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Compact 1911s at the range

This is a discussion on Compact 1911s at the range within the Range Reports forums, part of the Gunner Forum category; Don't know if this is of any interest to you folks, but I think it might contain some useful info, all the same. There have ...


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Old 12-09-2016, 08:58 AM   #1
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Compact 1911s at the range

Don't know if this is of any interest to you folks, but I think it might contain some useful info, all the same. There have been some new developments in the 1911 world and it concerns compact 1911s.

There was a day when the routine advice with 1911s was not to drop down less than 4" or so on barrel length for the sake of reliability. The compact 3" barrel 1911s with shortened grips for the sake of carry, also known as the Officer 1911 models, were supposed to be iffy on reliability as well as being ammo fussy. Beware.

Not so anymore, thanks to modern engineering. Here's two stunning beauties that prove it. Top gun is the Sig Ultra Compact in 45 auto. Bottom gun is the STI Escort, also in 45 auto. Both have a 7+1 capacity and barrels right about 3.25"



While these two may look identical, they are different enough for me to justify keeping both. The Sig wears night sights and weighs in at about 28 ounces. Also has thicker grips. Overall, the gun has a very solid feel. Definitely designed with shooting in mind.


The Escort is quite a bit lighter at just under 23 ounces with thinner grips. Very much a dedicated carry gun, but it also has a combat adjustable rear sight which I love for a woods carry gun. Lets me sight in at ranges beyond normal self-defense ranges, if need be.


What's the secret of these guns? This new breed of 1911 Compact uses a bull barrel without a bushing and a double recoil spring setup to handle the recoil. This also helps to tame some of the recoil in the lightweight 1911s.


This setup also produces some truly remarkable accuracy. Both guns will compete with full size 1911s at typical 1911 ranges. In fact, the Sig Ultra Compact will outshoot some full size 1911s I have owned. It totally defies the notion that you have to give up accuracy with a compact handgun. It takes a lot to impress me with accuracy, but this Sig 1911 Ultra Compact blows me away with its accuracy.







The lighter, more svelte STI is no slouch, either.




And, of course, there is the matter of reliability. As to that, both guns have been perfect, 100%, right out of the box with a wide variety of factory ammo and using various magazines. Does not get any better in any kind of a handgun.

The only problem I've had with these two is deciding which one to carry. Nice problem to have.
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Old 12-09-2016, 09:22 AM   #2
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Thanks for that report.
I'd always heard they were not reliable. A bull barrel makes a lot of sense for recoil and momentum.
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Old 12-09-2016, 12:06 PM   #3
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The problem for shorter 1911s is timing. You have less distance for the slide to travel so it moves faster and with long guns made shorter the components can't always keep up. These newer short guns seem to be engineered for the timing needed and do much better than the older models which were just shortened full sized gun s to a large extent. I had some problems with my Colt Lightweight Officer Model (alloy frame, 3 1/2" barrel) but a little tweaking got it running reliably. The recoil in the light gun was hard on the arthritis so I traded it off. My Seecamp DA is the same size but built from a Combat Commander with steel frame so it is much more comfortable. After some fiddling it seems to be reliable too.

Those look like great self defense carry guns. Nothing seems quite as pugnacious as a small 1911 in .45 ACP.
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Old 12-09-2016, 12:28 PM   #4
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A couple of beauties again.
As for which one to carry...... a double holster rig with one on each hip.
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Old 12-09-2016, 12:46 PM   #5
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You guys know more about this stuff than I do and I let my simple logic get in the way at times, but shouldn't the slide travel the same distance on these 45's as they do on the full size? They need to extract and load the same size cartridge ? Learn me Mac.
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Old 12-09-2016, 01:06 PM   #6
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A slide that is 1 1/2" shorter can not move as far. The full size slide moves farther than it has too. This over travel gives more time for the recoil spring to absorb energy and for the magazine spring to push the column of cartridges up against the feed lips. If the slide is shorter than there is less over travel. The next cartridge must move up faster or the slide will return over it before it gets in the way. The spring must be stronger to absorb the energy in less space, and the slide moves faster because it is lighter.Some magazine vendors like McCormick make Plus pressure springs to improve reliability in shorter guns. There is of course a minimum distance the slide must travel, but the longer guns move more to give everything time to happen in turn. The shorter guns don't have the extra space so things happen faster. Reliability used to suffer.
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Old 12-09-2016, 01:12 PM   #7
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I do like that Sig. It says Exeter, NH which is next town over from us. At 28 oz can't be too bad to carry IWB or OWB. Now it's working up to a gotta have. Are the grips original? Saw one on Buds but different grips and the mag doesn't look flush.

https://www.budsgunshop.com/catalog/...XTREME+BLK+GRY
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Old 12-09-2016, 01:15 PM   #8
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Remember that the recoil spring does not effect the delay in opening. A 1911 will safely shoot with no recoil spring. The delay in opening is a function of slide mass and inertia. A shorter slide will move back faster. The spring just stores the energy of the slide so it does not slam against the frame and uses it to close the slide and lock things up.

