Cheap Guns: 1911 Edition Metro Arms Commander

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Metro Arms American Classic Commander: https://americanclassic.com/commander-series.

Editor’s Note: We here at GunsAmerica have a taste for the finer things. We’ve shot our fair share of high-end single-actions. I personally get euphoric when handling guns that embody the best of American craftsmanship–the type of guns that get better the close you look. The Metro Arms 1911s we’ve seen don’t fit into that category. From across the room, you won’t find fault. Get close, and you’ll see tool marks and mold lines. While this would be an utter embarrassment on a $3,000 1911, it isn’t on a $500 gun–at least not one made of metal. And the guns work. They work reliably well. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t have bothered with this Commander. You can check out our other review here. When it comes to “cheap” 1911s, these guns are hard to beat. 

The Metro Arms logo is small and where the pony goes on a Colt.

The Metro Arms logo is small and where the pony goes on a Colt.

Metro, who?

The American Classic series from Metro Arms is imported by Eagle Imports. Eagle is probably best known as the importer of Bersa.  The Bersas, like good Marxist revolutionaries, are made in Argentina. The Metros are made in the Philippines. For a number of years now there have been some very nice and lower priced 1911s coming out of the Philippines.  The best known being the Armscor made Rock Islands.

Why the Philippines? Rumor has it the Americans left behind some tooling when we were wrapping up our big mid-century Nipponese ass kicking, and some skilled 1911 armorers, and the tradition has been building ever since.

In the realm of budget 1911s, the American Classic stands out for the “extras” they come with.  I am not talking about the other stuff in the box, I mean the stuff on the pistol its self. These are not the standard 1911 A1 copies typically associated with Filipino 1911s. They’ve got more in common with the contemporary 1911 we’re all familiar with on this side of the Pacific.

Specs

Here are the numbers on the American Classic Commander

The American Classic Commander.

The American Classic Commander.

  • Caliber: .45 ACP, 9MM
  • Overall Length: 7.5”
  • Barrel Length: 4.25”
  • Height: 5.5”
  • Width: 1.25”
  • Weight (empty): 36.9oz.
  • Frame: 4140 Steel
  • Slide: 4140 Hammer Forged Steel
  • Single Action
  • Novak-Style Rear Sight
  • Dovetail Front Sight
  • Flared Ejection Port
  • Extended Slide Stop
  • Beavertail Grip Safety
  • Combat Hammer
  • Combat Trigger
  • Front & Rear Serration
  • Extended Thumb Safety
  • Throated FORGED STEEL Barrel
  • Front & Rear Slide Serration
  • Checkered Hard Wood Grip w/ Diamond Cut
  • 8-rd/9-rd Magazine w/ Bumper Pad
  • Finish: Deep Blue, Hard Chrome, & Duo-tone

I have already mentioned this is a budget 1911 but I have not mentioned what these are selling for on purpose.  Take a closer look at the specs I listed above and the pictures.  There are a lot of extras on this pistol.  Novak sight, beavertail, trigger serrations to name three that stand out.  All of this (and more!) can be found for around $500 bucks. That is a heck of a lot of pistol for $500 bucks.

Fit Finish

Details of the trigger.

Details of the trigger.

If there is one place that the Metro Arms lacks it is in the fit and finish department.  Neither of these are bad per say, but do not expect to find the same level of polish that you would on a Colt.  To keep the price this low, something has to give.

The fit of the slide to frame is great.  The bushing and all of the other parts that the fit has to be right on a 1911 to work seems to be done correctly.  I put 500 rounds through this American Classic and did not find any wear on the lugs, slide or frame that would indicate the pistol was not made to spec.  That part, the important part, of the fit is great and how a 1911 is supposed to me made.

The finish is well applied and looks good.  There are some tool marks visible on the outside of the pistol.  I expect to see some of them on a 1911 in this price range.  They are not bad by any means and will not effect function. The inside of the Metro is clean where it needs to me with tool marks visible in areas that doesn’t matter for function.

