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I probably should've clarified in my original post, my thoughts had little to do with velocity and more to do with sight radius. The difference in velocity between 4", 4.25", and a full size 5" barrel is likely not going to be much. 100 FPS tops, and at the ranges I shoot that's not enough difference to make a difference.

Where I do see some difference is with sight radius. The sight radius on the full size gun results in marginally better groups out to 25 yards. For practical defense shooting it's still not enough difference to make a difference though. And that gap could probably be closed with a little practice. I don't think it insurmountable.
I've shot IDPA competition with 5", 4.25", and 3.5" pistols, and while I don't notice much difference in speed/accuracy when shooting the long and middle lengths - even though the Commander is a Lightweight - I find the short gun distinctly harder to shoot - even though it weighs five or six ounces more than the Commander.
 
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Any American-made 1911 from Colt on up will work. If they did not work, they would not be sold.
 

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Discussion Starter · #43 ·
I probably should've clarified in my original post, my thoughts had little to do with velocity and more to do with sight radius. The difference in velocity between 4", 4.25", and a full size 5" barrel is likely not going to be much. 100 FPS tops, and at the ranges I shoot that's not enough difference to make a difference.

Where I do see some difference is with sight radius. The sight radius on the full size gun results in marginally better groups out to 25 yards. For practical defense shooting it's still not enough difference to make a difference though. And that gap could probably be closed with a little practice. I don't think it insurmountable.
My eyesight today definitely isn't quite as good as it was when I was in my 20's or 30's, but when I regularly carried concealed, a small SIG 9 mm or a PPK were often the guns I used. With good ammunition and firing off the bench, I was able to hold 5 round groups under 1.5 inches with the PPK. I don't know if my PPK was unusual, but sometimes the groups were near the one inch range at 25 yards. The SIG wasn't nearly as accurate but it was close. I have never found small pistols to be that hard to shoot and relatively speaking, the Commander length guns are bigger than a lot of 9 mm autos.

As I see it, velocity IS a big deal because sometimes factory ammunition doesn't perform quite as well as advertised.
I have come across name brand ammunition that according to the advertising was supposed to be doing 830 FPS out of a 5 inch gun. In my guns, it was doing more like 800 FPS. With a shorter barrel, there obviously would be some loss, so the question is would it be bad enough to be a concern. When you only start at 800 FPS, there isn't that excess velocity to lose.
 

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As I see it, velocity IS a big deal because sometimes factory ammunition doesn't perform quite as well as advertised.
I have come across name brand ammunition that according to the advertising was supposed to be doing 830 FPS out of a 5 inch gun. In my guns, it was doing more like 800 FPS. With a shorter barrel, there obviously would be some loss, so the question is would it be bad enough to be a concern. When you only start at 800 FPS, there isn't that excess velocity to lose.
True that sometimes the advertised velocity is a little bit optimistic. But you've also stated that it's not something you're planning to carry, for a range toy would it be so imperative? If the answer is yes, maybe it would be worth considering a pistol chambered in an inherently faster round? I'd be lying if I didn't admit that wanting to maintain velocity in excess of 1,000-1,100 FPS while also keeping a decent size/weight slug was a motivating factor in building my Commander length 1911 in .40 S&W.
 

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I probably should've clarified in my original post, my thoughts had little to do with velocity and more to do with sight radius. The difference in velocity between 4", 4.25", and a full size 5" barrel is likely not going to be much. 100 FPS tops, and at the ranges I shoot that's not enough difference to make a difference.

Where I do see some difference is with sight radius. The sight radius on the full size gun results in marginally better groups out to 25 yards. For practical defense shooting it's still not enough difference to make a difference though. And that gap could probably be closed with a little practice. I don't think it insurmountable.
I am like you, I do not think the loss of an inch does not matter much. When the Glock 43 came out a few years ago I was concerned about the sight radius on that tiny gun. First time at the range I learned I was shooting it as well as the Glock 19 I have had since 1990. On wheel guns it seem to matter for me, but pistols, not so much. I shoot the 3.5 inch Officer's Model very well. Nothing close to what I can do with my full size 38 Super, but still within a couple inches at 25 yards, not much at all across a room as in a personal attack.

