July 2014

1911s: Buy New or Used? We Test Three 45 ACPs to Find Out

We pitted a pricey (when new) SIG C3 versus the American Classic Commander and the Rock Island Armory Tactical II. Outcome: Itís easier to make a silk purse out of silk.

1911s: Buy New or Used? We Test Three 45 ACPs to Find Out

The American Classic, left, was comfortable to fire and was accurate enough when it functioned. The American Classic and the SIG, right, have similar features, but function was not equal. Below, this was a common malfunction in the AC.

Many of us fancy a 1911 for defense use. The problem is that top-quality 1911 handguns are becoming increasingly expensive. Finding a quality new 1911 from well-known makers like SIG Sauer, Kimber, or Springfield at a fair price isnít easy. And on the used market, you have to be careful not to buy a pig in a poke. Used pistols are not always what they seem, and some defects are more difficult to discover during the first appraisal. The question that we are attempting to answer this month is this ó given a finite amount of cash, should we purchase a used SIG or a new Philippine 1911? The only way to answer this one is to obtain examples, work them out on the range, and do a careful comparison of features. There are intangibles such as pride of ownership and longevity that are difficult to qualify with less than a thousand rounds through each pistol. But if you are looking for a solid 45 ACP workhorse to defend the home, a used handgun just may be the best bet. To examine the premise of a quality used handgun against a new economy handgun, we tested a used SIG Sauer 1911 C3 #1911CO-45-T-C3, ~$650, against the American Classic ACC45B, $515, and the Rock Island Tactical II Compact #51479, $590.

Why compact handguns? Many of us believe that a 1911 45 Auto is the best mix of controllability and wound potential available in a handgun. A criticism of the 1911 Government Model that is difficult to argue against is that the piece is long and heavy. It is thin, however, and with a bit of intelligent design and proper execution, a compact version of the 1911 is an ideal carry gun for those who practice. The American Classic is a Commander-length handgun. The RIA pistol is an Officerís Model length with abbreviated grip frame as well. Splitting the difference, the SIG C3 features a Commander-length slide and Officerís Model frame. We might also learn if one frame size is superior to the other for concealed carry.

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