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Government (5") vs Commander (4") model

Discussion in '1911 Forums' started by RightYouAreKen, Nov 25, 2010.

  1. RightYouAreKen

    RightYouAreKen

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    Aug 20, 2010
    WA
    Update on purchase decision on page 4!

    Hi all,

    I have been lurking in the 1911 forums for months now as I contemplate which 1911 to make my first. I've got a G19 now that I shoot at least once a week, and am looking to add something with a bit more heft/history/class, and I've been dreaming about owning a 1911 for years.

    I've shot several at the local range, including government models from Nighthawk, Rock Island, and Springfield, and one commander size model in a Kimber Pro Carry II which launched brass at my face the whole time (ouch!).

    I am torn which size to get in my first 1911. I like the idea that a commander size would be easier to carry/conceal if I felt like carrying that one day instead of the G19, but I wonder if they are more issue prone and less nice to shoot on a regular basis than a full size government model.

    I like simple and classy designs, so have been primarily focusing on the Springfield mil-spec or loaded models, the Pro Carry II or Custom II Kimbers, and the Colt 1991 models.

    So, I guess my question is: Do you find fullsize 5" government model 1911s shoot any better/nicer/more reliably than a 4" commander size 1911? If not, I think I'll probably go with a commander model to start, for it's increased versatility.

    Thanks for your feedback!
    Nathan
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2010
  2. Personally, I like the 5" Gov't Model 1911s best. I just like their balance and overall feel better. I've also found them to be the most reliable 1911 overall....at least for me. That's not to say the shorter versions can't be...but the timing gets to be a little more critical the shorter you go, IME. In any case, I wouldn't shy away from a Commander-sized gun if that's what I really wanted. I do have a couple, and they are fine...and they are a little better for carry, IMO.
     

    Last edited: Nov 25, 2010

  3. Huevos

    Huevos

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    May 21, 2004
    Idaho
    I always suggest a full size (5") all steel gun for someones 1st 1911. Best to get used to the platform with the original design. Also, just fyi, a Commander size is a 4-1/4" barrel, a 4" barrel is a Pro or compact depending on the frame.
     
  4. PlayboyPenguin

    PlayboyPenguin

    4,472
    4
    Jul 19, 2008
    I much prefer commander sized 1911's. I pretty much own them exclusively. I find the government sized models to be poorly balanced in my hand. I also prefer the over all aesthetics of the commander models.

    As far as reliability, the commanders are time tested and proven.
     
  5. bac1023

    bac1023

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    Sep 26, 2004
    PA
    Commanders are 4.25". Kimber Pros are not commanders.
     
  6. GreyEclipse

    GreyEclipse TheGreyEclipse

    1,924
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    Feb 18, 2010
    GA&WY
    Full size 1911's are my fave.

    Since you already have a service size gun then you should go ahead and get the full size 1911. You already have versatility with your G19. I say everyone should have a full size handgun, a "service" size handgun and a compact handgun. A pocket gun is also an option but I prefer guns that I can get a full hand on.
     
  7. bac1023

    bac1023

    102,955
    2,911
    Sep 26, 2004
    PA
    Mine too.

    In fact, I only buy them with full size frames, but 5" barrels are my favorite.
     
  8. MD357

    MD357

    4,124
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    Jul 13, 2008
    For your first 1911 I'd go with a full size steel model. If you learn to carry that, then everything else is cake. FWIW, you'd be surpised how easy it is to carry one with a good belt and holster. My 1911s in a Milt Sparks VM2 print less than a G19 in a VM2.
     
  9. G36_Me

    G36_Me

    1,187
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    Aug 4, 2009
    This thread makes me smile. Take your time and enjoy this journey. There is only one first 1911. You asked for opinions, here's mine.

    1st either gun is a winner, no wrong choice.
    2nd, it more the quality of the manufacturer that insures the reliability than the size of the gun.

    My full size is a Colt (remake of the WWI model) and cannot be beat.
    My smaller, 4.25", is an Ed Brown Executive Carry and cannot be beat.
    For me, I dislike (originally said hate, but that's too strong) my Kimber and gave it to my son. He loves it, there's a host of reasons I don't, but he's a young man and I'm old. 90 out of 100 seem to like the Kimber and will never understand or have the same standards.

    Keep up the search and good luck. Come back with more questions and we will be sure to give you our opinions. In the end, you are going to be a very happy owner.
     
