Gunner’s Journal

The 1911 Worlds Finest Handgun!

Magazines–They can make or break the proper function of the 1911

There are many types of magazines made these days. Some are very well made and function as they should. You get what you pay for and buying a cheap magazine for a high dollar gun is not a good way to save money! The illustration shows most of the types of magazine followers in use today. Most experienced shooters prefer the magazine with the flat follower with a dimple in the center of the follower. These seem to be the most reliable and the oldest design. Top brands are Wilson combat 47d’s, Tripp magazines, Metalform. In my opinion these are the best. There are other good magazines of course but they are to numerous to mention. A good magazine will run about $25 each. I would strongly suggest you stay away from mags in the $10 to $12 range. The quality control is not very good with poorly made mag bodies and cheaper springs. A good magazine will allow you to keep the magazine loaded for a long period of time without wearing the spring out. This can’t be said for the cheaper mags.
In short buy quality. A 1911 is particularly susceptible to poorly constructed mags. probably more so than any other gun. With quality mags you get reliability and isn’t that what we all want especially in a gun you are betting your life on! Good sources are MidwayUsa, Brownells, Metalform and Tripp research. Of course you can buy Wilson mags directly from the company at Wilson Combat

Wilson Combat has recently released a new magazine for the 1911, the Tactical Elite. It’s a brand new magazine but you’ll see similarities between others in the line. One nice feature is the addition of a magazine number on the bottom of the base pad. When you order one or more just tell them the number you would like on the bottom. No more using a dremel to engrave a number on the mag. I like many others mark each magazine on the bottom so we can keep track of how many rounds have gone through a particular magazine and quickly identify mags that start to give you problems. Of course this is an unlikely occurrence with a Wilson mag. This is a great new mag. I’ve tried one and will be getting more. I bought mine from MidwayUsa. I’m sure you’ll like them. The following is the description of the new mag reprinted with the permission of Wilson Combat.


The ETM started with a blank sheet of paper and 30+ years of 1911 and 1911 magazine experience. The ETM is no re-design of a 7 round magazine which has been reconfigured for 8 round capacity; it’s a totally NEW product designed from the ground-up as a premium 8 round tactical magazine. It WILL set a new standard in 1911 magazines while redefining state-of-the-art. We’ve blended the latest improvements in manufacturing and materials technology with our own real-world shooting experience to provide quality, quality, and more quality. From material selection to manufacturing process to final testing – this magazine is built like your life, and ours, depended on it, as someday it may. No compromises, just stone-cold reliability you can depend on. The ETM is primarily a combat magazine, but if you’re a competition shooter, you just may gain that critical advantage that will move you past the competition.

The real world for a combat pistol isn’t always in a dry, protected environment. So we built the ETM to be impervious to the elements. Every component is manufactured from either a high-grade stainless steel or super tough nylon. We worried about grime and corrosion when we designed the ETM, so you will never have to.

The ETM has the strongest magazine tube yet developed, virtually eliminating feed lip cracking, tube spread and cracking, and general fatigue, – some of the most common manufacturing and/or age-related defects in other magazines. The engineers working on the ETM have a combined 110+ years of firearms experience – the ETM is a showcase of their knowledge. They refined the radius for each bend in the tube to take advantage of the strength in the stainless steel they selected – and then devised a manufacturing process to provide the tight tolerances required to make those exact radius bends. The observation slots, moved to the rear of the tube, are located exactly where they need to be to maintain the structural integrity of the tube for years and years of use. After extensive testing we selected a grade and thickness of stainless steel optimized to provide superior stiffness without brittleness. No matter how many times you empty this magazine through your pistol, you can be assured the engineering expertise, design, material selection, manufacturing, and the quality control behind the ETM promises a lifetime of smooth and reliable operation.

ETM tubes are manufactured with a proprietary, custom designed welding process followed by a proprietary multi-step tumbling and finishing process. The internal and external finish, critical to smooth follower operation and insertion into the weapon, are the result of selecting the proper media and media-sequence in the tumbling and finishing process. We expended a lot of engineering time and expertise in developing the finishing process; when you get your hands on an ETM you’ll be able to see and feel for yourself, we think you will agree it was time well spent.

The improvements made to the ETM’s follower and base pad have not previously been seen in a pistol magazine. This design combines advanced manufacturing technology with absolutely precise dimension control, assuring positive slide-lock after the last round has been fired. The innovative follower design with its extended skirt ensures stability in operation and minimizes creep from the tube when the magazine is empty. Super tough nylon was selected as the optimum material for the new ETM follower due to its proven durability and slick surface finish. This slick finish and the super smooth internal finish of the magazine tube result in the smoothest follower operation possible. Experienced shooters will notice this ultra-smooth performance when loading and firing.

