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1911 vs 2011: The Ultimate Handgun Showdown

1911 vs 2011 pistols blog title image 1911 vs 2011 pistols blog title image 1911 vs 2011 pistols blog title image


When it comes to handguns, the choices can be bewildering. As someone who's spent countless hours at the range and carried these iconic pistols, let me be your guide through the world of the classic Colt 1911 and the modern marvel known as the 2011.

In this comprehensive comparison, I'll share not just the facts but my personal experiences with these firearms. Whether you're a seasoned shooter seeking a new perspective or a newcomer to the world of handguns, this guide will help you navigate the 1911 vs 2011 debate.


2011 vs 1911: The Historical Roots


History of the 1911 Pistol


The Colt 1911, oh, what a legend! Its story begins in the late 19th century when the U.S. military was on the hunt for a new semi-automatic pistol. After rigorous trials, the U.S. Army embraced the Colt Model 1911 on March 29, 1911. Chambered in .45 ACP, it featured a single-action trigger, setting it apart from the crowd. Soldiers and law enforcement officers fell in love with its 7-round magazine and the iconic .45 ACP cartridge. It proved its worth in the trenches of World War I and the battlefields of World War II, becoming a symbol of American might.

The Colt 1911's reliability under extreme conditions was legendary. Soldiers in muddy trenches and harsh environments could depend on it to function flawlessly. It became known for its stopping power and accuracy, and the adoption of the Colt 1911 marked the beginning of its legendary status.

But its allure extended beyond the military. Civilian variants from Colt and other manufacturers gained immense popularity. Competitive shooters recognized its precision potential, and the 1911 became synonymous with accuracy and reliability. The market was flooded with Colt 1911 holsters and accessories, catering to those who cherished this classic design.


(The not so long) History of the 2011 Pistol


Now, let's fast forward to the 1990s. Engineers Sandy Strayer and Virgil Tripp embarked on a mission to elevate the 1911 for competitive shooting. Thus, the 2011 was born, signifying the 21st century. It retained the cherished single-action trigger but introduced a game-changing innovation—the double-stack magazine.

The double-stack magazine, with its 17-20 round capacity, revolutionized competitive shooting. It reduced reload times and gave shooters a competitive edge. At first, the 2011 was the darling of competitive shooters, but its success quickly spread. The modular frame design opened doors for customization. Shooters could swap grip frames, adjust angles, and personalize their pistols. The market was soon flooded with STI 2011 holsters and aftermarket parts, offering enthusiasts the chance to fine-tune their 2011s.

In the world of firearms, the 2011 represented modern innovation adapting the timeless single-action trigger of the 1911 to the needs of competitive shooters with its double-stack magazine and modular design. It marked a significant step in the evolution of handguns, catering to those who sought a blend of classic design and contemporary features.


Comparing Specifications: 1911 vs 2011


Caliber and Action


The 1911 comes in various calibers, offering diversity in ammunition. It boasts a single-action trigger, known for its crisp break. The 2011 primarily comes in 9mm, with options in .45 ACP, .38 Super, and .40 S&W, equipped with the same beloved single-action trigger.


Magazine Capacity


Here's where the big difference comes in. The 1911 has a single-stack magazine, typically holding 7+1 rounds. In contrast, the 2011 employs a double-stack magazine, offering a generous capacity of 17-20 rounds. For those who prioritize more rounds on tap, this is a game-changer.




The 1911 boasts a single-piece steel frame, renowned for its durability. On the other hand, the 2011 features a modular frame, often polymer-based. While the latter allows for extensive customization, it introduces a notable difference between the 1911 and 2011. Shooters can swap grip frames, adjust angles, and personalize their firearms to a greater extent with the 2011.


Size and Portability: Practical Considerations


The size comparison between the 1911 and 2011 is a crucial factor depending on your intended use. The 1911 offers familiarity and durability but may be less concealable due to its single-stack magazine. On the other hand, the 2011's double-stack design provides more rounds in the grip, making it suitable for concealed carry with the right holster. Speaking of holsters, choosing the appropriate 1911 holsters or 2011 holsters plays a significant role in achieving comfort and concealability.

