Few things will spark a debate between 1911 lovers as whether or not the “railed” 1911’s are better or worse than the traditional non-railed models.
However, before weighing on that topic, it’s important to understand exactly what a railed 1911 is. The rail is a common abbreviation for a Picatinny rail (also called a 1913 Rail, Tactical Rail, or STANAG Rail). These rails are basically a bracket that is built into the weapon frame which serves as a platform for accessories such as lights or lasers. For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll be using the rail term to define a tactical rail that either mounted or built into the frame of a pistol underneath the barrel (see the picture above).
The first railed 1911’s were custom ordered models that began to surface for military and LEO use in the early parts of 2000. The first production 1911 with an integrated rail is believed to be the Kimber TLE/RL series which debuted in 2001. Currently, railed 1911 weapons are made with either a full rail (where the rail extends the entire length of the barrel) or a half rail (pictured above).
The idea behind adding a rail to a 1911 gave the user the ability to integrate a pistol light or laser underneath the barrel for added functionality. For classic 1911 aficionados, this was blasphemy, but for law enforcement and special military units, this concept brought the 1911 into the modern era.
From a gun holster standpoint, the slightly added width of the rail means that a railed 1911 won’t fit into a holster molded or designed for a non-railed (traditional) 1911 frame. Railed 1911 weapons require holsters that are specifically produced to accommodate the rail. However, in most cases, a non-railed 1911 can fit into a holster made for a railed 1911 model. All railed holster models are designed on a full rail mold and should fit both a full or half railed model. If you are looking for a holster to fit a 4" 1911 with a rail (like the Kimber TRL/RL II), try going here.
All the holster models listed below are produced in a version to fit a railed 5” 1911 weapon.
All prices are in USD.