I’ve owned a 1911 for some time, and although I’ve had other pistols before it, I’ve found that there aren’t very many guns I’m more accurate with than my trusty old black and brown .45. To be honest, I’ve never put much stock into the Glock vs 1911 debate.  They’re both reliable, accurate, and easy enough to clean once you get the hang of it (though the Glock is admittedly a bit easier).  In my opinion, the 1911 vs Glock argument is no different from the Ford vs Chevy one – it really comes down to individual models and owner preference.

Now, I’m certain that plenty of 1911 (and other .45) owners will bring up the increased stopping power allotted by their larger ammunition.  Many Glocks are chambered in 9 millimeter – a smaller round that some would suggest offers a reduced ability to transfer the kinetic energy from the bullet into the target.  Nine-Mil guys will reply by countering those claims using math and science (two things I’ve never excelled at) before bringing up the increased magazine capacity provided by choosing a smaller round.

Now, I own both a 1911 and Glock 19, and recently I’ve taken to carrying the Glock more often because of its smaller footprint and lack of jagged edges chewing away at the love handles I’ve carefully crafted out of cheap vodka and expensive steaks over the past few years.  At the range, I’m admittedly more accurate at twenty-five meters with the 1911 than I am with the Glock, but I’d chalk that up to the shooter, rather than the gun.  They’re both great platforms that have proven themselves time and time again in combat and at ranges all over the world.

So, because I skipped most of my high school and college math classes, and because the differences in accuracy between a .45 and a 9mm aren’t more pronounced than my own limitations, I’m left with only one real means of comparison to help me decide which cartridge is right for me when I head out into town: which one is used by cooler movie action heroes?

The 9MM Team

John McClane (Die Hard), Martin Riggs (Lethal Weapon), and John Wick (John Wick)

Fun movie fact, the 9mm Beretta 92 you can see Bruce Willis’ John McClane carrying in the first (and best) Die Hard movie is the very same 9mm Beretta 92 you can see Mel Gibson’s Martin Riggs carry in Lethal Weapon.  Both of these protagonists display an incredible amount of 80’s movie awesomeness, with McClane throwing Professor Snape out a window and Riggs fighting Gary Busey’s Joshua in the rain to prove, once and for all, that he’s the best Special Forces guy in Danny Glover’s front yard that day.

Because I grew up watching these movies (Die Hard remains a Christmas tradition in my house) I consider each of these guys to be the very definition of bad ass – but the fact that they were both playing police officers that were clearly issued the Beretta could take away a bit of the coolness factor.  The fact that their movie-ending victories didn’t rely on their 9mm guns of choice also hurts.  These issues would normally give the advantage to the .45… were it not for 2014’s John Wick.

Wick, played by Keanu Reeves, is a retired assassin that decides to go on a murderous rampage, laying waste to the entire Russian mob because a bad guy killed his puppy.  If that doesn’t sound awesome to you, the part of your brain that watches movies must be broken.

John Wick uses a number of weapons throughout the movie, but his primary pistols, the ones he has buried in concrete beneath his basement, are Heckler & Koch P30Ls.

These 9mm pistols don’t seem to have any trouble dispatching Wick’s opponents, despite the smaller size of the round when compared to its .45 caliber competition.  In fact, John Wick was such an incredible movie, I would argue that his use of the 9mm more than compensates for both McClain and Riggs opting to resort to their bare hands with the movie’s finale on the line.

The .45 Team

Sergeant Major Basil Plumley (We Were Soldiers), The Punisher (The Punisher), Sarah Connor (Terminator 2)

$500 challenge: Which is a better real-life carry piece for those on a budget, Glock or 1911?

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Unlike the 9mm category, which saw two different pistol platforms, everyone on the .45 team uses the same gun: a 1911.  Now, this isn’t just because I’m partial to them, but I’d argue it’s also because the 1911 has a formidable appearance, making their use on screen an often-intentional inclusion as the director attempts to say something about the person holding the weapon.

Sarah Conner’s use of the 1911 helps the viewer better appreciate her character’s development.  In Terminator, she was a victim that relied on others to protect her.  By Terminator 2, Linda Hamilton’s Connor is pointing a 1911 in your face and karate-kicking hospital orderlies.

Shown: Character development by way of pistol

The Punisher (as played by Thomas Jane in 2004) lingered on the decorative 1911s his father kept in a case before Frank Castle’s (the Punisher) family is killed.  He then uses those same pistols to aid in his quest for vengeance against those who murdered his family.

Most important, however, is Sergeant Major Basil Plumley.  In We Were Soldiers, Sam Elliot’s Plumley chooses not to carry an M16 into the field, opting to rely only on his trusty 1911.  The man epitomizes the bad ass, supremely salty, Sergeant Major we all envision when we imagine a war hero.  Calm, collected, and always angry, Sergeant Major Plumley made for one hell of a movie hero.

Here’s the thing though, the real Sergeant Major Plumley reportedly once led a bayonet charge with nothing but his 1911 in combat, and despite some questioning the validity of parts of Plumley’s acclaim, it’s pretty impossible to deny that a man referred to by his own soldiers as “Iron Jaw,” was totally badass.

The Conclusion

Ultimately, choosing a handgun based on what you’ve seen in movies is a ludicrous proposition, but when it comes to choosing an ammunition standard (and firearm to shoot it with) for your own purposes, there’s nothing wrong with making a purchase just because you like the gun.  If you’re on the fence between a Glock 17 and a 1911, I can assure you that they’ll both shoot straight, they’ll both take down a bad guy or two, and they’re both reliable weapons.  The same can be said for a number of other firearm types and models.

So if you’re going to spend hundreds of dollars on something, make sure it’s something you like.  If you like your Beretta more because John McClane carried one, it’ll make it that much easier to justify the expense in your mind, leaving your conscience clear until it’s time to start spending money on pistol modifications like the ones I’ve already filled three websites worth of shopping carts with for my new Glock.

Remember, for my money, you won’t go wrong as long as you choose the gun you’re comfortable with and practice with it often enough to develop the skillset you need.


Images courtesy of the Internet Movie Firearm Database