The faster slide speed and shorter travel really reduce cycle time. With a strong recoil spring and a light slide the slide can come back over the magazine before the cartridge rises enough to be striped out and the slide can close on an empty chamber or it can push the cartridge out at the wrong angle and cause a jam.
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Old 12-09-2016, 01:19 PM   #9
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The Officer sized Colts used a shorter barrel bushing to allow enough travel. This is why many newer ones eliminated the bushing. You can see in the pictures the short engagement length at the barrel front.
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Old 12-09-2016, 01:22 PM   #10
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Thanx Mac if I understand you correctly the full size 1911's travel more than the minimum amount necessary and these micros travel closer to the minimum amount necessary to cycle a new round?
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Old 12-09-2016, 01:26 PM   #11
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What Mac said, Dennis. He's the man that knows.

Seabee, I've actually considered shooting them one in each hand, just for kicks. Neither one has an ambi safety, so there's my excuse to add yet another one for use with my left hand, right? Okay, now back to the real world.

Terry, yes, that's the way it comes out of the box. The one you show in the link could still be factory, because Sig has a tendency to make unpteeen variations on their 1911s and these come and go all the time and that's not even counting their special runs for distributors and the like. Kind of hard to see, but I can maybe just make out a Sig Sauer imprint on the grip. ??? Mine is the Ultra Compact. The one in the pic is what they are calling the Extreme.

You probably noticed these aren't cheap. Typical Sig.
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Old 12-09-2016, 01:29 PM   #12
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Exactly, Sir.

Technically they only have to travel back far enough for the next cartridge to rise up in front of the breech but the over travel gives the cartridges time to move up. Six or seven .45s is a bit of weight and inertia. The spring needs time to accelerate the slide forward before it tries to strip out the cartridge from the feed lips , too. A little extra travel makes this all easier and more reliable.

The full length guns feel nicer, less sharp, in their cycle. I like this.
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Old 12-09-2016, 01:33 PM   #13
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Thank you, Ma'am, but I sit at your knee and listen attentively to the wisdom.

I have always had a bug about 1911s and thought the compact ones were the ultimate for some time. Now I tend to like the full sized ones best. Nothing has that same feel and look. Kind of like an N frame S&W.
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Old 12-09-2016, 01:56 PM   #14
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Love all sizes in these darn things, but for the sake of shooting, the full size guns still rule. The commander is still my all around favorite, though. I have no hesitation to carry this one, another Sig, my commander sized Sig Scorpion.


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Old 12-09-2016, 02:10 PM   #15
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The Commander was always my least favorite. The shorter slide does little for me as the but was always the hard one to conceal.

Years ago some people would fit a Commander slide to an Officer frame. It had the proportional look of a full size while being easier to conceal. I liked this but could not even think about using two guns to make one. I couldn't really afford one good one. I had a Kimber Crimson Carry for a while. It was full size but with an alloy frame so it carried well. Nice idea but I decided to stay with steel frames so I sold it. It did have a nice balance and feel.



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Old 12-09-2016, 03:16 PM   #16
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How'd that Kimber shoot for you? Nice looking gun. Have never used a laser on a gun, before. Just curious.
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Old 12-09-2016, 03:31 PM   #17
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It shot well, but not nearly as well as it would have shot for you.

Kimbers are nicely fitted and the trigger pull was good. It was more accurate than I am and easy to hit with.

I started using a Lasergrip when I carried the J frame as I could not see the gray sights well in poor light or without my glasses. It is good under those conditions but in good light it is slower than iron sights so they are an addition to me, not a replacement for good sights. I paid a hundred dollars extra to have night sites installed when I bought it. I find the laser a good training and practice tool as well. I put one on a steel Mod 36 I have for my wife so she could learn the DA trigger pull with snap caps. It shows the motion of the gun and really improved it.It is also good for learning point shooting as it shows where the gun is pointing when the hammer falls.





The Kimber came with it and I sold it with the grip but I bought an identical one from TGR should I wish to put it on my old GI 1911.
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Old 12-09-2016, 04:00 PM   #18
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Thanks. Nice of you to say, but I'm sure you're no slouch with a 1911, either.

I've been thinking of using a laser for the same training purposes for Bill. He's still very much in that learning stage for pistol shooting, plus I think he might get a kick out of using one. We'll think about it.
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Old 12-09-2016, 05:16 PM   #19
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At my best I wasn't close to your level, and I am far from that time. Your skill is truly awesome and inspirational.

The laser is very useful for training. With my wife I set her up so she could practice as she watched her soap operas. It was remarkable how the dot waved around as she pulled the trigger and then settled down as she worked it. It shows a lot.

The Lasergrip on the 638 was also an excellent grip for the revolver, aside from the laser. It was just big enough compared to the rubber boot grip to allow the pinky to work, yet was very concealable. It was plastic so it did not grab cloth like the rubber, yet the molded in checkering gave good control. It gave me good confidence, yet I wore it for ten years and no one knew, even when crawling under equipment or working closely with people. It hid under a tee shirt or an untucked work shirt.
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Old 12-09-2016, 05:17 PM   #20
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The grip on the Mod 36 is rubber and gives a better hold when maximum concealment isn't needed.
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