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Picking the Right Double Stack 1911

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Double Stack 1911s From Bottom to top: BUL Armory SAS II TAC 4.25, Tisas 1911 Carry DS, Springfield Armory Prodigy, Girsan Witness2311
Double Stack 1911s From Bottom to top: BUL Armory SAS II TAC 4.25, Tisas 1911 Carry DS, Springfield Armory Prodigy, Girsan Witness2311

Race car technology eventually makes its way to street cars, and what was formerly reserved for competition pistols has made its way to range and carry pistols. With the proliferation of double stack 1911s prices have come down and now we have more affordable choices.


Video Introduction:


To the unknowing consumer these four guns may appear to be roughly the same. Price differences come somewhat from branding, somewhat from country of origin, but also from design and engineering that may not be so readily apparent to the casual glance.


Total mass of the four double stack 1911s
Total mass of the four double stack 1911s

Handgun performance is a matter of physics. Felt recoil, ease of use, how steadily a gun sems to return to zero after firing is all result of physics. With the same barrel length and same ammunition, each of these four handguns feel different for reasons beyond ergonomics. Part fitment and construction quality indeed plays a big role, but that’s not easily measured so in this study we’ll take a look at four double stack 1911s. For each of these guns we’ll take a look at the major construction features, weights of segments, and weight distribution. I’ll also provide my personal thoughts on each double stack 1911 as well as links to their individual full reviews, current pricing, and sourcing.


How Different Can Double Stack 1911s Be?


Reciprocating mass of four double stack 1911s
Reciprocating mass of four double stack 1911s

Slide Mass: Just like every other handgun, the reciprocating mass of a double stack 1911 is the shifting weight that contributes to both muzzle rise and dip as it slams back and forth. Some of this force is smoothened by the arming of the main stream, and through friction, but in general reciprocating mass can make one gun “flippier” than another if not otherwise mitigated.


Barrel mass of our four double stack 1911s
Barrel mass of our four double stack 1911s

Bull Barrel or Bushing Barrel: If a double stack 1911 uses a a bushing barrel the barrel must be of smaller diameter and have less mass. That bushing is also part of the reciprocating mass mentioned above. Bull barrels on the other hand use no bushing and can be significantly heavier, adding weight to the nose of the gun which can counter muzzle rise.


Frame Mass of our four double stack 1911s
Frame Mass of our four double stack 1911s

Frame Material: Most of the popular double stack 1911s use a polymer grip, but select between steel or aluminum for the frame material. Steel of course weighs more which adds to non-reciprocating mass to counter recoil and steady the gun. Aluminum is lighter and makes for a more carry-friendly gun, but as you’ll see the weight differences between double stack 1911s is not as clear cut. Some of this depends on the length of the dust cover which, through leverage, can have an equally felt impact on how a gun handles.


Guide rod mass of the four double stack 1911s
Guide rod mass of the four double stack 1911s

Guide Rods: Full-length or GI. Just like with classic 1911s, it’s mostly a personal preference in double stack 1911s. The shorter “GI” length guide rod potentially saves overall weight and makes field striping easier. A full-length guide rod is a place to add some non-reciprocating weight but often requires a tool of some sort to disassemble.

Double Stack 1911s

Comparing Four Double Stack 1911s


BUL Armory SAS II TAC 4.25 is a personal favorite of the double stack 1911s
BUL Armory SAS II TAC 4.25 is a personal favorite of the double stack 1911s

BUL Armory SAS II TAC 4.25: This is admittedly a personal favorite of mine. I carried this pistol through the colder months of the last year and have used it in training. I find the total weight to be acceptable. On the range it’s quick and light. That might equate to more to handle, but for me the ergonomics and grip traction compensate for that. The BUL Armory SAS II TAC 4.25 is the lightest of the double stack 1911s in this list, and also the most expensive. The only change I would make to this pistol is one I’ve already made, and BUL Armory has made for the 2024 models: I swapped the blacked-out front sight for a fiber-optic front sight. I believe the original intent of a blacked-out front sight was to reduce visual confusion when used with a dot, but I don’t carry a dot and most dots are red, so BUL Armory’s green fiber optic is unlikely to cause issue. Handling is so quick and light that it’s easy to forget this was based on a 1911 design.

BUL Armory SAS II TAC 4.25 weight distribution
BUL Armory SAS II TAC 4.25 weight distribution

Bull barrel, Aluminum Frame, Full-length Guide Rod

Total Weight: 26.4oz

Slide: 9.8oz = 37%

Frame: 9.3oz = 35%

Barrel: 5.1oz = 19%

Guide Rod & Spring: 1.9oz = 7%

*Note, this model has been replaced in 2024 by the "EDC" model.


