11 Best Subcompact 1911 Pistols – 2024

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

Last updated January 17th 2024

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The Winners at a Glance

ImageProductDetailPrice
Colt Defender

Colt Defender

  • Overall Winner
Best Price
Kimber Ultra Carry II

Kimber Ultra Carry II

  • A Close Second
Best Price
RIA BBR 3.1

RIA BBR 3.1

  • Best double stack 45
Best Price
Smith & Wesson Pro Series

Smith & Wesson Pro Series

  • Best New Breed
Best Price

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 concealed carry pistols.

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.

So what is the best subcompact 1911 pistol for sale in 2024? The Colt Defender is our favorite, and here are all the top picks.

Intro


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

1. Colt Defender

  • Price: $1,065.99
  • Caliber: 9mm/45ACP Auto
  • Barrel Length: 3
  • Total: 6.75 inch
  • Weight: 1.5lb
  • Capacity: 7+1

Overall Winner

PriceAccuracyReliabilityWeightPrestige
3/53.5/54/52.5/55/5

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.

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.

The Colt Defender is a great gun, as a 45 or 9mm pistol, 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.

You can opt for the Colt Defender Combat Elite, and there are lots of Colt Defender special editions.


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: $720.99
  • Caliber: 9mm/45ACP Auto
  • Barrel: 3″
  • Total: 6.8
  • Weight: 1.6lb

A Close Second

PriceAccuracyReliabilityWeightPrestige
4/54/54/52.5/55/5

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.

Now you can spend almost double the price on the Kimber Custom Defense Package, and plenty of people will say you should go for the Kimber Custom Shop.

This is the production line model that only a true connoisseur could tell apart from the more expensive pistol. And it’s good, really good.

Our only complaint is the plastic flat mainspring housing, which owners have been known to throw in the trash and upgrade. Apart from that, this best selling 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.

You might prefer the 9mm pistol with an extra round, and we get that too.


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: $605.99
  • Barrel: 3.1 inch
  • Total: 7
  • Weight: 2lb
  • Capacity: 10+1

Best Budget High Capacity Option

PriceAccuracyReliabilityWeightPrestige
5/53/52.5/52.5/52/5

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.

These handguns tend to shoot straight, forever. Parts are cheap, you get a solid steel forged frame and slide 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. Smith & Wesson Pro Series

  • Price: $1,323.99
  • Caliber: 9mm/45ACP Pistol
  • Barrel: 3
  • Total: 6.9 inch
  • Weight: 1.6lb
  • Capacity: 7+1
PriceAccuracyReliabilityWeightPrestige
2/53/53.5/53/54/5

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 Smith & Wesson 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 Smith & Wesson Pro Series 1911 semi auto pistol.

Check out the Smith & Wesson Pro Series factory custom pistols and decide if you still want that Colt Defender.

New Lightweight 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 and the ambi safety and overly engineered trigger guard are nice.

You can buy 9mm pistols, too, and we kind of like the 9mm pistol more honestly.


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

5. Kimber Aegis Elite Ultra

  • Price: $1,094.99
  • Barrel: 3
  • Total: 7 inch
  • Weight: 1.6lb
  • Capacity: 7
PriceAccuracyReliabilityWeightPrestige
3/53/53.5/53/54.5/5

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

The Kimber Aegis Elite Ultra Compact comes with a two tone finish and laser cut checkering that is known as the Kimber Aegis Elite Ultra.

It is a proper micro compact 1911, too, with all the key features, and performance highlights including a captive guide rod and G10 grips on the Kimber Aegis Elite Ultra.

It is also a nice gun and one of those types of 191s that could tempt you away from plastic. The Kimber Aegis Elite Ultra is as good as any gun here, even at this price point.

We would take the Kimber Aegis Elite Ultra Compact custom pistols in a heartbeat. We would even carry it, and several other Kimber full length guns that offer a super smooth shooting experience.


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

6. EAA Girsan MC1911SC Officer

  • Price: $543.99
  • Barrel: 3.4
  • Total: 7 inch
  • Weight: 1.6lb
PriceAccuracyReliabilityWeightPrestige
4/53/53/53/52.5/5

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.

A forged frame and slide, skeletonized hammer, extended grip safety, ambidextrous thumb safety, 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 of this single action trigger handgun for home defense/self defense, of course, and more advanced tactical handguns with fiber optic sights and better G10 grips.


