June 2019

Compact 1911s: Two Pretty Good 45 ACPs for the Money

The American Tactical GI 1911 and the Taylorís & Company Compact 1911 both offered a lot of shooting performance in small packages. The Taurus 1911 Officer had a sight problem that bumped it down.

There should be a saying: Once you shoot a 1911, you won’t go back. That’s how some of our testers feel about the 1911 platform, which in a properly executed handgun will have a nice trigger, comfortable grip angle, good sights, and plenty of power in 45 ACP. And 1911s that you might carry don’t have to have a big footprint, so with that in mind, we looked at a Commander and two Officer-size 1911 pistols with a street cost of about $450. Inexpensive doesn’t necessarily equate to value in a 1911, but with the two Officer models, one each from Taurus and Taylor’s, and a Commander from American Tactical, Inc. (ATI), we found some value-packed compact 1911s. Not perfect by any means, but good performance for the cost. Of course there are compromises, but that is to be expected in a 1911 that costs about $450. In fact, if we could disassemble and reassemble these compact 1911s into one optimal compact 1911, we would take the trigger from the ATI, the sights from the Taylor’s, and the receiver from the Taurus.

compact 1911 45 acps

The American Tactical GI 1911 (top) is a traditional GI-style Commander with a nice trigger, though the sights are a bit dated. The Taylorís & Company Compact 1911 (middle) has good sights and a good trigger, but we wanted some extra texture on the front grip strap. The Taurus 1911 Officer (bottom) has all the features you would expect is a compact 1911, but its point of impact was too low, we thought.

How We Tested

compact 1911 45 acp magazines

Magazines from Taurus (left), Taylorís & Company (middle), and American Tactical (right) were all constructed of steel and made in Italy. They are rugged, and we preferred the two with the bumper pads for ease in reloading and disassembly.

We ran these three compact 1911s on standard 230-grain ball rounds (FMJ) and 185- and 230-grain JHPs. Ammo ran the spectrum from inexpensive training rounds like the made-in-Italy Perfecta to expensive defensive ammo like HPR, which is made in the USA. We experienced one jam, and that was with the American Tactical in the first magazine with the HPR 185-grain JHPs. We had no failures afterward with the ATI. All the pistols ran well and met our expectations of what a compact 1911 pistol should be. At 15 yards from a rest, we were able to shoot some tight groups with all the pistols. We also fired for speed performing a Bill Drill — a full magazine fired as fast as we could into an 8-inch paper-plate target — and found the less-textured grip straps of the ATI and Taylor’s slipped in the hand. Also in the combat phase, we found that all three basic 1911s had little chamfer in the magazine well, which caused a few testers to hit a speed bump when reloading. We were not as fast to reload when compared to a modern polymer-frame pistol with a built-in magwell. Plus, we found we needed to be more deliberate with single-stack magazines compared to double stack magazines. Double-stack magazine have a taper at the top of the magazine that make them easier and faster to insert into the magazine well.

compact 1911 45 acps

The Taurus (left bottom) and Taylorís (top) use a belled barrel that mates up with the slide in lieu of a barrel bushing like the AT (right bottom). The Taurus and Taylorís require a tool for disassembly, the AT does not.

We also carried these 1911s concealed, and as you would expect, they are heavy. What’s the Clint Smith expression? “Concealed carry should be comforting, not comfortable.” With a proper holster, these 1911s can provide both. Here are the details.

