3" Barreled 1911's, should I?

3" Barreled 1911's, should I?

This is a discussion on 3" Barreled 1911's, should I? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I need some folks to keep me on the straight and narrow. I've been eyeing Sprinfield Armory's G.I. 1911 for a long time. I ended ...

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Thread: 3" Barreled 1911's, should I?

  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array Gideon's Avatar
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    3" Barreled 1911's, should I?

    I need some folks to keep me on the straight and narrow. I've been eyeing Sprinfield Armory's G.I. 1911 for a long time. I ended up buying their Mil-Spec and I love it. It's as reliable as it's apossible to be. But I've noticed their offering the GI in 3" and 4" barrel options. I love the way a small .45 looks and feels but I've read some commends on this site indicating problems with the reliability of shorter barreled versions. I'm surprised Springfield doesn't offer the Mil-Spec in shorter barrel lenghts.

    So what do you all think? are the 3" really just not viable? Is the 4" the first size that is? I'd be interested in your opinions.

    thanks!

    Gideon


  2. #2
    Senior Member Array jdsumner's Avatar
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    I had a Kimber Ultra Carry II (3")that was perfectly reliable with quality ammo. It was also very easy to carry in the right holster. The major thing that steered me back to full sized pistols is their ease of handling. Some of the drills I would practice with 5" guns are near 'bout impossible with a 3" gun and shortened frame. Not impossible to conquer, but tougher. Also, speed of follow up shots to me were slower, due to the short sight radius. It took more time to find the sights on the short gun. Again, with practice, I got progressively faster. But, under stress, I found my gunhandling was simply better, faster, and more accurate with a bigger gun than a smaller one.
    Equipment is also a consideration. I have found shorter pistols can sometimes be VERY magazine sensitive. And, if you ever over insert a govt size mag into a shortframe pistol, you are hosed. Yeah, ask me how I know this! So, mags MAY be a consideration. Also, w the short barrell, you will have to really be careful in holster selection. Due to the short barrell, in an iwb holster, the pistol is actually kinda top heavy unless the holster can lever the butt back into you. Spring and recoil setup will be more sensitive and need to be tuned to your ammo to prevent either beating up the gun or not cycling properly. This is true with 5" guns, but more so with smaller versions.
    So, its really just how much you plan on putting into the peripherals (sp?) of the gun, as to how much it will benefit you. I think the 3" gun is as viable as any choice, if you put the time an effort in.

    Dan

  3. #3
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    Personally - despite compactness - not for me. I know, boatloads of stuff out there and lot of good things said - but some not so good too.

    I think when it comes to the ultimate reliability the full size will have it every time - IMO likely to be less fussy, as well as a shade more accurate usually. If I were definitely determined to go this compact I would honestly be making sure I could test (thoroughly) what I had in mind before buying - well, at least an identical sample.

    Not trying to be a ''naysayer'' - just thinking that for me anyways - it ain't my prime choice. I don't just include 1911's either - that is why I have a full size in my SIG.

    (only my 2 cents doncha know )
    Chris - P95
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    Detonics

    The Detonics had a very short barrel & slide - but, the slide was still fairly heavy so it had lots of mass.
    It also had no barrel bushing & a heavily tapered bullish barrel to help insure functional reliability. It is possible to have a short barreled semi-auto that IS reliable but, it depends on exactly how it is designed.
    For a carry pistol the barrel length is usually not a problem at all.
    The length of the grip is usually MORE of a problem.
    So...I would probably go with the full size handgun.
    Liberty Over Tyranny Μολὼν λαβέ

  5. #5
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    Personally, having shot every length barrel that any 1911 type comes in, the smallest that I would go with is the Combat Commander with the 4 inch barrel. It has just the right balance of all of the most desirable features of a full sized gun while having none of the attributes of the smaller ones.

    Another thing to remember...the shorter the barrel the less velocity it'll have. A 3 inch barrel would be doing good to get 700 FPS...and bullet expansion becomes a serious concern.

  6. #6
    Member Array michael t's Avatar
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    3 in really slowing down This not best test but example I had some old barn wood laying around So I used my Para P-10 and winchester 230 ball . Fired several shots none went thru. A couple I was able to pull back out with my fingers. Same ammo in my 1941 USGI all rounds thru.
    Shot a piece of 1/4 in Lexan with my Para and 230 ball. Bullet did not go thru. Had a bullet shape bump and Lexan broke. I have shot this stuff before with govt using Silvertips and round would go thru and drop. Once again ball right thru and still trucking as never recovered. 380 ball right thru ,32 auto GD in Seecamp type pistol round bounce off. All of above shot at 10 to 12 ft. range.
    1990, 1992 Colt Mustang 1941 Colt USGI 1951 Colt Commander 9MM
    1972 Colt Combat Commander 1994,1997 Colt Officer ACPs 2001 Colt LTW Commander 2005 Colt Defender 2007 Dan Wesson
    early Detonics come visit http://www.americanclassic1911forum.com or www.bersachat.com

  7. #7
    Member Array bubbygator's Avatar
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    I had a used Customized Combat Commander cut to 3" - that turned out to have been too customized for reliability. Then a used Kimber Ultra-Carry II 3" that was stock - but had too many extractor problems for reliability. Now have a used Colt Compact 3 1/2" that has stood the test so far... about 300 of my rounds with no failures of any kind.

