The 1911 has outlived everyone reading this. With more than a century of service for the 1911, it is hard to find anyone with even a passing interest in guns that doesn’t have a solid context for the design. But the 2011 is a bit more complicated - and thus it's a little harder to choose the best 2011 pistol or top double stack 1911.
After 100 years of 1911 semi automatic pistol development, the major changes can be easily listed: new calibers, minor frame design tweaks, even shorter (and longer) slides and grips. But the standard 5” single-stack .45 ACP is still the go-to for anyone making a 1911. The design works exceptionally well—other than the obvious (like giving it an optics ready slide) why change it?
Capacity is king
The answer isn’t complicated. The later half of the 20th century saw major advancements in both the 9mm round’s ballistic capabilities and in the capacity of guns chambered in 9mm. The Beretta 92FS dethroned the 1911 in 1984, and by that time the GLOCK 17 had become the ubiquitous polymer-framed 9mm. The list of really good 9mms with outstanding capacity is long.
This made many folks think twice about their old faithful single-stacks. Para Ordnance and STI (and likely some others, too) began working with the 1911 frame to build in more capacity. A double-stack .45 has a really fat grip, but the 9mm seemed more reasonable.
The double-stack 1911 was born.
What is or isn’t a double-stack is easy to define. Does the magazine accommodate rounds in a staggered side-by-side fashion? If yes, double-stack. Is the gun a single-action shaped somewhat like the 1911? Double-stack 1911.
But what about a 2011? Para Ordnance bit the dust. It was a tragic loss—part of the collateral damage of the demise of Remington, who had bought Para, over the last decade. STI, though, upped its game—and changed its name. They coined the term 2011 to denote what will certainly be remembered as the first massive overhaul of the 1911 design in more than a century.
Follow me here. A 2011 can be casually referred to as a double-stack 1911 (and often is when the concept is being explained). But some folks get territorial about what is or isn’t a 2011.
Fair enough! We can't argue with that. Details matter.
The 2011 is typically in 9mm. The double-stack grip is wide and round and would be worse with the extra width of typical 1911 grips. So, the grip is incorporated into a grip module that attaches to the frame.
The 2011 has a redesigned trigger, too. It still pulls straight back, like a 1911, but the internals have to chart a new path because of the extra width of the magazine. Many sport a bull barrel too.
Modular grips, increased capacity, reduced felt recoil, 2011, double-stack 1911…. Call it what you will; the benefits are obvious.
John Wick with a Taran Tactical TTI Pit Viper in the fourth installment of the movie series. The titular character used a TTI STI Combat Master in John Wick 3. He apparently moved on from custom Glock pistols after the first two movies.
Best 2011 Pistol
There are numerous small shops making these guns. As it is with everything, though, there are some industry standards. Here’s a list of great options to consider in your hunt for a 2011 or 2011-style / double-stack 1911 handgun.
- Atlas Gunworks
- Bul Armory
- Jacob Gray
- Nighthawk Custom
- Oracle Arms 2311
- Phoenix Trinity
- Rock Island Armory/Armscor
- Springfield Prodigy
- Vudoo Gunworks
See all 2011 pistol options. ...
Formerly STI, Staccato is the company that rose to the top of the 2011 game. These guys make exceptionally well-respected guns. Staccato pistols are in service with law enforcement and the military, which says a tremendous amount about their function and reliability. While the 2011 has been, since its inception, popular for competition, Staccato took the gun mainstream.
The Staccato P is a full-sized 2011 with the production-level refinements you’d expect. While nothing on this gun is exaggerated, the mag well, grip texture, magazine capacity, and ability to accommodate optics will immediately set this gun apart from your typical 1911. Is it suitable for concealed carry? Probably not for everyone, but there are other Staccato models that are.
As if that isn’t enough, this is the 2011 everyone knows. It has become a working definition of the concept—the gun everyone else on this list will use as a benchmark.
Take a look at the Staccato 2011 P DPO.
Check out more offerings from Stacatto.
The Atlas Gunworks catalog isn’t deep. And the website isn’t going to impress you with its marketing spend or design. But both of those are evidence of a dedication to doing one thing and doing it right, which is why Atlas is on this list.
Theis a no-nonsense, unabashed build that takes the functionality of the design and places it first. These guns run like clockwork, even without all of the adornment and polish that defines some of the other options. If you want your results to get as much attention as the gun itself—this is a strong contender.
Learn more about the Atlas Hyperion.
See more Atlas Gunworks goodness.
BUL takes the expectation of performance and adds to it an almost circus-like emphasis on the firearm’s exterior. These are not your average 2011s, for sure. Yet hidden beneath the bling are effective optic mounts, compensators, and mag wells that provide competitive shooters an edge.
The BUL SAS line showcases a range of options from almost pedestrian (by BUL standards) to, well, over the top.
Get your Bul Armory SAS II Radical
Learn more about Bul Armory.
