The venerable 1911 has been in military service for over a century now — in every branch, in every war America's fought. Once the old Model 1873 Colts proved themselves in the Philippines and the results of the Thompson-Legarde tests became known, the transition to the .45 caliber round was set.
And so it was, as articulated in the recommendation passed on to the War Department.
"...a bullet, which will have a shock effect and stopping effect at short ranges necessary for a military pistol or revolver, should have a caliber not less than .45."
Enter Saint Browning, hallowed patron of automatic fire; John M. Browning began testing his iconic semi-auto in 1910. It was formally adopted by the Army in 1911, and by the Navy and Marine Corps two years later.
It's a badass and much beloved pistol, and rightly so — that is, no doubt, why so many manufacturers continue to build them today.
Some are, of course, some better than others. But here are three beautifully crafted and ridiculously rugged modern versions of St. Browning's famous design.
1. STI International DVC Tactical 2011 - Texas Proud
That's correct, they call it the 2011; it's a 21st century weapon, hand crafted in Texas.
STI International says they designed the weapon with tactical shooters in mind, incorporating the most functional features of their competition guns to do so. It's coated in a low visibility DLC (Diamond Like Coating) finish, and uses a TiAIN (Titanium Aluminum Nitride), copper-tinted barrel. (We're not sure if the copper tint is anything more than an aesthetic feature, and we don't care — these things are sexier than fifty panty-less Suicide Girls in a tight t-shirt).
The DVC Tactical 2011 features slide lightening cuts, a threaded barrel, accessory rail, an aggressively stippled grip, and undercut trigger guard. Sights are standard, so you'd have to change them out if you're going to put a can on it. Sights are Tritium Fixed Ledge, Trigger is 3.5 lbs with an ambi safety, and it uses a Dawson Precision Tool-Less guide rod.
It's available in either .45 or 9mm.
•BBL- 5.00 inch Threaded Bull Barrel, TiAIN coating
•FINISH- Diamond Like Carbon, Black Color
•MAGAZINES- 2 ea / 140mm, Black Color
•TRIGGER- 3.5 lbs w/Ambi Safety Lever
•SIGHTS- Tritium Fixed Ledge Sights
•GRIPS- 2011 DVC Stippled, Black Color
•OTHER- Dawson Precision Tool-Less Guide Rod, Tactical Magwell, Thread Protector, Picatinny Under-Rail
Learn more here.
While you're on their website, you might also check out their H.O.S.T. series gun, which are built to host sights with an RMR plate. H.O.S.T. stands for Holographic Optic Slide Top. It's designed to, you guessed it, host a sight, light, and/or suppressors. The slide top is milled to accept a micro-red dot optic, comes with a removable cover plate and adapter plates for a wide variety of pistol optics.
2. Wilson Combat EDC 9 - Arkansas Goodness for Decades
The Wilson Combat EDC is designed for "...hard use and everyday concealed carry." It's built with what they call their Enhanced Reliability System, and like all their guns is built in their facility near a small town in NW Arkansas. Bill Wilson and his outfit have been building guns there since the '70s.
It's a compact, carbon steel frame with a 4-inch Tri-Top slide, 4-inch stainless cone barrel with flush cut reverse crown, a fluted chamber, and fluted barrel. The ERS portion of the EDC9's features includes a spring-loaded extractor, match grade fluted (single lug) barrel, adjustable elevation sights, and...
Ah, to hell with it, we'll just let them tell you . They'll do it better.
The "ERS" includes: robust spring-loaded external extractor that improves extraction in all conditions with all types of ammunition; A match grade, fluted barrel with single lug geometry to reduce cycling friction, enhance slide velocity, and improve feed reliability; Removal of the frame rails around the mag opening to further reduce friction and promote function in adverse shooting environments; A low mass, Tri-Top slide profile for reduced muzzle flip and enhanced cycling and our Tactical Adjustable Battlesight (TAB) for easy point of impact elevation adjustment. Wilson Combat
- Available Calibers: 9mm
- Magazine Capacity: 9 rounds
- Barrel Length: 4"
- Overall Length: 7.6"
- Sight Radius: 5.6"
- Height: 5.1"
- Width: 1.3"
- Weight Empty: 38 oz
- Weight Loaded: 42 oz
- Accuracy Guarantee: 1.5" at 25 yds
Learn more about it here.
Image courtesy Greg Skaz Photography
3. The Dan Wesson Discretion - New York State of Style
This 1911 was purpose built for the ever-increasing number of people who enjoy shooting with suppressors. That's why it comes with an extended, match-grade stainless barrel and high Tritium sights. A ported slide, serrated trigger and competition-worthy trigger (as they describe it) all contrive to make it a pleasure to shoot.
Available in .45 or 9mm, it also features a ball end mill cut, fairly aggressive checkering on both the front strap and mainspring housing, a long, slotted trigger with a serrated face, and a 1913 Pic rail. The square hammer and top rib running down the slide give it a unique appearance.
Learn more here.
Even if you're not interested in the Discretion, you should visit that page and scroll to the bottom. Their 360 view is pretty damn cool.
Image courtesy Greg Skaz Photography
They've definitely evolved from the 1911s your great grandpappy used to service Nazis — and from the ones in the trenches a couple decades earlier.