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Best 9mm 1911 Pistols (That You Can Actually Afford) [2023]



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The 1911 is a classic pistol, with a reliable design that’s managed to persist despite a massive amount of competition in the semi-auto pistol market. And when you think of 1911s, you think of its classic cartridge, .45 ACP.

However, though the 1911 is mostly associated with .45 ACP, there are other caliber options available these days. One especially popular alternative caliber is 9mm. 

The downside of 1911s, including 9mm ones, is that the price can get out of hand really fast. So what if you don’t have a few grand sitting around to shell out on a 1911?

Well, you get one of our 9mm 1911 recommendations for normal people. In this guide, we’re going to go over our top 9mm 1911 picks that come at a reasonable price point, meaning under $1500. 

But first, let’s talk about why you might want a 9mm 1911 in the first place. 

WHY A 9MM 1911?

1911s are great guns that helped win back-to-back World Wars, but the classic .45 ACP chambering isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so 9mm has become probably the most popular alternative. 

One of the primary draws of 9mm over .45 ACP for 1911s is the significantly lighter recoil. In fact, the steel frame of a 1911 means that you’ll get even less felt recoil than you would with a polymer-framed 9mm.

The ergonomics of a 1911 are already pretty solid, and 9mm takes them to the next level. There’s a reason the 2011, the 1911’s race gun little brother that typically wins every pistol shooting competition it can be run in, is so popular amongst serious shooters.

On the carry side of things, more bullets and less recoil are always going to be notable advantages in any kind of armed confrontation or defensive situation.

The 9mm’s smaller diameter means that you can get a higher capacity out of a 9mm 1911 vs a .45 1911. Single-stack 1911s (so, most of them) are never going to rival a double-stack carry pistol in terms of capacity, but having more than eight rounds in a modern handgun feels like a necessity.

At the same time, single-stack options are still competition friendly for single-stack divisions for those events that have them. So if you’re looking to shoot, say, IDPA single-stack, this is an absolutely fantastic way to go.

Finally, you get the part and accessory compatibility of a truly ubiquitous platform, but for 9mm. It’s hard to beat the aftermarket options for 1911, especially in the pistol world, and 9mm 1911s allow you to enjoy that while still using 9mm Luger. 

The 1911’s aftermarket is only really exceeded by Glock in the pistol world, with the CZ 75 coming in a distant third, so if you’re looking for something you can tinker with and upgrade, or just swap out the grips on to add a little personal flair, a 1911 is a great option.

Now that I’ve converted you let’s talk about some reasonably priced 9mm 1911 options. 

BEST 9MM 1911S UNDER $1,500

Colt Defender

First up is the Colt Defender, a fan-favorite 1911 in both its .45 and 9mm forms, made by the original manufacturer of the 1911. 

With a 3-inch barrel, the Defender is on the more compact side for a 1911, but still manages to keep recoil to a minimum, making this a light, easy-to-shoot pistol. The small size doesn’t come at the expense of capacity either, with an 8-round magazine. 

All in all, the Defender is ideal for concealed carry. It’s accurate and reliable out of the box. The enhanced hammer is a dream to operate, even for my little, relatively weak hands. Other high points included the upswept beavertail safety, Novak sights, and skeletalized aluminum trigger. 

The basic model rings up for a little over $900, but there are a few other options with different cosmetics that cost a little bit more. Regardless of pick, you should expect to pay less than a grand for your Defender. 

The basic version has a matte, blued finish across the metal components and the textured G-10 grips have a faux wood grain for a very classic appearance. 

Ruger SR1911 Lightweight Commander-Style

Ruger has made a name for itself as one of the most budget-friendly manufacturers in the firearms world, consistently offering a whole lot of gun for not a lot of money. The SR1911 continues this trend by providing an excellent 1911 experience on a budget.

Released over a decade ago now, the SR1911 has earned a reputation as a “working man’s” (or woman’s) 1911, and the newer Lightweight Commander has done nothing to tarnish that reputation.