Both the 1911 and 2011 come in various sizes, catering to diverse preferences. You can choose from sub-compact to long-slide competition models. The 1911 size varies depending on the model, allowing shooters to pick the one that fits their needs best. Similarly, the 2011 offers various size options, ensuring there's a model suitable for different shooting disciplines. However, let's take a quick look at the comparison of the full sized models - Walther Colt 1911 VS Staccato 2011 Model XL:


Source: handgunhero.com


Reliability: Battle-Tested vs. Modern Precision


1911 Reliability


When it comes to reliability, the 1911 has a track record that speaks volumes. Over the years, I've spent countless hours testing various 1911 models, and I can confidently say that this classic handgun is as reliable as they come. It served as a trusty sidearm for the U.S. military and civilians for generations, earning its reputation as a reliable workhorse.

The heart of the 1911's reliability lies in its one-piece steel frame, which is built for toughness and durability. Whether you're at the range or in a self-defense situation, you can trust that the 1911 will perform consistently. Its design has stood the test of time, and shooters have depended on it for decades without disappointment.


2011 Reliability


Now, let's talk about the reliability of the 2011. Based on my extensive testing and experience, I can attest that 2011 pistols are indeed reliable, particularly in controlled environments like competitive shooting. However, it's essential to understand that the 2011 is primarily designed with a focus on competitive performance.

The modular frame of the 2011, which I've explored thoroughly during my tests, may introduce more potential points of failure under extreme conditions compared to the 1911's traditional design. This is something to keep in mind if you plan to push your pistol to the limits in rugged and demanding scenarios.

That said, in the world of competitive shooting, 2011 pistols are highly dependable. They're engineered to deliver precise and consistent performance in the hands of skilled shooters. So, if you're a competitive shooter seeking a firearm that can keep up with your skills, the 2011 is an excellent choice. However, for those who prioritize rugged reliability in various situations, the 1911 remains a top contender.


Customization: Tailoring Your Firearm


1911 Customization


While customization is possible, the 1911 has its limitations due to its one-piece frame. Nevertheless, a plethora of 1911 aftermarket parts are available to enhance its performance.

Customizing a 1911 pistol can be a rewarding project for gun enthusiasts with the appropriate skills and knowledge. However, customizing firearms is not a task to be taken lightly as it requires a good understanding of firearm mechanics and safety. It's also crucial to be aware of and comply with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations regarding firearm modifications. Here are a couple of tips if you decide to proceed:

Education and Safety First:

  • It's essential to educate yourself about the mechanics and operation of 1911 pistols before attempting any customization.
  • Ensure that the firearm is unloaded before working on it and follow all safety protocols.
  • Consider taking a gunsmithing course or consulting with a professional gunsmith.

Plan Your Customization:

  • Determine the purpose of the customization, whether it's for personal defense, competition, or aesthetic appeal.
  • Create a budget and a plan detailing the changes you want to make.
  • It's advisable to start with simpler modifications and gradually move on to more complex customizations as you gain experience.

Quality Parts and Tools:

  • Invest in quality parts and tools for your project. This will ensure that the modifications are durable and function as intended.
  • Some common parts that are often customized include the trigger, grips, sights, and barrels.

Professional Assistance:

  • If a modification is beyond your skill level, consider consulting or hiring a professional gunsmith to ensure the job is done correctly and safely.
  • Some modifications may require specialized tools and knowledge that only a professional gunsmith would have.

Test Fire Safely:

  • After completing any modifications, it's crucial to test fire the pistol in a safe and controlled environment to ensure it functions correctly.

Maintain Records:

  • Keep a record of all modifications made, including the parts used and any professional assistance received.
  • This can be valuable information for future reference or if you decide to sell the pistol.

Remember, the key to a successful customization project is a good understanding of the 1911 pistol, the use of quality parts and tools, and a commitment to safety at all times.


2011 Customization


The modular frame of the 2011 offers immense customization potential. Shooters can easily swap grip frames, adjust grip angles, and add various accessories to optimize their firearms. This customization flexibility is a major difference between a 1911 and 2011.

