Colt’s Combat Commander Custom Carry

Colt’s Best Days

For all the issues in the past, the last several years have been some of Colt’s finest. Ken Hackathorn told me that the current production 1911s are some of the best to ever come out of Hartford. In addition, Colt has revived their revolver lineup with the Cobra, King Cobra, Python, and most recently the Anaconda!

The new Colt Custom Carry Commander is the direct result of feedback from Colt customers.  It is feature rich at a reasonable price.

The Colt Custom Shop has also been busy and, while not having a high profile, is producing some outstanding guns. One of the latest is the Combat Commander Custom Carry. While the name sounds rather benign, this Custom Carry is one of the most well thought out, and feature-rich, 1911s on the market today. I spoke with Colt’s Mark Redl about the new pistol. He stated that Colt reached out, on social media, and asked fans what they would want in a dream gun. They took those comments and have now produced that pistol. He also stated that the vast number of responses wanted the pistol to be built in .45 ACP. With the popularity of 1911s chambered in 9mm, this was a surprise.

The Commander is an ideal size for concealed carry and the Custom Carry is made for hard use.

More Than Just Another Colt

Colt went well outside the box on the new Custom Carry by selecting some of the best parts on the market. To be even more specific, the only Colt manufactured parts are the frame, slide, barrel, and the pins and springs.

The Custom Carry is a true Commander with a 4.25” National Match barrel. Notice that Colt selected a dual recoil spring system for the pistol.

Starting with the slide, the Custom Carry is a true Commander configuration with a Colt National Match 4.25” barrel, an abbreviated bushing, and features a dual recoil spring. The extractor, barrel bushing, and recoil spring plug are from Evolution Gun Works, better known as EGW. The top of the slide is serrated and the ejection port has been flared and lowered. The rear sight is Stan Chen’s new Full Custom Rear Sight. Stan has designed a rear sight that is contoured to “flow” into the slide giving it a low profile that is void of sharp edges. At the same time, it provides a crisp sight picture and has a leading edge that can be used for one-handed manipulation.

The slide features a Novak style, dove tail, front sight with a white ring, and Tritium insert. The serrations on the top of the slide are a nice custom touch.
The rear sight is from Stan Chen and is contoured to blend into the slide while providing a cocking service for one-hand manipulation.
The ejection port is lowered and flared for improved ejection and reliability.
The Custom Shop beveled the EGW barrel bushing and recessed the crown on the match barrel.

As normal for a Combat Commander, the frame is stainless and has been relieved at the base of the trigger guard. The slide stop, sear, and disconnector are also from EGW while the solid, medium-length trigger, is from John Harrison of Harrison Design and Consulting. The thumb safety and beavertail grip safety are also from Chen and are designed to follow the contours of the frame. The thumb safety paddle is arched and contoured to allow the thumb to lay parallel to the slide. The combination of the beavertail and the undercut trigger guard allows for a very high purchase on the pistol. The unique looking hammer is actually a Colt hammer that has had the hole enlarged.

The trigger on the Commander is a solid, medium length, that is from Harrison Design and Consulting.
The base of the trigger guard has been undercut and the front strap has been cleanly checkered.

Where the Custom Carry really stands out is the use of Stan Chen’s Gen 2 magazine well. Stan worked for several years on the Gen 2 and has five specific patent awards for the design. Installation of the Gen 2 requires the butt of the frame and the mainspring housing pin hole to be relocated. The result is a large Magwell that does not add any length to the pistol. The aperture of the funnel is a full 360 degrees. Two side impact tabs ride on the outside of the frame to provide lateral reinforcement. The stocks are VZ G-10 Operators that are made specifically for the Gen 2 Magwell.

Installation of the Chen Magwell requires the frame to be cut. This allows a custom magazine well without increasing the overall length of the grip.
The funnel of the Chen Magwell provides a large target for reloading and is expertly contoured to the frame.

Colt has finished the stainless slide and frame in a smoke ION Bond finish. This finish is a matte black that seems to absorb the light. It is extremely durable and corrosion-resistant. The entire pistol has been given a soft carry bevel and is totally void of any offending edges, something Colt fans will appreciate. To complete the package, the Custom Carry comes with two Wilson Combat Elite Tactical magazines that have a low profile steel base pad and are finished in a black Flouropolymer finish.

