The 1911-style pistol remains wildly popular more than 100 years after its birth. At last count, roughly 50 manufacturers are producing hundreds of different 1911 models ranging from mil-spec, GI-type versions that recall John Browning’s original design, to uber-refined and customized 1911s that cost thousands of dollars.
This article pulls together info on the 15 least-expensive full-size 1911s in production today into one place. To make this list, a pistol must cost $500 max in actual retail pricing (not MSRP, which is almost always inflated).
Each pistol’s listing is an excerpt from its main-info page, which contains the full description, specs, more photos, pricing info (when available) and links to external articles and reviews. To go to that page, click on the gun’s name or photo.
Note: The listings below include only the cheapest model offered by each company. Many of these companies also offer other 1911 models with enhanced features, different finishes, shortened barrels and shortened grips, and in many cases the prices of these models are also relatively low. To see all the 1911s produced by one of the companies below, visit its category page on our site.You can purchase all the below guns new in the United States in gun stores save one, the Chinese-made Norinco, which is no longer imported into the United States. You can still find used and new-old-stock Norincos for sale in gun shops and on online gun auction and classifieds sites, and new Norincos in Canada.
The actual retail prices and price ranges listed below reflect prices seen recently in online gun stores. Those numbers certainly aren’t absolute—you might be able to find better deals at other online or brick-and-mortar gun shops.
I’ve organized these pistols alphabetically by manufacturer. If I’ve failed to include a model, please let me know via the Contact form at this link, or via the Comment form at the bottom of this article.
Armscor 1911A1 GI
Actual retail: $385–$440 (approx.)
Actual retail: $460 (approx.)
Chiappa Firearms 1911-45
Actual retail: $475 (approx.)
Cimarron Firearms M1911
Actual retail: $467 (approx.)
Actual retail: $495 (approx.)
Girsan MC 1911
Actual retail: $399 (approx.)
High Standard GI 1911
Actual retail: $435–$475 (approx.)
Actual retail: $430 (approx.)
Metro Arms American Classic
Actual retail: $411–$508 (approx.)
Actual retail: $425–$490 (approx.)
Rock Island Armory 1911 GI
Actual retail: $380–$489 (approx.)
Shooters Arms Manufacturing Military
Actual retail: $350–$440 (approx.)
Actual retail: $481 (approx.)
Taylor’s & Co. 1911
MSRP: $519 (base model)
Actual retail: $460 (approx.)
Trabzon Regent R100
Actual retail: $450 (approx.)
Jed Henson is an author, editor and publisher.
15 thoughts on “Handgun Roundup: The Budget 1911s”
The Taurus guns should really be on here too
The cutoff to get in is $500 retail new, and the Taurus 1911s are close. The cheapest I’m seeing online right now is $529.
The Ruger SR1911 and Remington R1 appear to cost a bit more retail new.
I own the Rock Island 1911 and I can’t believe its value. Its a fantastic .45. The service dept is great as well. I had a bit of an extraction issue, so called them up and it was taken care of immediately by the nice gunsmith. Can’t go wrong!!
In case anyone is interested I reviewed the Regent on my blog a few months ago…
glad to see the 1911A1 from Armscor. they also make a very nice compact .45 and my pilot buddies swear by them.
Huey! yep, seen your Regent video, great review!
I’ve got several 1911s currently, and I’ve owned a bunch more in the past of various and sundry brands. You really, REALLY can’t go wrong with Rock Island. Mind you, RIA is made by ARMSCOR, they just seem to be the Lincoln compared to the basic Ford.
