Best Value Commander Size 1911 – New Taurus Handgun Packs Features at a Low Price

Taurus’ new handgun follows a long line of Commander-sized 1911’s, and packs the features we’ve come to expect from modern firearms.

In 1949, the armed forces of the United States put out a call for a new handgun. The M1911A1 had served American GIs faithfully in the Second World War, but the top brass wanted something smaller and lighter to issue to officers. Colt, Browning, FN, and Smith & Wesson put their hats in the ring for the contract to this new “Commander”-size handgun, but, as so often happens, military leaders reversed course and disbanded the project.

Left with a stack of R&D bills and no fat government contract, Colt released the Commander 1911 to the civilian market chambered in 9mm, .38 Super, and 45ACP. It featured the same grip frame as the full-sized version with a smaller, 4.25-inch barrel and an aluminum frame. Four decades later, Colt released the Officer’s 45ACP, an even smaller version of the original 1911 with a 3.5-inch barrel.

The aluminum framed Commander was nearly 16 ounces lighter than the original service model.

Today, like Kleenex and Velcro, “Officer” and “Commander” have become household names synonymous with a certain handgun style—even when produced by a different company.

Taurus USA has been manufacturing 1911’s since 2005, and this year they released two new models based on Colt’s legendary designs. The Officer and Commander are both chambered in 45ACP and offer consumers all the features of a modern 1911 without the modern price tag.

Specs

Finish: Matte Black
Caliber: 45 ACP
Grips: Checkered Black
Capacity: 8 +1
Weight: 38 oz
Barrel Length: 4.20″
Height: 5.8″
Width: 1.25″
Action: SA
Front Sight: Novak Drift Adjustable
Rear Sight: Novak Drift Adjustable
Length: 7.9″
Safety: Manual Safety
MSRP: $609.00

Neither the Officer nor Commander are currently available in 9mm, though Taurus has 9mm’s available in their line of full-sized 1911’s.

Company History

Taurus has been a major player in the U.S. commercial firearms market since the publicly-traded Brazilian company Forjas Taurus formed Taurus Holdings in 1982, which in turn formed Taurus International Manufacturing (also known as Taurus USA). Since then, the Miami-based Taurus USA has offered a variety of Brazilian-made revolvers and semi-automatic pistols, including the (in)famous Judge and Raging Bull revolvers.

I know I’m not alone when I say that I’ve never been quite sure what to make of Taurus and their products. Some gun enthusiasts swear by them; others… not so much. Their reputation took a hit earlier this year when they settled a class-action lawsuit and recalled nine of their semi-auto pistol models. Still, it’s tough to beat their prices, and for some folks a less-expensive Taurus is a heck of a lot better than nothing.

First Impressions

You can find better-quality Commanders, but at this price point, Taurus’ handgun is tough to beat.

“Better than nothing” isn’t the highest praise, and I managed my expectations accordingly before getting my hands on Taurus’ new offering. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, for the price point, the Commander represents a fantastic value for anyone looking for a 1911 in this size. At $450-$500 on the street, the Commander fights well above its weight class by including features usually found on handguns at least $200 more expensive.

A few of those additions are easy to spot. The Commander’s blacked-out exterior is sharp, and the checkered grips provide a positive surface to control 45ACP recoil. The front and rear of the grips feature a rough, skateboard tape-like texturing, and the extended beaver tail also helps control recoil and protect your hands from slide bite. The enlarged, textured safety paddle is easy to disengage, the rounded hammer resembles that on the classic Colt Commander, and the mag release lets the magazine drop freely.

The extended beaver tail helps control recoil, and the grip safety is molded for positive engagement.

Both the front and rear of the grip feature aggressive texturing that also helps control recoil from the 45 ACP.

The enlarged safety paddle allows for disengagement using a quick, natural motion. The safety and mag release are right-hand only.

Both front and rear sights are dovetailed, allowing for easy replacement with Tritium or fiberoptic sights. But you might not need them. The three-dot Novak sights provide an easy-to-acquire sight picture, and their all-metal construction appears durable. The rear sight can also be adjusted for windage with the provided Allen wrench, which I found to be especially useful the first day at the range.

The slide includes serrations on both the rear and the front, as well as a flared ejection port to help eject spent casings.

