Handgun Review: Colt Lightweight Commander

The Colt Lightweight Commander - the classic and concealable 1911.

Very few guns have a century-long legacy like the 1911. It has served U.S. Armed Forces for decades and been labeled as one of the finest fighting handguns in the world. Whereas dozens of manufacturers have taken on John Moses Browning’s design and continue to produce more 1911s than ever, arguably the 1911 design most often referred to is a variant of the original by Colt.

Firearms enthusiasts of every stripe have written and read thousands of articles about the Colt 1911. For most, it’s a love/hate thing with passionate rhetoric usually reserved for discussions on religion and politics. Moreover, gun reviews by their very nature can be quite subjective: after all, what you shoot best may not be what another person shoots best.

This is true of the Colt 1911 and every other handgun ever tested and written up in a gun magazine.

Slide safety of the Colt Lightweight Commander.In my handgun review of a modern Colt Lightweight Commander I want first to admit – gladly – biases and subjectivity. I am one reviewer with one opinion. Second, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit that I like the 1911 platform—there is sheer genius in some of the design elements. But I also like snub-nosed revolvers. Few handguns fit my hand better than a CZ. And I like Glocks. Biases accounted for, let’s get down to business.

The bottom line on the Colt Lightweight Commander is that the gun is all business and that can be both a strength and a weakness. Suitable for plinking on the range, racing in competition, and carrying concealed in daily life, the Lightweight Commander aptly does all these things – that’s its strength. Its weakness is that it functions well but not with the finesse of other pistols.

I can already hear the objections: finesse, you say, is for ballerinas or cake decorators. The Colt 1911 is a last-ditch defensive tool, a combat handgun that fires the burly .45 ACP cartridge. It’s what my Grandpa carried in World War II. Agreed. While few other handguns share the legacy of service of the Colt 1911, other handguns outshine the Colt Lightweight Commander in terms of weight (lighter), feel (smoother), or deployment (simpler).

Other factors such as magazine capacity and price are also important but I’m not going to factor those in here. Where the Colt shines, however, is in its overall execution. In other words, being “all business” means it is extremely effective at doing what it is designed to do: accurately discharging .45 ACP bullets at a target.

1911 aficionados, me included, can and will argue the many merits of the platform: legacy, ballistics, specific design features, and more. Some may even argue that the notion of finesse does not belong in the matter of defensive arms. That’s a discussion for another day. For now, I’m going to try to capture the four main reasons the 1911 is best described as “all business.”

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