Question for Jed Henson
I very much like the look of the RIA-GI and nothing but glowing reviews for a most popular choice. Though I absolutely love the idea of a TACOPS I think my husband is getting me a PX4 Storm subcompact 9mm (Impact gun) for Christmas. I did have a question though after doing a little research between the Storm and the Taurus 648 Pro Compact. I cant remember the name of the article but the editor mentioned that during the unveiling and testing at the Winchester Pistol range, they experienced a “Stove-pipe stoppage” within the first few magazines. They also went on to say of Taurus pistols that they go through a break in period? Could you please tell me what a Stove-pipe stoppage is and what comments you may have on this particular pistol? Also when trying to find an answer to my own question earlier I found a sight that had similar Q&A…one in regards to how long does a particular gun, I believe the answer was 15000 rounds. Assault rifles obviously have to be made to shoot an obscene amount of ammo but is there a shelf life for pistols and if so…is there some kind of list of how some stack against others?
I just realized I made a typo in reference to the Taurus though Im certain you probably would have caught it. My apologies, Taurus 638 Pro Compact is what I meant to say.
I located a photo of a stovepipe jam on TheFiringLine.com forum. Here’s the link:
I’m thinking you might have meant the Taurus 638, not 648? I don’t know of a 648. Anyway, I don’t have any personal experience with either the PX4 Storm Subcompact or the Taurus 638 Pro Compact, but we do have in-depth reviews up on both. Here are the links:
I’m also sorry to report I don’t know of a list or study that discusses how many rounds a particular gun can handle (i.e., a lifespan list). That might be a question for a particular gun’s manufacturer. Here’s our page with links to most of the handgun manufacturers:
Last, regarding break-in periods, I can’t speak authoritatively about that for Taurus handguns, or any others, actually. My Glock 19 definitely didn’t seem to require a break-in. And from reading in various gun forums over the years, I don’t see much consensus on that topic. Maybe someone else more knowledgeable than me will chime in here.
I hope that helps a little!
Re: Break-in periods. For any firearm used for protection, you should test fire it with a variety of ammunition to determine if it refuses to operate with a particular brand/load/bullet style. For pistols, this is crucial. Never assume even FMJ will be 100% reliable. Fire at least 2-3 full magazines of your selected ammo to ensure it works without any stoppages.
Most folks start off with 50 rounds of full metal jacket (FMJ) ammo to check gun function and get familiar with the gun. For a carry gun, I prefer to shoot a minimum of 100 rounds of the ammo I want to carry to ensure the 1st five to eight rounds feed smoothly as the last 2 rounds. And I’ll fire up to 40 “alternate choice” JHP’s that I might use if my preferred ammo isn’t available. Don’t use it as a carry gun if it has any problems feeding/extracting or accuracy with the ammo.
Re: Longevity – non-magnum handguns do not stress the barrel like rifles do. A local college had a police firing line. Some of their S&W revolvers had well over 100,000 rounds through them and looked almost new (firing mostly target wadcutters). Well made arms should be able to fire 100-500,000 rounds (or more) before a barrel needs replacement. In pistols, it’s suggested to replace springs every 5,000 to 8,000 rounds as they do lose some strength. Revolver springs tend to last longer, with replacements around 50-80,000 rounds suggested by some.
I just added the 1911 produced by Shooters Arms Mfg in the Philippines to the list. Called the Military, it appears to retail for around $450. American Tactical Imports imports it into the United States.
Speaking of longevity, I’ve had my Para-Ordnance .40 since late 1997 and I finally suffered a cracked barrel this month. That is after monthly club IPSC events and practice of about 600 rounds a month for all this time.
This is a standard barrel, not a match barrel. So I figure these guns should do similar since they ain’t rifles like BillCa said.
For me the Armscor is the best one out of the group. I have one and it has never misfired or anything.
Had a Charles Daly .45 ACP. Made in Philippines, as I believe are the majority of the budget 1911s. The slide was soft and deformed badly enough that I could not get the barrel out w/o a major big deal of effort. Had to use a metal file to rake off the bulged steel. I had put maybe 1000 rounds through it, the overwhelming majority of which were factory 230 gr round nosed. Maybe a grand total of 150 +p loads. Don’t shoot +P loads in Philippine guns. No way was this an adequate pistol. I’ve had at least six or seven 1911s over the years with no problems, but this one was weak.
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