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If you want a top quality hand fitted, all forged steel or aluminum ,I say look at Dan Wesson. I don't know your exact needs, but I needed a good carry 1911 recently, and got a Dan Wesson 1911 Vigil CCO, in .45acp. (9MM IS available) 4.25 inch match grade barrel and match trigger that breaks at about four pounds. Very short reset. 70s grade, with no firing pin block. That is why the trigger is so smooth. Officer size grip, which makes concealment easier. Standard 7 round magazines. I paid $1198 before taxes. That was right at my budget limit. I have owned Colt 1911s, and Springfields. After breaking it in, the pistol is reliable, and super accurate. Has an aluminum frame. Weighs only 28 oz. Has a feed ramp on the barrel, so the rounds never touches the frame. Been carrying a 1911, off and on for forty-two years. The Dan Wesson, is the best, i have owned.
 

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I'm not sure hand fitted and Dan Wesson are the same thing.
 

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All,

1. $400-$700 range (Rock Island)
2. $700-$1000 range (Dan Wesson pre-loved or Kimber new)
3. $1000-$1500 range
(Dan Wesson new)
 

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One thing that helps is if you, a friend, or a family member knows what to look for in a used 1911. Then look a cheaper new 1911s as used 1911s and really look them over.

Have not played with a Tisa yet so my fav in the $400-$700 range is RIA and also Ruger. I have had about 7 Ruger SR1911s in my shooty collection and they have been great, but did look them over before I got them. I have also looked at RIAs I did not buy.

In the $700-$1K range I like SA and Colt. I have owned hundreds of Colt 1911s and have been happy with most. The SAs seem pretty well put together for the money. The nice thing is down here Rugers and SAs are often on specials at LGSs.

In the $1K-$1.5K range I still like Colts and SAs but now DW enters the picture and they can be nice.

The real deals are in the used market. I would not touch another Kimber II but got a nice pre II for about $800 from a shooting buddy. Got to field strip it and put about 200 rounds through it before I bought it. Same with a 2015 Colt Gold Cup Trophy. Bought it from another shooty buddy for about $800 and got to field strip it and put about 200 rounds through it before I made the decision to buy it.
 

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It seems that in these types of threads, three brands/models consistently tend to be mentioned;
1, Springfield Defender/Mil-Spec.
2, Springfield Range Officer.
3, Dan Wesson.
And, within that narrow price niche between an RO and Dan Wesson, the Colt Competition Series.
 

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Must my humble opinion, but a Springfield RO is a good solid pistol.
 

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2. There are several Colt Series 70 Competition models (stainless & other) on Bud's right now for under $1,000.
^This. I bought a blued Colt Competition .45ACP a couple of years ago for right around $800 out the door. Has a beaver tail safety and an adjustable rear sight. I didn't care for the fiber optic front, so I replaced it with a gold bead from Ed Brown which I much prefer. I probably have somewhere between 3000 and 3500 rounds through it without a single hiccup.
 

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Bigeclipse,
Go to gunshops and handle as many different guns as you can. Shoot them if possible. I started off exactly where you are 3 years ago and I was initially set on getting a Range Officer. After handling a bunch of guns (dozens and dozens) I found that I was willing to spend more money and get a Dan Wesson. For me, the extra money was more than worth it. I now won't own a gun without front strap treatment of some kind.
Once you know what you want then look at which guns meet your requirements. When you find it you will know.
Oh, and after you buy your "perfect" 1911 you will have to have a new perfect gun 6 months later:)
Jeff
 

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My local gun store (LGS) is a Colt Distributor. I have looked at and carefully examined quite a number of new Colt 1911s quite recently and find no faults in them, very handsome and solid guns. The balance and "feel" of a Colt is different, more natural in the hand particularly from a Springfield - something about the frame, the front of the grip strap shape or weight distribution....

If all round use (carry, range, competition), probably the Colt Competition model. If punching paper will be primary, look at the new Gold Cups - very good accuracy results in the current models. If EDC (everyday carry) is primary, look at an alloy framed Commander or a Defender. I usually carry a Delta Elite (I believe in ballistic horsepower, current trends not withstanding) but when I feel old and tired and want to take a load off, I wear a nice, light .45 Defender. Some like the Willey Clapp/Series 70 guns - I prefer having a firing pin lock (Series 80) for EDC use. Dropped 1911s with only the floating firing pin can and have gone off - or no one would design and install firing pin locks - and will again. Even a car accident with enough inertia in the right direction could cause a firing pin to "tap" a primer hard enough to set it off. Likely - No. Possible, Yes.

Colt's hold their value - they are a known and respected name that will be a lot easier to get your investment back (if ever necessary) quickly - and are fitted correctly for a fighting gun - good slide/barrel lockup without excessive and unnecessary (and wrong) slide frame tightness.