    The .45 I trusted most was my nickel Lightweight Commander - that was a choice gun. If you decide on a short barrel, don't lose your cool if it turns out you have to get rid of it...... it happens.

  8. #8
    VIP Member Array Euclidean's Avatar
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    Something which I have figured out for myself is that while it would be nice to have such a gun, I have no real need of anything larger than my 642 but smaller than a service sized pistol.

    If it's bigger than a snubnose my carry options vanish and all I have left is a gun that's harder to shoot than a service sized pistol.

    I can understand the 5" 1911 being too long for a lot of people and hence the commander size, but if I have to strap on any sort of holster, I'm going large as I can carry within reason. Otherwise it better be something I can throw in a pocket and run with.

    That's the same reason I passed on the subcompact XD and bought the service sized model. It really isn't that much more gun to carry but it makes a world of difference when it comes to actually shooting it.

  9. #9
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    Thumbs down Teeny 45's

    Quote Originally Posted by Gideon
    I need some folks to keep me on the straight and narrow. I've been eyeing Sprinfield Armory's G.I. 1911 for a long time. I ended up buying their Mil-Spec and I love it. It's as reliable as it's apossible to be. But I've noticed their offering the GI in 3" and 4" barrel options. I love the way a small .45 looks and feels but I've read some commends on this site indicating problems with the reliability of shorter barreled versions. I'm surprised Springfield doesn't offer the Mil-Spec in shorter barrel lenghts.

    So what do you all think? are the 3" really just not viable? Is the 4" the first size that is? I'd be interested in your opinions.

    thanks!

    Gideon
    My experience has been awful with sub four inch 1911's. I even wrote to Jeff Cooper about the problem months ago. Just a few months ago, his lead item in his Guns & Ammo column was that there seems to be a great many reports of FTF and FTE's coming in from all over the country. He himself will never own one, unless it's given to him as a gift. From my own gun club (IDPA) there is much the same reaction. I've had a Springfield Armory "MICRO" and a ParaOrdnance P10. both were JAM-A-MATICS from the start.

    I myself will never own another sub 4 inch barrel 1911. Cooper's theory (and those in my gun club) seems to suggest the design become inherently FLAWED at barrel lengths below four inches. They are very finicky to grip styles and other things that may not be controllable in a gunfight. I personally would like to get a Springfield Armory Compact. That's an Officer model sized grip with a Commander length barrel. One of my buddies from my club moved out of town to join the team of gunsmiths who work at Cylinder & Slide. He came back to town last spring and I asked him about this problem. He agrees with Cooper and the club members with a single exception. Cylinder & Slide makes a chopped model of a Commander called THE ADVENTURER and my buddy SWEARS it is 100% reliable. It better be for the $$$$ !! So if I ever get one of THOSE as a gift, maybe I'll keep it. Otherwise I'll stick to that which has worked for me, especially if my life and the lives of my family are riding on the outcome.

    https://shop.cylinder-slide.com/ccp5...tstr=HOME:8:36
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  10. #10
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    I have never had a 3" but have owned several 4" 1911s. The 5", to me, is perfect, the 4" isn't bad and the 3" is just too short. You should have no problem shooting, handling or concealing a full size 1911.....
    Bumper
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  11. #11
    Member Array hankrearden2005's Avatar
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    I have a three inch Springfield Armory "GI" 1911. I put Meprolight night sights, a beavertail grip safety and Commander-style hammer on it. Other than those modifications, it's as it came from the factory with the exception of the Hogue grips I put on it.

    From the start it was a jammamatic. I returned it to the factory and they recut and polished the feed ramp. Now it's perfectly reliable with quality factory defensive ammo. However, I still get failures to feed with most cheap practice ammo. I suspect this is due to that 24 lb. recoil spring, which loves the hot stuff but is a bit too strong for the slightly lighter loaded practice ammo. Most of the problems seem to develope between 50 and 100 rounds, so cleaning is very important with this tight fitting pistol as is lubrication. I've found that the lube sold by Wilson keeps the little gun going longer at the range than any other that I've used.

    So far I've been satisfied with the reliability of the Federal 165 gr. Hydrashocks, the Winchester 185 gr. Silvertips, and the Remington 230 gr. JHPs that come in the 100 round boxes at Wal Mart. A couple of weeks ago I ran about 70 rounds of the Remington 230 gr. JHPs through it without a hitch. Then I shot a 50 round box of Winchester 185 gr. ball through it and got two or three failures to feed.

