1911 Rating System

Based on the popularity of the Taurus PT1911 torture test, and how many of you people want me to keep testing “budget” 1911s in 9mm, I’ve come up with an evaluation plan for how to proceed from here.

Taurus PT1911 9mm

Now that it’s hit 2,000 rounds, the Taurus will go on the shelf, albeit temporarily. The idea is to then acquire samples of other budget/entry level 1911s, such as Rock Island, Springfield RO, etc. Those guns will be subjected to the exact same test cycle at the PT1911, with the results reported here. Then once the stable of guns have all reached 2,000 rounds, I will use my awesome and terrible powers as a certified 1911 armorer to try and correct whatever issues I may have with the pistol. I’ve even come up with a scoring system!

All kinds have a maximum possible score of 100 points, and all guns start with a perfect score. As the 2,000 round test goes, guns lose points for various issues based on the following metrics:

  • Parts breakage before 2,000 rounds: -50
  • Failing the 10-8 Performance Function Test: -10
  • Mechanical issues that can be corrected at the armorer level: -5 points
  • Any failure to complete the cycle of operations (FTF, FTE, etc): -1 point

I might be missing a category that could cause a points loss, but if so I’ll go back and add it in. All guns will get scored at 2,000 rounds, and then after that we’ll attempt to correct any armorer level issues that the guns may have. Based on the scoring system, the Taurus PT1911 would have put the following score:

  • -10 for failing the 10-8 Function Test
  • -15 for three issues that can be corrected at the armorer level: mags not dropping free, erratic ejection, rear sight set screw backing out
  • -9 for failures to complete the cycle of operations

That would give the PT1911 9mm a final score of 66, which is good for a D+. Let me know in the comments what you think of the scoring system. I’m going to use this as my standard to evaluate all the 1911 pistols that we get in for review going forward, but especially for the 9mm 1911 test I’m doing this year. It gives me a perfectly fair benchmark to compare all pistols too that’s based on nothing other than pure mechanical function.

The next two guns I plan to test are a Springfield Armory Range Officer in 9mm and a Rock Island 9mm.


  1. I’ve really enjoyed these articles. I happen to own the PT1911 in .45 and I’ve enjoyed it from day one. It hasn’t had a single issue so far but I certainly haven’t put it through anything like you’ve done here. I just wanted to ask, before you came up with your scoring system, would you have considered the gun you tested a D+ gun? I know D+ it’s just a letter to tack onto the number, but it got me thinking. If someone had walked up to you after your testing but before you had the numbers in mind, and said, give me a grade on that gun, would D+ have been the answer? I wasn’t picking up a D+ vibe in your comments…which could totally be my own bias.
    Thanks again for the great write up and the website. I’m looking forward to the next test.

    1. That’s an interesting question with a complicated answer. In my head, I’d sort of considered the gun a solid C, maybe a C-. A D+ is within that realm of possibility, and to my mind a relative fair rating for a gun that I wouldn’t carry or shoot in a match.

      I’m going to do a post tomorrow to suss out the rating system a little further, but one thing about is that it’s designed to rate guns for work as either a duty/carry pistol, or a serious “I want to win matches” competition gun. So for example, things that would be counted against a gun: shitty sights would count as an issue that needs to be fixed at the armorer level.

  2. Just about any scoring system is fair if it it set prior to all the tests being done. Looking forward to the results. Maybe next batch include S&W and Ruger?

    1. Totally. This is going to be my new testing protocol for all 1911-style pistols, because it’s impartial and performance based.

  3. I’d be interested in the results of throwing a S&W 1911-9mm into the mix just to see how far it reaches in comparison with the sub $1k 1911-9mm pistols you are testing. I shopped a S&W 1911-9 and the Springfield RO 1911-9 before I settled on the Smith because of trigger feel and build quality out of the box.

  4. Teachers always grade a little harder than the kid thinks he deserves. Your grade system is excellent.

  5. Would you want to accuracy as a factor in the scoring? -10 points for not being able to put a 5 shot group freehand into 3″ at 25 yards, or something similar?

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