SDS Imports Tisas 1911 A1 US Army 45 WG, 0100523 45 Auto

The SDS was the least expensive pistol, was also mostly a clone of the original M1911A1, had great accuracy, and ran well.


When was the original M1911 adopted by the U.S. Military? As you might guess, the year was 1911, and the first model, the M1911, was used by General Black Jack Pershing’s expeditionary force of horse cavalry units to chase down Pancho Villa along the New Mexico and Mexico border in 1916. The M1911 was also used in WWI. Most modern 1911 pistol models take after the early M1911s, which had a flat mainspring housing and long trigger. Also, the iconic double-diamond checkered grips debuted on the M1911.

The U.S. Military made a few tweaks to the M1911 after the war that included a thicker front sight, long hammer spur, and arched mainspring housing, and a relief cut on the frame/receiver behind the trigger. These changes made this pistol more user friendly, and it was designated the M1911A1. Wood grips were replaced with checkered plastic grips, too. This model went on to be used in WWII and every other minor and major conflict or action until 1985, when the M1911A1 was dropped by U.S. ranks for the Beretta M9. The Marines and Army Special Forces still use 1911s, but they are modern models vastly different from the originals. All U.S. military 1911s are chambered in 45 Auto. The similarities with modern interpretations of 1911s end there.

GI and Mil-Spec–style 1911s are what many 1911 manufacturers call no-frills, plain-jane 1911 models. These models are stripped of any modern upgrades, such as accessory rails, snag-free or adjustable sights, magwells, extended beavertails, textured front grip straps, and a lot more. Typically, these models mimic some characteristics of the original 1911s Uncle Sam bought in the last century.

We requisitioned four GI/Mil-Spec style 1911s in 45 Auto to see how different they are from the originals and to see if these old combat pistols could still be used as defensive handguns. The four guns included the Taylor’s & Co. Full Size A1 1911, the Rock Island Armory GI Standard FS, the SDS Imports Tisas 1911 A1 U.S. Army 45 WG, and the Springfield Armory Defend Your Legacy Series 1911 Mil-Spec. The Rock Island, SDS, and Springfield pistols are closer to the amended M1911A1, while the Taylor’s is more like an original M1911. The Rock Island and Taylor’s were manufactured in the Philippines by Armscor, the SDS is made in Turkey by Tisas, and the Springfield Armory pistol is made in the U.S.

Generally speaking all four of these 1911s feature the classic dome shaped slide, tiny fixed sights, rear-only fine slide serrations, small beavertail safety spurs, plain grips, barrel bushing, lanyard loop, and spur hammers. All use a Series 70 internals which does not have a firing pin block and true to the original design. Since they all use a GI-stye bushing disassembly is easy and there is no need for extra tools. It’s the details that separate them from each other and originals and we will get into that later.

How We Tested

Accuracy testing took place at 25 yards away, and speed shooting was performed at 7 yards, where we ran the Mozambique Drill or Failure Drill — two rounds to center of mass and one round in the head of Thompson Targets B27 Stop targets, which present center-of-mass and head immobilization zones. Test ammo consisted of FMJ ball ammo and hollow points. Armscor 230 grains and Remington UMC 185 grains rounded out the FMJ ammo. We noticed the Remington ammo had the best accuracy across all the pistols. Defense ammo was 45 Auto +P Hornady Critical Duty 220-grain FlexLocks. We wouldn’t use +P ammo in an original 1911, but these modern clones are capable of handling the extra pressure. A steady diet of +P ammo will batter any pistol, and there was more recoil with the +P load, which manhandled the slide fast and hard. The Remington and Hornady loads produced noticeably more recoil than the Armscor ammo. The recoil was very tolerable, but the inside of some right-handed testers’ shooting-hand thumbs were rubbed raw on the bottom edge of the thumb safeties.

The SDS is very similar to an M1911A1. It was the only gun in the test with double-diamond grip panels.

