The original Colt Commander 9 mm was presented to the civilian buying public in 1950, the beginning of a decade noted for its perceived tranquility. Now in 2021, a year of record-breaking violence and civil unrest, Wilson Combat has released its eXperior Commander Double Stack, an upgraded version in every way to the original. I guess it is only fitting, since we are facing a new reality of the day and at no other time has the concept of an EDC (Everyday-Carry) firearm made more sense.
Wilson Combat has touted its eXperior line of 1911s as the most fully optioned series the company produces. Nearly every tactical, functional and cosmetic feature offered by the company will come as standard items on the eXperior line.
Currently, the line consists of 10 different models ranging from a full-size, long-slide variant down to the 3.5-inch-barreled Sentinel. Within this selection, you will find both 9 mm and .45 ACP chamberings, and both single- and double-stack magazine capacities. It is the recently released Commander Double Stack in 9 mm we are looking at today, and this is the model I personally would deem the best option for a concealed-carry firearm.
Comparing this new Commander to my vintage Colt Commander, there is no doubt that modifications and improvements have been added over the years. The first thing you notice is the wide and robust cocking serrations milled on both the front and rear of the slide. All sharp edges of the slide have been beveled for comfort, and its top has 30 lpi serrations to reduce glare. The rear of the slide and the back of the rear sight have 40 lpi serrations for the same purpose. The rear sight is Wilson Combat’s fixed Battlesight and mates with a red fiber-optic front.
One item often forgotten since it has become the standard on most quality handguns is enlargement of the ejection port and a rear relief cut to assist in proper ejection. The original 1911-style extractor is hand-fitted to provide the best reliability. Even though the slide is stainless steel, is has been given a black DLC finish.
The stainless steel, match-grade barrel is 4.25 inches long and is fitted to a match-grade bushing. The flush-cut muzzle has a reverse crown, and the outside of the chamber area is fluted, allowing residue buildup a place to go without hindering performance. The barrel locking-lug design has been altered in the 9 mm models to enhance cycling reliability.
It is the frame and its components that show the greatest changes from the original Commander. Most notable is the increased 15+1-round capacity with its corresponding design changes. Bill Wilson and the engineers of Wilson Combat had designed the “X-frame,” a 15-round, double-stack 9 mm 1911 frame that is similar in size to a traditional compact, single-stack 1911. This frame is found on the EDC X9 and has been carried over to the double-stack eXperior models. The X-frame is machined from T6-7075 aluminum and accepts an enhanced-capacity magazine with a grip that is smaller in circumference than a standard 1911. The beavertail backstrap, another custom feature that was not on the original Commander, is there, but it no longer acts as a grip safety. The grip screws are also missing, and it is hammer-spring tension that keeps the Wilson/VZ G-10 starburst pattern grips securely in place. This description may sound a bit bland, but it could be considered a major design feat.
The frontstrap and backstrap of the frame carry Wilson Combat’s TRAK grip texture. This pattern is a large, asymmetrical-checkering pattern with a flattened top area, which allows for an exceptional, but non-abrasive grip. The magazine well is highly beveled to help speed reloading, and the thumb safety, magazine release, snag-proof hammer and slide stop all come from the Wilson Combat Bullet Proof collection of 1911 parts. All you need to do is compare them to original 1911 parts to note their subtle, yet enhanced design changes. It should be noted that the trigger pull weight can be specified by the customer at the time of ordering, and the sample handgun came in with a smooth and crisp 3.5-pound pull. The only extra on this pistol was the addition of an ambidextrous thumb safety.
Since these handguns are hand-fitted and tuned to perfection, I was almost hesitant to carry it to my range—almost. The double-stack-accommodating grip felt better in my hand than my original Colt Commander. It had a rounded or oval feel to it, and provided a firm and comfortable grip. I also noticed the smaller details such as the pressure needed on the slide stop and thumb safety. Both were easy to actuate, but never felt too light. The thumb safety especially felt comfortable with a positive lock in both engaged and released positions.
After a few rounds to get a feel for the pistol, I fired close to 100 rounds on 6-inch metal plates placed at 25 yards. Constant hits soon became a little boring. When it came to the accuracy testing, I used ammunition from Federal and SIG Sauer, as well as Wilson Combat. Nearly the only difference between the three was the felt recoil. As you would expect, the Federal Hydra-Shok had a little stouter felt recoil. All three had quite acceptable accuracy results.
Overall, I fired close to 300 rounds that day and did not have a single failure to feed or eject. But what else could I expect? The Wilson Combat eXperior Commander Double Stack 9 mm is a handcrafted firearm. All the parts are manufactured in Wilson Combat’s Arkansas facility and fitted and finished by the company’s expert craftsmen.