Why Do People Hate the 1911?

Recently I saw the general discussion come up on why someone doesn’t trust the 1911 for self defense. I found it interesting in that it seems many people trust guns based on manufacturer or model reputation rather than individual firearm itself.  Nonetheless, hate for the 1911 has seemed to be growing.

First, the 1911 type handgun has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success for the last 25-30 years or so. I’m sure many can remember when it was unusual to see a non-1911 relative on the cover of the various gun magazines.

Right off, generally everything extremely popular eventually loses its luster. This is what I think we’re now seeing the downward trend in the popularity of the 1911. Everyone remembers Nickelback, right?

That said, I believe this has partly been due to the 1911 falling victim to its own success. The more popular it got, the more companies began producing them. Some were producing good quality guns for quite a while. More recently, there have been more and more tales of woe of various makers’ 1911 clones not working properly. I’m convinced we would hear a lot more if more people actually shot their guns for more than a couple of hundred rounds.

That said, the real turn seemed to come about around the time the FBI announced a switch back to 9mm. With that, the increase in demand for 1911s chambered in 9mm took off. That said, many people looking for a handgun for self defense are more likely to opt for something with more capacity, that currently has a better reputation for functioning, weighs less, is more compact, and is a lot more affordable. The modern polymer framed 9mm chambered handguns are proving to be a force to be reckoned with. Few modern handguns approach the beauty of the graceful lines of a nicely made 1911. That said, the reality is that a Glock 19 or Sig P320 is a lot more affordable and both are very effective tools for the job of self defense.

In essence, that hate for the 1911 largely stems from it being big, heavy, and for a good reliable model you will likely need to cough up the cost of at least 2 P320s or G19s. Lastly many also see the 1911 as antiquated due to its first generation auto pistol design.

I don’t expect the 1911 to die any time soon. Be that as it may, I do think we will continue to see its popularity decline for the foreseeable future.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a 5″ 9mm 1911 to take to the range…


15 Replies to “Why Do People Hate the 1911?”

  1. Hi. Came over here from Ms. Keel’s VFTP; hope you don’t mind me dropping a silly comment.

    The resurgence of the 1911 came with the multiple-state ban on magazines with more than 10 rounds. Lots of people figured that if you were limited to 10, you may as well carry a firearm in a decent-sized caliber (.45 ACP comes promptly to mind). 1911s are reasonably flat, and with good magazines have an 8 +1 capacity.

    Two things occurred…most of the magazine limits fell by the wayside, and ammunition in lighter calibers became much more effective. So with standard magazine sizes of 15 or 17 rounds, and effective ammunition being available in 9mm, it started to make more sense to go to the plastic-framed, striker-fired firearms.

    I’m still a believer in big, slow, dumb slugs traveling slightly sub-sonically (230 grains at 890 ft/sec makes a big wallop no matter what the projectile is), so I still carry a 1911A1 in .45 ACP. It’s what I grew up with, it’s what I’m comfortable with, it’s what I can shoot well with, and let’s admit it, I’m an old fart who’s pretty set in his ways.

    When I don’t want to bother carrying a gun I get the Ruger Elsie-Nine out of the gun safe along with a spare magazine of 9mm and I’m so used to lugging the big one around that it’s like that Euro-pellet shooter’s not even there.

    But a 1911 in 9mm has got to be (at least in my opinion) about the worst combination of big, heavy gun and smaller caliber there is. It’s huge, it’s got limited magazine capacity (10 rounds, maybe), and about the only advantage over any of the striker-fired nines is that it might have a decent trigger. I’m sure the combination of heavy gun and 9mm makes them fun to shoot, but I don’t consider it to be an appropriate choice for a defense weapon.

    1. How bad is that I blocked out the dark period of our history where magazines were limited to ten rounds. Truly a horrific time. That said, if it was the only driving force, it would have dropped like rock, popularity-wise, it wouldn’t have seen continued popularity for the past 15 years.

      One of the biggest issues with 9mm 1911s, as in sure you know, is getting them to run. As if the .45 wasn’t magazine finicky enough, the 9mm compounds it. That said, they are a heck of a lot of fun to use for steel plates.

      I tend to lean towards 9mm nowadays as it affords my bangs for the buck. In my mid twenties, I had a year where I consumed about 1k rounds per month of .45 ACP shooting in steel plates matches. That was through a 1911. After about six-ish months of it, my shoulders and elbows started to ache. So that has been worth considering as well.

      1. I blame the cult of the hollowpoint.

        Ok, that’s tongue in cheek, but there’s truth to it. 1911s don’t like hollowpoints, and there are a whole lot of folks (especially of the 9mm persuasion) who have an almost religious fervor about hollowpoints.

        Don’t get me wrong, that there are reliable .45s out there now with 2-3 more rounds of capacity, at half the price of a solid 1911, plays a major role in the declining popularity of the style.
        But the hate, like the recent exclusion of 1911s from NRA training courses, aren’t due to that.

  2. I often feel like the luckiest gun owner in the world! I’ve owned 6 Para double stacks over the last 20 years ( still have 4 including the first one I bought) and I’ve been hearing about what crappy guns they are for the last 20 years. The only problems I’ve had were magazine issues or needing a new recoil spring. And I guess I like double stack 9s too or I wouldn’t have these Hi-Powers taking up space in my safe.

  3. While I rarely carry a 1911 anymore, (having succumbed to tritium sights, light rails and double-digit magazines for half-a grand or so) every time one comes into my hand the feeling is one of perfection. True, I grew up on the 1911, built them, went to Cooper’s with one and carried it as my sidearm for half of the 32 years I wore uncle’s uniforms; but seeing the word “hate” associated with JMB’s brilliance was very jarring. Are there cheaper guns? Always. Ones with larger mags? Yeah.
    But there’s still that feeling of the perfect tool in one’s hand. If folks wanna “hate” on something that tells me more about them than anything else; I’ll happily go my own way and wait for the “hate” to perhaps drive prices on good pistols down. I’ll be waiting on the sidelines cash in hand – and I might be wearing a Delta while I’m there.

  4. Also over from Tamara.

    I don’t like the 1911 because I haven’t found one yet that fits my hand properly. Combined with the Cali 10 round mag limit means my gun dollars are best spent on other guns.

    1. Fit is something that is subjective. What is great for one, may be terrible for someone else. Just curious though, what do you find that fits your hands properly?

  5. Ol’ Slabsides has fit my hand for over a half-century. They’re trivially easy to work on so that they will feed anything. For me, they are a strong “like”. 🙂

    Still, the “best” handgun is the one with which you can best hit your target.

  6. “Hate” may be the wrong word, but I’ve tried to like 1911s and never could do it. It’s not about magazine capacity relative to size/weight…I just distrust grip safeties no matter how reliable they seem to be for everyone else. I could run a 1911 for a decade with no issues and I’d still distrust that grip safety for defensive purposes.

    1. A properly fit beavertail grip safety is one of the least problematic things I’ve encountered on a 1911. I don’t want to talk about the original Springfield MilSpec grip safety however. Bleeding sucks.

      Oh I know there are plenty who the 1911 just doesn’t fit. Hopefully you’ve found something that does work.

  7. Lots of crappy 1911 magazines out there, I think that may have contributed more to the hate (through poor reliability) than any other single item.

    I’m not fan of the sliding trigger; as I cut my teeth on revolvers, it seems like I find it much easier to control a trigger that swings vs slides. I do fine in slow- or timed-fire with either, but when I move to hose-’em-down mode, it’s easier for me to miss with a 1911 than anything else.

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