We’ve found a space-age stainless steel spring wire that is phenomenal for spring life. Have you ever worried about leaving your fully-loaded magazines for long periods of time? This spring, designed exclusively for our new ETM, will do its job longer than the cartridges will remain suitable for combat use. Another factor in spring life is the degree of compression when the magazine is loaded. Our engineers designed the ETM’s base pad to allow a longer tube. Although the ETM is not appreciably longer than a typical 7 round magazine, it has more space for the spring to work without complete compression or excessive stress on the spring.

The ETM seats and locks in the weapon with the slide down – fully loaded with 8 rounds – as easily and surely as a typical 7 round magazine and much easier than any other 8 round magazine on the market.

The ETM’s new almost indestructible base pad provides a sure grip when pulling a magazine from a pistol or a tight pouch – especially in a combat or competitive situation when seconds count in reloading. If you have ever been in the rain, trying to get a traditional magazine from a wet, tight pouch, you’ll really appreciate this feature – and it might save your life.

The ETM has numbers 1 through 10 included on the bottom surface of the base pad to make it easy to mark and identify your individual magazines to track usage and performance.

The ETM has observation ports clearly labeled for rounds 2 through 8, on both sides of the magazine. It’s easy to see at a glance how many rounds are remaining. The ports are moved to the rear third of the tube to maintain the tube’s strength in the sides and prevent the tube from spreading over time.

34 Responses to “Magazines–They can make or break the proper function of the 1911”

  1. Sam Hunt said

    Magazines are something I don’t know enough about. I was at my gunsmith buddies place this afternon & he was working on some mags for one of his customers that he just finished building a competition pistol for. I picked up a few pointers from him today. Greg Copeland is his name & he has a little one-man gun shop, Copeland Customs. The guy knows firearms inside & out. I’m lucky to be able to hang out over there whenever I want.

  2. Marv Cohen said

    Thank you for the enlightening article about 1911 mags.I have been contemplating rounding out my collection to include a 1911 after I thin the herd.

  3. Gunner said


    Thank you sir! I’m glad it helped you!


  4. Jimmy said


    Maybe they do maybe they don’t, but why have I not heard anything about extended 1911 magizines? All the competition has them. Shit, glock has a 30 round clip! (I hate glocks by the way, they are not comfortable, I wish I had a full auto one though. That would be cool!) So, do they or don’t they?


    And like always, keep up the great work!

  5. Gunner said


    There are 10 round 1911 mags out there. In fact Midway USA has them. The problem is most of the companies that make them don’t make them very well and they tend to cause jams of all kinds.I don’t know why there aren’t more of them used since a lot of pistols have them and they work.
    I’m not a big Glock fan either. I think they are dangerous except in the most experienced hands. It’s just to easy to have an AD. The Police Marksman magazine had an article documenting several cases where officers through no fault of there own had them.One was wearing a jacket with the toggle at the bottom of the jacket and it got into the holster so when he holstered the Glock the toggle tripped the trigger and he gets a round down the leg. You sure can’t carry without a holster!
    The model 18 select fire is a high dollar pistol but it would be fun on the range:-)


  6. Deiter said

    Amen, Brother. Got a brand new Springfield GI Mil-Spec 1911. Came with two 7 round mags. Bought two more at Cabela’s, Triple-K brand, $12.00 ea. Noticed the springs were softer right from the start. Used all four mags on the range to break in the gun. After 50 rounds of rotation in each mag, the Triple-K’s had expanded and bulged in the mag well, and wouldn’t drop out on release. Then they wouldn’t catch the slide after the last round was fired. I asked the range officer to please deposit these in the nearest trash can, and not let anybody salvage them out. I will stick with OE stuff from now on.

  7. Gunner said


    Oh yea those Triple K mags are terrible! I think they are number one in the junk magazine department. Man I’m sorry you had to learn about them that way! Wilson makes great mags and so does Novak if you wanted to try some reliable mags.

  8. Gordon Grimes said

    I’d recommend one final mag supplier as well. Check out Mec-gar from Italy they make most of the EAA, CZ and Beretta mags as well as those for most of the major gun makers under contract.
    I’ve got two Kimber’s and a Springfield and use either Wilson Combat, Shooting Star or the factory mags.
    I bought 3 Mec-gar’s recently in compact because I could not get any of the above items and have been very impressed with the quality and cost.

