John M. Browning was a brilliant gun designer, and his genius was once again illustrated at the 2014 SHOT Show. Browning's designs still show up everywhere — from modern versions of the 1873 Winchester rifle, to combat pistols and even an updated iteration of his "Humpback" Auto-5 shotgun.
Of all Browning's creations, one stands out as the most enduring and the most successful — the 1911 semi-automatic pistol.
In a market dominated by high-tech polymer pistols, dozens of new 1911s are introduced every year; ranging in price from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. The emergence of new technology begs the question: Why has this 103-year-old design endured?
There's no single answer why the 1911 endures the test of time — but superb design, accuracy and handling are good places to begin.
This year, we were introduced to several new 1911s of varying quality and price. No matter what type of 1911 you're looking for, you could probably find exactly what you want at this year's SHOT Show.
Check out our list of the best new 1911s for 2014.
Browning 1911-22 A1 Black Label
Browning's basic .22 LR 1911 has been a big success, and this year our rimfire options are expanding with the new polymer-framed Black Label 1911-22 A1
. Lightweight and durable, the Black Label is 85-percent as large as the full-size Model 1911. It's also available with a rail for mounting accessories, and spending the day at the range with this gun and a box of .22 ammo would be loads of fun. Lightweight, low-recoiling and cheap to shoot, the new Black Label earns a position on our list of the best 1911s of 2014.
Cabot Match Sets
makes some of the finest 1911s on the market, and their pistols are favorites among competition shooters. This year, Cabot is introducing a series of matched left- and right-handed 1911s with various themes, such as the 'American Joe ' set with American flag grips. But these pistols aren't just a gimmick, they're extremely well built.
Colt 21st Century Commander
Colt's limited production 21st Century Commander
is a great option for concealed carry or target shooting. Its laminate grips feature a special Wiley Clapp Edition checkering pattern that wraps around the front strap to provide a secure grip. These guns have some sweet features, making them stand out in a crowded market.
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Ed Brown Classic Custom Enhanced
For those seeking a high-end hand-built 1911 that looks as good as it shoots, check out the new Ed Brown
Classic Custom Enhanced. Its front strap has robust checkering — an Ed Brown exclusive — and its wood grips are highly textured and well-designed. The Classic Custom comes with adjustable target sights, as you might expect. Besides its classy looks, it's a competition-ready 1911. You won't find many guns that are this loaded with features and quality for less.
Kimber Custom TLE II TFS
Kimber's Custom TLE pistol is now available in a Threaded For Suppression (TFS) version. The TLE II TFS
is chambered in either .45 ACP or 9mm and can be purchased with or without an accessory rail. It features elevated three-dot sights to accommodate for aiming over suppressors. Its 30 lines-per-inch front strap checkering provides a secure grip no matter the conditions, and the 9mm version comes with a ramped stainless steel match-grade barrel.
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Nighthawk Custom Costa Recon 9mm
Nighthawk Custom commits nearly two full work days of personal attention to each hand crafted 1911 they manufacture, and the new Nighthawk Custom Costa Recon 9mm
clearly illustrates that level of craftsmanship.
The new Costa 9mm has a tri-top slide, machined grip safety and 1-piece flared magwell. The carbon steel rear sight was designed for rugged use and for racking the slide on stationary objects during tactical scenarios. The Nighthawk Custom Costa Recon 9mm has an expected delivery of 20 to 24 months.
Para Ordnance LDA Officer
The Para Ordnance LDA Officer
is a double-action 1911 designed for defensive carry, and features a 3.5-inch barrel. It's available in either 9mm or .45 and now comes equipped with a Crimson Trace Laser Grip. Despite being a DAO gun, the trigger has a solid stop point, allowing shooters to take up the slack and then fire with a light, single-action trigger pull if they desire.
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Remington R1 Enhanced 9mm
continues to expand on their successful R1 line, and although the company's launch of the R51 compact semi-auto dominated much of the attention at this year's SHOT Show, the R1 Enhanced 9mm shouldn't be overlooked. It features the same satin black oxide finish and highly textured laminate grips you'll find on the .45 version, as well as adjustable target sights.
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Republic Forge Customs
is now building custom 1911s in their Perrystown, Texas facility. Each one of these guns is built by a single employee using American-made parts, and then factory tested for accuracy and comes with a test target. The slide is made of 4340 carbon steel, and each gun gets a Cerakote protective finish. The Commander Model (pictured here) has a 4.25-inch barrel, Novak night sights and an overall length of 7.75 inches. Its VZ grips are deeply textured to secure a solid hold no matter what the conditions. These highly-accurate 1911s are gaining popularity, and they rank among the best 1911s on the market.
SIG Sauer Traditional Match Elite
offers an extensive line of 1911 pistols, and for 2014 they are extending that line with the introduction of the Traditional Match Elite available in .38 Super, 9mm and .40 S&W. This pistol comes with adjustable target sights and a stainless steel finish with dark wooden grips. The front strap is heavily checkered and the safety is ambidextrous. For the serious target shooter who is looking for a high-quality target pistol, this gun will fit the bill.
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Springfield Armory Range Officer 9mm
Springfield's 9mm Range Officer 1911
was a big hit at Media Day, and it's easy to see why. It has comfortable, classy wooden grips with adjustable sights and a 9-round magazine. In addition, the Range Officer comes with a host of extras like a polymer holster and a double magazine pouch, all for less than [imo-slideshow gallery= 80],000. If initial impressions are indicative of future success, then the 9mm Range Officer will be a hit. It's also leading a new trend in 9mm 1911s.