Also, I am not a fan of red dot sights on carry guns. I carried a 1911 concealed in executive protect jobs for several years and a quick draw was a big deal, no one would carry a light or laser or anything external on a gun because split seconds count. That said, with the grip lasers or even a red dot sight mounted on top, the sight radius issue does not matter.

Anyway, I do not have an issue with sight radius on my Officer's model and at defense ranges do not see it an issue at all. as many people here who carry the gun daily for decades.
 

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Discussion Starter · #47 ·
True that sometimes the advertised velocity is a little bit optimistic. But you've also stated that it's not something you're planning to carry, for a range toy would it be so imperative? If the answer is yes, maybe it would be worth considering a pistol chambered in an inherently faster round? I'd be lying if I didn't admit that wanting to maintain velocity in excess of 1,000-1,100 FPS while also keeping a decent size/weight slug was a motivating factor in building my Commander length 1911 in .40 S&W.
Just because I don't plan on carrying a gun doesn't mean I am willing to accept poor performance. The handgun I learned on was a 4 inch .357. I only ever carried it a couple times, but for a long time it was the best home defence gun I had. The Colt GM I had at the time simply didn't have the level of accuracy to inspire confidence.
I am not short of handguns suitable for home defence these days. I was just thinking of adding a Commander sized gun to the rest of the full sized 1911s and considering what the compromises might be.
As for a faster cartridge, unless it is a .38 Super, I would probably go with a different platform. Although I have messed with 1911s a fair amount, I am not stuck on them. There are certain handguns I don't like, but there are plenty that I like.
 

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What I have been seeing in discussions is that the loss of one inch of barrel length is apparently quite a serious loss in ballistic performance in this caliber.

I have also heard that spring life is pretty drastically reduced as the guns get shorter.
No and No.

RCBS in its Reloading Manual points you can have two identical factory produced handguns and one can significantly have better numbers on the chronograph than the other. Many reasons for this so don't let numbers get your excited. Also a four inch may get higher velocities than a six inch.

I have been shooting 1911s for nearly 60 years. The spring story is just that. Now small Officer ACP and similar pistols have issues when they debuted in the 1980s. The Colt Commander has been around since 1949 and don't have any issues.
 

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The handgun I learned on was a 4 inch .357. I only ever carried it a couple times, but for a long time it was the best home defence gun I had. The Colt GM I had at the time simply didn't have the level of accuracy to inspire confidence.
Nothing wrong with the 4 inch 357. My first ten years as a LEO I had to carry one. But the handgun I learned on was Dad's USGI 1911A1.
 

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No and No.

RCBS in its Reloading Manual points you can have two identical factory produced handguns and one can significantly have better numbers on the chronograph than the other. Many reasons for this so don't let numbers get your excited. Also a four inch may get higher velocities than a six inch.

I have been shooting 1911s for nearly 60 years. The spring story is just that. Now small Officer ACP and similar pistols have issues when they debuted in the 1980s. The Colt Commander has been around since 1949 and don't have any issues.
Well I totally agree, except, I will say for the 100th time, lol, my Officer's model was #40, in 1985, after the first introductory or commemorative models were released in 1984. I have never had a problem. There is a secret, I did not change anything. It will shoot ball, Black Talons, I still have a few, they flying ashtray, Super Vel, the 190 grain IMI 490 foot pound loads, anything. The 3.5 inch barrel is perfect for carry. I carried it in a half dozen states. Carried it as a side arm many years hunting in Colorado, Wyoming, and Oklahoma. It is the alternate of my 2.5 inch model 66, in fact I shoot it much better. I carried all three sizes. Nothing wrong with any until people start changing the design. Velocity loss is only about 50-60 fps, that is from 5 inches to 3.5.

