1911 for Defense

1911 for Defense

This is a discussion on 1911 for Defense within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Historically I have relied on striker fired and DA/SA pistols, without safeties, for defensive purposes. Lately I have grown exceedingly fond of single action triggers. ...

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  1. #1
    Member Array Philly3458's Avatar
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    1911 for Defense

    Historically I have relied on striker fired and DA/SA pistols,
    without safeties, for defensive purposes. Lately I have grown exceedingly fond of single action triggers. I often read about the unreliability of 1911 type pistols and the muscle memory of switching off the safety.

    So I am curious how many have selected a 1911 either in 45 or 9MM for defense and has the pistol been reliable? And is it really that difficult to learn to switch the safer off? Thx


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    Much has been made about forgetting to switch the thumb safety off. Perhaps because my first defensive handgun was a 1911, I have never, ever forgotten to flick the safety off to shoot. Saint John located the safety where the thumb naturally comes to rest. However, I have seen others - but not seasoned shooters - fail to disengage the thumb safety.

    I think the very best way to learn to run the 1911 is to either take a multi-day training course, or start shooting it frequently in competition. A good instructor will be all over you if you forget the safety, and personal embarrassment will arise if that happens in a match. Both are good learning experiences!
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    VIP Member Array Havok's Avatar
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    1911s, can be reliable, or unreliable. Just like any other gun it depends on the build quality. The safety issue is based on training. people who dont train to click it off wont. I carried a 1911 for a little while but went away from it because I was spending much more time shooting guns without safeties. Nowadays I shoot what I want, and there are a couple 1911s on my radar.
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    VIP Member Array OldChap's Avatar
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    I feel like I've been shooting 1911s since they found Moses in the reeds, so I've never had any kind of issue with it. As to reliability, the only 1911s I've ever seen with issues were the very small ones with the very short barrels and GI models that were worn out. Still, a few parts and they run like new. The short barrel ones are finicky, but once the issues are sorted out, are they unreliable? Not in my experience.

    I only carry a 1911 once in a while. I started carrying Glocks and my .45 ACP Glocks are lighter and conceal easier than my 1911s. There is no other reason not to carry one.
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    I have carried a 1911 off and on since 1963. When I draw one of my Glocks or revolvers, my thumb automatically wipes the safety. Practice practice practice!
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    "Historically", I have relied on DA revolvers (.38 & .357), DA/SA autos (most notably a Beretta M84 and a PPK/s), and my ol' Colt Combat Commander. In recent years, I've gravitated towards the Plastic Fantastic 9mm's, and the EDC's of choice have been M&P's & Kahrs.

    Most recently, though, I've been smitten by my DW ECO, and it's now one of the CCW's of choice.

    I believe very strongly that a 1911 is NOT a good carry choice for the majority of shooters, for the simple reason that it's more complex to operate (safely and properly) than a striker-fired semi, and a casual, occasional shooter, or a newbie, is unlikely to have the proficiency. OTOH, for a true gun enthusiast, who practices at every opportunity, a 1911 is hard to beat. A friend asked me a while back what pistol I would want in my hand if someone was drawing a bead on me from 50 yards out, and I had a single shot to take before he fired. My answer was, "Probably my Valor, but any good 1911 would probably give me as good a chance as anything!"

    I'm not particularly concerned about capacity for a SD handgun in less than a major SHTF situation.

    YMMV
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    Ex Member Array CG11's Avatar
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    My first weapon was a 1911 in the Navy, and I still have one. It was my home defense weapon for many years; never doubted it would go bang and never had an issue with the safety.

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    A 1911 was the first handgun I ever fired. Like LimaCharlie said earlier, it’s practice, practice, practice, ( and, yes, I catch myself swiping the safety off whether or not there is one). I freely admit that I’m one of the “best combat handgun ever made” crowd, but, IMO, it’s not for the every-now-and-then shooter. I think that most non-1911 people get nervous because the SA trigger pull is a lot less than a DA, and “is the safety REALLY on?”. Get comfortable with the platform, and you will love it.

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    how many have selected a 1911 either in 45 or 9MM for defense and has the pistol been reliable?

    I've never carried a 1911 that didn't have a reliability package worked into the gun. I carried one and sometimes two 1911's for near 30 years professionally on the street. Both were duplicate Springfield milspecs from the 70's. Today, if I carry one of the 1911's, it's either a custom built Ed Brown or the AO mispec that's had the best parts and reliability package built into it as well. So, yes, all of my carry 1911's have been ultra reliable.

    is it really that difficult to learn to switch the safer off?


