Colt 1911 Pistol

Which Colt 1911? One Of These Seven

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 for. The seven Colt 1911 pistols on this list are the best in Colt's current product lineup, and all fit a particular niche very well. 

Why A Colt 1911? Why Not A Springfield Or A Sig Or Something?

Colt 45 ACP

Is there some special sauce to a Colt 1911 that others don't have?

Colt's guns are more or less made the same way that Springfield, Rock Island Armory and other mass-market 1911 companies make theirs. There isn't much (or any) hand-fitting, there are MIM (metal injection-molded) parts, and a sub-$1,000 factory gun is just not a $4,000+ bespoke gun no matter what you do.


Colt has been making MIM, investment cast, and other parts not machined from forgings for 1911 pistols longer than anyone. They know their business. 

In other words, if you want to buy a factory 1911 that you can reasonably expect to run well out of the box...Colt is one of the best brands to buy. 

Some people just want one because of the name. And that's fair, too. Either way, Colt is one of the best big brands to buy a 1911 from, but not the only one. 


Colt Competition

Colt 1911 competition pistol

The Colt Competition series are made for competition shooting. 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, beavertail grip safety, an undercut trigger guard, a lightweight trigger, flared ejection port, competition-style thumb safety, and Novak target sights.

The black (parkerized) and Competition Plus models are only offered in .45 ACP; the Stainless finish is available in all three calibers. MSRP starts at $900, street prices around $850 and goes up. Not too expensive, and some really good features. 

Colt Royal Blue 1911 Classic

Colt Royal Blue 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 the same features as the base model gun? 

Because Royal Blue. Nobody else does it. And you're going straight to the bad place if you put it in anything other than a lined leather holster. 

Colt Delta Elite

Colt Delta Elite Handgun

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.

The gun can run standard-pressure loads just fine, including original 10mm Auto loads rather than the weaker FBI loads. What it's not made for is Bubba's Wicket Hot Handloads, so stick to factory ammo. 

Colt Combat Unit CCO 9mm

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

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.

Colt doesn't offer the traditional Lightweight Commander anymore but does still make 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

Colt Combat 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

Colt Gold Cup Trophy

The Colt Gold Cup has always been the upscale 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.

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Writer sam hoober