6 Best 1911s At Every Pricepoint: 9mm and .45 ACP (Hands-On)
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6 Best 1911s At Every Pricepoint: 9mm and .45 ACP (Hands-On)
Brian Zerbian Last Updated 23rd February,2024

Finding the best 1911 pistols has never been easier. Over the past couple of years, the legendary pistol has increased in popularity, and there are more options than ever.

Whether you want the lighter recoil of the 9mm, the classic .45, or the full-power 10mm, there is a 1911 for you.

1911s remain popular for many reasons. Some love the classic look and feel, and others like the muzzle energy and accuracy you get with the heavier all-metal pistol. This makes them more durable, and the weight in the front makes it easier to keep on target.

My favorite 1911 is the Kimber Desert Warrior. While the traditional 1911 has served in many combat zones, the Desert Warrior brings it up to speed and gives you a rail for lights and lasers.

If you’re looking for something more affordable, the Rock Island Armory FS gives you everything you love about the 1911 without the high price tag.

I’ve had plenty of time with both of these pistols. My grandpa is an avid collector of the 1911, and his hobby is buying every one he can get his hands on. To date, we have about 5k rounds through each of them. This list is coming from experience, not a simple Google search.

Keep reading if you want to know what I liked about them and why I recommend them.

Best 1911 Pistols & Recommendations

Kimber Desert WarriorBest Overall – Kimber Desert WarriorCheck Price
Rock Island Armory M1911-A1 GI 10MMBest Value – Rock Island Armory Standard FSCheck Price
Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander 9mm 1911Best High-End – Nighthawk Customs Agent 2 CommanderCheck Price
Wilson Combat 1911 CQB EliteBest Custom – Wilson Combat ACP Full Size Check Price
Staccato PBest 9mm 1911 – Staccato PCheck Price
Staccato CS Best Concealed Carry 1911 – Staccato CSCheck Price

Best Overall – Kimber Desert Warrior


Caliber.45 ACP
Weight40 Ounces
Barrel Length5 Inches
Overall Length 8.7 Inches

Pros & Cons

  • Match grade trigger
  • 1913 Picatinny rail
  • The G10 Tactical Grips have an aggressive texturing
  • Compliant with strict gun law states
  • 24 lines-per-inch front strap checkering
  • The grip texture may be too aggressive for some shooters
  • Pricey

The Kimber Desert Warrior deserves the top spot for many reasons. When I first got my hands on it, I’ll admit, I thought it was too expensive. But it all makes sense when you start putting rounds down range and consider how reliable and accurate it is, along with the craftsmanship.

Kimber Desert Warrior
Kimber Desert Warrior via holtworks/IG

The trigger is reminiscent of the ones you find on the OG 1911 from back in the day, but far crisper and direct. Accuracy is easy to attain, and adding a light to the pistol makes it all the more accurate, thanks to the extra weight in the front.

The Desert Warrior is made from steel, while the grips are G10. Many 1911 fans love the G10 grips for how aggressive and durable they are and how attractive they can be.

It is a bit heavy at 40 ounces, so it likely won’t be your daily carry pistol unless you open carry. This one is suited more for home defense or SHTF; of course, since it was made for the USMC, you don’t have to worry about reliability. But, I would always test a firearm before relying on it, no matter how much it costs.

If you want something more affordable, check out our guide for the best 1911s under $1000 here.

Best Value – Rock Island Armory Standard FS


Caliber.45 ACP
Weight40 Ounces
Barrel Length5 Inches
Overall Length8.54 Inches

Pros & Cons

  • Compliant with strict gun states
  • Extremely affordable 
  • Skeletonized adjustable trigger
  • Skeletonized hammer
  • No Picatinny rail

Sometimes, we get price confused with craftsmanship. It’s true in most cases, though, which is what concerned me about the Rock Island Armory Standard FS. Spending time shooting it changed my mind quickly.

rock island 1911 review sitting against brick wall

While it’s not your Kimber or Nighthawk, the Standard FS is everything you love about the 1911 without any modernization. Aside from the skeletonized trigger, this one screams classic.

The five-inch button rifled barrel is not as accurate as the ones on the more expensive options, but it’s great for defensive purposes.

rock island 1911 review trigger and slide

The Standard FS is steel, like all the other 1911s, but with rubber grips that keep the pistol in your hand no matter the circumstance. It’s a solid option for home defense or the range.

And at the price point you get it for, you’re left with enough for a case of .45 and a ton of range time.

rock island 1911 groupings and range test

You can read our full review here for more information.

If you want a high-end option with all the bells and whistles, keep reading.

