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Discussion Starter #1
I am a prospective 1911 owner and have never owned or shot one. I was dead set on buying Springfield loaded stainless full size, then I held a SW 1911(TLR), and a Kimber 1911 (Royal something). Both the Smith and the Kimber had better triggers and were much more tightly (fame to slide and barrel) fitted. I walked away with nothing, cause I couldn't make up my mind at that point.

Help me out here. As I understand it:

SW: forged frame slide and barrel, MIM hammer, trigger, sear, mainspring, slide stop. Trigger was great, better than the Kimber and SA. Lifetime warranty. MIM parts, are of questionable quality from what I gather??? Series 70 or 80 operating system??? Is it a true mil spec gun and should I expect parts to drop in??? My cost 695.00 with 3 mags plus tax.


SA: Forged frame and slide, no MIM parts, series 70 operating system. Lifetime warranty. Mediocre trigger and more "tolerance" on frame/slide/barrel fit. My cost 699.00 with 2 mags plus tax.

Kimber: Are there frames and slides forged or cast? What parts are MIM, is an internal extractor such a bad thing. My cost, 729.00 plus tax.


This will be a carry gun and I could carry it on duty if I choose. Reliability, accuracy, durability, looks is the order of importance. I really liked the SW, are there any true faults with it.

I wont spend more than 800.00 for a 1911.
 

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....
SA: Forged frame and slide, no MIM parts, series 70 operating system. Lifetime warranty. Mediocre trigger and more "tolerance" on frame/slide/barrel fit. My cost 699.00 with 2 mags plus tax....
SA price depends on what you want. A mill spec can be had for $500 + tax and are perfectly good starter 1911's with which few would find fault (for the price). A SA loaded will cost you more, but are, again, perfectly good for the price.

Really, all of the makers you mentioned have made good 1911's.
 

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Also, I should have mentioned that this is a very common question on the forum. While most of us are more than happy to help out a new or perspective 1911 owner, you can also find a lot of good info by using the search to find old posts.
 

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Don't automatically poo-poo a gun just because it has a slightly relaxed slide to frame fit. Some very knowledgeable 1911 experts actually prefer it. Tight is okay as long as the parts are well fitted, but if not you can end up with a very tempermental firearm.
 

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The STI Trojan and Spartan are good 1911's. The Spartan can be had for ~$550. The Trojan is in the ~$900 range.

MIM parts have a bad reputation like cast frames but, cast frames and MIM parts can be just as good as a forged or "bar stock" parts. It really comes down to who made the part and do they stand behind it's quality.

For what you are looking for, I would consider an STI Lawman. Yes, it's out of your price range but, you get what you pay for. The 30LPI checkering is a nice feature for a carry or duty gun.
 

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Help me out here. As I understand it:

SW: forged frame slide and barrel, MIM hammer, trigger, sear, mainspring, slide stop. Trigger was great, better than the Kimber and SA. Lifetime warranty. MIM parts, are of questionable quality from what I gather??? Series 70 or 80 operating system??? Is it a true mil spec gun and should I expect parts to drop in??? My cost 695.00 with 3 mags plus tax.
Like all things, MIM can be done well or very badly. A give away is the length of the warranty. I wouldn't let it worry me. This would be my first choice for a target pistol. No issues with the S&W external extractor. The S&W is a fine pistol but the light-sweet trigger might be a bit touchy for carry. Read the S&W area and see how few complaints crop up.

SA: Forged frame and slide, no MIM parts, series 70 operating system. Lifetime warranty. Mediocre trigger and more "tolerance" on frame/slide/barrel fit. My cost 699.00 with 2 mags plus tax.
The no MIM is news to me but I won't dispute it. The heavy trigger can be a plus in a bedroom/carry pistol just because of the ever so slightly reduced possibility of ADs. The Springer Loaded is a fine reliable pistol, just not as pretty as the S&W.

Kimber: Are there frames and slides forged or cast? What parts are MIM, is an internal extractor such a bad thing. My cost, 729.00 plus tax.
Former fan here. The frames and slide used to be forged. I'm not sure anymore. Lots of MIM and a dinky warranty... Overly tight frame to slide fit and often a too tight chamber. See the Kimber forum for the "how many times has yours screwed up" polls. Kimber pretty much declared their external extractor implementation a failure.

Read the forums and best of luck to you.
 

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They've all got MIM in them.

There are no 1911's regularly stocked that have no MIM parts. That's not a terrible thing, though. If the parts are going to break, it normally right out of the gate. If the MIM parts have gone a hundred rounds, they'll go a thousand.

Kimbers are fine if you buy it exactly the way you want it. The safety system used is neither man nor beast. Not traditional series 70 nor later series 80. It's a defunct idea that everyone but Kimber gave up on called the ... Dangit! Name escapes me. Schwartz! It's called the Schwartz safety. The firing pin block (not present on series 70) is activated by the grip safety, rather than the trigger (as with series 80). This makes some parts Kimber specific and hard to get. Avoid Kimbers with external extractors.

I really don't know much about the Smith & Wesson pistols. I know two people with them, they really like them and shoot them well. That's the extent of my knowledge on S&W.

