Opinions Wanted: S&W Compact ES 1911

This is a discussion on Opinions Wanted: S&W Compact ES 1911 within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Background: I've been carrying a full-size, all-steel (Springfield Mil-Spec) 1911 in a shoulder rig or occasionally IWB, 24/7 for awhile now. I've decided I need ...

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Thread: Opinions Wanted: S&W Compact ES 1911

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array Pete Zaria's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    Pacific Northwest

    Opinions Wanted: S&W Compact ES 1911

    I've been carrying a full-size, all-steel (Springfield Mil-Spec) 1911 in a shoulder rig or occasionally IWB, 24/7 for awhile now. I've decided I need a smaller, lighter gun, especially for summertime carry. However, I want to stick with the 1911 platform.

    After researching compact 1911's extensively for several weeks, I've found report after report of 3.5" and 3" 1911 variants being jam-o-matics and requiring gunsmithing and extensive "breaking in" to make them reliable. I'm not too fond of that.

    I think I found a great compromise: the SW1911 Compact ES.

    It's a "CCO" size; a Commander-length slide and barrel on an Officer's size frame. Lightweight alloy frame, stainless upper. Comes with all the trimmings, like a Springfield Loaded. Only downside I can find is the external extractor.
    A close friend with an FFL says he can get me one for $835 plus shipping.

    I intend to get a Crossbreed SuperTuck to carry it in during the summer.

    My questions:

    Does anyone have any experience with this pistol they can share?
    Specifically, how MUCH smaller, lighter, and easy-to-carry is it, compared to a full-size, full-weight 1911? Am I going to notice a huge improvement?
    Could it perhaps be pocket-carried in cargo jeans/shorts, with an appropriate holster?

    Thanks so much for any information.

    Pete Zaria.
    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
    - Margaret Mead

    "Booger Hook Off the Bang Switch" - unknown

  2. #2
    Member Array Emrah's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
    Chaska, MN
    I cannot begin to tell you how amazing this gun is. I love mine. Perfect blend of Officer frame and Commander slide. Perfect CCW length.

    The ONLY thing is 2 mags that come with it have plastic bumper pads on them; they are not flush with the mag well. I cannot understand why anyone would design a small frame 1911 designed to conceal as much as possible would then go and put a freakin' bumper pad sticking out the bottom of the magazine. Stupid.

    I use a Kimber mag (flush fitting) in mine. I'm going to order a few Wilson Combat mags soon.

    Love, love, love, love this gun.


  3. #3
    Senior Member Array Pete Zaria's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Pacific Northwest
    Thanks for the input, Emrah!

    I can't find a S&W Compact ES in a shop locally to fondle before I order one. I stopped today at a local shop that had a Colt New Agent (officer's model w/ trench sights) and a Springfield Champion (commander), so between the two, I got a good idea of the size of the CCO.

    Anyone have any opinions to share?


    Pete Zaria.
    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
    - Margaret Mead

    "Booger Hook Off the Bang Switch" - unknown

  4. #4
    Member Array torontogunguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Toronto Ontario and Buffalo New York
    Have had a chance to play with the S&W 1911PD (Personal Defense) and at 4.25" it was awesome. Cannot comment on the ES though as I have never even seen one let alone played withone. I imagine that the extended slide length is supposed to give you a few pluses, like bullet speed and energy, longer sight radius, etc., at the sacrifice of optimal concealment as with the 1911PD.

    I also have Glocks, Sigs and HK's in compact versions and after playing with all seem to keep coming back to the Glock (30 or 36/10 or 6 round magazines). The Glock 30 is generally the best handling and most reliable of the group and easiest to carry concealed from all aspects while the G36 is just even more so at the sacrifice of a few rounds which can be made up for on the reload. The Glocks also seem to be impervious to sweat and condensation, easy as pie to totally disassemble and reassemble, easiest manual of arms and so on. After playing 'cock me and carry me' for several (many) months I have yet to have an ND but caution against carrying haphazardly. The Glocks take a top quality holster and the remembering of two things to be safe: 1. keep you finger off the trigger unless on targer; and 2. DEFINITELY keep your finger off the trigger when reholstering. And one other thing.... be very careful about getting clothing caught in the trigger quard on holstering or carrying. There are NO safeties of any kind (contrary to Glock Talk) that will prevent an ND otherwise. I feel just as, if not more so, comfy carrying my Glock(s) than my compact 1911 platform and other handguns. Carrying a Glock is LESS safe than carrying a revolver of equal trigger pull weight as there is no cylinder that requires rotation in order for an ND to take place.

    The advantage is a wee gun that performs amazingly well and is ultra reliable and a dream to work on, even for a non-gunsmith. Just don't mess with the workings asides from trigger group and sights and you have about as close to perfection as possible.

    Granted it is somewhat unerving to compare a solid barrel with the wobbly barrel of the Glock when out of battery, but the fact is that when in battery and locked up for a shot they are going to be pretty much alike. My Sigs are tight as heck and a dream to shoot but I see no advantage over my Glocks. Ditto my HK USP Compact, Sig P239, XD's, XDm's, Springfields, S&W SW99, and even my venerable HK P7M8 which I consider to be the safest handgun for concealed carry on the market, bar none.

    I am still playing, but just keep coming back to that Glock 30; I am considering very seriously buying two brand spanking new G30's with rails, night sights and lasers and selling off the rest of what I was thinking about carrying. I will always keep my Para's for IPSC/IDPA and my target pistols, but for concealed carry, living in both Canada and shortly in the USA as well (FL/AZ/PA/NJ) - and not having the benefit of being able to move snubbies or Kel-Tec's across the 49th. at will, I can't find anything better.

