I have written separate reviews for the Ruger SR1911CMD (Ruger SR1911CMD (Model No. 6702) – Owner’s Review: http://guntoters.com/blog/2016/01/12/ruger-sr1911cmd-model-no-6702-owners-review/) and the Ruger SR1911CMD-A (Ruger’s SR1911CMD-A is an A+ Winner!: http://guntoters.com/blog/2015/08/25/rugers-sr1911cmd-a-is-an-a-winner/). This begs the question; “which of the two is the best to carry as a defensive firearm?”
The military was looking for a lightweight pistol that could be issued to officers. Requirements were issued in 1949 that the pistol had to be chambered for 9 mm Parabellum and could not exceed 7 inches in length or weigh more than 25 ounces. Colt Manufacturing Company first introduced a lightweight “Commander” in 1950, which was chambered for the 9mm cartridge. This lightweight pistol had an aluminum alloy frame, a short 4.25-inch barrel, and a 9-round magazine. In 1950, Colt moved their candidate into regular production. It was the first aluminum-framed large frame pistol in major production and the first Colt pistol to be originally chambered in 9 mm Parabellum.
In 1970, Colt introduced the all-steel “Colt Combat Commander”, with an optional model in satin nickel. To differentiate between the two models, the aluminum-framed model was renamed the “Lightweight Commander.”
The following statistics were provided by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colt_Commander:
Colt Commander (1950-1969); Lightweight Commander (1970+)
- Chambering: 9×19mm Parabellum, .45 ACP, .38 Super .30 Luger (7.65mm Parabellum).
- Barrel Length: 4.25-inch.
- Overall Length: 7.75-inch.
- Weight: 27 oz. / 1.68 lb. (0.76 kg.)
- Magazine: Single column box magazine. 7-round (.45 ACP), 9-round (9 mm, .38 Super).
- Finish: Blued Steel.
- Features: Aluminum Coltalloy ™ frame.
Colt Combat Commander (1970+)
- Chambering: 9×19mm Parabellum, .45 ACP, .38 Super.
- Barrel Length: 4.25-inch.
- Overall Length: 7.75-inch.
- Weight: 36 oz. / 2.25 lb. (1.02 kg.)[Steel model]. 37 oz. / 2.31 lb (1.05 kg.)[Stainless Steel model]
- Magazine: Single-column box magazine. 7-round, 8-round (.45 ACP), 9-round (9 mm, .38 Super).
- Finish: Available in Blued and Nickel-Plated steel or Stainless Steel.
- Features: All-steel construction (frame and slide).
I carried a Series 80 MKIV “Combat Commander” as an off-duty piece while serving as a LEO. The “Combat Commander” was my favorite pistol with its short frame, barrel, and handling characteristics. To this day, a “Commander” 1911 remains as one of my favorite 1911-based pistols.
When Sturm Ruger introduced their first attempt at a 1911 platform, I jumped on the bandwagon. Ruger produced three variants that closely align with the original Colt categories for 1911 pistols:
- SR1911 (Government): features a full length 8.67″ slide with a 5″ barrel, a standard magazine capacity of 8+1 and a weight of 39 oz. Constructed from low-glare stainless steel.
- SR1911 Commander (SR1911CMD): has a shorter overall length of 7.75″, shorter barrel length of 4.25″, reduced magazine capacity of 7+1, and lighter unloaded weight of 36.40 oz. Also constructed from low-glare stainless steel.
- SR1911 Lightweight Commander (SR1911LWCMD): Same overall length of 7.75″, shorter barrel length of 4.25″, same magazine capacity of 7+1, and an even lighter unloaded weight of 29.3 oz, thanks to its frame being constructed from lightweight anodized aluminum, rather than stainless steel. This also makes the Lightweight Commander a two-tone pistol.
