11 Best Subcompact 1911 Pistols: 45 ACP

Colt Defender Combat Elite for sale, one of the best 45 ACP concealed carry guns

A great subcompact 1911 truly is a work of art. This is John Moses Browning’s Government model, the World War special, shrunk down to a concealed carry.

That’s much harder than it sounds to make. Reliability was a major thorn in the side of the big guns, until just a few years ago.

Now everyone has cracked the code, kind of, and there’s a glut of these Officer size 1911s on the market.

But which one is best for your concealed carry pistols?

Here are our favorite subcompact 1911 pistols for sale in 2023.

Colt Defender. The original Officer size 1911 45 ACP. A subcompact 1911 designed for concealment, reliability and impact.

1. Colt Defender

  • Price: $1,119.99
  • Caliber: 45 ACP Auto
  • Barrel Length: 3
  • Total: 6.75 inch
  • Weight: 1.5lb
  • Magazine capacity: 7+1

The Colt Defender is the poster child of the Officer size 1911 movement, and it remains right at the head of the pack.

Availability has been an issue, though, which means prices are all over the place.

Take price out the equation and make no mistake, Colt vs Kimber almost comes down to the flip of a coin. It’s that close. Kimber has packed a lot of custom work into a sub-compact 1911 that goes against Colt’s production line fare. While Colt has the history and heritage on its side.

History of the Colt Defender

The Colt Defender hit the shelves in 2000, when Colt finally cured the reliability issues that went with chopping down a semi-automatic Government model 1911 first to 4 inches for the Commander, then to 3 for the Defender carry gun.

You can buy a sub-compact 9mm 1911 with slightly less impact, but one more bullet. Maybe that matters.

Carry Pistols Are For Life With Colt

Novak-style rear sights in a dot sights set up make for a fast draw, while dual recoil springs help control the muzzle flip.

A skeletonized hammer and trigger give an aggressive look and the blued finish should develop its own unique patina over the years you spend together. And it will be years with this semi-automatic concealed carry 45 ACP.

It’s a great gun, and seriously it is one that could spend years by your side. For fans of the brand, nothing else will do. In your own way, you’re right.

Kimber Ultra Carry CDP - The Kimber Custom handgun that slips inside your waistband. A great carry handgun built on 100 years of tech that coiuld be the best sub-compact 1911.

2. Kimber Ultra Carry II

  • Price: $799.99
  • Caliber: .45 ACP Auto
  • Barrel: 3″
  • Total: 6.8
  • Weight: 1.6lb

Kimber’s full-size pistols are standard issue for some of the finest law enforcement and military teams in the world. And the small guns have a real passionate following in the wider world too.

This is a Kimber Custom gun, and that’s important. They’re simply better than the production line guns and get a little more attention in the construction phase. That reflects in the price tag, but it’s worth it.

But if you want the benchmark Kimber sub-compact 1911, this is it.

Fiber optic night sights and ambidextrous thumb safety all come as standard. There’s a rounded heel for a quick draw and even the edges on the gun are treated for a snag free finish and rapid personal defense.

The only complaint is the plastic flat mainspring housing, which owners have been known to throw in the trash and upgrade. Apart from that, this gun is all win.

The aluminum frame and stainless steel slide cut valuable weight, even on this smaller Officer compact. There are lighter guns here, but this is right in the sweet spot for most of us and it’s a proven winner that could become your new EDC.

Rock Island BBR 3.10 for sale. Get the best deals and actually find the best sub compact 1911 today.

3. Rock Island Armory BBR 3.10

  • Price: $613.99
  • Barrel: 3.1 inch
  • Total: 7
  • Weight: 2lb
  • Capacity: 10+1

Rock Island Armory is a sub-culture within gun culture these days. Yes, they’re cheap guns, but some people have pretty much every RIA and this one has some real USPs.

It’s a small footprint, with a double stack 45 ACP mag, massive capacity and a decent reputation for reliability.

Yes these guns will never win any beauty pageants, but that’s part of the appeal.

The hammer and trigger are skeletonized. It has simple dot sights. The gun weighs 2lb as well, which is kind of laughable for a personal defense weapon. It’s no surprise this is a proper steel frame.

That black parkerized finish looks ready to rub into an antique patina on about day two. The rubber grips are simple, but they work, and yet…

None of this matters to the owners and gun reviews of these best selling pistols.

Rock Island Armory handguns tend to shoot straight, forever. Parts are cheap, you get a solid frame that will accept all the standard 1911 parts and accessories and a gun that just shoots with minimal fuss.

It’s also a total anti-fashion statement, and some people dig that with a compact tactical personal defense handgun.

Smith and Wesson SW1911 Pro Series Officer size

4. S&W Performance Center SW1911 Pro

  • Price: $1,300.99
  • Caliber: .45 ACP Pistol
  • Barrel: 3
  • Total: 6.9 inch
  • Weight: 1.6lb
  • Capacity: 7+1

The Smith & Wesson SW1911 has a fine reputation. But the Smith & Wesson Pro Series offers a number of upgrades and is billed as a bridge between the workhorse SW1911 and the full-on Smith & Wesson Pro Series Performance Center handguns that cost way more.

