August 2010

Short 45 ACPs from Sig Sauer, Kimber, and Springfield Armory

Some shooters like the power of the 45, but donít want to carry a the weight. Three answers are Kimberís Compact Stainless II, a Sig Sauer 1911 C3, and the Lightweight Champion Operator.

Some of us who know that thereís no substitution for bullet mass when it comes to stopping power prefer the 45 Auto for self defense. But no one likes to pack a heavy handgun, so most makers offer some solutions to that problem in the form of lighter-weight 1911s. These generally utilize aluminum frames, with shorter grips and slides. Any 45 Auto requires good management by the shooter, so these lighter and shorter-grip guns are not for everyone. One of the better 45 compromises is the use of a full-size aluminum grip frame combined with a short slide. Colt calls this setup the Lightweight Commander. In this test comparison one of the guns had a configuration that was similar to Coltís LW Commander, but lacked a barrel bushing. The shorter "Officerís Model" grip, to use another old Colt name, is undoubtedly easier to conceal, and two of the guns in this test use that setup. Modern magazines for the shorter "Officerís" grip hold seven rounds, so they donít give up capacity when compared to the original 1911 design, but of course most full-size 1911s today hold eight in the mag.

In February 2009 we compared the Sig Sauer 1911 C3 to the discontinued Colt CCO (and Kahr PM 4543), and noted that there are not a whole lot of options if you must have the Officerís frame with the Commander-length slide, which is the CCOís setup. But we found a handgun by Kimber that is mighty close to that concept, and decided to also look at one of the full-grip, light-frame, short-slide offerings by Springfield to see how they both stacked up to the Sig Sauer 1911 C3 No. 19GS0031 (MSRP $1200; street price about $975). The two new guns were Kimberís Compact Stainless II (MSRP $1009; street price about $850) and the Springfield Armory Champion Operator PX9115LP (MSRP $1076; street price about $850). Hereís what we found.

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