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Wilson Combat CQB, Ed Brown Kobra Carry
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I've just gotten into 1911s and my first and current one is a 5" full size one. I am now looking into a smaller one for carry, but my local shops don't really have any 1911s for me to try or handle. How did you guys go about finding the right one for you to carry?

So many options w/ slide length, and single stack vs. double stack, and light frame vs full steel etc.
 

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When I started, the only decent 1911 carry gun was the Colt LWC. At my age and with arthritis, I knew I wanted to try 9mm. So I bought a relatively inexpensive RO Champion to try it. Liked a LWC in 9mm, but wanted a more refined pistol, bought a Guardian and quite happy with it since it's put together with my preferences and better quality.
 

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Wilson Sentinel compact, Ed Brown Kc9, Nighthawk T4
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I think I did it the smart way - I spend an unknown ridiculous amount of money trying everything under the sun from a $700 1911 3” gun to a $4500 1911 3.6” gun only to come full circle and realize my DW ECO is probably the perfect carry pistol for me , I say this because while I absolutely love my NH counselor I do have concerns about it getting dinged up, rusted damaged etc from the everyday use and the cost of entry is somewhat prohibitive at $4299
Another great option is the Staccatto C - very light weight
 

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I agree with above. "Perfect" is a myth, but the hunt is fun.

I started with a Wilson CQBE. After a year or so I had it in my head I should try a commander to cut down the size. Picked up a DW VBOB, its great and the bobtail is great.
But I never really warmed up to the commander. It's just my opinion, and I'm definitely in the minority, but the commander doesn't balance as well as a 5" to me.
So I went back to a 5" government NH. Carried it for 2yrs then my brain started saying I really need to try a Wilson ULCC. Picked one up and been carrying for a short time now and think it is great

Give me another 1.5yrs and I'll be on the hunt again. 😀
 

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It’s probably not what you want to hear, but trial and error is really the only method. To the extent you can, finding guns you can handle (and shoot) will help reduce the number of iterations — but at the end of the day, you have to get them and try them and see what works.

The good news is that these guns will generally hold their value - so the “cost” of trying several guns won’t be astronomical.
 

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Buy a doublestack long slide, carry that. After a month you can carry anything you want comfortably.
That’s kind of like saying: marry my ex-wife, then any woman after her will be great by comparison! 😄
 

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Batteries_included
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My "perfect" criteria most likely will not be the same as yours. I have 2 guns for specific carry purposes - a 1911 A2 RIA government double stack as a truck pistol and an STI Officer size Escort with aluminum frame for carrying on my body. Both are .45 ACP. I started the search with a list of what feature is the most important to me on down to what is the least important to me.
 

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FREEDOM IS NOT FREE
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There is no "perfect" carry gun. The search is the best part of the addiction. ;)
That's the truth!

I like many different types and sizes like many or most Addicts here. The "Perfect" carry gun? I don't know if that actually exists.

The answer is a variety of carry guns depending on your attire, weather and activities for said time.
 

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FREEDOM IS NOT FREE
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Also I'll add that to me a carry gun is the one I'm actually carrying on me. This doesn't include the handguns and rifles in my truck.
 

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It’s probably not what you want to hear, but trial and error is really the only method. To the extent you can, finding guns you can handle (and shoot) will help reduce the number of iterations — but at the end of the day, you have to get them and try them and see what works.

The good news is that these guns will generally hold their value - so the “cost” of trying several guns won’t be astronomical.
Trial and error, and shooting your friends’ pistols are the only reliable methods. You can fondle some in gun shops, but most shops don’t want you dry firing. Rentals are another option, but that can get expensive.
Personally, I went through 5-6 pistols before I found “the one”.
Revolver Material property Everyday carry Air gun Gun barrel
 

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So I've just gotten into 1911s and my first and current one is a 5" full size one. I am now looking into a smaller one for carry, but my local shops don't really have any 1911s for me to try or handle. How did you guys go about finding the right one for you to carry?

So many options w/ slide length, and single stack vs. double stack, and light frame vs full steel etc.
As mentioned, the perfect carry gun doesn't exist since it's a perfectly sized weapon for the current situation that holds thousands of 888 caliber cartridges and has everything one could want in a weapon.

In terms of carry 1911's, I discovered through trial and error a few things:

1) A Springfield EMP is Glock 19 height, but the shorter barrel facilitates appendix carry. The hammer area improves concealment since the rear of the G19's slide can print. The trade off is reliability since Springfield's 1911's are not very well built and they "hire" every customer to do QC for them.

Air gun Trigger Gun barrel Gun accessory Rectangle


2) Commander 1911's don't print through the back pocket like a 1911 Government does. It retains the control and capacity of the full sized grip at the expense of a bit of extra recoil.

3) 1911 Government's with their 5" barrels give maximum ballistics without being unwieldy like a 1911 with 6" barrel.

