Best 1911 Under $1000: Which Handgun to Pick?

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1911 has made a historical impact in the world of firearms. After more than a century after its creation, it still remains one of the most widely used guns. Whether you need a handgun for recreational shooting, competitions, hunting, or self-defense, 1911 is a model that you can definitely rely on.

So in this article, we’ll be listing down some of the best 1911 under 1000 models that are available on the market. Moreover, we’ll learn why this is such a good pistol and why it remains so popular for many years.

1911 Pistol: A Brief History

1911 Pistol: A Brief History

1911 was originally invented by John Moses Browning (JMB) and would, later on, become the standard-issue sidearm for the US Military for 70 years. Soldiers needed stronger combat pistols as they found themselves in close-quarter combat against Moro warriors in the Philippines. As new firearm technology continued to be developed, JMB was able to design a magazine-fed, single-action semi-automatic pistol equipped with manual and grip safeties. After a series of military trials and shooting over 6000 test rounds, his design was the only one that managed to pass every single test.

With its impressive and unmatchable performance, JMB’s pistol design, manufactured by Colt, was officially adopted by the US Army in 1911, naming it the model 1911. Over the course of 70 years, the US had bought about 2.7 million models in total. Standing the test of time, 1911 remains one of the most iconic and widely used pistols to date, and we can clearly see why.

How Does It Work?

When the trigger is pulled, it pushes against some other mechanisms in the pistol which trigger the firing process. A firing pin hits the primer of the cartridge and the round launches at an extremely high speed. The bullet exits the barrel at approximately 850 feet per second due to the large amount of force resulting from the combustion inside the chamber. During this process, the slide moves back to eject the empty bullet casing. At the same time, the barrel is also moved slightly downward and backward in order to accept the next cartridge. A recoil spring pushes the slide forward causing a new round to be pulled from the magazine and positioning it in the firing chamber.

1911 Modern Uses

While making our 1911 under 1000 reviews, we’ve noticed that despite being over a hundred years old, you’ll still find 1911s in active service within select military units. Even police departments rely on the firearm when their officers are in the line of duty as it’s widely regarded as one of the most reliable pistols money can buy. Beyond official use in the armed forces and law enforcement, many civilians consider this world-renowned handgun as a top pick in the world of self-defense. You’ll likely see at least one 1911 in the cabinet of most gun enthusiasts, often more. Lastly, sports shooting events are often filled with competitors wielding their 1911 since it’s just as accurate as it is reliable.

Why Cheap Is Good When Buying a 1911 Handgun?

There’s a common misconception that higher-priced products are inherently better but this cognitive bias is bordering on a logical fallacy just because of how many exceptions there are to this thought process. If you’re purchasing a “fun gun” then there’s nothing with being practical and going for a budget model. After all, even cheaper units that fall well below the $1000 mark are still robust enough to enjoy shooting.

The story is a bit different if you plan to use your 1911 for active duty in the armed forces, law enforcement, and similar applications since you’d want to ensure no corners are cut on such a firearm. Another important thing we must mention in our 1911 pistols review is that you should avoid skimping out on your budget when buying a 1911 handgun for competition use. That is because the precise production process of high-end models can sometimes make the difference between silver or gold.

Differences Between Budget and High-End 1911s

  Budget 1911s Expensive 1911s
Frame Cast and machined Precision machined and cleaned
Slide Fitted to simultaneously frame multiple 1911s Individually hand-fitted to 1911 frame
Barrel Production-grade Highly-polished match-grade fit for competition
Sights Fixed black or three-dot sights Fully adjustable high-end sights
Grip Wood panels Exotic hardwood and/or laser engraving
Internals Machine line manufacturing Hand-fitted
Magazine Stamped sheet metal Stainless steel
Finish Parkerized Hand-buffed stainless steel polish

