The 1911 may be the most famous pistol in the world. Originally developed by legendary gunsmith John Browning, the patent has long since expired. As a result, most pistol manufacturers make their own versions of the gun. These include Remington, Smith & Wesson, Glock, and others. The US military used it until the 1990s, and it’s still the standard sidearm for many police and military organizations worldwide.
As you might expect, this popularity means that there’s no shortage of magazines for this long-serving pistol. And we’ve set out to find the best 1911 magazines on the market.
We’ve chosen ten of the most popular magazines online, and taken a close look at all of them. We’ll go over their features, as well as the pros and cons of each model. After that, we’ll talk about some things you’ll need to know before you buy one.
While the 1911 is available in several calibers, the standard configuration accepts .45 ACP cartridges. For the most part, we’ll be focusing on those.
Best 1911 Magazines
Wilson Combat’s 8-Round .45 ACP Magazine is engineered from aircraft-grade stainless steel. It’s built to match tolerances, a full 50 percent tighter than the specifications for the original 1911 government. It has a 5/8 inch pad on the bottom, which is perfectly sized for 1911s with magazine wells. It slides in smoothly, and locks securely.
The spring is very strong, so strong that it can take some force to load the last cartridge. Because it’s so powerful and the follower action is so smooth, this magazine will never cause a jam, barring catastrophic failure. It’s made in the USA.
This magazine will fit almost any 1911 .45 ACP model, but may require some modification. Some models with shallower magazine wells – such as the Springfield Range Officer and Springfield Commander – will require you to shave off part of the upper base pad in order to get them to seat properly.
- Aircraft-grade stainless steel construction
- 5/8” pad for 1911s with flared mag wells
- Strong spring and smooth follower action
- Made in the USA
- May require modification
- Takes some force to load
Why It’s Recommended
If you have a government model 1911 or equivalent, this magazine is perfect for any use. Target shooting, home defense, it does it all.
The Wilson Combat Vickers Duty Magazine is the ultimate in quality. It’s also the most expensive magazine on our list, but in this case you get what you pay for. In addition to being made from aircraft-grade steel, this magazine has observation slots in the back instead of on the side. This increases structural integrity, while still allowing you to see how many rounds you have left.
The steel follower is very smooth, with a strong enough spring to fully feed the cartridge even on a marginal pistol. It’s safe to say this magazine will never cause a jam. The Vickers is made in the USA, and is available in two calibers: standard .45 ACP and .9mm Luger. It has a base pad for comfort, and for easy removal from pistols with mag wells.
- Aircraft-grade stainless steel tube
- Rear observation slots
- Available in .45 ACP or 9mm Luger
- Steel follower
- Made in the USA
Why It’s Recommended
If you’re willing to spend big bucks for a big-time magazine, it’s hard to argue with this one. You’ll never need another one, unless it’s an extra Vickers.
The Wilson Combat 10-Round .45 ACP Magazine has the highest capacity available in a standard single-stack mag for 1911. The extra length is housed inside a polymer base pad. Not only does this keep it protected, it’s also easy to hold when you’re removing the magazine. The tube is stainless steel, and is available in both a silver finish and a black finish.
The spring is strong and durable, and pushes a self-lubricating nylon follower that’s both tough and smooth. Because of the slim base pad, this magazine can be a loose fit in flared mag wells, occasionally causing it not to seat properly. If this is a concealed carry pistol, that shouldn’t be a problem, since you’ll want to have a round chambered to begin with.
Like other Wilson Arms magazines, this one is on the pricier side. It’s worth every penny, though.
- Strong, durable springs
- Self-lubricating nylon follower
- Highest capacity available for standard 1911
- Made in the USA
- A little expensive
- Can fit loosely in flared mag wells
Why It’s Recommended
Wilson Arms makes some of the best magazines in the business. If you’re looking for a high-capacity mag for your single stack 1911, this is a great choice.
