Feed the beast

So you’ve settled on a 1911 from our look at Entry-Level 1911s yesterday.  We’ll say for the sake of giggles that you picked the one I would have picked, the STI.  Now it’s time to feed your 1911, and believe me you have a plethora of choices out there in 1911 magazines.  From the cheapest gun show specials that may or may not work all the way up to the top tier of pistol magazines, the magazines will affect the reliability of your pistol in a significant fashion.  In general terms, the first thing I would recommend is avoid gun show “GI” magazines.  Unless of course you like practicing failure drills, that is.

When it comes to quality magazines for your 1911, here are my favorite choices though.  I honestly like to keep it simple, as there are a world of options out there, however I’ve had positive experiences with all three of these brands of magazines.

Wilson Combat 47D – this is one of the best regarded magazines in the world of 1911s.  I know lots of serious shooters that absolutely swear by these magazines and their reliability.  I have used Wilsons in a couple of different 1911s with zero issues whatsoever, and would recommend them without reservation to anyone looking to run their 1911 as efficiently as possible.


Chip McCormick – This are probably my favorite mags, both the PowerMags and the Shooting Star mags.  For my money, they’re the best combination of reliability and price so that I can afford to buy a box or so of them and not worry about one of them getting wrecked.  I can’t say that so much about the Wilson magazine, which usually costs 5-10 bucks more than the Chip McCormick magazines.

With that being said though, I have had some readers tell me about reliability issues with the Shooting Star magazines.  So the caveat “test your friggin’ mags” applies here.

Last but not least is the Mec-Gar 8 round magazine.  I have the least amount of experience with this magazine, however what limited experience I have had has been positive.  I’ve only shot these again in very limited numbers, so take that with a grain of salt.  Plus, the Mec-Gar has the same retail price as the Chip McCormick, so honestly?  I’d buy the Chip magazines over these.

You may have noticed though that with all of these magazines I’ve had the caveat that you absolutely must test your gun with them.  I stand by that, because each individual 1911 from a different maker may prefer different magazines.  Once you find a brand that works in your gun, stick with it and buy lots and lots of them.

If you search the archives here at Gun Nuts, you’ll find we’ve hit on the topic of 1911 magazines before.  The best way I can explain is that Glocks are like Big Macs – you can buy a Big Mac from any McDonalds in the nation and it’s guaranteed to be the same no matter where you go.  Same for a Glock.  A 1911 on the other hand is more like a gourmet cheeseburger, which means it’s going to vary from chef to chef…or manufacturer to manufacturer.  That’s why it’s imperative to test your 1911 with a variety of magazines to find out which one works the best with your gun.


      1. Why not?

        It works. My black powder loads work great with Chip McCormick mags. I just have to remember to hold that 1911 like I mean it.

        People love watching a 1911 belch smoke and spit flame.

        And most importantly, chicks dig it!!

    1. I’m in the same boat as Caleb, Why????

      How many shots can you get off and still have any idea where the target is?
      How many shots before accuracy goes to hell in a handbasket for that matter?

      Don’t get me wrong, I love shooting a smokepole, even a new army or peacemaker with black powder, but not in a 1911, that’s just wrong man!

      1. If you have proper follow through, you should be able to bang away at your target, but dealing with smoke is part of the game. I’ve seen plenty of darksiders run clean stages in massive clouds of smoke.

        And as far as accuracy goes, it’s all about the lube. Keep the fouling soft and moist, and your good to go. I’ve shot entire matches clean without having to swab the barrel. Recently ran about 200 rounds or so of black through my Springfield 45 with no accuracy problems.

        And at the end of the day, it’s all about the grins and bragging rights. Besides, I already have a new car.

  1. And the 47Ds tend to be vulnerable to rounds moving forwards under recoil if you limp-wrist a lighter 1911 (say, a 3″ or 3.5″ Officers).

    Tripp Magazines came recommended as flush-fitting magazines that didn’t do this. I’ve also heard Tripp makes the best 9mm magazines, for those thinking of shooting a 9mm 1911 (maybe for ESP).

    I still run 47Ds, quite happily, for all my .45 ACP needs.

  2. I want to emphasize the need to test your “individual” 1911. I purchased a set of Wilson 47Ds for my Springfield Armory MilSpec. I had a lot of problems with the last round of each magazine causing jams. I switched to McCormick and had a really smooth pistol. Never a problem. The situation was reversed with a stainless steel MilSpec I had later. Today I am 1911 poor BUT I have 6 each of the McCormick and 47Ds in the bag waiting on the next 1911 to follow me home. 🙂

    1. Yes, try one before you start buying in quantity, I also have a Springfield Armory MilSpec 1911A1 parkerized steel (OK, it used to be milspec, I’ve made some changes :-)) and it loves Wilson Combat 47D’s.
      Currently have 3, 1 with the thin baseplate which is in the gun, and 2 with the thick baseplate that ride in a pouch as spares.

      My 1911 was made by Imler in Brazil, don’t know if all Springfields are or not, might make a difference. Slightly different tolerances manufacturer to manufacturer?

  3. What constitutes a valid test for a magazine?

    – Function test the weapon for slide lock on an empty mag
    – Drops free easily
    – Seats properly
    – Dry cycle a few full mags through
    – ?????

  4. 47D mags are great, I have a bunch, but the new 500 series “elite” Wilson mags are an improvement with a revised follower, better floorplate, and better spring pattern).

    When shooting 9mm, the Wilson Elite and Tripp are the best I have seen, but I have had decent luck with Kimber 9mm and a few others…

  5. I guess am old fashioned ,I believe ‘ you ride home with the one that brung ya to the dance ‘ . Buy a Kimber…use Kimber mags . Buy a STI …use STI mags or whatever the gun maker supplies with the gun . Buy an aftermarket mag and it fails in your gun then thats your fault ,find out about it at the range where it don’t matter not on the street like the man said …

  6. One thing I highly recommend that everyone do is replace their 1911 magazine springs at least once a year. If you don’t, you’re just asking for FTF’s, doublefeeds, inertia feeds, partially loaded magazines that won’t drop free, and a host of other issues to pop up with literally no warning. If you shoot your gun at the range from time to time, expect to never know you have a problem until it’s way too late (as in, when you really really need your gun and suddenly it doesn’t work). If you compete with your gun and you don’t replace the mag springs, expect your gun to take a dump in the middle of an important competition. And if you take a class, expect your gun to fail in the middle of that super-expensive two day class from your favorite tactical instructor. See how much you learn about pistol tactics when your gun can’t even get through a whole magazine without failing…

  7. I have a Springfield Operator, and the McCormick Power Mags have worked like a champ. After the factory magazines, I’m especially fond of how easy it is to pop rounds into those things. They just slide in like butter.

  8. I have a 1943 1911A1 that works perfectly with 1943 GI magazines, ones by Risdon and Scovill – the problem is they cost too much anymore and are sought after by collectors at $100 each.
    So I like the Kimber Kim-Pro Tac-Mag magazines – and I buy the 7-rounders since it’s a old 7-round gun and because Lew Awerbuck said to do that way. You would probably like the 8-round ones better.

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