It’s been my friend for a long time. Not always a very GOOD friend, but…

Regular readers know my everyday handgun is an unusual choice. A 5-shot .44 revolver wouldn’t be anybody’s idea of a proper gun for a gunfight, but I live way back in the boonies and don’t worry very much about getting into gunfights.

Still, I figured that if I ever did need a fighting handgun I probably wouldn’t go too far wrong with my old 1911. ‘Cause I’m a boomer, and when I got into competing with centerfire pistols in the ’70’s there was only one. Since then I just naturally stuck with .45’s until I moved into the boonies and changed my mind.

But by the time I was done being married I was very deep in the land of the poors. I had sold off my guns long since to make the rent or the mortgage at various times and lost most everything else I owned in the settlement.


In whatever housing I could find from then until I left California, I frequently felt the lack of a handgun. Saving my dimes until I could fix that quickly became a priority. I found this Springfield Armory on consignment and did what I always did – which is to say no due diligence at all. I needed a 1911, could afford this one, barely, so I slapped my money down.


Regret came at a leisurely but fairly steady pace. It had severe feeding problems, fixed only with expensive magazines and a polish job. Even after that it never would feed anything but round nose bullets reliably. The grip safety failed first – then the front sight broke off – then the manual safety broke off – turns out the gun had all manner of powdered metal parts. The hole in the frame for the hold-open lever peened oval…


…and various other bits that were supposed to fit squarely gradually failed to do so…


…but when it wasn’t actually broken, the gun always shot in a reasonably satisfactory manner until recently, when accuracy rather suddenly became “more or less that-a-way.” Because it seems…


I actually managed to shoot out the rifling. Although I’ve put I don’t know how many thousand rounds through it in the past 20-odd years, given the pistol’s other quality issues I suspect this has more to do with the barrel’s metallurgy than with what a prolific shooter I ever was.

Point being, I only own three semiautos and the others are a .22 and a Makarov so now I’m thinking maybe I should think about replacing the 1911. And not with a 1911. What with one thing or another, for the past 40 years or so I’ve completely missed knowing much about the current crop of polymer 9mm’s. In an effort to educate myself as much as possible I recently borrowed a friend’s S&W M&P, expecting to be underwhelmed. But in fact it turns out to be a pretty darned good gun by my standards. So I think I’m going to save my dimes while finding out what’s available out there in the few gun shops in my area. No rush. there’s nothing wrong with the Model 69, I’m just looking to fill a hole in my armory.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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19 Responses to It’s been my friend for a long time. Not always a very GOOD friend, but…

  1. Beaner49 says:

    S&W make a line of M&P 45 acp pistols that are very good.
    I have 3 of them.,one has a red dot on it that I use for everyday carry and competion.
    Since you reload you can craft practice ammo for 22 to 25 cents per round .

    If you want more capacity then go with a 9mm. A full size 9mm will have between 15 and 17 round capacity. And today’s defensive ammo in either caliber is very good.
    Go to the LUCKY GUNNER website for a great testing comparison of ammo of all calibers.
    The ballistic gel videos are great to watch.

  2. Stefan v. says:

    Perhaps an original spec 1911, or a Ruger wheelgun. Something simple and robust and maintainable with hand tools off grid. Personally I’m considering learning the finer art of the sling, as in slaying Goliath. Note that Golly was merely stunned upon infliction of the Rock Mk 1, and was ultimately slain with his own weapon, which then passed into possession of his slayer and served well many years thereafter. Then again there is Ishi, last of his tribe, who did quite well with a 50lb draw-weight bow…he declared the arrow was more important than the humble boing stick that flung it; his arrows were masterpieces and yet never weight matched. He also crafted his neighborhood so that he always knew where he could hide and ambush his prey, ever so quietly.

  3. jed says:

    The just might be the saddest looking 1911 I’ve ever seen. Replacement barrels are available, some ostensibly “drop in”, but I wouldn’t be confident of good lockup in that frame, without some smithing.

    Were I looking for an auto-pistol, I’d certainly be considering S&W, as well as Springfield. From what I’ve read, anyway, both would be good choices.

    OTOH, there’s a little voice in head saying, “Wildey”. 🙂

  4. Mark Matis says:

    Check your PayPal. It got another hit.

  5. Desert Rat says:

    Opinions on which 1911 is better are about as useful as discussing which girl is prettier. With that said, in my opinion (for what its worth) Tisas makes a fantastic 1911 that retails for under $400. I don’t know who sells them in your neck of the woods, but J&G Sales over in Prescott, AZ has them in stock.

