6 Best 1911 Pistols By Unknown Brands
Almost everyone knows the big names in 1911 pistols. Wilson Combat, Springfield Armory, Colt, Rock Island and so on. But who makes a really good 1911 that doesn't get press?
As it happens, there are a few. Some you might have overlooked, others you might have never heard of. Also, the beauty of the 1911 platform is that you can find a 1911 pistol to suit almost any purpose, from competition to concealed carry and all points in between.
Why would anyone care? Well, some people don't want the same thing as everyone else and you can definitely find something different. Some people also wonder if they can get a good bargain by shopping off the beaten path, and that's possible as well. Let's go over some 1911 pistol makers you haven't heard of...yet.
Okay, you've probably heard of Remington...but don't overlook Remington 1911 pistols. You won't find a custom-shop gun for not custom-shop money, but you will get a quality pistol for less than you'd pay a bigger name for the same features in-store.
If you decide to take the plunge, look online. Because "Remington" isn't a big name in pistols, you'll find their guns for upward of $300 less than MSRP...sometimes more than that. Even the base model, the GI-inspired R1 1911, can be found pretty easily for less than $500. For an all-steel, made in the USA, 1911 pistol.
If there's a caveat, it's that they don't offer too many models in 9mm, which is a little weird in this day and age, but it's not like .45 ACP is so terrible.
For those unaware, Remington bought and absorbed Para USA, a 1911 company that was well-regarded for making mid-shelf guns that had lots of features for the price paid and that worked well enough for the most part.
Remington's 1911 pistols are mass-market factory guns, but since they say "Remington" on them and not a different name, street prices are far lower than for comparable guns from other brands.
Devil Dog Arms
Devil Dog Arms had a run of bad press for reasons we'll get into shortly, but rest assured that Devil Dog Arms 1911 pistols are excellent. In fact, they're astounding for the price point.
The company is on its third owner. The first was a Marine (hence the name) who then sold the company to a guy who claimed to be one...and turned out not to be, causing some uproar. Most of the staff quit after it was discovered (some returned) and new ownership has not done anything remotely that disgusting.
But the guns they make are astounding, especially for the price point. Their 1911 pistols are made by a small team of smiths in upstate New York, with hand-fit slides and frames. The trigger system is Series 70, tuned for a crisp 3.5-4lb press. Kensight sights, beavertail grip safeties, 22 lpi checkering on the grips, Commander hammers and a beveled slide with fore and aft serrations come on all models. Their pistols are made totally in the USA except for the magazines, which are made by MecGar.
You choose between a 3.5-inch, 4.25-inch or 5-inch barrel, and .45 ACP or 9mm chambering. Select their Standard or Tactical frame, which is railed and has a sqaure trigger guard. You can also choose Block Oxide, Cerakote FDE or their Boron Nitride (silver) finish. You can get a black frame and Boron Nitride slide on request.
Charles Daly is a subsidiary/sibling company to Chiappa, and the Charles Daly 1911 pistols are outstanding values for money. They have two models of Government frame, namely the Empire Grade and the Superior Grade, both offered in 9mm and .45 ACP. The Empire Grade is more of a target model with a target sight set and the Superior Grade is more a combat model wearing a steel rear ramp and fiber optic front sight.
Their guns are imported. They are made for the Charles Daly brand by Brexia, an Italian gun company known mostly for making fine double shotguns.
Both models have beavertail grip safeties, Commander hammers, skeleton triggers and ambidextrous safeties. MSRP is $917 for the Superior Grade and $1099 for the Empire Grade, but you can easily find them for $200 less (or more) with a bit of digging.
Bul Ltd Of Israel
Don't overlook imports; Bul Ltd. of Israel makes a very diverse range of 1911 pistols ranging from the classic format into fully custom race guns for competition. In fact, most of their lineup is more the latter than the former...but there's still plenty to choose from.
BUL Armory guns include standard 1911 pistols (they also manufacture guns for the Magnum Research brand) and 2011-style competition guns and all points in between. If you wanted more than the same ol' GI-style gun, they probably have something that will appeal to you.
Robert's Defense 1911 pistols are quietly made in Wisconsin by a handful of pistol smiths. These are custom 1911 pistols - with a price tag to match - but are well worth the look if you're after a custom gun. They may not be as well known as some of the bigger names in that space, such as Ed Brown, Les Baer, Nighthawk and Wilson Combat. They probably should be.
Every gun is made from start-to-finish by the same smith. The slide, frame and components are all CNC milled to make one pistol, not so that parts can be put together. Then every single piece is hand-fit to the gun by one maker. One man, one gun and that's it.
They have standard production models in three series, dubbed the Supergrade (standard stainless steel frame) the Operator (railed tactical model) and the Recon, with an alloy frame for lighter weight. You choose caliber (.45 ACP, 9mm or .38 Super upon special request) frame size (Gov't, Commander, Officer) and finish. Crisp, clean Series 70 triggers and Heinie sights are standard. If desired, you can also have your pistol customized.
Their guns are rated to shoot 0.9-inch groups at 25 yards, and they don't leave the factory unless they do. You might think something like "so it's another 1911 custom shop...so what?" and while there certainly are a number of them, few can say that most of their custom models will run you less than $3,000. Most models run around $2,500 and having handled them in-person...that's a bargain.
Rock River Arms
Rock River Arms 1911 pistols are made in the USA, and like some other names on this list, quietly make a surprisingly large range of 1911 pistols catering to multiple tastes...including a polymer frame 1911 series.
The polymer-framed model - the Poly RRA 1911 - is the entry level gun, and they go all the way up to hand-fit, handmade custom guns with pricing tiered to reflect that. The Poly models start about $1,000 and they go up to about $4,000 for their absolute top of the line model, the Limited Match.
They don't make it that clear on their website, but they have 5-inch and 4.25-inch barrels available in some models, and offer both .45 ACP and 9mm chamberings. For concealed carry, the 4.25-inch Poly model in 9mm is best-suited. If you want to move a little more upscale, you head up to the Carry Pistol, a steel-frame model that adds a few hundred more in MSRP. The last stop before you hit their custom-shop models is the 1911 Basic Limited, a target model akin to the Colt National Match 1911.
Each pistol is well-appointed with features like beavertail grip safeties, commander hammers and skeleton triggers, checkered frames for extra grip and a crisp, clean trigger. At the NRA convention, RRA was quick to point out that they do not make Series 70 triggers as those are only made by Colt; their guns have no firing pin block. (Which means a Series 70 trigger.) The middle models (Carry, Basic Limited) are like Dan Wesson 1911 pistols in that they are semi-fit with match barrels and other components, but the top-of-the-line models are full on custom guns.
Fit and build quality of the Poly is outstanding, even with a polymer frame. If you wanted a smart carry pistol that's a bit different than others...it would be an outstanding choice.