First Impressions

We received our test pistol shortly after the announcement. Opening the now familiar Colt blue plastic box, my first impression was that the pistol could have come from a number of custom gunsmiths. The lines on the frame are straight, there are no sharp edges, and the fit and finish are exceptional. The matte ION Bond finish gives the pistol a business like appearance.

The INO Bond finish on the Custom Carry is both attractive and durable. The roll markings on the slide are clean and uniform.

The pistol felt good in the hand and the trigger broke cleanly at 5 lbs. 5 oz. While heavier than some of my other 1911s, it was not noticeable when shooting. I should note that the Custom Carry has a Series 80 fire control system. I especially appreciated the solid Harrison trigger. Prior to the range I did a significant amount of dry fire practice and really fell in love with the Chen Gen 2 Magwell.

As shown in the photo, the Custom Carry is a series 80 fire control system.

The one thing that gave me pause was the design of the barrel feed ramp. As shown in the photo, it has a deep center relief with shallow relief cuts on both sides. It is not the same symmetrical National Match throat that I am accustomed to seeing. I contacted Redl who stated that Colt went to this design several years ago and, while unconventional in appearance, is very reliable.

The barrel has a unique feed ramp profile but was completely reliable with the service ammunition used during the evaluation.

Shots Fired

We hit the range with a mixture of ammunition from legacy Federal’s 230 grain Hydra Shok to current production Super Vel’s +P loads. The Commander digested every load with the exception of the Super Vel 165 grain +P Solid Copper Hollow Point. The shorter bullet design, combined with the sharp leading edge, was not a good match for the Colt feed ramp. I settled down for formal testing with five of the most popular personal defense/duty loads on the market today. All ran flawlessly in the Custom Commander and grouped well. As the chart reflects, the velocities ran from an average of 850 fps for the standard Federal 230 grain HST to 1,025 fps for Speer’s 200 grain +P Gold Dot. I will admit that, even from an all-steel Commander, this Gold Dot was a stout load.

On the range, the Custom Carry was a pleasure to shoot.
Colt Custom Carry Range Data
ManufacturerLoadAvg. VelocityAccuracy
FederalHST 230 gr.831 fps2.5”
FederalHST 230 gr. +P841 fps3.25”
HornadyCritical Defense 185 gr. FTX949 fps2.25”
HornadyCritical Duty 200 gr. +P FlexLock971 fps3”
SpeerGold Dot 220 gr. +P1,005 fps3.75

As is my custom, I ran a modified 10-10-10 drill with the Colt. For high capacity pistols, the drill is 10 rounds, fired at 10 yards, in 10 seconds. The target is a B8 bullseye target. Normally, the starting position is a low ready. With a 1911, Ken Hackathorn modifies the drill to eight rounds in 10 seconds, but the drill starts from the holster. My results were a little less than stellar as I was not on my game with recoil control. I busted the 10 second par time by 1.3 seconds but managed a respectable score of 73 which equates to a 92%.

Formal range testing was done using five of the most popular personal defense/duty loads on the market today.

Daily Carry

For over 30 years, my normal off-duty carry pistol was either a Commander or a full-size Government Model. My Springfield Professional has the highest round count of any pistol in my safe with an estimated 25,000 rounds or so. The result is that I am blessed to have a  number of carry options for Commander size pistols. In jeans, and while on the range, I carried the Custom Carry in my Milt Sparks 5BN. The 5BN has a wonderful history that started with Bruce Nelson, hence the “BN” in the model number. For dress wear, I used a very special holster made for me by my friend, the late Lou Alessi. Lou made a version of the Bruce Nelson #1 that he called the DOJ. The name came from his customers that worked at the Department of Justice. He made a modified version of the DOJ for renowned Pistolsmith, Dick Henie. The Heinie DOJ featured a cut-down leading edge with a reinforced mouth. This design allowed the muzzle to clear the holster faster than a full top design like the 55BN. I also carried the Colt in an older Sparks Summer Special IWB rig.

From left to right, Alessi Heinie DOJ, Sparks Summer Special, and Sparks 55BN. All are excellent carry rigs.

Final Thoughts

Carrying the new Colt reminded me of just how much I like the 1911 platform. The phrase, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” is definitely applicable to the Custom Carry. If you were to order a comparable pistol from any number of custom gunsmiths, the cost could run more than double the cost of the Colt. To say that Colt has impressed me with this pistol is an understatement. As a writer, I have the opportunity to evaluate and shoot dozens of new pistols every year. As the old writer saying goes, “you can’t keep them all!” Well, this is one that I do intend to keep and it will not be a safe queen.

