I like carrying a Model 1911 pistol, but I’m not one of those guys who say silly things like: “I carry a .45 because they don’t make a .46.” Sure, .45 ACP is a great caliber. For over 100 years, it’s done an admirable job. But I don’t carry a 1911 because of the default .45 chambering. I carry one because of the gun’s design.
For me, it just fits. The shape and thin profile of the 1911 feel like no other handgun when carried on the belt. And it’s not just about carry comfort. I feel confident shooting a 1911 because of my confidence in being able to hit what I aim at. The combination of grip angle, weight, and that single-action trigger result in a package that I can shoot well.
Nowadays, 1911s come in all shape and sizes, and it’s hard to keep track of the differences between the models, mainly because of the military-influenced naming system—Government, Commander, Officer, Vice-Rear Admiral, Field Marshal, Sub-Leftenant, Syntagmatarchis, Commodore…
OK, I’m not entirely sure about the last five, but I do know of at least three model categories of 1911s—and even those are unclear, because the industry has tweaked and changed things within each named category. So consider the following size categories more as “guidelines” than actual rules, as the dread pirate Captain Hector Barbossa liked to say:
Government Model: In terms of size, the Government model is the original. It’s the big daddy, complete with a 5-inch barrel.
Commander Model: The Commander model is a little more compact, and includes a 4.25-inch barrel.
Officer’s Model: Hey, officers don’t do heavy lifting, right? Maybe that’s why the Officer’s model has a 3.5-inch barrel in the original Colt version first offered in 1985. Since then, many manufacturers have created Officer-like models with 3-inch barrels.
As I said, we’re talking “guidelines” here. The “C.C.O.” or “Concealed Carry Officer’s” pistol mated the slide and barrel assembly of the stainless-steel Commander with the shorter frame of the blued Lightweight Officer’s ACP to make yet another variant.
To find the “Perfect Carry 1911,” I decided to do a head-to-head “wear off,” in which I would carry all three basic configurations and switch between them daily. I called the nice folks at Smith & Wesson and asked to borrow some representative samples of each category: a 1911 eSeries (Government), a 1911 Sc (Commander), and a 1911 Pro Series (Officer).