Of our group the Girsan Witness2311 was the first double stack 1911 to market for under $1,000
Of our group the Girsan Witness2311 was the first double stack 1911 to market for under $1,000

EAA Girsan Witness2311: First-to market with an affordable double stack 1911 option from Turkey, This pistol feels a little heavier in hand than the scale would suggest, possibly due to the unique weight ratio. I found the trigger responsibly heavy, but also to a point that it may slow down some shooters. Fit was also what one might expect on a cost-saving gun as some break-in was needed with higher-energy ammunition before it would run smoothly with softer ammunition (see range ammo guide HERE). The trigger could be easily customized as needed. Recoil impulse was akin to a classic 1911.

EAA Girsan Witness2311 weight distribution
EAA Girsan Witness2311 weight distribution

Bushing Barrel, Aluminum Frame, Full-length Guide Rod


Total Weight: 27.8oz

Slide & Bushing: 12.4oz = 45%

Frame: 9.5oz = 34%

Barrel: 4.4oz = 16%

Guide Rod & Spring: 1.2oz = 4%

Reciprocating / Non = 45% : 55%

Pricing: (subject to change, click links for current price)


The Springfield Prodigy gained popularity among double stack 1911s for being one of the first affordable US options.
The Springfield Prodigy gained popularity among double stack 1911s for being one of the first affordable US options.

Springfield Armory Prodigy: The Prodigy made a splash as being the, at-the-time, most affordable double stack 1911 on the market. Early reports showed problems with this gun. I believe there may have been some teething issues, but also a lot of those early problems appeared to have been caused by user error. The 1911, including double stack 1911s require a bit more consideration and care than modern striker-fired polymer guns with far fewer parts. In THIS VIDEO I questioned which role the Prodigy was intended for as to me it seems to have a bit of an identity crisis.

Springfield Armory Prodigy weight distribution
Springfield Armory Prodigy weight distribution

Bull Barrel, Steel Frame, Full-length Guide Rod

Total Weight: 34.3oz

Slide & Rod Bushing: 12.5oz = 36%

Frame: 14.9oz =44%

Barrel: 4.3oz = 13%

Guide Rod & Spring: 1.4oz = 4%

Pricing: (subject to change, click links for current price)


The Tisas 1911 Carry DS is currently the low-price leader among double stack 1911s.
The Tisas 1911 Carry DS is currently the low-price leader among double stack 1911s.

Tisas 1911 Carry DS: The Tisas is the newest double stack 1911 we’ve reviewed. Grip texture was a little on the gentle side, but range performance was delightful. The steel frame certainly soaks up recoil, and handling in general felt like a classic 1911. The Tisas is (as of the time this was written) currently the low-price leader among double stack 1911s but it does not feel cheaply made. Personally, before any extended use I would consider adding more traction to the grip frame. The rear sight was slightly off from the factory, but is an easy fix.

Steel frame, Bushing barrel, GI Guide Rod



Total Weight: 31.1oz

Slide & Bushing: 12.0oz = 39%

Frame: 13.6oz = 44%

Barrel: 5.2oz = 17%

Guide Rod & Spring: 0.7oz = 2%

Full Review (coming soon) Tabletop Video Range Video

Pricing: (subject to change, click links for current price)


What have we learned? In my experience, a competent shooter can run any double stack 1911 well, but weight distribution seems to make it easier. A strong bias toward non-reciprocating weight (frame, guide rod, and barrel) reduces flet recoil and muzzle rise. The most popular double stack 1911s of the four listed are the BUL Armory SAS II TAC 4.25 and Springfield Armory Prodigy. Granted, they have been available longer, but they also have the best slide-to-frame weight ratios despite using different frame materials.

Is there a notable difference between the BUL Armory 37% slide mass and Tisas 39%? Perhaps, but other factors such as build quality, fitment, and grip traction play into how "well" a gun runs. If you're just getting into double stack 1911s the Tisas or Girsan might be a good starting point while learning and saving for something nicer down the road. I'm happy to answer any questions to the best of my ability.


In an attempt to see how these differences change the performance of double stack 1911s I took all four guns ot the range and ran them once through the same drill. The results were interesting and I believe show that the shooter makes the difference.


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6 Comments


Graham, you deny us the viewer our 1st Amendment right to public comment on your video about 2nd Amendment pistols when you Turn Off Comments. Why bother then spending your time on the video ?

Viewers learn more from the varied opinions of others, good, bad or way off centered.

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There was a YouTube bug confirmed to hit Alabama Arsenal, QVO Tactical, and myself, I had to turn comments back on three times during the day. It seems to be stable now.

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Have you ever had an interest in reviewing the Stealth Arms Platypus? Beyond criticisms and praises for that individual gun and manufacturer, does the continuing evolution of the 1911 platform point to larger trends in the gun market, or is it merely responding to a small, niche section of consumers?

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Yes, I have, as I seek to review all guns. I spoke to them at SHOT and followed up with emails but to no response. After nine years in the industry I've come to understand that if a brand doesn't want to be on the channel it's because they have something to hide and rely on "influencers" not journalists to tell the story. I've come clode to simply ordering one for review, but our Patreon funding only goes so far.

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