February 2010

1911 Pistol Magazines Tested!

Wilson Combatís EMT led the pack in this function-critical showdown. Also good: Novak.

Magazines are the heart of a pistol, and there are a number of competing magazine designs. While all attempt to adhere to a certain price point, some are considerably more expensive than others. We decided to take a look at 1911 magazines and qualify which of them fed and functioned the best in every detail, and then priced them to see if any could be called bargains.

Magazines are manufactured by wrapping sheet metal around a form, and the spine of the magazine is welded. There will be a single weld line down the spine. If the weld line is uneven, has been overwelded and ground down, or looks irregular for any reason, the magazine is not high quality.

It is difficult to gauge a winner when the magazines in our range box have fired thousands of rounds of ammunition without a single magazine-related failure. There was little need to purchase gun-show magazines to exhibit their problems; we are well aware of them. What we have done here is provide you with the knowledge to choose a good magazine, and we have provided many suitable magazines to choose from. This is a vital self-defense choice, because if the mags you use are junk, then you will soon be as well.

We collected a number of samples of each type from various manufacturers and tested the magazines in a half-dozen 1911 handguns.

To start, we tested the manufacturer-supplied magazines that came with three of our test guns. Springfield Armory ships two 7-round stainless magazines with slampads with its TRP pistols. The TRP was one of our function-test guns, so we included its magazines, No. PI6085, which sell for $39 on the company website, www.springfield-armory.com. Likewise, we included Kimber KimPro Tac-Mag 7-round stainless factory magazines with interchangeable pads, ($29.95 from www.kimberamerica.com), and Para Ordnance single-stack 7-round magazines that fit the following Para pistols: CX745, CWX745, CCWX745 and PCWX745. They are nickel plated with plastic basepads, and sell for $24.95 (No. PCN745P at www.paraproshop.com).

Metalformís contributions included two 8-round units (one blued with flat follower $25.75, Brownells No. 620-245-008); and the Elite No. 45-747H 8-round (stainless body with round follower and Ultramag base, $51.17 from metalformcompany.thomasnet.com).

From D&L Sports, we got two magazine models. The first was the 7-round D&L custom 1911 magazine with black phosphate finish, machined dual-legged follower, extra power spring, and flat aluminum baseplate and retainer, $49. The 8-round D&L unit was the same, except it included an extended machined aluminum basepad to house the extra round, $59, both from www.DLSports.com.

We rounded out the selections with what are three of the biggest names in the pistol-magazine business. From Wilson Combat, we tested an Elite Tactical Magazine ($36.99, Brownells No. 965-000-050). From Novak we examined the 1911 .45 ACP 8-round blued w/floorplate ($24.65, www.Novaksights.com store, No. NV4508BPF), and the 7-round blued standard magazine ($21.35, No. NV4507BSD). Last, we scrutinized the Chip McCormick 8-round Power Mag Magazine with Base Pad ($24.99 from Midway USA, No. 783573).

Most important, after we handled and shot all of these magazines, our team came up with some distinct favorites. Hereís what we found:

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