originals (if in a slightly darker color). Maybe the biggest similarity is that the pistol doesn’t have a firing pin block, so don’t drop it.

The differences are more practical. Lowered ejector port. Beveled magazine well. The barrel has been tweaked so hollow points will feed. While these are really sound ideas, they detract from the pure replication of the A1. But does that matter?

Many corners are cut in the manufacture. The gun has smooth wooden grips. The frame and the slide are cast instead of milled. While cast metal may never have any effect on the performance of the gun, the reliability of Rock Island’s component parts instills tiny seeds of doubt. And that is enough to scare some folks away.

Other differences seem random. The gun has a flat mainspring housing. The A1s were curved slightly. Purists are debating right now which is better and why, though it has more to do with feel.

When it comes down to it, the Rock Island 1911 does what it is supposed to do. I have gone through numerous boxes of .45 ACP without a hitch. However, like most guns (or every apparatus for that matter), you’ll notice it slow down after extended use. In this case, the slide slows after awhile as it gunks up with carbon build up.

The sights are also a bit nubby. They are accurate enough at around 10 yards, but anything after that hitting the bull’s eye becomes a bit difficult. And often times I found myself compensating.

However, groups are always consistent at around 1.5 to two inches at 10 yards. It is a 1911 afterall, and recoil is incredibly mild even for beginner shooters.

But if you do buy this gun, please don’t complain about accuracy. True, the gun is built well-enough, but out-of-the-box from the factory, it’s not meant to be a competition model or anything like that. It is what it is.



Placing second last on the list of best 1911 pistol review is the Kimber Ultra Carry II. The Kimber Ultra Carry II 1911 pistol uses 9 mm Luger cartridge and has 8+1 round capacity. The barrel length is 3” and there are 2 finishing to be chosen from- black and silver.

The total length of the best 1911 pistol would be 6.8″. The magazine is removable and has a full-length guide rod. It is a great compact 1911 in 9mm with premium aluminum match grade trigger factory. The trigger pull weight is set at 4.0 – 5.0lbs.

Furthermore, it weighs 25oz which is pretty lightweight in my opinion. However, my first disappointment was that it came with only one magazine. For the price, I expected 2 but unfortunately I only got one.

Overlooking that issue, I find the 1911 pistol to be very accurate. Kimber made a fine pistol with very close tolerances. For a production pistol, they are very accurate.

Do take note that the slide stayed back before the magazine was empty. Initially, I was confused if this was a slide stop or magazine fault but the problem continued so I am pretty sure that it was the slide stop.

Also, the aluminum alloy frame has been tested to be quite acceptable for hard duty of a heavy caliber pistol. The 3” inches long barrel makes it only 1-3/4 inches shorter than a Commander. On the other hand, comparing it to the Detonics Combat Master, it is only half-inch shorter.

While the trigger is match grade aluminum, the slide is stainless steel. The additional length in the grip allows getting your entire last three fingers on the grip frame.

Shooting using Federal 230grain Hydra Shok ammunition, my group was nice and tight. The perception of recoil was not a factor and the pistol was quite pleasant to shoot. Nonetheless, I would suggest changing the recoil spring every 1800 rounds.

The reason being is that to ensure there will not be spring failure once you hit the magic number of rounds. Now, moving our attention to the sights, they are fixed and extremely rugged. Since they are left black, if I were you I would add white markings on the sights in order to assist my older eyes.

Overall in this 1911 pistol review, the Kimber Ultra Carry II will give you years of excellent service if you keep them clean and well lubed along with proper ammunition and good magazines.



The last on the list of best 1911 pistol review would be the Magnum Research. The Desert Eagle Rail 1911 pistol would have been better if the size of the rollmark on the slide been much more subdued. However, it is not much of an issue to fuss about.

The thumb safety on the best 1911 pistol is very positive and precise “click” into and out of engagement. However, I would suggest dabbing some paint onto the front and rear sights. This will help them to stand out in dim light.

The single action 1911 pistol has 5″ barrel length along with 8-round capacity. The cartridge used is 45 Auto (ACP). ACP stands for Automatic Colt Pistol. For this cartridge, the common rifling twist rate is 406 mm.

The 45 ACP cartridge has a relatively low muzzle blast and flash. This in turn produces moderate recoil in handguns which will be made worse in compact models.

The finishing is Matte Black and a fixed front and rear sight are available. The total length would be 8.625″ for this best 1911 pistol. A 2 x 8-round magazine is included and the magazine type is removable. The muzzle is plain and the stock is made of wood.

It weighs 2.27 lbs and the Desert Eagle Rail best 1911 pistol features an aluminum anodized frame with a stainless steel slide.

Finishing is Matte Black so it doesn’t pick up fingerprints and smudges as easily in my opinion. It will also look more stylish. It is up to your choice though in the end.

The 1911G features deployed front and rear grasping grooves and matte-black slide which is constructed from steel billets. Below the high-ride beavertail grip safety of this best 1911 pistol, a flat-profile checkered aluminum mainspring housing is equipped.

Nonetheless, there is a thumb safety only on the left side. I was pleased to find that the aluminum trigger face was grooved as well as the relieved trigger body. To improve reset time, there was an overtravel stop.

Front strap was smooth and the black finishing was evenly applied on the frame. It will provide an attractive contrast. Moving on to the cocking serrations, they were wide and easy to grab. On top of that, to reduce glare, the front sight blade was grooved side-to-side.

The rear sight was drift-adjustable for windage adjustments. It was also secured by an Allen screw and dovetailed into place. Furthermore, for maximum sight radius, the sight’s rear face was designed to line up with the rear edge of the slide.


I hope these best 1911 pistol reviews has been helpful for you to choose the best 1911 pistol.