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Steel vs. Alloy Commander?

7478 Views 46 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  CLASS3NH
I've got a dillemma and I need your help. I have always been enamored with the 1911 pistol design. Nothing else shoots like it. I'm in the market for a new concealed carry pistol and it's going to be a Colt Commander. The only thing I need to decide is if it should have a steel or an alloy frame. The two models I'm considering are the alloy-framed XSE Commander and the 1991 Commander with a blue finish. Pros and cons of each are as follows:

XSE Commander
- Lightweight
- High-cut front strap
- Full-length guide rod (adds weight and impedes disassembly)
- Stainless steel slide (not inherently bad, just not my preference)
- Duckbill grip safety :puke: 'nuff said
- Forward cocking serrations (again, not inherently bad, just not my thing)
- Less durable frame
- Expensive

1991 Blued Commander
- Blued finish (I'm a traditionalist, can't beat a nice blue finish)
- $300 less than the XSE (roughly)
- Indestructible steel frame
- Heavier
- Standard front strap (not a big deal, but it would be nice if it were already cut)

I'd like some input from those who have carried both. Does that extra 8 oz. really make a huge difference? FWIW, I'm a fairly small guy at 5'7" and 140 lbs. I'll be carrying in a Gary Brommeland Max-Con V IWB holster with either a Liger belt or one of Gary's gun belts. The biggest factors are weight and cost. A heavy gun that I can't stand to carry won't do me any good. However, that XSE Commander is going to end up costing a bundle since I would have to spend $200+ in order to replace the parts I don't like (duckbill safety, guide rod, etc). The 1991 is pretty much ready to go, the only parts I would replace on it are the slide stop, fire control group, and maybe the plunger tube. MIM parts do NOT belong on a 1911. My ideal gun is a Series-70 Lightweight Commander, too bad they're scarce and expensive. I'm still kicking myself for passing up the one that my favorite gun shop in Georgia had. It was a little worn but just fine mechanically. Live and learn I guess. But I digress. I keep going back and forth between these two guns and can't come to a firm decision. The weight of the 1991 worries me, but the XSE isn't quite right either for a variety of reasons. Any real-world input from those of you who carry these guns would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! :smile:
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Does that extra 8 oz. really make a huge difference?
By the end of the day, yes it does. Why would you replace the slide stop, it's forged?
You're right, it is forged. Sorry, I wasn't trying to imply that it's a MIM part. I'll still replace it, however, since it's one of the most highly stressed parts of the gun and a Brown or Wilson forged stop is only a few dollars. Nothing is failsafe, but I try to head Murphy off whenever I can.
Well, if you change it, send it my way, it is one of the best out there. I'll trade you a Brown Hardcore, they're cast.
I have no expirance with the 1991 commander, but I did just buy the Colt XSE Commander 04012XSE, and absolutly love it(not really fond of the duck butt saftey, but everything else is top notch). I looked at the LW version a few times and thought about getting that one, but it didn't "feel" as balanced (with a loaded mag) as the all steel one. The edges on the XSE are super sharp, but its SS so breaking the edges isn't a problem (no need to refinish) The foward cocking serations aren't that bad, I wasn't sure about them at first, but they grow on you (just need to hit the edges cause they are sharp and realy tear up the inside of a leather holster). I think my XSE commander was worth every penny I paid for it, I have 450 rounds through it and it hasn't missed a beat. Thats 450 rounds without cleanning it, 400 WWB 230gr FMJ and 50 Federal 230gr JHP. I love it and would recomend it to anyone who is in the market.
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I can offer you only practical, hands on experience from a long-time concealed-handgun carrier. I carry a pre-Series 80 Lightweight Commander. It is simple, utterly reliable, and lighter fully loaded than my full-sized 1911s weigh dry. It's also old technology - no full-length rod, trigger or action job, flaired port, etc. It'll hold all rounds on a piece of notebook paper at 50 yards.

Bottom line is that for an IWB carry gun - if you are looking for a 1911-style gun - is a Lightweight Commander of whatever series, from Colt or a similar pistol from another high-quaity manufacturer, is a great option, and to me, the perfect one when I can carry IWB.

Here's a photo - this is in prior configuration; current configuration has slim Esmeralda grips and the extended mag well removed.

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Can't go wrong with a COLT!

I used to carry a lightweight Colt Combat Commander and never really had any problems with it. I currently carry (sometimes) my wife's Commander steel version and love that. For me it's not so much the weight of a big gun, but the method in which it is it comfortable over the long haul of a daily carry?

