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Hi Guys:

I hope you can help me. This topic has probably been beaten to death but please bear with a newbie.

I'm currently learning to shoot with a full-size 1911. Its a great gun (as you all know) but its a little too big to carry around.

Is there a smaller version that can be carried concealled (in states that allow that) either on a belt or in a purse? Like a lot of women, my hands are not very big so the double stack guns (or any with a big grip) are out.

Some of the guys toss around terms like Commander and Officer but I don't know what they mean. Is Commander just a different hammer that is less likely to hook on clothing?

What would you recommend? What does your wife/girlfriend shoot?

Do I have to go to a gunsmith to have a gun cut down? If so, who (and how long will it take)? Its ok to pay for quality but I don't want to waste money.

Someone recommended Detonics but that seems to be an unusual name. Are they still made?

Thanks guys.
 

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I carry a Kimber Ultra Carry, but there are others as well. Springfield makes a few models, and you might be able to find a Colt Officers, or Commander size (3 or 4inch models). The Kimber Ultra Carry is a three inch barrel, and the frame is about .4 of an inch shorter. With thin grips it conceals well.

--Mark
 

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Welcome BlueAngel,

Commander length refers to 4 or 4 1/4" barrel length (Colt, Para Ordnance are 4 1/4". Kimber Pro Carry, Sprinfield Champion are 4" long.) The Grip length is full size. There are other manufacuters as well, but this is a good start.

Officer's length refers to a commander length barrel, but a shorter grip length.

Then you get into the compacts. Generally come with 3" barrel and even smaller grip length.

You have made a good choice looking for a 1911 if you have tiny hands. My wife has small hands as well, and she can hold 1911's comfortably. She prefers her Glock however. The Glock 17/19 are slightly bigger around the grip area than a 1911.

I would suggest taking a trip to the local gun store, or shooting range. You'll get to see and hold a variety of pieces.

Hang around here - there are lots of knowledgable people willing to help answer all your questions!
 

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Howdy! Good to have you with us.

My wife carries a Glock 19 (compact 9mm). I'm not a fan of the 9mm, but it will definitely kill you deader than a hammer.

I recently acquired a Colt Pony (double action only .380) as a pocket gun. The .380 is a short 9mm. It's definitely not my first choice, but it conceals VERY well for when I can't carry a 1911 and will still do the job if needed.

I would caution you away from the very small 1911s. A friend of mine has a Kimber with a 3" barrel. I'm a big ole boy (6'3" and 250lbs) and I HATED shooting it. Far too much recoil for my taste. He claims that you learn to shoot it to control the recoil better, but after 2 magazines, I had had more than enough.

Good luck. Go to a range and rent a few different guns. Ask around (here, at gun shops, friends and family). Just make sure you get a gun that feels good in your hand and that you shoot well. Shot placement is MUCH more important than caliber.

Billy Ray
 

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Welcome to the forum. I suggest you do a search in the Personal Defense and Carry forum. This subject gets a lot of exposure there.

As far as my opinion, as usual, Shane beat me to it; but I'll try to put a fresh spin on things. Compared to the recoil of a standard 1911, my girlfriend never had a problem shooting my 3.6" Wilson Sentinel, so I guess it all depends on the person. I wouldn't let any additional recoil change your mind; with practice, you'll adjust.

We're getting a Springfield Super Combat next. At the price, you may consider looking into one as a viable option. Kimber also makes a nice compact for slightly more money. I'd really need to know your price range in order to help you choose a smaller 1911. The sky's the limit, if you have the money and desire
 

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An Officer's model is a 3.5 inch barrel and a .4"(?) shorter grip.

A Commander is a full length grip and a 4.25" barrel.

A Compact is a 4" barrel and an Officer's grip/frame .

An Ultra is usually an Officer's grip/frame and a 3" barrel.

There are also a few variations that maybe right up your alley, if you still want smaller. Cylinder and Slide makes an Adventurer which is a 3" barrel and an ultra short grip. I think the Detonics is also in that size range.

Also, Para Ordnance guns are slightly different sizes, but they are also double stack which you said you don't want.

For most men, shorter than Officer's may be ok on the front strap, but the point of the mainspring housing digs into the palm of our hands. Your hands maybe small enough that these ultra small guns don't dig in like that.

