The Bobtail 1911: Worthy Refinement Or Mere Fad?
Mar 21, 2017
Is A Bobtail 1911 Good For Carry Or Just A Costly Option?
One of the more popular variants of the 1911 pistol for CCW purposes is the bobtail 1911 frame cut. It's nothing to really write home about, as it's just a filleted edge on the rear of the grip.
You don't really find it on too many 1911 pistols outside of high-end carry models from some of the more exclusive makes on the market. Is it worth it, though? A good gun belt is always worth it, but is it worth it to get a trick cut on a 1911 frame?
Where The 1911 Bobtail Came From
All sorts of customizations and smithing and so on has been devised for the 1911 pistol over the years, but one of the few real novelties is the 1911 bobtail cut. It's a relatively recent invention, as the first example didn't really come out until the 2000s.
The bobtail was devised by Ed Brown, one of the high-end 1911 pistol smiths and widely considered among the finest 1911 makers on the market. It was devised for the Kobra Carry model, a Commander-frame 1911 with concealed carry in mind without much compromise in the shooting dynamics of the 1911 platform.
Granted, that's also what Colt had in mind when they came up with the Commander model back in the 1950s, which has made the Commander frame a very popular concealed carry .45 ever since.
Anyhow, the idea caught on as a number of different makers started offering bob cuts on Commander frame pistols after the Kobra Carry was released prior to 2010. Other makers that started offering bobcut 1911 pistols include Dan Wesson, Nighthawk, Sig Sauer, Smith and Wesson, Para Ordnance, Springfield Armory and others.
The exact nature of the bobtail cut varies by the maker. Brown's bobtail is a rather gentle rounding of the lower mainspring housing, so more of a filleted edge, though some other bobtail cuts by other makers are more of a chamfered edge.
Does It Make 1911 Concealed Carry Easier?
The ostensible role of the bobtail cut is to enhance 1911 concealed carry, which isn't necessarily the easiest thing to do but is certainly easier than a lot of other full-size guns. First, it won't put a dent in the weight...at all. A fact of life with the 1911 pistol (and other all-steel handguns) is that if you're going to carry one, you had better invest in a good gun belt and a good holster, because they are heavy. A Commander frame will still approach 40 ounces unloaded.
However, what about concealment? Really, this is where the bobtail begins to become a boon, as it makes one aspect of daily carry easier. Namely, it can reduce printing to a degree.
For the person carrying inside or outside the waistband with a bit of a forward tilt (ie the FBI cant) one of the most common sources of printing is the lower mainspring housing on 1911 pistols and other pistols. As the butt is tilted forward, any sharp angles tend to poke through clothing, showing a definite point.
Normally, this can be cured with a bit of repositioning. However, the bobtail cut, with it's rounded edges, reduces the protrusion if not eliminating it entirely.
Good Luck Getting A Bobtail 1911 Without Going Broke
This is all well and good, but most bobtail 1911 pistols are not cheap. Ed Brown 1911s usually go for $2,000 or more; Dan Wessons for $1,500 or more. Sig 1911s are not too far behind, and the same goes for Kimber 1911s.
One way a person could turn the trick is have their Commander frame cut and finished by a smith. There aren't really any bobcut frames for sale, in case someone wanted to build their own as 1911 builds are definitely a thing.
One of the most affordable bobcut 1911s on the market at the moment is the Metro Arms Corp or MAC Bobcut 1911 Commander, which goes for $800 or so. Metro Arms, part of the Eagle Arms stable of handguns. (Which includes Bersa, in case you're curious.) Aside from that, you're pretty much limited to having it cut by someone and then getting bobcut grips.
Is the bobcut really worth the hassle? In truth, not in and of itself. If you're already looking at getting a Kimber, or a S&W, or a Sig Sauer 1911, or an actual Ed Brown for daily carry, then go ahead because you're already there. For those who are on more of a Budweiser budget, plenty of budget 1911 Commanders out there have round(ish) lower mainspring housings that won't break the bank. Besides, a bit of adjusting the holster to prevent printing solves the problem.
About The Author
Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.