View Full Version : Most "reliable" M1911

3rd December 2008, 19:44
Okay, I am sure this has been asked before in some form, but I've combed the threads, and have at least missed it if this query already exists:

I have two Kimber .45s, both wonderful guns. So long as I am in my normal situation here in suburbia, and keep on top of them, they'll function well. But if I run cheaper ammo, or miss a cleaning, they can get finicky and even foul to the point of failing to fully cycle.

I am now looking for a solid .45 ACP pistol that I can equate as being like a Glock, or an AK47, or perhaps a WWII Mil-Spec .45; a weapon, that if conditions exist (theoretical civil breakdown/anarchy) can go extended periods without a cleaning (to a point of course), and will eat any ammo you happen to find for it and function reliably.

Slap me if I'm asking a dumb question, but recommendations are welcome.


3rd December 2008, 20:40
So what you are asking is what is the most reliable 45 in crummy conditions, like getting dropped in the mud and maltreated. Such circumstances automatically exclude finely fitted 45s with tight tolerances - Kimbers being fairly tight - and probably any 45 that has a MIM part. I think you answered your question when you mentioned WWII mil spec, as the Colts of that period were known to keep operating in bad conditions. Now that Colt has started using CNC machinery, I suspect their tolerances are tighter, and I believe they now even use a few MIM parts. Maybe find an older Colt? I'll bet the Colt people will chime in and say Colts are still the best in bad circumstances!

On the other hand, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to be able to keep a modern 45 in top operating condition - reasonably clean and lubricated. Of course any gun should be tested for reliability, and to be perfectly safe perhaps all MIM parts should be replaced with ones made of real steel.

You know that the soldiers in foxholes in WWII spent a lot of time caring for their weapons so that they wouldn't let them down when needed. Of course an M-1 only needed a couple of ounces of oil to be poured on top of the action to keep working!

Of course if you don't care about ergonomics, looks, pointability, etc., you could always get a Glock.

3rd December 2008, 22:16
My experience has primarily been with upper end, tight guns (Les Baer, Nighthawk, etc.) and I've found them to be completely reliable and to not require much pampering (see http://forum.m1911.org/showpost.php?p=428745&postcount=25).

However, I think ammunition will always be the "weak link" with auto-loaders. Because they feed from a magazine and rely on recoil energy to operate, they will be somewhat sensitive to out-of-spec or questionable ammunition. For that reason, although the 1911 is always my first pick, I think it's a good idea to have a .357 Magnum revolver around as well.


3rd December 2008, 22:20
Hey Gandaf61- I should have said this before-- welcome to the forum from another Air Force retiree! A little older- I retired in '84! Entered service several years before you were born- first in the Army before I got smart!

Kimbers are known for having tight bores and chambers, for better accuracy. I have 2, plus some customs. I can't imagine being in a situation where I had to scrounge dirty ammo of unknown source, and the guns I have are all tested with the ammo I have for them. That being said, most 45 problems are magazine related and not the gun's fault. Also, some, but certainly not all, of the shorter barreled 45s have trouble with the more pointy JHPs, so it always is a good idea to use rounds with the more standard profile. For instance, my 3" Kimber does not like the CorBon DPX because of its shape - others have the same gun with no problem with this ammo. Thus you can't generalize and say that all guns from one company will be perfect for everything - each has to be tested. I think you will see problems reported for every make on this forum. Now some of the custom smiths won't make a 45 shorter than the commander size because reliability issues increase. So first of all I would stick to a 5".

I don't have any experience with new Colts, but I suspect they are still the all-around most reliable, especially in the standard 5" size. They may not be the tack drivers like the Nighthawks, Wilsons, and Les Baers, but they sound like more of what you are after--and more affordable too.

I did some shooting both for Army and Air Force teams (not The teams), and our Colts were always carefully worked over by our armorers. I wouldn't want to take one of those guns into combat or crummy conditions! And being old-fashioned, I still trust steel guns more than alloy. I do own 2 pistols with alloy frames, and one AR-15 type, but I really like steel guns much better. On the other hand, I'd hate to have to carry my Noveske if it was made all of steel!

3rd December 2008, 22:36
I have S&W 1911's and Kimbers and I have yet to have a problem with any of them. That's 2 of each make. Of course now I don't think any have fired more than 200rds at one time without being cleaned and lubed. Now I have run a lot of junk through them as I reload, and until I find the right load for the pistol I run the loads up and down the scale. I also shoot a lot of lead in them. In fact all lead except for defense rounds. Those are store bought HP's.

4th December 2008, 00:04
In my opinion Colt does the best job in building the most reliable pistol.
They have been doing it the longest.

I have neglected my Gold Cup Trophy and 1991A1 many times and both have yet to have a pistol failure.

4th December 2008, 09:20
I am now looking for a solid .45 ACP pistol that I can equate as being like a Glock, or an AK47, or perhaps a WWII Mil-Spec .45
The answer is in your question.

Colt M1991A1, Springfield GI, or Springfield Mil-Spec. Get a full size 5" version and run 7 round Colt hybrid mags and you can easily match the Glock's reliability.

4th December 2008, 09:40
Colt M1991A1, Springfield GI, or Springfield Mil-Spec. Get a full size 5" version and run 7 round Colt hybrid mags and you can easily match the Glock's reliability.

There is your answer. Well except that the NRM Colts are just model O1991 ;) If you could find an ORM M1991A1 parkerized that would be swell too if it is either NIB or at least unmolested...

My order of preference would be Colt O1970CS (series 70 reproduction) Colt O1991 (1991 series .45 ACP) Colt O1918 (WW1 Reproduction) Springfield MilSpec and Springfield GI.

If you prefer stainless the Colts would be O1070CS and O1091.

Both the GI and WW1 reproduction have small sights, I would say whether or not you remove these from consideration depends on how well you can use the sights

I wouldn't even consider any other manufacturer.

Thats just my two cents though. ;)

Iron bottom
7th December 2008, 07:30
IMO, magazines make the gun. The AK, HK and Glock have very few magazine problems. I would go with AK and HK. I have a number of Colts I would not part with, but the AK and the Glock have been proven to be reliable.

7th December 2008, 08:04
Do a search on this forum for "torture test". You'll find several stories of our members who have put various brands and models through some rigorous tests.

Here's one that made me decide on a Springfield model for my first M1911 pistol:

Springfield Torture Test (http://forum.m1911.org/showthread.php?t=114&highlight=torture+test)