Best 1911 for Concealed Carry (Guide to Carrying a 1911)

Best 1911 for Concealed Carry

The 1911 is the classic American firearm. Since John Browning first introduced it, the 1911 has been a favorite among the military, law enforcement, gangsters, and recreational shooters alike.  But if there is one group of shooters who never found it to be the perfect fit – concealed carry shooters.

But, as they say, times they are changing. There are now dozens of models designed specifically for concealed carry. The only problem you have now is picking one.

What to Look for in a 1911 for Concealed Carry

Selecting a CCW can be a daunting task. Even if you have settled on a 1911, the choices are almost endless. For most shooters, the term “1911” brings to mind John Browning’s original Model 1911 or the later Model 1911A1- both full-frame, heavy-duty firearms that dominated the military industry for decades. However, they are no longer the only options.

Today there is a multitude of major manufacturers, small-run companies, and custom shops that offer their version of the 1911. Although some are almost identical to the original, others are custom-purposed firearms, including many specifically modified for concealed carry. So, how do you decide?

Size

With a 1911, size is an obvious concern. Larger frame shooters, or those who will always wear a jacket or coat, can get away with a full-frame model. Others will want to consider a compact or even micro version for easier concealment. Remember, giving up size does come with some trade-offs, including less accuracy at distance and some recoil control issues.

Caliber

Choosing a 1911 no longer means choosing .45 ACP. Along with smaller sizes for concealed carry, many manufacturers also offer a 1911 frame in a variety of calibers. Although it is possible to find a 1911 look-alike in almost any popular handgun caliber, the most popular for CCW is 9mm. While many shooters choose the 1911 for the stopping power of the .45, if you cannot control it or shoot it accurately you may be better off downsizing.

Accessories

A big selling point with many firearms are the accessories, after all, it is often the only thing that makes the 1911 standout against the competition. The trick is determining what you need verses what you may want. For a concealed carry 1911 consider the following:

  • Rounded corners and controls to reduce snagging
  • Night sights for quicker target acquisition
  • Larger grip for better control
  • Increased magazine capacity, or extra magazine, to increased ammo availability

What to Look for in a 1911 Holster

1911 Holster

Selecting a concealed carry holster is a balancing act. It needs to be comfortable while allowing the firearm to ride close enough to the body to reducing printing. With a large frame firearm, including the 1911, this can be a challenge.

Due to its size and weight, a 1911 will require a holster that is sturdier than those used with small frame models. It is also recommended that belt attachments are heavy-duty and, if possible, spaced farther apart as this will help distribute the weight. Any time you have a holster riding this close to the body, a sweat guard is also recommended. This will increase comfort and protect your firearm.

Finding a holster that offers the features needed for daily carry of your 1911 will limit your options. Although many holster companies offer Appendix or Outside the Waistband holsters that fit a 1911, are they going to offer the required concealment? Not in most cases. Sure, you can get an ankle holster for a compact 1911, but how practical is that? Plus, can you imagine carrying 24-27 ounces on your ankle every day? Probably not.

The most popular methods for carrying a 1911 concealed are Inside the Waistband (IWB), shoulder, or a low profile Outside the Waistband (OWB), such as a belt slide. Some of the compact 1911s can be carried in other positions, but it is recommended you try before you buy, otherwise you are likely to own a holster you cannot use.

The best advice when purchasing a holster is to buy the best you can afford. Skimp on a holster and you will be shopping for a replacement before long.

Best 1911s for Concealed Carry

Before we get into our list of best 1911s for concealed carry, we should remind you how important it is to wear a good concealed carry belt. 1911s tend to be heavy, and a good leather or nylon carry belt is designed to hold up the weight and not sag.

Now on to the list. Any of the guns here would be a great choice. We recommend buying your 1911 from Brownells. They have great prices and customer service.

Colt Defender

Colt Defender

9MM

Caliber9mm
Capacity8+1
Weight24 oz
Barrel Length3.0 inches
Price$899

.45 ACP

Caliber.45 ACP
Capacity7+1
Weight24 oz
Barrel Length3.0 inches
Price$949

The Colt Defender was first introduced in 2000. It utilized a smaller, but otherwise nearly identical 1911 design and quickly became a favorite among 1911 fans. But, it was still not the perfect concealed carry pistol. That changed in 2016.

