Best 1911 Magazines : Exploring Reliable Options.
Does a firearm exist that’s as famous as the M1911 pistol? It has been around for over a century now, and it served as the United States’ sidearm from 1911 to 1985. It even served in special roles beyond that timeframe in the hands of Marine Force Recon and Delta Force. Not to mention its countless service in foreign militaries, police forces, and in the hands of civilians concealed carriers.
What seems like hundreds of companies pump out 1911 pistols. These days they come in all sizes, shapes, and calibers. When you’re as popular as the M1911, you have plenty of suitors in the magazine department. Today we are going to be talking all about M1911 magazines.
Breaking Down the 1911 Magazine
The 1911 magazine is a single stack design that’s rather simple. Components include the body, the spring, the follower, and the baseplate. As a single stack magazine, it’s rather compact and thin and piles each round on top of the other.
These days we can see the 9mm, 40 S&W, 357 SIG, 45 ACP, 10mm, 38 Super, and likely some other calibers that I’m missing now. While John Browning and the good Lord intended the 1911 to be a 45 ACP gun, the firearms industry has run off into the hills with the old warhorse. As such, 1911 magazines also come in a wide variety of calibers, and we plan to cover them all today.
When choosing a 1911 magazine, you have to choose a quality, well-made design. M1911s are an old design, and as such, it has more failure points than most pistols. This affects reliability, and you want to eliminate these failure points when possible. That’s why quality magazines are a must-have.
Poorly made and cheap magazines will cause nothing but heartaches and headaches. Most issues with M1911s come back to their magazine.
All 1911s Are the Same, Right?
Wrong! Unfortunately, not all 1911s accept all 1911 magazines. Some companies have put enough of their own spin on 1911s that they only accept proprietary magazines. This includes magazines for oddball calibers like the 22 TCM and pocket pistol calibers.
For example, the Browning 1911-380 and Springfield EMP series both use proprietary magazines. They are not the only guns that do this, and it’s wise to ensure you do a little research into your weapon before you go magazine shopping.
Best 1911 Magazines
- Wilson Elite Tactical Magazine
- Mec-Gar 1911 Magazine
- Wilson Combat 1911 10mm
- CMC Products Pro Full Size
- Chip McCormick Power Mag +
- Ed Brown 1911 45ACP
- KCI 1911 45ACP
Best 1911 Magazines
Best 1911 Magazines Reviews
The most important thing to consider when purchasing a pistol is the magazine. A lot of people forget this, but with your gun’s ammo running low and no replacement in sight, it can be dangerous territory for those who are not mindful about what kind they use, or how much capacity their chosen weapon has! So read on, as we explore some different 1911 magazines available today.
Wilson Elite Tactical Vickers Duty – Best Overall
In the 1911 world, the name Wilson Combat means something, and in most of the gun world, the name Larry Vickers means something. That something often relates to extremely high quality, durability, reliability, and forward-thinking design. When you combine the two, you get the best magazine possible for the 1911.
Wilson and Vickers both love the 1911 platform, and Wilson’s been building them for decades, and Vickers utilized them for decades as a Delta Force Operator. The Elite Tactical Vickers Duty magazine is a combination of operational and engineering experience.
The magazine uses a single tube design with as few ingress points as possible for sand and debris. Single tube design ensures the magazine is rigid and strong. With the absence of witness holes and similar cuts, the magazine is much less likely to fail due to environmental issues.
A steel baseplate provides a textured triangular design to make it easy to rip the magazine from the gun in case of a severe malfunction. Vickers specifically designed the follower to function with a molded-in last follower for superior function with a variety of ammo. If I had to choose only one magazine for my 1911s, it would be this one.
The Wilson Elite Tactical Vickers Duty magazines come in both 9mm and 45 ACP and offer 10 and 8 round capacities respectfully.
Wilson Elite Tactical Pros and Cons
- High Quality
- Can be more expensive
Mec-Gar Anti Friction Finish – Best Budget
When I say budget, I don’t mean the cheapest possible magazine you can jam in your 1911. I mean the most affordable magazine you trust your life to. When you put this magazine in your gun, you can trust it will feed reliably and function without issue. It might not be the fanciest magazine on the market, but it performs brilliantly at its core function.
