August 4, 2013

Smith & Wesson 1911 .45 ACP

The SW1911 operates with two functional variations on traditional 1911 design. The first variation is an externally mounted extractor. John Browning himself saw the extractor as the one weak point in the 1911 system and developed the external design to enhance reliability and maintenance. The second difference is in the control of the firing pin via the grip safety. Depress the grip safety and the firing pin is free to move forward. This is very similar to the Swartz system that was adapted for use in the Kimber Type II pistols, but Smith & Wesson has claimed new patents on its variation.

Elsewhere, another difference between Smith & Wesson and many other firearms companies is that Smith & Wesson is a manufacturer and not merely an importer of complete pistols or of parts that they assemble in stateside factories. Industry buzz says that in fact, Smith & Wesson has been manufacturing frames and slides for other companies that produce 1911 pistols.

Now it is Smith & Wesson’s turn. We received our 1911 just weeks before its official introduction at the 2003 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show. This new pistol was finished in handsome satin stainless with distinctive gold graphics. Cocking serrations were cut on the front and back of the slide. Novak low-mount three-dot sights were dovetailed into place. Lockup was via a bushing with a full-length guide rod. The grips were a tasteful black rubber. The mainspring housing was also black and cleanly checkered. Other black accents were the beavertail grip safety, the slide release, left-side-only thumb safety and checkered magazine-release button. The hammer is skeletonized with the sides polished, but the interior of its sculpture and the outer surface continues the theme of using a black contrast. Two eight-round magazines were supplied. We measured the single-action trigger to break at exactly 4 pounds.

Smith & Wesson 1911 .45 ACP

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Smith & Wesson's first 1911 is a handsome, reliable no nonsense sidearm with lifetime guarantee.

When we fired this gun over five different range sessions, we were impressed when it delivered five-shot groups of 3.0 inches and under with virtually every scrap of ammunition we could find in our closet. Most groups were in the 2.7-inch range. If the SW1911 is not a top-grade target pistol, then it is among the most consistent shooting pistols we have seen come off an assembly line in some time. This is not an inexpensive pistol nor is it out of the ballpark, either. It is our impression that the design intent of this pistol was for its designers to hear someone someday refer to the SW 1911 pistol as “old reliable.” We had no failures to feed, extraction issues, or any other problem.

Comments (13)


Posted by: RHW698 | October 14, 2009 9:48 PM    Report this comment

I would defer to the gunsmith as I am sure he has had more first hand experience than I with using it in guns.

Posted by: terranova | August 12, 2009 9:10 PM    Report this comment

To answer your query as to whether it is stronger or tougher. It is both in the proper applications. And lighter than aluminum!! As I said it does have its limitations. Mfg cost being a biggie.

Posted by: terranova | August 12, 2009 9:08 PM    Report this comment

As I understood it the titanium was shredded. Whether by,pressure,heat or force from spinning the round I don't know. But the sleeved barrels worked just fine. I don't know of any titanium barrels being used for rifles, handguns etc. There would be a considerable cost factor. I don't believe the effort would be cost effective.

Posted by: terranova | August 12, 2009 9:06 PM    Report this comment

When you say titanium is "stronger" than steel, do you mean hardness or toughness? Your example of a rifled barrel confuses me. Did the barrel fail because it was too soft, too hard, too tough, or too brittle? My gunsmith disdains titanium in fire control, cylinder, extractor, or ejector parts, says they are too soft to take the pounding. For frames & slides he says it's okay, if you don't work them too hard. Is he right?


Posted by: Lee W | August 11, 2009 11:05 PM    Report this comment

Titanium is much stronger than steel. As a result it is difficult to machine. It is a much better material for some purposes. However it is totally useless as a barrel!! The US Army had the idea of making cannon barrels for tanks out of titanium. A good idea to save weight, but after a couple (2!!) rounds the rifling would tear away. So the barrels have to be sleeved with old fashioned ordnance steel. For firing pins it would be great. Less inertia, faster strike time!

Posted by: terranova | August 11, 2009 6:53 PM    Report this comment

Can somebody teach me about titanium? I always thought that titanium was softer than steel, causing problems with peening of titanium firing pins and hammers, subsequent failure-to-fire from light primer strikes, with a negligable effect on lock time. Izzat true?


Posted by: Lee W | August 9, 2009 5:37 PM    Report this comment

First of all, it's a "Swartz" firing pin safety, not a "Schwartz". Second, they now have several models offered without the firing pin safety.

Posted by: KCSHOOTER | August 7, 2009 9:09 AM    Report this comment

I own both the stainless and a lightweight, commander length versions. Of the several 1911s I own, these two are my favourites--they outshoot all the rest, Taurus, Colt, Griffon, Kimber. I carry the SC model as my duty pistol as well as off-duty. The stainless one I bought used after someone else had sent it to Wilson Combat for some goodies--most accurate gun I own with a 3 pound trigger--sweet.

Posted by: Bones of Elisha | August 7, 2009 5:46 AM    Report this comment

I am sure it's an excellent pistol, but over 50 years too late. My Taurus .45 is more accurate than the tested piece and cost less than half. More traditional looking, too!

Posted by: DOUGLAS W | August 6, 2009 2:14 PM    Report this comment

Very reliable. Changed to an arched housing and, for now, it's perfect.

Posted by: FrankSoCal | August 6, 2009 11:29 AM    Report this comment

Great Gun! I immediately fell in love with the look. Especially with the slightly more subdued laser etching. Because I like a faster lock time and have short fingers I fitted a short match grade trigger, titanium hammer strut and mainspring cap and was never happier with a 1911. I like it so much I bought the S&W 1911sc. S&W's lightwieght scandium frame commander length for CWW.

Posted by: anthony B | August 6, 2009 10:48 AM    Report this comment

Always a S&W fan. Just wish I could aford to show my respect with purchases more often.
Owner and loyal true beliver that the 4506 is a better all around .45 than any of the 1911's

Posted by: slfree | August 6, 2009 10:17 AM    Report this comment

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