Glock -Vs- 1911… Or is the 1911 Just DOA ?

A local range/gun store asked me to put together training for their employees who carry at work.

That’s pretty much everyone on the floor and the range offices. There are plenty of handgun proficiency tests around, including a couple good ones here on Ammoland. So putting the basic together was not too hard.

The issues started when a few of the employees wanted to carry 1911’s. Some of the younger employees objected saying that 1911’s are not safe and that they’re obsolete; that only Glocks are safe.

They didn’t want to be around 1911’s that were locked and cocked.

Who knew there was a “Safe Space” for Glock owners.

Few of the employees under 30 even owned a 1911 and they had zero intention of every buying one. The 1st real pistol most of us owned is now not even in the discussion for new shooters. The “kids” impression of 1911 is an old obsolete heavy metal gun that has long been passed by. When given the option to wear one on their hip, however, it was the “Bad Ass” gun of choice.

Glock 21 Handgun
Glock 21 Handgun

A Glock is about as good a gun as a mil-spec 1911. The reset for the striker on the Glocks means the gun wants a trigger in the 5lb range. For a 1911 my competition guns were right at the 2.2 lb limit. The 1911 triggers lack creep and pre-travel when done properly.

Wilson Combat Bill Wilson Carry 1911 Safety
Wilson Combat Bill Wilson Carry 1911’s Safety

The Glocks reliability comes from generous tolerances. (This is the same for the mil-spec 1911) The more play there is with a gun, the more likely it is to go “pew” every time.

There are myths about both guns. There’s no proof ever of a Glock surviving 300,000 round tests, and a .45 ACP will not just kill you it will kill your soul the round is SO powerful. That too is a myth. (It just messes you soul up a bit.)

I find a 1911 to be a safer firearm, the external safety and the hammer being visible provides a lot of trusts to be in the gun and its condition. But that is just me.

The declining love of the 1911 is due to other factors:

  • Cleaning – Shooters these days are lazy, and stripping and cleaning a 1911 is more work than a Glock.
  • Sales – Younger sales reps sell what they know. That means they direct their 1st-time gun buyers to Glocks.
  • 9mm Vs .45 – Let’s be blunt a 9mm is a lot like a .22. You can shoot them all day and it takes little to no effort. The .45 ACP can get tiring after 200 rounds. Plus 9mm ammo is cheap.
  • Weight – The 1911 is heavy, and the .45 ACP round is heavy. Hauling the gun, mags, rig and 300 rounds to a match can be a challenge all by itself.
Elmer Keith
Elmer Keith : “Well known among firearm enthusiasts, the name Elmer Keith is synonymous with gun writing, magnum cartridges such as the .357, .41 and .44 Mags, and of course we can’t forget his Old West personality.” ~ Guns And Ammo

Lastly the single biggest issue is that Elmer Keith is dead. Precision shooting is left to NRA Bullseye shooters and the Olympics. Stop by after-hours at the range and you’ll find the employees on the line seeing who can empty a magazine the fastest in a target that is 10 feet away. Back in the day we would put the target out to 10 meters and see who could shoot the smallest group. It is not that the Glock is a better gun than a 1911, it is that the games shooter play have changed and that precision shooting is no longer a valued skill.

Most of the Glock Clones have tighter tolerances; they shoot flatter and tighter groups. They’re also just not a popular. They require a bit more care (cleaning) than the original. See the pattern yet?

Remember, both the 1911 and Glock started as battlefield weapons. The 1911 was designed to allow a US soldier to drop an adversary on the battlefield. The Glock was made to provide a handgun to an Austrian Army that is more of a show piece, as well as a reliable choice in community policing.

The Glock is a fine weapon for the purpose it was built, a reliable minor caliber gun for personal protection. The 1911’s long history of service speaks for itself. As a major caliber man stopper with accuracy, there is nothing better.

There will always be a market for the 1911, but its dominance as the American Pistol will continue to decline as long as dumping a mag into a target at 10 feet is seen as more desirable than hitting the X ring at 10 meters.

About Don McDougall:

Don McDougall is an NRA instructor and member of the Los Padres “Friends of the NRA” committee. If he’s not at the range you will find him setting the record straight with on gun issues and gun safety on AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.

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