American Rifleman | Smith & Wesson Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series

The Smith & Wesson Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series, an officer-sized variant of John Browning’s revered design, is the Performance Center’s first 9mm Luger chamber offering on the platform. Trying to have the best of both worlds – the added capacity of a smaller diameter projectile housed in one of the most popular pistol configurations of all time – makes the small car dimensions of the SW1911 Pro series ideal as a carrying weapon.

The SW1911 Pro series is a semi-automatic, single-stack semi-automatic with a grip angle and ergonomics that every M1911 trailer is familiar with. To reduce weight – an important consideration for everyday use – the frame is made from a scandium alloy instead of the more traditional steel, reducing the curb weight of the gun to just 26 ounces. It also has a rounded bottom to reduce the risk of getting stuck on clothing when worn concealed. To ensure a firm hold, both the front strap and main spring housing are checked (the main spring housing is the more aggressive of the two), while the factory stocks are made of roughly dotted plastics.

Instead of a traditional design with a return spring guide and cylinder liner, the Performance Center SW1911 Pro Series uses both a return spring holder and a full length guide rod.

A firmly sprung beavertail handle protects the hand from a slip bite and at the same time promotes a high grip. Immediately in front of this are bilateral manual thumb safety devices, although the magazine release can only be activated for right-handers from the left side of the weapon. We have found that reloading can be done with smooth efficiency because, unlike many officer-sized M1911s, the magazine protrudes only slightly above the lip of the magazine well, allowing for a complete fit and easy retrieval.

manual thumb safety

(l.) The checkerboard pattern on both the front strap and the main spring housing as well as the roughly dotted shaft plates ensured that the SW1911 was firmly in the grip while shooting. (r.) A manual thumb safety device on the right side of the weapon makes it suitable for southern paw shooters.

On the frame there is a stainless steel slide with rear teeth that make it easier to put the gun down. In these serrations on the right side of the slide there is an external extractor that is slightly oversized to ensure a more secure hold on the cartridge edges of the chamber.

As a finely tuned M1911, the pistol has a single-acting trigger, and on average, the hammer of our sample was released after 5 pounds of pressure and a crisp pause. This would serve the user quite well in a defensive scenario. The device of our test-SW1911 Pro also has an adjustable overtravel and three holes that were cut in the trigger to save weight.

Out of range, the pistol ran with the reliability one can expect from an M1911 intended for everyday transport, not least thanks to the weapon’s continuous guide rod. This is further aided by S & W’s integration of a two recoil spring system that does not nest two springs together but is based on a tiered construction with a larger spring around a front guide rod sleeve and a smaller one running along the narrow, full length rod .

Pistol sights

The gun sights have the usual three-white dot pattern and both are drift adjustable for air resistance.

Stringing shots together was easy with the pistol’s popular three-point sight – a white-point sight paired with a two-point sight, both of which were built into the foil. We have found that the pistol provides more than adequate accuracy for a defensive pistol. Three charges were run through the weapon to check accuracy: Hornadys 124-gr. Critical Duty + P FlexLock, Speers 115-gr. Gold Dot Hollow Point and 115-gr. PMC bronze FMJ. The Speer Gold Dots performed the most accurately with an impressive average group size of 0.85 inches by 7 meters. The other two charges were also well grouped, with the Hornady Critical Dutys producing an average group size of 1.15 inches and the practice PMC ammunition producing an average of 1.70 by five groups. Our chronograph tests showed speeds between 1012 fps and 1113 fps – not bad results for a 3-inch small car pistol.

We had a minor point of criticism with our test pistol; In an apparent overabundance of caution, S&W has sprung the grip security so tightly that an extra firm grip was required to disable it. It wasn’t a huge issue, and this doesn’t seem to be a general issue with the model in general, but our sample would benefit from a trip to the local gunsmith to shed things up a bit.

Results of the S&W Performance Center SW1911 Pro series


The S&W Performance Center SW1911 Pro series is an excellent choice for any shooter looking for a portable M1911 but who doesn’t want to endure the recoil (or ammunition price) of a standard version with 45 ACP chambers. The pistol’s reliability and accuracy make it a good option for everyday use, and its 9mm Luger chamber makes it comfortable to practice year-round.

Specifications for the s & w Performance Center sw1911 pro series

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