Best High-End – Nighthawk Customs Agent 2 Commander


Caliber9mm or .45ACP
Weight38.6 Ounces
Barrel Length4.25 Inches
Overall Length 7.85 Inches

Pros & Cons

  • Match Grade/Crowned barrel for superior accuracy 
  • Custom trigger job set to 3-3.75 Pounds 
  • Cerakote finish to hedge against corrosion
  • Fiber optic front sight and changeable rear sight
  • It’s expensive
  • Trigger pull may be too light for new shooters to use in defensive situations 
  • Non-ambidextrous safety

Nighthawk makes some of the best custom 1911s that the industry has ever seen. And the Agent 2 Commander is no exception. One look at it; you would swear it’s a mantle piece, but this 1911 is no garage queen. It’s built to run forever.

Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander 9mm 1911
Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander via nighthawkcustom

When I got my hands on one for the first time, I was almost scared to shoot it. Mainly because it costs more than my car. Once I felt the craftsmanship and achieved the sub-MOA accuracy (Sellier and Bellot 230 Grain), I knew this was a competition 1911 at its finest.

Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander 9mm 1911
Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander via nighthawkcustom

Made of forged steel, with aggressive serrations and a window cut in the slide, this 1911 is a modern take on an old legend.

It doesn’t just stop at competition; the Agent 2 Commander is also at home on the range. It’s an amazing gun that can handle almost anything.

Best Custom – Wilson Combat ACP Full Size


Caliber9mm or .45 ACP
Capacity8+1 (.45 ACP) or 10+1 (9mm)
Weight41.6 Ounces
Barrel Length5 Inches
Overall Length8.7 Inches

Pros & Cons

  • 1-inch groups at 25 yards guaranteed
  • It comes in three different sizes 
  • Fiber optic front sight
  • Adjustable trigger (3.5-4.5 pounds) 
  • Match grade barrel
  • Non-ambidextrous safety
  • Expensive 
  • Small magazine capacity for 9mm

The Wilson Combat ACP (American Combat Pistol) is one of the best ways to make your 1911 your own. Every one you buy is built the way you want it.

Wilson Combat ACP
Wilson Combat ACP via onlythebestfirearms

You can expect a hefty forged steel frame, a match-grade barrel, and WC’s patented bulletproof parts that are meant to last a lifetime.

My first hands-on experience came from the owner at my local FFL, who has a collection of high-end 1911s. Using S&B 230 Grain, we could consistently print sub-MOA groupings at 25 yards. Plenty of times, I thought I shot through the same hole.

It is heavier than the other 1911s on this list, but one doesn’t complain.

Wilson Combat ACP
Wilson Combat ACP via onlythebestfirearms

With that said, I wouldn’t recommend this pistol for self-defense due to the magazine capacity.

Even with the 9mm, you’re stuck with 10+1 rounds, which should be a crime, especially with a big pistol. But if you’re looking for a collection piece, a range toy, or something to outshoot your friends, you can’t go wrong with the ACP.

Best 9mm 1911 – Staccato P


Capacity17+1 or 20+1
Weight33 Ounces (Steel) or 28 Ounces (Aluminum)
Barrel Length 4.4 Inches
Overall Length 8.1 Inches

Pros & Cons

  • Trusted by 1,500+ Law Enforcement departments.
  • Aluminum or steel options
  • Toolless Dawson Precision recoil system
  • Accessory rail
  • It is built like a tank and shoots like a dream
  • Expensive

The first time I got my hands on the Staccato P, I knew why there was so much hype surrounding this pistol.

Holding one in your hand indicates the finer things in life, and shooting one is an experience within itself.

The Staccato P stands out in a world filled with polymer pistols, as it features a steel or aluminum frame with very little polymer. On the range, it’s the flattest shooting pistol I’ve ever had the pleasure of shooting.

jeff wood hands on review of the staccato p

While it’s a treat to look at, it’s also smooth as butter. Especially when the barrel is replaced with the DLC option, which makes racking the slide easier and more reliable (also thanks to the external extractor), it’s suitable for multiple situations, from competition to duty use.

Overall, it was an easy pick for our list: it’s built in the USA and has been tested and trusted by many law enforcement agencies. Just get your hands on one, and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

hands on review of staccato p

Of course, always test your firearm before trusting it with your life.

Check out our Staccato P review to learn more about one of our favorite DS 1911s.

Best Concealed Carry 1911 – Staccato CS


Weight23 Ounces
Barrel Length3.5 Inches
Overall Length7.1 Inches

Pros & Cons

  • Arguably one of the most accurate CCWs on the market
  • A fluted barrel saves weight and aids in heat dissipation
  • Crisp single-action trigger pull
  • Toolless Dawson Precision recoil system
  • Accessory rail
  • Too light of a trigger pull for new shooters
  • Expensive

Yes, it’s another Staccato. The CS is the ultimate concealed carry pistol on the market. It’s as smooth and easy to shoot as the Staccato P but built and sized for carrying.

Staccato CS mag
Staccato CS via staccato2011/IG

The Staccato CS can also be bought with a stainless steel or diamond-like carbon barrel, the latter aiding in smoother action and the former offering more accuracy.

It’s as accurate as the Staccato P, featuring the same bull barrel. The same recoiling system also helps it feel virtually absent of recoil. Although you feel more recoil since the barrel is shorter, I’ve found it minimal.

