The success and failures of the Officer sized 1911 models (with a 3.5 barrel) led various handgun manufacturers to begin experimenting with an Ultra compact 1911 with a 3” barrel. Unfortunately, the known recoil spring issues seen in the 3.5” models (which ultimately played a role in Colt discontinuing production of that model) were a major concern in the even smaller 3” version. Many in the firearms industry didn’t feel that a 3” model had enough weight in the frame or enough inertia in such a short slide to eject the spent shell and rechamber a new one.
Colt was one of the first companies to solve the issue by developing a bushingless dual recoil spring system in 1997 which was deployed in a 3” 1911 model called the Colt Defender. Other manufacturers like Kimber and Springfield jumped into the 3” 1911 market soon after with their own models. While many 1911 purists don’t recognize the 3” model as a “true” 1911, the Defender sized 1911 models have gained a following in the concealed carry market.
However, there are 1911 manufacturers who don’t believe that a 3” 1911 model can be as reliable as a larger model (like inventor John Browning had imaged) so they don’t offer a 3” model for sale. Examples of these brands (at the time of this writing) include Wilson Combat, Detonics, and Les Baer. Popular 3” models today include the Colt Defender, Springfield Micro Compact, and Kimber Ultra Carry.
From a holster standpoint, the short 3" barrel and the slim grip make the 3" 1911 series an ideal candidate for concealed carry. This model works well in most any CCW holster configuration, with the exception of a pocket and ankle holster. It works especially well carried with an IWB holster or a higher riding belt model.
Any holster model listed below is available in a model to fit a 3” 1911 handgun, including various brands besides Colt such as Kimber, Springfield, Charles Daly, Para-Ordnance, etc.
All prices are in USD.