Considering the widespread popularity of the 1911 platform, there is understandably a lot of noise out there about the important things to consider when owning and using a 1911. With so much information, it's easy to get confused about what you really need to pay attention to. Rock Island Armory is here to set the record straight.
Check out what really matters in a 1911:
What Makes a 1911 a 1911?
There are hundreds of manufacturers out there that build 1911-esque guns, but there are certain traits that are inherent to the 1911 platform. We've laid them out below:
- Grip Safety
- Side Safety
- Single Action Trigger
- Short Recoil Operation
Without these features, a gun can't really be classified as a 1911.
What to Think About When Buying a 1911
Some imported 1911s will come shipped with fixed, low-profile sights that may make the gun difficult to aim, especially for newer shooters. When picking out your 1911, make sure you have quality sights and, if you're planning to zero the gun's accuracy, easily adjustable sights. You'll also want to make sure that your sights don't move when you wiggle them—this is the most obvious sign of a poorly constructed gun.
If you're buying a 1911 with a barrel bushing, it's important to make sure that the bushing fits nicely into the slide of the gun. Small amounts of movement in the fit are acceptable, but if there's a noticeable gap between the bushing and the slide, you may encounter accuracy issues. Remember: if your barrel bushing is loose, then your barrel may not stay true to your sights.
Slide to Frame Fit
How well the slide of a gun fits to its frame is one of the key differentiators between good and bad 1911s. When looking to purchase a 1911, wiggle the slide and see how much movement there is between the slide and the frame. The gun needs some room to account for dust and other particles that may get between the slide and the frame, but—in general—the two should fit nicely together with a very small amount of side to side movement.
You want to make sure that the trigger bars that run around the magazine are not creating any unneeded friction against the magazine. You can test this by removing the magazine from the gun, holding it upside down and locked in the open position, pressing the magazine release button and dropping the magazine into the gun. The magazine should slide all the way down and need only a slight press to get the magazine to fully seat.
The 1911 is a solid handgun and an excellent choice for any gun owner who is looking for a classic, reliable, all-American pistol. Because the 1911 platform is so popular, there are hundreds of manufacturers and it can be difficult to tell if the gun you are considering buying is truly a quality 1911. By checking these things in the store before you buy, you can get a better idea of the quality of the gun, without any prior gunsmith experience.