The 7 Best Colt 1911 Pistols You Can Get Right Now
These Are The Best Colt 1911 Pistols
Some people don't want to settle for off-brand; they want the original, and that means a Colt 1911 if that pistol is what you're into.
Some people insist on only having a Colt, and to be fair there are some great reasons to. Some people want a Colt for collection purposes; they may have a different 1911 or two and they want to add the original to their inventory.
But which is the best to get? That depends on exactly what you're looking to get out of it.
Why A Colt 1911? Why Not A Springfield Or A Sig Or Something?
Is there some special sauce to a Colt 1911 that others don't have?
The reality is there aren't too many specific models or features that any Colt has that a different 1911 doesn't. You can get a Springfield, a Ruger or a Rock Island that has the same stuff...but what's also true is that Colt is one of the better brands to buy that middle price range gun from.
Like most 1911 makers, Colt uses a lot of metal injection molded (or MIM) parts. Metal injection-molding - is where you heat up a metal powder until it liquefies, then inject it (under pressure) into a mold to make a part.
In the old days, 1911 parts were machined from forged metal bar stock. Forged metal, in general, is denser and stronger than cast metal. While manufacturers switched to cast parts because they're cheaper to make, it's also the case that MIM/cast parts can still be plenty durable/reliable if they're made right, with the right metallurgy and proper heat treating.
Colt has been making MIM parts for a long time, and they have it down to a science. So, if you had to get a factory pistol rather than a semi-custom like a Dan Wesson or a Les Baer, Colt is one of the ones you can actually count on to be made worth a darn.
So, they're actually made fairly well, and some of their guns have some great features. Here are 7 Colt 1911 pistols that are worth looking at, if you decided you wanted a Colt.
The Colt Competition series are made for competition shooting in mind, with standard features to make them easy to run on the clock. You can get this 1911 in 9mm, .45 ACP and .38 Super.
All models have a Colt National Match barrel, dual recoil springs, a Series 70 firing system, a beavertail grip safety, an undercut trigger guard, a lightweight trigger, flared ejection port, competition-style thumb safety, and Novak target sights.
The only significant variation is the finish; the features are all the same, except for the Competition Plus model which adds grip and mainspring checkering.
MSRP starts at $900, street prices around $850 and goes up. Not too expensive, and some really good features. It would be a smart pick as a carry gun or if you're getting into USPSA/IDPA Single Stack.
Colt Royal Blue 1911 Classic
If you wanted a genuine Colt as part of a collection, the gun to get is the Royal Blue 1911 Classic.
It's a classic Colt 1911, with all the GI parts that go with it. GI-style trigger, GI sights, wood grips (with gold medallion) and the classic grip safety and manual safety, and chambered (only) in .45 ACP.
So why this gun, which has an MSRP of $1500 and features of their absolute base model gun?
Colt Royal Blue.
Colt Delta Elite
There are plenty of 10mm 1911s on the market, but the Delta Elite is the original. The current production Delta Elites make a pretty good case for themselves.
All models have a beavertail grip safety, extended thumb safety, Novak sights, and a lightweight trigger and hammer. The standard model has a stainless steel finish, but there's also a two-tone (blued slide on stainless frame) and a stainless model with accessory rail as well.
Colt has been making 10mm pistols longer than pretty much anyone (except maybe for Glock) and they know their business.
Despite what anyone might say, classic Norma loads (200-gr bullet at 1200 fps) and ammunition loaded to those power levels (or less) are fine. It's the nuclear hand loads that give people problems because the classic 1911 barrel doesn't fully support the case head.
Colt Combat Unit CCO 9mm
The Colt Combat Unit CCO is a lightweight CCO, with an aluminum Officer's frame and a Commander slide and barrel. 9mm is the better choice as capacity is reduced to 8+1/9+1 (depending on magazine) instead of 6+1/7+1, which is the case with a .45 CCO.
A shorter grip and lighter frame make it more ideal for concealed carry than a steel-frame Commander, as do the features.
The Combat Unit CCO comes with a black anodized frame, with Novak sights, a beavertail grip safety and ambidextrous thumb safeties. The frame is also given 25 LPI checkering on the grip and mainspring housing, with a trigger guard undercut and a carry-profile magwell.
If you wanted a Colt 1911 for concealed carry, this is about as good as that gets.
Wiley Clapp Lightweight Commander 9mm
A Lightweight Commander in 9mm is a more ideal concealed carry pistol than a steel-frame Commander or a Government model. The gun is lighter, and 9+1/10+1 of 9mm is not bad in terms of carrying capacity.
As of a few years ago, Colt stopped making the standard Lightweight Commander in 9mm, and only offers the Wiley Clapp edition. They do still offer the entry-level Lightweight Commander in .45 caliber, but the WC model adds some additional features worth considering.
Besides the standard LWC frame/slide and Commander ring hammer, the Wiley Clapp models add 25 LPI checkering on the grip and mainspring, beavertail safety, an undercut trigger guard, Series 70 firing system, and a really intriguing smoky finish. It's very well appointed, and one of the better picks as a CCW gun in their current catalog.
Colt Combat Unit Rail 1911
Unfortunately, you can't buy the Colt CQB/M45A1 model anymore as they have been discontinued as a factory pistol. The Colt Combat Unit Rail 1911 comes pretty close.
You get the same features as the M45A1, with a Colt National Match Barrel, Novak sights, ambi thumb safety, beavertail grip safety, Picatinny rail, G10 grips, undercut for the trigger guard and a hardier finish (DLC) than parkerizing or nitriding, it's just black instead of tan.
They also throw in 25 LPI checkering and a low-profile magwell, and ship the gun with 8-round magazines with the .45 ACP model, and 9+1 with the 9mm model. So while you can't get the USMC model anymore (RIP dreams) you can get everything but the FDE finish.
Colt Gold Cup Trophy
The Colt Gold Cup has always been the competition model, originally devised for bullseye shooters and the National Matches at Camp Perry. Today, there are multiple Gold Cup models but the best of them is the Gold Cup Trophy. It's available in .45 ACP, 9mm and .38 Super.
Gold Cup Trophy models add all the bells and whistles. Beavertail grip safety, extended thumb safety, a BoMar-style rear sight and fiber optic front, trigger guard undercut, adjustable trigger, checkering (25 LPI) on the grip and mainspring housing, magwell, and Colt's National Match barrel.
Why the top of the line model? Because the entry-level Gold Cup is barely any different from the Colt Competition model; all they add is a different adjustable rear sight. If you're going to go for a bells-and-whistles gun, get the bells-and-whistles gun.
But a word of warning: the radius cut on the top of the slide is different from the standard pistol, so it might not fit in all 1911 holsters.
About The Author
Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.