The Italian firm Mec-Gar makes some of the best magazines on the planet, and they make them for dozens of companies. Most companies don’t make their own magazines and trust MEc-Gar to do it. Their 1911 magazine spans a wide variety of configurations and calibers, and for duty and concealed carry purposes, the anti-friction finish version presents you the best bang for your buck.
An anti-friction coating makes the magazine extremely slick. It allows the magazine to not only slide inside the gun without complaint, but to fall out with ease. Quick reloads rely on your magazines not to be finicky on their exit from the gun, and that’s exactly how these magazines function.
The anti-friction finish doesn’t feel super handy until you are facing a bad environment—a dirty, dusty environment where your gun is quickly met with the hazards of the world. Mec-Gar magazines feed without issue with their lubricated polymer follower.
The oversized baseplate makes them easy to draw from a pouch and shove into your firearm. Individual witness holes provide you an easy means to check capacity, and the mags come in 9mm and 45 ACP.
Mec-Gar Anti Friction Finish Pros and Cons
- Anti-Friction Coating
- Best Budget Option
- Not necessarily the most elegant option out there
Wilson Combat 10mm – Best 10mm 1911 Magazine
10mm is the best millimeter. It’s a powerful round built to be the most effective fighting handgun cartridge ever made. The 10mms cult-like following ensures the caliber will be around forever, and it’s a favorite for the 1911 platform. The Wilson Combat 10mm magazines offer me duty-ready magazines for my mighty 10mm fighting pistol.
These magazines are traditional Wilson Combat designs with a 9 round capacity. We can extend witness holes to monitor capacity and a stainless steel finish for corrosion resistance. The magazines are very smooth and glide in and out of your 1911.
One interesting component is the fiber-filled nylon follower. This self-lubricating design ensures smooth feeding with a ton of different ammo types. Hollow points, FMJs, semi-wadcutters, and all that jazz function perfectly with the Wilson Combat magazines.
Additionally, these magazines are designed to function with all 10mm magazines. A 1911 is a 1911, right? Well, not always, and sometimes 1911s, especially 10mm models, can be magazine picky. The Wilson Combat magazine kept this in mind during the design and period and ensured they work with everything from high-end hunting pistols to budget-grade plinkers.
If you are a fan of the centimeter, you should treat yourself to a few high-quality spare magazines.
Wilson Combat 10mm Pros and Cons
- Stainless steel finish help with corrosion resistance
- Very smooth glide in and out
- Can be more expensive
CMC Products Pro Full Size 1911 9mm Magazines – Best 9mm
People love the 45 ACP because of that big fat bullet, but as of late, we see 1911s chambered in 9mm more often than not. Why not? Modern 9mm closes the gap of defensive ability quite a bit when compared to 45 ACP. The ammo is cheaper, easier to find, and recoils less. If you love your 1911, you can keep your 1911, but you can also chamber it in 9mm.
With 9mm 1911s being so dang popular, you are going to need magazines, and if you want the best 9mm 1911 magazine, then Chip McCormick, aka CMC, is the way to go. They take advantage of the smaller 9mm round and fit ten rounds into a flush-fitting 1911 magazine. Most other companies provide only a 9 round capacity, but CMC squeezes one extra in there.
These Range Pro magazines are made from stainless steel, with steel magazine springs and followers. You have clearly numbered witness holes and a very durable plastic baseplate. The baseplate slopes upward and forms a point that provides a positive grip. This grip allows you to draw the magazine from a pouch and to rip out of the gun in case of a failure point.
The quality, capacity, and rather nice price point make them a no-brainer for your 9mm 1911.
CMC Products Pro Full Sized 1911 9mm Magazine Pros and Cons
- Quality Product
- Ten round capacity
- Can be more pricey
Best Competition – Chip McCormick Power Mag +
Are you a competition shooter who wields a 1911 like it’s an extension of your body? You are blasting 45 ACP pills from your classic fighting handgun in the Major Power division, and you need a magazine that holds more than seven measly rounds. Heck, you want more than eight! You want 10 rounds? The Chimp McCormick Power Mag + provides you with not just ten rounds of 45 ACP but a reliable overall package.
Ten rounds mean a flush-fitting magazine isn’t going to happen. You get an extended magazine with the McCormick patented baseplate. This big polymer baseplate protects the extended portion of the magazine and allows it to drop to the ground over and over and over without worry.
