The 1911 is without a doubt one of the most popular pistols in the country. Its longevity is a testament to the genius of its design. Subtle improvements have been made to John Moses Browning’s iconic design, but it still suffers from one weak spot – the magazine. Because the 1911 pattern pistol is the dominant pistol in competition, I’ve had the opportunity to watch quite a few of them fail for various reasons. The most common reason that 1911s go down though isn’t related to the design of the pistol, but rather the magazines.
It used to be that if you wanted a reliable 1911 you were going to lay out some serious cash to make the purchase. Now, even the pistols imported from the Philippines are running reliably for thousands of rounds when used with quality magazines. Which brings us to the point of this article, namely “buy good magazines” for your 1911. There are a lot of choices out there for 1911 magazines, but several names have risen above the rest when it comes to widely available 1911 pistol mags. The first name that everyone thinks of when they think “1911 magazine” is the Wilson Combat 47D. For years this has been the gold standard in 1911 magazines, providing reliable function and feeding in Wilson’s custom guns and competition pistols across the country. Whenever I see a 1911 go down at a match, my first question is “what kind of mags are you using” – more often than not, if it’s a magazine failure, the answer to that question isn’t “Wilson Combat”.
My personal favorite magazines are the Chip McCormick magazines. These are usually 10-15 dollars cheaper than Wilson Combat magazines, and I personally haven’t experienced any issues with them. They have run a variety of the pistols I’ve used competitively and are still my magazine of choice when I’m buying a new 1911. Chip McCormick also makes a 10 round magazine, which can bring your 1911 up to the competitive standards of the Limited-10 division in USPSA competition.
The last brand of magazines that I’d recommend for regular use are the Mec-Gar 1911 magazines. Mec-Gar manufactures the magazines that are shipped with many different types of pistols, including double-stack mags for S&W and Ruger, and their single-stack 1911 mags are of excellent quality as well. These magazines actually ship with the Armscor 1911s, which are distributed here under Citadel and Rock Island Armory brand names. This is an excellent quality magazine for a reason price, and you wouldn’t be making a poor decision to stock up on these.
All 1911 magazines are not created equal. At IDPA matches, I only use the factory magazines that come with my 1911s as my “barney mag” to load at the start of the stage. All serious shooting in my guns comes from Wilson Combat or Chip McCormick magazines. Feed your 1911s well, and it will be a reliable competition and combat pistol that will last a lifetime. That’s why the 1911 design is still being in combat today.