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You can do more with a 1911 frame than with probably any other handgun platform yet devised — or at least more has already been done with them. The original mil-spec designs were made to fight world wars from the muddy trenches of Europe to the sandy beaches of Asia, the frozen no man’s land to sweltering jungles — a brutal range of climates and environmental conditions that demanded a true workhorse of a gun.

Since then, the 1911’s lineage has diverged and diverged again, so that way out on the front lines of development you’ll now find top-grade, hand-fitted masterpieces, models tuned for the high performance of a race car, models for everyday carry and more.

While the vast array of 1911s available can be a bit overwhelming, here we’ve rounded up some of the best models for competition. These are competition-ready 1911s you can shoot for decades.

Colt Combat Elite

From the company that started it all comes a thoroughly modern version of John M. Browning’s masterpiece customized from the factory to be ready for gaming, defense and training. The Combat Elite features front slide serrations; a lowered, flared ejection port; Novak LoMount carry sights; and an upswept beavertail grip safety. The half-smooth grips provide a solid, comfortable grip, and the National Match barrel is an industry standard-bearer. (colt.com; 800-962-2658)

Cylinder & Slide Trident

With the Trident, famous custom house Cylinder & Slide starts with a Parkerized Springfield 1911A1, then adds a nickel-boron finish, Heinie Ledge combat sights, a skeletonized trigger, a fixed internal overtravel stop, a Wolff extra-power magazine catch spring and plenty of other upgrades. By the time Cylinder & Slide is done, the Trident is a completely overhauled piece ready for combat, gaming or daily carry. (cylinder-slide.com; 402-721-4277)

Dan Wesson Elite Series Chaos

For those competitions where you don’t need to meet a certain power factor—like many 3-Gun matches, steel plate matches, club-level shoots and the like—the 9mm gives the distinct advantage of higher capacity than more traditional 1911s. The Chaos puts 23 rounds in each magazine and comes with a beveled magazine well to speed up reloads. An ambidextrous safety comes standard, and the match barrel is sure to get you on target. (cz-usa.com; 800-955-4486)

EAA Witness Elite Steel 1911

EAA Corp. imports the Tanfoglio line of combat and competition handguns, which include competitive models in the Witness line, like this ready-to-go 1911. It features a striking two-tone presentation with classic double-diamond wooden grips and an extended thumb safety that greatly assists with one-handed operation. The flat mainspring housing helps the pistol fit your hand, and the extended basepad in the eight-round magazine facilitates positive reloads under stress. (eaacorp.com; 321-639-4842)

MAC 3011 SSD Tactical

This pistol comes factory-loaded with match-ready features you won’t find on most defensive guns, like an oversized magazine well that greatly enhances reloading speed under duress; a flat-faced, skeletonized competition trigger; an extra-wide ambidextrous safety; an extra-large beavertail and grip safety; and front slide serrations. The adjustable rear sights help you get the most out of the match barrel, and the accessory rail is ready to accept a scope mount or light. (eagleimportsinc.com; 732-493-0333)

Kimber Eclipse Target II

You’ll find the target-oriented version of Kimber’s renowned defensive handguns in the Eclipse Target line, which includes this full-sized, classically styled model. The adjustable target sights feature tritium inserts by Meprolight that glow in the dark, and from the barrel’s crown to the backstrap checkering, the Eclipse Target II is loaded with accuracy- enhancing features. Front slide serrations enhance handling under competition stress, and the skeletonized match trigger breaks between 4 and 5 pounds. (kimberamerica.com; 888-243-4522)

Kimber Team Match II

An even higher-grade version than the Eclipse Target II 1911, the Team Match II is designed for the U.S.A. Shooting Rapid Fire Pistol Team with features like an ambidextrous safety, Kimber adjustable target sights, a match-tuned trigger that breaks between 4 and 5 pounds, a match-grade, hand-fitted barrel, and a beveled magazine well. The satin-finished stainless steel frame is strikingly offset by the black DLC-finished slide, and the U.S. Shooting Team logo is inset in 24-karat gold. (kimberamerica.com; 888-243-4522)

Magnum Research Desert Eagle 1911 GR

From the stainless steel, hex-head grip screws to the match-grade barrel, the features that set the 1911 GR apart are subtle and show great attention to detail in building a race gun. Other features include an aluminum trigger with an overtravel stop, an enlarged ejection port, an extended thumb safety (left side only), a beveled magazine well and a full-length, stainless steel guide rod. The dust-cover rail is ready for mounting accessories. (magnumresearch.com; 508-635-4273)

Remington 1911 R1 Enhanced

While faithful to the classic lines and style of the 1911, the R1 Enhanced has several key upgrades, including an adjustable skeletonized trigger, a fiber-optic front sight, an adjustable rear sight, a checkered “memory bump” on the beavertail grip safety, front slide serrations and more. The left-side-only thumb safety is extra wide, though the checkered grip panels are relieved for an ambidextrous  thumb safety. (remington.com; 800-243-9700)

