In the modern era, polymer-framed and striker-fired handguns are the standard for self-defense. Glock, Smith & Wesson, Heckler & Koch, and Walther are among the most popular brands carried by private citizens, law-enforcement officers, and military personnel.
However, the gun owner who wants to carry a hammer-fired, steel-framed handgun has options. The classic 1911 platform remains a practical choice for self-defense and has been modernized to improve its ergonomics and combat effectiveness.
Favored for its reliability, ergonomics, accuracy, and history, the 1911 has maintained a loyal following despite being sold in more or less the same form for more than 100 years.
Originally designed by John Browning, the 1911 has undergone several reworkings over the years. Some of the new-and-improved features you can expect include:
High-visibility fixed three-dot combat sights are the standard, replacing the original low-profile G.I. sights. If you need sights to acquire targets under low-light conditions, tritium night sights are designed specifically for the 1911 platform.
The modern upswept beavertail grip safety with memory bump ensures that you’re able to more reliably activate the grip safety. The extended beavertail also eliminates the risk of hammer bite.
Enlarged and Lowered EjectionPort
By lowering and reshaping the ejection port, the manufacturer can promote a more consistent ejection pattern, lowering the risk of stovepipes.
Several 1911 manufacturers offer pistols with accessory rails machined into the frame for attaching lights and lasers. When searching for a 1911 .45 holster, ensure that it’s compatible with a rail.
Ambidextrous Thumb Safety
Many 1911 manufacturers have included ambidextrous thumb safeties to meet the needs of left-handed shooters. While several other controls remain non-ambidextrous, a right-hand thumb safety is one of the most difficult controls to manipulate with the left hand.
The Best 1911 Holster
The best 1911 pistol holster depends on the make and model you intend to carry and your preferred carry method. However, you should keep in mind that not every holster is compatible with every manufacturer’s product. At a minimum, the holster must be safe, reliable, and accessible.
IWB or OWB
If you intend to carry your 1911 concealed, an IWB holster is one of the most versatile and concealable available. By placing the holster between the waistband of your pants and your body, the weapon and holster are partially hidden by your clothing.
This method is compatible with a variety of handgun types, including the full-size Government Model. However, compact handguns, such as the Commander and Officer’s ACP, are ideal for IWB carry. You may need to buy pants one size larger than usual to maximize your comfort.
Unlike IWB holsters, you wear an OWB holster externally, attaching it to the belt using clips or loops. While OWB holsters are useful for both concealed and open carry, you will need to wear a suitable covering garment for concealed carry.
In warmer climates or during the summer, this can be difficult and uncomfortable. As a result, you’ll need to determine your carry requirements. The criteria that IWB and OWB holsters should meet overlap considerably.
Retention is essential to the safe and secure carry of your firearm. The 1911 holster you choose should be able to hold the gun firmly, preventing it from moving until you’re ready to perform your draw stroke.
In passive-retention holsters that rely on contact points between the gun and the inside of the holster to keep it in place, you should be able to adjust the retention.
Adjustable retention allows you to determine the exact amount of force you need to exert to break the gun free from the holster and complete the draw. You can usually adjust the retention by tightening or loosening one or more screws.
If you intend to carry your 1911 concealed, your holster must be specifically designed for reducing or eliminating printing. Printing is when the gun or holster creates a visible outline through clothing, disclosing that you’re carrying a firearm.
Sometimes the easiest way to do this, given the size of the gun, is to tailor your jacket specifically to conceal the holster and weapon.
While you can minimize printing through strategic wardrobe tailoring and choices and modifying your movements, the holster design will also play a role.
Don’t neglect the importance of a sturdy gun belt for retention and concealability. A gun belt is a specialized piece of equipment, providing a rigid and stable platform for your weapon. It shouldn’t allow your weapon to shift or sag during carry. A dress belt, for example, may cause your weapon to cant outward from your body.
Tactical Gun Belt with Talon Buckle from We The People Holsters
Adjustable Cant and Ride Height
Cant refers to the degree to which your holster rotates forward or rearward. In a neutral cant, the handgun’s muzzle is perpendicular to the ground. When the cant is positive, the butt of the pistol will rise, and the muzzle will lower. When the cant is negative, the opposite occurs. For strong-side carry, you will generally want a positive cant.
The ride height refers to the vertical position of the holster in relation to the centerline of your gun belt. In an IWB holster, a high ride height increases the clearance between the front strap of the frame and the top of your belt, increasing accessibility during the draw stroke. However, this increased accessibility also reduces concealment, exposing more of the weapon as a result.
Adjustable cant and ride height allow you to determine the perfect combination, striking a balance between accessibility and concealability.
When the rear part of the holster extends upward, raising a barrier between your body and the slide, it has a sweat shield or guard. This protective barrier ensures that sweat won’t mar the weapon’s finish, causing the slide to corrode.
Many 1911-pattern handguns have parkerized or blued finishes and are more susceptible to corrosion than other handguns; this can be a highly useful feature.
Fully Enclosed Trigger Guard
Every holster should fully enclose and protect the trigger guard. This is essential for safely carrying your firearm. Your index finger should not be able to enter the trigger guard until you’ve drawn your handgun from the holster. An enclosed trigger guard also prevents foreign debris, whether clothing or a tree branch, from interfering with the trigger.
Our Holsters are Hand-Molded and Made in the U.S.A
At We the People Holsters, we manufacture a variety of IWB and OWB holsters for the 1911 platform, accommodating all major variants — Government Model, Commander, and Officer’s ACP handguns. All our holsters are professionally molded by hand and made in Las Vegas, Nevada.