The rear sight is easy to adjust with the provided Allen wrench.

The slide features front and rear serrations as well as a slightly flared ejection port and an internal extractor.

Other features are less obvious — and less obviously beneficial. Any time I test a 1911, I begin by checking how well the barrel and the barrel bushing fit together. Broadly speaking, a snug fit indicates good design and quality control. On an individual pistol, a good barrel-bushing fit increases accuracy. I tested the fit by depressing the recoil spring and attempting to turn the bushing by hand. It was easier to turn that I would like, but also consistent with other sub-$500 1911’s.

The slide-to-frame fit mirrors the barrel-to-bushing fit. It’s good, but I did feel the slightest bit of movement. Strange as it sounds, I take this as a good sign. The Taurus Commander is no Ed Brown, but it also isn’t trying to be. No slide-to-frame movement would be cause for concern in a 1911 at this price point.

The bushing-barrel fit isn’t the tightest, but the slide-frame fit only allows for the slightest movement.

The skeletonized trigger is a bit on the mushy side, but overall it works well.

If you’re dissatisfied with the stock trigger, a qualified gunsmith can improve it.

The trigger is good—not amazing, but certainly better than expected. It’s skeletonized, includes an adjustable trigger stop, and features straight vertical texturing. It broke consistently at 6 pounds after 0.04 inches of pre-travel, but the break is a bit mushy. The out-of-the-box trigger will work for defensive purposes and target shooting, and a qualified gunsmith can easily modify the Series 80 clone mechanism for crispness and weight.

Range Time

Shooting the Taurus Commander was a pleasure.

The sight picture is great with sufficient light.

After familiarizing myself with the handgun’s features, I was excited to head out to the range. I began by acclimating myself to the gun on a man-sized steel plate from 10 yards out. I’m no Jerry Miculek, but I didn’t have any trouble putting shots in the vital area in a timely manner. The Commander size is more difficult to control than a full-size 1911, but the texturized grip and the extended beaver tailed helped compensate for the 4.25-inch barrel and stout load.

Those features were especially useful in the rapid-fire sequences. Aiming for a paper silhouette from the same distance, I loaded the magazine to full capacity (with one round already in the chamber) and pulled the trigger as fast as I could manage. The gun remained pleasant to shoot, and I didn’t have trouble controlling shot placement beyond what rapid fire usually does to my group sizes.

I conducted this test several times and experienced the gun’s only malfunction during the first sequence. Though I didn’t want to give the Commander an automatic pass, it’s a well-known fact that John Browning’s design requires a firm hand at the wheel. Making sure to keep a secure grip over the next three rapid-fire sequences, I didn’t run into any additional issues throughout the course of my time at the range.

Satisfied with the gun’s handling and reliability, I moved on to accuracy testing from a bag at 10 and 25 yards. It’s difficult to eliminate the human element in such a test, but I was satisfied with the groups I managed to shoot. I used Hornady’s American Gunner 185g XTP as well as their Critical Duty+P 220g. I included group sizes below each image.

Hornady Critical Duty, 10 yds, 1.9-inch group.

Hornady Critical Duty, 25 yds, 4.5-inch group.

Hornady American Gunner, 10 yds, 1.2-inch group.

Hornady American Gunner, 25 yds, 4.4-inch group.

The Commander didn’t produce match-grade accuracy, but it isn’t a match-grade firearm. With the right hand at the trigger, it’ll hit the vital area from 25 yards, which is exactly what it’s designed to do. I’d carry the Commander out of the box, but a trigger job would shrink those groups and make it that much more fun to shoot.

Final Thoughts

While Taurus’ reputation has admittedly had its ups and downs, the Commander uses a tried-and-true design, tuned and perfected over the last 30 years by dozens of companies. Manufacturing quality varies from company to company, of course, but Taurus isn’t reinventing the wheel. They’re taking advantage of modern manufacturing technology to offer a feature-rich 1911 for just a little bit more than you’d pay for a basic GI 1911.

Is it perfect? No. But it’s reliable, easy to shoot, accurate enough to get the job done, and good-looking to boot. For $450, that’s not a bad deal. In fact, if you’re in the market for a Commander-sized 1911, it might just be the best deal on the market.

