Colt’s Lightweight Commander, an iconic handgun if there ever was one, is no lightweight. Fully loaded and resting on my digital scale, I get a reading of 34.6 ounces. Most carry guns weigh significantly less and many carry an equal or greater amount of ammo. For many, the $999 retail price proves quite hefty too. The thing is, few guns have the gravitas of a Colt 1911. While “Commander” refers to the size of the gun — a medium between the bigger “Government” and the smaller “Officer” — it also unofficially denotes the gun’s leadership in the category of Guns I Gotta Have. This gun commands respect and commands my attention. So I’m going to find a way to holster it and carry it, regardless of how relatively heavy it may be.
This Colt Commander is a lot of bark and bite and all business, all the time. Shooting .45 ACP cartridges from it will quickly get your attention and just as quickly put a smile on your face as you realize how well the 100-plus-year-old design, well, just works. Still. Sure, plenty of improvements over time make the gun different from what it was at time of invention, but mostly it is the same gun. In fact, some argue that a 1911 is only a 1911 if it is a .45 ACP, single-action, external manual safety … and a Colt. We’ll let you all hash that out with kind and truthful discussions in the comments.
This Colt Commander employs a Dual Spring Recoil System which helps tame the .45 ACP, making it relatively easier to shoot. This might be one of those changes that 1911 purists don’t want to accept. But I think it represents progress, as does the Series 80 firing pin safety. Other good features of this gun include the upswept beavertail grip safety — a design feature which not only aids in purchase but also looks fantastic — as well as an undercut trigger guard. The stock Novak sights are adequate, but you’ll want some night sights before too long. The custom black cherry Colt logo G10 grips are excellent and you’ll likely leave them in place for a long time.
Other goodness: Two Colt eight-round magazines come with the gun and work perfectly, no matter what rounds make their way through them. While the extra loaded magazine best resides in a magazine holster on your weak side, it rides decently in a front pocket, too, its flatness maintaining a low profile. And as for carrying the gun and a spare magazine, there’s only about a bazillion holstering options available to you. I like it at 5 o’clock, outside the waistband.
On the range, rounds feed, seat, fire and eject with all the elegance of a wild stallion. Recoil pushes back into your strong hand but the gun never feels out of control. Credit the weight of the gun but also its excellent ergonomics. And reloading operations — the press of a magazine release and the quick tug of the slide after inserting a fresh mag — quickly become matters of muscle memory. The solidity of the platform and the intentionality required to operate it create a lasting impression. More carry guns should try to be as lightweight as this Commander.