45 ACP Range Data

Perfecta 230-gr. FMJ Taylor's & Company Compact 1911 Taurus 1911 Officer ATI Firepower Xtreme GI 1911
Average velocity 721 fps 702 fps 729 fps
Muzzle energy 266 ft.-lbs. 252 ft.-lbs. 271 ft.-lbs.
Smallest group 0.32 in. 0.79 in. 0.40 in.
Average group 0.56 in. 1.09 in. 0.59 in.
Winchester Train 230-gr. FMJ
Average velocity 731 fps 717 fps 774 fps
Muzzle energy 273 ft-lbs. 263 ft.-lbs. 306 ft.-lbs.
Smallest group 0.82 in. 1.18 in. 0.79 in.
Average group 1.06 in. 1.54 in. 1.20 in.
Atlanta Arms 230-gr. JHP
Average velocity 855 fps 833 fps 850 fps
Muzzle energy 373 ft.-lbs. 354 ft.-lbs. 369 ft.-lbs.
Smallest group 0.89 in. 0.79 in. 0.76 in.
Average group 1.04 in. 1.09 in. 0.99 in.
HPR Ammunition 185-gr. JHP
Average velocity 918 fps 909 fps 957 fps
Muzzle energy 346 ft.-lbs. 339 ft.-lbs. 376 ft.-lbs.
Smallest group 0.40 in. 0.88 in. 0.72 in.
Average group 0.59 in. 0.94 in. 1.01 in.
To collect accuracy data, we fired five-shot groups from a bench using a rest. Distance: 15 yards with open sights. We recorded velocities using a ProChrono digital chronograph set 15 feet from the muzzle.

Taurus 1911 Officer 1-191101OFC 45 ACP, $459

GUN TESTS GRADE: B+

The 1911 Officer had all the right features, but it did not shoot to point of aim, and the only way to fix this without gunsmithing was by adding a new rear sight.

Taurus 1911 Officer 1-191101OFC 45 ACP

ACTION Semi-auto single-action locked breech
OVERALL LENGTH 7.2 in.
OVERALL HEIGHT 5.1 in.
MAX WIDTH 1.3 in.
WEIGHT UNLOADED 34.5 oz.
WEIGHT LOADED 37.9 oz.
BARREL 3.5 in.
CAPACITY 6+1
SLIDE Matte-black steel
SLIDE RETRACTION EFFORT 19 lbs.
FRAME Matte-black steel
FRAME FRONT STRAP HEIGHT 2 in.
FRAME BACK STRAP HEIGHT 2.7 in.
GRIPS Checkered polymer
GRIP THICKNESS (max) 1.16 in.
GRIP CIRCUMFERENCE (max) 5.5 in.
REAR SIGHT Steel, Novak white two dot, drift adj.
FRONT SIGHT Steel, Novak white dot, drift adj.
TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT 7.2 lbs.
TRIGGER SPAN 2.8 in.
MAGAZINES 1; steel
SAFETY Safety Manual thumb, beavertail grip, firing pin block
WARRANTY Unlimited lifetime
TELEPHONE (305) 624-1115
WEBSITE TaurusUSA.com
MADE IN Brazil

Taurus 1911 Officer 1-191101OFC 45 ACP

The Taurus used a standard GI-style magazine, and there was very little chamfer on the magazine well to aid reloading.

This was a recent price from MidwayUSA.com. We tested the Taurus 1911 Commander in the October 2018 issue and gave it an A rating. We had high hopes for the 1911 Officer, and for the most part, the Officer delivered, but we did have issues, which we will get into. The Officer came in a hard case with foam cut outs for the pistol, magazine, and lock. It also came with a small takedown tool that we almost lost.

Taurus 1911 Officer 1-191101OFC 45 ACP

The three-hole trigger was bit heavy, in our opinion.

The Officer design has a belled barrel that mates up inside the slide. There is no barrel bushing like on GI-style 1911s and the ATI pistol. You will need some sort of tool to disassemble the Taurus and the Taylor’s pistols due to this design. In our opinion, the traditional GI-style bushing set up, like on the ATI, is simpler and requires no tools to field strip.

Taurus 1911 Officer 1-191101OFC 45 ACP

The belled barrel of the Taurus does not need a bushing. Note the stepped recoil guide rod. A tool fits on the rod to capture the guide spring.

The Officer features a matte-black finish that was executed well. The slide serrations are coarse and angled and provide a good grip. It took 20 pounds of effort to rack the slide, and that was the highest of all three guns tested. Taurus used the slab sides of the slide for plenty of marking, though they weren’t too obtrusive.