  9. Gordon Grimes said

    Final thoughts, I usually load my carry mags one short of max which greatly reduces the forces on the feed lips and will greatly increase their life. I also verify function of my carry mags and then use different mags for most of my practice leaving my know “good” mags for carry or competition use. I’ve picked up the extras for practice and if I drop or damgae one I’m not that upset.
    I added bumpers on the bottom on the Mec-gar’s and they function perfectly in my custom Kimber

  10. Gunner said


    MecGar are excellent magazines. I use them in my Hi Power and some other pistols. They make the mags for many of todays manufacturers which says a lot about the quality of the mags.


  11. 1911we said

    Wilson Magazines while regarded one of the best still have problems. They launch the round and leave it to chance that it will cycle instead of following the normal 1911 controlled feed principle which means controlled throughout the loading process. The best mags for all around use are checkmate or colt rounds with the hybrid follower. It will do most everything, second best is standard (real) GI mags. The 1911 not feeding JHP is bull, and is from bad mags. The shooting star is a wadcutter mag, and wilson 47d isn’t far behind. Try loading a .45 with a 47d and a hybrid. There is a different sound to the two, and the hybrid is smoother. The hybrid mag will give you less hassles. A local swat team did a torture test on 1911 mags, and had several stoppages with 47ds, and 0 with colt hyrbrid/ checkmate “tuner” mags. Tuner refers to a forum post on m1911 forums that first enlightened us to the issue of 1911 mags, and how 1911 got a bad rep and why 47d’s don’t fix the problem just circumvent it by making the 1911 a non-controlled feed gun.

  12. Gunner said

    One of the better mags out right now is made in Italy by MecGar. They are standard with S&W, Taurus as well as Sig and others. Wolff has the same mag with a stiffer spring while Novak has the same mag with standard spring. Good mags!

  13. Bob Gordon said

    I have been having problems with my Taurus PT199 using brand new Wilson Combat Elite.. With Winchester HPs the last rd. fails to go into battery, but not with ball ammo.. very strange..the orig. Taurus mags work fine with most ammo. Are the Chip McCormicks really good with this gun? some forums say so..

  14. Gunner said

    Hello Bob,

    Well sir the problem could be a few things. The Wilson mags are good ones but that doesn’t mean that mag might just possibly disagree with your gun. More likely the problem could be one of two things. The Winchester ammo isn’t providing enough recoil impulse to make that last round feed. In other words the slide doesn’t stay back long enough or doesn’t go all the way back before going forward jamming the last round. The test for that would be to try another brand of HP ammo and see if that cures the problem. The second possibility is the spring on that particular magazine is weak which doesn’t provide enough upward spring pressure to place that last round in position to feed.
    There is a third less likely possibility is that is the recoil spring is very strong which acts the same as the problem I mentioned with the ammo recoil impulse. Before I buy another magazine I would first try another type of ammo.
    I do have a question and that is how old is the gun? Is the problem something that just started when you bought this magazine? To answer your other question McCormick mags are good ones. I’ve tried many brands and I have never had any problems with any handgun using McCormick mags. On the other hand I have had 1911’s that would not function well with Wilson mags.
    I’ll do my best to help you figure this out.

    Take Care,

  15. NIK 45 said

    Mec-Gar is an excellent mag.I just bought a RIA and it came with a ACT-MAG mag and it is also made in italy and is identical to a MEC-GAR. this mag also functions superbly, it can be purchased from CDNN and is listed under NOVAKS name but they are in fact ACT-MAGS at a good price, it also seems as though mags are getting to be a little scarce also!!

  16. mike said

    I wouldn’t bet my life on a mac-gar mag.
    I have bet my life and my guys life on Wilson Combat.
    If you buy cheap you buy twice, thrice or 4 more times.
    Wilson made the 10 rd mags for us and we used them for years. You have to maintain your mags just like your weapon.
    Check the feed ramp ratio to your mag well. If you are more than .02 of an inch then get your gun throated.
    Wilson mags are made to work with a Wilson/Nowlin ramp’ed barrel. Not all barrels are spec. Hence the term “mil-spec”.
    Do your really think a 1911 is controlled feed?
    There is no bolt, and the extractor doesn’t pick up the case head until the round is in battery. There is no control but for the spring tension of the round held by friction against the feed lips of the magazine. The recoil spring is driving the slide forward.
    Where does the “control” aspect come into this?

  17. Gunner said

    Hi Mike,

    In have some of the Wilson Elite mags. I really like these and they have been very reliable in function. They are expensive but what is your life worth!

  18. David said

    For comparisons sake, I have some older 47D mags that I recently ordered new springs for. I also ordered some of the new ETM mags and a Tripp mag for comparison and their spring updates for the 47D mags. I’m anxious to try these out. I don’t forsee, in actualilty, any problems with either in my SW1911 which came with two Wilson mags. They have been completely reliable.

  19. Gunner said


    Thanks for the comment, it’s appreciated. Please let me know how your test and comparisons go I’d like to post your results!