MIM

Note the mold lines.

Note the mold lines.

No it is not Made in Mexico.  Metal Injection Molding. Parts made with this process get some hate and, when they are not manufactured correctly, they deserve the hate.  However, correctly made MIM parts should work just as well as ones machined from stock.  There are MIM parts on the Metro. At this price point you expect them.  It is the MIM parts that let pistols like this sell for this price.  Even a lot more expensive 1911s and other firearms have MIM parts on them.  They are here to stay until someone comes up with something better and cheaper.  Look at the pictures of the review gun.  There are still some mold lines visible on the thumb safety and hammer.  On a more expensive 1911 I wouldn’t expect to see the mold lines and they are a bit distracting here.  To me, this is the biggest part on the American Classic that says “cheap gun”.

Function

The American Classic Commander works like a 1911 should.  In the 500 rounds I put down the barrel, I had one stovepipe.  That stovepipe was probably my fault, too.  A long day at the range shooting for this review (and a couple .357 revolvers) left this guy with a fatigued wrist.  I am 99% sure I limp-wristed the Metro. So other than the one failure that was my fault, the Metro functioned flawlessly.

I tend to drop shots with commander sized 1911s.

I tend to drop shots with commander sized 1911s.

Shooting

Like with most everything on this pistol, the Metro Arms shoots better than most 1911s in its price point.  Is this the most accurate 1911 I have ever shot?  Nope, but it is better than some.  This is also not a target model.  It has a Novak style rear sight that doesn’t lend itself to precision work. See the targets in the photos for what I and another shooter were able to wring out of the American Classic.  I should also admit that I shoot full size 1911s a lot better than I do Commander sized ones.  I do not believe that the 3/4 of an inch difference in barrel length is the culprit, I believe it is a balance thing and my muscle memory.  90% of my 1911 trigger time is behind full sized ones. Or maybe it is all in my head.

Thoughts

This is a solid commander sized 1911.  Metro Arms offers a lot of bang for your buck on this pistol. There are a few fit and finish issues and the mold lines left on some parts does bother me some. But that is being a bit nit-picky. The American Classic Commander works and shoots like a champ, and that is what really matters, right?

The muzzle gets a little dirty after a couple hundred rounds.

The muzzle gets a little dirty after a couple hundred rounds.

So do the insides.

So do the insides.

The trigger pull is right at 5 pounds.  A little heavy for my tastes but it could be lightened with some work.

The trigger pull is right at 5 pounds. A little heavy for my tastes but it could be lightened with some work.

Trigger.  Even though it is a little heavy there is very little creep and it breaks cleanly.

Trigger. Even though it is a little heavy there is very little creep and it breaks cleanly.

American Classic Commander.  Says it right there on the slide!

American Classic Commander. Says it right there on the slide! The American part is embodied in the spirit. The Classic is arbitrary. And it is a Commander.

Nice beavertail and bump on the grip safety.

Nice beavertail and bump on the grip safety.

Tighter group from a different shooter. There was a stick on dot where the rounds are touching.

Tighter group from a different shooter. There was a stick on dot where the rounds are touching.

From 25 yards. Yes the smaller holes are from a different gun. We care about the environment and recycle here at GunsAmerica.

From 25 yards. Yes the smaller holes are from a different gun. We care about the environment and recycle here at GunsAmerica.

The insides, before the shooting.

The insides, before most of the shooting.

The Commander, field stripped.

The Commander, field stripped.

One of the things you sacrifce when buying an inexpensive gun is the extras. In this case, the back-strap is simply lined, instead of checkered, and the front-strap is smooth.

One of the things you sacrifice when buying an inexpensive gun is the extras. In this case, the back-strap is simply lined, instead of checkered, and the front-strap is smooth.

Even without the extra texture, the Commander is easy enough to hold down.