OTOH, I have had extremely bad luck with EVERY OTHER alloy framed gun I've ever owned I guess that's about 4 or 5 guns. So I can't fault a Colt...but that's all I can say.
Interesting stuff, ExSoldier762. I have been wondering how the new Ti-frame guns are faring. I don't know much about 'em, but they're supposed to be great. If and when my LWC frame gives up the ghost, which I doubt will happen in my lifetime, I'd like to try one. What other alloy-framed guns have you had experience with? I only have experience with my LWC.

What do you carry your Commander in, by the way? I carry most often in a Milt Sparks Versa Max, but I have ordered a Fist Kydex that I love (had one before, but the J hook broke after only a month). Also, I have one of these on the way - Beltster from Bandera:

(I haven't been on an equipment binge in awhile. Can you tell? lol!)

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Ive carried both in a 5 inch and doesnt bother me but i can see where the lightweight would be a lot better for other people at my size 8 oz dont matter
Bud White said:
... at my size 8 oz dont matter
lol. Me too, Bud. I'm 6'5" and 270, so the weight difference would not be noticeable - EXCEPT for the fact that I suffer from a malady common to males in my family - a complete lack of .... um ... shall we say "buffering" material between my hip joints and chairs, and so the little weight savings helps keep my trou where they're s'posed to be. I've never weighed 'em, but my LWC feels lighter fully stoked than my steel 5" does empty.


BigJon said:
What do you carry your Commander in, by the way.
I'm spoiled by my Sam Andrews custom "IPSC Saddle" and my Sam Andrews "McDaniels II" IWB (strong side hip).
i carryed my commandered sized 1911 in a Desantis cozy partner same thing i carry my fullsizes in
No expert on these whatsoever but chipping in my 2c re alloy, weight etc.

Overall tho just 6'.00'' and 210 I do favor weight and from preference steel frame or if needed polymer. Guess this is something to with my feelings metallurgically with steel on Al with moving parts.

If however a particular make and combination works well - as Jon has said - then that's good. Just that I avoid it when I can unless going real small like my R9.

The weight aspect is entirely down to gun controllability - having found that any platform I might carry invariably proves for me a tighter shooter when heavier. Thus my main choice for carry being SIG 226 ST - plenty of heft and great control. Until I burn a load of ammo thru that tomorrow to test and further break in - I am briefly carrying SW99 - much lighter but still controllable enough.

If I was one of the ''1911 clan" I would probably carry full size, tho hopefully my P12.45 which also gets its new extractor tested tomorrow would be viable - stainless it is and weight feels good even tho a compact.
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If I was one of the ''1911 clan"

We will work on bringing you into the light, Chris. :wink:
Oh heck OD - I got you AND bruce to deal with now :biggrin:

Don't write me off totally - my Sistema is an old friend and my P12.45 now fitted with new extractor is gonna go to test range tomorrow.

I am let's say - a ''peripheral member'' of the clan :wink:
Those are two nice ones, so I think you're more than that, how about "honorary"? :wink:
OD said:
how about "honorary"? :wink:
Great - that'll work - instant promotion :biggrin:

But I know (humble hat in place) I will never be ''big league'' :banana:

Let's not forget the important issues of handgun "Balance & Pointability" - The "all steel" Combat Commander is extremely close to being absolutely perfect with regard to balance and natural fast pointability.
Its just my opinion is that the all steel Commander has better overall natural balance than the Light Weight.

I think that for all practical Carry function the Colt Alloy frame & the Steel frame are about equal in durability.
That is one very tough light~weight~alloy that Colt uses for its light weight frames.

With a holster as good as any G. Brommeland leather holster (in combination w/ a good gun carry belt) the slight extra weight of the full weight Commander should not be too much of an issue.

Also: if you appreciate the look of "Gun Blue" remember that Alloy frames never look too very "Gunmetal Blue."
Frosty Black maybe but, never Blue. Of course the "blue" that gunmakers use these days on steel does not look very "classic blue" either. :wink:

I honestly like BOTH the Light Weight Commander & the Combat Commander. If I could not have one then I would choose the other.
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As far as I'm concerned Chris, you're already ''big league'' amigo.
P95Carry said:
Oh heck OD - I got you AND bruce to deal with now :biggrin:

Don't write me off totally - my Sistema is an old friend and my P12.45 now fitted with new extractor is gonna go to test range tomorrow.

I am let's say - a ''peripheral member'' of the clan :wink:
Don't for get me Chris :biggrin: I'll be working on you as well (waving several 500 Smiths and a couple of 460 Smiths at you) :biggrin:
Don't forget, I'm working to find you a nice Mk IV Enfield in the Target Version. I can also wave a couple dozen SIGS, Styer SSGs, Cetme, Bushy, Rock Island, Armalites at you, as well as the large Kimber line of rifles and handguns in stock.
Maybe even the Glocks and Springfield Armory too
We'll bring you over to the Dark Side :biggrin: (evil grin) :banana:
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