***Shop GunsAmerica for your next Taurus 1911***

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 32 comments… add one }
  • Robert A. Deihl December 31, 2018, 12:14 pm

    I purchased a 45acp Millenium from Taurus and it exploded in my hand at the pistol range so I returned it to the manufacturer. They replaced it at no charge. The replacement failed and was returned to the factory by a local gun shop. . Taurus had it for nearly 1-1/2 years and sent it back unrepaired. Meantime Taurus was hit with a class action suit which they lost. I tried to contact Taurus but there was no response. I tried to contact the legal firm handling the lawsuit and still had no response. I love that little pistol when it works. It is a great CCW firearm with outstanding power, but there is no way I can recommend the company. To date I have still not been contacted by Taurus. So I wrote the gun off and replaced it with a Springfield XD-45 Mod. 2 which seems to be an outstanding weapon. I just hope the Taurus (Rossi) snubby revolver I bought for my daughter continues to perform. I used to brag about Taurus and several friends have bought from that company. I hope they don’t encounter any problems with their pistols, especially if a deadly encounter should occur. I no longer consider Taurus a responsible manufacturer, nor will I ever own another of their products. ‘Nuff said?

  • Steve Culver December 31, 2018, 11:59 am

    Great article. I was in the market to purchase this firearm until I had to deal with the recall mentioned in the article. Too bad Taurus does not support their customers. I own 13 Taurus firearms and was a big fan of their products and lifetime warranty. Two striker fired pistols, PT140 Pro 40 S&W and a 24/7 Pro 45 ACP were involved in their safety recall. My two pistols could not be fixed and they wanted to send me a G2C 9mm for the PT140 and a Curve 380 ACP for the 24/7 Pro! I asked them to send the pistols back and I got a letter with each one saying my pistols are unsafe to shoot. What’s their lifetime warranty worth? I will never buy or suggest buying a Taurus firearm again. I can’t ethically sell these two pistols as they are “unsafe” and I can’t use them as they are “unsafe”. I do have two great paperweights. Taurus should be ashamed at the way they are treating their loyal customers over this safety recall.

  • Thomas Griffin December 31, 2018, 7:27 am

    I have owned a Taurus 1911 for about 10 years and never had a problem, I, also, own a model 85 38 splc, a 651 357. All work perfect. I bought my wife a PT709 Slim. I did not notice when I bought it that it came with only 1 mag and after 2 years of searching and bugging Taurus on an almost weekly basis, I sold the thing. They make decent guns but their customer relations leave a lot to be desired.

  • Joe December 1, 2018, 8:50 pm

    I have owned A Taurus PT1911for 15 years also own colt,para&Springfield 1911s I have not had a problem at all very dependableI purchased a Springfield 1911 Target model in 9mm Jamomatic,sending it back for service.i will be using my Taurus PT1911 Old Faithful real shooter. 15k rounds and counting.

  • Ken S October 19, 2018, 4:11 am

    My own experience with Taurus has been an on going disaster of crap workmanship, incompetency and lies. They are the Worst gun mfg. I have ever purchased from and I would never waste my money on another of their fire arms.

  • Rick P September 27, 2018, 7:35 pm

    I never liked buying a pistol, let alone a 1911, and hoping I was lucky enough to buy a good one. I have two RIA 1911’s full size and Officer’s compact. They are priced a little less than Taurus and they shoot great. No feed or fire or eject problems. I had two Taurus revolvers a .38 spl 85ti rated +P with a ported barrel that I’ve had for over 20 years and at 1500 rounds with no problems. I had a Taurus Judge for about a year when the wheel stopped rolling, froze up and stuck. So if its a 50/50 chance I’ll go with RIA for inexpensive and keep my Colt and Ruger’s for pretty.

    • Cam December 31, 2018, 11:29 am

      Yep, I bought a RIA commander about a year ago for around $431 shipped. It’s got a bull barrel and ambi safety. I love it is shoots everything.
      If RIA can add those features for less and run reliably then why can’t Taurus?

  • jonyrotten September 24, 2018, 11:47 pm

    looks like this is about the same as the full size taurus 1911 that i have from about 10 years ago, but in a commander setup. it always goes bang, never a fail to feed or extract out of mine. for the price, it’s a good deal.

    now, as far as customer service, my experience with taurus has been hope you never have to deal with their customer service. but the handguns i’ve owned have always been solid since my first 608 back in 1999.

