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Smith & Wesson Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series: 1911 Pocket Rocket


If you were to ask for a show of hands among RECOIL’s editorial staff regarding who would actually like some form of 1911, mine would not be among them. Iain? Absolutely. Candice? Indeedy. Me? No. Hard pass. Through what can only be described as a comedy of errors and logistics, somehow I ended up being the one to review a 1911 carry pistol from Smith & Wesson.

We were first introduced to this compact option in late 2017 at Smith & Wesson’s Massachusetts facility, and they officially launched it just before SHOT Show 2018. On the surface, nearly everything about the Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series 9mm is either totally wrong or totally right, depending on your perspective:

> Modernized 1911 pattern
> Compact
> Bushingless
> 9mm

We’re talking about an old pistol — well, sort of. While the 1911 was developed by John Browning back in the late 19th century, modern examples are a far cry from what your great-great-great grandfather may have carried under General Pershing. If you had a time machine and brought an S&W Pro Series 9mm back to 1918, it’d still be recognized as something based off of a 1911. But it would get the side eye.

The proponents who grumble and drool about the design being, “over 100 years old!” and “won two World Wars!” have a convenient blindness to the numerous major and minor changes that have taken place over the last century. With that in mind, let’s dive into the Pro Series.

s&w 1911 sights


Sights are personal. We’ve heard that the reason Glock opts for $3 plastic hot garbage sights with their OEM pistols is that they’re meant to be immediately replaced. While the three-dot white sights of the Smith & Wesson Pro Series 9mm aren’t quite as awful as the curtain-rod plastic pieces Gaston brings to the table, they still aren’t fantastic when it comes to the world outside of an indoor range. A nice fiber-optic front sight or even a rudimentary set of tritium night sights would go a long way as a standard option.

For a slightly better sight picture, many will find that blacking out the rear sight with a marker or a paint pen while leaving the front white dot makes for a better sight picture. As it stands, unless you’re going to perform some DIY modding, you’ll have to swap ’em.

Overlayed on a G19.

Overlayed on a G19.


A major change from Browning’s original design that the Pro Series has is a bushingless barrel configuration. While we’ve heard it said before that the bushingless system is absolutely necessary for 1911-pattern pistols with barrels below 4 inches, we have absolutely seen that it isn’t the case. However, a bushingless barrel allows for a longer stroke and a very thick barrel profile. Combine that with the smaller caliber and you end up with a very stiff package indeed. If the barrel is only going to be 3 inches long, you should probably make the most of it. That’s what she said.

The bushingless bull barrel on the S&W Pro Series 9mm also means that compensators, silencers, and other muzzle devices are largely out of the question. As to why someone would want a comp on a carry gun? See CONCEALMENT Issue 5. And as always, if it can have a silencer mounted, we like to at least try it out with a silencer mounted. Because reasons.

Unlike some other bushingless 1911 designs, the S&W Pro Series 9mm can be field stripped without the need for any specialized tool (squinting at you, Kimber). Even if you’re unfamiliar with 1911s, field stripping for cleaning is very easy to accomplish after a mere handful of repetitions. Admittedly, the first time we pulled the barrel out from the front of the slide a strong and strange sense of weirdness struck us.

smith and wesson 1911 pro series

For the rest of this article, subscribe here: Concealment 10

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