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1911 Commander 4.25 inch barrel

The story behind the Colt Commander is an interesting one. In 1951, the US military opened up a gun trial looking for pistol candidates to replace the full-size Colt Government model 1911 that military officers were carrying. The full size government was somewhat large and heavy for military officers who weren’t station in a combat zone, so the military was looking for a lighter weight alternative.

The military requirements for the trial stated that the pistol had to be chambered in 9mm that did not exceed 7 inches in overall length or weigh more than 25 ounces unloaded. Colt entered a cut down version of their 1911 that featured a 4.25 inch barrel, was chambered in 9mm, and used a 9 round magazine. As the trials were underway, Colt elected to go ahead and push the trial gun into production under the name of a “Colt Commander”. Although primarily known as being chambered in 45 ACP these days, the first few years of production, the Commander was also chambered in 9mm and 38 Super calibers.

Over the years, a number of Commander variations have been offered by Colt, including the following:

  • Lightweight Commander – In 1970, Colt introduced an all steel version of the Commander and named it the Colt Combat Commander. To avoid confusion between the aluminum frame original model and the all steel version, Colt renamed the original Commander to the Colt Lightweight commander.
  • Combat Commander – An all steel version of the Commander that was released in 1970.
  • Commander Gold Cup – Designed for competition right out of the box
  • Combat Elite – Designed for combat competition shooters right out of the box

Since the Commander was introduced, it has steadily gained a following among 1911 fans as it offers the same round capacity of the full size 5” model, but weighs anywhere from 6 to 8 ounces less depending on the Commander version.

In terms of holsters and concealed carry, the single stack Commander features a thin grip and overall profile that is ideal for IWB carry at the 3 or 4 o’clock position on the waist. It also carries and rides on the waist in OWB carry very well. One point to mention about thumb break holster models for the Commander: most all holster makers produce holster models with a thumb break or retention strap that is designed to be worn with the Commander in the cocked & locked (hammer cocked) position. So if you prefer to carry your Commander in the hammer down position, you’ll be better suited to purchase an open top style holster.

Holsters listed below are produced to fit the Colt Commander 1911 with a 4.25” barrel.

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