When you’re shopping around for a 1911, you’ll come across models that look more like luxury ornaments than a range gun, with a hefty price tag to match. You’ll also find 1911s built for competitors, concealed carriers and some as the ultimate, catch-all 1911. What features do you really need, and how much money should you prepare to spend?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you decide.
Philosophy of Use?
The first and most important question is, how will you be using your 1911? There’s a model out there for nearly every shooting niche. Competition and more tactical-branded 1911s tend to cost more than most “no frills” options.
If you’re looking for something that won’t drain your wallet but still gives you great performance, something simple will fit the bill. You don’t need a fluted barrel with a ported slide and double-stack magwell.
The Rock Island GI Standard comes to mind.
Do the Features Deliver?
Some models will boast features like the latest and greatest finish, grips or barrel style. But do they improve the performance of the gun enough to warrant the heavier price tag? It’s possible, and it probably depends on how you plan to use your 1911. (See question one above.)
A serious competitor likely values even the smallest tweaks more than the person hitting the range once a month to do some casual shooting with a buddy. If you happen to be interested in the competition scene, this Rock Island PRO Match Ultra is a great competitive 1911 that won’t require you to spend thousands in custom work.
What Caliber Will You Shoot?
If you want to hunt with a 1911, you’ll want to go 10mm. Competition, self-defense and casual range shooting are more open-ended. If you’re looking to go wallet-friendly, it’s important not to overlook the price of ammo and its availability. Steel case ammo is cheaper than brass, but the reliability can be spotty with some varieties and guns.
9mm is a solid choice considering its popularity. You won’t struggle finding it at retailers or online, and it won’t break the bank.
Are You Paying for a Logo?
Some people swear by a certain brand and will gladly pay extra for the logo etched on the side. Other people... not so much. There isn’t a surefire way to know, but if you do your research ahead of time you can get a good idea of whether or not the core features of the pistol are worth the price tag.