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.
Colt Government Model
The Colt Government Model is the base model, the entry point. The one that started it all, the ur-1911 pistol. There are some modern touches, but other than that it’s meat and potatoes.
Blue steel and checkered walnut grips, 7+1 of .45 ACP, a single thumb safety, spur hammer, the old school grip safety and a flat mainspring housing are your lot. Sights are a pinned front and driftable rear, though the modern model is three dot rather than iron. Everything you need, nothing you don’t.
The standard model, the 1991 series, uses the Series 80 firing system, replete with a firing pin block. If you just can’t stand the thought or the little bit of takeup the block adds to the trigger, they still make the Series 70. You’ll get the collette bushing and the arched housing, but add $100 to the MSRP. The standard model starts at $799.
Colt Rail Gun
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.
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.
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 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.
Colt Lightweight Commander
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.
Choose 9mm or .45 ACP, whichever you prefer. You could opt for the standard Colt Commander, which adds almost 8 ounces of carry weight but costs the same, so there’s no point in doing so if you’re looking for a carry gun. It could easily be argued that the LW Commander is a better 1911 for the modern consumer than the standard model as it is easily at home on the range an in a carry holster.
Colt Gold Cup Trophy
The Colt Gold Cup Trophy is the pinnacle of Colt 1911 pistols. You’ll pay for the quality, but you’ll get it in abundance.
The Gold Cup Trophy was designed to give the shooter every refinement they’d want in a competition gun without paying an astronomical amount for all the customizations. Essentially, it’s a Colt Gold Cup for the 21st Century…though they still make the classic model if so desired. Granted, MSRP is stiff at $1,699 but compared to other pistols with the same bells and whistles it’s a solid value.
Colt’s National Match barrel and a match bushing are fit to the slide, with a Bomar rear sight and fiber optic front for outstanding accuracy. It uses the Series 70 firing system for a crisp, clean press, with an adjustable skeleton trigger and bobbed hammer. The dual recoil spring system is added for easy recoil management. A beavertail grip safety allows for a high, tight grip, along with an undercut trigger guard for same. It gets a competition-style safety lever for easy use.
The front of the grip and the mainspring housing wear 25 LPI checkering, and Colt’s blue G10 grips adorn the grip on the sides. A modest magazine well bevel is added for easy reloads. The pistol is finished in brushed stainless steel for a classy appearance.
The Gold Cup Trophy is offered in 9mm and .45 ACP, whichever may be preferred.
Yes, the price is extravagant, but this is as good a gun as can be had short of an actual custom shop gun. If you were to upgrade a Colt 1911 pistol with all the features, you’d shell out more for them than just getting the Gold Cup Trophy, so it’s actually a bargain in that regard.