Now the S&W Pro Series is suddenly a seriously compelling subcompact 1911 concealed carry that can mix it with the big combat handguns. So yes, we like and recommend the S&W Pro Series 1911 semi auto pistol.

New Lightweight Alloy Frame Shaves Grams

The Smith & Wesson SW1911 Pro Series comes off the production line before hand matching the scandium alloy frame and slide.

A full-length guide rod, external extractor and a flared and polished ejection port all promote smooth cycling. Those extra sticky grips, together with proper checkering on the back, ensure a firm grip when you need one.

Springfield Armory Lightweight Operator. A sub-compact 45 ACP.

5. Springfield Armory Operator Lightweight

  • Price: $1,200.99
  • Caliber: .45 ACP Pistol
  • Barrel: 3
  • Total : 6.9
  • Weight: 1.7lb
  • Capacity: 6+1

Springfield Armory has made some of the best 1911s for home defense in the world, including the Range Officer and TRP.

The Springfield Armory Operator Lightweight is a high quality 45 ACP, but it’s fair to say that the company is focusing on 9mm small arms in this micro compact and subcompact class with great new products.

Now the Springfield Armory EMP 9mm is here and it’s good. Really good. The Springfield Armory Enhanced Micro Pistol is a contender, as is the highest capacity micro compact 9mm Springfield Hellcat striker fired pistol.

Kimber Aegis Elite Ultra Compact 45 ACP. A great sub compact 1911 handgun.

6. Kimber Aegis Elite Ultra

  • Price: $1,104.99
  • Barrel: 3
  • Total: 7 inch
  • Weight: 1.6lb
  • Capacity: 7

The Kimber Aegis Elite Ultra Compact is the more stylish version of the CDP.

The Kimber Aegis Elite comes with a two tone finish and laser cut checkering that is known as the Kimber Aegis Elite X. It is a proper micro compact 1911, too, with all the key features.

It is also a nice gun and one of those types of 191s that could tempt you away from plastic.

We would take the Kimber Aegis Elite in a heartbeat. We would even carry it.

EAA Girsan Officer model for sale. Get a solid, cheap 45 1911 here. It's one of the top sub-compact 1911 pistols.

7. EAA Girsan MC1911SC Officer

  • Price: $642.99
  • Barrel: 3.4
  • Total: 7 inch
  • Weight: 1.6lb

The EAA Girsan is a budget model 1911 that keeps scoring as near as makes no difference 5 stars in the user reviews.

Produced by the Turkish Girsan and imported by EAA, the MC1911SC Officer sub-compact semi-automatic pistol comes with a number of premium features to conceal the basic nature of this carry gun.

Skeletonized hammer, a checkered back strap and fine checkered grips all help a little. But yeah this is a solid gun that shoots straight and isn’t too fancy. It does that really well.

They will sell you a bigger version for home/self defense, of course.

Desert Eagle 1911 Undercover 45 ACP. A stylish sub-compact 1911

8. Magnum Research Desert Eagle 1911 Undercover

  • Price: $973.99
  • Barrel: 3 inch
  • Total: 6.85 inch
  • Weight: 1.61lb
  • Capacity: 6+1

This is a seriously pretty semi-automatic handgun from the folks who bought you the Desert Eagle 50 Cal.

This Magnum Research 1911 Undercover boasts a high-ride beavertail grip safety, flared mag well and properly flared and polished ejection port.

Not only that, the aluminum frame is machined from billet and the Officer 45 ACP model slide is carbon-infused steel.

The fit and finish is stunning, all the parts & accessories are top notch and this gun will look like jewelry next to anything this side of a Kimber Aegis. I mean you’ll need to dump the front sight and rear for a fiber optic front sight etc, but these are details.

The single-stack magazine capacity could be better, but you effectively lose one round for a more compact carry handgun. It’s a trade plenty of people are willing to make.

RIA GI Standard CS. A great low cost concealed carry 1911.

9. Rock Island Armory GI Standard CS

  • Price: $444.99
  • Barrel: 3.5 inch
  • Total: 7.13
  • Weight: 2.36lb
  • Capacity: 6+1

The Rock Island Armory GI Standard CS is a reliable, durable and cheap 1911 concealed carry pistol.

It’s only down here because the twin stack BBR is up there and this could easily be the winner if value for money was the biggest concern.

The Rock Island Armory GI is our top cheap 1911, after all and we kind of like all their guns, handguns, shotguns, rifles etc.

RIA always punches above its weight and the ultra compact 1911 with the classic wood grips has turned into an industry standard at the budget end. It is an everyday carry in 45 ACP or 9mm pistols form for a lot of Americans.

Ruger SR1911 Officer Style. An exceptional carry pistol chambered in 45 ACP. A 1911 you truly can conceal, and it looks great.

10. Ruger SR1911 Officer Style

  • Price: $869.99
  • Barrel: 3.6″
  • Total Length: 7.25″
  • Weight: 1.94lb
  • Capacity: 7+1 Rounds

We haven’t seen one in a while and might have to accept the little Ruger is gone soon. But it’s a shame.