Even without the extra texture, the Commander is easy enough to hold down.

{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Kosh Naranek June 24, 2015, 9:39 am

    I wish they’d make an alloy-framed commander. If they can do it for $500 or even $650, I’ll bet they’d sell buckets of them.

  • Lopaka Kanaka June 23, 2015, 6:21 pm

    I just received my Rock Island Armory 45 ACP 1911 A-1 GI 5 inch from my FFL last week and for the price of $379 was the lowest price to pay for such a awesome 1911. This is my third RIA 1911 and have a 38 Super, 45 ACP and a 460 Rowland now added to my two other Springfield Armory 1911 A-1 stainless steel long slide 45 Super. I also have a Colt 1911 5 inch to my collection now. I will added a commander hammer and Wilson Beavertail safety grip to my new RIA 45 ACP.

  • GA poster May 6, 2015, 11:39 am

    These are $400 guns, no more or less.

    For the average gun owner who may put a couple hundred rounds a year through one, they will be just fine but they are not the quality of a Springfield or Smith and Wesson.

  • Mark May 5, 2015, 8:23 pm

    My blue version jams considerably. Need to try Wilson mag.s

    • Todd February 14, 2016, 11:45 pm

      Agreed. Bought mine used; came with 2 Chip McCormick Power Mags. Innumerable failures to feed, regardless of ammo brand or type (FMJ vs. JHP). Also many failures to hold slide open when empty mag.
      Went home and got mags from my Colt Gov’t M1991. Flawless function with Wilson Combat and 90% function with Colt 8rd steel floor mags.
      McCormick mags have tilting/weak followers/springs or something. My gun sure doesn’t like ’em!

      • Ames Anderson December 21, 2016, 10:48 pm

        Which Wilson Combat mags did you get that work well in your American classic 2 1911

  • Ron May 5, 2015, 1:15 pm

    Dave,
    We’re talking about guns not taking an English lesson.

  • Dave May 5, 2015, 1:40 am

    Per se (as such), not “per say”.

    • aaron May 6, 2015, 9:56 am

      Dave the more we all spell word wrong the quicker they be spelled correctly rebel and spell them there words the way they sound n let the spelling revolution begin

      • Paxton August 12, 2016, 11:52 am

        ya, fork off

  • ken May 4, 2015, 5:15 pm

    i own the long slide version with a match barrel, trigger breaks a shade under 4 pounds. this is a tack driver. everybody i have let shoot it has liked it. of course it is not the 500 dollar entry gun either.

  • Andrew May 4, 2015, 2:21 pm

    hahaha! I’m pretty sure that these pistols are not being made by people we trained using machines we left behind 50-yrs ago! What a stupid statement! Like everything else, technology has become democratized, and anyone with $50k can buy a CNC machine and make their own pistol.

    • Commenter Joe May 14, 2015, 10:28 pm

      What a stupid statement?? Just what are you saying in your statement? Anyone with a CNC Machine can do what? Make the gun? These guns weren’t made with a CNC so what is it you suppose is being made with the CNC? The molds? These guns ARE MIM not machined, so surely that is what you mean right? Maybe after you explain your answer, you could explain what you mean by “Technology has become Democratized” are you sure you know what Democracy means?

  • Andrew May 4, 2015, 12:44 pm

    I own this model and the fullsize model for a blue collar gun its accurate and it takes a beating i clean mine weekly i work in dirty enviroments and our boss is a kimber fan all tho after shooting mine He took a long lunch and went and bought one

  • Ron Mammen May 4, 2015, 12:15 pm

    Forget the small calibers (380,32.22 etc), buy the best large caliber gun you can carry, afford and shoot well and stick with it. Recommend Colt, Kimber in .45 as i think the 9mm is not a reliable man stopper.
    Ron

