Colt Defender Series: From the original manufacturer of the 1911 comes the Colt Defender series. With a wonderfully contoured, full-sized grip, it’s easy to handle yet compact and solid as a hammer. It’s a reliable workhorse, available in either .45 ACP or 9mm, that can handle lots of range practice and many hours in the holster. MSRP: $899 (colt.com; 800-962-2658)
Ed Brown Executive Carry: Clean and classic with all the necessary features and nothing extraneous, Ed Brown’s Executive Carry sports the classic Ed Brown Bobtail housing, which reduces the projecting butt of the mainspring housing without sacrificing the full grip size or magazine capacity. The slide has been reduced to just 4.25 inches, providing minimal printing, a lighter weight in an all-steel gun and a design that pushes the limits of John Browning’s original design. MSRP: $2,945 (edbrown.com; 573-565-3261)
Kimber Ultra Carry TLE II (LG): Here’s what Kimber’s concept of a CCW looks like with the bells and whistles blaring. Featuring reduced dimensions, a light weight, .45 ACP power, a 7+1 total capacity and Crimson Trace’s fast-targeting Lasergrips, the TLE II is a truly complete carry package with a tactical edge. Its rounded and blended edges and beveled magazine well ensure a clean draw every time. MSRP: $1,393 (kimberamerica.com; 888-243-4522)
Magnum Research Inc.: The Desert Eagle 1911U was showcased recently in the pages of Combat Handguns. Author Mike Detty summed it up best: “The DE1911U possesses one of the best triggers of any 1911 I’ve tested. It breaks right at 3.5 pounds with very little creep and no overtravel. The trigger itself tracks straight back and forth without any binding or play. It has a very positive reset, and that made rapid shooting very easy. Firing controlled pairs at steel targets set up at 15 yards, I managed splits, or time between shots, of 28 hundredths of a second—nearly as fast as I can do with a steel-framed, full-sized gun!” MSRP: $946 (magnumresearch.com; 508-635-4273)
Para Executive Carry: For those who simply cannot abide a short-grip pistol, the Executive Carry strikes a unique balance between size and concealability. It has a full-sized grip under a very short barrel (3 inches) and slide (5.13 inches). It also features an Ed Brown Bobtail frame for optimal concealment, minimal printing and maximum grip, making it perfect for everyday carry, especially in a shoulder rig. Because of its shape, it will fit in most full-sized 1911 holsters. MSRP: $1,399 (para-usa.com; 888-999-9386)
Para Warthog: Para is famous for its high-capacity, wide-frame 1911s, breaking from the tradition single-stack magazine. The Warthog is much the same design, only with a 3-inch barrel and a shortened handled, reducing the capacity from 14 to 10 rounds. A bumper on the magazine allows the shooter to get all three fingers on the butt for better control. It’s tiny, extremely concealable—and with an all-steel construction, it has a nice weight, allowing for great control with such a small gun. MSRP: $884 (para-usa.com; 888-999-9386)
Sig Sauer 1911 Carry Nightmare: It might be called the “Nightmare,” but it’s a dream to shoot and look at! For those who prefer a heavier, more full-sized pistol with a thin profile, the shortened Carry version of Sig’s 1911 design abides with a rounded butt and Hogue grips, making for a clean draw and a secure grip in any situation. Available in .45 ACP and .357 SIG, it rides best in a crossdraw or open-loop belt holster. MSRP: $1,242 (sigsauer.com; 866-345-6744)
Springfield EMP: This is truly an example of a fine-tuned classic. Introduced in 2007 as the Enhanced Micro Pistol (EMP), the pistol’s action is 0.125 inches shorter than Springfield’s full-sized 1911. This allows for a shorter grip radius and provides excellent control. The overall dimensions are some of the smallest out there, and it’s loaded with features and an impressive magazine capacity. MSRP: $1,345 (springfield-armory.com; 800-680-6866)
STI Escort: Built on an aluminum frame, the lightweight Escort will be easy for any 1911 shooter to handle right out of the box. The 3-dot TAS sights provide easy target acquisition and help prevent snags on the draw. With a flared ejection port and bull barrel, the Escort is a fine example of a high-quality CCW 1911 from a respected manufacturer. MSRP: $1,299 (stiguns.com; 512-819-0656)
Wilson Combat Ultralight Carry Sentinel: This is the smallest, lightest pistol made by the always-reliable Wilson Combat. Made with top-tier components and optimized for high-performance 9mm loads, the Ultralight Carry Sentinel is designed for concealment with a rounded-butt frame that’s 0.5 inches shorter than a standard compact, with the pistol’s grip guiding the hand immediately into the shooting position. It’s one of the best Wilson Combat has to offer, and it’s just plain tough looking. MSRP: $1,299 (wilsoncombat.com; 800-955-4856)
The very name of the 1911 pistol is a testament to the design’s longevity, reliability and versatility.
These qualities have caused the pistol’s popularity to not only remain constant since its advent, but to spike sharply in recent years. It is the pinnacle of what a semi-autopistol strives to be and rides in many concealed carry holsters.
- RELATED STORY: Elite Accuracy: Top 4 New 1911 Handguns For 2015
With so many small companies offering custom and small-run 1911s, along with many of the major handgun manufacturers bringing their own version to market, there are a lot of guns for the shooter to choose from.
As classic .45s, higher-capacity 9mms and match-grade target pistols, the 1911 has a potential home with every shooter. Its thin profile has always made it a popular and comfortable CCW gun. But the classic has corners and controls that can snag too easily, and print through clothing. These pistols, however, are 1911s modified for CCW without sacrificing features
or reliability for compactness.
- RELATED STORY: Top 15 Officer 1911s For Concealable Carry
For more information on the 1911s mentioned in the gallery above, please visit the following websites:
- Colt Defender Series: (colt.com; 800-962-2658)
- Ed Brown Executive Carry: (edbrown.com; 573-565-3261)
- Kimber Ultra Carry TLE II (LG): (kimberamerica.com; 888-243-4522)
- Magnum Research Inc.: (magnumresearch.com; 508-635-4273)
- Para Executive Carry: (para-usa.com; 888-999-9386)
- Para Warthog: (para-usa.com; 888-999-9386)
- Sig Sauer 1911 Carry Nightmare: (sigsauer.com; 866-345-6744)
- Springfield EMP: (springfield-armory.com; 800-680-6866)
- STI Escort: (stiguns.com; 512-819-0656)
- Wilson Combat Ultralight Carry Sentinel: (wilsoncombat.com; 800-955-4856)
From covert carry to competition on the range, these 1911s are built to win!
by William Bell / May 27, 2015