Ruger could have simply settled for producing a competent firearm for less than the competition. That’s basically the company motto…

But here Ruger has dared to stray close to the high cost, high spec class leaders with some innovation of its own. Mainly centered around shifting the balance of this semi-automatic handgun profile to accommodate a substantially longer barrel.

It might not sound like a lot, but that extra 0.6 inch barrel length makes a world of difference to the accuracy, handling and repeatability. This is a big deal, and it’s mated to a triple spring recoil system.

This adds up to a real commitment to taming the kick of today’s 45 ACP ammo from a 3 inch barrel. That’s substantial, by the way.

And Some Discontinued Guns You Might Find For Sale

These pistols have been replaced, or simply fazed out, or disappeared like the sands of time. Either way you might find one of them, and they’re still classics that you should consider. Especially if the price is right.

Dan Wesson Eco, a great subcompact 45 ACP 1911 that could be your next concealed carry.

11. Dan Wesson Eco

  • Price: $2,039.99
  • Caliber: 9mm/45 ACP Auto
  • Barrel length: 3.5 inch
  • Total Length: 7.25 inch
  • Capacity: 7+1
  • Weight: 1.7lb

The company has upsized its smallest 1911, which was the Dan Wesson Eco, and now the closest we can find on the open market is the 4 inch Commander size Dan Wesson ECP.

But the company makes some of the finest full-size 1911s on the market. So nobody was really surprised when the Dan Wesson ECO turned out to be a world beater.

Now the ECP Compact 45 has taken its place, but the Dan Wesson ECO are still great guns and they do crop up from time to time.

Custom 1911 Finishing Touches

The flush cut, bull barrel is pushing the bounds of a subcompact classification at 3.5 inches. And the trigger pull is every bit as crisp and clean as you would hope for.

1911 Sig Sauer Ultracompact 45 ACP

12. Sig Sauer Ultra Compact

  • Price: $750.00
  • Caliber: 45 ACP Auto/9mm Luger
  • Barrel length: 3.3 inch
  • Total Length: 6.8 inch
  • Capacity: 7+1
  • Weight: 1.7lb

A Sig Sauer Ultra Compact 1911 might still crop up for sale. If you see it in good condition, buy it immediately.

The Sig Sauer 1911 Ultra Compact is a high quality 1911 that just about fits the sub compact dimensions and was a great concealed carry handgun.

Sig is a dominant force in the concealed carry striker fired pistol market these days and the Sig P365 high capacity microcompact 9mm is one of the best handguns on sale.

The Sig P365 microcompact 9mm features in more or less all of our small polymer frame handgun pieces and you can find a Sig P365 380 ACP topping the charts too. And the Sig P320 covers the compact 9mm class.

You can get a threaded barrel and all kinds of aftermarket parts for those Sigs, too. Check out these custom P365 parts & accessories.

But if you can find a retailer with a Sig Sauer Ultra Compact in stock, maybe get it.

Alternatives to Consider

Wilson Combat CQB Elite carry pistol. A compact 45 ACP handgun that could change your world. But it isn't cheap.
The Best of the Best: Wilson Combat

If you’re sold on the longer barrel, and you have a lot more money to spend, then check out the law enforcement tactical special, the Wilson Combat CQB Elite.

The shrunken version of the award winning Government model CQB still costs more than $3,500, but it’s the ultimate concealed carry 45 ACP for personal protection. You can order a compact 9mm Luger as well, if you’re rich and love combat handguns.

All the onboard features arguably do justify the eye-watering Wilson Combat pistol prices too. The 4.25″ barrel is a match-grade flush cut bull barrel, natch, and it is built around a carbon steel frame and stainless steel slide.

You get a rounded butt mag well, an enhanced mag release, G10 flat bottom grips and 25 LPI checkering on the front strap too. It’s the King of carry pistols, if you can afford the price of admission and don’t mind the slide length. Of course, it’s an ambi safety.

Check out 45 ACP and 9mm pistols from Wilson Combat here.

Where to Buy 1911 parts

You can buy, gear, accessories, upgrades, accessories, holsters, optics, sights, lights, suppressors, gear, ambi safety, everything really, online with our partners. We’ve got some live links to save you having to search, search and search some more before you hit the credit card.

Save yourself the time, go here to our favorite dealers for parts and accessories.

45 ACP ammo. Buy it online today.
Where to Buy Ammo for Your 45 ACP Handgun

Go looking for short barrel handgun ammo, 9mm ammo, rifle ammo, shotgun ammo or rimfire ammo and you’ll largely end up back at he same places these days. Quite often it’s the same place that sold you the handguns, rifles, shotguns etc in the first place.

We did a deep dive on the best 45 ACP defense ammo here, if you’re shopping for guns & ammo.

Our favorite ammo suppliers are:

Look out for free shipping, and also consider

Get Sights For Your 1911

Red dots for small pistols are becoming increasingly popular. Older people with poor vision and novice shooters can all benefit from the simple and easy target acquisition that goes with red dot sights.

Check them out here.

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  1. Josh November 30, 2020
    • Nick November 30, 2020
  2. Josh December 21, 2020
  3. Jay September 2, 2022
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