Best 1911 for Concealed Carry Review [Buying Guide 2021]

By famsecmatters •  Updated: 10/26/21 •  12 min read

The full-size 1911 has served admirably as the official sidearm of the United States armed forces, and it continues to see action among some specialized units. However, the pistol is the biggest hit with private citizens, both as a competitive shooting piece and a self-defense firearm. 

While the 1911 is still beloved by shooters for that purpose, the underlying principle of concealed carry is discretion, and a full-size combat handgun is not the most discreet option available. 

For that, we need a more concealable weapon than the standard. The best 1911 for concealed carry should offer minimal printing but plenty of stopping power.

Best 1911 for Concealed Carry Reviews

Editor’s Choice: Dan Wesson ECO

  • Rounded butt is more comfortable and prints less
  • Specially cut rear sight enables 1-handed charging
  • Clark-style top rib eliminates glare
  • Flat recoil spring rated for 15,000 rounds

Top 11 Best 1911 for Concealed Carry Reviews

1. Dan Wesson ECO: Best 1911 for Concealed Carry

Dan Wesson ECO

Why you’ll love this:

If you want a sleek, compact 1911 for concealed carry made by one of the most well-recognized names in handgun production, buy the Dan Wesson ECO.

What We Liked

  • Lightweight, but still heavy enough to be controllable
  • 25 LPI checkering for increased traction
  • Self-illuminating tritium night sights

What We Didn’t Like

  • Dan Wesson quality commands a high price

The great-grandson of an S&W co-founder founded Dan Wesson. Initially specializing in high-quality double-action revolvers, the company has since branched out. One of the results is the ECO, a concealed-carry 1911 pistol, chambered in either 9mm or .45 Auto

More compact than Commander-sized handguns but heavier than some lighter offerings, the ECO provides a good balance between lightweight and controllable at 27.1 ounces

The front and back straps are checkered at 25 LPI to increase traction, so you can maintain your grip. An extended manual safety for speed is complemented by an upswept beavertail grip safety, eliminating hammer bite risk. 

2. Bul Armory 1911 TAC Commander: Best Concealed Carry 1911 for the Money

Bul Armory SAS II Ultra Light

Why you’ll love this:

If you’d like an affordable 1911 pistol for concealed carry that comes with the modern features you’ve come to expect, the Commander checks all the boxes.

What We Liked

  • 4.25” bull barrel
  • Aggressive charging serrations
  • Checkered front and back straps
  • Fixed 3-dot combat sights

What We Didn’t Like

  • Single-port compensator should be included

The Bul Armory 1911 TAC Commander is an affordably priced handgun featuring a 4.25” bull barrel and steel frame. It’s not light, but it still produces a compact footprint for concealment. 

The slide features aggressive charging serrations in the front and rear, so racking the slide is never an issue. Furthermore, the front and back straps are checkered so that your grip remains firm. While not a carry weapon requirement, a Picatinny rail offers a way of attaching a flashlight.

The TAC Commander features an enlarged and lowered ejection port, an upswept beavertail grip safety with memory bump, and a light 3-hole trigger. If you need to reduce the recoil further, a barrel with a single-port compensator is also available as an upgrade. 

Clearly 1911 pistols are top performing guns which made these bad boy popular among the community.

3. Colt Defender: Best Colt 1911 for Concealed Carry

Colt Defender

Why you’ll love this:

If you want a concealed-carry 1911, but only trust Colt, the Defender is a compact 1911 based on the Officer’s ACP.

What We Liked

  • Lightweight CCW pistol
  • Compact — 6¾” in overall length
  • Stainless steel slide mated to the aluminum frame

What We Didn’t Like

  • Smooth front strap

The Colt Defender, in 9mm or .45, was designed by Colt for concealed carry. Based on the Colt Officer’s ACP, the Defender features a stainless steel slide mated to an aluminum frame. This and the 3” barrel reduce the weight of the Defender to a modest 24 ounces. While not as lightweight as some CCW pistols, this helps control the recoil, especially in the .45-caliber variant. 

The Defender is also compact (6¾”), so printing is kept to a minimum at all times. The upswept beavertail grip safety with memory bump and trigger undercut ensures your hand stays high on the pistol. Improved grip increases recoil control, especially during rapid fire. 

To help you acquire targets efficiently, the Defender is equipped with 3-dot fixed low-profile Novak combat sights.

4. Kimber Micro CDP 9mm Pistol: Best Compact 1911 for Concealed Carry

Kimber Micro CDP 9mm Pistol

Why you’ll love this:

If you want the lightest and most compact 1911 pistol available and don’t mind the sharper recoil, the Kimber Micro 9 is the perfect choice.