    • AZRAEL June 22, 2015, 11:00 am

      Ron, modern day bullet manufacturing has made that thinking a thing of the past… A 9mm (& even some .380’s too) will perform at the same level as an old school .45ACP. As with most things firearms related, it’s all about bullet placement. Ask an ER doctor in a high crime area, which is more lethal and they will tell you that they are all extremely effective… And almost undistinguishable…
      Embrace modern technology, and keep learning about new advances in firearms.
      -J

  • WiscoGunner May 4, 2015, 10:31 am

    I picked up a Metro Arms American Classic II Deluxe FS in stainless several years ago. It has no machine marks, no mold lines. It is the most beautiful, spotless, great-shooting 1911 in my stable. The trigger measures at 3.5lbs and is incredible. The first time I shot it, I had an unintended double-fire. I was not anticipating such a light, smooth trigger. The stainless finish is impeccable. As for MIM parts, if they bother you, just get some after-market Wilson Combat replacements. You will still have money to burn compared to much more expensive 1911s that come with many less features. This is a super bargain. I was so impressed, that I bought a duo tone Metro Arms Amigo with the 3.5″ barrel. It is just as finely finished and is another great shooter!

    People used to look down on Philippine-made 1911s. Years ago that may have been warranted. Today, if you pick up a Metro Arms 1911 or one of the great, new Rock Island Armory 1911’s, I think you will be impressed. I have notices the prices have been creeping up on these guns. The lifetime warranty also gives me peace of mind. I am not a shooting snob, so if I find a good deal on a gun and it shoots straight, I don’t care what it says on the slide.

  • Retired Navy Spook May 4, 2015, 8:49 am

    A minor point, but you say in the specs — in fact you say it twice, that the slide has front and rear serrations. I don’t see the front serrations on any of your photos. That said, if I’d known about it, I would have given the Metro Classic Commander a serious look before I bought a RIA Tactical II MS 1911 a while back. I’m not at all unhappy with the Rock Island — it shoots great, but it would have been nice to compare.

  • Ed C. May 4, 2015, 8:25 am

    When I shot my American Classic II 5 inch 1911 almost 5 years ago all I could think was (1) It felt like I was shooting my Colt Gold Cup, and (2) I needed to hurry my range time so I could get back to my local gun store to purchase the American Classic Commander bi-Tone. I have not been disappointed with either, they make a great carry / trunk handgun. I do use Wilson Combat magazines for 100% reliability in each.

  • Joe May 4, 2015, 7:22 am

    Call it what it really is
    A blue collar gem!!!

  • Rod Nicolette May 2, 2015, 1:22 pm

    A few years ago I bought a Metro Arms Government Deluxe, full size 1911. The model was called the Firestorm and it has been a great handgun. It came with a skeletonized hammer and trigger, full beaver tail and a really nice blued finish. The trigger is around 3 pounds. Everybody who has shot it has been impressed. I’ve used it in Steel Challenge competitions and target shooting without any problems after a few thousand rounds. It must have been made before they were using MIM parts, because I don’t see any on mine. I actually consider it to be one of the “best buys” I’ve made in my rather extensive handgun collection.

    • Jerry Rivas May 4, 2015, 6:48 pm

      I too bought the Firestorm made by Metro Arms. I can shoot 1.25 in. groups with any ammo at all, at 25 yards. I consistently outshoot my buddies with their Kimbers costing 4 times as much. More importantly, when they shoot my Firestorm, they also outperform the Kimbers and fall in love with the pistol that was 399 dealer cost. I sold a ton of them for $429.00. Great guns, and they still make the blued full sized 1911 deluxe.

  • Will Drider May 2, 2015, 12:18 pm

    Slight omission on smoothness and engagement of controls, and series 70 or 80 fire control. A good review. For a shootist, great function always makes minor cosmetic issues moot at a $500 price point. However, if you want function, better fit/finish and more top of the line features: look at the Taurus PT1911. New, on sale can be had for $400! Seven sites on gunwatcher list it below $450. Review this for a budget pistol. You will be amazed!

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