    The simple answer is no, it's not difficult. The more complex issue is that under sufficient amount of duress, I've been able to get students who've carried one for sometimes decades to miss or forget to snick the safety off. If it can happen, it will happen, and it CAN happen. Something to be aware of. Most people don't have a .60 second draw stroke, most people don't have the speed to worry about missing the safety before the gun comes on threat. But, and there's always the unknown, will it happen to someone under duress who's hurrying the draw to get the shot off? Yes, it CAN happen. Why? Because they are human.

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    Senior Member Array Kenny53's Avatar
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    I have been known to carry a 1911. I have no problem with it. As a matter of fact I enjoy carrying it. That being said it all depends on my mood. I carry a M&P 9mm most days.
    but some days just cry out for 1911. I love those days. It is always a full 1911 just the way Mr. Browning said it should be.

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    reliable and fun to shoot yes
    but its hard to beat a 5-600 dollar gun with tac light on rail ,night sights and
    twice or more round count
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  13. #12
    Member Array Melvin's Avatar
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    I occasionally carry a 1911 style and have for the past 40 or so years. Never an issue flipping off the safety.
    Modern times it's either my S&W 1911 Sc or my Sig C3.
    AS far as reliability, yes I personally had a couple minor issue that were easily resolved and now have been 100%
    Although I have premium ammo as Buffalo Bore, Underwood, Federal HST and others, I feel completely comfortable with a good grade of 230 grain FMJ traveling at least 890 FPS or so.
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    I have never owned or carried one but, I have always wanted one just because they feel so good in hand. Triggers have never concerned me in a defensive firearm, not one bit. Long,short, heavy, gritty,etc.none of that has ever been a factor in what gun I choose to carry concealed. My finger pulls the trigger and the gun goes bang. Never understood the DA/SA detractors that learning two different trigger pulls is somehow beyond human capability but, same guys will also own and shoot revolvers in DA mood?
    For me it would take a lot of dedication to the mechanics to really trust myself to run a 1911 style pistol correctly under extreme stress, which most people saying its not an issue have never been through with any firearm. Weird things happen to the human mind when its sees its possible end coming in real time. We are not as cool headed and together as we always hope we will be. I once saw a hunter when he caught a glimpse of a huge bull Elk literally raise his rifle and say the words "bang,bang,bang" and actually thought he was shooting his rifle. He was totally confused when it ran off and just stared at his rifle. That was just "buck fever" and not life and death.
    "Pull gun, point gun,pull trigger" is just harder to get confused about. Not knocking the 1911 at all just trying to keep it real.
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  15. #14
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    My primary weapon as a staff nco combat photographer was a M1911. I carried it in Nam for 13 months. I used it when clearing buildings in Hue City because it was time to bag the cameras. We had to keep the safety on at all times unless engaged in combat. We trained to release the safety while drawing the pistol. It became second nature in a brief period of time. Most carried the pistol in a regulation issue belt holster with an overlapping flap. There was no QuickDraw. Upon contact you unfastened the clasp on the holster and stayed prepared to draw. And guess what? We did fine. We could present the pistol to firing position and take the safety off in the process. I know it works OK and there are some NVA who were in Hue who upon visiting their ancestors told them it worked against them

    Look at some military handgun training vids on YouTube. The grunts are drawing from retention holsters like the SERPA level 3,and they are flicking off the safety as they present the pistol and aim to shoot. They never took the modern day courses or competitions that get into fast draw. They just rely on tried and true practices that the military teaches.

    I carry IWB on the street and OWB when hiking and otherwise outdoors. I carry a Taurus G2C in both cases. I engage the safety IWB and OWB. It comes off as I draw. It does not take a micro second longer to complete the draw. My hand wraps around the grip and my thumb has switched off the safety before the gun clears th holster. I have a thumb strap on my OWB holster. I can snap it off before a bad guy can blink. Now let the volley of disagreement begin. It is all in good spirit.

  16. #15
    Ex Member Array J-Frame's Avatar
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    Muscle memory. You'll play like you train.

    The 1911-A1 has been King of defensive handguns, which is misleading, it's an offense battle weapon, since its birth.

    Ain't nothin' since JMB's magnum opus's has threatened its reign.

    I wouldn't think twice about a 1911-A1 as my primary defensive handgun, provided it's chambered in .45 Auto.

    I have a Springfield Armory Loaded Model. Flawless. Never an anything. I pull the trigger & it works as intended.

    When I've carried a 1911-A1, I didn't feel slighted when it was loaded with 230 grain ball ammo.

    Many excellent 1911-A1's manufacturers. Some, like the Springfield Professional, will set you back to the tune of $3500 and others a lot more.
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