Springfield Armory makes some of the best 1911's on the market today. This is because of their frames and slides. Milled and drilled square, they are more consistent gun to gun than just about anybody else out there. They are basically a series 70 gun, no firing pin block. They do have a Springfield proprietary "ILS" system, easily discarded if you desire. Replacing the Mainspring housing (a $40 part) will eliminate the ILS and improve your trigger noticeably. Parts are easily found, anything 1911A1 will work, as well as parts labeled "series 70". Not an issue if you buy it just how you want it, but upgrades and replacements are a part of the 1911 universe.

Now handguns in general. Slide to frame fit is over-rated. There are lots of places fit matters, that's not one of them. With the pistol in battery, try to press down on the barrel hood. If it moves much, possible problems. Put your pinkie finger in the barrel (please make sure it's not loaded) and try to move the barrel inside the bushing or the bushing in the slide. If you can, find another pistol to look at, this one's toast.

1911 triggers. Crisp is what you're looking for. don't worry about weight unless it's absurdly high or low. anything 4-6 pounds is fine. Crisp (no creep, sponginess, etc.) six lbs is far better for accuracy than a truly ugly three pounds.

For a duty gun, you're down to S&W and Springfield. The finish on a Kimber won't last a month of regular use and you'll be fighting rust. I can't say anything bad about the S&W, I don't know much about them. Personally, I'd choose a Springfield, but that's like saying Ford vs. Chevy. Even though Ford cars suck.
 

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You are not going to get enough reliable info to make a decision. Most folks have had one or two 1911s and those, in their minds, are the best. I have had 10+ Kimbers, 3 SA, a Charles Daly and a RIA Tactical. I have worked on hundreds of 1911s.
I currently own 3 Kimbers and a RIA Tactical. The Kimber safety system is a Swartz design. No real issues there.
Kimbers have forged frames and slides.
IMO the current best buys in 1911 land are:
RIA Tactical $450
Kimber CST $850
Les Baer PII $1300
I have never owned an inaccurate Kimber. Do not let the out of the box trigger pull have any influence in your decision. For $50 a good gunsmith can provide you with any trigger pull weight desired.
My post sounds like I am a Kimber fan. That is true. I can afford any price 1911 I desire. I am yet to find a reason to purchase one of the premium 1911s like a Wilson, LB or Nighthawk. The three Kimbers I currently own will all group well under 2" at 25 yds and have a nice crisp 2.5 lb trigger.
I would never purchase one of the GI design 1911s. Why would anyone want tiny sights and that awful grip safety. All of my 1911s are used for competition. I want good sights and a proper beavertail grip safety.
If your budget is tight then go with the fixed sight Kimber in stainless steel. I bought a new one in December for $750. The matte finish blue model runs around $675.
I did not like anything about the 3 SA guns I had - one 9mm and two .45s. The STI Trojan is a nice gun, but is not worth ,IMO, the $150-$200 premium over a Kimber.
 

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Out of the gate! (spending your money)

I have some experience with Kimber, Smith & Wesson, and Springfield Armory 5" 1911s.
I have manufactured significant amounts of ammo for all three brands, too.

I suggest the best new-1911 ownership experience to be with a 5" metal S&W.
Most likely to offer reliable function.
Most likely to offer an acceptable 'trigger'.
Most likely to offer fine accuracy.

The Kimber models often exhibit reliable function, decent 'trigger', and fine accuracy.
However, if it doesn't, a less-than-satisfying ownership experience can begin.

The Springfield Armory 1911s often offer reliable function, a heavy (or heavier) 'trigger', but modest accuracy.
Superb warranty service, like S&W.
Best brand for further customizing, but NO BRAND offers guaranteed drop-in fitment of ANYTHING.
I own three of this brand myself, but if buying a 1911 with the expectation that it might be a "duty gun", I'd buy a new S&W.

(There may be certain requirements and/or restrictions for a duty gun.)

These opinions are based solely on my personal experience, and do not reflect every ownership experience with any brand (why they all have a warranty, and a place to do warranty work, ay?)

My other 1911 is a custom gun built using a Caspian frame and slide; it cost more.
Lots more.
 

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I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that you should 1st determine how bad you wanna 1911. If you really want one, don't buy one...that is, until you can afford a custom level 1911. No sense in dealing with the problems of lower end pistols. Kimbers are great guns for what they are. I own one, have owned two others, and my son has a Custom II. But I prefer standard 1911 parts and takedown, and I also prefer custom features that don't deal with cosmetics only. Kimbers are flashy, but most of them aren't completely standard 1911 parts. More and more, I appreciate the old Colt mechanisms. Extended guide rods, takedown tools, firing pin blocks, plastic parts, all that stuff gets tiresome.