4) The full sized grip is harder to conceal than an Officers grip. This can matter, depending upon the shirt or jacket. Holster selection and configuration is critical.

DW Valor Government carried appendix in a Tenicor Certum 3

Shoe Black Grey Sleeve Khaki

Brown Rectangle Font Cross Wood


5) I really like a short trigger with thin grip panels on any normal grip (full or Officers), but it's not needed for the EMP.

6) Concealment of the 1911 is holster, belt and shirt dependent.

7) The heavier the gun, the better your belt has to be; the interface of the holster to the belt is exceptionally important. The gun will flop back if the holster's loops are not spread out; the butt of the gun will print and, even worse, you'll feel uncomfortable with the movement. Therefore, widely spaced loops on the holster is essential. Milt Sparks Criterion shown below.

Handgun holster Personal protective equipment Auto part Fashion accessory Metal


8) Shorter barrels reduce reliability in 45 ACP, but a properly tuned 1911 in 9x19mm can handle it. They carry "easier" in the appendix and strongside positions, as well as in shoulder holsters.

Air gun Trigger Wood Gun barrel Gun accessory


9) People rail against manual safeties, but forget they may have to operate the gun left handed. I believe that full control of the gun with either hand is important in a fight. While I can operate a 1911 with single sided safety, it's awkward and breaks my grip, which is slow and unsafe.

10) Owning multiple guns gives you flexibility. I like having my EMP, Commander, and Government models. A CCO model in 9x19mm is a good compromise, but I don't have one. I had a Dan Wesson ECO 9mm; it was a great carry gun. Keep in mind that a Glock 17 and 1911 Commander are nearly identical in size (with the Commander being slightly more concealable due to the hammer area of the slide).

11) I really like the 4.0 to 4.1" barrel length for carry. It's a great compromise for non-45 ACP calibers. It's not quite CCO slide length (4.25") but it feels really good in the holster.

12) Learn to work on your gun. You need to know how to tune the extractor. Even my Nighthawks came back from NHC with incorrect extractor tension. I lightened them up to about 26-27 ounces and now they work fine. Also learn how to install and maintain grip panels, grip screws and bushings. Get a sight tool and learn to install sights. Finally, learn how to fully disassemble and reassemble the gun.

13) I use Wilson Combat ETM magazines for 9 and 45 almost exclusively. I do have some NHC mags that work well, as well as DW factory mags.

14) I like Trijicon HD or HD XR night sights with orange front. They really help me shoot as my eyes age.

15) There is nothing wrong with being a 1911 aficionado. If you carry a 1911 Commander in 9mm, it is the same size as a Glock 17. You are giving up capacity in favor of the attributes of the 1911: trigger, hammer area improved concealment, overall feel and beauty.
 

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On The Lost Highway
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546 Posts
I was handed a blued 4" barrel Smith & Wesson model 10 revolver and told to shut up and like it....oh yeah, don't get caught not carrying it....ever. As in 24/7.

I had a lot of other stuff to worry about like hungry kids, a light bill that came every month like clockwork, and staying alive. All of these concerns took precedence over something easier and more comfortable to carry for quite a while.

Finally I was able to get about four jobs going along with my city gig and was able to buy a new model 36 Chief Special to carry off duty and in my uniform pocket as a backup.

Carrying that BIG model 10 for a few years taught me that I could carry anything and conceal it. When you remove "choice" from the equation you are freed up to concentrate on the mechanics of concealed carry. You learn the craft.

One night I was tearing down when I noticed that the frame of my Chief felt like a gravel road. OMG....how did that happen? Sweat from pocket carry had pockmarked the blued steel.

I took it to my gunsmith and had him nickel plate it. It's on me....but damn it...who would nickel plate a gravel road? Ok, I didn't tell him to try to buff off the ugly first.

About the same time the new stainless revolvers from S&W were starting to filter down to working stiffs like me. They were also on the department approved for carry list. Maybe if I had 6 jobs and got on the waiting list?

I got the call that my stainless finally came in....a model 67.
That revolver made a believer out of me. Stainless from then on.

I know this is getting lengthy but it's all still with me today. Lessons learned the hard way.

Imagine trying to learn that a BIG pistol actually carries better IWB than a small one. The more of the pistol you have below the belt, the more stable and secure it will be. It took being handed a yoke to bear to drive that lesson home.

After being made to bear the yoke of carrying a big and thick revolver....just image what my first 1911 felt like when it slipped into my waistband. Stainless? You betcha.

My advice is to put in the work.
Instead of looking for "the perfect pistol" learn to carry YOUR pistol perfectly.
 

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I bought what I thought was perfect based on experience and then put about 15k rounds through it... then made a few changes based on those rounds with that gun. A lot more rounds and a couple more changes. It's perfect now. And thinking about building a twin to it, identical except for caliber.

Sometimes light summer attire or work dictate something more discreet... so I'll begrudgingly downsize to a sub compact, plastic gun.
 
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