15 Officer 1911s GBA 2015 lead
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It is a tall order to take a gun designed over a century ago as a full-size military sidearm weighing 39 ounces and scale it down to a size barely greater than a medium-frame revolver with a 4-inch barrel and an average weight of just 25 ounces, all without giving up cartridge capacity (6+1 or 7+1) or compromising the gun’s handling characteristics. A compact .45 ACP semi-auto has to be large enough to manage recoil and maintain accuracy while compact enough to be carried concealed.

Today, there are numerous .45 ACPs that offer 7+1 capacity in a size that fits comfortably into an inside-the-waistband, belt or shoulder holster without the bulk of a traditional Government model. It began more than half a century ago with the Colt Commander (what used to pass for a compact model in the 1950s and 1960s), progressing to the old Series 70 Lightweight, Combat Commander in the 1970s and 1980s, and the Officer’s Model in the 1980s and 1990s.

 

Colt Defender

15 Officer 1911s GBA 2015 Colt Defender
Colt Defender

The Colt Defender is an excellent choice for .45 ACP concealed carry. This 3-inch-barreled model is equipped with Novak Low-Mount carry sights, a Colt upswept beavertail grip safety, an enhanced hammer, a lowered and flared ejection port, and a three-hole aluminum trigger. The overall length is 6.75 inches, the carry weight is 24 ounces and capacity is 7+1. Suggested retail is $995. A 9mm model is also available, offering 8+1 capacity in roughly the same dimensions. (colt.com; 800-962-2658)

 

Colt New Agent

15 Officer 1911s GBA 2015 Colt New Agent
Colt New Agent

The .45 ACP Colt New Agent (and the New Agent with Crimson Trace Lasergrips), weighs a modest 22.5 ounces with an overall length of 6.75 inches. It is designed for concealed carry and a snag-free draw with a rounded exterior and a single, slide-length sight channel (trench-style sight). The 3-inch, stainless steel, bushingless barrel, along with a lowered and flared ejection port, provide excellent accuracy and outstanding reliability. Features include an enhanced hammer, 1918-style safety lock, standard grip safety, three-hole aluminum trigger, lowered and flared ejection port, two finishes and optional Crimson Trace Lasergrips. This is a dedicated CQB pistol with a suggested retail of $1,078. (colt.com; 800-962-2658)

 

Kimber Ultra Carry II

15 Officer 1911s GBA 2015 Kimber
Kimber Ultra Carry II

Weighing in at 25 ounces with a 7+1 capacity, the Kimber Ultra Carry II has a 3-inch, match-grade barrel and fixed low-profile sights. The pistol has an overall length of 6.8 inches, height of 4.75 inches, a heavy 18-pound recoil spring, a full-length guide rod and an aluminum, match-grade trigger. Built on a lightweight, aluminum frame, the Kimber model is handcrafted for fit, finish and long-term reliability. The Ultra Carry II has a price of $919. (kimberamerica.com; 888-243-4522)

 

MetroArms Compact Commander

15 Officer 1911s GBA 2015 MetroArms Compact Commander
MetroArms Compact Commander

The MetroArms Compact Commander is aptly marked “American Classic,” as it bears the distinctive lines of the traditional 1911 Officer models built for decades. The second largest of the 1911s featured at 7.5 inches in overall length, the MetroArms version of this 4.25-inch-barreled model uses a 4140 hammer-forged steel slide and 4140 steel frame, increasing the carry weight to 34.56 ounces. Standard capacity is 7+1 of .45 ACP. This MetroArms 1911 features all the desirable upgrades: flared ejection port, extended slide stop and thumb safety, combat-style hammer and trigger, and Novak-style rear sight. Price is $624. (metroarms.com; 732-493-0333)