Rock Island Armory Pro Match Ultra 5″

An updated classic, the Pro Match Ultra features a target-style adjustable rear sight and a fiber-optic front sight. The ambidextrous thumb safety is easy to reach, and the trigger breaks between 4 and 6 pounds while being adjustable for overtravel. The beavertail grip safety is pronounced for easy engagement, and the eight-round magazine has a nice bumper on it for positive reloads. (armscor.com; 775-537-1444)

Rock River Arms 1911-A1 Limited Match

The Limited Match is Rock River Arms’ premium National Match-style pistol, featuring the ambidextrous thumb safety and extended magazine release you would expect and a few things you might not, like a two-piece guide rod and a forged slide and frame. You can also choose 20-, 25- or 30-lpi checkering for the front- and backstraps. It is guaranteed to produce 1.5-inch groups at 50 yards with Federal 185-grain Gold Medal Match SWC ammo. (rockriverarms.com; 309-792-5780)

Sig Sauer 1911 Nitron Super Target

Sig Sauer sets its Nitron Super Target apart right from the start with a walnut target grip that provides a sculpted fit evocative of a bullseye gun while remaining thin enough for comfortable shooting. The ambidextrous safety is another nice touch, and the raised grip safety promotes positive, intuitive engagement. The Nitron finish is hard-wearing to survive your Kydex tournament holster, and the aesthetics are uniquely Sig Sauer. (sigsauer.com; 603-610-3000)

Sig Sauer 1911 Traditional Match Elite

Sig Sauer’s more traditional “round-top” 1911, this Match Elite features a skeletonized trigger, adjustable target sights, a match-grade barrel and bushing, an ambidextrous thumb safety and a “speed bump” grip safety. The pistol is available in .45 ACP as well as 9mm and .40 S&W. The grips are double-diamond-checkered wood panels, and the match-grade magazine has an extended baseplate for positive reloads. (sigsauer.com; 603-610-3000)

Smith & Wesson SW1911 PC

Straight from the Smith & Wesson Performance Center, this 1911 receives an action job to further enhance its 3.5-to-4-pound competition trigger. It features an ambidextrous thumb safety and a raised grip safety while setting itself apart with fish-scale-like rear slide serrations, custom G10 grips (with four different surface textures right where each make the most sense) and slide lightening cuts that function as a can’t-miss forward gripping surface for gross motor skill operation. (smith-wesson.com; 800-331-0852)

Springfield Armory Range Officer

When Springfield got into the game with the Range Officer, the company created a model that is true to the outward specs and visual style of the classic while offering a few subtle upgrades that make it perfect for match use. The traditional thumb safety, smooth dust cover and seven-round magazine are familiar while the raised grip safety, target sights and match-grade barrel make it ready to compete. (springfield-armory.com; 800-680-6866)

STI DVC Limited

Designed for the USPSA’s Limited division, the DVC’s titanium-nitride match barrel shows provocatively through the lightening cuts along the slide, which also vent barrel heat and ensure rapid, reliable cycling with a wide range of 9mm, .38 Super and .40 S&W loads. The relief cuts on the dust cover help keep the weight right at the sweet spot, while the full-length dust cover provides rigidity and balance. (stiguns.com; 512-819-0656)

STI Edge

One of the more popular models in higher-end competitions is STI’s Edge, a custom-tuned race gun that is intended for a wide range of shooting divisions. Most striking is the full-length dust cover on the frame, which conceals a full-length guide rod. That puts a little extra weight under the barrel to fight muzzle climb and soften the recoil impulse slightly while stabilizing the slide in transit. The oversized magazine well greatly enhances reloading, while many match-grade parts ensure this pistol is inherently precise. (stiguns.com; 512-819-0656)

Taurus PT1911

Designed to offer custom-grade features at a production gun price, the PT1911 sports an accessory rail under the barrel, an extended and sculpted beavertail grip safety, combat-style sights, and a skeletonized trigger and hammer. The double-diamond-checkered grip panels keep the Taurus PT1911 under control and feeling authentic in your hand, while the upgrades recommend it for competition. (taurususa.com; 800-327-3776)

Taylor’s Tactical 1911-A1

This full-sized pistol from Taylor’s & Company Firearms offers some upgrades meant for competitive work, like adjustable target sights, forward slide serrations and an eight-round magazine with an extended baseplate to help you seat it positively. The Parkerized finish pays homage to its roots while armoring the pistol against the rigors of heavy use. (taylorsfirearms.com; 540-722-2017)

Wilson Combat Tactical Elite

Wilson Combat’s excellent line of defensive pistols includes many that are ready for serious competitions as well. The Tactical Elite is ready to compete with an integral mag well and a 3.5- to 4.5-pound trigger pull. It can be had in a range of popular chamberings: 9mm, .38 Super and, of course, .45 ACP. The fiber-optic front sight gets you on target, and the hand-fit, match-grade, heavy-flanged cone barrel makes sure those rounds fly true. (wilsoncombat.com; 800-955-4856)

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