  10. AZ Husker

    AZ Husker

    7,053
    720
    Mar 25, 2003
    Phoenix
    The Colt and the MilSpec will provide very basic guns with few options. If you want more comfort, the Loaded or the Kimbers give you more goodies, most important to me is a beavertail. I have 4", Commander, and 5" guns. I'd recommend starting with a full-size all steel 1911. You get a lot with a SA Loaded, but I prefer an early American Made Kimber.
     
  11. zombiedefense

    zombiedefense Dismember

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    Apr 16, 2007
    For me, the grass is always greener on the other side. I had a full-size Springfield, which I loved, but decided I wanted something more compact for CC.

    Now I have a Kimber Pro Carry II, which I also love, but for the last year or so I've been wanting a full-size again.

    I say start with a full-size, but realize that you'll probably end up with both. (and as soon as I'm out of school, I will too):cool:
     
  12. doc540

    doc540

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    Apr 25, 2007
    Deep SE Texas
    speaks the truth
     
  13. MD357

    MD357

    4,124
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    Jul 13, 2008
    That's interesting, I've honestly never hear anyone say a full sized, steel 1911 was "unbalanced."
     
  14. RightYouAreKen

    RightYouAreKen

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    Aug 20, 2010
    WA
    Thanks for the feedback on your preferences everyone! I really appreciate the advice and experience sharing here!

    It seems like most recommend a full size steel framed 1911 to start. I've been leaning in that direction lately, and the comment that my G19 already fills that "concealable" role for me makes sense. I think it does make sense to get something that is different from what I already have, size and purpose wise.

    One of the activities that I soon want to get involved in is IDPA matches here locally. Is one of the 1911 sizes more suited to this type of use than another? Does the heavier slide/frame of a full size lesson felt recoil and allow faster follow up shots, for example?
     
  15. JK-linux

    JK-linux

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    Mar 5, 2009
    OK, I'll just throw out that I've been shooting 1911's for a while and always seem to come back to less-is-more full sized Government models. Whatever manufacturer floats your boat is fine. There are folks with strong company loyalties but in the end, it's your call. I really like the Commander-sized 1911, but always seemed to find a Government model in my holster even when I owned both types. I'd suggest less is more as far as whizz-bangs go, but there are people who will insist that you absolutely need an extended x or an ambidextrous y for a 1911 to be "good", "reliable" or some other adverb.
    Currently, my carry 1911, and by chance perhaps my most reliable 1911 is a 1992 Norinco 1911-A1 with no fancy finish and a WWI-era spur hammer. Have fun!
     
  16. GVFlyer

    GVFlyer Senior Member

    10,719
    1,787
    Sep 9, 2008
    Somewhere in the air.
    An all steel GI pistol with good sights, like the Remington R1, would be a good first 1911. Full sized 1911s offer better balance and more natural handling than do the shorter barreled/shorter framed 1911s.
     
  17. doc540

    doc540

    2,058
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    Apr 25, 2007
    Deep SE Texas
    Well, ya can't say that again, cause right here in this thread is two of us.:wavey:

    It's not so much "unbalanced" as the Commander is "more balanced".

    Because of my long, boney fingers and skinny arms the full-size Colt 1911's torqued my wrists after a while.

    I tried a Commander in .45 and shot it better.

    Then I went through several 9mm Commanders, and it's turned into a regular, smoke-filled love affair.
    [​IMG]:embarassed:
     
  18. I find this completely funny to have a suggestion without knowing the OP's body built. People start right into the debate of "full size" vs "commander" sizing and concealment and such without ever thinking the OP is either a 300 lbs 6'5" or 120 lbs 5'0" guy/girl. No offense to the OP by my examples.

    This all really depends on your body type and built. And keep in mind that both "full size" and "commander" 1911's are built on the same "full size" frame. True commander is a 4.25" barrel. If carrying IWB then most of the slide/barrel is hidden, and won't show/print much. The frame/grip is what will generally print more than the slide, so keep that in mind. That's why some companies offer a "bobtail" to their full size frame. The bobtail reduce the printing of the main spring housing part of the grip. And the officer frame is a little shorter (in the grip height) for easiest concealment. But those generally have a 3.5" or 3" barrel.

    So if you have a "larger" waist, then the above point might be mute and it doesn't matter. But if you have a slimmer waist, then it does matter for your frame selection.
     
  19. AZ Husker

    AZ Husker

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    Mar 25, 2003
    Phoenix
    Can't be a 3 or 3.5" barrel that's bobtailed. It must be a full-size frame.
     
  20. RightYouAreKen

    RightYouAreKen

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    Aug 20, 2010
    WA
    6'0" and 250lb, so not a rail by any means :)