As to identical guns getting different velocities, I have the exact example. When I retired I wanted two identical revolvers for carry in non gun friendly states, so I bought two identical model 637s from Buds Gun shop under their military/law enforcement discount. They did not have consecutive serial numbers but they are close. Took them to the range and fired white box 38 Special Plus P 125 grain in them. Guess what, identical guns in every way. One does 921 fps and other 894 fps. The cylinder gap is not noticeably different. Nothing is different, except it is, the velocity is 27 fps different. That sounds trivial but it is 3%. The difference in power is 222 foot pounds vs. 235 foot pounds. Does it matter, no.

Now for comparison. The FBI has decided that the best round for their Special Agents to survive in gun fights comes from the model 19 Glock, firing a 147 grain bullet at 950 fps. That is based on extensive studies and analysis of what worked and what did not work in the Miami shoot out, plus analysis of law enforcement gun fights the last many decades. So, that is the science. So, a 147 grain bullet at 950 fps is 295 foot pounds, the best of the best. Why is that relevant?

It matters because the Ballistics By the Inch charts and graph below show 10 loads of 45 acp and 45 plus p ammo in the range of 300-600 foot pounds of energy. Five of those loads are 500 foot pounds or above, that is from the 4-4.5 inch barrels. That is in the range of a 357 revolver power. Far more power from that shorter Commander length barrel than the experts choose to protect the FBI and other top law enforcement agencies. Not that I agree with them, just pointing out the numbers of the 4-4.5 inch barrel. There is no downside to any round that is that much superior to the 9mm. Just saying.

I promise you, OP, f you will just run a couple mags of the Buffalo Bore or Corbon Plus P ammo through the gun, there will be zero concern about any loss of power, my little gun loves them, my wallet does not.

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Discussion Starter · #52 ·
Now for comparison. The FBI has decided that the best round for their Special Agents to survive in gun fights comes from the model 19 Glock, firing a 147 grain bullet at 950 fps. That is based on extensive studies and analysis of what worked and what did not work in the Miami shoot out, plus analysis of law enforcement gun fights the last many decades. So, that is the science. So, a 147 grain bullet at 950 fps is 295 foot pounds, the best of the best. Why is that relevant?

It matters because the Ballistics By the Inch charts and graph below show 10 loads of 45 acp and 45 plus p ammo in the range of 300-600 foot pounds of energy. Five of those loads are 500 foot pounds or above, that is from the 4-4.5 inch barrels. That is in the range of a 357 revolver power. Far more power from that shorter Commander length barrel than the experts choose to protect the FBI and other top law enforcement agencies. Not that I agree with them, just pointing out the numbers of the 4-4.5 inch barrel. There is no downside to any round that is that much superior to the 9mm. Just saying.
You really should read your own post. The argument simply is not consistent.
First, you mention that the FBI decided that the best 9 mm round is the 147 Grain with the slowest moving bullet.
OK, I can accept that. But.... If you have the heaviest and slowest moving bullet in a particular cartridge, you will have the least kinetic energy for that cartridge.

Next, you mention that many of the .45 loads have much greater kinetic energy. They are also firing bullets on the lighter side for the caliber. Those lighter bullet loads will tend to have the most kinetic energy for the caliber.

So what exactly is your argument? A slow heavy 9 mm is a good thing according to the FBI but the fastest possible .45 is the best according to you? This is interesting because an anecdote about the effectiveness of ball ammunition by you in another thread made quite good reading a couple days ago. Ball ammunition is one of the slowest rounds in this caliber and what I am really interested in.

Keep in mind that this is quite tangential to what I was originally asking. None of the rounds in the Ballistics tables you keep quoting are ammunition I am likely to be shooting. Those tables also don't list anything really similar to what I WILL be shooting.
 

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You really should read your own post. The argument simply is not consistent.
First, you mention that the FBI decided that the best 9 mm round is the 147 Grain with the slowest moving bullet.
OK, I can accept that. But.... If you have the heaviest and slowest moving bullet in a particular cartridge, you will have the least kinetic energy for that cartridge.