Taurus 1911 Officer 1-191101OFC 45 ACP

This is the small tool that is required to disassemble the Taurus. Weíre not too fond of it.

The sights are genuine Novaks, which provide a great sight picture that was easily acquired due to the design. What we found were the sights shot low at 15 yards. The elevation was off, and the only way to fix this was to aim above the point we wanted to hit. Windage was dead on. These sights should be dead on at the range tested, and we marked down the Officer half a grade due to the sights. Novak makes an adjustable rear replacement sight ($81.95; NovakSights.com) for the Officer. We’re not sure why Taurus didn’t go with the adjustable rear sight.

Taurus 1911 Officer 1-191101OFC 45 ACP

The beavertail protects the shooter from hammer bite. The thumb safety was oversized, which made it easier to manipulate.

The receiver’s front grip strap is finely checkered, as is the flat mainspring housing. This is a great set up, especially for a compact pistol chambered in 45 ACP. We found we could more easily hang onto the Officer compared to the Taylor’s and ATI in fast shooting. The Taurus grips were checkered plastic, which we thought offered good texture without abrasion to the palm of your hand after extensive shooting. The sweeping beavertail also eliminates hammer bite. The hammer is a traditional rounded and serrated Commander-style piece, which we found easy to manipulate. The trigger is a long style compared to the short GI-style triggers. It broke at 7.2 pounds on average, and we thought that was a bit too heavy. The thumb safety was oversized and nicely serrated, so it was easy to manipulate.

Taurus 1911 Officer 1-191101OFC 45 ACP

The checkered front strap was one of the features that made the Taurus stand out as a carry gun.

Going hot at 15 yards showed our hits were about 6 inches low. Taking that into consideration, we found the Officer still had game. Our best five-shot group was fired with the Perfecta 230-grain FMJs and the Atlanta Arms 230-grain JHPs. Both measured 0.79 inches at the bench distance. The HPR 185-grain JHP had a best group that measured 0.88 inches.

Taurus 1911 Officer 1-191101OFC 45 ACP

The Taurus grips were checkered plastic, which offered good texture without abrasion. The hammer is a traditional rounded and serrated Commander-style design.

There is a slight chamfer on the magazine well, but it took concentration to reload fast. The lack of a magazine bumper made reloading slower, too. If we were to carry this pistol concealed, we would use the stock magazine without the bumper for better concealability. Our backup magazine would have a bumper. The steel magazine was traditional GI style, meaning the magazine base plate is not removable. You need a punch to trap the spring and disassemble the magazine. Not a show stopper, but it is a minor inconvenience to those used to easily removed floorplates.

Taurus 1911 Officer 1-191101OFC 45 ACP

The speed bump on the grip safety (arrow) was a nice size, and though the thumb safety was small, it was easy to flick on and off, we found.

The takedown procedure with the Taurus involved a small tool. This tool is a small plastic tube with a cut along its length. This tool is snapped over the internal recoil spring guide to trap the spring. It worked well enough, but we wondered how we’d field-strip the pistol if we lost this tool.

Taurus 1911 Officer 1-191101OFC 45 ACP

Those are genuine Novak sights on the Taurus, but the pistol shot low. The rear sight would need to be replaced.

We like Taylor’s takedown method better. As we mentioned, we dropped the tool on the shop floor and had a devil of a time finding it.

Our Team Said: The Officer ran well and had all the features we expected in a compact 1911. The sight regulation was disappointing, but we compensated and found the Officer to definitely be an accurate shooter. If we owned this pistol, we’d ditch the fixed rear sight for an adjustable rear sight.

Taylor's & Company Compact 1911 51469 45 ACP, $450

GUN TESTS GRADE: A-

The Compact 1911 had good sights and a good trigger. We would have liked a textured front grip strap.

