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A LW frame 1911 is not for non-dedicated personnel. The pistol demands attention to detail and proper technique to master. I find the lightweight 4-inch barrel 1911 easier to control than a polymer frame .40 caliber pistol, but there is time and effort in the equation. The difference is that you will be able to reach a high level of competence with the 1911 that may elude shooters using the polymer frame pistols. The 4-inch pistol certainly falls into the ‘if I could have only one pistol’ category. It is that versatile.
At this point you may reasonably ask for a recommendation on which 1911 is best for you. My recommendation is always to begin with a steel frame 5-inch barrel Government Model. I might add that it is best to purchase the best quality handgun you can afford for a good return on performance and future trade-in.
If you are beginning with a concealment pistol, then the steel frame Commander is an excellent first choice. I simply do not recommend jumping into a lightweight frame 1911 without considerable experience with the Government Model. A good 4-inch barrel steel frame pistol may be concealed, and with proper selection of a good holster such as the inside the waistband holster illustrated from Milt Sparks, then you will have a good comfortable platform for carrying the pistol.
There is more weight but as you begin your shooting career you will appreciate it.
Moving to the lightweight 3-inch barrel pistols such as the Colt Defender is a gradual process. As an example, I began my 1911 journey with the Combat Commander. It was some time before I considered the smaller pistols, and I found many of them not as reliable as the Government Model. Times have changed. The Colt Defender and the compact Kimber pistols are another story. These handguns demand attention to detail but they are reliable, accurate enough for personal defense, and good examples of the gunmaker’s art.
They are not as useful for all around informal target practice and competition shooting but that is not their design goal. These are first class lightweight personal defense handguns. When you consider the snub nose .38s and double action only 9mm pistols in wide use, the Colt Defender as an example is a wonderful defensive handgun in trained hands.
The short sight radius of the Defender and the Kimber compact pistols may challenge marksmanship. A slight misalignment of the front sight is less noticeable when the sight radius is shorter than average. I recommend that any compact defensive handgun have good sights. Superior sights are an aid in hit probability, perhaps more important in the case of the compacts that with the full size handguns. Fit, feel and a long sight radius may be compromised in the compact pistols, but, just the same, these are first class defensive handguns.
Despite their short grips and short sight radius, the position of their controls is all 1911, and that means very ergonomic. Increased recoil is far from startling if you have began your shooting career on the Government Model. These handguns are a technical accomplishment well worth your praise and attention.
Recommended 1911 Resources
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