Next, you mention that many of the .45 loads have much greater kinetic energy. They are also firing bullets on the lighter side for the caliber. Those lighter bullet loads will tend to have the most kinetic energy for the caliber.

So what exactly is your argument? A slow heavy 9 mm is a good thing according to the FBI but the fastest possible .45 is the best according to you? This is interesting because an anecdote about the effectiveness of ball ammunition by you in another thread made quite good reading a couple days ago. Ball ammunition is one of the slowest rounds in this caliber and what I am really interested in.

Keep in mind that this is quite tangential to what I was originally asking. None of the rounds in the Ballistics tables you keep quoting are ammunition I am likely to be shooting. Those tables also don't list anything really similar to what I WILL be shooting.
OK. I was under the impression that you were worried about the loss of velocity by the loss of the 3/4 inch barrel in a Commander size gun as opposed to a 5 inch barrel. Your stated parameter limited this thread to a home defense scenario, you were not going to carry the gun, but only would use it for home defense. Home defense I suggest limits distances to the size of your home and yard.

Most everybody on this sight has been shooting 45 acp for 20-60 years, many I consider gurus. Many like myself spent decades in law enforcement and military careers and happened to see a number of bodies that ended their journey from gunshot events, most intentional, some accidental. None of us have seen enough holes in bodies to state with certainty what a bullet will do in the first 10-30 seconds of impact. We just know from reports and now lots of body cams and videos how people react. Seems like people just do not fold up like we expect. So we have all these theories about bullet size, weight, speed, design, material, etc.

You got personal and direct experience responses on the exact subject by Che, Levian, RickB, Ripost, Abig mike, APipeguy, and a long time LEO 44Spl, all stating that they carried the shorter guns to protect their lives. That combined experience is centuries not decades.

My input was mostly charts and graphs, data from folks who do what you said you were concerned about.

"What I have been seeing in discussions is that the loss of one inch of barrel length is apparently quite a serious loss in ballistic performance in this caliber. I have also heard that spring life is pretty drastically reduced as the guns get shorter."

All of these guys commented that there was not much loss actually when the bullets actually went down range. Some commented that the shorter barrel guns actually showed no velocity loss.

So, there were two subjects discussed, one was your request for a particular model, my comment was I was leaning toward a Ruger or Tisas for my next store bought one, I have put them together from parts the last decade or so . It has been well over a decade since I bought a whole 1911 gun. You got lots of great suggestions of specific models from people with lots of personal experience.

The second subject was your stated concern about velocity loss. No one person reported a serious loss of ballistic performance for this caliber. Spring life was not of enough concern for people to comment. In my oldest gun, the Officer's model produced January of 1985 still has the original spring in it, that gun has been 100% reliable with every round of ammo put in it, that is 37 years. It is loaded and on my night stand, I may carry it today and have zero worries. I put new springs in my 400 Corbon and 38 Super about a decade ago, both guns that I carry, they work just fine too. I have a box of various spring weights, if I get the first problem, I will slap a new spring in. People that sell springs worry about such, I do not.

So, I attached a bunch of charts and graphs showing what controlled testing had found on the subject you discussed. My last post simply suggested that if you were really worried about any such reduced performance, just fire a couple magazines of Buffalo Bore or Corbon through the gun, and that would alleviate your concern, and I say that seriously. You only need buy a couple boxes of that ammo to insure it functions properly, then load the gun with them and a spare mag or two and your are set, should you ever need that gun for home defense. Or, just use the 357 that you mention. I own 357s in 2, 2.5,3, 4, 6.5, 16, 18, 18.5 and 20 inch barrels and know what velocities I get from them. I have seen their impact on maybe 3 dozen animals, they all work. They all work for any defense anywhere.

So, I will not bother you any longer with statistics or comments. Have a great day and weekend. Always enjoy discussing guns and what they do.
 

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All of the 1911s I currently own are 5 inch guns.
I have a couple revolvers that shoot .45 ACP as well, but their barrels are even longer.