Taylor’s & Company Compact 1911 51469 45 ACP

ACTION Semi-auto single-action locked breech
OVERALL LENGTH 7.3 in.
OVERALL HEIGHT 5.2 in.
MAX WIDTH 1.3 in.
WEIGHT UNLOADED 38.9 oz.
WEIGHT LOADED 42.8 oz.
BARREL 3.6 in.
CAPACITY 7+1
SLIDE Parkerized steel
SLIDE RETRACTION EFFORT 20 lbs.
FRAME Parkerized steel
FRAME FRONT STRAP HEIGHT 2 in.
FRAME BACK STRAP HEIGHT 2.7 in.
GRIPS Checkered, double-diamond walnut
GRIP THICKNESS (max) 1.3 in.
GRIP CIRCUMFERENCE (max) 5.5 in.
REAR SIGHT Steel, white two dot, adjustable
FRONT SIGHT Steel, post
TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT 6.1 lbs.
TRIGGER SPAN 2.7 in.
MAGAZINES 1; steel
SAFETY Manual thumb, beavertail grip
WARRANTY Unlimited lifetime
TELEPHONE (305) 624-1115
WEBSITE TaylorsFirearms.com
MADE IN Philippines by Armscor

This was a recent price at Gunbroker.com. We found the Taylor’s Compact 1911 delivered the goods, but we’d tweak it slightly. The Compact came in a hard case with one steel magazine with a bumper that allowed the magazine to be easily disassembled and allowed the magazine to be slammed home with the palm of your hand.

Taylor’s & Company Compact 1911 51469 45 ACP

That hole in the recoil guide rod accepts the tip of a paperclip, which is required to field-strip the pistol.

The Parkerized finish gives the Compact a GI look, but this is a thoroughly modern set up. The short 3.6-inch barrel is belled and mates up the slide, similar to the Taurus. The slide wore coarse angled serrations, and it took 19 pounds of effort to rack the slide. The slide was void of a lot of markings — just a simple Taylor’s logo on the left side near the serrations. The sights were the best of all three pistols tested. The adjustable rear sight is dovetailed into the slide and has two white dots. The rear face of the sight was machined to reduce glare. The front ramp was plain and dovetailed into the slide.

Taylor’s & Company Compact 1911 51469 45 ACP

The skeleton trigger had a heavy pull weight, but we mastered the trigger, according to the small size of our groups.

The receiver’s front grip strap does not have texture. We’d prefer to have some texture in this spot, especially on a compact 45 ACP. The flat mainspring housing was finely textured, which we thought was very functional. Grips were double-diamond-checkered walnut, which also contributed to the GI look of the Compact. The beavertail did its job; there was no hammer bite. The manual thumb safety was small but was serrated on both sides, so flipping it off or on with your thumb was easy and positive. The hammer was a modern design with plenty of serration to make manipulation sure and positive. The skeletonized trigger was long with a serrated face. It broke at a fairly clean 6.1 pounds on average. Like the Taurus, we would have liked the Taylor’s trigger to be at 5 pounds.

Taylor’s & Company Compact 1911 51469 45 ACP

Slow reloads were a characteristic of these 1911s. Train with purpose when practicing reloads.

The field-strip process with the Taylor’s requires a paperclip to trap the recoil spring inside the recoil-guide rod. We have experience with this set up and find it easier to procure a paper clip if we happen to drop and lose one on the shop floor.

Taylor’s & Company Compact 1911 51469 45 ACP

Nice sights in our opinion, and they shot to point of aim without any adjustment. Thereís also a good beavertail and small, but easily manipulated, thumb safety. We like these sights a lot because the rear is easily adjusted and the sight picture was large.

At the range, the Compact was easy to shoot and provided great accuracy. It also shot to point of aim. Our best 5-shot group was with inexpensive Perfecta 230-grain ball ammo at 0.32 inches. The HPR 185-grain JHP defense ammo shined with a group that measured 0.40 inches. On average all ammo shot averaged groups of about 1 inch. There were no glitches with the Taylor’s. Going to fast shooting, we found the Taylor’s could slip in our grip. That’s what the textured grip strap would solve. Recoil was pleasant with no rasping of the palm.