  • Andrew Mathews September 24, 2018, 7:00 pm

    My first Taurus was a 4” 357 mag purchased for $2 at a church raffle 30 years ago. It’s never been to a gunsmith. But it’s traveled thousands of miles on family trips. Hiked hundreds of miles on my side bow hunting. And taken white tail deer and hogs. It’s run thousands of rounds and not once had an ftf.
    I’m not a gun snob but I know and love pistols. My father gave me his Walther P389mm German Luger and I still shoot it today as he wished. I have 2 other trusted Taurus pistols both semi autos with miles of spent brass under them and both to this day have never had an ftf or fte.
    I keep them clean and I keep them ready.

  • Mark Potter September 24, 2018, 6:02 pm

    Make a lightweight, alloy frame Commander – and one in 9mm too – and I’ll pay attention. O e question….why did you call the front and rear strap treatment “texturing” instead of checkering. You don’t explain that.

  • MojoMitch September 24, 2018, 3:52 pm

    Fire Star 45acp Commander size (follow up)
    Jeez, I forgot to mention that I didn’t care for the safety, it was sludgy, for lack of a better word, but quiet.
    Years later, I read somewhere, that if you remove the stock grips to beware of some sort of safety part that will come flying out and you will be supposedly lucky to find it, but can replace it with a better part or so they say.

  • MojoMitch September 24, 2018, 3:38 pm

    A lot of good comments made and I agree with most of them.
    It is weird with contract companies that deal with companies that still use screw machines from way back!
    (a little humor)
    I do have to tell this little story, being a 45acp fan, I picked up different new ones here and there from different foreign builds and an article in a reputable magazine by a well known 45 enthusiast in the early 90’s, before the net got hopping along.
    This fella tried out this Fire Star 45 (Made In Spain) commander size, but heavy and he was shooting great groups with it and using it for a month CC too. I wasn’t tickled on the price, but I went for it, because it had been awhile. Well, Holy Crap!
    I was surprised when I took it outdoors on the range shooting at steel coffee cup plate size or a wooden fence, post so to speak out to 25 yards and beyond. Bam bam bam all day long with store bought 230 Winchester ammo. My Namm Vet buddy, older than me said, “alright, lets trade now”, lol. He gave me the short 44 mag of his to use, which I already knew all about, he just wanted to out do me and he sure did. He hands it back to me and says, “Here, I’m tired of reloading these things.”, as he used to carry the full size in the military every day. I was more than happy with it, no jams no nothing, but hitting the target consistently, but loud! WHOO! Ric Flair whooo, loud with crowd, my. lol
    It just goes to show that you never know who’s going to be working that old screw machine on which 8 or 12 hour shift and how often they mic their parts! I don’t do that anymore, you know, throw around money, unless the lotto is real BIG!
    I guess it was the companies second attempt at being a contender back then or so I’ve read.
    Oh, and the extended round mag was superior to the one that came in it, imeo.
    I like QC ALL the way down the line now day’s or forget it..

  • Lefarius September 24, 2018, 1:02 pm

    Yeah, like I’d believe anything that a gunwriter who doesn’t know who designed the 1911 says.

    • Pandaz3 September 24, 2018, 11:26 pm

      He mentioned John Browning as the designer, was he wrong? Or is it you have a tough time with the bigger words

      • DonS December 31, 2018, 6:08 am

        So, Taurus, like most manufacturers with any history, can be a hit or miss proposition for getting a great gun. Seems like I’ve heard horrible things about Colt, Smith and Wesson, Remington…all great gun makers in the past. Taurus makes budget friendly guns. If you want a gun that is perfect, made in America and has very little issues you better be shopping way above this price point. I’ve had good luck with my cheap pistols, but I don’t use them to protect my life without first testing them. A solid review, well written that doesn’t sugar coat the short comings of the gun. Colt designed the Commander and Officer models we’re designed by Colt, building on John Browning’s original design(as already pointed out a Colt employee). Good article, poor comments.

