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1911 9mm: Unholy Matrimony or Match Made in Heaven?

1911 9mm: Unholy Matrimony or Match Made in Heaven?

1911 9mm: Unholy Matrimony or Match Made in Heaven?
27 May, 2024
Logan Metesh

There seem to be two types of gun owners today: those who have embraced the “plastic fantastic” world of 9mm Luger pistols, and those who cling to old traditions of steel 1911s in .45 ACP. The age-old question seems to be: who is right? Perhaps the better question is: what if they’re both wrong?

Georg Luger and John Moses Browning are iconic names in the arms industry, and their inventions have made the world what it is today. The funny thing about this is that no gun owner would deny either of those truths, but most would decry the co-mingling of their inventions.

The idea of adapting John Moses Browning’s 1911 pistol for Georg Luger’s 9mm cartridge isn’t new. Luger’s 9mm cartridge has been around since 1901. Browning’s 1911 pistol has been around since - surprise! - 1911. The now-iconic Hi-Power pistol owes its very existence to this concept, and Browning submitted the initial patent paperwork for that design in 1923, with the pistol finally coming to fruition in 1935. While the Hi-Power is widely and easily accepted, actual 1911-style pistols in 9mm Luger have been slower to gain traction.

More and more models have emerged from manufacturers in recent years as shooters have started to embrace 9mm 1911 pistols, so let’s look at some of the reasons you should, too.


Even though Glock pistols and other polymer striker-fired pistols dominate the market, there are a number of shooters who simply cannot get on board with the design for one simple reason: ergonomics.

For some people, the grip angle on a Glock and similar pistols doesn’t fit their hand properly, regardless of whether or not the frame has finger grooves molded into it. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the Glock’s grip angle - or those shooters’ hands, for that matter - it’s just that some guns simply don’t fit some people. In contrast, the 1911 is renowned for its comfortable grip angle and natural point of aim. A 1911 chambered in 9mm Luger requires no ergonomic modifications for proper function, so it retains all of the benefits of the tried-and-true platform that John Moses Browning created more than a century ago.


Widely praised for its crisp trigger due in large part to the single-action design, the 1911 offers many shooters a higher degree of accuracy than what they might be able to obtain in comparison to striker-fired pistols with trigger safeties.

When paired with the relatively mild recoil of the 9mm cartridge in comparison to the .45 ACP cartridge, shooters can maintain better control and potentially achieve tighter groups, especially during rapid fire or follow-up shots.

Ammo Cost

Without a shadow of a doubt, ammo costs have gone up across the board in recent years. Even reloaders have felt the pain of the price increase, and it’s unlikely that the cost of anything ammo-related is going to come back down. More now than ever, shooters are taking a serious look at the cost per round when picking their ammo, and the simple fact is that 9mm ammo is cheaper than .45 ACP ammo.

In general, you’re going to pay double for .45 ACP compared to 9mm - and that’s just for basic target loads. When you step up to higher end self-defense loads, the cost disparity only increases. (Of course, when it comes to saving your life, the cost of ammo is of truly little consequence.)

At its core, this means that practice sessions on the range are more affordable with a 1911 in 9mm, and when things are more affordable, you’re more likely to do them more frequently. More practice is always a good thing.

1911 9mm magazine capacity

Magazine Capacity

Opponents of the 1911 tout the fact that you would have to carry a spare magazine just to equal the capacity of the one that’s in the striker-fired 9mm pistol’s magazine. A full-size 1911 in 9mm usually has a magazine capacity of nine rounds. While that’s certainly still less than the alternative, it’s at least better than .45 ACP.

Plus, with the emergence of double-stack 1911s and 2011s, magazine capacity can be as many as 17 to 20 rounds of 9mm in a platform that stays true to the 1911 roots with little change in size or ergonomics.

The Other Side

Of course, there are drawbacks to 9mm 1911s. Here are two of the biggest ones:


While there are options on the market for polymer-frame 1911s, they are few and far between, so it’s more than likely that you’ll end up with a gun with a metal frame. The added weight of a steel-frame 1911 in 9mm Luger compared to a polymer pistol is going to be beneficial in terms of reducing felt recoil when shooting, but it’s also going to potentially increase fatigue and discomfort when carrying that gun for self-defense situations. If the gun is too heavy and uncomfortable, then you’re less likely to carry it, and a gun that you have for concealed carry that you don’t carry is useless.

Magazine Capacity

Wait a minute, wasn't the magazine capacity mentioned above as a benefit? Yes, but it’s also a drawback. Magazine capacity has long been one of the major sticking points when it comes to the 1911. Because it was originally designed to fire the .45 ACP, which is a physically larger cartridge than the 9mm Luger, its magazine capacity is limited. Factory magazines for 1911s in .45 ACP are usually only seven rounds in a single-stack magazine. In contrast, factory magazines for full-size pistols in 9mm are usually 15 rounds in a double-stack magazine.

If you want to increase the carrying capacity afforded by a double-stack 1911 or a 2011, then you’re also going to increase the size and weight of the gun you’re carrying.

Which is Right?

In the end, it’s up to you. It’s your gun and your money. There is no right or wrong answer here, but make no mistake: the internet will judge you - but the opinions of keyboard warriors are unimportant. Your opinion is the only one that matters.

Take it all in, weigh the pros and cons of each, and decide for yourself if a 1911 in 9mm Luger will be your next gun purchase.

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