G.I. 5-Inch vs. “Commander” 4.25-Inch (1911 Combat Accuracy)

Does barrel length affect 1911 combat accuracy?  Some claim it does.  Those people believe the shorter barrels found on compact 1911s are less accurate than the original Government Model’s 5-inch barrel.

There is some truth to this notion.  A sight misalignment on a short barrel gun results in a larger shot deviation on target than the same misalignment with a longer barrel.  This does not mean a short barrel firearm is by definition less accurate, just more difficult to shoot well.

The real question is whether this fact results in reduced 1911 combat accuracy.  Practical accuracy is the true test for a defensive firearm.  The venerated 1911 is with little doubt a defensive gun first and foremost.

We decided to test this theory.  We took a Springfield Armory Mil-Spec model 1911 with a 5-inch barrel and a Springfield Ronin 4.25 1911, which is analogous to the original Colt Commander, and ran them through a standardized fire course on the range.  We’ll refer to the Ronin with its three-quarter inch shorter barrel as a “Commander” even though the name is probably a Colt trademark.

The Mil-Spec is an all steel gun while the Ronin has a lighter-weight alloy frame.  We didn’t have an all-steel Commander, what Colt called the “Combat Commander,” but we made sure both test guns were chambered in .45 ACP.  In previous reviews we found the lighter Ronin did not present a significant challenge in rapid-fire defensive shooting compared to all steel 1911s.  In fact, the Ronin has some advantages over its heavier sibling: a high-visibility front sight and a much better trigger pull.  We felt this would offset the Mil-Spec’s recoil damping weight and allow us to concentrate on the barrel length comparison.

If you want to see the results, you’ll have to watch our terrific video.  This 1911 combat accuracy test might just surprise you as much as it did us.

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