Why a 3" 1911?

This is a discussion on Why a 3" 1911? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Does anyone know why most of the manufacturer's have moved from a 3.5" 1911 to a 3" one? It doesn't make a whole lot of ...

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Thread: Why a 3" 1911?

  1. #1
    Member Array Realleycat's Avatar
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    Why a 3" 1911?

    Does anyone know why most of the manufacturer's have moved from a 3.5" 1911 to a 3" one? It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. I don't think that extra .5" off of the barrel would matter that much when it comes to concealing. And that extra .5" would add a little more to reliability and velocity. Or would it???
    Tony

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    Distinguished Member Array Ghettokracker71's Avatar
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    Well,.... a half an inch doesn't sound like a whole lot,but I would say it would be somewhat easier to conceal. Half an inch shorter could allow for a slightly smaller holster,and more comfort less poking when concealing (waist band)but I can't see for how much.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghettokracker71 View Post
    Half an inch shorter could allow for a slightly smaller holster,and more comfort less poking when concealing (waist band)but I can't see for how much.
    This is about all I can see. My feeling has always been that, the farther one departs from the original John Browning design, the harder one must work to be certain that the whole thing remains reliable. Not that it cannot be done, but that one must be a lot more careful about doing it. Of course, one will continue to lose a certain amount of velocity the shorter the barrel becomes as well. My personal preference is that I don't want to go below a Commander-length slide. OMO, YMMV.

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    I have both a full size 1911 and a P-12. I like the Para because of the 3.5" barrel, but the 5" is not that hard to conceal with the proper cover !!! You jus t have to work harder at it.

    I was looking at a 3" Kimber, but I'm not sure if I want to go shorter than the 3.5" Para....
    Tony

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    I am still in the camp that feels shrinking JMB's classic design to this extent is not only difficult but for most part potentially inviting problems.

    I know - many compact (or even sub) 1911's run OK but - I am aware that shorter slide travel, shorter ecoil spring etc .. is all pushing the envelope of reliability for the platform.

    Smallest I had was P12-45 and once I replaced an extractor which had lost part of the hook - it did run well but ... never used it for carry and still prefer to stay large if possible.

    For compacts I feel more at ease with striker fired offerings like SW99, or I guess G17 etc would be in same league. I do have a Bersa UC-9 which is hammer but that's only 9mm and it seems to run fine.
    Chris - P95
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    kpw
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    Out of all the 1911s I've owned, I miss the Colt Officer's the most. I just can't like the 3" models. Thats 1/2" does make a difference to me.

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    Member Array Realleycat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kpw View Post
    Out of all the 1911s I've owned, I miss the Colt Officer's the most. I just can't like the 3" models. Thats 1/2" does make a difference to me.
    I'm in the same frame of mind that you are. I just haven't talked myself into the Kimber yet....
    Tony

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    kpw
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    I owned a 4" Kimber Compact. It was a decent pistol but I never warmed up to it like I did the Colt.

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    Shorter slide travel?

    Quote Originally Posted by P95Carry View Post
    I know - many compact (or even sub) 1911's run OK but - I am aware that shorter slide travel, shorter ecoil spring etc .. is all pushing the envelope of reliability for the platform.
    It is not true that 3 inch 1911s have shorter slide travel than longer barrel 1911s, such as Commander length (4.25 inch). I just pulled out 4 1911s from the safe and locked back the slides, then measured the distance the slide had travelled relative to the muzzle of the barrel. Here is what I got:

    Colt Defender (3 inch)..........1.5 inch slide travel
    Kimber Pro (4 inch)..............1.5 inch slide travel
    Colt Commander (4.25 inch)..1.5 inch slide travel
    Colt Gold Cup (5 inch)...........1.7 inch slide travel

    In any .45 caliber 1911, the slide has to travel backwards far enough to get behind the top round in the magazine, so that it can snag it on the return and push it into the chamber. A .45 ACP round is about 1.25 inches long. The top round in the magazine sits about 0.25 inches behind the chamber on the barrel, so it is clear that the slide must go back at least 1.5 inches to do its job.

    If your 3 inch 1911 doesn't work, it is not because its slide doesn't travel as far as a Commander slide.
    Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the Peoples' Liberty's Teeth." - George Washington

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    Good point Pogo - I thought after writing that I shoulda gone measure! Naturally travel has to be enough to clear the empty case and go back far enough to let slide pick up next round.

    I still tho feel the recoil spring lengths are where some problems can arise.
    Chris - P95
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    "Does anyone know why most of the manufacturer's have moved from a 3.5" 1911 to a 3" one?"

    I'm beginning to think that it was to give folks something to talk about on the internet

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    Theory

    Quote Originally Posted by hayley View Post
    "Does anyone know why most of the manufacturer's have moved from a 3.5" 1911 to a 3" one?"
    In the 1960s the US auto manufacturers were in a horsepower race, and every year they would increase the horsepower of their biggest V8 engines to try and top their competitors. They were convinced that a certain segment of the car market wanted more horsepower for bragging rights and to win drag races at the stop light.

    I think that a similar thing happened in 1911 pistols, when competitors tried to market a shorter barrel than the other guy. Historically the 3.5 inch Colt Officer model was the shortest, and it was matched by the Springfield Ultra Compact at 3.5 inches. Then Colt introduced their Defender in the 1990s with a 3 inch barrel, and were followed by Kimber, Springfield and Para Ordnance. Nobody wanted to be outdone.

    As an owner of 1911s in most barrel lengths, I will admit that the 3 inch gun with short Officer's grip does conceal more easily than the longer barrels. But the advantage of a 3 inch Defender over a 3.5 inch Officer's is very small indeed, as their grips are the same length. See photo below:

    Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the Peoples' Liberty's Teeth." - George Washington

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    VIP Member Array friesepferd's Avatar
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    all i can say is that i love mine.
    its reliable, and super easy to conceal (which is hard to do on my body type and clothing style)
    yea you give up some velocity, but not enough that it makes it ineffective by any means. i need something very thing with a short barrel. so thats what i got and im glad.
    Wo die Notwehr aufhört, fängt der Mord an
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    Senior Member Array coffeecup's Avatar
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    Each morning I am lucky to have the choice of several pretty nice 1911s to stick in my holster. Barrel lengths range from 3" on up to 5". Any one of them is quite capable of the job at protecting me and my family. The one that gets the most holster time is a two-tone Springer 3"--reason--I like it best of all.

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    I guess that I'll hang on to my P-12 for awhile. I was just kind of looking for a single stack to replace it. It's hard to find a 3.5" one anywhere. Everything is 3"...I did come across a Colt Officer's, but he wanted over $700 for it. I thought that was a bit high for a used one. Well used at that!!!
    Tony

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