If you gotta have a pistol now and can't afford a Baer, Wilson, or Brown, Probably the best gun for the money out there is a Colt XSE. It has the frills like a match trigger, combat sights, and BT grip safety, and its a true blue series 80 1911. They could improve it by making it a series 70 duplicate, but that ain't gonna happen. Even so, at about $850, you aren't gonna find a better deal without cheaper, foreign made parts or crappy workmanship. I looked around plenty for my next pistol. Almost bought a "sexy" SIS Kimber. In the end, I ordered another Colt.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Thanks for the advice Bluegreen76. I did that prior to posting my questions, but did not see exactly what I was looking for. Hoped someone could take time to answer my specific questions and share useful opinion/experiences.
Also, I should have mentioned that this is a very common question on the forum. While most of us are more than happy to help out a new or perspective 1911 owner, you can also find a lot of good info by using the search to find old posts.
A special thanks to everyone who took the time to address my questions and share their experiences and opinions, it was very useful. I plan to visit another shop where I receive my LE discount. They have a huge inventory and since I have established a relationship with the owner over the years, they generally let me get out 5-6 specimens and leave me alone to look over/handle them for an hour or so without bothering me.

Keep the info coming.
 

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From other side of the gun store counter what I've seen is the Springfields while appearing to be a gun of rough manufacture, just flat out work. They eat factory and reloaded ammunition with ease.

The Kimbers are a little more accurate and many need a "break-in" period before they become reliable. I can feel the difference in the way a Kimber cycles compared to most mass produced guns, it's smoooooth.

The S&W's are nice guns, don't seem to like reloads and early on had plenty of issues. For a while it seemed like every gun we sold had the plunger tube come off.

I do have 1911's of all 3 manufacturers. If I was to buy another 1911, it would be another Kimber.
 

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I love my Springfields. I like the Kimbers, but their triggers leave quite a bit to be desired, but like Joe D said that can be fixed by a good gunsmith. I would also check out Para Ordnance, their resale value sucks but I like the accuracy. My Springfield though had an excellent trigger, nice fit and finish, and is as accurate as any gun i've had.
 

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I find Kimbers to be unreliable unless meticulously maintained and they are finicky about ammo. They are also very accurate due to their tight tolerances, which is why they are unreliable. Some of their extras are of no value such as checkering under the trigger guard as all it does is rub your finger raw as you shoot.

S&W is a good solid 1911 and I liked the one I had. My problem was that the finish was too nice and I was afraid to shoot it. Highly polished blue flats make me worry about marring the gun. The firing pin safety is nice as it ads extra safety feature and is deactivated by grip safety. Worked great and I would buy it again if it came parked.

SA MilSpec is everything I wanted in a 1911. Nice basic 1911 I could customize to my tastes. The finish is not to pretty to make me worry about it. The gun is minute of felon accurate and more then accurate at CQC ranges. I did my own gun smithing and ended up with a good 1911 for less then $700.

Go SA or S&W, pass on the Kimber.
 

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1911Pete, there must have been something really wrong with the 10+ Kimbers I have owned. They would feed anything I threw at them. That includes 9mm, .40 and .45. Did not matter what the bullet shape was either.
Your first two sentences make no sense. Have you ever even owned a Kimber?
 

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I have had experience with three 1911 pistols. A 1913 Colt 1911 (best gun I ever owned!) A Kimber Warrior, and a Taurus PT1911. For the money and the options that you get out of the box, I do not think you can beat the Taurus. A lot of people don't care for Taurus, but I can put a three shot group the size of a quarter at 25 yards with mine. It's a great shooting and feeling gun. My trigger was a crisp 4lbs out of the box. My only complaint would be the thin finish.
 

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I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that you should 1st determine how bad you wanna 1911. If you really want one, don't buy one...that is, until you can afford a custom level 1911. No sense in dealing with the problems of lower end pistols. Kimbers are great guns for what they are. I own one, have owned two others, and my son has a Custom II. But I prefer standard 1911 parts and takedown, and I also prefer custom features that don't deal with cosmetics only. Kimbers are flashy, but most of them aren't completely standard 1911 parts. More and more, I appreciate the old Colt mechanisms. Extended guide rods, takedown tools, firing pin blocks, plastic parts, all that stuff gets tiresome.

If you gotta have a pistol now and can't afford a Baer, Wilson, or Brown, Probably the best gun for the money out there is a Colt XSE. It has the frills like a match trigger, combat sights, and BT grip safety, and its a true blue series 80 1911. They could improve it by making it a series 70 duplicate, but that ain't gonna happen. Even so, at about $850, you aren't gonna find a better deal without cheaper, foreign made parts or crappy workmanship. I looked around plenty for my next pistol. Almost bought a "sexy" SIS Kimber. In the end, I ordered another Colt.
You do NOT have to buy a high end pistol to get one that works and works well.
:rolleyes:
 

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You do NOT have to buy a high end pistol to get one that works and works well.
:rolleyes:
+1

Given the option's that you listed It sounds like you are willing to spend up to $800 after tax. Kimber, SA, and S&W are fine choices for that price range.

The S&W's and SA's are typically considered fairly reliable out of the box, and have customer service that will make things right quickly. Kimber has a mixed reputation for being grate out of box to being perpetual malfunction generators depending on who you talk to.

I would certainly discourage buying anything cheaper than a SA GI(~$500), but I would also say that there is no sane reason to spend over $1000 on a first 1911. Buying a $2500+ custom without the experience to know exactly what you want from it seems silly unless you have 10 Grand to buy 3 configurations.
 
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