Taylor’s & Company Compact 1911 51469 45 ACP

The speed bump on the grip safety is not that large. We like the checkered mainspring housing, which aided our grip.

Taylor’s & Company Compact 1911 51469 45 ACP

Lack of front grip strap texture made the Taylorís Compact slip in our grip during rapid-fire testing.

As with all pistols tested, reloading was not as fast as we would have liked. The lack of a magwell costs time, and those few milliseconds it takes to insert the 1911 single stack could mean a world of difference in the wrong circumstances. Again, this problem is not a show stopper, but it is a characteristic of the design that requires more training.

Our Team Said: The Taylor’s Compact is a fine-shooting pistol for the price. We liked nearly everything about it. If we were to own this pistol, we’d most like get the front strap textured or try a set of grip that incorporate texture on the front strap, such as Pachmayr Signature Grips ($28 at Brownells.com) or perhaps Crimson Trace LG-404 Lasergrips ($399; CrimsonTrace.com), which have a front activation strap that provides a more secure grip.

American Tactical Inc. Firepower Xtreme GI 1911 ATIGFX45GI 45 ACP, $398

GUN TESTS GRADE: A-

This a traditional GI-style Commander with a nice trigger and good sights. We could forgive the lack of front gripstrap serration because of the nice trigger pull.

American Tactical Firepower Xtreme GI 1911 ATIGFX45GI 45 ACP

ACTION Semi-auto single-action locked breech
OVERALL LENGTH 7.8 in.
OVERALL HEIGHT 5.3 in.
MAX WIDTH 1.2 in.
WEIGHT UNLOADED 33.5 oz.
WEIGHT LOADED 37.8 oz.
BARREL 4.25 in.
CAPACITY 8+1
SLIDE Matte-black steel
SLIDE RETRACTION EFFORT 16 lbs.
FRAME Matte-black steel
FRAME FRONT STRAP HEIGHT 2.5 in.
FRAME BACK STRAP HEIGHT 3.1 in.
GRIPS Checkered mahogany
GRIP THICKNESS (max) 1.3 in.
GRIP CIRCUMFERENCE (max) 5.25 in.
REAR SIGHT Steel notch, drift adjustable
FRONT SIGHT Steel post
TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT 4.9 lbs.
TRIGGER SPAN 2.7 in.
MAGAZINES 1; steel
SAFETY Manual thumb, beavertail grip
WARRANTY Limited 2 year
TELEPHONE (800) 290-0065
WEBSITE AmericanTactical.US
MADE IN Phillipines by Armscor

American Tactical Firepower Xtreme GI 1911 ATIGFX45GI 45 ACP

This was the only jam with the ATI. The failure to feed occurred with the first magazine of JHP ammo. We didnít experience any other issues.

This was a recent price at BudsGunShop.com. The ATI looks like your great-granddad’s 1911 Commander, but is it most certainly not. The AT comes in a hard case with foam and one steel magazine with a bumper.

American Tactical Firepower Xtreme GI 1911 ATIGFX45GI 45 ACP

The traditional bushing means there are no tools needed to field-strip the ATI.

This a Commander-size pistol, meaning it has a standard receiver size and a shorter barrel and slide. The Taurus and Taylor’s Officer-size pistols have a shorter barrel/slide and a shorter receiver. This means the ATI has an 8+1 capacity, while the Taylor’s and Taurus have a 7+1 and 6+1 capacity, respectively. In fact, the Taylor’s and ATI magazines are manufactured by Act-Mag in Italy. Both have a removable floor plate and witness holes.

American Tactical Firepower Xtreme GI 1911 ATIGFX45GI 45 ACP

The sights were dated on the ATI and were similar to GI-style sights, though the notch and the front ramp sight were wider.