Speaking of reloads and dropping magazines, the CMC Power Mag + is coated with a high quality, reduced friction finish that allows the mags to slide in and out without effort. It ensures shooters get a quick and smooth reload when it matters most. The Power Mag + offers witness holes for eight rounds of ammo, and the last two are covered by the baseplate.
The stainless steel body provides a strong surface to deal with the abuse competition magazines face every day. When time is on the line, the CMC mags are what the pros turn to.
Chip McCormick Power Mag+ Pros and Cons
- Stainless body provides strong surface
- Ten round capacity
Ed Brown Magazines – Duty Ready And Versatile
Ed Brown occupies another one of the top slots for 1911 manufacturers. These guys have been around for a long time and have been developing the 1911 handgun into a more modern work of art. As such, they focused on every little detail, including the magazines. Ed Brown 1911 magazines utilize a unique design that ensures they provide the highest level of reliability.
You’ll notice this when you go to load these bad boys. Holy crap, are they stiff to load. You’re gonna fight the last round in there. That’s a side effect of utilizing an extremely strong magazine spring with a lot of spring in its design. It’s forceful but effective and ensures your rounds feed properly even when the magazine faces sand, dirt, and carbon oppression.
To also help deal with that kind of intrusion and oppression is the special coating Ed Brown puts on their magazines. It reduces friction inside and out and allows for smooth reloads and a drop-free experience, as well as smooth feeding in the face of gunk and grime.
The bottom bump pad system is unique. You can choose to run the magazines lacking a bump pad for a flush fit, or utilize a small baseplate bump pad or a larger bump pad. Swapping is simple and allows you to customize the magazine for the gun and its role. Oh, and these magazines are made for 45 ACP, 9mm, 10mm, and 38 Super guns, so everyone is covered, and they are surprisingly affordable.
Ed Brown Magazines Pros and Cons
- Highest level of reliability
- Strong magazine spring
- Can be stiff to reload
KCI 1911 45ACP – Best Training Magazine
Training magazines are designed to let the user engage in rather rough training without wearing out or breaking their good magazines. I use training magazines for dry fire reload work, malfunction drills, and similar tasks. I trust my good magazines to last, but why risk the mags I spent 40 bucks on when I can use a mag that costs a fraction of that?
For that role, I use KCI magazines. KCI is a South Korean firm that makes mags for a wide variety of guns. These are remarkably affordable, and beyond their low price tag, they aren’t necessarily remarkable. KCI magazines typically work very well on square ranges and feed reliably as long as they are clean.
Since you can find them for around 12 bucks, having a few on hand allows you to keep your good mags clean and ready for action. With the KCI magazines, I have no issues dropping them on concrete or in sand while working reloads. These super cheap magazines provide you with 7, 8, and 15 rounds of ammunition.
They also come with a lifetime warranty, so if you break them in training, you can get them replaced. You can’t beat that kind of action out of a cheap magazine. I wouldn’t trust my life to them, but I’ve yet to make one fail on the range.
KCI 1911 45ACP Magazine Pros and Cons
- Very Affordable
- Lifetime warranty
- Aren’t necessarily a remarkable option
Buyers Guide – Other Considerations
Along with the information above, I’ve also got some other points to consider when you’re looking into 1911 magazines.
At the bottom of your magazine sits a baseplate, and with 1911s, the design differs widely. Your most basic magazines are flat-bottomed, flushing magazines. Beyond that, we get into bump plates, which separate into two designs. We have standard bump plates and tapered bump plates.
A standard bump plate is a square made from polymer or metal and helps the magazine absorb some pain as it falls to the ground. These also form a lip that makes it easy to draw from a magazine pouch. These add a layer of protection to the magazine and also prevent the magazine from being over inserted.
A tapered baseplate looks like a triangle, and the tapered design provides you grip points should the magazine be stuck in the gun. I prefer these designs personally and have found them to be extremely handy.
Match Them To Your Ammo
1911s are used in a wide variety of tasks, and therefore, some magazines are more prone to work best with certain ammo types. For example, classic G.I. magazines will work best with hardball, 230-grain ammunition, and that’s what they are designed for. That’s not to say they won’t work with hollow points, but you should experiment and test them to be sure.
