Handgun Roundup: The Budget 1911s

By Jed Henson - Last updated: Thursday, September 12, 2013 - Save & Share - 12 Comments


The 1911-style pistol remains wildly popular more than 100 years after its birth. At last count, roughly 25 manufacturers are producing nearly 400 different 1911 models ranging from mil-spec, GI-type versions that recall John Browning’s original design, to uber-refined and customized 1911s that cost thousands of dollars.

This article pulls together info on the nine least-expensive 1911s in production today into one place. To make this list, a pistol must cost $500 max in actual retail pricing, not MSRP (which is almost always inflated). It appears the Auto-Ordnance offering will run you just a tad over $500; I let it in because it’s so close. (Update on 9/12/13: These listings now include Chiappa’s new .45.)

Each pistol’s listing is an excerpt from its main-info page, which contains the full description, specs, more photos, pricing info (when available) and links to external articles and reviews. To go to that page, click on the link included in the excerpt (i.e., the word “here” in blue text).

Only five of the companies listed below are actually manufacturing 1911s; the other two (Rock Island Armory and Taylor’s) are importing guns built for them. And only one manufacturer listed below is building 1911s in the United States (Auto-Ordnance). The others are built in Turkey, the Phillipines and China.

The listings below include only the cheapest model offered by each company. Many of these companies also offer other 1911 models with enhanced features, different finishes, shortened barrels and shortened grips, and in many cases the prices of these models are also relatively low. To see all the 1911s produced by one of the companies below, click on the company’s name.

You can purchase all the below guns new in the United States in gun stores save one, the Chinese-made Norinco, which is no longer imported into the United States. You can still find used Norincos for sale in gun shops and on online gun auction and classifieds sites.

The actual retail prices and price ranges listed below reflect prices seen recently in online gun stores. Those numbers certainly aren’t absolute—you might be able to find better deals at other online or brick-and-mortar gun shops.

I’ve organized these pistols alphabetically by manufacturer. If I’ve failed to include a model, please let me know via the Contact form at this link, or via the Comment form at the bottom of this article.

Armscor



Model: 1911A1 GI

READER POLL

Which budget 1911 is best?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...


MSRP: $500–$591
Actual retail: $385–$440 (approx.)

Click here to visit this gun’s info page.



_______________________________________

Auto-Ordnance


Model: 1911PKZSE

MSRP: $627
Actual retail: $504 (approx.)

Click here to visit this gun’s info page.




_______________________________________

Chiappa Firearms

Chiappa Firearms 1911-45 left side

Model: 1911-45

MSRP: $554
Actual retail: n/a

Click here to visit this gun’s info page.




_______________________________________

Metro Arms

 

 

Accessorize Your 1911
An enormous industry supports the 1911 pistol, allowing us to customize our gun in almost every way imaginable. Here are some links that show a wide array of aftermarket products:

 



Model: American Classic

MSRP: $550
Actual retail: $411–$508 (approx.)

Click here to visit this gun’s info page.




_______________________________________

Norinco



Model: 1911A-1

MSRP: n/a
Actual retail: $425–$490

Click here to visit this gun’s info page.


_______________________________________

Rock Island Armory



Model: 1911 GI

MSRP: $500–$591
Actual retail: $380–$489 (approx.)

Click here to visit this gun’s info page.


_______________________________________

Shooters Arms Manufacturing



Model: Military

MSRP: $489.95
Actual retail: $404–$440 (approx.)

Click here to visit this gun’s info page.


_______________________________________

Taylor’s & Co.

Model: 1911

MSRP: $479 (base model)
Actual retail: $468–$472 (approx.)

Click here to visit this gun’s info page.




_______________________________________

Trabzon


Model: Regent R100

MSRP: $499–$599
Actual retail: $423–$437

Click here to visit this gun’s info page.








_______________________________________



Jed Henson is the president of GunsGunsGuns.net.

Posted in $251-$500, .45 ACP, 1911, Full size, Semiauto • Tags: Top Of Page

12 Responses to “Handgun Roundup: The Budget 1911s”

Comment from Tony
Time December 8, 2011 at 1:04 am

The Taurus guns should really be on here too

Comment from Jed Henson
Time December 8, 2011 at 8:42 am

The cutoff to get in is $500 retail new, and the Taurus 1911s are close. The cheapest I’m seeing online right now is $529.

The Ruger SR1911 and Remington R1 appear to cost a bit more retail new.

Comment from Dave
Time December 8, 2011 at 9:22 am

I own the Rock Island 1911 and I can’t believe its value. Its a fantastic .45. The service dept is great as well. I had a bit of an extraction issue, so called them up and it was taken care of immediately by the nice gunsmith. Can’t go wrong!!

Comment from Huey
Time December 8, 2011 at 11:20 am

In case anyone is interested I reviewed the Regent on my blog a few months ago…

http://hueysgunsight.blogspot.com/2011/08/regent-r100-1911-a1-45-pistolturkish.html

Comment from TZH
Time December 8, 2011 at 8:44 pm

glad to see the 1911A1 from Armscor. they also make a very nice compact .45 and my pilot buddies swear by them.

