Did you know, the US military produced around 2.7 million 1911 pistols during its service life from 1911 to 1985, making it one of the most produced firearms of all-time.
We’ll discuss the best 1911 models of all time, Colt, Springfrield, Remington and more.
There’s been a resurgence of the interest in the 1911 in the recent years, which has lead to an explosion of new features, calibers and manufacturers… many of questionable quality that should be avoided like your life depends on it (as it actually does).
More on that latter…
Now let’s get into it!
Best In Any Price Range
1. Colt Gold Cup
If you can afford it I recommend going to the Colt Gold Cup 45 ACP or the Colt XSE Government. As you will see the further down the list people will have something to complain about all gun manufacturers except for Colt.
The only thing people will complain about Colt 1911s is the price, buying a cold 1911 is totally worth the money and you can find many models for less. The price it complexity justified as you’re getting a much superior product that will last a life time…
The reason is that the colts in 1911 retain their value very well, this is expected from a gun, this reliable iconic, and sleek. Gold is one of the few gun manufacturers that can sell you a handgun that is older than you, it will last you a lifetime.
The 1911 Gold Cup has been extremely difficult to find in stock for years. Our certified supplier informed that as of December 1, 2023 to rep emailed to inform us that they got a shipment in from Colt. They are expected to sell out within a week or two, so if there is still one available I’d make sure to pick it up now or you may have to wait 6 month or more:
You see many 1911s in this price range here you can see all the elegant designs with all the bells and whistles.
2. Springfield Range Officer 9mm
The only 9mm that is better than this one is the STI Trojan but it is discontinued, so the best option is the Springfield Range Officer.
At this price range, you’re getting a very potent and reliable gun, it is accurate and comes with all the features you want, the rugged forged frame and slide means that this pistol will last you a lifetime. The gun is also very pleasing to the eyes with its gorgeous and classic style.
**Update** The Springfield Range Office is currently on-sale on our certified supplier until midnight December 11, 2023, make sure to use the link below to ensure you’re getting the most savings:
- Read more: Top 6 Best 9mm Rifles
3. Wilson Combat CQB
The Wilson Combat CQB is as slick as it is one of the most expensive on the list at the moment of writing. Gun builders who have a lot of money to spare will always go for Wilson parts since they are some of the best money can buy.
I recommend The Wilson Combat CQB for this very reason since every part of this pistol is from Wilson, it has everything Wilson quality such as aggressive grips, fiber optic sights, rails, etc. It is expensive but it’s worth every penny.
You get slightly more “bang for your buck” with the Colt Gold Cup, but the quality itself is perhaps even better…
4. Kimber Amethyst Ultra II
Many of Kimber’s pistols come from the 1911 platform. Unlike the tactical look of the Wilson combat CQB, this one is flashy in terms of design.
They come in many sizes and calibers but I recommend going for the Kimber Amethyst Ultra II. It is a subcompact pistol chamber 9mm or 45 ACP with a 3-inch barrel, the color might put you off since it is an attempt to cater to women who want a girly gun. But it is reliable and durable.
5. Vickers Tactical Master Class 1911
The Vickers tactical master class 1911 is an excellent firearm brought to you by Springfield Armory Wilson Combat and Larry Vickers.
The look screams tactical and is a badass gun and a discussion. AS the name suggests it is designed for combat, every feature of this gun is geared for modern combat including the gun, the trigger, the grip, and color.
The combative design makes the master class stand out from other 1911s. The master class comes with certain upgrades that you need to pay to install when you buy any other gun.
When you buy the master class you get the upgraded trigger hammer and more right out of the box. The Vickers elite blacked out rear sight is my favorite feature is it provides high visibility during both day and night, so it is a breeze to acquire a target.
There are many things I want to say about the master class but long story short it is an excellent firearm and it is totally worth the money.
$1,000 – $1,400
This is a little step down but the guns still perform flawlessly, the ones I will show you below are amazing out of the box.
6. Springfield Armory EMP 3
The Springfield armory emp is reliable as it should for its price. Many gun enthusiasts have reported owning this gun for many years and it still works like a charm, no malfunction whatsoever.
The 3-inch barrel is perfect and provides excellent precision and accuracy up to 15 yards, even if you shoot it rapidly.
7. Kimber Warrior
The Kimber warrior lives up to its name, if you feed a good ammo in magazines it will perform flawlessly.
The accuracy is perfect even if it’s not a match 911. It is a gun that some law enforcement officers use so you know that it’s worth the investment.
8. Colt Delta Elite 10 Millimeter
The Colt Delta Elite is an ideal pistol when you need one that can shoot both human and animal targets, it chambers 10mm cartridges which outperform most self-defense cartridges and semi-auto weapons.
The only downside is that the ammo is more expensive but this is a more powerful round.
If you’re not familiar with 10mm rounds I will tell you right now that you will not have a good time with this pistol.
If you did not like the recoil from the 45 ACP or 40 Smith and Wesson. For self-defense purposes I recommend spending a little more money to get the rails so you can mount a laser or a light under its 5-inch barrel.
