Battle of the Secondaries: Glock versus 1911
Steven Sattler / SWAT Digest
These two side arms are said to be the most argued in the self-defense world, law enforcement and military included. Let’s focus for now at these pistols in the back-up role.
The most important quality of a secondary weapon is reliability. This quite simply means functioning 100% of the time, no matter what. This being said, the Glock pistols are known for their ability to function all of the time. Be it dirt, broken internals, or trauma, nothing will stop the Glock. We have all seen or at least heard of the tests done on these pistols. So to say the least, a Glock is reliable.
What about the 1911? Many would say it depends on what manufacturer made it. Since we are talking about police department and military side arms, let’s assume that no department or government is going to purchase a sub-par firearm just to save some money. Firearm manufactures such as Springfield Armory and Kimber are known for their quality and reliability. For an example, we will take the Springfield Armory Milspec 1911A1 in 45ACP. This 1911, since it is based very closely to the original given to our boys in WWII, its reliability is unquestioned. I own one of my own and can personally vouch for its reliable functioning, having never experienced a malfunction using FMJ or JHP rounds. The milspec model has a stronger recoil spring, making it more reliable than other 1911’s. I have heard others comment on the unreliability of 1911’s in general, and I see no reason to place such a generalization on such a fine weapon.
Pistol action is another factor in choosing a secondary. The single action gives a generally lighter trigger pull while the double action of the Glock takes a lot of getting used to. The 1911 trigger, in contrast to the Glock, has a rearward sliding trigger. This, coupled with the light pull, lets a less experienced shooter put more rounds on target than the same shooter using a hinged trigger, such as the Glock’s. In my opinion, the Glock’s trigger is the biggest obstacle in firing the Glock well. Training is essential for accuracy and speed. In contrast, the 1911’s trigger is simple and smooth to fire. In this category, the 1911 wins, hands down.
Safety is a key issue in law enforcement today, as it has always been. Many officers have been shot by their own pistol in the line of duty. With the 1911 carried on safe and hammer cocked, the person who pulls the weapon from the officer’s holster must find and deactivate the safety, thus giving the officer time to react. On the other hand, the Glock has three internal safeties but no external ones. The scenario here is a little more grim. Criminal draws officer’s weapon and pulls the trigger, possibly hitting the officer’s vest, possibly shooting him in the side, between the panels. This category is of course very debatable given the new retention holsters and other advances. Even so, in this category the 1911 gets the nod.