Compact 1911 pistols in 9mm have been a popular niche gun for decades. Combining the cartridge and platform hasn’t always been a success, but modern guns have gone a long way to work out any of the problems in the mating of this pistol size and cartridge.

Currently, there are a number of compact 9mm 1911 pistols on the market that range in features from the plain to the exotic. Similarly, prices run from less than $600 to nearly $4,000 — and that’s before customizations.

Scroll through the photo gallery above for a look at some of the best 1911 pistols currently available and their specifications. For even more, read below!

Colt Defender

A self-described workhorse pistol, the Colt Defender (O7002D) is a compact 9mm pistol with an aluminum frame and a stainless steel slide for lightweight carry and a lifetime of shooting. The gun is fitted with Novak Low Mount Carry sights to provide an excellent sight picture, while the Hogue grip helps the shooter keep a firm grip on the gun. On this pistol, Colt uses a three-hole aluminum trigger, an enhanced hammer and an upswept beavertail grip safety. Standard magazines hold eight rounds. (; 800-962-2658)

Dan Wesson ECO

Compact and reliable are two of the traits that Dan Wesson purposefully built into the ECO pistol. This highly regarded 1911 pistol is designed with a number of reliability-enhancing features, including a flat recoil spring that is rated for 15,000 rounds. Tritium sights are included, with the rear sight having a flat edge for one-handed slide cycling. G10 grips are standard and enhance the ability to control the pistol. The triggerguard is undercut, and the mainspring housing has 25-lpi checkering. (; 607-336-1174)

Kimber Stainless Ultra Carry II

Attention to detail is one of the defining characteristics of Kimber pistols. A perfect example of this craftsmanship is the 9mm Stainless Ultra Carry II. The handgun uses a frame and slide that are matched early in the manufacturing process for a better fit. Other features include a 3-inch match barrel, a beveled magazine well for smoother reloads, a polished breech face and a match-grade trigger. The shortened grip allows for easier concealment under a garment but still allows for a full 8+1 capacity of 9mm ammo. (; 888-243-4522)

Nighthawk Custom T4

The T4 pistol from Nighthawk Custom is a compact 9mm 1911 that has a fit and finish to match the company’s sterling reputation. The gun is precisely crafted for concealed carry and is fitted with a number of top-end features. A Heinie Slant Pro Straight Eight rear sight and tritium dot front sight are used to aim the pistol, while the aggressively textured VZ Alien grip panels ensure absolute control during rapid fire. The T4 uses a stainless steel frame that helps absorb recoil, but an aluminum frame for lighter carry is an upgrade option for an additional $200. (; 870-423-4867)

Rock Island Armory Rock Standard CS

Rock Island Armory proves that the 1911 platform doesn’t have to be expensive to be desirable. Chambered for the 9mm cartridge, this fighting handgun has low-profile combat sights, an extended beavertail and a full-length guide rod. Both the trigger and the hammer are skeletonized. Each magazine holds eight rounds, and the Parkerized finish helps to protect it against corrosion for many years of shooting. This compact 9mm pistol is backed by a lifetime warranty. (; 775-537-1444)

Sig Sauer 1911 Traditional Ultra

A relatively new addition to the Sig Sauer 1911 line, the Traditional Ultra in 9mm promises the same great performance that the company’s .45 ACP pistols deliver. Pistol details include a rounded slide
finished in natural stainless, a skeletonized trigger and hammer, and custom rosewood grips with a double-diamond pattern. Low-profile night sights on this compact handgun help the shooter aim in all lighting conditions, yet they won’t snag on a garment during a draw or reholstering maneuver. For a gun that shoots as well as it looks but doesn’t break the bank, this Sig deserves your consideration. (; 603-610-3000)

Springfield Armory EMP

Springfield Armory built the EMP, or Enhanced Micro Pistol, around the size of the 9mm, rather than adapting a .45-sized gun to the smaller cartridge. The result is a gun with increased reliability and decreased size. The EMP has all of the desirable features found in a custom-grade 1911, including an ambidextrous safety, a crisp trigger, excellent accuracy and great ergonomics. By creating the gun specifically around the 9mm cartridge, the company was able to get nine rounds into each magazine, instead of the typical eight, which is more than enough for the vast majority of defensive situations. (; 800-680-6866)

Wilson Combat Ultralight Carry Sentinel

Beauty and performance aligned in the design of the Ultralight Carry Sentinel from Wilson Combat. This compact 1911-style pistol has an impeccable black Armor-Tuff finish that is nicely accented by G10 Starburst grips. The fluted barrel is match grade and fitted by hand, and when combined with the crisp trigger, delivers an accuracy guarantee of creating 1.5-inch groups at 25 yards. The wide U-notch of the rear Battlesight matches with the bright green fiber-optic front sight to allow the shooter to get on target quickly. As with many of the company’s guns, there are a variety of customization options available for the pistol. (; 800-955-4856)

This article was published in the 2016 edition of the Complete Book of Handguns. For information on how to subscribe, please email [email protected] or call 1-800-284-5668.

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