Smith & Wesson SW1911 Performance Center Pro Series 9mm pistol
What shooter doesn’t like the feel of a 1911 in the hand? The grip angle, the smooth pull and crisp break of the trigger, and the solid feel all combine to create a pistol that many think is the finest ever made.
Now think of that 1911 as a smaller, but not too small, EDC pistol chambered for a slightly less intimidating round than the .45 ACP and you have the subcompact Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series in 9mm Luger.
The Smith & Wesson Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series 9mm pistol is a non-typical 1911 in that it is small enough for almost anyone to carry concealed, yet large enough to shoot comfortably and accurately. Chambered in 9mm Luger rather than the traditional .45 ACP, follow-up shots are easier to control with the SW1911 Pro Series 9mm.
“As with all of the SW1911 models, the Pro Series 9mm includes a lowered ejection port and oversize external extractor to assure that spent cases make a clean exit.”
Built by Smith & Wesson’s outstanding Performance Center, the SW1911 Pro Series build quality is excellent. Throughout the 542 rounds we fired, there were no malfunctions of any type. This is especially noteworthy given the difficulty associated with getting the 9mm Luger round to feed reliably in a shortened 1911 platform.
The single-action-only Pro Series 9mm operates like a traditional 1911 with the exception that it uses a full-length guide rod and there is no barrel bushing. It also has a firing pin block not found on some 1911s. This firing pin block is operated by the grip safety and does not affect the trigger operation or feel.
Smith & Wesson sees its Pro Series as a bridge between production guns and its Performance Center models. On the exterior it is difficult to distinguish the three lines other than barrel porting found on all but one of the Performance Center models.
The Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series 9mm pistol comes nicely appointed and the fit and finish are excellent. As with all of the SW1911 models, the Pro Series 9mm includes a lowered ejection port and oversize external extractor to assure that spent cases make a clean exit. On the rear of the barrel hood there is a notch that serves as a visual loaded chamber indicator. A three-hole curved aluminum trigger with an over-travel stop screw enhances the trigger feel. After approximately 0.02 inches of take-up, the trigger breaks cleanly at 6 pounds, 4 ounces with no perceptible over-travel. Trigger reset is short and tactile. The 9mm Pro Series’ round-butt, scandium alloy frame and white three-dot combat sights enhance its use-fulness for concealed carry. An ambidextrous thumb safety makes operation easier for the left-handed shooter. It can only be engaged when the hammer is cocked. When engaged, the thumb safety also locks the slide. The grip safety works seamlessly and must be depressed at least 3/4 of the way before the gun will fire.
The Smith & Wesson Performance Center offers one other subcompact SW1911 Pro Series model, that one chambered in .45 ACP. Similar full-size SW1911 Pro Series models are also available.
FEEDING THE PRO SERIES
We observed no ammunition preference from an operational perspective. There were no failures to feed, chamber or eject with any of the 14 different loads fired. Both magazines also functioned without a problem but were a bit difficult to load, and the bullet nose of some loads tended to point straight ahead rather than up when the magazine was full. Other than being a bit disconcerting, this did not affect the operation of the pistol.
From an accuracy perspective, the average for three 5-shot groups at 15 yards for five of the six loads had a spread of only 0.62 inches. SIG Sauer’s 147-grain V-Crown JHP was the most accurate load at 2.06 inches for the average of three 5-shot groups at 15 yards. The 115-grain metal case Remington UMC ammunition trailed the others at 3.14 inches.
“The SW1911 Performance Center Pro Series 9mm is both fun and easy to shoot accurately.”
HOW DOES IT SHOOT?
As you might have figured out by now, we found the Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series 9mm both fun and easy to shoot accurately. Unlike many subcompact EDC pistols, the Pro Series 9mm is a pistol that you can take to the range and shoot all day without any ill effects.
“Built by Smith & Wesson’s outstanding Performance Center, the SW1911 Pro Series build quality is excellent.”
When drawing from concealment and engaging the target, the grip angle and balance put the Pro Series 9mm right on target every time. The three-dot sights are easy to align on target as long as there is sufficient light available. Tritium night sights would be a welcome addition. There is no rail on the dust cover on which to mount a light, so remember to carry a flashlight along with your Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series 9mm.
We fired the Pro Series 9mm off of a sandbag rest for accuracy and from multiple positions while shooting off-hand. During off-hand shooting, follow-up shots were quick and accurate. Much of this is due to the grip size and stippled grip panels. The length of the grip allows the shooter to obtain a full grip; your little finger is not wrapped under the bottom of the magazine. Having a nearly 4-inch sight radius also helps one shoot more accurately. Smaller pistols are easier to conceal but that can come at the expense of accuracy, especially with follow-up shots.
Drawing from concealment and engaging your target is the name of the game with an EDC gun. With the Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series 9mm safely tucked away in a Galco Fletch OWB holster under a windbreaker, we practiced drawing and engaging a full-size B-27 silhouette target at seven yards with eight shots. Initially the first shots were a bit slow, but with limited time to practice we managed a first shot in 2.84 seconds with split times of 1.01, .79, .79, .61, .60, .61 and .64 seconds for seven subsequent shots. The hits resulted in a 4.5-inch group with 2 hits in the X zone, 5 in the 10 zone and 1 in the 9 zone.
If you like 1911s and are looking for a reliable subcompact 9mm EDC gun, the Pro Series 9mm may be the one for you. The combination of the basic 1911 package, a size that is subcompact but not too small, and a weight that is light enough to carry comfortably but still heavy enough to absorb some recoil gives this EDC gun the best of all worlds, especially for a 1911 afi cionado.
“If you like 1911s and are looking for a reliable subcompact 9mm EDC gun, the Pro Series 9mm may be the one for you.”
Of course, if your EDC must be chambered for a round that begins with a 4, then just go with the Smith & Wesson Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series in .45 ACP (SKU 178020). If you go this route, you just have to be prepared to do without a bilateral thumb safety, round butt frame and one round of ammunition, as well as paying $101 less.
There are many holsters to choose from for 1911s, even subcompact models. Galco Gunleather offers several versions in both IWB and OWB styles. We used the Fletch high-ride belt holster (MSRP $112) for outside-the-waistband carry and the Summer Comfort (MSRP $83) for inside-the-waistband carry. Both are high-quality leather holsters.
When carrying a 1911 pistol in Condition 1 (“cocked and locked”), we prefer a holster with a thumb strap that rides between the hammer and the slide for an extra layer of security. Of the two holsters used, only the Fletch had this feature. It also has a forward cant for easy access.
The Summer Comfort depends upon friction, with the trigger guard for retention. There is no tension adjustment, but we didn’t find a need for it either. The Summer Comfort design does not provide protection for the ambidextrous thumb safety.
For concealed carry, we primarily used the Fletch under a vest or light jacket. Outside-the-waistband carry generally provides the quickest access in an emergency. If done correctly and once it is broken in, the thumb strap doesn’t impede the draw like one might think. As the draw is initiated, the thumb slides down between the strap and the back flap of the holster, causing the two halves of the snap to separate. Next, obtain the correct grip on the pistol and complete the draw, bringing the pistol to bear on the target.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the July-August print issue of World of Firepower Magazine.