A Carry Pistol

posted on January 27, 2015
wilson2015_fs.jpg (10)

My first contact with the lightweight Colt Commander came when I signed on as a policeman in north Texas. The department that I worked for required us to carry revolvers but had no comment about what we carried off duty. As a result, my training officer carried a .45 ACP Commander with a smooth set of elk horn stocks on it. While I had owned and shot 1911's before, this was my first contact with what would become one of my favorite defensive pistols.

You have to understand that back in those days we didn't call the pistol a Lightweight Commander. It was simply a Commander. The Government Model was all steel and all Commanders had alloy frames. In the early 70's, Colt brought out the Combat Commander which was all-steel construction, so we started calling the early guns Lightweight Commanders to differentiate. There was some nine ounces difference in the weight of the two models.

Without boring you with all of the details, I have owned a number of the alloy-framed Commanders over the years, in .45 ACP and in .38 Super. But, recently, I realized that I did not have a lightweight Commander in .45 ACP and hadn't had one for a while. This past fall our little local gun show fixed all of that for me. I was able to trade for a like new Lightweight Commander, in .45 ACP, that had been manufactured on the late 70's.

Adhering to the need for good sights and a good trigger on a defensive pistol, I first shipped the gun off to XS Sights for a set of their Express sights with the Big Dot front sight. Older shooters will appreciate the fact that standard front sights have begun to look a little blurry to me and the Big Dot is really an aid in drawing the eye to the front sight just as the shot breaks. The pistol next went to Colby Brandon–a member of the American Pistolsmiths Guild–for a trigger job. And, while the pistol is now wearing a set of silver engraved stocks from Kevin Johnson, I do have a smooth set of elk horn stocks to honor my old training officer.

Through trial and error I have found that Commander-size pistols suit me very well and I shoot them about as well as I do any defensive handgun. A fellow ought to carry what suits him and I am enjoying getting re-acquainted with the Colt Lightweight Commander.


Marlin’s new Model 1895SBL
Marlin’s new Model 1895SBL

Fightin' Iron: Lever Gun

At the mid-point of the 19th century, the world of firearms was changing fast. The main service rifle was still a cumbersome single-shot of .69 caliber. It worked on cap, ball and powder, delivered a massive blow and produced clouds of smoke. True, it got the job done.

It’s 90-Percent Mental

The physical act of shooting isn’t tremendously difficult; most of the complicated stuff is in your head.

First Look: New Pistols from Kimber.

Limited edition Rapide and Micro 9 Raptor pistols are just two of the new offerings.

Review: ETS Gen 2 AR Magazines

An updated and redesigned version of the classic AR-15 standard capacity magazine.

First Look: Leica Calonox Trinity Riflescope

A high-quality long-range precision scope with an easily integrated thermal camera.

First Look: Midwest Industries AK Receiver Maintenance Block

Keep your AK-pattern firearm secure and safe on your workbench.


Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.