The Ruger series of 1911-base pistols fell into the gray area between the inexpensive and expensive. The series was built to approximate the original Colt 1911 pistols as closely as possible while adding some commonly-desired modern day features; a roiled “Commander” style hammer, extended “beaver-tail” grip safety with memory bump, an extended, left-side only thumb safety, excellent low-profile 3-dot sights, skeletonized long trigger with trigger stop adjustment, and a “Series 70” action, among other improvements like using a heavy firing pin spring and a titanium firing pin, an integral plunger tube, and an aluminum mainspring housing instead of polymer like most manufacturers (including some high-end manufacturers) are using. Ruger did a lot of research into what 1911 aficionados wanted in a 1911-based pistol. In my mind, Ruger did the job well in keeping alive the 1911 platform. It cannot go unnoticed that Ruger unveiled their SR1911 in 2011 during the 100th anniversary year of when the Colt M1911 pistol was adopted by the military as their primary combat pistol.Essentially, the SR1911CMD-A and SR1911CMD differ because of the use of the lightweight aluminum frame and titanium feed-ramp insert in the frame of the SR1911CMD-A. If you were to place the SR1911CMD and the SR1911CMD-A side by side, and if the SR1911CMD-A did not have a black anodized aluminum frame, it would be very difficult to tell which was what.
The weight difference between the SR1911CMD and the SR1911CMD-A is 7.1 ounces (unloaded) with the heavier obviously being the SR1911CMD. Operationally, both pistols are identical. During live fire, the weight difference is not substantial relative to recoil management, although felt recoil and muzzle flip are a little but greater with the SR1911CMD-A, but is easily managed with the proper application of gripping tension.The grip panels provided by Ruger for the SR1911CMD-A are thinner than those on the SR1911CMD and might appeal to those who like thin grips on their 1911 pistol. Personally, my SR1911CMD and SR1911CMD-A have been fitted with Hogue Rubber Finger-groove grips; both pistols feel the same in my hand as far as grip is concerned. I carry both in a modified ACE-1 GEN2 IWB holster from Black Arch Holsters (formerly known as SHTF Gear) that is intended for a full size “Government” model 1911 or a “Commander” model 1911. The “Government” sized holster provides full muzzle protection for a “Commander” length 1911. I consider a 4” barrel an all around performer whether it is used with a revolver or a pistol. While the .45 ACP cartridge with a bullet weight of 230-grain was designed to fire from a 5” barrel, very little is lost when fired from a 4.25” barrel as is used with the Ruger SR1911CMD and SR1911CMD-A pistols. The standard issue military .45 ACP round has a 230 grain bullet that travels at approximately 830 feet per second when fired from the government issue M1911A1. Modern commercial ammunition can reach in the 875 fps range with 230-grain ammunition and up to 1200 fps with 185-grain ammunition. The SR1911CMD and SR1911CMD-A can handle +P ammunition if that suits your fancy and many offerings in +P are available. Both of my SR “Commanders” run just fine with Winchester 230-grain Bonded PDX1 (920 fps), Remington 230-grain BHJP Ultimate Defense (875 fps), and practice loads in the 825 fps range. The hotter the load, the more difference in felt recoil and muzzle flip. The Remington 230-grain BHJP Ultimate Defense (875 fps) is my normal EDC load. Essentially, I get the same felt recoil firing the Remington 230-grain BHJP Ultimate Defense (875 fps) out of the SR1911CMD-A as I do firing the Winchester 230-grain Bonded PDX1 (920 fps) out of the heaver SR1911CMD. With that said, the Federal 230-grain Hi-ShoK JHP (850 fps), Black Hills 230-grain JHP (850 fps), and Remington 230-grain Golden Sabre (875 fps) are very pleasant to fire out of both pistols and are excellent defense cartridges.
If you are unfamiliar with the 1911-platform, but are looking for an inexpensive and quality 1911 to try, I highly recommend the Ruger SR1911CMD or the SR1911CMD-A. Even if you are a seasoned 1911 operator, the Ruger line of “Commanders” is worth looking into. Selecting which you would rather carry is a personal preference, but carrying either one would not be a bad choice.
As a final note, Ruger has just released the SR1911CMD-A in 9mm chambering. I want to get my hands on one for testing. You believe that, right?
Ruger SR1911CMD (Model 6702): http://www.ruger.com/products/sr1911/specSheets/6702.html
Ruger SR1911CMD-A (Model 6711): http://www.ruger.com/products/sr1911/specSheets/6711.html
Note that TALO versions of both pistols are also available.