MetroArms MAC 1911 Bobcut

15 Officer 1911s GBA 2015 MetroArms MAC 1911 Bobcut
MetroArms MAC 1911 Bobcut

Introduced in 2012, the .45 ACP MAC 1911 Bobcut model takes features to the next level by adding an enhanced beavertail safety, flared and lowered ejection port, fully adjustable Novak-type rear sight, a throated forged barrel, a bobtail grip frame with flat mainspring housing and an eight-round magazine. The pistol weighs a solid 34.58 ounces and sports custom hardwood grips with the “MAC” logo. MSRP is $902. (metroarms.com; 732-493-0333)

 

MRI Desert Eagle 1911U

15 Officer 1911s GBA 2015 MRI Desert Eagle 1911U
MRI Desert Eagle 1911U

Manufactured in Israel by Bul, the 1911U was introduced in 2014 as a compact “Undercover” variation. The 1911U has a distinctive profile with a short overall length of 6.85 inches and a 3-inch barrel with dual recoil spring and full-length guide rod. The pistol also features a flat mainspring housing, a 3.5-pound, skeletonized target trigger, an extended beavertail and raised palm swell grip safety, 6+1 capacity, and a carry weight of only 25.8 ounces. MSRP is $946. (magnumresearch.com; 508-635-4273)

 

Nighthawk Costa Compact

15 Officer 1911s GBA 2015 Nighthawk
Nighthawk Costa Compact

The .45 ACP Nighthawk Costa Compact is based on the design of the full-size Costa Recon, built to Chris Costa’s specifications. (Costa is the founder and former president of Magpul Dynamics, and a tactical firearms consultant). This model has many of the same features as the full size Nighthawk Costa Recon, but on an Officer-size platform. The slide has the unique, multi-faceted slide and top serrations that come to an arrow point. This model also incorporates Nighthawk’s “Everlast” recoil system, which allows shooters to go over 10,000 rounds without a spring change. The Compact is the first model to include a new Officer-size, one piece mainspring housing/mag well and comes standard with Heinie Slant Pro night sights. Overall length is 7.85 inches with a 4.25-inch barrel. Carry weight is 34.7 ounces. With an eight-round capacity, this custom-crafted 1911 has an MSRP of $3,695.  (nighthawkcustom.com; 870-423-4867)

 

Para Elite Officer/Elite Carry

15 Officer 1911s GBA 2015 Para Elite Carry
Para Elite Carry

Offering similar features in a less expensive Para model, the Elite Officer and Elite Carry models offer 7+1 and 6 +1 capacities and 3-inch and 3.5-inch barrel lengths, respectively. Both have a suggested retail of $949. While not a full custom like the Executive Carry, the shorter-gripped Elite Carry model weighs 24 ounces, offers a match-grade, ramped barrel, a skeletonized, match-grade trigger, two-dot rear and green fiber-optic front sights, a beavertail grip safety, a stainless steel slide and aluminum frame with Ionbond anodized finish, and two 6-round magazines. The slightly larger Elite Officer has an overall length of 7.1 inches and weighs 32 ounces. (para-usa.com; 888-999-9386)

 

Para Executive Carry

15 Officer 1911s GBA 2015 Para Executive Carry
Para Executive Carry

The uniquely styled Para USA Executive Carry combines a 3-inch, match-grade, bull barrel and a slide length of just 5.13 inches, resulting in a full-length 1911 grip frame packing an 8-round magazine! The Executive Carry weighs just 26 ounces, and is hand built to combine all of Para USA’s best full-size 1911 operating features into a smaller gun. Its uncanny proportions are further accentuated by an Ed Brown Bobtail mainspring housing, a trim palm swell grip safety and an upswept beavertail. Designed specifically for concealed carry and close-quarters defense, the gun is fitted with Trijicon night sights and a skeletonized, match-grade trigger. The gun has a non-reflective, durable Ionbond anodized finish on the slide and lightweight aluminum alloy frame. MSRP is $1,399. (para-usa.com; 888-999-9386)