I have been considering buying a 1911 in a Combat Commander configuration or perhaps something with a barrel even slightly shorter (Kimber Pro series with a 4 inch barrel).
What I have been seeing in discussions is that the loss of one inch of barrel length is apparently quite a serious loss in ballistic performance in this caliber. I have also heard that spring life is pretty drastically reduced as the guns get shorter.
The purpose of the Commander would be as a curiosity and a bit of a contrast to the full size 1911s in order to learn more about these guns.

Can anyone recommend any good candidates in a Commander sized stainless steel gun?

Thanks.
- Ivan.
I have 3, 4 and 5” and all seem to function. Les baer, dan wesdon, springfield armory, colt all work for me.
 

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All of the 1911s I currently own are 5 inch guns.
I have a couple revolvers that shoot .45 ACP as well, but their barrels are even longer.

I have been considering buying a 1911 in a Combat Commander configuration or perhaps something with a barrel even slightly shorter (Kimber Pro series with a 4 inch barrel).
What I have been seeing in discussions is that the loss of one inch of barrel length is apparently quite a serious loss in ballistic performance in this caliber. I have also heard that spring life is pretty drastically reduced as the guns get shorter.
The purpose of the Commander would be as a curiosity and a bit of a contrast to the full size 1911s in order to learn more about these guns.

Can anyone recommend any good candidates in a Commander sized stainless steel gun?

Thanks.
- Ivan.
I've got a Sig 1911 Emperor Scorpion Carry which has a 4.25 barrel but then I've got a Colt Defender which has a 3" barrel and small enough to fit in my pants pockets
 

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All of the 1911s I currently own are 5 inch guns.
I have a couple revolvers that shoot .45 ACP as well, but their barrels are even longer.

I have been considering buying a 1911 in a Combat Commander configuration or perhaps something with a barrel even slightly shorter (Kimber Pro series with a 4 inch barrel).
What I have been seeing in discussions is that the loss of one inch of barrel length is apparently quite a serious loss in ballistic performance in this caliber. I have also heard that spring life is pretty drastically reduced as the guns get shorter.
The purpose of the Commander would be as a curiosity and a bit of a contrast to the full size 1911s in order to learn more about these guns.

Can anyone recommend any good candidates in a Commander sized stainless steel gun?

Thanks.
- Ivan.
Any good brand name will do, but to make the spring life longer, I would get a reverse plug to match a full length 1/4" guide rod and install a flat recoil spring. Flat springs have a .256+ center hole and last a lot longer...all that's left is tuning it (cutting) for recoil and ejection and I think you can get them in different lbs. resistance or strength. Springs aren't that expensive, so you can play around and get it where you want it.
 

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I have been contemplating this very same purchase. My requirements may be a little restrictive. I admit I have not checked Dan Wesson yet. I want stainless steel frame, barrel and slide. I don't care about the weight, I use tools that weigh more every day. Tritium sights are a must. Full size 1911 mags. The Kimber Pro Raptor II checks all the boxes. I did not see Kimbers Stainless TLE II in a commander length. I am going to look around for another week or so before buying anything. When I do, I'll run a chronograph comparison so I know the effects of the shorter barrel. My TLE II really likes 230 grain bullets at 850 fps. Very accurate. It will take a little bit of working up to see just what a 4" likes. With luck, my existing load will be fine. Really not terribly interested in a $3000 pistol but I am going to weigh all options. Any suggestions are welcome. Prefer not to have to add sights after purchase but if it comes to that, it is what it is.
Dan Wesson VBOB
 

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While y'all fret over velocity loss, I'll sit here quietly with my 38 Super. LOL

The Commander form factor has really grown on me, to where I find it better balanced to shoot and more aesthetically pleasing than a 5" gun. Time to tone down my desire a bit though. 8 months ago, I owned zero Commanders. A DW Guardian changed that, followed by a Valor Commander, which will be joined in a week or so by an ACW Prime Elite. All in Super.
 
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