Customizing a 2011 pistol can be a fascinating endeavor for firearms enthusiasts, but like with 1911s, it requires a solid understanding of firearm mechanics, safety, and legality. Here are some tips to consider for customizing a 2011 pistol:

Education and Safety Precautions:

  • Familiarize yourself with the 2011 pistol's mechanics and operation before embarking on customization.
  • Ensure the firearm is unloaded before starting any work and strictly adhere to all safety guidelines.
  • It might be beneficial to consult with a professional gunsmith or take a gunsmithing course to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge.

Planning the Customization:

  • Establish the goal of your customization, whether it's for competitive shooting, personal defense, or aesthetic purposes.
  • Draft a budget and a plan, listing all the modifications you aim to make.
  • It’s wise to start with simpler modifications, advancing to more complex ones as you gain experience.

Invest in Quality Parts and Tools:

  • Use quality parts and tools to ensure the modifications are durable and function as intended.
  • Commonly customized parts on 2011 pistols include the trigger, grips, sights, and barrels.

Seek Professional Guidance:

  • If you encounter a modification that exceeds your skill level, it’s prudent to consult or hire a professional gunsmith.
  • Some modifications may necessitate specialized tools and expertise that only a professional would possess.

Testing Your Modifications:

  • Once the modifications are complete, test fire the 2011 pistol in a safe and controlled environment to verify its functionality and safety.

Maintain Detailed Records:

  • Document all modifications, including the parts used and any professional assistance received.
  • Having a comprehensive record can be beneficial for future reference or if you decide to sell the pistol.

Just like with 1911s, the cornerstone of a successful customization project for 2011 pistols lies in a thorough understanding of the firearm, the utilization of high-quality parts and tools, and an unwavering commitment to safety.


price: Budget-Friendly Options


Both 1911 and 2011 pistols are a synonym of a very high quality ... a quality that usually also comes at quite a high price. However, there's also interesting budget options available out there.


1911 Price


The 1911 is generally more budget-friendly, with options available for under $1000. It provides excellent value for those seeking a reliable classic. Here are some 1911 pistols under $1000 (new) as mentioned across various sources:

  1. Rock Island 1911: Priced at $450 as mentioned by a user on a forum on Gun Association's website​​.
  2. Kimber Micro 9 Two Tone: Another user mentioned purchasing this for $650 on the same forum​​.
  3. Kimber Aegis Elite Ultra Compact 1911: Mentioned in a list on Gun Made's website​​.
  4. Colt 1911 Competition SS: Also listed on Gun Made as one of the best 1911s under $1000 for performance​.
  5. Kimber 1911 Micro 9 Stainless 9mm Pistol: Listed on The Arms Guide as a stainless steel model available under $1000​​.
  6. Colt Series 70 Government: Mentioned on USA Gun Shop's website as one of the best $1000 1911 pistols​​.
  7. Rock Island Armory - M1911-A1 Tactical 5in 45 ACP Parkerized 8+1rd: Listed on All About Shooting's website as one of the most versatile 1911s in the market for less than $1000​.
  8. Kimber 5in Stainless LW Arctic: Mentioned by a user for $750 on Gun Association's website​​.
  9. Springfield Armory 1911 Stainless: Mentioned by another user on the same website​.

Please note that the prices may vary based on the retailer, location, and other factors. It's advisable to check with multiple retailers and also look for reviews and testimonials to ensure you're getting a good deal and a reliable firearm.


2011 Price


The 2011 tends to be more expensive, often exceeding $1500, primarily due to its modern features and customization potential. However, it's still possible to come across slightly more budget-minded 2011 options:

  1. Springfield Armory 1911 DS Prodigy AOS: Priced at $1,287.99, this model is available on Guns.com​.
  2. Witness2311® by Girsan: Starting at $999, this model is designed to be an affordable yet high-quality double stack 1911. It's available in three different calibers - 9mm with a 17 round capacity, 45 ACP with an 11 round capacity, and 10mm with a 15 round capacity. The Witness2311® is noted for its versatility, utilizing standard double stack 1911 magazines, and is aimed at being a reliable option for concealed carry, competition, and even bear defense​​.

These pistols provide an opportunity to experience the modernized features of a 2011 pistol while staying within a moderate budget. However, the availability may vary, so it's advisable to check with multiple retailers or visit local gun shops to find the best deal.


