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Officer vs Commander vs Government – The 1911 Variants Explained

While the original 1911 varied little in its design for many decades, today we find new configurations for the old 1911. The full-size 1911 began to feel a little too big and robust for a handgun market that was heating up with smaller, more compact pieces that provided comparable power and capacity. So, which 1911 is right for you? Today we’re explaining the 1911’s variants: The Officer, the Commander, and the Government profile.

The ‘O.G.’ 1911: The Government

The aptly-named Government 1911 profile is the original, full-size design submitted by Colt to the U.S. Army in the year of its name. The standard “A1” configuration – the same design used in WWII – weighs about 2.4 pounds empty and sports a 5” barrel.


Total length is 8.25”, and its full-size grip conceals a standard magazine carrying seven rounds. The 1911 Government was originally chambered in .45 ACP, though other configurations have been made available in everything from 9mm, .50 GI, to .22 LR.


We’re excited to offer 1911 Government Build Kits! Each kit comes with a mil-spec Chromoly barrel and lightweight, forged 7075 T6 aluminum alloy frame that reduces weight by over 60%.


The 1911 Commander

The 1911 Commander is a slightly shorter version of the 1911 Government, introduced in 1950. It shares the same frame with the 1911 Government. Upper components that are not shared include the barrel, recoil springs, slide, guide rod and other components, though most other parts are interchangeable between the two profiles.


Our 1911 Commander Build Kits are available with the same mil-spec barrels and aluminum frames as our Government kits! Like the Government, the Commander was originally chambered in .45 ACP. It is now made available in 9mm, .38 Super, .22 LR, and other niche cartridges.


The Commander sports a 4.25” barrel with a total length of 7.75”. Total weight when empty is approximately 2.25 pounds, though a Lightweight Commander variant, produced after 1970, weighs just 1.68 pounds. This reduction in weight paired with heavy-hitting cartridges makes the 1911 Commander a popular daily-carry piece. Because it shares the Government’s frame, the .45 ACP-chambered Commander also carries 7 rounds in its standard magazine.


The 1911 Officer

The officially-titled Colt Officer’s ACP is more commonly known as the 1911 Officer variant. Its titular acronym is shorthand for Concealed Carry Officer’s pistol, and today its substantially smaller size makes the 1911 Officer a top choice for concealed-carriers.


Introduced in 1975 to the general officers of the US Army and Air Force, the pistol was unavailable for sale until 1985.

The 1911 Officer is still chambered in .45 ACP, making it a high-caliber choice for carrying. Its smaller frame still affords 6 rounds in its standard magazine, though extended magazines are readily available that tick the tally up to 7 or more. The original 1911 Officer graces the scales at 2.1 pounds, though lightweight versions have been made available weighing just 24 ounces (1.5 pounds).

The 1911 Officer’s .45 ACP variant has been both lauded and derided as a reliable carry piece. Some report its small, 3.5” barrel causes noticeable amounts of loss in power and accuracy. Others state it performs admirably with a slightly longer barrel, and many comment its performance in 9mm is exceptional.

DISCLAIMER: If you are new to the world of DIY gun building, you likely have a lot of questions and rightfully so. It’s an area that has a lot of questions that, without the correct answers, could have some serious implications. At 1911 Frame, we are by no means providing this content on our website to serve as legal advice or legal counsel. We encourage each and every builder to perform their own research around their respective State laws as well as educating themselves on the Federal laws. When performing your own research, please be sure that you are getting your information from a reliable source.


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