The Trip Research magazine is modeled after the extremely high-end Les Baer 1911 magazine. It’s not quite as good, but honestly you don’t need an actual Les Baer magazine unless you’re competing at very high levels. The stainless steel tube and follower are durable, and the spring is strong enough to prevent jams.
The follower can take more abuse than most, because it directly engages the slide catch with a steel surface, rather than with polymer or nylon.
This magazine is available for both officer’s and government models of the 1911. The 7-round officer’s version can come with or without a polymer base pad, while the 7-round government version only comes without one.
The 8-round version of the government magazine has one, and it’s sized well for most flared mag wells. It’s more expensive than most magazines, but it’s reliable enough to trust your life to.
- Stainless steel tube and follower
- Available in both officer’s and government sizes
- 7 and 8-round capacity available
- Follower engages slide to reduce wear
- More expensive than average
Why It’s Recommended
This is a high-quality magazine at a high-quality price. For the officer’s model 1911, it’s the best on the market.
The Chip McCormick Shooting Star is available in two versions: one with a nylon base pad and one without. It doesn’t matter much either way, since the pad is removable and the welded base has pre-drilled holes even on the pad-less version.
This is an inexpensive mag that gives you 8 rounds of capacity with a relatively low profile. If you carry concealed, it will cut a few fractions of an inch from the gun’s outline.
The Shooting Star achieves this by using a unique, flat follower that takes up less space than one with a standard shape. We haven’t had any trouble with this feature, but some users report that the follower catches on the slide unintentionally, and wears out within just a few uses. Your mileage may vary here, depending on the exact 1911 you’re using.
- Welded base with nylon pad
- Stainless steel tube
- Low profile
- Can accidentally catch the slide
- Pre-drilled holes in base
Why It’s Recommended
This is a serviceable, inexpensive magazine that’s better than most stock 1911 mags.
Your life may depend on your pistol. After all, that’s why you have it! You don’t want to find out you have a sub-par magazine at the wrong time. Before you buy, there are a few things you’ll need to know about 1911 magazines.
Types of Magazines
There are two main types of pistol magazine: single stack and double stack. Single stack magazines have the cartridges stacked directly on top of each other. This allows for better reliability, and a slimmer grip for easy concealment. They also weigh less, keeping the pistol more front heavy and reducing recoil. On the other hand, single stack magazines have a lower capacity.
Double stack magazines have the cartridges stacked in a staggered configuration. On the one hand, you can carry more ammo this way. On the other hand, the magazines and grips are thicker, and harder to conceal. They can also make the gun back heavy due to the increased weight. Because the cartridges have to slide diagonally against each-other to load, double stack magazines can sometimes bind up.
The original “officer’s” model pistol had a 7 round magazine, but was soon replaced by the “government” model, which holds an 8-round magazine. Most modern 1911s are government model, although there are still officer’s model pistols in production. There are also extended magazines available. Most of these hold 10 rounds. Extended magazines increase the profile of the gun, and make it harder to conceal.
A few manufacturers have started making double stack 1911s. These companies include Armscor, Para Ordinance, Strayer Voight and STI. Double stack magazines have a capacity of 12 rounds, with extended versions available that will hold up to 14 rounds.
Cleaning Your Magazine
As the chamber gets pushed open by the recoil, some exhaust escapes through the bottom of the chamber and into the magazine. This amount is insignificant to the amount that escapes through the barrel, but it’s enough to cause carbon buildup and fouling over time.
Not only that, but magazines are more likely to get dropped than a pistol. If they get dropped in dirt or sand, some is going to end up inside them. They can also collect pocket lint, and oil from your skin can cause dust to stick to them.
The easiest way to clean them is to scrub the follower with a toothbrush to scour off carbon buildup. After that, you’ll want to wipe it with a clean patch to remove any bits your toothbrush didn’t take off. If the floor plate is removable, you’ll want to take it off and clean inside. Wear eye protection when you do this. The spring can cause parts to fly out. Wipe down the inside of the body, clean and oil the spring, and clean the bottom of the magazine. Put it back together, and you’re good to go.
