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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently read on a popular higher end custom 1911 manufacturer's site concerning a Commander size 1911: "The slide has been reduced to the minimum possible (4.25") without significantly impairing the legendary reliability of the 5" slide."

I previously have not read this anywhere else concerning the reliability of a shortened slide/barrel on a 1911. I know many other higher end custom 1911 manufacturers offer the 4" barrel, not a 4 1/4" barrel as a minimum (for the Commander size), in fact most manufacters only offer shorter length barrels in 4", not 4 1/4. (I am not including the compact 1911's with 3" bbls.)

Is there a real issue in a 1911 with a 4" barrel as opposed to a 4 1/4" barrel with regard to pistol reliability or operability as the site indicates there is or might this advertising just be more of a marketing strategy for selling their product? Most people I know who carry and shoot a 4" 1911 don't seem to have any issues with the 4" barrel (Kimber, Colt, SA...)

Thanks for any helpful comments.

Dan
 

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There are statistically correct statements - and then there is the one gun you are using.

It would be true that a 5" would be the most reliable. Proven. Losing 3/4" of slide and barrel doesn't seem to be a problem, and has not been since the first Colt Commander in 1949 or so. In original Commander (LW or not) form, I have never heard a claim of unreliability of the type. I would consider a stock Commander just as reliable as a Government Model.

Change the design further - with a bull barrel, down to 4", guide rod, ramped barrel, etc, and you are changing and adding additional variables - any of which can screw things up. But you may have no problems - with YOUR individual gun. The only way to know is to test it before carry, with carry ammo and mags.

Go to a 3" gun and now it gets more interesting. Colt Defenders are considered the most reliable 3", overall. Other makers, less so, but your copy may be 100%. But at the short end, pay careful attention to good condition quality mags with strong (quick) springs, clean and lubed, ammo your gun likes. Consider "good feeding" rounds like the CorBon PowerBall and Glaser, or the Remington Golden Saber in the more marginal designs. Use full power loads and keep the springs fresh. Cheers. CC
 

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No offense to Larry Vickers, I think he is wrong. Many people run commanders just as hard as governments (the majority of my 1911's are commanders) and they go through pistol courses, and many rounds of shooting a month, and have held up just fine. I have a Para warthog I got a great deal on, and it can't even go through a mag of FMJ without problems, and it has been looked at by competent smiths. The main problem is the components and the shorter stroke of the slide that still has to eject that large round, and strip another one.

A commander will do just as great as a government. My carry government went a few thousand rounds between cleaning and still shot everything I wanted it to.
 

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Most people I know who carry and shoot a 4" 1911 don't seem to have any issues with the 4" barrel (Kimber, Colt, SA...)
Double check your sources, Colt makes a 4 1/4" commander but not a 4", and the shorter ones beyond that they do make suffer more reliability problems.

As to my personal experience, any thing shorter than 4 1/4" I've tried (including 4") has been less reliable. Have not had lengthy personal experience with SA or Kimber 4" and am not tarring them. I have noticed no difference in reliability in 5" vs. 4.25" in Colt models, nor would I expect to in other similarly well built guns from other makes. Spring rates and tolerances are key.

However, it's well worth keeping in mind that the 4.25" gun was built originally to work with 9mm rounds. However, since the original 5" design was .45acp, it was not hard to tweak the specs a wee bit and make it work with that round.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Double check your sources, Colt makes a 4 1/4" commander but not a 4...
Oops, my bad. Colt's Commander is indeed a 4.25" bbl. Thanks for the reminder. :)

Amazing that only that last quarter of an inch can yield problems in the 1911. I have been considering a Commander size 1911 for daily concealed carry but the more I experiment with my 5" Kimber 1911 the more I see I really can carry it rather effectively hidden.

Problem is, there are too many great 1911's to choose from! :cool:
 

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Amazing that only that last quarter of an inch can yield problems in the 1911.
But keep in mind, in a real "Commander" there are 1/10" dimensional differences in the frame that make it work fine. The Commander is a great carry gun. In many years of carry, I've done Government vs. Commander, Glock 23, Beretta 21. I think the best option is a 2.5" S&W K-frame 19 or 66. Carries more discretely and with more power on tap. What you carry is up to you and your comfort level - and also body shape.