What We Liked

  • Most compact 1911
  • Ambidextrous thumb safety
  • Carry Melt coating and dehorning for snag-free design

What We Didn’t Like

  • Smooth front strap

While many 1911 pistols designed for or adapted to concealed carry are compact, the title of most compact belongs to the Kimber Micro 9. Weighing a mere 15.6 ounces, the Micro 9 is a miniature 1911, the lightest 9mm on the list, and a superb choice for a backup gun. 

Like the Colt Defender, the Kimber Micro 9 has a stainless steel slide and an aluminum frame. However, the Micro 9 is a full inch shorter in height, and this reduction in material also helps keep the weight down. 

As part of Kimber’s efforts to create a smooth surface for a rapid, snag-free draw stroke, the company has both dehorned the gun and applied its Carry Melt coating. 

5. Colt Lightweight Commander: Best 1911 Commander for Concealed Carry

Colt Lightweight Commander

Why you’ll love it:

If you’d like a 1911 handgun for concealed carry that strikes a balance between compact and full-size, the Colt Lightweight Commander is the perfect choice.

What we liked

  • Compact and lightweight Commander design
  • Trigger guard undercut
  • Dual return springs dampen recoil

What we didn’t like

  • OEM magazines may prove less reliable

For deep concealment, most pistols feature barrel lengths between 3” and 3.5”. Some are even smaller and would serve as emergency backup weapons. A good compromise between full-size, such as the Colt Government Model, and the Officer’s ACP is the Commander. 

First introduced in 1950, the Colt Commander features a 4.25” barrel, rather than the standard 5”, and an aluminum frame to reduce weight. Initially designed to fire 9mm, the pistol was also available in .45 ACP and .38 Super. 

Preserving the original rowel-type hammer, the new LW Commander replaces the rat-tail grip safety spur with the more modern upswept beavertail design. This combination eliminates hammer bite and reduces weight. The sights are 3-dot Novak combat for improved visibility and target acquisition. 

6. Springfield Armory Range Officer Compact: Best 1911 9mm for Concealed Carry

Springfield Armory Range Officer Compact

Why you’ll love it:

If you need a compact 9mm 1911 for CCW, the Range Officer Compact delivers the accuracy, lightweight construction, and style that make this pistol a winner.

What we liked

  • Fiber-optic front sight and low-profile combat rear
  • Checkered double-diamond cocobolo wooden grip panels
  • Stainless steel match-grade barrel with fitted bushing

What we didn’t like

  • Smooth front strap may not provide enough traction

While not the first 9mm 1911 on the list, the Range Officer Compact combines the features that made the Range Officer great with a compact frame that’s 2” shorter than the Government Model. The Range Officer Compact comes in at a middle-of-the-road 29.5 ounces. 

The ROC features a stainless steel match-grade barrel, ramped and paired with a fitted bushing for consistent lock up. The ejection port is enlarged and lowered, a standard operation for modern 1911 pistols to ensure that the ejection pattern remains uniform. 

The checkered double-diamond grip panels are cocobolo wood and display the crossed-cannon logo. The front sight contains a fiber-optic rod, and the rear sight is a low-profile combat type to maximize visibility

7. SIG Sauer 1911 Fastback Nightmare Carry: Best 1911 .45 for Concealed Carry

SIG Sauer 1911 Fastback Nightmare Carry

Why you’ll love it:

If you’re looking for a stylish .45-caliber 1911 for carry and want more weight to absorb the recoil, consider buying the Fastback Nightmare Carry.

What we liked

  • Compact, but heavy enough to absorb recoil
  • Contrasting controls and barrel bushing
  • Non-snag Fastback frame keeps printing to a minimum

What we didn’t like

  • Some may prefer a lighter pistol

The first thing you notice about the Fastback Nightmare is the weight, aside from its stylish appearance. Unlike most concealed-carry 1911 pistols, the Fastback Nightmare weight is closer to a full-size Colt Government Model, 38.8 ounces, allowing the pistol to absorb more kick. However, the Fastback Carry has a 4.2” barrel instead of the standard 5”. 

The slide and frame are made from stainless steel and have a Nitron finish. In contrast, the controls, barrel bushing, extractor, and grip screws have a matte stainless finish to stand out. The back G10 double-diamond grip panels complement this high-contrast appearance, and the frame has a rounded butt and mainspring housing to keep printing to a minimum. 

8. Bul Armory SAS II Ultra Light: Best High-Capacity 1911 Pistol

Bul Armory SAS II Ultra Light

Why you’ll love it:

Packing 15+1 rounds of 9mm and weighing roughly the same as a Glock 19, this semi-automatic handgun can be used for CCW or competition.

What we liked

  • Lightweight — 21.97 ounces unloaded
  • Interchangeable grip modules
  • Double-stack frame can accommodate 15-round magazines
  • Adjustable rear sight and fiber-optic front

What we didn’t like

  • Spare magazines may be difficult to find

The Bul Armory SAS II Ultra Light is built on a double-stack frame that enables it to hold considerably more rounds than standard — between 15 and 19 rounds per magazine, depending on the grip module. 

