I think we all agree that the 1911 handgun is among the most recognized and combat effective handguns of all time. We also agree that the 1911 isn’t for everyone. If cocked and locked carry and the need for frequent cleaning and lubrication are not something you feel like you can live with, then a Glock or a revolver is a better choice. That being said, the 1911 appeals to many shooters and for most of us, accommodation may be made. Enter the Citadel 1911 9mm.
One reason some shy away from the 1911 is the perceived recoil of the .45 ACP cartridge. No doubt about it, the .45 demands practice and acclimation to master. Thus, the occasional shooter will have a difficult time dealing with the .45. I do not mean this derisively.
Time is precious and many of us simply cannot devote the time we would like to mastering the handgun. This makes the 9mm cartridge attractive. While the .45 ACP is the natural first choice in the 1911, you are missing something if you do not consider the 9mm 1911 platform. The 9mm 1911 has all of the good traits of the 1911—including a low bore axis that limits muzzle flip, a well shaped grip that fits most hands well, and a straight to the rear trigger compression.
Quite a few of the 1911 handguns offered for sale are affordable and attractive. After all, a handgun can be a significant portion of the disposable income. A $1,000 1911 may not be in the cards. With the Citadel 1911 9mm, you have a handgun that has proven to be the fastest to an accurate first shot of any type, and in an even more controllable caliber.
Among the more affordable 1911 handguns offering several upgraded features is the Citadel. Manufactured in the same facility as the Rock Island Armory handguns, the Citadel has upgrades in finish and grips that make it a more desirable handgun. The Citadel features good sights on the famous Novak Lo Mount pattern. This is as good as it gets in a personal defense handgun.
The speed safety, beavertail grip safety with memory pad, good fit and finish for the price, and checkered wooden grips are part of the package. I was particularly impressed by the fit of the sights. Each is properly dovetailed in place and the rear sight is adjustable for windage. The cocking serrations are well executed. The pistol is finished in a matte blue that appears to be bead blasted. The example tested is the compact version. Often referred to as the Officer’s Model size, this handgun features a 3.5-inch belled barrel and a shortened grip frame. The belled barrel is necessary due to the different dynamics in the locked breech action of a short slide 1911. The ejection port is lowered and there are no visible tool marks.
When the pistol was field stripped and examined, the final machine work looked good. Quality CNC machine work was evident. The slide to frame fit was tight. The wooden grips are lightly checkered, adequate for adhesion when firing, but not raspy.
The pistol is supplied in a lockable hard plastic box with two magazines. As a recreational shooter, the 9mm chambering makes much sense. As a powerful number, the 9mm is also well suited to personal defense. The pistol retains the many good qualities of the 1911 handgun. These are a low bore axis that limits muzzle flip, straight to the rear trigger compression, a grip frame that fits most hands well, and speed to an accurate first shot of the cocked and locked carry mode.
The 9mm Luger cartridge is economical to obtain and easy to fire. While the 9mm Luger operates at higher pressure than the .45 ACP—as much as 30,000 psi compared to the .45’s 21,000 psi—the 9mm has less momentum. As such, weapon-wear should never be an issue. A nice discovery was that the magazines are Metalform brand. Metalform produces excellent service-grade magazines. I did not expect any magazine or ammunition related problems. The pistol would have to perform on its own merits.
The 9mm cartridge offers significantly less recoil than the .45 ACP. This allows shooters that are not able to practice as often to master the pistol more quickly and maintain a reasonable level of proficiency. The 9mm Luger does not possess the wound potential of the .45 ACP cartridge but the 9mm is a reasonable choice for personal defense. Load selection is critical.
In the end, the 9mm is what it is, and the skill of the user is important. The 9mm is a useful cartridge with light recoil and good accuracy that promotes practice. The Citadel 1911 is chambered for the most popular service pistol cartridge in the world.
As to size, the pistol is reminiscent of the SIG P225 and it is smaller than the Glock 19. It is not lighter, however. The Citadel 1911 9mm is all steel. I like all steel a lot and in this case the weight penalty isn’t severe. The Citadel weighs 32 ounces. This means that recoil is less than practically any other 9mm in the size class.
In testing the Citadel compact 1911, the abbreviated grip did not preclude obtaining a full firing grip. The trigger span and circumference of the 1911 grip remains the same with the short frame. The long bearing surfaces were lubricated, and the magazines loaded.
