The NEW Savage 1911 – Full Review

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The NEW Savage 1911 - Full Review


The Savage Arms Model 1907 may not be familiar to many younger firearms enthusiasts, but it was a significant achievement in many ways. One such noteworthy innovation was the introduction of a ‘double-stack’ magazine design to increase capacity. Most famously, however, the Model 1907 took second place in the U.S. military trials to adopt a semi-auto service pistol. Like most runners-up, it faded into the margins of history behind the success of its competitor – the Model 1911 offered by Colt. So, it is not surprising that the 1911 has been absent from the lineup of Savage handguns. Until now.

New for 2023, and likely available by the time you read this, there is now a 1911 built by Savage Arms. And it’s a good one!

Savage has always been known for its top-quality hunting and target rifles more than handguns. My father was a master gunsmith, and Savage was one of his favorite brand names. He had a way of putting things simply and would say, “they don’t make junk”. From a man who called it like he saw it – that was high praise. After spending some time with this Savage 1911 on the workbench and at the range, I can tell you that it is every bit a Savage.


The Savage 1911 is built on the traditional ‘government model’ platform, but with many upgrades and improvements. It is of course a full-sized 5” pistol and is offered in both .45ACP and 9mm. The frame and slide are both forged stainless steel, and the barrel is machined from stainless steel billet. In addition to the satin stainless-steel finish, it is also available in a full black Melonite finish or a two-tone. Each of these is offered either with or without a 1913 picatinny accessory rail. The exterior is finished off with a pair of VZ G10 grip panels, Novak low-mount sights, and ambidextrous manual safety. For this review, I was sent the stainless-steel model without rail.

The NEW Savage 1911 - Full Review

The list of features and extras goes beyond the obvious though. I had the pistol before I saw any printed specs, and was surprised when I field-stripped it to find a dual recoil spring system inside. The two springs sit over a traditional short guide rod and do an excellent job of managing the recoil. During my range work I noticed a “flatter than usual” recoil impulse from the gun.

The Novak sights on the gun I tested are the standard Lo-Mount variety with some elevation adjustment available on the rear sight. Windage can be adjusted by drifting the sight in its dovetail mount. The versions of the pistol with a rail and/or two-tone finish get an upgraded set of Novak sights that include a tritium bar in the adjustable rear sight and tritium yellow dot front sight. The front sight on the standard sights is a white dot.

The NEW Savage 1911 - Full Review

You won’t get far into a conversation with any aficionado of the model 1911 before the question “how’s the trigger?” is asked. The Savage 1911 has one of the best triggers I’ve tested on a production government-patterned pistol. With a very short initial take-up (guessing around 1/16” or so) the trigger breaks very clean and crisp – but most noteworthy is that it’s extremely consistent and light. I measured the pull several times with my Lyman digital trigger gauge and averaged 3 lbs., 9 oz., with the deviation being barely over an ounce in either direction at the most. I can’t feel a single molecule of grit, nor any perceivable over-travel. This gun has a bonafide competition-grade trigger in it.

The NEW Savage 1911 - Full Review

Extra attention to detail is evident in just about every category. I found the fit and blending of the parts to be especially impressive. I have studied under the great Bob Marvel (that story can be found in the archives here at GunsAmerica Digest) and I have a deep appreciation for the planning and work necessary to achieve this. I first noticed it when observing the beautiful fit of the barrel and barrel bushing as well as the recoil spring cap. Not only is it a visually seamless fit – but the tip of my finger can feel no changes in the elevation of these parts. This is an extraordinary example of tight tolerance and cannot be overstated.

The barrel itself has a very nice target crown – another extra. After I noticed this impressive muzzle work, I just had to test one of my personal favorite quality items for the 1911. Bob Marvel taught me to blend the grip safety to the frame in such a way that when fully depressed, it is perfectly flush with the backstrap of the gun. Doing that takes extremely well-made parts with very low tolerances and it takes time and effort in assembly, and usually some hand blending. On a production 1911 no one gets that right. No one. Except for Savage. They nailed it!

The NEW Savage 1911 - Full Review

The top strap of the slide has been nicely ornamented to both reduce glare and add some visual interest to the pistol. The same pattern adorns the backstrap to add grip for the shooter, while the front strap is smooth. The previously mentioned G10 grips provide excellent friction to keep the gun still in your hand. Finally, a skeletonized and bobbed hammer, deep front and rear slide serrations, and a beveled magazine well help finish things off.


When it comes to a 1911 clone, there is no shortage of comparison models, so how it performs at the range can make or break the success of the gun far more than the pretty extras it might have. Especially if this is a handgun that might be employed for personal or home defense. Winners are not chosen by who is lying face down with the prettiest gun in their hand.

On that note, it is clear that Savage set out to build a shooter – and I found it to be exactly that. Hundreds of rounds of ammo met with one single malfunction – due to a bad primer in a batch of “bulk buy” ammunition. The two eight-round mags fed everything up the pipe perfectly and extraction and ejections were flawless. It’s also worth noting that Savage opened up the ejection port a bit on this gun, which helps ensure that empty cases – or even full live rounds easily clear the gun.

The NEW Savage 1911 - Full Review


Discussing the ergonomics of a century-old design would be pointless, but there are a lot of ways to skin this old cat that can either make it more or less suited to individual taste. The trigger guard is not undercut and the front strap of the grip is smooth – offering a very purist feel for those who prefer that. The backstrap texture combined with the G10 grip panels seems quite sufficient – but I have to confess that I wore shooting gloves most of the time at the range because it was freezing cold. The sights were quite sufficient and helped me keep my hits where I wanted them.