Various feed lip designs accommodate various ammo types. If you shoot bull’s eye competition, you might use semi-wadcutters, and they make magazines specifically to accommodate these rounds. Those same mags might not work well with JHPs or even ball loads. If you use a modern 1911 magazine that works fine with ball and JHPs, it might choke on wadcutters.
So the lesson here is to take the ammo you intend to shoot most and test them with your magazines. If you train with ball but carry hollow points, it would be wise to test out your specific JHPs with your magazines. When you shop for mags, pay close attention to their design and what they are designed to function with.
Common 1911 Magazine Issues
With so many magazines out there, you might be wondering what some issues 1911 magazines are prone to suffer from are. It’s important to remember that quality matters, and you often get what you pay for. Cheap magazines might work brilliantly for a few years, but might wear quickly as well.
Here are a few common issues you’ll see with very old, high-quality magazines or very cheap magazines.
Spring Tension Softens
Poorly made springs occupy the realm of cheap magazines, and believe it or not, they tend to wear out faster than well-made springs. When this occurs, you will run into a wide variety of issues.
This includes the bolt-over-base misfeed. When your slide returns to battery quicker than the magazine can feed the chamber, the projectile and part of the case will jam between the bottom of the slide and the chamber itself. This complicated malfunction is a major hassle and renders your 1911 into a blunt weapon.
Another big issue is when the round makes it to the chamber ahead of the extractor and doesn’t go fully into battery. This one is a little better than the former. It’s a quicker fix, but the gun will not fire if it’s not in battery. You can often shove the slide forward to fix it, but your next round will likely fail to feed properly too.
One related to the magazine spring, but also a bad follower, is the potential for a nosedive. The front of the projectile is lower than the rear of the round. It falls down and locks the slide open. It also often holds the magazine in place, requiring you to lock the slide to the rear to remove the magazine.
Feed Lip Spread
Feed lips spread, and when they begin to get out of the proper tolerance range, you’ll start to see double feeds where a second-round tries to join the first into the chamber. That’s always a fun one to fix. Also, the magazines can get stuck or pinned in place, requiring you to rip the thing out of the gun. Another failure is when the projectile points too far upwards and causes jams and failures to feed.
You can fix feed lips, but that requires tools and experience. For cheap magazines, it’s rarely worth the time or effort to do so.
This issue relates to the gun and magazine, but doesn’t relate to the quality of the magazine. Instead, it relates to the length of the magazine. If you have a compact variant of a 1911 and shove it in a full-sized magazine, you can over insert the magazine into the gun. When it’s over inserted, the slide beats the hell out of it, and eventually, you’ll damage the magazine or gun.
That’s why 1911 magazines have those lips or butt plates. Take a peek at the CMC Power Mag + designs and note that giant baseplate. That prevents over-insertion, but allows you to rock out with an extended magazine.
The Wide World of 1911s
1911 magazines are not necessarily prone to more failures than other magazines. The thing is that everyone makes 1911 magazines. Not everyone makes SIG P320 mags or Glock mags. When you have a wider variety of magazines available, you are more likely to find junky ones. This is especially true when you consider that the 1911 is a gun made around the world.
It’s smart to be picky when selecting your 1911 magazines. Don’t flake out and choose the cheapest ones available to you. Be smart and remember quality costs, but it also pays. Hopefully, you know what you need to know about 1911 magazines, but if not, ask your questions below.
Clean your Magazines
If you are having weird feeding issues that cause inconsistent reliability, the magazines may not have a mechanical problem. They might just be dirty. Take them apart, use a dry rag and air duster to clean them out if sand is the issue. Suppose they are just caked in carbon and filth. Use warm water, soap, and a rag. I don’t recommend oiling magazines because oil attracts dirt and sand.
There are many ways to approach cleaning and to add to what I just mentioned above I have found a great video showing how to disassemble, clean and reassemble the Wilson Combat Magazines.
March 16, 2023
March 16, 2023
March 15, 2023
March 15, 2023
Did you overlook Checkmate? Checkmate OEM’s to Colt, Ed Brown and Ruger, inter alia. They are #1 in my view.
Author, “The M1911 Complete Owner’s Guide” and “The M1911 Complete Assembly Guide.”