    I trust the gun, provided I feed it well! I think my next one will be a full-sized MilSpec though.
    Keep up the good fight, pass the word, and teach others to fight back when unjustly assaulted--be it on the street or in the courtroom. Self-defense is a normal, moral act. So teach your family, friends, and students practical defense against both physical and legal marauders. by Jerry VanCook

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    VIP Member Array ExSoldier's Avatar
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    Exclamation Carry Gun HAS to feed & Extract EVERYTHING 100%

    Quote Originally Posted by hankrearden2005
    Now it's perfectly reliable with quality factory defensive ammo. However, I still get failures to feed with most cheap practice ammo. I suspect this is due to that 24 lb. recoil spring, which loves the hot stuff but is a bit too strong for the slightly lighter loaded practice ammo. Most of the problems seem to develope between 50 and 100 rounds, so cleaning is very important with this tight fitting pistol as is lubrication. I've found that the lube sold by Wilson keeps the little gun going longer at the range than any other that I've used.

    So far I've been satisfied with the reliability of the Federal 165 gr. Hydrashocks, the Winchester 185 gr. Silvertips, and the Remington 230 gr. JHPs that come in the 100 round boxes at Wal Mart. A couple of weeks ago I ran about 70 rounds of the Remington 230 gr. JHPs through it without a hitch. Then I shot a 50 round box of Winchester 185 gr. ball through it and got two or three failures to feed. I trust the gun, provided I feed it well! I think my next one will be a full-sized MilSpec though.
    See, if it's a carry gun IMHO, it's GOT to be 100% reliable all the time with whatever I stuff it with. If I'm traveling, especially, I might not be able to get the premium stuff I like. Heck I might even have to settle for reloads in a real pinch! That's why I love my Glock and My Sig P245 because they'll feed anything, anytime! It's got to feed, extract and hit where I aim. It's got to be able to absorb all weather and field conditions... from Big City to Deep Woods and everything in between.

    I like the Wilson Ultima Lube as well and I keep a small syringe of it everywhere I go. Heck I even use it on sticky locks and creaky hinges.
    Former Army Infantry Captain; 25 yrs as an NRA Certified Instructor; Avid practitioner of the martial art: KLIK-PAO.

  13. #13
    Member Array hankrearden2005's Avatar
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    I think that these snubbies are testing the very limits of the design. Switching to one of Wolfe's lighter recoil springs will probably allow one to shoot the cheap stuff, but it will also result in the battering of the frame with the good stuff.

    I agree with your philosophy though. That's why I'm not buying another snubbie and will instead get a full-sized 1911.

    I like Sigs, and really want to like Glocks, but I just can't! Twice I've went to the store to buy a Glock 19. Twice I've failed! The first time I left with the above 1911 instead of a Glock. The second time I left with a Kahr K9. I just can't get past the lousy grip angle and the large size and thickness of the damn things!

    BTW, Tankers rule!
    Keep up the good fight, pass the word, and teach others to fight back when unjustly assaulted--be it on the street or in the courtroom. Self-defense is a normal, moral act. So teach your family, friends, and students practical defense against both physical and legal marauders. by Jerry VanCook

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    Member Array joe/OH's Avatar
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    I've been experimenting with carrying the 5" Springfield GI in an IWB holster and it works very well. I also had the opportunity to play around with a 4" commander (not a Springfield) and I honestly can't determine what the major benefit is. I can't see how 1" barrel length can make a difference when you're talking about holster carry already. And everything else on the commander is the same size. I could be missing something, but the 5" seems to be the way to go.

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    Exclamation On the Waaaaaaay!

    Quote Originally Posted by hankrearden2005
    I like Sigs, and really want to like Glocks, but I just can't! Twice I've went to the store to buy a Glock 19. Twice I've failed! The first time I left with the above 1911 instead of a Glock. The second time I left with a Kahr K9. I just can't get past the lousy grip angle and the large size and thickness of the damn things! BTW, Tankers rule!
    As to Glocks: I used to hate them too, when they first appeared and used to tease their owners about being Dishwasher Safe!

    But once you use a Glock in a combat competition, you come to appreciate how it MIGHT be if you left out the sporting and friendly part. Saying Glocks ROCK is an understatement. And if you don't like the grip angle as I didn't with my Model 30 in 45ACP, just send it off to ROBAR and have a grip reduction performed and you'll love it.

    See I can't stand the Kahr for another silly reason: I can't stand that the parent company is owned by the Rev. Sun Yung Moon! Yup...it's a MOONIE company. Moon also owns the conservative newspaper
    The Washington Times
    and that drives me nuts, too. But I still read the paper because it's so good. But it's not the same as a gun. Dunno why.
    Former Army Infantry Captain; 25 yrs as an NRA Certified Instructor; Avid practitioner of the martial art: KLIK-PAO.

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