In the end, the Custom Carry proved itself as a reliable pistol with custom features that far exceed the price.  

While this evaluation was ongoing, Colt announced that the Custom Carry would also be offered in 9mm. That is a very welcome addition and I predict that they will not only be very popular but also hard to find.

The entire Custom Carry package represents the best in class features, all directly from Colt. For additional information visit

Colt Custom Carry Commander
Caliber45 ACP/9mm
Fire Control SystemSeries 80
Barrel4.25” National Match
Weight *45 ACP39 oz.
Overall Length7.75”
SightsChen Custom Rear/Novak Front
StocksVZ G-10
MagazinesWilson Combat Elite Tactical
FinishSmoke ION Bond

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{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Ken April 30, 2021, 11:27 am

    Once again, they’ve left out a significant percent of the potential buyers who are left-handed. Why wasn’t an ambidextrous thumb safety either included or available as an option? I guess that I’ll just keep my 70 Series Combat Commander that’s already been modified.

  • Kane April 30, 2021, 9:53 am

    I really like the 4.25′” barrel on the Commander but the price is wacked. I would NOT carry such an expensive firearm since many PO’s will scratch their initials on pistol if the weapons become evidence in a shooting.

  • Logan April 27, 2021, 10:31 am

    You’d think for $2,599 they could at least polish the feedramp… Looks like that barrel came out of a $150 Llama… Colt is becoming a prestige gun like Kimber, all the name hype but none of the actual quality of an expensive 1911.

  • Kaniksu Kidd April 26, 2021, 11:15 pm

    39 oz carry gun with a Series 80 trigger, eh? My Ruger LW Commander Limited Edition is 8oz lighter, Series 70 trigger, black nitride finish, Trijicon night sights, and 3.5 lb trigger out of the box and cost less than half of this Colt. No thank you.

  • jack April 26, 2021, 9:08 pm

    After the way colt has treated us in the last years…..SCREW the old colt…. I will keep my Mk4 Series 70 1911, woodsman, sp1. No new colt pos’s…. Hope CZ does better.

  • Ken April 26, 2021, 1:12 pm

    Excellent pistol… but once again, capacity.

    Carried 1911’s for years. Love em’. Have fought with them. Had up to eleven of them at the same time once. Down to three nowadays.

    I now carry a Sig 229 in .357 Sig. 12+ 1 rounds that are more effective that a .45 ACP and an extra mag with 14 rounds.

    That’s 27 rounds of .357 Sig sit em’ down caliber as opposed to 9 +8 = 17 of .45 ACP.

    Still… nice gun.

  • Tom April 26, 2021, 9:34 am

    Sticker shock?? Series 80?? Not in my lifetime.

  • Griffendad April 26, 2021, 9:17 am

    Hard pass at $2400 for a series 80. That’s a grand over the cost of a Gold Cup National Match.
    When will someone produce a full grip and 3” barrel bobbed hammer 1911 for carry? Essentially an officer’s model with a full grip a la the Glock 43x. That ship is sailing.

  • Altoids April 26, 2021, 8:37 am

    Stopped reading at the Series 80 firing system. Had a series 80 years ago and traded it off. Too unreliable.
    Sticker shock too at @ $2600.
    Looks pretty.

    • Ted April 26, 2021, 6:50 pm

      Funny that you say that, yet a Glock has a simpler version of the series 80 firing pin block ! The only real difference is that the colt version has a lever that cams off the trigger, while the Glock has a nub on top of the trigger bar that moves with the bar to unlock the striker.

  • Eric April 26, 2021, 8:23 am

    So treat me as uneducated…why 80s over 70s series? Lighter trigger/better trigger, more accurate groups, cheaper to make, less complicated, ect??? Ill except any answers other than “more safe”

  • robert prosser April 26, 2021, 7:22 am

    Is this new Colt available in ca?

  • George April 26, 2021, 7:12 am

    Magwells are an affectation. Series 80 is an abomination. Government models for concealed carry should have an aluminum frame.

    • Ted April 26, 2021, 6:54 pm

      If series 80 is such an “abomination”, then how come other companies like glock employ the basic design ?
      Granted the lever is a little more complex on the Colt design, the firing pin / striker block works the same !

  • The SGM April 26, 2021, 5:55 am

    4.5 lb. trigger and you have a sale otherwise keep it on the shelf

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