Huey! yep, seen your Regent video, great review!

Comment from cmblake6
Time December 9, 2011 at 11:15 am

I’ve got several 1911s currently, and I’ve owned a bunch more in the past of various and sundry brands. You really, REALLY can’t go wrong with Rock Island. Mind you, RIA is made by ARMSCOR, they just seem to be the Lincoln compared to the basic Ford.

Comment from KDL
Time December 12, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Question for Jed Henson
I very much like the look of the RIA-GI and nothing but glowing reviews for a most popular choice. Though I absolutely love the idea of a TACOPS I think my husband is getting me a PX4 Storm subcompact 9mm (Impact gun) for Christmas. I did have a question though after doing a little research between the Storm and the Taurus 648 Pro Compact. I cant remember the name of the article but the editor mentioned that during the unveiling and testing at the Winchester Pistol range, they experienced a “Stove-pipe stoppage” within the first few magazines. They also went on to say of Taurus pistols that they go through a break in period? Could you please tell me what a Stove-pipe stoppage is and what comments you may have on this particular pistol? Also when trying to find an answer to my own question earlier I found a sight that had similar Q&A…one in regards to how long does a particular gun, I believe the answer was 15000 rounds. Assault rifles obviously have to be made to shoot an obscene amount of ammo but is there a shelf life for pistols and if so…is there some kind of list of how some stack against others?

Comment from KDL
Time December 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm

I just realized I made a typo in reference to the Taurus though Im certain you probably would have caught it. My apologies, Taurus 638 Pro Compact is what I meant to say.

Comment from Jed Henson
Time December 15, 2011 at 9:50 am

Hi KDL,

I located a photo of a stovepipe jam on TheFiringLine.com forum. Here’s the link:

http://i104.photobucket.com/albums/m167/tharmsen/Forums/guns/Kimber/52142-VerticalStovepipe.jpg

I’m thinking you might have meant the Taurus 638, not 648? I don’t know of a 648. Anyway, I don’t have any personal experience with either the PX4 Storm Subcompact or the Taurus 638 Pro Compact, but we do have in-depth reviews up on both. Here are the links:

http://gunsgunsguns.net/beretta-px4-storm-type-f-sub-compact/

http://gunsgunsguns.net/taurus-638-pro-compact/

I’m also sorry to report I don’t know of a list or study that discusses how many rounds a particular gun can handle (i.e., a lifespan list). That might be a question for a particular gun’s manufacturer. Here’s our page with links to most of the handgun manufacturers:

http://gunsgunsguns.net/mfg-links/

Last, regarding break-in periods, I can’t speak authoritatively about that for Taurus handguns, or any others, actually. My Glock 19 definitely didn’t seem to require a break-in. And from reading in various gun forums over the years, I don’t see much consensus on that topic. Maybe someone else more knowledgeable than me will chime in here.

I hope that helps a little!

Comment from BillCa
Time January 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Re: Break-in periods. For any firearm used for protection, you should test fire it with a variety of ammunition to determine if it refuses to operate with a particular brand/load/bullet style. For pistols, this is crucial. Never assume even FMJ will be 100% reliable. Fire at least 2-3 full magazines of your selected ammo to ensure it works without any stoppages.

Most folks start off with 50 rounds of full metal jacket (FMJ) ammo to check gun function and get familiar with the gun. For a carry gun, I prefer to shoot a minimum of 100 rounds of the ammo I want to carry to ensure the 1st five to eight rounds feed smoothly as the last 2 rounds. And I’ll fire up to 40 “alternate choice” JHP’s that I might use if my preferred ammo isn’t available. Don’t use it as a carry gun if it has any problems feeding/extracting or accuracy with the ammo.

Re: Longevity – non-magnum handguns do not stress the barrel like rifles do. A local college had a police firing line. Some of their S&W revolvers had well over 100,000 rounds through them and looked almost new (firing mostly target wadcutters). Well made arms should be able to fire 100-500,000 rounds (or more) before a barrel needs replacement. In pistols, it’s suggested to replace springs every 5,000 to 8,000 rounds as they do lose some strength. Revolver springs tend to last longer, with replacements around 50-80,000 rounds suggested by some.

Comment from Jed Henson
Time March 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I just added the 1911 produced by Shooters Arms Mfg in the Philippines to the list. Called the Military, it appears to retail for around $450. American Tactical Imports imports it into the United States.

Comment from TZH
Time April 2, 2012 at 12:38 am

Speaking of longevity, I’ve had my Para-Ordnance .40 since late 1997 and I finally suffered a cracked barrel this month. That is after monthly club IPSC events and practice of about 600 rounds a month for all this time.

This is a standard barrel, not a match barrel. So I figure these guns should do similar since they ain’t rifles like BillCa said.

Rate this gun by clicking a star below, and/or write a comment.

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.