If I were still trying to conceal a 1911 design, the commander makes tons more sense than the GM. But many more guns make better sense than either.
 

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I am no expert on 1911's by any means. I have been reading this forum for months and suggest that you do some research of your own. I found that there seemed to be a lot of posts about jams etc. on the 4" and shorter barreled pistols. I feel like if you do want a 4" or shorter it would be best to buy from one of the custom makers and to make sure that you make sure and keep it well maintained. I carry a 4.25" (probably from the same maker that you read about) and have not had a single problem and find it easier to conceal than a 5". Good Luck and enjoy your research. I know that I did.:rock:
 

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I'm no Larry Vickers, nor do I play him on TV, but I also strongly feel that a 5" 1911 is going to be the most reliable size followed by a 4.25". I have owned 4" and shorter 1911s in the past, and sold them all off primarily because they proved too sensitive to ammo, magazines, hold, and I swear even the time of day. The problem with a shorter 1911 isn't just the barrel length. The slide stroke is shorter, and if you compare a 5" and 4" 1911 with the slide held fully to the rear you can see where the slide travel is much shorter on the 4" gun. There is simply less time for the next round to come up and be fully in position to be fed into the chamber. The slide also hasn't gotten a sufficient head start either, and combined with the reduced weight (and inertia) it goes forward with less force (hence the reason why shorter guns have heavier recoil springs). The timing of everything leaves less room for error, thus why the wrong magazine or a weak hold can easily create problems. Adding a shock buffer (which decreases the slide travel even further) is all but guaranteed to cause issues in the shorter guns as well. I've found that life is so much simpler with the full-length 5" 1911s, which is all I have now.
 

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1911 barrel length and gun reliability

I have or had a number of .45s in 5" and 3" barrel lengths. My nickle Colt 1911 Series 70 and Springfield Armory 1911-A1 5" guns all shot well with all ammo, including handloads. My 5" 14 shot Para-Ordnance Kit gun, with a stock Colt slide on top, was a little tempermental and sometimes jammed with early Gold Dot rounds. I have a Detonics Combat Master Mk VI SS 3" and a Para-Ordnance Warthog 3" that I carried as backups for years and had to qualify on the same 50 rd. course of fire as a full size duty weapon. The Detonics was 100% with Detonics mags and the Para also was 100% with issue mags, both regardless of ammo (ball or JHP). Niether was 100% when I tried 1911 7-rd mags in the Detonics or PAra P-13 and 14 mags in the Warthog. I just shot all my duty weapons enough to know what they liked all the time and that's what I carried. Made it thru 42 yrs. as LEO so I did something right. One strange thing did cross my mind as I read this thread-I have not encountered a .45 Commander for sale ever! I have seen and handled a couple, but jusy never had one there to tempt me.
 

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No offense to Larry Vickers, I think he is wrong. Many people run commanders just as hard as governments
Then again, "a man needs to know his limitations". I have seen many a shooter have significant difficulty with continuous function of a commander, only to find that an experienced shooter can run the thing flawlessly. I cannot say what the cause is (some say "limp-wristing" is a larger problem with the shorter slide models but I can't prove that). What I have seen though is experienced shooters firing "problem guns" with no problems...;)

Edit: Oh...I did read DSK's post...this is absolutely no reflection on him, okay? I am just making a general point. (cool, Dr. D?)
 

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I've had better reliability in my 5" 1911's vs. 4.25" guns. All are of similar quality/manufacturer. I have more faith in 5" guns.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
So if there is an apparent (arguably, perhaps) limitation with the 4.25" minimum slide/barrel for the 1911 platform and Colt, Ed Brown, and other very reputible manufacturers stick with that theory, why do other gun makers NOT follow suite and offer 4" slide/barrels on their 1911s?

Wouldn't it be easier for all manufacturers to offer the supposedly more reliable 4.25" design? Wouldn't this eliminate the debate or at least the plausible possibility of the issue?
 

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I think today's mfg's have figured it out pretty well / although I'm still a fan of a 5" barrel in a 1911 ( in any caliber )...

If I wanted a shorter barrel like a 3.6" that is offered in the Wilson Combat Sentinel ... I am confident it would run reliably coming out of their shop.
 

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