Top 1911 Guns for 2017
January 30, 2017
Model 1911 fans like me are in for an exciting year.
A bunch of new 1911s were unveiled at this year's SHOT Show and include everything from snub-nose micro models to long slides with wide-body frames. Caliber offerings range from .22 LR through 9mm and 10mm to .45 ACP. After giving them considerable thought, here are my Top 10 new 1911s. I'll give you a hint: Most of my favorites are either 9mm or 10mm.
#10 Browning 1911-22 Black Label Medallion Compact
Browning's 1911-22 is a scaled-down version of John M. Browning's original full-sized .45 ACP pistol. Size-wise, it's approximately 85 percent of the original and chambered for .22 LR. The new-for-2017 1911-22 Black Label Medallion Compact has a 3.63-inch stainless-steel barrel, matte-black finish, white-dot sights and checkered rosewood grips with a gold Browning Buckmark medallion. The pistol weighs 13 ounces, and magazine capacity is 10 rounds. I can tell you from experience that you simply can't imagine how much fun shooting one of these little 1911s is until you try it, $670.
#9 Ruger SR1911 Target
Ruger's new full-sized stainless-steel SR1911 Target Model features an all-black BoMar-style, fully adjustable rear sight and a dovetailed, smooth, black front sight. It comes with an extended ambidextrous thumb safety, a lowered and flared ejection port, a titanium firing pin, and a 5-inch barrel and bushing that are match-machined from the same piece of bar stock. The pistol has a beavertail grip safety, an oversized magazine release button, a skeletonized hammer and trigger, and textured G10 grip panels. The trigger pull of my sample averaged 5 pounds, $1,020.
#8 Kimber Micro 9 Raptor
Kimber's aluminum-frame 9mm Micro 9 is now offered in the company's popular Raptor configuration. That means it sports the unique scale-like texturing on the slide, the grip frame and the grips. Barrel length is 3.15 inches, height is 4.07 inches and width is 1.06 inches. Unloaded weight is 15.6 ounces, and magazine capacity is six rounds. The Micro 9 Raptor comes with low-profile tritium sights, an ambidextrous thumb safety and a match-grade trigger. This little 9mm 1911 not only easily fits in a pants pocket, but also offers the potent protection of the popular 9mm cartridge, $890.
#7 SIG SAUER TACOPS
The SIG Sauer TACOPS (which stands for Tactical Operations) 1911 came out a year or so ago in .357 SIG and .45 ACP, but for 2017 it's being chambered for 10mm Auto. The features I like the most are the integral accessory rail, the match-grade trigger (tuned to a crisp 5-pound pull) and the checkered frontstrap. Barrel length is 5 inches, and the stainless-steel slide and frame are finished in matte-black Nitride. I bought a TACOPS in .357 SIG last year — and enjoy shooting it a lot — but I wish I had waited for this 10mm version, $1,220.
#6 Colt Delta Elite Rail Gun
A Top 10 list of 1911s isn't complete unless there is at least one made by Colt. My pick of Colt's new litter is the Delta Elite Rail Gun. I've become a real fan of the 10mm Auto cartridge, and for anyone who doesn't know it, Colt was the first to chamber a 1911 for the 10mm way back in 1987. The new-for-2017 Delta Elite Rail Gun is a stainless-steel 10mm pistol with a 5-inch barrel and an integral frame rail. It also features a beavertail grip safety, an extended thumb safety, composite grips with Delta medallions and Novak white-dot sights, $1,300.
#5 Remington R1 Hunter
With a 6-inch barrel, G10 grip panels, an integral accessory rail and the oil-rubbed bronze finish, Remington's new 10mm R1 Hunter is a potent tool for hunting feral hogs, whitetails and black bears. The standard version wears a black PVD finish, but the distributor exclusive through Davidson's Gallery of Guns has the bronze finish. I got my hands on one and put it through a thorough shooting session, and I like it a lot. It produced five-shot group averages at 25 yards ranging from 1.49 inches to 1.96 inches with five different factory loads. I particularly like the all-black adjustable rear sight and the red fiber-optic front sight, $1,310 (black), $1,340 (bronze).
#4 STI DVC Carry
With its contoured and ported slide and copper-colored, TiAIN-coated, 3.9-inch barrel, the new 9mm STI DVC Carry is one of the coolest-looking new 1911s. It's designed for concealed carry and built on STI's wide-body metal and polymer 2011 modular frame that's been shortened but still allows the use of a 15-round double-stack magazine. The grip also has distinctive custom stippling by Extreme Shooters. The DVC Carry comes with low-profile tritium sights and a tuned trigger rated at 3½ pounds of pull. Unloaded weight is 26 ounces, $3,000.
#3 Ed Brown Compact
Ed Brown builds some of the finest custom-grade 1911s anywhere, and the new .45 ACP Compact is as good as they come. Features include a 4¼-inch, match-grade, stainless-steel barrel; a fixed, black rear sight; a dovetailed red fiber-optic front sight; an Officer's Model grip frame; and laminated wood grips. All parts are fully machined and hand-fitted, and the weight unloaded is 37 ounces. Even though it uses the short Officer-sized grip frame, I can get all four of my fingers comfortably around the grip, $2,700 to $2,800 depending on finish.
#2 Springfield EMP4 Contour
Perhaps the most easily concealed pistol that Springfield offers is the scaled-down EMP. The new-for-2017 version is the EMP4 with Concealed Carry Contour. This little 9mm 1911 has a full-length grip frame, so it uses nine-round magazines, but its butt has been rounded to reduce printing. The pistol has a 4-inch barrel, a red fiber-optic front sight and G10 grip panels. The one I've been shooting is Bi-Tone with a stainless slide and a black anodized frame. It weighs a scant 30½ ounces unloaded. This 1911 is easy to carry, and it's also easy to shoot despite its small size. I especially like the dimple-like texture of the grip panels, the frontstrap and the mainspring housing, $1,220.
#1 Les Baer Premier II Hunter
My favorite new 1911 is the Premier II Hunter from Les Baer Custom. Chambered for 10mm Auto, the new 1911 features a match-grade, 6-inch barrel; tuned LBC Speed trigger; checkered frontstrap and mainspring housing; low-mount, fully adjustable rear sight; and green fiber-optic front sight. The pistol is tuned for total reliability and accuracy, and its fit and finish are par excellence. I've been shooting one of these 10mm Premier IIs for a month or so, and it's extremely accurate. Five-shot group averages with five different factory loads range from 1.38 inches to 1.69 inches. My sample's trigger pull is a crisp, consistent 4 pounds. The pistol weighs 44.2 ounces unloaded and measures 9½ inches long, $2,940.