  6. Mike says:

    Back sometime in the mid-eighties, I remember buying my first 1911. There were many bull sessions with friends who were shooters and into IPSC, and they all said the same thing, stay away from Springfield Armory. Seeing your beaten to death Springfield Armory 1911, I understand why. 🙂

  7. TP in SC says:

    I’ve put over 900 rounds through my M&P 9 with nary a hiccup, can’t really go wrong with one.

  8. Fred says:

    Maybe another revolver? Semiautomatic handguns are great until something breaks. Stone age technology is great. No bells, no whistles, no fancy gimmicks. My everyday carry is a Springfield XD. I was in the right place at the right time and relieved a financially challenged neighbor of it. But if I had my druthers my EDC would be a double action .357 revolver with a couple of speed loaders. I’ve made a good living for decades fixing broken stuff and the simple designs last longer if it’s built with quality materials.

  9. Fred says:

    I was going to give myself one for a Christmas present this year but my lovely bride got one instead. Maybe next year for me.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Not an issue for some of us, but what’s the expected lifetime of a plastic gun? Will your grandkids be able to shoot it, or will it be powdering or splitting?
    Despite how well made, they won’t hold up. No one will be shooting granddads gun. They’ll throw it away.

  11. Spud says:

    I too , started with a 1911 in the Army. Naturally a Colt.
    Always wanted one but couldn’t afford the price back then . So settled with a Ruger single action 45 LC , . As the Ruger can handle magnum loads . I bow hunt primarily, but always still carry that same wheel gun as a backup.
    Finally in latter life got my 45 auto tho, but not a 1911 nope. Never did like that cocked and locked thing !
    Chose a Sig 220 Elite… probably the finest shooting and reliable auto I’ve ever owned by far. Very expensive though…
    Still carry that old Ruger for hunting however. Ya just can’t beat a wheel gun for reliability.
    Even though the Sig Sauer ,for sure has that hell and back reliability factor.
    It doesn’t have the power of a maxed out hand loaded 45LC, and a wheel gun always goes bang when ya need it .

  12. Tree Mike says:

    Everything above, +, except plastic guns don’t last. When Glock first came out, I was “Hell no!”. Then Glock did a publicity thing with gun writers, Dropped everybody else’s 9mm(and their own). out of a helicopter at 300ft above their parking lot. Only the Glock survived, so they dropped it again at 600ft, the back of the grip cracked, but they did a mag dump into a bullet trap.
    Rental ranges were reporting 2 to 3 hundred thousand rounds through their 1st gen Glocks with replacing only recoil springs and magazines. I got over my dislike of Glocks. Been carrying a Glock 19 since 1990, accurate, reliable, no problems, ever. That said, these days, I would bet most reputable plastic 9’s will be trouble free for a life time. I would go with high capacity because bad guys usually come in groups.
    Springfield got their quality control up properly these days. Have fun researching, shopping.
    Tree Mike

  13. jrg says:

    I haven’t been in the gun market for a while, but I’ve read and heard that some gems can be found in the police trade-ins. Maybe you or one of your gun buddies who is keeping an eye out for your can locate one.

    My favorite .45ACP is a Star PD that has been carried everywhere since the early 1980’s. It isn’t shot that much though so explains its longevity.

  14. You’ve got Gun Jesus in your back pocket….get his advice and try out some of his guns. You’ll wind up with either a Glock, S&W M&P, or an XD. Save time and just buy a Glock.

  15. Kentucky says:

    While I like, and own, many of the usual options, if wanting a one-and-only piece for long-term servicabilty, I’d have to go with a Glock Model 19. Truth hurts.

  16. I’ll second Aesop. Buy a Glock in your preferred caliber, buy some extra recoil springs and a stack of mags. If you go for a 9mm, the Magpuls are just fine and way cheaper.

    The things are stupidly reliable, you can get parts nearly everywhere and nothing is supported by the aftermarket like they are. If someone made me choose between all the pistol brands I have, I wouldn’t hesitate to grab my Glocks.

  17. Mike says:

    I’ll bet the 1911 isn’t as bad off as you think.

    If the slide stop hole is a little too big you can get them oversized.

    If the barrel is gone take off SA barrels can be found. May need a little fitting as most 1911 parts will.

    Good luck with whatever way you go.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I really don’t care for plastic guns… and carry a Glock 19

  19. MikeS says:

    I’d consider getting your old 1911 up to speed. There’s something to be said for the devil you know.
    I’d also put thought into going the opposite direction from a big auto. Consider a small backup pocket revolver. I always carry at least one- ranging from a NAA .22 mag to an S&W m296 (which would accept the same speed loaders as your m69.)

To the stake with the heretic!