Staccato CS
Staccato CS via staccato2011/IG

It is slightly heavier than your polymer-framed pistols, but there are multiple areas where Staccato sheds weight, like the slide, barrel, and grips on the frame.

What’s left is what you need and a little extra to let you know you’re carrying a piece of art.

How We Chose Our Top Picks

When putting this list together, I wanted pistols that were reliable, durable, handsome, and easy to get your hands on. I wanted some affordable options as well.

But, when discussing 1911s, affordability and craftsmanship rarely go hand in hand. If you want affordable durability, buy a Glock.

It wasn’t solely my opinion that resulted in this list; I consulted with many of my shooting team members who are collectors and avid shooters.  

Not only did I test the 1911s on this list, but many of my friends did as well. We put hundreds of rounds through many different 1911s to find out what we liked and disliked and what I should recommend to you, the fine shooter.

In The Market For A 1911? Read This First

Before you go out there and slap your hard-earned money down on the gun counter, there are a few things you should consider. We’ll start with the most important option.

What Are You Buying A 1911 For?

Figuring out what you’re buying a 1911 for is the first step to ensuring you don’t buy something you don’t need or want. For example, some shooters may wish to use a 1911 for self-defense and like the heavier .45 caliber. That eliminates Staccatos and other 2011-style firearms quickly.

Others may solely want a 1911 for the aesthetics and want to collect like my grandpa does. In that case, the field is wide open, and you have a variety to choose from.

It all boils down to what you want from it. If you’re going to carry a 1911, your options become more limited since having a full-size 1911 tucked in your waist will quickly become uncomfortable. You’d want to go with something smaller.

Make sure you also consider the ammo cost if you’re using it for defensive purposes. Not only do you have to worry about training ammo, but you’ll also have to buy defensive ammo.

Do not use training ammo for self-defense.

.45 vs. 9mm

9mm vs .45 ACP

This debate is older than I am. There’s a simple way to look at it, though. 9mm offers higher magazine capacities, and .45 causes a more extensive wound cavity, which knocks down an attacker quickly. As for which one is better, it all depends on the shooter.

Some may say that .45 has more recoil, but I find that to be untrue.

.45 recoil is like someone is pushing the firearm back towards you. 9mm is snappy, like someone pushing the pistol upwards. Just test it for yourself, and you’ll see what I mean.

As long as you’re training the way you should, either or is manageable. I prefer .45 for carrying since you can end an attacker quicker with fewer rounds, which limits the liability of stray rounds. While you have less in the magazine, you can always carry a spare magazine.

But before you choose either, go to your local range and spend time with both options. This will give you a better idea of what you’re up against.

Why Are 1911s So Expensive?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions about 1911s. They are expensive, and there are many reasons for that. But we’ll start from the top.


Springfield 1911 TRP
The 20-LPI checkering is impressive on the Springfield Armory 1911 TRP

Take a look at some of the pistols on this list. There’s far more attention to detail in a Nighthawk Agent 2 Commander and a Staccato than in a mass-produced pistol like a Glock or Sig Sauer.

There’s far more intricacy involved with making a 1911, which is loved by many for its aesthetics, than a workhorse mass-production gun. And that is what raises the price.

Don’t be confused, though. Just because a firearm is more attractive and shoots small groups on the range does not transfer over to how it will act when it’s been dropped in the dirt a few times.

Just look at Garand Thumb’s Muddy Pistol Torture Test –

What is the Hype Around 1911s?

Think about everything in the gun world and how hype can take a product and shoot the price sky high. Everyone and their mother wants a Staccato because it’s the next hot thing on the market.

Sure, the 1911 is a beautiful firearm with an outstanding balance. But if I needed a workhorse, I’m picking up a Glock. In combat or when SHTF, you are far more likely to find spare and replacement parts for your Glock 19 than your 1911.

Government and law enforcement contracts will also skyrocket the price like anything else in the market. Just look at LMT and Knights Armament. They have excellent firearms, but they have a “hype tax.”

My advice: Don’t fall for the hype. Just because you see guys out here dropping thousands of dollars on a 1911 doesn’t mean you should, too. I guarantee they would also grab a Glock if they genuinely needed to rely on their firearm.


Many 1911s were taken into consideration when making this list. Springfield, Ruger, S&W, you name it. While they are all fine firearms, I found the ones on this list to offer more than the rest.

These picks were chosen because they offer everything from durability and reliability to craftsmanship and aesthetics. They may be pricey, but buying a cheap 1911 could leave you wishing you bought a Glock. Trust me, I’ve been there.

These pistols can work in whichever role you put them in, but it all boils down to how you feel when using them. This list is for those who genuinely want the novelty of a 1911.

No matter which one you pick, I don’t think you’ll have any buyer’s remorse. As I said before, test each firearm thoroughly before relying on it with your life. No gun is perfect, no matter how much you pay for it.

Be good and take care.