As for opinions, I probably don't have any worth much because my wife doesn't carry and I'm waiting on my first 1911. It will probably be a 2001 Para P13.

There are a few people who make ultra thin grips for the 1911 if that feels a little big for you. Also, you may spend some time looking at holster's because they are unfortunately designed for male hips, but there are a few makers coming around.
 

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Welcome to the forum! I'm not female, but I am a fairly small male (140lbs.) so I have had to deal with a lot of the same problems facing women. Like you I prefer the 1911 but the full-size gun is simply too big, no matter what I have done to try to carry it. While I can physically hide it, the weight actually makes my side hurt after awhile.

What you will need to look for is something with an aluminum frame. Don't worry about the recoil, as it really isn't much worse than a full-size. I finally decided on a Colt Officer's ACP with the alloy frame, equipped with better sights and Pachmayr grips. Yes, it jumps up a little more when fired but not enough to be a problem. Just so you know, the alloy Officer's ACP is discontinued but there are a lot of similar guns out there from other makers. Again, the weight will be your concern more than actual size, depending on how you intend to carry it.

If you're not especially wedded to the 1911, I can also tell you there are several other really good guns out there. My other compace carry weapon is a Kahr P-9, which easily hides almost everywhere and one I'm sure you'd have no trouble carrying. Whatever you do, FORGET all the whining over the 9mm cartridge. So what if it's not a .45? It will still put somebody down in a hurry if you're using the right ammo. Just don't go with anything smaller. As for the .40 Kahr, it recoils worse than an alloy .45 so you might as well stick with either a small 9mm or the compact .45s.

Hope this helps.
 

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My compact .45 is a Colt Defender (ie 3" bbl on Officers type frame).

Accurate and hard hitting but miserable for extended range sessions. Small guns in large calibers are great to conceal and would be fine for self defense, but are ugly to practice with. And I'm not a person who is recoil shy!

The upside is, after using my Colt Defender extensively, firing full blooded head banger .357 rounds out of my SP 101 is a piece of cake
 

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Hi Blue Angel - welcome.

One thing to consider in a 1911 pistol: it should always be carried in a holster, even if it is tossed into a purse. The correct way to carry a 1911 is with the hammer cocked, safety on, & a round in the chamber. If located in your purse, in a glove box, etc., you want a method of carry that will prevent the safety from being inadvertantly deactivated - even though the gun can't fire unless the grip safety is also depressed.

That said, I went for light weight and small size in selecting a carry 1911 & purchased a Kimber Ultra CDP. It weighs 25 oz empty, and has a short 3" barrel that enhances concealability.

The CDP is a "factory custom" pistol & therefore is relatively expensive. However, the Kimber "Ultra Carry" is the same pistol without all the custom bells & whistles. It still offers the lighter weight & small size but at a much lower price.

If you have 2 identical pistols, then take 1 of those guns & chop off a few inches of barrel & slide length, lighten the frame, shorten the grip, etc., that pistol will recoil more than the original. If it is enough to bother you is purely subjective; for me the CDP is not hard to shoot. Keep in mind that short, light pistols that are purchased for ease of concealment are usually carried many hours when compared to their time on the range, and designed with those considerations.
 

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Welcome, BlueAngel. Some very good advice from the people here so far. I'd like to add a few words that might help clear some things up.

A few common misconceptions about 1911 pistols is the nomenclature..what exactly is a compact, how does it compare to an ultra-compact, or commander etc etc. The easiest way to think of it is by the gun *shape*. By the shape, I mean: what shape of box would it take to be just big enough to hold the gun (think length vs. heigth here). For example, the 1911 full-size government model is a rectangular shaped gun, while the Glock 17/22 or Sig Sauer 228 is more of a square-shaped gun. This is *very* important, because it is what defines the "balance" of the pistol in a user's hand. There are many many different types of full size and compact sized 1911's, but I'll only discuss the 4 most common types. These are: Two types of full-size 1911 models(Government and Commander) and two common types of compact-sized 1911 models(Compact and Ultra-Compact). The distinguishing difference between these models are the differences between the heigth and length.

