I’ve always loved the 1911. The classic style, combined with its solid metal frame and hefty .45 caliber rounds made it the gun I aspired to own as a young Marine carrying a Beretta M9 as my sidearm. Then, while visiting my brother in Georgia, I got the chance to fire a 1911 and found the gun to be a perfect match for my shooting style, as I was able to manage a fairly small shot group from 25 yards the first time I laid my hands on the weapon. Enamored, but on a budget, I purchased a Metro Arms American Classic 1911, one of the countless Colt clones on the market and one of the less expensive 1911 models a guy can get his hands on.
For the low price of about $500, I had my very own 1911, and although it was plagued by misfeeds early on, I was able to remedy the issue for just a few more bucks by ditching the weak magazine that came with the weapon for a $20 Wilson Combat mag that hasn’t let me down yet. All in, I had spent $520 on my 1911 that kept pace with my brother’s Sig Sauer 1911 that priced in at twice as much. The gun is reliable, easy to clean (at least it seems that way now), and has held up to the abuse of being my everyday carry for some time.
So why the hell would I buy a Glock?
Although the debate between Glocks and 1911s will likely continue for years to come, I’ve never understood the value in choosing a camp and swearing by it. I grew up around the automotive racing world, with both my father and my older brother serving as professional drivers at one time or another. Racing was always a potential career path for me, though not behind the wheel. Over the years, I’ve been a pit mechanic, a parts-slinger, a marketing and PR consultant, and even an HR guy for racing companies, and regardless of whether you’re drag racing, road racing, or go-cart racing, you can’t spend a day near a race track without hearing two old coots start yelling at each other about Fords and Chevys.
I think Corvettes and Mustangs are both pretty cool, so why can’t I like both Glocks and 1911s?
So while I wandered around my local gun store, shopping for things I didn’t need, I sparked up a conversation with the owner about our respective EDC firearms. He was about my size, and when I mentioned my 1911’s tendency to chafe my side, he recommended I consider making the switch to a Glock. After a bit of discussion, I made the impulse decision to just find out for myself—and I dropped another $520 on the table for a new Glock 19.
Immediately, I can say that the Glock has a significantly smaller footprint for concealed-carry purposes than my five inch-barreled 1911—but that goes without saying, as the G19 is intended to be a smaller alternative to the full-framed Glock 17. More important, in my assessment, is the relative weight. On my hip, the Glock feels considerably lighter, not pulling at my belt or making my pants sag in the slightest.
At six feet tall and just shy of 250 pounds, I’m on the bigger side, and as such, I didn’t have a ton of trouble effectively concealing the 1911, but the Glock is near invisible on my hip by comparison. Although the size plays a significant role in that comparison, the smooth edges of the pistol, compared to the classic styling of the 1911, seem to make the Glock hide a bit better when bending over or squatting down. Also, the 1911 tends to snag T-shirt fabric, so tight T-shirts tend to bunch around the weapon.
Of course, what good is a gun comparison if I don’t use it as an excuse to fire a few hundred rounds out of each at the range? Immediately, it’s worth noting that although I’ve long prided myself as a “.45 guy,” there’s something to be said about being able to buy a hundred rounds of 9mm at Walmart for less than 20 bucks.
It came as no real surprise—I proved to be more accurate with the 1911 at 25 yards than I was with the Glock, something I chalk up to the combination of my experience with the former and the weak plastic sights that come stock on the Glock. With the latter, I found myself impacting the target a few inches low and to the left consistently, but at that distance, a variation in my grip through practice could remedy that, as well as an investment into some better-quality sights.
At 10 and 15 yards, I found the Glock to be the superior pistol for rapid-fire grouping, as the significantly reduced recoil made reacquiring my target incredibly easy when compared to the 1911. Despite my higher level of familiarity with the 1911, I still managed tighter groups with the Glock time after time, regardless of how quickly I fired them.
At 200 rounds apiece over the span of an hour or two, I didn’t experience a single misfeed or jam in either pistol.
Again, although I love my 1911, I’ve never considered myself a militant supporter of the pistol platform as compared to others. I like a good, reliable gun, and the Glock seems to be just that. So if I had to pick, which would I choose? To be honest, it depends on the application.
In states with open-carry laws, the 1911 is a great option for any shooter, but if you’re looking to carry concealed, a full-frame 1911 may not be the right choice for you. Bigger guys like me can pull it off, but a bystander with a good eye and a tactical mindset would almost certainly notice the slight footprint of the pistol at some point as I moved about. A commander-style 1911 would likely be a better choice for concealed carry options, but again, in my opinion, the styling of the 1911 makes it more apt to chew on your side, especially if you don’t have an undershirt tucked beneath the holster. The 1911 is highly customizable and makes for a great desk weapon—something shiny, heavy, and stylish.
For the same price, the Glock 19 makes for a better everyday carry weapon if you want to ensure you keep it hidden. A Glock 17 would likely suffer the same footprint issues as the 1911. I’ll be ordering new sights for my Glock in the near future, as the stock plastic ones just aren’t quite to my liking, but they do a sufficient job for self-defense purposes. If you’re betting beers on round placement though, I’ll take the stock sights on the 1911 over the Glock’s.
My cheap 1911 did require an aftermarket magazine to keep it functioning properly, but because it rang in as cheaper than the Glock initially, the two price points are pretty close to identical.
As I play with my new Glock for a while, I may eventually come to love it more than my trusty old 1911, but for now, I’m happy to say that they’re both great guns with incredible histories and unique styles of their own. Like Ford versus Chevy or Apple versus Android, you’ll really have to pick one based on your own comfort and familiarity. In my book, if you’ve got 500 bucks to spend, you can’t go wrong with either pick—but both may require a visit to the aftermarket in order to make the gun exactly what you want it to be.