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Review: Smith & Wesson
Model SW1911 9mm Pro Series

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By Dan S. Defense

Model 1911 Chambered in 9mm --Great Idea or Heresy?

In this review we'll look at a 9mm 1911. Yes, a model 1911 which is chambered to shoot popular 9mm ammo instead of 45 ACP ammo. It is true that John Browning designed the Model 1911 to shoot 45 ACP cartridges. In fact today, when you talk about a 1911 handgun, most people correctly assume it's a 45 ACP.

The vast majority of my 1911 collection consists of 45 ACP handguns. Surly a 1911 can only be used with 45 ACP self defense ammo! But what about the popular 9mm? Can it work well in a Model 1911? Is it innovation or Heresy to build a 9mm 1911? Smith & Wesson took this challenge on. Despite being a traditional gun maker, they chose to built a 9mm 1911 and proceeded to design and release the Smith & Wesson Model SW1911 9mm - Pro Series.

We'll take a close look at the S&W Model SW1911 9mm. We'll see what "Pro Series" actually means. We'll provide interesting data points, a range report, some suggestions for 9mm self defense ammo, in case you'll later choose to carry the Smith & Wesson Model SW1911 9mm - Pro Series; and finally a summary with pros and cons. I encourage you to read on, even if you think a 9mm 1911 is indeed "Heresy". I thought so too before actually shooting this 9mm 1911. And with that said, let's look at the Smith & Wesson Model SW1911 9mm - Pro Series.

What's in a name: The Smith & Wesson Model SW1911 9mm - Pro Series is a full size 1911. A Government sized model with a 5" barrel. Externally, it appears to be a "normal" 45 ACP 1911 with the exception of using an external ejector. But this 1911 is different, because as its name implies, the Smith & Wesson Model SW1911 9mm is chambered for 9mm ammo.

Let's look at the name before proceeding to the technical details of this 9mm 1911. SW1911 simply means Smith & Wesson 1911. Then we have the 9mm caliber information, which is followed by "Pro Series". This is where it gets interesting. "Pro Series" means that the parts that make up this 9mm 1911 come from the S&W Performance Center. The famed S&W Custom Shop.

The parts are custom made in the Performance Center and finished to the highest levels of excellence. Any person who owns a Performance Center handgun will understand what this means. But, Performance Center guns are expensive. The two I own were expensive--well worth the price--but expensive and rightfully so! The Master Gunsmiths that work in the Performance Center are valuable resources and their time is expensive.

This is where S&W took the first innovative step. To ship a quality gun at an affordable price, S&W created this "Pro Series" which means that custom Performance Center parts are used to build the Smith & Wesson Model SW1911 9mm - Pro Series, but the assembly is done in the production facility. An interesting trade-off that results in better than production quality gun at production quality price.

Let's look technical data for the Smith & Wesson Model SW1911 9mm - Pro Series. It is a full sized, 5"barreled Government 1911 which is chambered for 9mm ammo. Having a caliber of 9mm means a smaller exit hole out of a similar sized 1911 barrel. The capacity is greater than a 45 ACP 1911 and you get 10 x 9mm rounds in the magazine and one 1 x 9mm round in the chamber. A total of 11 rounds of self defense 9mm ammo.

Being a classic 1911 in its core, this is a single action only handgun. You must cock the hammer back before being able to fire. This fact makes this a typical 1911 which is carried "cocked and locked". The Smith & Wesson Model SW1911 9mm - Pro Series has a nice set of wood grips. They are stippled for better grip and compliment the stainless steel handgun, and its matte silver finish.

This 1911 has an ambidextrous safety, which works well for left handed shooters as well as right handed ones. Some folks say that ambi safeties are less reliable than single side safety levers, but I haven't had an issue with any of my ambi safety equipped 1911 handguns. I'm not a gunsmith, but as an end-user, it's not an issue for me. The nice wood grips are specifically designed for an ambi safety, something you need to keep in mind, should you choose to replace them. The sights are classic Novak style 3 dot white sights.
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