A 1911 in 10mm? Yes, You Need One

Most people are at least somewhat familiar with the 1911 platform. We know it was invented by John Browning, that its history can be traced back to the approximate year of its name, and that a lot of people claim it won two World Wars. That is, of course, in the original chambering of 45 ACP. Today there’s a lot more going for the 1911 than just a 45 ACP round and a limited single-stack capacity. For example, modern 1911s are available chambered in cartridges like 9x19mm Parabellum and 10mm Auto. Yes, the 10mm 1911 is a thing. In fact, it’s something you should consider using.

10mm 1911 in 45 ACP
Are 1911s only made in 45 ACP? Of course not, but the 45 ACP is considered the classic, All-American chambering. This dates all the way back to the first of St. Browning’s M1911 lineage pistols. (Photo credit: Cabot Guns)

Are 1911s only made in 45 ACP?

As we’ve already established, no, 1911s aren’t only made in 45 ACP. That’s just the original and classic caliber. Over the years they’ve been expanded to include an array of calibers, including:

  • 9x19mm Parabellum
  • 10mm Auto
  • 380 ACP
  • 38 Super
  • 22 LR
  • 40 Smith & Wesson
  • 460 Rowland
  • 357 Magnum
  • 45 Super

Of all these options, it’s the 10mm that should be getting attention for its awesome performance in the 1911 platform. Handguns chambered to digest 10mm ammo are becoming far more common, and hopefully, that’s going to extend to 1911s, because 1911 handguns in 10mm run well and are wicked precise.

Richard Heine Long Slide 1911 in 10mm
Nighthawk’s Richard Heine Long Slide 1911 is chambered in 10mm. (Photo credit: Nighthawk Custom)

Why a 10mm 1911?

One of the issues with the original 45 ACP chambering of the 1911 is the sheer bulk and trajectory of its bullets. 45 ACP bullets are on the sluggish side and lose velocity rather quickly when compared to many other handgun calibers. Changing that over to 10mm gives the shooter a solid edge with rounds that produce greater velocity and energy. To give you an idea of 10mm’s performance as compared to 45 ACP, we put a chart together:

Barnes VOR-TX Handgun 45 ACP 185 grain XPB 10mm Auto 155 grain XPB
Muzzle velocity 1000 feet per second 1150 feet per second
Muzzle energy 411 foot-pounds 455 foot-pounds
Speer Gold Dot Personal Protection 45 ACP 230 grain JHP 10mm Auto 200 grain JHP
Muzzle velocity 820 feet per second 1100 feet per second
Muzzle energy 343 foot-pounds 537 foot-pounds
Federal Personal Defense Punch 45 ACP 230 grain JHP 10mm Auto 200 grain JHP
Muzzle velocity 890 feet per second 1100 feet per second
Muzzle energy 404 foot-pounds 537 foot-pounds

In these charts it’s easy to see the 10mm Auto produces more velocity and energy immediately. But does it maintain that edge? Let’s consider the trajectory of the two calibers:

10mm ammo
Federal Personal Defense Punch 10mm ammunition is a fantastic defensive load. (Photo credit: Federal Premium)
Federal Personal Defense Punch 45 ACP 23 grain JHP 10mm Auto 200 grain JHP
Trajectory, 25 yards Zeroed Zeroed
Trajectory, 50 yards -2.0 inches -1.0 inch
Trajectory, 75 yards -6.9 inches -3.9 inches
Trajectory, 100 yards -15.0 inches -8.9 inches
Speer Gold Dot 10mm ammo
Speer Gold Dot 10mm is a popular defensive load. (Photo credit: Speer)
Speer Gold Dot Personal Protection 45 ACP 230 grain JHP 10mm Auto 200 grain JHP
Trajectory, 25 yards Zeroed Zeroed
Trajectory, 50 yards -2.5 inches -1.1 inches
Trajectory, 75 yards -8.5 inches -4.2 inches
Trajectory, 100 yards -18.3 inches -9.6 inches

The trajectory comparison makes it inarguable that 1911s chambered in 45 ACP have a much faster and more severe drop in trajectory compared to 10mm. This means a check in the “yes” column for 10mm 1911s.

