Carrying the Venerable 1911.

In the early 1900’s, John Browning (1855-1926), a renowned firearm designer, along with Colt Manufacturing, designed the firearm that would be designated the “Automatic Pistol, Calibre .45, Model of 1911.” This pistol with some minor modifications served as the U.S. military sidearm from 1911 to 1985. It served as the standard U.S. service pistol seeing action in World War I, the Banana Wars, World War II, the Korean War, the First Indochina War and the Vietnam War. In fact, some are still used in the U.S. military by 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment—Delta (Delta Force). It is also used by the Los Angeles Police Department, S.W.A.T., the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, and regional FBI S.W.A.T. teams.

I know some instructors who do not like the 1911 as a carry option and I honestly see their reasoning.

Here are a few of those reasons:

  1. It is a heavy firearm weighing in at around 38 ounces for a full sized 1911.
  2. Low capacity, a stock 1911 in 45 holds 7 or 8 rounds compared to the plastic fantastic polymer pistols that can hold 17 rounds of 9mm. There are double stack 1911s which can hold 14 rounds, with the added weight of the rounds of course.
  3. The 1911 pistol is dangerous as a carry firearm. The light trigger and the thumb safety.

Now people who know me, know that on any given day the gun in my holster is a Colt Defender, an officer’s sized 1911 with a shorter grip and shorter barrel and slide. Some who know me better have heard me tell people I do not suggest most people carry 1911s and usually for reason number 3. No, I do not think the 1911 is inherently dangerous, I do think that compared to some other firearms it takes more training to become carry proficient with.  When carrying the 1911 it is important to train for it. Flipping the safety off every time, trigger discipline is important. I have found that most of my students do not train very often, much to my chagrin. So it is more the lack of training that many would be willing to put in that makes me suggest not carrying a 1911.

When carrying a 1911, due to weight and other factors your belt and holster are important. When carrying a heavy firearm you want to have a belt heavy duty enough to securely hold the holster and a holster well built enough to securely hold the pistol. For holsters and belts there are a myriad of choices out there. The belt I use is made by a company called Daltech. This particular belt has a steel inset that travels almost the length of the belt which makes carrying a heavy gun easier.

The holster I use the most is made by Galco Gunleather and is the Silhouette High Ride Holster. This holster allows for carrying the 1911 in condition 1 which to me it the proper way to carry a 1911 for a concealed self-defense pistol. All holsters should cover up the trigger guard of the pistol and this holster does that well.

Things I think are important to consider and to work on when making the choice to carry a 1911, or ANY firearm really. Learn the firearm well, learn to clear malfunctions quickly and instinctively. Learn to manipulate the safety, mag release without having to look at the pistol. Practice replacing mags without having to look at the magazine or the gun.
“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training” Archilochos. Train often.

Here is a list of just some of the other firearms that JMB designed

  • Winchester Model 1885
  • Winchester Model 1886 lever action rifle
  • Remington semi-auto shotgun
  • Colt M1895 Colt–Browning machine gun “Potato Digger”
  • M1917 Browning machine gun
  • Colt Model 1903 pistols
  • Colt Model 1900
  • Browning Hi-Power

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