The Original Colt 1911 Now Filing Chapter 11

One of the original manufacturers of the model 1911 tactical pistol and the AR-15 is now filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  As the New York Post reported recently, Colt Defense is entering into proceedings after coming up dry on cash and deep in debt.

Colt is one of the oldest gun manufacturers in the United States.  However, in a classic case of American hubris – a series of horrible management and accounting blunders has left the company penny shy with no competitors looking to absorb them.

How did the company that supplied the United States and others with small arms since the Mexican-American War of 1847 suddenly fall into disarray?

Colt M4s and 1911s – Canaries in the Coal Mine

Even before rifle sales began to rapidly dip and their production line of 1911s surpassed by manufacturers better equipped to handle the market, Colt messed up in one big arena: military and law enforcement weapons manufacturing.

This damning report from the Washington Times, given back in 2014, detailed how Special Forces operators were forced to replace stock items off the Colt M4 in order to improve basic function and design.

And despite the Marine Corps continual pumping of money into Colt Defense for the manufacture of custom MEUSOC M45A1, Special Operations still gives guidelines to armorers to allow (and prefer) after market additions from manufacturers like Wilson Combat, Kimber, etc.

If the military isn’t receiving the top of the line from Colt Manufacturing – what’s the chance any consumer will?

More importantly – how do you go from being a sole source provider of rifles and pistols for the military and many law enforcement offices to supplying virtually none?

Bad management and penny shy, pound foolish behavior.

Top 5 Competitors for Conceal Carry 1911s

Just because Colt Defense is going into Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings doesn’t mean Colt failed to manufacture a good compact carry version of the 1911.  But, as many concealed carry enthusiasts know  – there’s plenty of 1911 variants out there.  What makes Colt’s stand out?

Well, let’s take a look at five compact carry 1911 variants – who makes them, how they stack up, and if they have a legitimate claim to this proverbial Iron Throne.

For concealed carriers, the top five options for CCW 1911s must include the Kimber Ultra Carry II and the STI Int’l Escort.  Not only have they made pistols worthy of competition but are two of the most trusted manufacturers of military grade 1911s for multiple countries.

Rock Standard CS – though a borderline full-size 1911 – was included because Armscor (Rock Island Armory) was able to bring an affordable, decent quality series of 1911s to a market saturated by bells and whistles.  Often times a Rock Standard can be found used for less than $500 and it retails at less than half the STI International Escort 1911 model.

Both Nighthawk Customs’ Warhawk Compact and Wilson Combat Carry Comp are the two varsity athletes that as comfortable performing in a high intensity match competition or as an everyday carry.

1911 Model Manufacturer Origin MSRP
5. Escort STI Int’l TX $1299
4. Carry Comp Wilson Combat AR $3765
3. Rock Standard CS Armscor Phillipines $618
2. Warhawk Compact Nighthawk AR $3895
1. Ultra Carry II Kimber OR-NY-NJ $919

Does this mean Colt is dead in the water? Absolutely not. Even if House Colt has certainly declined over the past four decades, they are still extremely active in competitive match shooting for 1911 variants and other small arms. What each of the aforementioned 1911 variants demonstrates is that the base idea for the Colt 1911 is still very much in capable hands.

Do you have a preferred manufacturer of 1911s?  What did that particular model do to win you over?  Tell us about in the comments section below.

About James England

James England is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He is currently an advocate for veterans and constitutional carry in the State of New Hampshire. His daily carry is the Glock 19 Gen 4 in an Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0.