Smith & Wesson Model 1911 Sc Lightweight .45 Auto


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

August 1st, 2004




Smith & Wesson hates me. That must be it. About a year and a half ago, they introduced their 1911 .45 auto pistol. It was a full-sized 1911 that was just about perfect, except that it wore a right-hand-only safety. Now, S&W has introduced a lightweight, Commander-sized version of the 1911. This new pistol, the 1911 Sc, has a full-sized grip, carbon steel black slide, checkered wood grips, beavertail grip safety, and many other features that make it an excellent carry gun……and still it has no ambidextrous safety. I am starting to take this personally.

For about a month now, I have been playing with a pair of the new 1911 Sc autos. The "Sc" stands for Scandium on the Periodic Table of Elements, and is a microelement that is added to aluminum to make a tougher, stronger alloy. Anyway, the 1911 Sc is a lightweight, compact semiautomatic .45 pistol that is just about perfect for concealment. It is relatively flat, and at thirty ounces even with an empty magazine, it carries very well in a proper holster.

The 1911 Sc is the size most often referred to as "Commander" sized, referring to Colt’s legendary Commander model. However, the S&W has many features not found on the Colt. It has a four and one-quarter inch barrel, and a full length grip, allowing for a comfortable and secure hold on the weapon. The Smith 1911 Sc comes with two Novak eight-shot magazines, giving a loaded capacity of nine .45 ACP cartridges, and a spare mag with another eight rounds available.

The S&W has a high upswept beavertail grip safety, a lightweight target trigger, skeletonized Rowell-type hammer, stainless steel recoil spring guide rod, throated barrel, and external extractor. It has an extended, right-handed thumb safety, along with a firing pin safety that is activated by the grip safety.  The mainspring housing is checkered, and the front of the grip grooved, for a more secure hold on the weapon. The wood grips are checkered, with the traditional diamond pattern. The sights are Novak low-mount white dot pattern, and both front and rear are drift adjustable for windage, with the rear sight having a set screw to lock it in place. The gun has a tightly fitted stainless steel barrel bushing, and is supplied with a bushing wrench. The slide has grooves front and rear to provide a secure grip for chambering or manually ejecting a cartridge.

Shooting the 1911 Sc pistols proved them to be excellent combat pistols to carry for self defense. I tried the pistols with a variety of factory and handloaded ammunition. There were no failures of any kind during the extended testing of the pistols. One of the guns would group into less than two inches at twenty-five yards with my heavy target loads, which consists of a 200 grain lead semi-wadcutter loaded to about 950 feet per second out of the four and one-quarter inch barrels. The other gun grouped almost as well, keeping five shots of the same ammunition into just under two and one-half inches at the same distance. Rapid fire drills, emptying the nine-shot capacity of the weapon into a silhouette target at twenty-five yards in less than four seconds, was easy with the S&W pistols.

I carried one of the Smiths around holstered in a High Noon "Need for Speed" belt holster on a High Noon belt. This is now my favorite holster for carrying a 1911-style auto concealed. The High Noon rig carries the gun high and tight, just as it should. The design of the belt slots keeps the butt of the weapon pulled in tightly against the user’s side so that it does not show even through lightweight clothing. The combination of the NFS holster and belt keeps the weapon absolutely in place, with no shifting at all. The holster has a built-in sight track to protect the sights, and to keep a sharp front sight from shaving leather on the draw. I highly recommend this holster to anyone who carries a 1911 pistol concealed. The quality is first class, and the price is very reasonable.

Examining, handling, and shooting these two Smiths has left me with a very favorable impression.  The trigger pulls are crisp, with one measuring five pounds and one ounce, and the other measuring five pounds and fifteen ounces. The magazines seem to be of the highest quality. The sights are very visible in most lighting conditions, but I would like to see tritium night sights offered as an option. The guns handled and pointed well, just as a 1911 style auto is expected to. The lightweight Scandium alloy frame offers good balance, and the full-sized grip helps to control the weapon during recoil. The magazine well is beveled to help with a speedy magazine change, and the magazines have an extended base pad to assure positive seating.  The combination of the checkered grips, mainspring housing, and high beavertail grip safety provide a secure, comfortable grip. The gun carries, handles, and shoots extremely well.

Every concealed carry gun is a compromise. A compromise between weight, bulk, speed, and power. It is hard to find the perfect carry gun, but this 1911 Sc comes very close. Being left-handed, I need a left-hand thumb safety on a 1911. For a right-handed shooter, this is no big deal. To me and the other southpaws in the world, it is a requirement. I also prefer tritium night sights on a fighting gun, to help with bullet placement in low-light situations.  It is hard to define perfection, but if this gun had these two features, it would be the perfect defense gun for concealed carry.

For more information on this and other Smith & Wesson firearms, go to:

To view the excellent High Noon holsters and to order online, go to:

 Jeff Quinn


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Smith & Wesson's Model 1911 Sc Lightweight .45 auto pistol





High Noon Holsters' "Need For Speed" holster is the best design Jeff has ever found for the 1911 pistol.



The High Noon NFS holster securely carries the 1911 high and tight against the body for unsurpassed concealment.



The Smith & Wesson 1911 Sc is almost the perfect concealed-carry self-defense weapon. Almost.