A word on the magazines and capacity… there are high-capacity magazine handguns available by the dozen and these handguns offer a reserve of ammunition. The 9mm may demand rapid repeat shots before the assailant is incapacitated but so may a big bore! Just the same, a pistol with a thinner grip is easier to conceal, and easier to control and handle.
A limited magazine capacity is a tradeoff I am willing to accept for a handgun that is fast and accurate on target. It is perhaps the easiest shooting ‘slim line 9’ you will ever holster. The trigger is crisp and manageable at 4.5 pounds. The trigger is adjustable for travel. I would set the trigger for travel and then Loc Tite the screw in place.
I have fired the pistol with a variety of loads. The sights are properly regulated for 115- to 124-grain loads. The pistol has fired over 600 rounds without a single failure to feed, chamber, fire or eject. No break in malfunctions and no problems.
Ryan Flowers, noted competition shooter, had a single light strike that did not ignite with Armscor loads early in the test. A bit of packing grease in the firing pin channel? A high primer? The problem did not repeat.
The 8-round magazines give the pistol a total capacity of nine rounds. For those who practice, this should prove an adequate supply. After all, this is one more cartridge then even a full-size 1911 .45.
After the initial test, I elected to test the pistol with personal defense loads and perhaps make it a carry gun. The pistol was loaded with Winchester Forged 9mm FMJ loads. These are clean burning, reliable and accurate enough for meaningful practice. In the final session, my opinions were born out.
The Citadel 9mm compact pistol is easy to use well. Recoil is not a consideration. To repeat, the pistol weighs a solid 32 ounces—nearly as much as full-size service pistols. As such, the steel frame absorbs momentum. The low bore axis limits muzzle flip. Trigger compression is a controllable five pounds minus. There is some take-up, but no discernible creep or backlash—this is a good trigger action in an economy handgun. Someone knows how to fit a 1911 trigger…
The pistol came out of the holster smoothly and lined up on target quickly. First shot hits were obtained quickly firing at man-sized targets at 5, 7, and 10 yards. Rapid follow-up shots were accurate.
When practicing speed loads, the magazine release was tight, maintaining good contact with the magazine, but easily manipulated to quickly drop the empty magazine. The slide lock functioned properly. Novak sights offer an excellent sight picture. All who fired this compact handgun commented on the efficiency of these sights.
The pistol was fired with a variety of personal defense loads. The Winchester Silvertip is a trusted load that has been around a long time. The Silvertip is accurate, reliable, and gives good expansion. The 147-grain PDX is a good performer in the heavy weight 9mm class. If you have a need for deep penetration, as is the case when felons are wearing heavy clothing during the winter months, this is a viable loading.
I prefer the Winchester 124-grain PDX +P. This load is breaking 1,189 fps from the Citadels 3.5-inch barrel. These loads gave good results. Common wisdom tells us that shot placement is most important, but these Winchester expanding bullet loads make the most of the caliber. All the loads test fired are credible and a good choice for those that practice. All are controllable in this handgun.
Frankly, recoil is not a problem. I would choose the load that fits your scenario and be certain that it functions properly. I have also tested the Citadel with loads from the major makers and lead bullet handloads as well with good results.
I have bench rested the Citadel 9mm on several occasions, with good results. Here are a few results from the trail.
15 yards, 5-shot groups
|Winchester Forged||1,166 fps||2.0 inches|
|Winchester 115-grain Silvertip||1,159 fps||1.5 inches|
|Winchester 147-grain PDX||940 fps||1.2 inches|
|Winchester 147-grain Defender||960 fps||1.3 inches|
|Winchester 124-grain PDX +P||1,189 fps||1.4 inches|
|Oregon Trail 125-grain RNL/Titegroup Powde||1,050 fps||1.95 in.|
|PMC Bronze 115-grain||1,110 fps||2.6 in.|
|Armscor 115-grain||1,150 fps||1.6 in.|
The Citadel is both reliable and accurate. It should serve well in personal defense. When the size of the pistol is considered, this is an ideal 1911 for concealed carry.
An inside the waistband holster such as the Galco Summer Comfort features a dual belt loop and excellent molding. This is a compact IWB that handles the Citadel well. The Citadel 9mm is well worth your time and effort to investigate. The 9mm 1911 is a joy to fire and use and this makes for a lot of pleasant range time which builds marksmanship. The pistol may serve well in serious conflicts.
The 9mm 1911 is one of top sales leader over the past few months. Do you own a 1911 9mm? Share your answer in the comment section.
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