The 1911 is one of if not the most iconic pistols of all time. But is it the worst gun for cops, as some say? To this day, over 100 years after its inception, it is still one of the finest pistols you will fire on the range. It has seen action in wars ranging from World War I through to the modern era. The United States Military procured millions of 1911 pistols during its service life from 1911 to the mid-1980s as the main duty pistol.
This pistol is not only preferred by many competitors out there, but has been widely carried in the law enforcement and security contracting world as well. Units ranging from within the FBI, MARSOC, Rangers, Delta and others have all used the 1911 at some point.
So, with so many polymer-framed, striker-fired pistols available today, does the 1911 still have what it takes for LE use? The new Springfield 1911 Operator was built with this kind of purpose, as well as for civilian defensive use, and we are going to explore why I think this 1911 and others like it as well as the new 1911 DS Prodigy “double-stack” are still some of the most relevant pistols on the market today. But. remember our original question? How does it stack up for LE use? Is it still as relevant a design as it was in 1911, or is it simply too antiquated today for modern LE usage?
First, we must examine what made the 1911 such a good pistol that served not only citizens but the nation and military so well. The first element of the 1911 pistol anyone is going to bring up is the trigger. The linear pull of the 1911 trigger and the overall crisp feeling of it is something just about every other style of gun chases to this day. No one has gotten it as good as a 1911.
The second part making the 1911 so good is its ergonomics. The less aggressive grip angle just fits most people’s wrists and body mechanics very naturally. The safety and reliability of the design is also a well-proven attribute of quality 1911 pistols like the Operator I have been testing out.
With all of these positives, it’s no wonder that I have observed in my daily work that the 1911 is making a big comeback as a duty pistol for police officers and is still so relevant. But why do I say making a comeback? Well, simply put, because more and more agencies are allowing officers to choose their own duty pistols for work purposes.
It is amazing for me to see how many officers flock to stores in order to purchase their own 1911’s for duty rather than use an issued pistol. I know the agency I worked at finally allowed officers to carry their preferred pistols, and within days there were dozens of us scheduling qualifications to get certified on our new 1911 pistols. The most common statement when asked why officers were going to the 1911 was, “It’s just better in every way.”
The Choice of Performance
In my experience, modern law enforcement agencies are figuring out that pistols are not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, and when officers are allowed to carry a pistol they are more comfortable with and likely will perform better with it is a win-win situation for the officers and the agency. I mean think about it this way — happy employees , better accuracy and performance, and the agency gets to save money on the number of pistols they have to issue.
In modern law enforcement carry, the 1911 not only gives performance in a refined package but an additional level of safety with a good retention holster. The manual thumb safety ensures conscious thought process while operating the pistol, but in an intuitive and easy-to-use form factor — even under stress. The grip safety ensures the end-user has a firm primary hand grip and position during the firing process, providing better control.
And for those who think .45-caliber rounds are too much for some to control, especially under stressful situations, Springfield has 9mm versions as well such as the new 1911 DS Prodigy. With modern ammo, .45 caliber and 9mm rounds are going to provide performance that far surpasses the ammunition of the past.
The legacy and history of the 1911 is still being written to this day. While some may like to argue that the design is too old with too many complicated controls, my experience would seem to argue the opposite. With the resurgence of not only law enforcement use but also many owners of every kind once again turning to the 1911 as a primary pistol, I believe the legacy of the pistol will live on for a very long time. The only choice you have now is to pick the caliber for your new 1911!
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