For concealed carry of these pistols, we used the Falco A105 Falcon IWB holster, belt, and ammo-pouch set from, $220, which allowed us to comfortably carry these heavy full-size 1911s. All three pieces of the rig wore a deep mahogany color. This leather is manufactured in Slovakia, and, like with all leather holsters, took some time to break in. We left one of the 1911s in the holster for a week, then repeatedly drew and re-holstered the gun to break in the leather. There was no retention device on this holster, just the friction of the leather against steel. We found the holster comfortable to wear, and it provided fast access to the 1911s. The belt is plenty sturdy to support the weight of these pistols, too. Both the holster and ammo pouch uses a sturdy metal clip that clamps onto the belt.

At the range, we averaged 2- to 2.2-inch five-shot groups at 25 yards across all four pistols, but as you can see in the range data, some pistols had moments when they absolutely shone, shooting tiny groups well under 2 inches. At 7 yards, these pistols were surgical. We did not experience any hammer bite, even though all the pistols had smaller grip-safety spurs compared to a modern beavertail. Also, we noticed that the Mil-Spec-style magazine releases do not extend from the frame as much as magazine buttons on more modern guns. To adjust, we had to change our shooting grip to completely press the button and drop the magazine. Also, we swapped magazines between all the pistols with no issues. The Springfield Armory and Tisas pistols used magazines truer to originals in design, while the Rock Island Armory and Taylor’s magazine designs were more modern and incorporated a bumper pad.

We had two failure-to-fire jams with Tisas and three with the Springfield, and none with the Rock Island Armory and Taylor’s. We re-oiled the Tisas and Springfield guns, which took care of the malfunctions. By the end of the test, all the guns were running extremely well. Here are the details of how they did.

Gun Tests Grade: A (BEST BUY)


We had a reader ask for a review of this SDS, and we are glad he asked. The SDS is made by Tisas in Turkey and looked like an M1911A1 fresh off the assembly line circa 1943. In the hard case were two steel magazines, an extra set of checkered plastic grips, bushing wrench, and cleaning rod and brush.

ActionSemi-auto, locked breech single action
Overall Length8.5 in.
Overall Height5.5 in.
Maximum Width1.3 in.
Weight Unloaded37.0 oz.
Weight Loaded46.1 oz.
Barrel5.0 in.
Capacity7+1 (single stack)
SlideParkerized steel
Slide Retraction Effort21.0 lbs.
FrameParkerized steel
Frame Front Strap Height2.6 in.
Frame Back Strap Height3.2 in.
Grips(1 set each) checkered walnut, checkered plastic
Grip Thickness (max)1.3 in. (wood grips)
Grip Circumference (max)5.5 in. (wood grips)
SightsRound post front/fixed notch rear
Trigger Pull Weight5.6 lbs.
Trigger Span Single Action2.6 in.
Magazines(2) steel
SafetyThumb safety, beavertail grip
Warranty1 year
Made InTurkey

The pistol has a nice Parkerized finish that is a bit olive-drab in color rather than black. The grips on the gun are classic double-diamond checkered walnut. It is a smart-looking clone. The M1911A1 features include an arched mainspring housing, relief cuts on both sides of the frame just behind the trigger, a shortened trigger, an elongated grip-safety spur, small thumb-safety lever, lanyard loop, and a wide hammer spur.

Both the SDS at left and the Springfield Armory gun had early FTF jams. A drop of oil cured the situations, and both pistols ran flawlessly afterward.

In hand, the SDS has fuller feel with the wood grips. The slide sports the small rounded-post front sight and small-notch fixed rear sight. The ejection port has been lowered slightly, no doubt to improve reliability. The fine slide serration are vertical like originals. The markings on the left side of the slide read “Model 1911A1 U.S. Army” which is not exactly original markings on an A1. Multiple manufacturers built the A1s during WWII and markings vary. The steel barrel is Parkerized on the SDS like wartime guns that were churned out of the factories as quick as possible.

The trigger is checkered for nicely gripping your trigger finger. The hammer spur and magazine-release button are also checkered. The arched housing is serrated and includes a built in lanyard loop like on originals.

Original wartime guns had horrible triggers, but the SDS had a trigger-pull weight of 5.6 pounds, which is tolerable. Reloads with the SDS were tricky because of the lanyard loop. Slap the magazine home like you do with a modern 1911, and you jam the loop into your palm. Magazines with bumper pads alleviate jamming your palm with the loop.

