It’s easy to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a 1911 – the market has almost endless possibilities for makes, models, and custom parts and finishes. But you don’t have to shell out large amounts of money for a great pistol. Many manufacturers offer fantastic 1911s without the high-end price tag, and today we are taking a look at the three best 1911 guns that can be purchased for under $1000.
The top choice has been a favorite of mine for years – the Kimber Custom TLE II.
Kimber has been a renowned maker of quality 1911s for a long time. “Custom” is the name Kimber applies to all its full-size 1911s, so you don’t have to be concerned with custom shop pricing or wait times for this one. It is a great multi-use pistol that is ideal for any role.
The Top Three
Kimber Custom TLE II
The Kimber TLE II is based on the pistol carried by the LAPD SWAT Team.
The matte black finish looks great and eliminates glare coming off the surface. The three-dot night sights are comfortable to see and are very bright, and they make aiming a breeze and ensure you have an advantage in low light. An extended beavertail grip aids in comfort and control.
The hammer and trigger are both lightweight models. The former is flat black with stainless sides, which provides an excellent look with the stainless trigger and barrel. The trigger pull is around 4.5 lbs from the factory and has a nice reset. A stainless steel match grade barrel ensures accuracy. The combination of G10 grips and a textured front strap help the shooter control recoil. The TLE II is very pleasant to shoot.
- Caliber – .45 Auto
- Height – 25″
- Length – 7″
- Weight – 38 oz (with empty magazine)
- Slide Material – Steel – Matte Black
- Frame Material – Steel – Matte Black
- Street Price – Just under $1000
- Quality - Kimber has always been known for producing high-quality 1911s, and this one is no different. The fit and finish are top
notch, nothing on it feels flimsy or weak, the action is very smooth, and when held you can tell what a quality pistol you have.
- Reliability - I haven't experienced any issues at all with the TLE II. While most pistols do go through some break-in period the TLE II has performed flawlessly with all FMJ and Hollow Point rounds I've put through it.
- Appearance - The satin black finish looks and feels great. The subtle pops of stainless from the trigger, hammer, and barrel offset the black just enough, and the factory OD Green G10 grips finish off the look with a unique style all its own.
- Price - While it can be had for under $1000, you will be paying close to that mark. Additionally, if you want the model with the light rail, be prepared to spend about $100 more.
- Ambidextrous Safety - The TLE II does not have an ambidextrous safety, and this could be a deal breaker for some people. I did not have an issue with the lack of this safety, and it can be added later, but keep this in mind if you are going to be shooting with your left hand.
- Aggressive Grip Texture - The G10 grips and front strap checkering are quite aggressive. While it does wonders for controlling recoil, it can be uncomfortable after long range sessions.
Ruger SR 1911
Want a lower price point that’s made in the USA?
The Ruger SR1911 had been a success ever since its release a few years ago. The combination of quality and features, lower price, and the fact that it is made in the USA have been a great combination. The SR1911 features include a low-glare stainless finish, extended beavertail and safety, lightweight hammer and trigger, and Novak 3-dot sights.
These are all the features you’d expect to find on any 1911 costing hundreds more than the Ruger. They have proven to be very reliable, and as with all Ruger products, it is incredibly rugged. It does not have a match grade barrel but is still very accurate. The fit and finish aren’t as good as the Kimber but are nevertheless high quality, and the satin stainless has a beautiful appearance. It is also cheaper than the TLE II.
- Caliber – .45 Auto
- Height – 45″
- Length – 67″
- Weight – 39 oz (with empty magazine)
- Slide Material – Steel – Satin Stainless
- Frame Material – Steel – Satin Stainless
- Street Price – Under $800
- Features for Price - The SR1911 has a ton of upgraded parts for the price you pay. It certainly seems like a higher end 1911 than the price would suggest, and the control layout will please most users.
- Ruggedness - Ruger firearms have always been tough, and this one is no exception. The parts used to make the SR1911 are high quality and its built like a tank. It's a pistol that you can beat around and not have to worry about.
- Made in USA - Unlike some other 1911s in this price range the SR1911 is manufactured in the United States. You can be proud knowing you own the classic American handgun that was actually built in America.
- Fit & Finish - While the fit and finish look good, it's just not as high quality as some other pistols. The stain stainless is a nice look but may show wear over time, and some of the other parts don't have the tightest tolerances.
- Sights - The Novak 3 dot sights are easy to use, but they are not night sights. For this price I would like to see factory night sights included.
Springfield Armory Loaded 1911
What about the all-purpose pistol from Springfield Armory?
The Springfield Loaded 1911 has almost everything you could want out of 1911. Extended ambidextrous safety, extended beavertail, and night sights are standard. The match grade barrel is accurate, and the lightweight hammer and trigger allow you to get rounds on target quickly and easily. It has an excellent reputation, and if you are looking for 1911 that does a little bit of everything, this is a fantastic option.
- Caliber – .45 ACP
- Height – 5″
- Length – 8″
- Weight – 40 oz. (Without magazine)
- Slide Material – Forged Carbon Steel – Parkerized
- Frame Material – Forged Carbon Steel – Parkerized
- Street Price – Under $850
- Features - This 1911 is loaded with upgrades, as the name implies. Night sights, match grade barrel, and extended controls are all included and make for a quality firearm without a huge price tag.
- Reputation - Springfield Armory is a quality maker of 1911s, as well as many other types of firearms. They have a long reputation of having some of the best 1911s on the market and the Loaded model is no different.
- Price - At under $850, the amount of pistol you get for your money is hard to beat. Buying a base model 1911 and installing all the upgrades the Loaded comes standard with would cost hundreds of dollars more.
- Reliability - You may experience a long break in time - reports of malfunctions during the first 500-1000 round are not uncommon. It should run fine after the break in period, but be prepared to spend quite a bit of range time getting it to that point.
- Fit & Finish - While the parkerized finish is tough, it's also rough and doesn't look as good as the Kimber or Ruger finishes. The action may feel somewhat gritty and rough straight out of the box. This will smooth out some over time, but may not go away completely.
Kimber Custom TLE II
These are three great 1911 pistols for under $1000, and the Kimber TLE II continues to be my favorite. It has the best fit and finish of the three; the satin black finish looks great with the small hints of stainless and the green grips. The action is very smooth, and the pistol shoots exceptionally well. It has proven to be extremely reliable as well. The Ruger and Springfield are great alternatives, but I suggest giving the Kimber a try as you are sure to be impressed.