If your floor plate isn’t removable, buy a magazine cleaning brush. These are T-shaped, inexpensive, and can be found at most stores that sell pistols. Make sure to get the correct size. Using one that’s too small won’t get your magazine clean, and a large one can damage the spring.
How to Carry a Spare Magazine
There are a variety of ways to carry a spare magazine. When going into the range, always check your state laws first. Most states will require the pistol to be unloaded, and stored separately from any ammunition. If you’re shooting competitively, make sure to be careful with any bag the magazine is stored in. The last thing you want to do is drop it or bump into something and damage your mag.
Of course, if you have a concealed carry permit or your state is constitutional carry, you have far more discretion. How you carry your magazines will, in part, depend on how you carry your pistol. If you have a pocket holster, you’ll probably want to have a spare magazine in your other pocket.
For an IWB holster, the easiest thing is usually to keep a spare mag in the pocket next to the holster. Some holsters have slots or pouches for extra magazines. If you’re using one of these, congratulations! You’ve just freed up some pocket space for your car keys.
If you’re wearing a tactical vest, you’ll probably have plenty of pockets to choose from. In the event that you’re wearing a shoulder holster, the breast pocket of your sport jacket is an ideal place to store an extra mag.
Do I Really Need a Spare?
Whether your pistol is for target shooting or self-defense, you should definitely have at least one extra magazine. The reasons are different, though. Let’s take a look at both of these situations.
As we’ve already discussed, competitive target shooting can come down to hundredths of an inch. When you’re trying to get that kind of accuracy, every little detail matters. The tiniest nick on the cartridge, whether because of awkward feeding or damaged magazine housing, can make the difference between winning and losing.
No matter how careful with your magazine, things can happen. You drop your bag, or someone yells your name at the wrong time and you fumble the magazine. Suddenly, your magazine is damaged, and you need to start shooting in ten minutes. In this situation, a backup mag can save your match.
Depending on who you ask, police typically hit their target between 20 and 40 percent of the time. There are stories of police officers firing eight rounds at a suspect ten feet away, and missing with all of them. That’s the effect that adrenaline can have even on trained police officers. For the average homeowner, accuracy is likely to be worse.
The point of this is that you should be prepared to miss a lot in the event of a home invasion. In the event that there is more than one intruder, you’re more likely than not to need an extra magazine or two. There’s no replacement for training at the range, but having a lot of ammo comes close.
As you can see, what type of magazine you’ll want will depend on what type of shooting you do. For self-defense, just about any magazine will do, as long as it doesn’t jam. For target shooting, you’ll want a smoother-feeding design that’s gentle on your cartridges.
If you own a standard, .45 ACP pistol, you’ll find that you have plenty of options for any purpose. This gun is like the AR-15: so popular that everyone makes accessories for it. If your 1911 accepts a non-standard caliber, you’ll need to accept that your options are limited. With the exception of .10mm, non-standard magazines are few and far between.
Regardless, you’ll need to think about comfort and balance. A 10-round magazine is about 25 percent heavier than an 8-round magazine, and will affect your balance and accuracy. If you prefer a front-heavy pistol for reduced recoil, you’ll have to decide whether you need accuracy more than those two extra rounds.
On the other hand, you may prefer a more back-heavy pistol to begin with. If that’s the case, you’ll have an easy choice.
We’ve also talked about the difference between target shooting and home defense shooting. The differences are significant, and you’ll need to take them into account when you’re buying extra magazines.
Check out the OutdoorWorld Reviews homepage for more expert information and reviews!
Best 1911 Magazines
The 5 best 1911 magazines for your pistol reviewed.
- Wilson Combat 8-Round
- Wilson Combat Vickers
- Wilson Combat 10-Round
- Tripp Research .45
- Chip McCormick Shooting Star