The ATI receiver has a matte-black finish that was nicely executed. The slide had fine, GI-style serrations that worked well. It only took 16 pounds of effort to manipulate the slide. The fixed rear sight was dated and GI style, but it had a wide notch, which we liked. The rear sight is not low profile and could potentially snag on clothing, but on the other hand, you can use this rear sight to manipulate the sight with only one hand. Place it on the edge of a bench or other similar objects, and you can easily cock the piece if you only have one hand available. The front sight was a wide ramp. These sights are more modern compact GI-spec sights, and we found we were quite proficient with them even if they are stodgy.

American Tactical Firepower Xtreme GI 1911 ATIGFX45GI 45 ACP

The trigger broke at 4.9 pounds. It looked retro, and the magazine-release button was GI style, so it wasnít too tall.

American Tactical Firepower Xtreme GI 1911 ATIGFX45GI 45 ACP

Top arrow: The ATI had a smallish thumb safety, but it worked well. Middle arrow: A modern design feature that we all expect in a defensive 1911 is the beavertail grip safety. Bottom arrow: The mainspring housing was finely serrated, which provided good texture when gripping.

The receiver lacks texture on the front grip strap, which we complained about previously on the Taylor’s pistol. The flat mainspring housing is finely serrated, which we liked. Another modern update to the classic Commander design is the beavertail grip safety, which protected shooters’ hands from hammer bite. The grip-safety bump was also large, so even with a sloppy grip, it could be released. The hammer style was classic rounded hammer with plenty of serrations to grip and manipulate safely. The trigger span was similar to the Taurus and Taylor’s, though it looked retro GI to us. The face was curved and serrated. It broke at a wonderful 4.9 pounds, which in our opinion is a good weight for a defense pistol. Grips were checkered mahogany, which were nice and lended to the GI look. The manual thumb safety was small but serrated on the both sides so it could be confidently flicked on and off with your thumb. The magazine-release button was GI size, which is smallish and serrated. It worked positively.

American Tactical Firepower Xtreme GI 1911 ATIGFX45GI 45 ACP

Like the other pistols, the ATI had a minimal chamfer on the magwell, so you need to be deliberate when reloading.

At the range we started with ball ammo and then moved on to hollow points. Accuracy with the inexpensive Perfecta ammo was great. The smallest group measured 0.40 inches, and we had no issues. In the first magazine of the HPR, we experienced one failure-to-feed jam. We cleared the jam and the ATI ran without further issues. We suspected the jam was due to the ATI being a new gun and needing a break-in period. It ran strongly from there, even when we tried to limp-wrist shoot the ATI and cause a jam. With all the other ammo, our smallest groups averaged 0.8 inches. The AT is a nice shooting pistol. Moving to our fast-shooting portion of the test, we found the lack of front grip strap texture caused some slippage with our grip. The ATI also ran on an assortment of standard full-size 1911 magazines.

American Tactical Firepower Xtreme GI 1911 ATIGFX45GI 45 ACP

Top arrow: The ATI had a smallish thumb safety, but it worked well. Middle arrow: A modern design feature that we all expect in a defensive 1911 is the beavertail grip safety. Bottom arrow: The mainspring housing was finely serrated, which provided good texture when gripping.

The Taurus and Taylor’s also ran on full-size 1911 magazines, but the bottom of the magazine extended from the butt. That’s a plus on the capacity side, but we found carrying the larger Commander-style pistol rather than the Officer style Taurus and Taylor’s required a bit more effort.

The field-strip procedure is just like Uncle Sam wrote back in 1911. No tools required and simple.

Our Team Said: The AT is an inexpensive pistol that performed very well. For the price, we think this a good option for those seeking a classic Commander-style 1911.

Special thanks to Eastern Outfitters of Hampstead, NC, for their assistance.

Written and photographed by Robert Sadowski, using evaluations from Gun Tests team testers.

Comments (1)

I have used these compact 45s and have had problems with feeding if you forget and limp wrist the guns. They are too light to work the action without a firm grip.

Posted by: Uncle_vito | June 8, 2019 9:16 PM    Report this comment

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