Models Of Some Of The Best 1911 Under $1000

With all the models out there, it can be rather challenging to find the best 1911 for the money. And not just in terms of price, but also the quality and all the essential features. Thus, we’ve decided to help you out, and do some research on some of the best, cheap 1911 models:

Springfield Armory Mil-Spec

The Mil-Spec is a .45 ACP-caliber pistol with a 5-inch match-grade stainless steel barrel and a classic arched metal mainspring housing. It features fixed steel combat sights, a short trigger, and a GI-style recoil system to ensure good performance with little to no hiccups. Another important thing we must mention in our 1911 pistols review is that you can also opt to get this model in a stainless or parkerized finish. Its beveled magazine can hold 7 rounds which is the standard for all the best 1911 for the price. Not to mention, the frame and slide are specially forged making them more durable and resilient. With all of this in mind, this model becomes even more impressive because of its affordable price and high quality that makes it one of the best 1911 under 1000.

Pros Cons
  • Short military-style trigger
  • Standard capacity
  • Available in a stainless or parkerized finish
  • Affordable price
  • Could be further upgraded with a beavertail grip safety


Remington R1

Remington R1 was introduced in 2010. Being more of a tribute to the original 1911 model, the R1 is constructed out of parkerized blue steel and walnut wood. Weighing around 40 ounces, this gun has a nice heft but may be too heavy as a conceal-carry weapon. It attempted to recreate the classic 1911 look while changing out the classic Colt sights with a pair of white iron dot sights. While this helped in making it easier to aim with, this hindered much of the sight customization options available for this model. However one of the main downsides we’ve noticed while creating these 1911 under 1000 reviews is that R1’s stock magazine is not of very high quality and is prone to jamming.

Pros Cons
  • Parkerized finish from the get-go
  • Great diamond grip
  • Cheaper than most models
  • Might be too heavy for some
  • Factory magazines are sub-par


Rock Island Armory M1911-A1 Tactical .45 ACP Pistol

If you’re looking for an affordable 1911 that still retains the quality of the classic models, then you might want to consider this 45 ACP. Rocky Island Armory manufactures these pistols in the Philippines via Armscor and imports them to the United States in Nevada. It resembles the GI models used during World War II and the Vietnam War. Even though it is a budget model, the M1911-A1 features a parkerized finish and a good trigger pull. However, there are visible machining marks on the slide which could be off putting to some. Aside from this, there is also the lack of a barrel bushing which makes disassembly different from other 1911 models. The GI sights are also not as good and maybe too short to get a good aim.

Pros Cons
  • Classic 1911 look
  • Good trigger pull
  • Half the price of popular models
  • Parkerized finish
  • Requires a different disassembly method
  • Mediocre sights


Colt Competition 1911

Being the original manufacturers of 1911, Colt released the Competition 1911 model aimed at competitive shooting. It utilizes the Colt Dual Spring Recoil System that reduces recoil and muzzle flip, increasing shooting precision with continuous shots resulting in a smaller shot grouping. The sights are composed of an adjustable Novak rear sight and a blue fiber optic front sight. The blue sight is then complemented by a blue G10 grip that feels great on the hands. On the downside, the gun is only treated with a blued finish which is less durable than a parkerized one.

Pros Cons
  • 45 ACP or 9mm options
  • Great G10 grip
  • Amazing recoil control
  • Interesting sight design
  • Expensive
  • Blued finish


Taurus PT1911 .45 ACP Pistol

The PT1911 is almost as cheap as the Rock Island Armory models but has all the bells and whistles of a classic 1911. Taurus claims that it can shoot two inch groups at 25 yards which is definitely impressive for a firearm at this price point. It utilizes Novak rear and front sights and features ambidextrous manual safety. The most notable addition that Taurus made to its model is the Taurus Security System which locks the hammer of the firearm in place and can only be unlocked by a special key. To top it off, the PT1911 is protected by a transferable lifetime warranty as a testament to this model’s reliability. This is truly a budget 1911 that you should look out for.