The steel Parkerized magazines are the original design with a seven-round capacity and are slightly harder to load, especially the first round, due to the design of the follower.

The SDS performed well in the speed test even with an initial FTF jam. A drop of oil cured the issue, and the pistol ran well. It was easy to control with milder Armscor ammo, but the hot Hornady ammo required us to hang onto the pistol. No texture on the front grip strap makes a big difference. In accuracy testing, the SDS gave us the best group with the Remington UMC ammo that measured an astounding 0.98 inches at 25 yards, even with the minimalist sights and mediocre trigger pull. With the Hornady defense ammo, the best group opened up to 2.02 inches. On average with all the different ammos, group size averaged a solid 1.71 inches. We were impressed with this pistol’s accuracy.

Our Team Said: The SDS offers a lot value and performance in a gun that looks like a brand-new M1911A1. If you are looking for a near-period-correct M1911A1 that you won’t be afraid to shoot, this is your choice.

45 ACP Range Data

To collect accuracy data, we fired five-shot groups from a bench using a rest. Distance: 25 yards with open sights. We recorded velocities using a ProChrono digital chronograph set 15 feet from the muzzle.
Hornady Critical Duty 220-grain FlexLockRock Island GI Standard FSSDS Imports (Tisas) 1911 A1 US ArmySpringfield Armory 1911 Mil-SpecTaylor’s & Co. Full Size A1 1911
Average Velocity1004 fps1015 fps1020 fps1028 fps
Muzzle Energy492 ft.-lbs.503 ft.-lbs.508 ft.-lbs.516 ft.-lbs.
Smallest Group2.15 in.2.02 in.2.06 in.1.52 in.
Average Group2.20 in.2.33 in.2.16 in.2.07 in.
Armscor 230-grain FMJRock Island GI Standard FSSDS Imports (Tisas) 1911 A1 US ArmySpringfield Armory 1911 Mil-SpecTaylor’s & Co. Full Size A1 1911
Average Velocity881 fps880 fps889 fps887 fps
Muzzle Energy396 ft.-lbs.396 ft.-lbs.404 ft.-lbs.402 ft.-lbs.
Smallest Group2.65 in.1.60 in.2.25 in.1.35 in.
Average Group2.77 in.1.68 in.2.28 in.1.80 in.
Remington UMC 180-grain FMJRock Island GI Standard FSSDS Imports (Tisas) 1911 A1 US ArmySpringfield Armory 1911 Mil-SpecTaylor’s & Co. Full Size A1 1911
Average Velocity1017 fps1039 fps1027 fps1038 fps
Muzzle Energy413 ft.-lbs.432 ft.-lbs.422 ft.-lbs.431 ft.-lbs.
Smallest Group1.79 in.0.98 in.1.24 in.1.80 in.
Average Group1.85 in.1.12 in.1.53 in.1.96 in.
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Robert Sadowski
Having been trained by many top-shelf handgun, shotgun, AR carbine, and long-range shooting instructors, Robert Sadowski brings a user's perspective to Gun Tests. He has authored and edited 15 books on firearm values, firearm disassembly and assembly, and gun guides. His Book Of Glock (Skyhorse Publishing) debuted as an Amazon #1 New Release and is a must-read for the Glock enthusiast. His latest book, 9MM - Guide to America's Most Popular Caliber (Gun Digest Books), is an indispensable resource on the 9mm and understanding the cartridge's performance for concealed carry, home defense, or competition. Over the past two decades, Sadowski has written for many magazines and websites, including,,, and more. His print work has appeared in Combat Handguns, Ballistic, Real World Survivor, Guns Digest, Guns of the Old West, SHOT Business, and more. He is currently the Treasurer/Secretary of the Glock Collectors Association. After receiving an MA from New York University, he worked for a number of magazine publishers and advertising agencies. Sadowski is a lifelong hunter, competitive shooter, and native of Connecticut. He now lives in North Carolina to take full advantage of our 2nd Amendment privilege.


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