The 7 Best Colt 1911 Pistols
Some people want the original, which means a Colt 1911 pistol. They made them first, and some maintain they made them best.
Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t, but Colt is still one of the biggest producers of 1911 pistols and have a very diverse lineup of them. If you wanted one or two or five or six different models, Colt has a 1911 for almost any purpose.
Which to get? It depends on what you’re looking for. However, here are 7 Colt 1911 pistols that should be on anyone’s radar if they’re considering getting into the platform or augmenting their collection.
Traditional Series 1911 Colt Pistols
Colt’s Government models have been re-christened the “Traditional Series,” which are the entry-level, GI-spec 1911 pistols. It might not be the same as the original, but it’s still genuine.
Rosewood grips, classic government sights, blued steel frame and slide, the classic grip safety, flat mainspring housing, 7 rounds of .45 ACP in the box plus one in the pipe…classic 1911.
The standard model starts at $799 MSRP, and there’s a special edition – the 1911 Black Army, with an almost-black finish – for $200 more. The Black Army model also has the Series 70 firing system, which omits the firing pin block.
Colt Rail Gun, The Tactical Line Of Colt Pistols
If you want to get all tactical and whatnot, they also make a number of railed 1911 pistols. The Colt Rail Gun Stainless Steel is the one to buy.
Why? Everyone wants the one they made for the Marine Corps, the M45A1 Marine Pistol. Not that it’s a bad gun – far from it! – it’s more that the Rail Gun SS gives you basically everything the M45A1 does and for $500 less. MSRP is $1199. It’s not nothing, but you get a lot of features. Oh, and you can get in 9mm if you prefer; the M45A1 is .45 ACP or nothing.
The Rail Gun comes with Colt’s National Match barrel, Novak white dot sights, forward and rear serrations, skeleton hammer, a Series 80 firing system, Colt’s dual recoil spring system, beavertail grip safety and an M1913 Picatinny rail. What does the M45A1 give you over that? The tan finish, tritium sights and G10 grips. That’s it. You can upgrade the sights and grips for less than half the difference, if needs be. Tactical, practical and much more reasonably priced despite the guts being exactly the same.
Sound like too much? Get the Colt Combat Unit. Everything is the same as the Marine Pistol (night sights, G10 grips) but a gray steel frame. It’s still $200 cheaper than the M45A1.
Colt Defender – Colt Pistols That Make Concealed Carry Easy
The Colt Defender is the Officer frame of the current Colt 1911 lineup.
It has a 3-inch barrel, and beavertail grip safety, skeleton hammer and skeleton trigger make things easy on the shooter. Wood grips sit on a blued steel frame, though you can opt for stainless steel if so desired. Novak low-profile night sights sit atop the slide, and more aggressive serrations are machined into the slide for easy manipulation. You get the Series 80 firing system for a safer carry as well.
MSRP for all models is $899. Not too many Officer frames go for less, so it’s actually quite the bargain.
Colt Competition 1911: Budget-Friendly Colt Pistols For Serious Shooting
Don’t want to fork over the staggering amount of money they ask for a Gold Cup? Say hello to the Colt Competition, which actually offers more perks for the money than almost any other 1911 pistol made by…pretty much anybody.
You get a 5-inch Colt National Match barrel and dual recoil spring system for easy, accurate shooting, along with the Series 70 trigger system for a clean, crisp pull. Novak sights with a fiber optic front sit atop the slide for greater precision. A skeleton hammer and trigger and beavertail grip safety are standard, as are blue G10 grips.
The base model is blue steel, and is offered as a 9mm 1911 or .45 ACP. MSRP is $899, but you can opt for stainless steel or Colt’s Titanium finish for an extra $100. For an extra $150 over the base model, the SS version is also available in .38 Super.
If you want a competition gun – or a 1911 that will give you the sweet shooting dynamics people talk about – without breaking the bank…try to find a better gun for the money. You won’t find it.
Colt Delta Elite, The Colt Pistol For When You Aren’t Kidding Around Anymore
The myth, the legend, the Colt Delta Elite. The 10mm powerhouse on the 1911 platform. It went out of production for a time, but came roaring back in the late 2000s and appears to be here to stay.
The Delta Elite is a Series 80 Colt 1911 pistol rejiggered for the 10mm Auto. Barrel length is 5 inches, and all models get a beavertail grip safety, competition-style safety lever, skeleton hammer and trigger, and Novak sights. The grips are black polymer with the Colt Delta logo.
The base model is stainless steel, with an MSRP of $1199. A two-tone finish is available for no extra charge. If you’re okay with blowing an extra $100, you can get a railed version. In any case, you get one of the best 10mm pistols on the market.
Lightweight Commander: The Goldilocks of Colt Pistols
The Colt Lightweight Commander is the best of all possible worlds. You get the comfortable ergonomics of the Colt 1911 platform, but optimized for easier concealed carry. The Commander frame cuts the barrel down to 4.25 inches, and the alloy frame lightens the load from 37.5 ounces for the standard model down to 30 ounces.
The standard model is blued steel with G10 grips that resemble wood, a nice touch. A beavertail grip safety, bobbed hammer and trigger along with Colt’s dual recoil spring system make for easy shooting. Novak sights adorn the slide and make precise shooting a cinch, along with easy target acquisition. It is a series 80, so you get the firing pin block that a carry gun ought to have.
The 9mm model has been dropped from the lineup, so be okay with .45 caliber. You can get an LWC in 9mm, however, by opting for the Wiley Clapp Lightweight Commander Model, which adds $300 in MSRP to the $999 base price of the LWC. That said, the LWC is considered by many to be the Goldilocks of 1911 pistols. Big enough for easy accurate shooting, but just compact and light enough for easier packing.
The King Of Colt Pistols: Colt Gold Cup Trophy
The Colt Gold Cup Trophy is the creme de la creme, the top of the line before you get into Colt pistols from their custom shop. It’s one of the all-time classic competition pistols, though some people do carry them everyday. After all, you want your carry gun to be accurate.
The Gold Cup Trophy features a stainless finish, BoMar-style rear sight and fiber optic front. Blue G10 stocks adorn the grip, with 25 LPI checkering on the front and back, with a flared magwell ring to aid reloads. The Series 70 firing system is installed, along with a skeleton hammer and trigger, upswept beavertail safety with memory notch, competition safety lever and Colt’s National Match Barrel.
You have your choice of 9mm, .45 ACP or .38 Super. The cost of entry is stiff at $1699 MSRP, but you’re paying for quality. Granted, if you wanted to pay a little less and still get quality, the Colt Gold Cup series included the base Gold Cup (most of the same stuff, minus the checkering and mag well) for $1200, or the Gold Cup National Match, the classic Colt competition gun with target sights atop a GI-style pistol, for $1300.