    Having played with the S&@ 1911PD I sure do want one in my collection but, frankly, just can't justify it, the same way that I really can't justify my Kimber collection, etc. They are nice to have and great to shoot, but what for? My other guns are doing a fine job for me for their assigned tasks.

    Personally, unless I was intent on that longer sight radius, I think I would be taking a close look at the Glocks in .45 or perhaps .357 depending on my circumstances (I like the .357 speed and mass for penetrating metal and glass without serious defection and I like my .45ACP in their stopping ability - e.g. slow and heavy well engineered PD rounds that open up and make a mess on contact). For serious home and wilderness defense I would carry NONE OF THE ABOVE! I do keep a well kitted out .45 with laser sight and night sight for home defense, but as of September when we become "empty nesters" that will likely change to a Remington 870 Tactical Shotgun with extended magazine, laser and battle light using DDuplex 12 guage PD rounds - and if you have never seen the effect of a DDuplex 12 ga PD round take a gander at their sight and your eyes will pop. A 1.5" entry wound, an exit wound the size of Vermont and internal damage such that what the perp winds up with is beyond repair. A 'one shot stop' incredibly and so devastating that most police forces will not consider using them for fear of the PR repercussions. I have no such hesitations - I only wish to stop the threat, at which point I will most certainly stop firing. And once you have been placed in that situation - and for those of you that HAVE been in that situation.... you will understand exactly what I am saying. With a well outfitted .45 in hand one still wonders, if lethal force is used, is it going to work? Are you going to be accurate enough? Is the round going to do its job? What will the outcome be? Remembering that you MUST BE first to get away an ACCURATE round, that is EVERYTHING. 1911, striker fired, .308 sniper rifle, AR platform, it all makes little difference if you have a chunk of metal tearing you apart before you get your round off and STOP the threat. A good tactical 12 guage with Dduplex rounds is an awesome self defense combination and a hit by that Ddpulex round almost anywhere is going to bring things to a rapid close as opposed to a .45, .357 or whatever.

    So my advice? Think carefully about the service that you wish your handgun or weapon to perform for you before running out and buying sexy. My Glocks are indeed the ugliest of guns on the market. My Sig compacts are so sexy they are probably babe magnets, especially the one with the alumagrips... it is just awesome looking.

    I keep coming back to my Glock 30 for concealed carry as that is my purpose for the gun. And I keep coming back to my Remington 870 Tactical and Dduplex rounds 12ga. as home defense is the purpose for the gun. THAT and only that has got to be your bottom line in making a decision.

    If you are looking for a gun to play with at the range or in the field where legal, by all means, play away. If you are looking for a purpose bought firearm, then you have a whole lot to think about asides from sexy.

    In closing, one last comment. I have carried steel and I have carried polymer in the summertime in FL and AZ, etc. and I would take a polymer based handgun ANY DAY over steel. Less sweat and less discomfort. It has cost me a fortune to gravitate towards holsters that protect my skin from contact and protect the gun from sweat and condensation, not to mention buying QUALITY holsters that will remain open at the throat for one handed reholstering. The last thing you want is to be standing there when LE pulls up with guns drawn and you standing over a body with a smoking gun. We have all read in recent months of the downside of having that happen. Also, you can pretty much count on your gun being taken from you as evidence and having to fight to get it back, if at all. Better to have a second of the same sitting in the safe at home or with a good friend so that you do not go undefended while YOUR perp is out on bail thinking of how dissed he/she is going to be to spend the next 10 years or more in a federal prison as a guest of the government and thinking of ways to prevent that. I have my permits and I want another handgun in my holster just as quickly as possible. Find what you are comfy with and stick with it. (A whole nother story as you can imagine).

    Whatever you do; whatever you buy.... train well, know your manual of arms, maintain your gun(s) and know the laws of the state you happen to be in. And keep practising until all is reflexive and you know what to do before, during and after a lethal force encounter.

    Yes, the 1911 ES and 1911 PD are beautiful handguns and if that is what you choose to carry, get the best possible holster and read the previous paragraph. I would not hesitate to carry a 1911PD - I just keep gravitating back to my Glocks for some reason (well, I know the reasons and most serious CC shooters know them as well). Cocked and locked is sexy and pretty safe - pull the trigger like a revolver and make bang just tickles my fancy.

    That S&W 1911 PD/ES sure is sexy though.

  5. #5
    Member Array Trooper Joe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009

    My S&W 1911 ES

    I just got mine a couple of months ago. Traded a full size custom shop Kimber 1911 in on it.

    This 1911 ES is the nicest 1911 I have ever owned. I actually thought I was buying one of the new E series S&W 1911s (so did the dealer when we saw "ES" on the slide). Got it home and found it still had the "Swartz/sp?" safety system on it and the conventional barrel bushing.

    I am really glad it was not an "E" series gun since they are not getting good initial reviews.

    Getting back to my ES (Extended Slide) gun, I think it is just about perfect. It has the scandium frame which is probably stronger than the alum. alloy frames of the competitors. It has the perfect barrel length for me since I have not had good luck with the shorter 1911 formats (too quirky).

    I bought two Wilson Combat mags which function perfectly (however, I sort of like the stock mags also).

    This thing has fed everything right out of the box and is extremely accurate. I had some old, extremely hot, 165 CorBon load that really cook out of the barrel. They are a ball to shoot but too bad they do not market them anymore.

    Anyway, You will love this gun and many guys are desperately searching their gun stores for some left over models. I guess this thing was a "sleeper" when it was available.

    It probably is one of the nicest looking 1911s I have seen for a long time.

    Trooper Joe

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