Most common 1911 sizes from largest to smallest:

1) Full Size - 5" barrel. This size was the standard issue for the US military for the earlier part of the century. This is generally regarded as the biggest size for a fighting handgun that is able to be carried. This gun is rectangular in balance/shape, meaning that the slide/barrel seems longer than the grip, and when put on a table, the pistol draws a rectangular outline. Other common pistols today that are "rectangular" in shape include: Sigarms p226/p220, Beretta 92/96, Glock 34/35, HK USP45,
Grip size: Full-size (8-round max)
Gun shape: Rectangular
Material: Steel slide/steel frame is most common and most durable.
Common models: Kimber Custom, Springfield Loaded, Para-Ordnance p14 (double stack), Colt 1991A1.

2) Commander - 4.25" or 4" barrel. This is basically a full size pistol with a slightly shorter slide. The grip is still a full size. The commander is preferred by many professionals who prefer the overall balance of a "square" pistol more so than a "rectangular" pistol. For all intents and purposes, it really is still considered as a "full-sized" pistol, just slightly shorter on the slide for ppl who like the balance better. To determine what's best for you, hold and point one of each type side by side. Which ever points easier/more natural, is the one you should choose. Other common guns that are "square" include the: Sig Sauer p228/229, Beretta Cougar, Kahr K9, Glock 17/22
Grip size: Full-Size (8-round max)
Gun shape: Square
Material: Both Steel frame and Aluminum frame are equally popular in this gun. The aluminum frame makes this gun quite a bit lighter, approaching weights similiar to other current aluminum frame guns of today (Sig, Beretta).
Common Models: Kimber Pro-Carry (Aluminum frame), Kimber Pro-Carry Stainless (Steel frame), Springfield Commander

3) Compact - 4.25" or 4" barrel, and a shortened frame. This model is rather popular with people who shoot the full-size 1911 (rectangular shape) model, who need something smaller to conceal, but still want the length vs. heigth balance similiar to the full size. This gun is rectangular in shape, and balances much like a diminished government model. (It's a commander with the grip chopped off a bit)
Grip size: Officer's (7-round max)
Gun shape: Rectangular
Material: Steel or Alloy frame - both equally popular. Steel frame will hold up quite a bit more than the alloy regardless of gun size.
Common models: Kimber Compact Custom, Springfield Compact

4) Ultra-Compact Kimber/Springfield 3" - 3.6" barrel. This is the compact gun of choice for ppl who like the square shape/balance of the Commander style. The feel of the gun, when held, is that the slide is about as long as the grip, thus giving it that "square" feeling and balance.
Grip size: Officer's (7-round max)
Gun shape: Square
Material: Alloy is most common in this size. Although steel is still available from some makers (heavier but holds up longer)
Common Models: Kimber Ultra-compact, Springfield Ultra-compact

*There are some models based on the Ultra compact that have an even shorter grip (6-round max). These include: Wilson Sentinel and C&S Adventurer.

I hope this has helped a bit. One thing to remember - if you buy a 1911, I strongly urge you to buy a steel-framed gun. The ally-framed 1911's have feed-ramps made out of aluminum and can really affect the reliability of feeding your gun after alot of shooting. The steel-framed guns will always last longer. If you insist on purchasing an aluminum-framed 1911, make sure that the feed-ramp is coated/finished in a hard finish like hard anodizing, or hard chrome. Some companies' upper-end 1911's have this. For example, a Kimber compact with an aluminum frame has an unfinished feed ramp that is polished. It's made out of aluminum and WILL chip/become mutilated after a while. However, the Kimber CDP line all have hard coatings over the feed ramp, which fixes this problem (or puts it off, which way you see it depends on how much you shoot). For people who already have aluminum framed guns who's feed ramps are not coated, I'd highly suggest you get the feed ramp hard-chromed or hard-anodized, so you can shoot more Jacketed Hollow-Point bullets out of your gun without worrying about the feedramp being mutilated.

Think about your choices carefully and shop around..money should only be a secondary consideration when spending it on something that might eventually save your life. It's not a toy, it's an investment.

-Jim

[This message has been edited by Jim.45 (edited 04-21-2001).]
 

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My girlfriend who has only been shooting about 4 months, recently acquired a Kimber Ultra CDP (3" barrel). After three sessions at the range, she's extremely happy with the gun.

The gun is compact (even with an aluminum frame) the recoil is surprisingly manageable (much more so than a friend's .40 cal ultracompact), seems to digest all forms of ammo with no failures to date and it's more accurate than a 3" gun has any right to be :) .
 

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Hey Blue Angel!