Sig Sauer Ultra Two-Tone

15 Officer 1911s GBA 2015 Sig Sauer
Sig Sauer Ultra Two-Tone

In 2011, Sig Sauer released the Ultra Two-Tone with its 3.3-inch barrel and a variety of custom features. Like any semi-auto pistol bearing the Sig Sauer name, the Ultra Two-Tone has a distinctive look with a squared, contoured slide, deep serrations, dovetailed tritium 3-dot sights, an extended beavertail and grip safety, and a skeletonized hammer and trigger. This is all handsomely set off by a matte stainless steel slide and alloy frame. The Sig 1911 has some pretty trim measurements, stretching only 6.8 inches overall, a compact height of 4.8 inches and width of slightly over 1-inch. Carry weight is a moderate 28 ounces. With a capacity of 7+1 in .45 ACP, the Sig Sauer Ultra Two-Tone has an MSRP of $1,156. (sigsauer.com; 866-345-6744)

 

Springfield Range Officer Compact

15 Officer 1911s GBA 2015 Springfield
Springfield Range Officer Compact

Springfield Armory has made an art out of producing smaller-sized 1911 models over the years and the latest example is the Range Officer Compact. Weighing in at 28.5 ounces, the 6+1 capacity 1911 “RO” Compact is a Commander-sized pistol designed for either competitive shooting or concealed carry. It is fitted with additional upgrades and features that includes a 4-inch, match-grade, bull barrel with a dual recoil spring and full-length guide rod and a fully supported ramp. To minimize carry weight, the RO Compact uses a forged aluminum alloy frame with a durable black hardcoat anodized finish, while the 6.25-inch-long slide is forged carbon steel with a black Parkerized finish. MSRP is $989. (springfield-armory.com; 800-680-6866)

 

STI Escort

15 Officer 1911s GBA 2015 STI Escort
STI Escort

Known for its tactical and competition 1911s and 2011s, STI International also offers the compact Escort. The .45 ACP Escort has a very modest carry weights of 22.7 ounces and 6+1 capacity. As STI’s lightest gun, the Escort is built on a forged aluminum Officer-length frame with an undercut triggerguard, includes frontstrap stippling and a checkered mainspring housing to provide a sure grip. The controls are an STI single-sided thumb safety and STI high-ride beavertail grip safety. The blued slide features traditional 1911 styling with rear cocking serrations, and the 3.2-inch barrel is ramped and fully supported. MSRP is $1,233. (stiguns.com; 512-819-0656)

 

Taylor’s 1911-A1 FS Tactical/Compact Carry

15 Officer 1911s GBA 2015 Taylor’s
Taylor’s 1911-A1 FS Tactical/Compact Carry

Taylor’s & Co. has introduced a complete line of tactical 1911 models headed by the 1911-A1 FS Tactical rail gun and Compact Carry. Taylor’s Tactical 1911s are built to the company’s specifications in the Philippines by Armscor. All the tactical features on these .45 ACP Taylor’s 1911s are based on current Rail Gun designs, right down to the front and rear slide serrations, adjustable white-dot rear and fiber-optic front sights, skeletonized trigger and hammer, dustcover accessory rail, flat mainspring housing, palm swell grip safety and upswept beavertail. The guns also come with two 8-round magazines with extended base pads and anti-tilt followers. (taylorsfirearms.com; 540-722-2017)

 

Wilson Combat Ultralight Carry Compact

15 Officer 1911s GBA 2015 Wilson Combat
Wilson Combat Ultralight Carry Compact

The ultimate statement in concealed carry 1911s is often considered to be a Wilson Combat model like the Ultralight Carry Compact. With an overall length of 7.6 inches, a 4-inch, hand-fitted, match-grade bull barrel with a flush-cut, reverse-crown muzzle, a 4-inch carbon steel slide and aluminum frame, the Wilson Combat model weighs in at 34.6 ounces. With a 7+1 capacity, a contoured magazine well and a trigger tuned for a 3.5- to 3.75- pound trigger pull, each gun is handcrafted. Other specialized features include an aluminum mainspring housing, a round butt frame, a countersunk slide stop, a Battlesight with fiber-optic front sight and G10 grips. MSRP is $3,650. (wilsoncombat.com; 800-955-4856)

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