Jacob Gray Firearms is a second-generation metal-working company that literally produces its guns in the same place that it makes parts for the most modern U.S. fighter aircraft. One of their offerings is the TWC 9 DS 1911 in 9x19mm. TWC is for Throwback With Capacity.
The TWC 9 uses a 4.25" stainless steel (crowned) bull barrel, chosen to help ensure accuracy and durability. A Nowlin ramp, more often referred to as Wilson/Nowlin, on the back of the barrel, helps ensure reliable feeding and repetition. Another significant feature is the CRT, or Controlled Radius Trigger. It's machined as a single monolithic part, intended to help assure a smooth, crisp, and consistent 3.5lb trigger pull.
This a refined and gorgeous iteration of the DS 1911 / 2011 style pistol.
Find Jacob Grey Firearms on the Rainier site.
Nighthawk Custom is a logical addition to this list. The Arkansas-based company makes some exceptional 1911s. These aren’t safe queens. Nighthawk guns are hand-crafted to exceptional standards by people who regularly carry these guns.
Their take on the 2011 puts their reputation for unfailing reliability to the test. These are hand-fitted guns with exceptional refinements.
The Nighthawk Custom TRS Commander offers all of the expected functionality but in a refined package that will be just as impressive as its performance (and its price tag).
Check out the Nighthawk TRS Commander.
See every Nighthawk 2011.
Oracle Arms 2311
While many of the guns on this list look similar, Oracle Arms (a new name in this space) is taking the 2011 concept one step further. The 2311 is, most notably, fed from a P320 mag. This 9mm is built in multiple configurations on three basic sizes: Compact, Combat, and Competition. The Combat looks to be the duty configuration. The Compact looks like the one best suited for concealed carry.
Could this design radically upend the way this industry will think about the 2011? It is possible. They’re definitely making a statement about the reliance on 2011-specifc mags. Going with the P320 will make the mags much easier to find and afford.
Learn more about the full-size Oracle Arms 2311.
See every Oracle Arms 2311 model.
"PT" builds both race guns and carry guns. The Phoenix Trinity Morph Switch has a Commander-length frame. This gun is clearly built to be carried and has the design elements you’d expect to find on just about any really effective carry gun and none of the overt flares, ports, or exaggerations of the competitive class of 2011s.
For those who want a custom 2011 for EDC - one in which barrels and calibers can be switched! - this is a clear favorite.
Learn more about the Phoenix Trinity Morph series.
View the entire Phoenix Trinity line.
Rock Island / Armscor
Rock Island Armory is a logical addition to this list, particularly given their collaborative work with Armscor. If you are looking to get into a 2011-style gun, but don’t have the discretionary spending to afford some of these, check out Rock Island. The company, out of the Philipines, has been making 1911s since the Americans brought machinery river there to do so in the 1940s.
And the Pro Ultra Match HC 9mm is a great entry point into all of this. While expensive for a Rock Island 1911, this is about the easiest way into the sport and where many competitive shooters get their start. Don’t let the price tag fool you—these guns win competitions.
See the 9mm version of the Armscor/Rock Island Armory Pro Match Ultra HC.
Don't like that size of ammo? Take a look at the .45 ACP and 10mm versions of the Pro Match Ultra HC.
The next one on our list is one that got a lot of hype in late 2022. Springfield Armory has been growing its catalog. They do the M1A line, and the polymer pistol line, and now black rifles, too—but the 1911s are legendary. From the entry-level single-stacks on up, these guns are some of the best production 1911s available. And the Springfield Prodigy 9mms are taking that reputation to the next level with an exceptional performance from an American-made gun that comes in at a fraction of the cost.
Like others on the list, Prodigy has found a home in competition and on the hips of many who simply like the way a well-built single action runs.
Check Springfield Prodigy pistols in stock.
See everything from Springfield Armory.
Vudoo makes multiple types of guns, including some rimfire 1911s that are truly stunning. Their double-stack 1911 draws on tradition, though Vudoo has never shied away from altering the profiles on the slides of classics.
The Priest straddles that line between a gun that can win in competition and still be viable as an EDC carry gun—though that mag well might be a stretch for IWB carry.
See the Vudoo Priest double stack 1911 options.
Learn more about Vudoo Gunworks.
Charon, played by Lance Reddick, reaching for a 2011 pistol (a TTI STI Combat Master) in John Wick 3.
Other Double Stack 1911 Platforms
How many other double stack 1911 and 2011-style pistols are out there?
Many. The Dan Wesson DWX, the whole Wilson Combat eXperior line, the EDC X9 in particular, Staccato C, Staccato C2, Staccato XC…the list goes on. Who knows, maybe even Ed Brown or Grayguns will get into the DS 1911 eventually. And as competition increases, we're likely to see factory pistol quality begin to rival that of a custom gun.
Don’t underestimate the appeal of the 2011. It is not a fad. By my last count, there are more companies making custom 2011s than there are those making custom GLOCK clones. And that’s not a small list, either.