The NEW Savage 1911 - Full Review

To measure just how well I could shoot the Savage 1911, I set up a target at 20 yards and used my CTK pistol rest to print 4 groups of five shots each. In the results table, I show the size of the five-shot group and then call out the best three. I do this because I use a rest – not a vice, and I can still be a factor. It helps reduce human error. All said – the groups were all good and I was pleased with their consistency.

The NEW Savage 1911 - Full Review


The model 1911 is a wonder of sustainability in an often-fickle marketplace. Every year, dozens of new handgun models are introduced to consumers, each trying to distinguish itself based on some new innovation or improved characteristic – sometimes simply an aesthetic change. Meanwhile, sales of 1911’s march steadily on, with new entrants to the market each year.

The 1911 is to me, a completely separate category from all other handguns, with all of the above criteria coming to play with each one brought to market. I’ve even heard someone ask, in response to a friend announcing plans to buy a new handgun – “Are you getting a 1911, or something else?”. At the risk of making a ridiculous over-simplification, I think the handgun industry can be boiled down to that. 1911s and ‘something else’.

The NEW Savage 1911 - Full Review

Savage Arms is bringing its own version of the 1911 to us now, and after spending some quality time both at the range in live fire and at the bench in careful examination – I am very impressed. It is mostly a very purist-oriented pistol (with or without the non-purist rail) but with some extremely nice features baked in, and the critical elements done to perfection. With MSRP ranging from $1,350 to $1,500 Savage is targeting the ‘above-entry-level’ buyer. Is the value here to please that market segment? Tight lockup, light and crisp trigger, good sights, and an accurate barrel – I think there is a good argument that it is, but I would expect street values to be a bit lower. It may have taken Savage over a century to make a copy of the gun that once beat it in the military trials – but they have made a much better version!

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  • Paul November 17, 2023, 9:00 pm

    Have and shotgun. 45 acp pistols for yrs. Avid handloader over 45 yrs. Looks like the new Savage .45acp 1911 will be next.

  • Robert Mason May 2, 2023, 10:48 am

    Savage has really “Knocked it out of the Park” with this one! What a beautiful and functional work of Art!

  • Bumper March 10, 2023, 1:06 pm

    Am pleased to see Freedom Munitions ammo used in testing. Aside from buying F.M. ammo there is no link between us. I input that because I’m Very impressed with F.M. ammo, and my comments may sound biased. In new rifle ammo tests, new and reloaded outperformed more expensive new, “match” ammo of well-known manufacturers. I bought boxes of five different 5.56 77 gr OTM’s for my new Daniel Defense. We know that rifles often can prefer one brand/bullet. Believe it or not, this new and reloaded ammo also outperformed other match ammo in 7.62. These little groups provide big smiles.

  • swimmer March 8, 2023, 7:26 pm

    I think for the money American Tactical makes a really nice 1911 for around $400.00. Nothing but good reviews.

  • Mick March 7, 2023, 2:36 am

    I own a beautiful matched set (.38 Super and .45 acp)of American Classic IIs. Stainless, gorgeous, flawless and highly functional. Cost new: $510 each.
    They are easily as smooth operating as my Series 70 Colt Gold Cup that has won many pistol matches for me. Cost used in perfect condition: $200
    What happened to the Chief logo?

  • Rosco Turner March 7, 2023, 2:29 am

    I severely dislike Savage aka Vista Outdoor for eliminating their Chief logo….woke assholes after more than a century of tradition. So, no, I’m not buying one. I have Savage pistols from 1907 and I have the Chief!

  • LANE March 6, 2023, 11:55 pm

    What an absurd price, can’t imagine they’re going to sell much at that price no matter how good it is a production 1911 is a production 1911 and for that price you can get high end Springfields and S&W 1911s that function just as well even if the parts aren’t as nice or even a Bul and have more features. Kind of silly they didn’t add trigger guard undercut or front strap checkering either, “purists” aren’t buying 1300+ dollar 1911s in this tier and if they are they’re going to be collectible GIs. They really need to rethink this one, though it does look great and I’m sure it functions well but still just too many other 1911s you can buy at this price range that probably function just as well if not better that come with more features.

  • jerry March 6, 2023, 3:45 pm

    Beautiful pistol. I’m sure it’s worth the price. Does Savage make these in the U.S.? Where are they made? Where are the parts made? Thanks. Stay safe.

  • FirstStateMark March 6, 2023, 12:44 pm

    Yawn, another 1911 Colt clone. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Charlesl March 6, 2023, 11:43 am

    May be a nice 45…but for less than 900 bucks I have 2 enhanced RIAs with adj sites and as many if not more extras than the Savage. Shoot good too. I quit carrying my Wilson Combat too.. If I ever have to use for defense JIC

  • Bobby March 6, 2023, 9:22 am

    Seems decent enough. But overpriced considering the market is getting saturated in that price point. For around the same money I’d choose a Kimber Raptor myself.

  • Jon March 6, 2023, 7:13 am

    Not a fan of the looks. Old school hammer needs to go. That odd looking polished ambi safety and that odd scaloping or lightning cut by the front clocking look weird on a1911. Lastly the flaring cut on the ejection port looks a bit low. I do like the flat top cut however. Price is a bit overboard.

  • Gun Gnome March 6, 2023, 6:26 am

    Would be more impressive if Savage made the Model 1907 auto loading pistol in 9MM and a .45 Cal.
    Then offered it in both a retro classic with dovetail sights and an updated version that would enable a Crimson Trace or Sure Fire integrated into the design.

  • XERXES036 March 4, 2023, 8:33 pm

    Savage making 1911s in that price range is pants on head retarded their brand loyalists are buying RIA priced 1911s not $1300 plus 1911s.

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