Holding On: 1911 vs XD9

XD9 and 1911 width comparison.
– 1911 is .960 inches
– XD9 is 1.19 inches

I bought a 1911 recently. I decided not to shoot it until I replaced the grips and was able to slim down the gun. I picked up the new gun with the new grips on Tuesday November 20th, 2012. I’m still focused on learning to maintain my grip through multiple shots and I was hoping this gun would make it easier for me to do that.

It did! I managed to keep my hands on the gun, in the same exact position for more than one shot. It’s going to take practice, focus, and work to improve my hand strength but If I can do it once I know I can do it again.

The 1911 is a thin frame with a single stack magazine. The grips can be swapped out to slim down or add width to fit the shooter’s hand. The advice I followed insisted that a 1911 was the best choice for my small hands. I can now feel the difference that makes. I asked the gunsmith that swapped the grips for me to measure the width of both guns, The difference is .23 or almost a 1/4 inch. That difference makes it easier for me to keep the thumb of my strong hand pointing forward. With a wider gun I tend to twist my hand toward the trigger side to ensure I could reach the trigger.

The 1911 is heavier too, so there is less recoil. This may be doing more to stabilize my grip then the reduced width. I weighed the 1911 and the XD9 I’ve been shooting. Using a kitchen scale and unloaded guns (no magazine), I found the 1911 to be almost a pound heavier (15.2 oz). I can tell the gun isn’t moving as much when I shoot and that is definitely giving me more control.

1911 weighs in at 2 lbs 8.5 oz (40.5 oz)

XD9 weighs in at 1 lb, 9.3 oz (25.3 oz)

To focus on my grip and include target transition, I shot steel plates. Knock them down, set them back up. Over and over. 10 plates, 10 round magazines and 124 rounds means just over dozen times resetting the plates.

When I missed a plate it was usually because I slapped the trigger. So the next shot I focused once again on proper grip, a tight supporting hand, relaxing the dominant hand, then gently squeezing the trigger. The more I practice this “transition” from “I missed….” to “relax and focus” the better I’ll be able to recover in a stressful situation.

Things I noticed the first time I fired this gun:

-The trigger is scary light for me. I’m having trouble finding the trigger reset because there is very, very little back travel to reach it.
-I need to practice with the safety. I managed to nudge it on while shooting and then had to stop to trouble shoot why the gun stopped firing. The XD9 has a grip safety and nothing to flip up/down. This is a new process to add to my draw.
-The magazine is a tight fit and in one case I failed to insert it far enough. Once again I stopped to trouble shoot the issue. In this case I felt foolish as I had not gone through the  “click, tug, press, battery” check list I learned in my recent defensive handgun class.

Day 2 of 1911 Practice: 

Roughly a week later I was back at the range and once again focused on my grip. This trip I got a lane and shot paper.
– I hate to admit it, but I had an accidental discharge (pointing downrange) because the trigger is so light. It was a scary reminder of one of the 4 IDPA safety rules: Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. 
– I’m still nudging the safety up while shooting. At least now I know why the gun just stopped shooting and can work to stop this from happening.
– I was able to shoot almost an entire magazine with no shift in my grip. That’s progress!
– Since I was unable to work on target transition in a lane, I started working on keeping both eyes open while I shoot. Since my focus is defensive scenarios, that is yet another skill I need to work on.


3 thoughts on “Holding On: 1911 vs XD9

  1. I was wondering if you tried an XDM with the interchangeable back-straps? My wife also has very small hands and she really likes her XDM 3.8 with the smallest insert.

    Very nice 1911 BTW. I think I’ll pick up some slim grips for mine and see if it fits my wife better.

  2. I don’t have access to an XDM, so no I did not try one. I did try an H&K P30 with the smallest grips & backstrap and still found the smallest grips to be a stretch for my hands (see video below for how these can be adjusted). I think that the extra weight of the 1911 is making a bigger difference in my ability to control the gun than the decreased width. It’s possible that may make a difference for your wife as well. Someone mentioned weighted grips to me, but I think my 1911 is close to the IPDA max weight already.

    Refs: My Slim grips are from Brownells: 1911 AUTO ULTRA-SLIM TITANIUM GRIPS

    H&K P30 Grip adjustment:

  3. Pingback: The 1911 Saga: Cost | Girl Goes Bang

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