Glock vs. 1911? I’m sure this will spark a conversation just by bringing up this topic in the pistol community. I get asked all the time at ranges from all types of owners, may they be LE, Military (former or active), or just an individual who owns a firearm for self-protection, “What pistol do you prefer. The Glock or 1911?”
There are so many ways to break this down, but for the sake of time, let’s look at a few key features that each system has to offer that I think contribute to one being more favorable than the other.
To start things off in regards to reliability, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Both of the pistols have served in multiple conflicts around the world and have proven their reliability on several occasion, although, the 1911 would have to place above the Glock when it comes to notable historical achievements.
The Glock went into full production in 1983 to replace the Austrian World War 2 era Walther P38. Some of its initial requirements were that the Glock would have an 8 round minimum magazine capacity, not exceed 58 minimum individual parts, and no more than 20 malfunctions within the first 10,000 rounds. I have heard stories of Glocks not having a single malfunction when shooting it in excess of 50,000 rounds, whether I believe this or not is irrelevant. As as my experience when shooting standard military ball ammunition, I went an entire year with low maintenance and 11,250 rounds before I saw a malfunction. I started to see a lot of malfunctions when I began stacking hollow points and ball ammunition in the magazine (every other round would fail to feed). In some cases, using the 9mm Glock variant
Let’s look at the Glock frame that is made of polymer. Although these pistols are combat proven, and state the extreme durability of the frame, I have had, as well as seen Glock frames crack on a few occasions. I have only seen this occurrence in the .40 and .45 cal Gen.4 versions when the user shoots either “hot” hand-load or lead ammunition. I have also seen small hairline type fractures just underneath the slide using certain .40 ammunition and shooting 6 thousand rounds of them. I’m not sure if this because of over-pressure issues or not.
When it comes to the 1911, you cannot ignore its past. The pistol has been around for over 100 years and is still to this day is carried around the world, including combat environments. The 1911 is an extremely reliable pistol. I believe this to be in favor of the weapon having less “mechanical” parts than that of a Glock.
The 1911’s solid frame-work also adds to the overall reliability, after-all, it is made almost completely of inferior metals.
We often hear 1911 owners say, “I have the 1911 because of the .45 cal stopping power.” Could this be something 1911 owners say to justify the 7 round magazine?
What are we referring to when we use the term stopping or knockdown power?
- Immediately incapacitate a threat?
- Eventually incapacitate a threat?
- Slow down a threat?
- Render a person less able to remain a threat?
- Knock the threat to the ground?
Let me first start off by saying this, “the .45 cal has no more “knockdown power” than a 9mm”. Before a huge argument starts, on this topic, take a look at my reasoning behind this statement as I will use physics and real life experiences.
We know that the equation for kinetic energy is KE = ½mv2 (KE is kinetic energy, m is mass of object, and v2 is velocity squared). This equation tells us how much energy will be derived from a combination of bullet grain weight and muzzle velocity.
Contrary to what some may think, the 9mm has more kinetic energy than the .45 cal. all due to the 9mm higher muzzle velocity. Don’t get too excited those not in favor of the 1911. Being that the 9mm’s muzzle velocity is greater than the slow .45, it increases the chances of the projectile fully penetrating a soft target, thus not allowing the full transfer of kinetic energy, hence the Taylor Factor. The Taylor Factor: Even though the 9mm has more energy, it’s smaller bullet and higher velocity makes the transfer of energy less efficient, meaning the 9mm is much more likely to penetrate FURTHER, but do LESS DAMAGE along the way than the .45acp. The Taylor factor describes how well a bullet transfer’s its momentum/energy to the target. A 9mm has a Taylor factor of 7.29, while the .45acp has a Taylor factor of 13.37, meaning the bigger diameter .45acp is nearly TWICE as effective at transferring energy to the target. Advantage: .45acp
In my experience operating as an assaulter, machine gunner, and sniper, I am 100% positive that high velocity (2650+ fps.) and large mass wins every time. With that said, I have also seen and engaged targets with .308 projectiles moving at 2650 fps. and the target needed more than one round to incapacitate. Why is this? We can sum all of this up by saying one thing. Shot placement is the only true “Stopping Power”. A good friend of mine, and former Army Ranger was shot in the upper shoulder with an AK-47 and continued to fight, killing the insurgent with a well placed round center mass with his 5.56.
Some of the best myths I’ve heard have to come from the Glock owners (we will address the 1911 myths as well, don’t worry). Let’s look at a few of what I believe to be some of the best myths to come out of the Glock community.
- Glocks Shoot well underwater. This is somewhat true. Yes they do shoot underwater at times, but just because they shoot underwater, it serves no real purpose to the shooter, especially being that the round drops to the ground at about the 3 or 4 foot mark. Don’t expect the weapon to dump an entire mag consistently while submerged.
- They work even when it is filled with dirt and mud. This is false. Any weapon that has moving parts, WILL malfunction at some point in time when a foreign object in introduced and interferes with the moving parts.
- Glocks are not accurate compared to the 1911. NOT true. At 25 yards, they shoot just about the same MOA. Shooters typically display poor skills in one area or another when comparing. One of the major issues I see is trigger pull and anticipation.
- 1911’s shoot better. NOT true. Refer above. Also note that the 1911 owners favor the trigger over the Glocks slack and break.
- 1911’s are one hitter quitters. NOT true. Just because it is a large caliber, does not mean it will immediately stop an aggressor.
Hand Angle and Sight Picture
Some owners of the 1911 say that with the Glock’s frame structure, they are not able to get high enough on the pistols grip/tang to properly control recoil. This all depends on the shooters hand size and whether or not the shooter is using a proper shooting grip. 1911 shooters do have somewhat an advantage with the 1911 pistols frame, enabling the shooter to get extremely high and strong on the tang, something that I absolutely love.
I personally love both weapon platforms, they are both great tools. If you are looking for a weapon with history, fun to shoot, a good starter pistol, and basic home/self-defense, the 1911 is a great choice. If you are just starting off with pistol work, the simple fact that the 1911 has a safety is a plus for me. Sure the Glock has a safety, the trigger, I have seen too many times people who are inexperienced negligently discharge the weapon. As for self-defense, I would have to go with the Glock. The variety that they can come in and the fact that they hold more than 7 rounds in the magazine is a plus for me. Sure .45 cals leave a big hole in soft tissue, but under stress, how accurately can you place that one or two rounds into a target or what if the time comes when you may need to engage 3 targets? Typically I train to shoot no less than 3 rounds in a target center mass, no matter the circumstance, environment, or stress level. Having a 7 round magazine and 3 targets, I suggest training to getting your reloads under 2 seconds, under any condition.