Pat Cascio 11.20.13
Selecting the best handgun is purely subjective; it comes down to what works best for an individual. Given my history of writing about guns, I’m frequently asked about my preferences.
I love the 1911A1 handgun, which differs in size and is available in compact, mid-size, full-size and extra-large. The 1911A1 comes in a variety of calibers, too, beyond just .45ACP.
However, my favorite caliber in a 1911 is .45ACP, followed by 10mm. I owned my first 1911 when I was 17 years old, and have own hundreds since then. I like affordable but well-made, accurate guns.
Armscor, a company based in the Philippines, manufactures different models of the 1911 and sells more than any other company worldwide. They make some outstanding and affordable 1911s, from the basic mil-spec type to a fully-loaded 1911 or one set-up for competition. Several different companies have imported identical or similar 1911s from Armscor over the years, and have their company or import name stamped on the gun. I’ve owned several of these 1911s.
This Citadel 1911A1 was imported by Taylor’s & Co., Inc. a few years back. While Taylor’s is no longer importing this model, Legacy Sports is importing a near identical 1911, with a stamped “Citadel” on the slide, just like my particular model is marked.
This is a factory “custom,” full-sized Government Model 1911 with a 5-inch barrel and all the bells and whistles. The slide has deep serrations in the front and rear for a sure grip when chambering a round; a nice touch, and something you only see on higher priced 1911s. The entire gun has an evenly-applied parkerized-type finish on it, resulting in a very dark gray tactical coloring. The front and rear sights are combat-style, with the rear sight closely resembling the Novak combat rear sight. However, neither the front or rear sights have white dots, and some may find it hard to pick up all-black front and rear sights. I painted a white square on the front sight, and that really helps. One of these days, I’ll replace the sights with either white dot or tritium sights for low-light shooting.
The gun has a flared and lowered ejection port on the slide, for sure and positive clearance of empty shells, as well as when a loaded round is ejected. The barrel has been throated and polished as is the feed ramp, and this hummer will feed any type of .45ACP, from super-hot +P loads, to standard loads, jacketed hollow-point (JHP) and full metal jacket (FMJ). This gun feeds everything. The trigger is an adjustable, all-steel model. While the trigger pull is right at 4 lbs, an aluminium match-grade trigger would decrease backlash.
The magazine release is a standard checkered one, although an extended magazine catch is preferable. This doesn’t impact the performance and is an optional modification. The checkered and double diamond wooden grips are a nice touch. The safety is ambidextrous. The main spring housing is plastic– as they are on so many 1911s these days–and it’s nicely checkered, too. The extended beaver tail grip safety is fitted with the best of ’em, and it has the “speed bump” on there. The hammer is a speed or combat hammer, too. My Citadel came with two Mec-Gar 8-rd magazines, which have worked without fail. However, I’m partial to Wilson Combat 1911 8-rd magazines and that’s what I keep in the gun. The magazine well is slightly beveled to aid in speed reloads, too.
I like a tightly fitted 1911, and that means a good fit between the slide and frame and barrel. The Citadel 1911 doesn’t rattle when shaken, and there is just a tiny hint of play between the slide and frame. Most users wouldn’t notice it, and the barrel has been expertly fitted, omitting any up-and-down play. The gun also features a full-length guide rod and recoil spring plug. While I contemplating exchanging the recoil spring plug for a regular guide rod and plug, I chose to change the 16 lbs recoil spring. I also installed a Wolff extra power 18.5 lbs recoil spring and extra power firing pin spring. I shoot a lot of +P .45ACP in this gun, and the heavier recoil spring saves the frame from getting battered by the slide slamming into it. A cheap and easy fix.
The only other modification I’ve made to this gun is to apply some grip tape to the front strap. As it comes from the factory, it’s smooth, and 50-cents worth of this tape applied to the front strap provides a solid and no-slip grip. This requires changing once a year, but serves as an inexpensive and effective solution to having the front strap checkered. For tinkerers, 1911s are good modding guns. I used a Dremel to polish the frame’s feed ramp, throated barrel and interior barrek hood. The texture is now shiny; this is certainly a preference. The gun also allows for easy grip exchange. Various styles of grips can be found on the web.
My Citadel 1911A1 is accurate 25-yards. I can get 3-inch group with most ammo, and with some ammo, slightly larger groups, and if I’m really on, I can get groups slightly under three inches – this is resting the gun over the hood of my SUV, on a sleeping bag. I used .45ACP ammo to run through my Citadel.
I was able to break the 3-inch mark with the Buffalo Bore Ammunition low recoil, standard pressure, 160-gr Barnes all-copper Tac-XP load. I’ve found this load to be match-grade in many guns. Next I tried the Black Hills 230-gr FMJ remanufactured load. It almost tied with the 160-gr Barnes load in accuracy, but there wasn’t difference when I measured the groups to mention. I really like the accuracy of the Black Hills 185-gr Barnes all-copper hollow point Tac-XP +P load.
The quality and affordability of Armscor’s 1911s make for a desirable budget-friendly gun. In my book, the Citadel 1911s are a best buy.