Pros Cons
  • Taurus Security System
  • Affordable
  • Has all the classic features of the 1911 design
  • Novak Sights
  • Dirties easily
  • Hard to clean


Choosing the Right 1911: Tips for Buyers

With the multitude of 1911 models available on the market, you might be experiencing a bit of trouble in choosing the right one for you. Luckily, we have included this guide to help you in narrowing down your options and getting a pistol that best suits your needs.


This refers to the number of rounds that your 1911 can hold in a single magazine. Pistols with smaller capacities are often lesser in size and usually more lightweight and compact. While this would make them easier to carry around or conceal, you would likely need to bring extra 1911 magazines to make up for having less bullets before needing to reload.


This pistol can come in a variety of calibers which can differ between manufacturers. Some of the calibers you might see are .45 ACP, 9mm, 10mm, .38 Super, .30 Luger, .357 Magnum, and .40 S&W. In its original design, the 1911 was chambered with a .45 ACP cartridge that allowed soldiers to have a lightweight yet powerful sidearm in combat. Aside from the size and weight of the rounds, the main differences of these calibers are the amount of recoil and muzzle energy they produce.

best 1911 under 1000 Breaking Bad Season 3
Marco Salamanka with his Colt M1911A1 (aka Colt Gold Cup National Match Enhanced) in Breaking Bad (Season 3)

A 9mm round has less recoil than a .45 ACP and about 335 pounds of muzzle energy, making it a suitable caliber for amateurs or for shooting at the range. Meanwhile, the .45 ACP has a greater muzzle energy of 378 pounds with a little bit more recoil than the previous. The 10mm takes this even further with a muzzle energy of about 615 pounds thereby having the strongest kickback but making it a viable option for hunting or self-defense. Be sure to do enough research on the specific model you’re interested in so you know which calibers it can work with. One of the last things you’d want to happen is to have your pistol not load properly when you need it the most.

Sights and Mounting

The Novak-style sight is one of the most common sight options for the 1911. If you’re looking for something more low profile, good for general use, and won’t snag easily, this might be the option for you. If you’re a competitive shooter, you might need a fiber optic sight that will allow for increased precision and accuracy. For hunters, you might find yourself needing a night sight for those evening hunts. Not all 1911s will have a variety of sights available, so it’s good to invest in one that has the sight options you require.

How Can You Customize Your 1911?

If you’re the type who likes to have plenty of personalization options, you’ll be happy to find out that the 1911 is greatly customizable. Whether you want to improve your performance or just change up the overall look of your firearm, you will have a ton of selections to choose from. Some of the parts that you can easily upgrade include grips, triggers, sights, magazines, and match barrels.

Choosing the Right Caliber for Your 1911

The Colt 1911 is a solid gun regardless of what ammo you have in it but the caliber you choose can have an impact on the overall performance of this tried and tested firearm. While it does actually take 10mm ammo, most people prefer to use 9mm since it’s not only cheaper but more widely used. If you have an entire armory of pistols that are all loaded in 9mm, it’s simply more practical to chamber your 1911 in 9mm too so you can use your existing ammo stockpile instead of having to purchase new rounds whenever you want to fire this handgun. If you’re looking for close-range stopping power and/or are worried about over-penetration in a home defense situation then you may be better off using .45 ACP hollow point ammo instead. The 1911 was also originally chambered in .45 so there’s a sense of historical nostalgia if you go for that ammo type.


Overall, the 1911 is a great handgun to invest in whether you’ll be using it at the range, in the wild, or strictly for emergencies. For its price, the Springfield Armory Mil-Spec is definitely our pick for the best 1911 under 1000 in 2023. Considering its quality performance and relatively inexpensive price, the Mil-Spec has a ton of versatility that all shooters can appreciate. If the Mil-Spec isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, we hope this article has helped you in knowing what to keep in mind when purchasing the cheapest 1911. Until next time and happy hunting!