9. Springfield Loaded Operator
The Springfield Loaded operator is yet another sleek looking pistol, it has pretty much everything you need such as accessory rail, two-tone styling and night sights. It works perfectly so you will not be disappointed.
10. Sig Sauer STX
The Sig Sauer Stx is an excellent 1911 option for duty carry. There are a few 1911s in the Sigs offering but nothing quite beats the Stx. It comes with a wide mag well, nitron stainless steel slide and also a custom burled maple grips. It looks elegant and it works.
$700 – $900
The guns in this range are affordable but they are more reliable than other pistols in their class, this is also the most popular category since most people just want a gun that shoots when you pull the trigger and does not care too much about the bells and whistles and tactical values.
11. Springfield Armory Mil-Spec
Other than the stampings on all their guns, Springfield Armory makes excellent guns, one of their best models is the Springfield Armory mil-spec. It has a 5 inch barrel and you can choose between stainless steel or a parkerized finish.
12. Remington R1 Enhanced
The Remington R1 Enhanced is also a good pistol for two reasons. For one, Remington is one of the first manufacturers of cold contact in the ramp up production so you are getting the 1911 build expertise and it shows in the R1.
Another reason I like the R1 is because of the future proof potential, you can upgrade the R1 to what you want it to be, that way you have a solid gun right out of the box and you have the option to upgrade it to suit your need better.
13. Ruger SR1911
At this price range you start to see the quality beginning to fall off somewhat, it shows in the Ruger sr1911. For one the trigger is a bit spongy, it lacks that crisp trigger you expect from more expensive models. Still, i’m not complaining much considering its price, it works in a duty roll or as a concealed carry weapon.
For more on concealed carry pistols see our guide: Best Pocket Pistols Review.
$500 To $600
There are not many 1911s in this category that I can say are good, this is for those who want to get a taste of what the 1911 has to offer but does not want to risk spending a fortune on one. For this, I recommend the Rock Island Armory 1911.
14. Rock Island Armory 1911
Designed by Armscor and manufactured in the Philippines, the Rock Island Armory 1911 does not look as flashy or tactical as the guns I’ve shown before.
Despite its unassuming looks, it does its job well which is more than I could ask for considering its price.
It shoots when you pull the trigger, it is reliable and reasonably accurate, so I can say with confidence that this is a safe first investment if you want to step into the world of 1911s.
A Short History Of The M1911
First a little history lesson, this will be relevant later on and I will not bore you with too many details. It all started with John Moses Browning wanting to supply the military with a more powerful handgun round. He was not alone in the endeavor, he had to compete against other well-known gun manufacturers such as Smith and Wesson and Savage, then the U.S military adopted this gun, the 1911 as their sidearm of choice for very good reason.
The 1911 and other contenders were put through multiple endurance tests to simulate the environment on the battlefield, they were used to shoot 6000 rounds submerged in acid mud, etc. One of the tests involved shooting the gun with deformed cartridges, the 1911 passed all of these with flying colors at the turn of the century the us military wanted something more powerful than the 38 long colt that they had used until then.
The good idea that the new gun should chamber a 45 caliber bullet and the 1911 serves as the perfect replacement as it chambers the 45 automatic. It uses a 230 grain projectile which can reach the speed of 850 feet per second. From a self-defense perspective, it is more potent round than the 38 long colt, certain pursuits may claim that any 1911 not produced by colt is fake. Now I’m not going to denounce their love for the original 1911, from a performance perspective they work just the same. Moreover, it’s not like colt wanted to outsource their production to other companies, it was a necessity because they needed to keep up with the demand. You don’t have to worry about quality either since many reputable gun manufacturers helped with the product such as Springfield Armory Remington rand etc.
Nowadays you can still see the 1911 being used by some military units in law enforcement and it’s still a viable self-defense firearm regardless of the manufacturing caliber. Ask any gun enthusiast and they will say that they have at least one 1911 in their collection.
Why is the 1911 so popular you ask? Again the 1911 just works, it is reliable accurate, and looks fantastic, there isn’t much to hate about this gun.
In fact, many major shooting sports have a special class for 1911 pistols even if the original model is over a century old, needless to say the 1911 is here and it is here to stay. But that’s enough history lesson, I’ll give you a list of 1911 pistols in various price ranges, starting from the most expensive to the least expensive you can decide which one to buy. (1)
Our Top Pick – Colt Gold Cup
- Travis Pike, “Why the M1911 pistol is still so popular 110 years after the US military first adopted it”, Retrieved at: https://www.businessinsider.com/why-m1911-pistol-is-still-so-popular-with-us-military-2021-5#:~:text=The%20M1911%20is%20a%20semi,from%2022LR%20to%2050%20G.I.
Dakota Potts is a gunsmith, armorer, and gun rights advocate with nearly 10 years of experience. He is well respected in the industry and his work has appeared on various industry leading firearm publications. He enjoys learning about firearm history and technology. You can follow Dakota Potts on Youtube or see his Facebook.