Ruger SR1911 9mm

It offers some nice benefits over the standard 5” Government model, including a weight reduction of about 10oz, which makes this a great carry option, especially given the 9mm chambering. 

It comes out of the box with Novak Lo-Mount combat sights, a lightweight titanium firing pin that provides both a reliability improvement and makes the pistol far more drop-safe than other 1911s, and a titanium feed ramp insert that wears more slowly than the typical alloy ramps.

Beyond that, it has a lot of the same upgrades that we expect from the SR1911 line, including a skeletonized hammer, a skeletonized trigger (with adjustable stop), a lowered and flared ejection port, a beefed-up extractor, and an extended thumb safety. 

Fitment and finish are typical of Ruger’s par excellence at this price range, and more than a match for 1911s that go for double what this one does.

Remington R1 Enhanced

Retailing for about $700, the Remington R1 Enhanced is the most affordable gun I recommend here, but don’t think that means it’s not still a great quality pistol. 

In fact, the Remington R1 Enhanced boasts a stainless steel match-grade barrel, a fiber optic front sight, and an adjustable, skeletalized match trigger. 

What allows Remington to keep this version of the 1911 so affordable is its simplicity. With its checkered walnut grips, enhanced wide thumb safety, and tactile front and rear slide serrations, the Remington R1 Enhanced has everything you need and nothing you don’t.

Plus, Remington stepped in during World War I when Colt couldn’t make enough 1911s on their own, so Remington knows a thing or two about manufacturing them as well. 

Kimber Pro Carry II

While I do stop and drool over the Kimbers every time I’m in my local gun store (they’re just so pretty!), I don’t find myself recommending them all that often, despite being in the business of professionally recommending guns to people. I think they tend to be overpriced for what they are, and their excellent looks just don’t justify the cost to me.

To me, the Kimber Pro Carry II is a major exception, and it starts at a reasonable $920. 

This is a Commander-style model, meaning it has a 4-inch barrel, so it’s a little bit bigger than the tiny Colt Defender while still being an overall pretty compact pistol. The aluminum frame helps keep the gun lightweight, at 28 ounces, but it still manages a 9-round capacity.

The frame has a gorgeous satin silver finish, while the slide is a nicely contrasting matte black. The checkered rosewood grips finish off the gun’s stellar appearance while still providing a nice, ergonomic feel in your hand. 

Dan Wesson Vigil Commander

Any list of 1911s that doesn’t include at least one Dan Wesson entry should immediately be considered suspect. 

For our purposes here, the Vigil Commander is our recommendation for a 9mm-flavored option, but it's really hard to go wrong. Still, let’s talk about the Vigil.

It is built around a forged aluminum frame topped with a stainless round-top slide. That slide comes with a tritium front sight and a serrated rear designed to reduce glare and make one-handed racking of the slide on a belt or table edge a more positive experience.

The Commander model features the shorter barrel and slide you’d expect, but the 4.25” was still plenty accurate in our testing. The upgraded sights made it to where we didn’t miss the extra sight radius from the full-size models at all, either.

The front and backstraps are checkered to aid your grip even with wet or sweaty hands, and a rounded and smoothed butt, so you don’t scrape your sides and stomach when you’re actually carrying the thing holstered.

All in all, Dan Wesson has some of the best 1911s on offer, and the Vigil is one of their premier carry options. 

LOOSE ROUNDS

The 1911 is an already great gun, so pairing it with the most-beloved modern pistol cartridge sounds like a match made in heaven. 

While some might see a 1911 in anything but .45 ACP as sacrilegious, we definitely think it's more a case of someone getting chocolate in the peanut butter and making something greater than the sum of its parts.

These 1911s have all been tested, used, and abused, and the only disappointment I’ve had with any of them is not getting to add them all to my own personal collection. And the only problem that you should have is deciding which one to add to yours.

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