When Colt revamped the Defender, they looked to fix or improve everything that keeps it from being top of the heap when it comes to concealed carry. What they came up with was a gun you could not only carry all day, every day, but also count on to get the job done if the time comes.

The first change was the Defender was now offered in 9mm. The lighter recoil, easier to handle round is a favorite among concealed carry shooters. Next, they added checkered G10 black cherry grips. The new grips provide the look of classic wood, the durability of modern synthetics, and just enough texture to improve grip without sacrificing comfort.

The package was finished with a cut-out on the front slide and a full-size beaver tail with an upswept grip safety. This combination increases your ability to conceal the Defender while also making it easier to control.

Colt offers two versions of the Defender- a stainless model (only available in .45 ACP) and a black/blue model (available in both 9mm & .45 ACP). The latter offers a few additional features including a wide notch Novak rear sight and Tritium front sight. While both models are suitable for concealed carry the black/blue version and its improved sights make target acquisition much faster.


Kimber Ultra Carry TLE II

Kimber Ultra Carry TLE II

9MM

Caliber9mm
Capacity7+1
Weight25 oz
Barrel Length3.0 inches
Price$949

.45 ACP

Caliber.45 ACP
Capacity6+1
Weight25 oz
Barrel Length3.0 inches
Price$1087

This is the off-duty/concealed-carry version of Kimber’s Tactical Law Enforcement line. Although designed to meet the rigors of everyday carry by plain clothes and undercover police officers it is a perfect fit for anyone looking to protect themselves and their family.

Like all Kimber models, the TLE II is precision milled utilizing computer-driven machines and features rounded edges, a beveled magazine well, extended thumb safety, and a bumped beavertail grips safety. Each of these features is designed to ensure reliability and ease of use when it counts most.

The lightweight aluminum frame cuts weight to a manageable 25 oz., making it comfortable even for all-day carry. It also includes a Double Diamond Trigger, match-grade barrel, full-length guide rod, and Meprolight Tritium 3-dot sights. 

Experienced 1911 fans know that Kimber makes some of the best examples available and the TLE II now allows you to take that quality with you every day, wherever you go.


Para Warthog

Para Warthog

.45 ACP

Caliber.45 ACP
Capacity10+1
Weight24 oz
Barrel Length3.0 inches
Price$789

Those wishing to carry a 1911 concealed have traditionally faced two problems; capacity, and firepower. If you wanted higher capacity, you needed to sacrifice firepower. If you wanted more firepower, you had to carry fewer rounds. Some began to ask “why not carry a large caliber, snub-nose revolver?” After all, the difference between 6 rounds or 7 is negligible.

But Para Ordinance changes that with the Warthog. With it, you can carry 10 rounds of heavy-hitting .45 ACP. Plus, it comes in a 24 oz. package that shoots as good as it looks. The match-grade trigger, spurred competition hammer, and Para-Kote black matte finishes are as functional as they are beautiful. Top this off with a 3-dot sight, extended thumb safety, internal firing pin safety, and stainless-steel accents and you have a serious contender for best-concealed carry 1911.


Sig Sauer 1911 Fastback Nightmare Carry

Sig Sauer 1911 Fastback Nightmare Carry

.45 ACP

Caliber.45 ACP
Capacity8+1
Weight38.8 oz
Barrel Length4.2 inches
Price$1750

Sig Sauer is famous for their striker-fired and DA/SA models but not so much for their 1911s. This is unfortunate because they have some excellent examples of Browning’s invention in their catalog. One of the best for concealed carry is the Fastback Nightmare.

From its rounded frame, which reduces snags and printing, to the 4.2-inch match grade barrel, and 5-pound trigger pull, everything is designed to make the classic a modern carry gun. Other features include low-profile Siglite night sights, deep rear cocking serrations, and an extended magazine for easy reloading. 

Although slightly bigger than many of the compact models, competitors are offering the Fastback Nightmare Carry which is still easily concealed. Many shooters will find the extra size and weight makes controlling the beefy .45 ACP recoil easier and accuracy better at distance.