But wait, there’s more.

Are 10mm 1911s Accurate?

Not only are 1911s chambered in 10mm accurate, they can be incredibly precise. Maybe it’s the chambering or perhaps it’s the attention to detail that seems to be paid to these guns, but even the shorter-barreled models tend to perform at above-average levels. Long-slide 1911s do the best of all, creating ragged, one-hole groups even at longer distances.

10mm 1911 Ruger SR1911
Are 10mm 1911s precise? Absolutely. Check out this 5-shot group from the Ruger SR1911 in 10mm. (Photo credit: Kat Ainsworth Stevens)

Do 10mm 1911s have a lot of recoil?

The overall weight of the 1911 platform tends to mitigate felt recoil significantly, making 10mm models just fine for shooting. Not only is felt recoil negligible but muzzle rise is also not bad. These are stainless steel guns with bulk to them and they handle the oomph of 10mm ammo with no issues. Some are certainly designed more carefully than others, but by and large, the potential felt recoil shouldn’t stop you from shooting a 1911 chambered in 10mm.

10mm 1911
1911s chambered in 10mm do not typically produce more felt recoil than is manageable. (Photo credit: Kat Ainsworth Stevens)

Are 10mm 1911s Made Differently?

1911s that are chambered in 10mm are basically the same as a standard 1911, just a bit sturdier. The biggest difference tends to be the barrels, which are usually bull barrels rather than a standard bushing. The use of a bull barrel allows for greater precision, durability, and longevity. Otherwise, you’ll notice your 10mm 1911 is just a 1911 in a cooler caliber.

Nighthawk Shadow Hawk 10mm 1911
The Nighthawk Shadow Hawk is a long-slide 1911 that’s available in 10mm. (Photo credit: Nighthawk Custom)

Can I hunt with a 10mm 1911?

That’s one of the best things about the 1911 when it’s in 10mm: You can hunt with it. The reality is, 45 ACP is not a good hunting round, but 10mm is excellent. You can hunt everything from whitetail deer to feral hogs with your 10mm 1911 (local laws allowing). Take the time to be sure your handgun skills are honed to the point you can make a one-shot, ethical kill, and you’re good to go. If you’re wondering whether a 1911 is more prone to cycling issues from dirt and debris than some other handgun platforms are, the answer is that it depends on the quality of the gun just like with any type of action. A lot of 10mm 1911s perform more reliably than striker-fired 10mms when they get filthy. It depends on the gun.

Dan Wesson Bruin 10mm 1911
The Dan Wesson Bruin is a 10mm 1911 that’s a great choice for handgun hunting. (Photo credit: Dan Wesson)

Are 10mm 1911s good for self-defense?

Guns chambered in 10mm are viable self-defense options, and that means 1911s, too. When choosing a gun for self-defense you should select one that fulfills the following:

  • Reliable
  • Accurate
  • Consistent
  • Good fit to hand size
  • Comfortable for your use

As long as the gun in question covers those points it’s a valid choice for self-defense use. One of the more commonly mentioned concerns about using 10mm for self-defense is the risk of over-penetration. Could a 10mm penetrate more deeply and potentially over-penetrate beyond, say, a 9mm? Yes, it could, but so can any round. It’s your job as a law-abiding, conscientious gun owner to understand that you are responsible for every bullet that leaves your gun.

Kimber 10mm 1911
Kimber’s 10mm 1911 is affordably priced. (Photo credit: Kimber)

Should I get a 10mm 1911?

If all you have in your 1911 collection are 45 ACPs, it’s a great idea to add a 10mm. Not only are they fun to shoot, they’re versatile, capable handguns that can be used for a lot of different applications. Having one in your collection also broadens your experience and shooting skills as a gun owner.

If you don’t have any 1911s—first of all, why not?—second, yes, get a 10mm 1911. The 10mm 1911s have a lot to offer that the classic 45 ACP models do not. Even if you aren’t a 1911 fan you’ll be forced to admit they’re not so bad when they’re chambered in 10mm. Anyway, who doesn’t want an excuse to have more guns?

Tell us about your 10mm 1911 in the comment section. If you don’t have one yet, get thee to a gun store!

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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