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

7. Rock Island Armory GI Standard CS

  • Price: $508.99
  • Barrel: 3.5 inch
  • Total: 7.13
  • Weight: 2.36lb
  • Capacity: 6+1
PriceAccuracyReliabilityWeightPrestige
4/52/53/51.5/51.5/5

The best selling 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 Rock Island Armory 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, 9mm, 10mm pistols form for a lot of Americans.

So get yourself a Rock Island Armory Ultra Compact and see how much difference there really is to the big budget single action trigger pistols with a single stack mag.


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 point is right.

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

8. Dan Wesson Eco

  • Price: $1,729.99
  • Caliber: 9mm/45ACP 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. The full size guns from Dan Wesson are great too.

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, on the Dan Wesson Eco.

Together with the black G10 grips and extended beavertail, this all makes the Dan Wesson Eco into a truly compelling handgun.


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

9. 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 cartridge small arms in this micro compact and subcompact class with great new products.

9mm Springfield Armory EMP is a Peach

Now the Springfield Armory Ronin EMP 9mm 1911s are 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.

Springfield Armory has gone all in with polymer frame pistols in this subcompact class and has focused its 1911 efforts on the full size 9mm, 45 ACP and compact pistols.

So the small 1911 pocket pistols with an ambidextrous thumb safety and skeletonized triggger have fallen by the wayside, which is a shame. That Ronin EMP is nice, though, and the Springfield Armory EMP is a really solid pistol.

The Springfield Armory EMP is a great option when it comes to 9mm 1911s. Springfield Armory EMP features include a dual spring recoil system and a match barrel, which all give the Springfield EMP a winning edge.

You can check out the Springfield Armory XDM-Elite Compact OSP concealed carry pistols in 45 ACP and more here. Including 9mm 1911s.


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 Ultra Compact is a high quality 1911 that just about fits the sub compact dimensions and was a great concealed carry handgun with an ambidextrous thumb safety and skeletonized trigger.

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

The modern striker fired pistol, the Sig P365 microcompact 9mm concealed carry pistol, features in more or less all of our small polymer frame handgun pieces. You can also 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. Or the Sig Sauer P365 Compact if you want something a little more advanced with the highest capacity micro compact 9mm cartridge small arms. In comparison, these are custom pistols.



Where to Buy 1911 parts

You can buy, gear, accessories, upgrades, accessories, holsters, optics, sights, lights, night sights, suppressors, gear, ambi safety, everything really, online with our partners.

Palmetto State Armory is one of the best parts shops for your full size 1911, even though it’s not the best place to buy the firearms themselves these days. We like Palmetto State Armory price point and ammo deals too.

So start with Palmetto State Armory and then look at the options. Palmetto State Armory doesn’t have everything, after all, and sometimes you’re going to need another online gun store.

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 the same places these days.

Quite often it’s the same place that sold you the handguns, rifles, shotguns etc in the first place. So it’s no surprise to see Palmetto State Armory make another appearance, but also Firearms Depot is emerging as one of our new favorites.

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 the best red dot sights.

Check them out here.

You can buy them at, well yeah, Palmetto State Armory, Primary Arms, Firearms Depot, the usual suspects…

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11 thoughts on “11 Best Subcompact 1911 Pistols – 2024”

  1. I thought for sure the EDCX9S from Wilson Combat would make this list. It’s better than every single one of those listed, even the CQB Elite.

    Also, it’s not exactly a 1911. So……I get it.

    1. That’s one of those fringe guns that might well make an appearance when I have more time, the wind is right that day and I want a few more pistols for this list. So I get you too! 🙂

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  3. People might lists like this are easy, but they are absolutely not, haha. There are hundreds of offerings in each category and we love it when you guys give us the framework for the best of the best. I know it’s influenced my buying patterns over the years, so THANK YOU and Merry Christmas!

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    1. If you only want a 1911, and that’s perfectly understandable, I think the Kimber right now with the pricing and availability. If you are flexible for a striker fired, check out the Springfield XD-M. 10+1 rounds and match grade everything. It’s in this post on subcompact 45 ACP pistols.

      Also you’ll see there the Springfield Armory XD Mod 2 Compact. That’s 14+1 rounds with a 4 inch barrel and more or less a 1911 footprint. It’s tempting stuff…

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