The 5 Best 1911 Upgrades — Handgun Accessory Reviews 2022

best 1911 upgrades, pistol accesorry reviews

Photo by Zorin Denu / CC BY

The 1911 is the only handgun design that over a century of use is still rocking and rolling. The 1911 is not a collectible or a plinker like the Colt Single action army but is still kicking down doors with the Marine special forces. Although the platform is still viable, it does show its age compared to a few more modern weapons. Due to the 1911’s popularity, however, there are plenty of upgrades out there to bring the gun into the 21st century.

These upgrades will aid in the handling characteristics, increasing the weapon’s usage parameters, and modernize a design over a century old. The 1911 is a warhorse and is still insanely popular, and its age shouldn’t slow it down. Think of the best 1911 upgrades as the Viagra of handguns.

Meprolight Tru-Dot Night Sights

On any gun I dedicate to a self-defense, whether at home or on the streets, I need a good set of sights. The weapon needs to be able to be used regardless of the time of day or night because you do not get to choose when an attack starts or even ends. Night sights like the Meprolight Tru dot night sights allow you to easily find your sights and engage your target.

The Meprolight Tru dot sights utilize a compound known as tritium to make the sights glow brightly. Tritium is a radioactive material, although it has been declared it does not present a health risk in small amounts. Tritium works by absorbing light throughout the day, be it solar, or fluorescent, and this results in the sights maintaining a bright, power free lighting system.

Tritium does eventually decompose, but Meprolight Tru-Dot sights last 15 years, regardless of the conditions they are exposed to. Meprolight night sights are a favorite of police and have been seen on the military’s Beretta M9 recently as well. These sights are designed for combat and are nice, and eye-catching when brought to bear.

Meprolight sights are designed for combat, and that means they are quite tough. They will not bend or break easily, and are overbuilt for a life of service. Make no mistake about it, these sights are easily among the best 1911 upgrades for they’re designed to be fighters, to be carried daily, and not to sit in a safe and be babied.

(One precaution: make sure the sights you get match the dovetail notch on your 1911. Here’s a fuller explanation of the different types of notches.)

Glock Sights Sucks: Meprolight Tru-Dot Night Sight First Look

Wilson Combat Ultralight Trigger

Bill Wilson and Wilson Combat are some of the most revered gun makers on the planet. They produce brilliant pieces of machinery and precision, and they maintain their high quality in every weapon. The waiting list to have your 1911, Beretta, or AR upgraded by Wilson Combat is quite long to say the least. Luckily, Bill Wilson and company have released several different parts to allow 1911 owners to upgrade their weapons at home.

The Wilson Combat Ultralight trigger is one such upgrade. This allows any 1911 operator to install a revered Wilson trigger in their weapon. The trigger is machined from aircraft grade aluminum and is serrated for a sure grip when wearing gloves. The trigger features a skeletonized design with three holes. The Ultralight trigger is match grade and after installation most user report a trigger pull of under three pounds.

The Wilson Combat trigger will drastically improve your effectiveness in rapid fire since such a light trigger can be pulled much faster. Of course, a lighter trigger can help with accuracy by reducing trigger travel and weight necessary to pull said trigger. A trigger upgrade may not be absolutely necessary, but it’s still among the best 1911 upgrades.

Rock Island 1911A1 Project Mod 1

Streamlight TLR-1 Tactical Light

The Streamlight TLR-1 is a rail attached light designed to be used in tactical operations, police operations and home defense. The TLR-1 is a full sized weapon light and designed for full sized weapons. Compact users need not apply. Like night sights, the Streamlight TLR-1 is designed to broaden the parameters of use for a 1911. With an equipped weapon light, the user can positively identify a threat versus a friendly.

The TLR-1 is incredibly bright, which is expected for such a large rail light. The high lumen design emits a blistering 630 lumens. The beam is concentrated to the front but allows has some excess light to the left and right for peripheral vision. The Streamlight TLR-1 attaches to a standard weapon rail, but for handguns I suggest a full-size model for maximum stability.

The TLR-1 has a continuous run time of 1.25 hours and uses two 3V CR123A lithium batteries. The entire piece weighs a little over 4 ounces, so it does add some considerable weight to your weapon. The TLR-1 is powerful enough to not only illuminate your target but to stun and temporarily blind them. The Streamlight is a welcome addition for the 1911 owner looking for a powerful light and does not mind adding size and weight to their weapon.

You may be saying, well, my 1911 doesn’t have a rail, what am I to do? Well……

Streamlight TLR-1 HL: 800 Vs. 630 Lumens

Recover Tactical 1911 Grip and Rail System

If you are running a standard 1911, like those made by nearly every manufacturer, you do not have a rail to attach your accessories. There are some rails that attach to the trigger guard of a 1911, but are not very stable, and impossible to find a holster for. The Recover Tactical 1911 grip and rail system to your 1911 with no permanent modification to your weapon, and can be done at home with no gunsmithing necessary.

The Recover Tactical system replaces your current grips with a set of high impact polymer that run the length of the weapon till under the dust cover, where the grips come together in the middle to form a standard rail for accessories like the TLR-1 we mentioned above. The Recover Tactical system has proven to be a reliable setup and holds any accessory firmly.

The grips themselves are comfortable and attractive and comes in three colors:  standard black, OD Green, and flat dark earth. Recover Tactical also produces a modern Kydex holster that will accommodate the grips, and any light attached. The Recover Tactical grips are an ingenious idea, and a brilliant, but simple way to modernize any 1911, making them easily among the best 1911 upgrades.

Recover Tactical CC3 Grip & Rail System

Burris 300234 Fastfire Red Dot

If you really want to spice up your 1911 and bring your century old design to the modern world then you can install a red dot on it (with the right scope mount, of course). To do so you need a mount which replaces your rear sight. This mount requires your gun be cut for Novak sights, which are the most common 1911 sight options out there. This option requires zero milling to your gun, and it’s as simple as installing a new rear sight.

This specific mount is cut for the Burris Fastfire miniature red dots. It’s a very simple design, and once installed you simply screw your Burris Fastfire to the mount. Bam now you have a modern option on your old school 1911. The Burris Fastfire, specifically the latest generation the Fastfire 3, are outstanding optics.

These tough miniature reflex sights are durable, and designed for both duty and competition use. The Burris Fastfire 3 offers top of the battery access, tool-less windage and elevation, and a 3 MOA reticle. You’ll shoot faster, farther, and more accurately with this red dot.

Burris FastFire 3 review | Optics Trade Reviews

Century of Perfection

The 1911 is a wonderful weapon with over a century of faithful use. Although some modern weaponry may offer this or that over the 1911, its popularity has created a market to upgrade the 1911 platform and keep the platform competitive a hundred and four years later.  And let’s face it:  it looks pretty damn good too!

  • Owner of, Boyd Smith is a major handgun enthusiast, and although he owns Glocks, he prefers the revolving wheel type. His go-to guns are a Smith & Wesson 642 Performance Center for carry and a Ruger GP100 in the nightstand biometric safe (he has kids). He loads both revolvers with old-school 148-grain Federal Gold Medal .38 wadcutters. It’s OK if you think he’s a wimp. Email him.

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