  • John Chaney September 24, 2018, 11:25 am

    Took the Commander model (Taurus) that I recently purchased to a defensive pistol class. At about 200 rds, it wouldn’t run anymore, and had to be cleaned. I stopped shooting it, and went to my G19 to finish the class. 500 rounds, no stops… I would pass on this pistol, if I hadn’t bit at the price before.

    • Scotty Gunn September 24, 2018, 2:38 pm

      We used to joke that Taurus should include a UPS shipping label in the box with the gun, so you would save time returning it for repair.
      That being said, you can get a Colt for about a hundred or so bucks more. Or many other brands. Look at the rough machining marks in the one picture-wow. The targets are unimpressive, too.

  • MB September 24, 2018, 10:18 am

    Great if you want a jam-o-matic, maybe they will sub-contract to Remington. No, no, and no.

  • Bill Foll September 24, 2018, 10:14 am

    Owned a full size one for a number of years. Never had an issue. Well made, looks nice, and lots of features for the price.

  • Merlin September 24, 2018, 10:14 am

    There’s the rub……if you get a good one! I have owned two Taurus 1911s, but a few years back. The first was the aluminum alloy frame “AL” model in .45 ACP. It looked nice, and functioned well enough except that the empties (of all ammo brands tried) all bounced off my forehead or skull. Recoil was a bit stiff, but no real problems with the pistol.
    The second was a full size steel govt model in 9mm. That pistol would not lock back on an empty magazine, and again the empties came straight back. Solvable issues? Apparently not something Taurus could handle. I had to send the pistol back at my own expense (lifetime warranty???) and it was returned- supposedly -fixed. The next time at the range both issues were still there. I felt guilty selling them, but I sold them cheap and didn’t lie when asked questions.
    The pistol in this article shows crappy machining marks everywhere. No thanks. Cheap is as cheap does. Something like that.

  • Michael Keim September 24, 2018, 9:48 am

    I bought one of their full size 1911s. Numerous light strikes on primers with failures to fire. Rude customer service. I’ve had the same problem with a Taurus 380 and a Taurus Slim 9mm. Buyer beware. I’m through with their junk guns.

  • Johnny Raygun September 24, 2018, 9:45 am

    Looks like a decent 1911, but 45acp is not the right caliber for a light weight pistol. Follow up shots are difficult and cumbersome. I will wait and see when the 9mm comes to fruition.

  • Marcelino September 24, 2018, 8:03 am

    I’m a shooter; IDPA (SSP, ESP, CDP, Carry Optic and PCC). Bowling Pins and Steel matches. My favorite handgun is John Moses Browning design. My safe queen is a Wilson Combat .45 ACP Protector. On the road a sweet very accurate Rock Island 1911 9mm for $538 + $20 FFL. Two years in (two thousand rds.) no issues.

  • Dr. Strangelove September 24, 2018, 7:02 am

    I hear that they’re great if you get a good one.

  • Tom September 24, 2018, 6:07 am

    I like an honest review. With the variety and variables in the 1911 platform one has so many choices. I’m for one a guy who accepts price point as a qualifier for a purchase. I’d say the majority of gun owners are that way. If you want a Les Baer, Kimber or a Colt you save for and have one. Most of the guys I know don’t shoot expensive guns as much….if at all. Taurus’ are shooters.

    • KenW September 24, 2018, 12:37 pm

      Yeah they’re shooters BUT where are they hitting ??
      I bought a Taurus 45acp 5 years ago and on a bench with sand bags it wont adjust in to hit paper @ 25 yards !!!
      I hit beer cans @ 100 yards with a LLama 45 !

      • Bbear September 24, 2018, 3:09 pm

        Beer cans at 100 yards??can you even see one that far away??

        • Tortoise July 29, 2019, 9:55 pm

          If there’s any left I can…

  • shteve September 24, 2018, 4:17 am

    lmao ew

  • Nick Andrews September 24, 2018, 3:01 am

    That would be John Browning’s legendary design, not Colt’s. Who cares if Colt first produced it. Browning designed it.

    • Rusty September 26, 2018, 6:07 pm

      Irrelevant. He worked for Colt when he designed it. Therefore a Colt design. Taurash blows.

      • Leo December 31, 2018, 10:22 am

        John Browning never worked for Colt. He sold his gun designs to Winchester, Colt, FN and others. He did not design the Commander or Officer versions of the 1911, he was dead long before they were designed.

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