The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

The 5.11 ABR 1911: Does this gear match my pants? (1 of 3)

At RECOIL, we review every product fairly and without bias. Making a purchase through one of our links may earn us a small commission, and helps support independent gun reviews. Learn More

Does This Gear Match My Pants? The 5.11 Always Be Ready 1911, a Retrospective

When it comes to an American-made 1911 pistol, it is hard to beat the handguns of Sig Sauer.


Photos by Shinnosuke Tanaka, special thanks to Daniel Bales of LMS Defense

They were among the first to offer a production 1911 with an integral rail on the dust-cover known as the Granite State Rail (GSR). We're sure 5.11 could have gone to any 1911 manufacturer for their “Always Be Ready Handgun”, but the choice of SIG was a sound one.


The 1911s by SIG have their detractors, to be sure. The unique profile of the slide makes it difficult to find a quality holster without going the custom route, and old-time purists seem to dislike the external extractor and “Series 80” type firing pin safety.


5.11 Always Be Ready 1911

SIG’s  “Always Be ready” 1911 is finished in a Flat Dark Earth coating with “Always Be Ready” engraved on left side of the slide. The 5.11 logo is engraved on the top of the slide and the 5.11 logo features prominently on the G-10 fiberglass grips.


The barrel and slide are offered in a 4.2 in. Commander length, which may be the optimal size for a 1811 intended for daily carry. The mainspring housing is a bob-tail type which aids in making the handgun just that much more concealable, officially SIG is calling it the “fastback frame”.


A flat and lightweight trigger that breaks evenly at 5 pounds makes it appropriate for a working pistol.


This pistol has a number of custom features that are becoming standard on 1911s across the board (increasingly so since pistol was first released a couple of years ago). Among these are a skeletonized combat hammer and an enhanced beavertail grip safety, but what jumps out immediately on close inspection are the sights.


At first glance, the sights look busy or cluttered. There are 2 fiber optic dots over two tritium dots in the rear and a similar arrangement on the front; six dots, if you will. The idea is to use the fiber optic sights in daylight conditions and the tritium sights at night and it was developed by Viking Tactics as the Action Point Sighting System. When you actually shoot in both conditions the wisdom behind this design becomes very clear indeed.


Though we've been shooting for over 3 decades of shooting, this was our first experience with fiber optic sights on a handgun in daylight conditions. The speed of target acquisition we experienced with the Always Be Ready 1911 has made us a believer in this type of sights. In fact, since we first reviewed this pistol years ago we have gone on to equip several personally owned pistols with fiber optic sights.


Out of the box accuracy was superb with Freedom Munitions 230 Grain FMJ. After 200 rounds or so of FMJ, we tried a few defensive loads in the pistol: Golden Sabre 185 grain JHP +P, MagSafe SWAT loads, and Winchester SXT 230 Grain JHPs. The SIG digested every round we fed it, with the MagSafes striking somewhat higher on the target than usual.


The gunsmiths at Sig who put this piece together outdid themselves with regard to final fit and finish. There was not a single sharp edge on this handgun and it went “Bang” every time we pulled the trigger.


Our only real disappointment was the lack of an accessory rail. After a few low light classes we feel that night sights on a pistol are extremely limited in application. You simply cannot see your target in darkness without some sort of illumination. A light mounted on a pistol has the added bonus of lighting up those fiber optic sights brighter than tritium, too.

Make and model: SIG SAUER 1911 Fastback Carry 5.11 Tactical Pistol

Caliber:  45 ACP

Barrel length:  4.2″

Overall length:  7.7″

Magazine capacity:  7 + 1

Weight unloaded:  35.4 oz

MSRP: $1899.99



Enter Your E-Mail to Receieve a Free 50-Target Pack from RECOIL!

NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOIL

For years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. Print off as many as you like (ammo not included).

Get your pack of 50 Print-at-Home targets when you subscribe to the RECOIL email newsletter. We'll send you weekly updates on guns, gear, industry news, and special offers from leading manufacturers - your guide to the firearms lifestyle.

You want this. Trust Us.

Add a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to the Free