I am the one with a Kimber Ultra Elite (now called Ultra CDP) that Billy Ray referenced. The Kimber Ultras do take some getting used to, but once you do, the recoil isn't as bad as Billy Ray says. The guy has hands like a bear, so it probably felt like a big thorn in his paw. With a good grip and a frame that will likely fit you, any of the 1911s with an Officer's size grip should be fine. However, 1911s as you know, are best used by those who practice with them on a regular basis.

I concur that a holster is pretty mandatory. When you do make your gun and holster decisions, be sure you practice from that mode of carry.

By the way, thanks to Nathan and Jim .45 for their apt descriptions of various gun sizes.
 

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Hi, Blue Angel, and welcome to the forum. It looks like most of your questions have been thoroughly answered by the other members who've responded -- all except the one about the Detonics.

You were right to question if they were still being made; they aren't, much to the dismay of those of us who have one. It's a very small 1911-style gun, with a 3.5 in. barrel and a grip frame even shorter (by about 7/16 in.) than that of an Officer's Model or Compact. Mine is stainless steel, frame and slide, and quite heavy for such a small gun, but that weight makes it fairly comfortable to shoot. I don't believe any were ever made using aluminum for the frame. I have rather large hands and can only get my middle and ring fingers around the grip, curling my little finger under the magazine floorplate (with the standard 6-round magazine in place).

If you wanted to buy one, it would have to be a used one. Sorry, mine's not for sale; I like it way too much to sell it.


------------------
Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.
 

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Hey Blue

My wife is about 5' with small hands, and after much experimentation with many pistol designs, the 1911 is still the easiest for her to shoot well. I installed slim grips which made the grip circumference even smaller and it helps with control. Slim grips are available for all size 1911's.

The smaller 1911's will have slightly more recoil than a full size, with the lightweight aluminum frames having the most.

There's more than enough info in the other posts, but I'd recommend that you get a new 1911 from a manufacturer w/warranty or preferably, if you can afford it, a pistol from a shop like Wilson, Novak or other gunsmiths that have had a reliability package done on them - especially with the very small pistols.

Good luck to you!

JSP
 

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If you get an ambi safety and you want thin grips, Chip McCormick is the best way to go. Thin grips are great. I have them on all my 1911s and my wife who shoots a full-size really likes the thin grips on hers as well. With the thin grips, she can ride the safety during shooting and hence has better control of the gun. I find that I can gain rapid access to the controls with just one hand with thin grips, but can't do than with normal grips.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Dear Guys:

Thank you VERY much for all of the information and the care and thought you obviously put into your replies. Special thanks to Jim.45 and Nathan for their lengthy and informative responses.

Also, please accept my apologies for posting in the wrong forum initially.

I will take the advice of Kevinch, Double Naught Spy and Nathan about holsters. Look for my next post asking for holster advice!

Thanks guys. You're great!

BlueAngel
 

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If you want a Colt 1911 type this is what I suggest.
For a CCW I have a Colt Officer Lightweight XS. 25oz. empty. Shorter grip length then full size, 3.5" barrel and a 7 round mag. It's perfect for me for CCW. It's a Colt, It's .45ACP, It's a 1911, and it's light and more importantly comfortable to carry.

The bitch is range shooting. The recoil is a bit much after 50 or so rounds, but that don't bother me because this is a carry gun not a target gun. As far as the alloy frame goes, no need to worry about wear if you are using it as a CCW. Don't have numbers but I suspect that many thousands of rounds will not render it useless.
They make steel inserts for the feed ramp if that is a concern for you. Also you can buy a ramped barrel and have the frame cut for it so the feed ramp is now part of the barrel not the frame.
This will show the size difference between the 5” Government full size and the Officers 3.5”
 

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Originally posted by BlueAngel:

Someone recommended Detonics but that seems to be an unusual name. Are they still made?

No. But they can still be had. Don Johnson (Sunny Crocket) Miami Vice carried one as a back up in a ankle holster. When first released, this remarkable pistol was the smallest, lowest recoil single action .45 caliber semi-automatic in the world.
Based on the 1911 design it will accept Colt officer mags.
It is all steel and a bit heaver than an alloy Colt officer.
The Colt Defender is the closest thing available now with alloy frame and is in current production although hard to get.
Word is Detonics might be coming back. http://www.detonics.com/

Detonics combat Master

Colt Defender
 
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