Designed to compete against the Glock 19, the SAS II Ultra Light weighs only 21.97 ounces unloaded. Bul Armory achieved this by fully fluting the barrel, aggressively serrating the slide, machining the frame from aluminum, and combining the frame with a polymer-composite grip module. You’ll also notice that the slide has a generous cut forward of the rear sight. 

The adjustable rear sight is paired with a fiber-optic front sight to increase visibility during the day and accommodate different cartridge loads. 

Aside from these models, 1911 .45 acp are also ones of the competition-grade guns which can compete on the highest level.

9. Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec Stainless Steel: Best Classic 1911 for Concealed Carry

Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec Stainless Steel

Why you’ll love it:

If you want a full-size 1911 for CC, but you want to retain the style of the M1911A1, you should consider the Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec.

What we liked

  • Full-size weight and gripping surface
  • Classic G.I. .45 lines
  • Stainless steel construction resists corrosion
  • Enlarged and lowered ejection port
  • Cocobolo wooden grip panels

What we didn’t like

  • No modern enhancements for defense or competition

Evoking the classic lines of the G.I. .45 issued during WWII, the Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec substitutes a few features to improve on the design without abandoning the time-honored aesthetic. The 5” barrel is match-grade and made from stainless steel

The iron sights are fixed 3-dot combat but deliver greater visibility than the low-profile types. The ejection port is enlarged and lowered or scalloped for more reliable expulsion of spent cartridges.

While the Mil-Spec is available in either parkerized alloy steel or stainless, the latter has been added to this list because it’s more resistant to corrosion. 

10. Kimber Micro Raptor: Best 1911 .380 Pistol for Concealed Carry

Kimber Micro Raptor

Why you’ll love it:

You should consider the Kimber Micro Raptor if you’re looking for one of the lightest and most compact concealed-carry 1911 pistols available on the market.

What we liked

  • Extremely lightweight and compact
  • Chambered in the light-recoiling .380 ACP
  • Fish-scale stippling on slide and front strap

What we didn’t like

  • Only a .380

When you need a light and compact 1911 pistol, consider the Kimber Micro Raptor that weighs only 13.4 ounces thanks to its aluminum frame and reduced dimensions (4” in height and 5.6” in length with a 2.75” barrel).  

An ultra-light weapon firing a full-power service cartridge is more challenging to control. The choice is to either increase the weight and gripping surface to counteract the recoil or substitute a less-powerful round. 

Chambered in .380 ACP, the Kimber Micro Raptor doesn’t deliver as hard-hitting a round as the heavier weapons on the list. However, the cartridge is still sufficiently powerful to help protect you and others. 

The Micro Raptor features 3-dot fixed tritium night sights and an upswept beavertail as part of the frame. 

11. Nighthawk Custom T4 9mm: Best Custom 1911 for Concealed Carry

Nighthawk Custom T4 9mm

Why you’ll love it:

If you want a custom 1911 pistol for concealed carry, the Nighthawk Custom T4 is a beautiful, reliable, and hand-tuned pistol worthy of your time.

What we liked

  • Nighthawk Custom match-grade barrel
  • Everlast Recoil System reduces muzzle climb
  • Tri-cavity trigger with overtravel adjustment screw

What we didn’t like

  • A high price tag

If you’re looking for one of the best 1911 handguns for concealed carry, and you’re willing to pay a premium, consider the Nighthawk Custom T4, a custom weapon by a premier 1911 manufacturer. 

Nighthawk chose to install its custom match-grade barrel, measuring 3.8” rather than the shorter 3.5”. At 34.3 ounces, this pistol is noticeably heavier than both Officer’s ACP and Commander-size handguns, but that extra weight, plus the Everlast Recoil System, ensure that the Custom T4 is one of the most controllable and smooth-functioning 1911 pistols on the market. 

The Nighthawk Custom T4 also features 25 LPI checking for front and back strap, Heinie Ledge Straight Eight tritium night sights, tri-cavity trigger with overtravel adjustment screw, and G10 grip panels. 

Best 1911 for Concealed Carry Overall: Dan Wesson ECO

Dan Wesson ECO

The best 1911 for concealed carry overall is the Dan Wesson ECO. The Everyday Carry Officer, available in either 9mm or .45 ACP, is relatively lightweight but not so light that it’s a challenge to control. This pistol features a rounded butt for discreet carry, a tactical rear sight for 1-handed charging, self-illuminating tritium night sights, 25 LPI checking on the front and back straps, and a recoil spring rated to withstand 15,000 rounds. This is the 1911 concealed carry pistol you’ve been looking for. 

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