Obviously, the Shooting Illustrated connection might have played a small part in the selection of this particular Colt – Wiley Clapp writes our “Fightin’ Iron” column and is a fixture in the firearm community, not to mention a pretty ardent fan of the 1911. While it might seem odd to have a 9 mm 1911 with Wiley’s name on it, remember that the original Colt Commander was designed to chamber 9 mm in addition to the more traditional .45 ACP and .38 Super.
This particular model is designed especially with concealed carry in mind, given the lightweight construction of the aluminum frame and Commander length. While it is lighter and shorter than the all-steel Government models, it still tips the scales at slightly more than 30 ounces unloaded, making it on the heavier side for a 9 mm pistol with a 9-round capacity. A Novak rear sight with a gold-bead front sight offer an excellent sight picture, while the Series 70 firing system gives a smooth, light trigger pull. Rounding out the upgrades that make this a superlative choice for concealed carry are the custom wood grips and 25 LPI checking on the frontstrap to keep the Wiley Clapp Lightweight Commander anchored in the hand.
Yeah, it’s heavier than a Glock. It has less capacity than a P365. It doesn’t allow for a red-dot sight. But, there’s just something about the 1911 that keeps it going strong into its 110th year. Maybe you grew up with a family member who served with the 1911 and you learned to shoot on one. Maybe you appreciate the platform’s storied history. Perhaps the single-action trigger makes it easier to shoot it accurately in your experience. In any case, if you’re a fan of the 1911 and want to carry one for everyday self-defense purposes, it would be hard to spec out a 1911 better suited to the task than Colt’s Wiley Clapp Lightweight Commander.
When talking about the 1911, it’s pretty much a given that it will be carried in a leather holster. Aker Leather has been producing gear for the law enforcement, military and concealed-carry communities for four decades, and the FlatSider XR13 holster we have today is an excellent example of the company’s solid work. Offering an FBI, grip-forward cant for rapid presentation and screw-adjustable retention, the FlatSider keeps the pistol securely in place while allowing rapid access when needed. Stiff leather construction keeps it open for reholstering, and the slots allow belts up to 1 ¾ inch wide.
When considering a pistol the size and weight of a Commander, obviously holster construction is important. The FlatSider’s design both pulls the pistol in close to the body for optimum concealment as well as distributing the weight over a larger portion of the belt than a single attachment clip. Opting for a heavier pistol helps with recoil control and follow-up shots; choosing the right holster design will help carry that pistol equally successfully. The FlatSider is available in black or tan finish and for left- and right-handed shooters.
Knife: Kershaw Decimus (MSRP: $57.74)
Rounding out this iconic carry gear is a Kershaw Decimus pocketknife. With a 3.25-inch, 8Cr13MoV spear-point blade wearing a proprietary BlackWash finish, the design of the Decimus is unmistakable. Imitating a double-edged dagger, the Decimus is symmetrical right down to the mirrored flipper projection. Side note, keep a close eye on which flipper you press, as the one on the edge side isn’t going to open the blade and you’re going to feel silly…
The single-edge, bayonet-grind blade opens with Kershaw’s SpeedSafe assisted opening mechanism activated via a flipper, and is held open with a frame lock. The handle is stainless steel with a glass-filled nylon overlay designed to keep the Decimus firmly in the hand. The pocket clip is reversible for right- or left-pocket carry in tip-up configuration.