Dan Wesson Vigil CCO

Dan Wesson Vigil CCO

.45 ACP

Caliber.45 ACP
Capacity7+1
Weight29.5 oz
Barrel Length4.25 inches
Price$1298

Dan Wesson is one of the most renowned gun designers in the game, so there is little doubt one of his guns would make the list of best 1911 concealed carry models. The problem is picking just one. In the end, it had to be the Vigil CCO. 

The CCO uses a Commander-length slide on an Officer-size frame. While this reduces the overall height and allows it to print less, it does not affect its shootability. Despite being low-profile, having one less round, and smaller grips; it handles well. 

The best part of any Dan Wesson creation is the workmanship and the Vigil CCO is no exception. Everything fits tight, a far cry from many original 1911s. The finish includes hardwood grips, which along with the front strap & mainspring housing, are covered with ample checkering for a better grip when wet. It is topped with a tritium front sight and tactical rear sight for low-light use.


Colt Wiley Clapp Lightweight Commander

Colt Wiley Clapp Lightweight Commander

9MM

Caliber9mm
Capacity9+1
Weight30 oz
Barrel Length4.25 inches
Price$1299

.45 ACP

Caliber.45 ACP
Capacity8+1
Weight30 oz
Barrel Length4.25 inches
Price$1299

Sometimes you need more than a concealed carry gun. Sometimes you need a pistol designed for fighting, and that is exactly what the Colt Wiley Clapp Lightweight Commander provides. 

This is like a traditional Colt 1911 that went to the gym. Everything is toned and ready to defend. The oval grips comfortably fit the hand. Aggressive 25 LPI checkering allows for a positive grip in any condition. The solid series 70 trigger provides a clean, smooth break every time. Dual recoil springs mean it will function flawlessly for 1000s of rounds while still handling the recoil of even the heavy .45 ACP. The low-profile thumb safety prevents snags when drawing, and the extra-wide rear sights allow for quick target acquisition. 

For those looking for an easier-to-shoot, lower recoil option the CWP Lightweight Commander is also available in 9 mm.


Wilson Combat CQB Compact

Wilson Combat CQB Compact

9mm

Caliber9mm
Capacity10+1
Weight37.2 oz
Barrel Length4 inches
Price$2965

.45 ACP

Caliber.45 ACP
Capacity7+1
Weight37.2 oz
Barrel Length4 inches
Price$3065

.38 Super

Caliber.38 Super
Capacity9+1
Weight37.2 oz
Barrel Length4 inches
Price$3650

Wilson is one of the finest makers of high-end firearms, including several 1911 based models. Among their most popular is the CQB. They have taken an already proven favorite and made it even better. Through a combination of modern technology and improved materials, the CQB is a stronger, better shooting firearm that deserves a place in your safe and on your hip.

In-house CNC production of the slide, frame, barrel, sights, and safety allows for a tighter fit and better quality control. Diamond checkering and grooved grip surfaces provide better control even when wet. The ramped rear sight can be used to address malfunctions one-handed. A beveled magazine well allows for faster, smoother reloads. Finally, rounded edges reduce the chance of a snag during a hurried draw.

Everything about this pistol is designed for combat. Whether that combat comes on a distant battlefield or down the street, the CQB is the gun for you. Even though it is a full-sized 1911A1, Wilson has done everything possible to make it a viable concealed carry option, and they have succeeded.


Conclusion

If you are searching for a concealed carry 1911, we urge you to consider one of the models reviewed above. There is something for everyone and in every price range. The one thing they all share is a time-tested design in a comfortable to carry package that will get the job done if the time ever comes.

If you are interested in other firearms for concealed carry, read our article where we discuss our picks for the Best Concealed Carry Guns.

New gun owners might be interested in our article Best Handguns for Beginners. We cover our picks as well as what to look for in your first pistol.

Corey Rawlins

As the founder of Concealed Carry Society, Corey’s vision for the site is to reach out and introduce new people to concealed carry, as well as bring quality Articles, Reviews, and Resources to all firearm enthusiasts. His carry gun is his Glock 19 Gen 5 MOS or his Sig P365 depending on the weather.

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