And the Colt Heritage - an American Tradition, if you will - is part of the appeal, for some of us. I find it comforting to slide the same brand into my holster every day as a lot of great and notable Americans did before me - from the 1830's to today, a majority or our warriors have carried and used Colt firearms. From Jack "Coffee" Hays, to both sides in the Civil War, to most of the Western Heros and Villians and the Gangsters and FBI of the "Roaring Twenties". People like Teddy Roosevelt, Alvin York, Lt. Frank Luke, from Antietam to WWI and II, to Korea and Vietnam, to our current fights around the world. From Patterson's and Walker Colt revolvers to the M1911 to the current M4, (with a lot of Tommy guns, BARs and M2 Brownings in the mix, too) Colt is intertwined deeply in American History, and is still "on duty" with our cops and servicemen, every single day. Pretty good pedigree - and pretty good company to be in. American History and tradition doesn't matter to many - but it does to me. And it comes free, with every Colt. CC
 

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There's really not a glaring difference between $400 and $1500 that I've ever found, yet, for instance the TRP isn't the gun that people make it out to be, as far as I'm concerned. But lot's of opinion like mine it's tough to narrow things down. Given you say:

I wouldn't spend any more money than a Rock Island offering.
I have to disagree with this. There's a massive difference between an RIA and a bottom model DW. Fit, finish, features. The difference is huge.
 

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I have to disagree with this. There's a massive difference between an RIA and a bottom model DW. Fit, finish, features. The difference is huge.
Can't fault someone for deciding to go with a RIA vs a Dan Wesson but not being able to tell the difference either you really have no idea what your looking at or your simply lying to yourself.
 

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My local gun store (LGS) is a Colt Distributor. I have looked at and carefully examined quite a number of new Colt 1911s quite recently and find no faults in them, very handsome and solid guns. The balance and "feel" of a Colt is different, more natural in the hand particularly from a Springfield - something about the frame, the front of the grip strap shape or weight distribution....

If all round use (carry, range, competition), probably the Colt Competition model. If punching paper will be primary, look at the new Gold Cups - very good accuracy results in the current models. If EDC (everyday carry) is primary, look at an alloy framed Commander or a Defender. I usually carry a Delta Elite (I believe in ballistic horsepower, current trends not withstanding) but when I feel old and tired and want to take a load off, I wear a nice, light .45 Defender. Some like the Willey Clapp/Series 70 guns - I prefer having a firing pin lock (Series 80) for EDC use. Dropped 1911s with only the floating firing pin can and have gone off - or no one would design and install firing pin locks - and will again. Even a car accident with enough inertia in the right direction could cause a firing pin to "tap" a primer hard enough to set it off. Likely - No. Possible, Yes.

Colt's hold their value - they are a known and respected name that will be a lot easier to get your investment back (if ever necessary) quickly - and are fitted correctly for a fighting gun - good slide/barrel lockup without excessive and unnecessary (and wrong) slide frame tightness.

And the Colt Heritage - an American Tradition, if you will - is part of the appeal, for some of us. I find it comforting to slide the same brand into my holster every day as a lot of great and notable Americans did before me - from the 1830's to today, a majority or our warriors have carried and used Colt firearms. From Jack "Coffee" Hays, to both sides in the Civil War, to most of the Western Heros and Villians and the Gangsters and FBI of the "Roaring Twenties". People like Teddy Roosevelt, Alvin York, Lt. Frank Luke, from Antietam to WWI and II, to Korea and Vietnam, to our current fights around the world. From Patterson's and Walker Colt revolvers to the M1911 to the current M4, (with a lot of Tommy guns, BARs and M2 Brownings in the mix, too) Colt is intertwined deeply in American History, and is still "on duty" with our cops and servicemen, every single day. Pretty good pedigree - and pretty good company to be in. American History and tradition doesn't matter to many - but it does to me. And it comes free, with every Colt. CC

My sentiments exactly, as usual said much better by Col. Colt
People that say that Colt no longer builds good guns always baffle me. I prefer my 1911’s have a pony on the slide and I have owned many trouble free guns and have never had to return one or have a gunsmith idle one. I will continue to purchase them.
 

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1. None
2. None
3. None

I own lots of 1911s, but none that cheap.
Then you’re spending too much on firearms if you never spend less than $3,500 on firearms. My $3000 firearms aren’t 6 times better than my $500. They are noticeably better and prettier. My Springfield RO (only paid $547 NIB) shoots the same tight group as my Dan Wesson and STI DVC 3 Gun. Yes, there is pride in ownership of a $5,000 custom 1911. But for the money some of us would prefer to own 5 1911’s over 1 1911.

For me it’s not so much what you shoot but that you shoot. Just saying.
 

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On the low end Rock Island. Mine has been good. On your upper end DW. Loving my Vigil so far. I don't have anything in your mid range so I have no input there.

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