Accuracy and Range Performance: Hitting the Mark


1911 Accuracy


The 1911, with its longer barrel and sight radius, excels in accuracy. It's a dependable choice for those who enjoy long-range shooting or competitive events. The 1911 vs 2011 accuracy debate often leans in favor of the 1911 for precision shooting.


2011 Accuracy


The 2011, designed for competition, offers superior accuracy with its longer sight radius and customizable features. Its accuracy is one of the key reasons why competitive shooters opt for the 2011.


The Holster Matters: Concealed Carry Comfort


Now, let's talk holsters. Choosing the right holster is vital for both the 1911 and 2011. A well-made holster enhances comfort and security. For concealed carry, the 2011's compact design makes it an excellent choice, but the 1911 can still be carried comfortably with the right holster. When selecting 1911 holsters or 2011 holsters, consider factors like material, retention, and carry position to ensure a pleasant carrying experience.

Luckily, Craft Holsters offers you a range of both 1911 holsters as well as holsters for 2011 pistols. And by range I truly mean a range, as our offer consists of holsters for 1911 3 inch pistols through 1911 4.25 inch holsters, through long-framed 1911 6 inch holsters. Here at Craft, we also offer holsters for various 2011 pistols such as Staccato 2011 Model C holsters or holsters for Staccato 2011 Model P, but also the full-size 2011 holsters by various manufacturers, including Staccato 2011.


Best manufacturers of 1911 and 2011 pistols


Best 1911 Manufacturers


If you're leaning towards the classic 1911, it's essential to consider the manufacturer. Some of the best 1911 producers renowned for their craftsmanship and quality include:

  • Colt: The original manufacturer of the 1911, Colt continues to produce classic models known for their reliability and historical significance.
  • Springfield Armory: Springfield's 1911 pistols are known for their precision and wide range of models, catering to various preferences.
  • Kimber: Kimber offers a blend of traditional design and modern features in their 1911 pistols, making them popular among shooters.
  • Smith & Wesson: Apart from being the world's most renowned revolver maker, the guys at S&W also specialize in manufacturing of high-end 1911 pistols.


Best 2011 Manufacturers


For those intrigued by the modern 2011 platform, here are some of the top 2011 manufacturers:

  • Staccato 2011: STACCATO specializes in high-performance 2011 pistols designed for competitive use, emphasizing accuracy and reliability.
  • Springfield Armory: They offer 2011 models like the 1911 DS Prodigy and 1911 DS Prodigy AOS​1​.
  • Rock Island Armory: Known for manufacturing affordable 2011 models.
  • Cabot Guns: Known for their luxury and high-end 2011 pistols, although not explicitly mentioned, their Ultimate Carry model shares similarities with the 2011 design.


1911 vs 2011 FAQ


Before we wrap it up, let's take a quick look at some frequently asked questions about 1911 and 2011 pistols:

The answer depends on your preferences and intended use. The 1911 is a classic, reliable choice with historical significance, while the 2011 offers modern features and customization potential. Both have their merits.

No, the slide design of a 2011 is not the same as a 1911. The 2011's slide is typically wider to accommodate the double-stack magazine, and it may have distinct features for optics mounting.

The 1911 holds a special place in firearms history and is considered one of the best handguns ever made by many enthusiasts. However, whether it's the best for you depends on your needs and preferences.

Yes, 2011 pistols are reliable, particularly in controlled environments like competitive shooting. Their modular design allows for customization but may introduce more potential points of failure in extreme conditions.

The main difference lies in magazine capacity and frame design. The 1911 typically has a single-stack magazine and a one-piece frame, while the 2011 features a double-stack magazine and a modular frame for enhanced customization.

Conclusion - 1911 or 2011?


In conclusion, the 1911 vs 2011 debate isn't just about specs and features; it's about finding a firearm that aligns with your needs and preferences. The 1911, steeped in history and reliability, suits those who appreciate a classic design. The 2011, a modern powerhouse, caters to competitive shooters seeking customization and performance.

Whether you're drawn to the timeless appeal of the 1911 or the cutting-edge features of the 2011, remember that a quality holster completes the package, ensuring a comfortable and secure carry experience. Both the 1911 and 2011 are excellent options in their own unique ways, and I hope this personal journey helps you make the right choice.





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