    Happy Shooting!

  20. DRB said

    1911we is correct, the 1911 is absolutely a controlled round feed design, or it is supposed to be. Do a little homework and you’ll see. Run the slide slowly forward and with correct mags, the round will feed up out of the mag, under the extractor hook, and into the chamber. The extractor should not snap over the rim after the round is in the chamber. Wilson mags are usually pretty reliable, but do depart from the original design. Do your homework about how feed lips, springs and followers work, magazine timing, etc., and make your own decision…not just based on some guy’s post about what works for him on the internet.

  21. Gunner said

    That is indeed how they should function. If a round has to slam into the extractor it won’t be reliable and will certainly wear out the extractor quickly not to mention having to constantly adjust it. Wilson does depart from the original flat follower design. They work very well in most 1911’s but cause problems in others. Another consideration is how hot the round is you shooting. The hotter the round the greater the need for a stronger magazine spring. The slide moves faster which means the spring has to have a round ready to feed which means a stronger and faster spring for reliable feeding of that type of round.

  22. DRB said

    My 10 round Wilson and McCormicks run in my 5″ Gov but not in my 3″ Officer. They aren’t really made for the officer, but posting as food for thought. Their feed lip, follower, and springs are not conducive to excellent round retention. The fast slide speed and sharp recoil of the small gun jerks the rounds loose from the magazine and gives me double feeds. I am not a fan of the CMC wadcutter feed lips and flat, no-dimple followers, and I think the springs could be stronger. I prefer the Checkmate hybrid feed lips, dimpled follower, and extra power Wolff springs. Now if they will just get going on the 10 rounders…

  23. DRB said

    Another note: I haven’t tried the ETMs (doubt I will) and my Wilsons have been more reliable than my CMCs.

  24. Gunner said

    I agree the Checkmate mags have strong springs that work well with short barrel 1911’s as well as full size 1911’s with stout loads. The Tripp mags have about the strongest springs I’ve tried. I use those a lot with loads like Cor-Bon or Buffalo Bore.


  25. Gunner said

    They are a little expensive for my budget as well:-)

  26. DRB said

    Ah, yes, I forgot Tripp, thanks. They look very promising, I intend to try some.

  27. Gunner said

    You won’t be disappointed! They really are quality mags with stout springs that still work with normal loads:-)


  28. David said

    Phil-Back toward the end of October I said I was gong to do a comparison with the Wilson 47D and Tripp mags. What I have found to date is this. both work very good in my SW1911 with no problems using 200 gr SWC’s. However, in the SW1911SC E-Series I had a problem with the Wilson 47D mag I was putting though the paces.

    It too, fed the SWC’s but when I switched over to Speer’s 230 gr GDHP ammo as that’s my intended carry ammo with tat same pistol, there was a slight feeling of a hitch when I hand fed the first round..sort of a balk but it fed into the chamber. After firing 21 rounds, the very last round n that magazine caused a nose dive upward against the upper most part of the hood. The round never made it under the extractor and the cartridge was sitting at a very sharp75 degree angle.

    After I got home and started thinking about it, I decided to take the mag apart. I had some new springs from Wilson for the 47D and noticed they were considerable longer than the spring I took out of this basically new 47D mag…by nearly three inches.

    In short, I replaced the spring with the other one and you could feel the difference in tension when you applied pressure on the follower. I don’t know if this will help until next range time. Perhaps it will still balk, I don’t know.. I think the Wilson will do well with SWC’s but for this pistol and that magazine using GDHP’s it may not be good medicine. I haven’t gotten to the ETM yet but that’s up next along with the new spring for the other 47D.

  29. Gunner said


    I got some Tripp mags last week in 9MM. The short story is they are going to be my go to mags from now on. They have a very strong spring which usually makes feeding more reliable in any caliber. I’ll keep my Wilson 47D’s though. I did change the spring on a couple of the Wilsons and they did improve the function of that magazine. I think you’ll see the same result when you head to the range next time. Now I’m curious about the ETM’s:-)

  30. David said

    I’m convinced John Moses Browning knew what he was doing when he designed the 1911. I think less problems with these pistols today would occur if we adheared to his design. Magazines?Originally as most know, was the 7 round with flat follower and dimple. Given a strong enough spring, like the CM XP or Wolff 11# jobbies it’ll work with most all pistols-especially ball ammo or ammo with that same ogive profile.

    I’ve recently had good luck with CheckMate’s 7 round mags and the above mentioned stronger springs and am convinced there’s none better…equal maybe but not better. The ETM Wilson sells has worked great as has Tripps. How well any 8 round mag will work under the stress of being fullyi loaded for months is something I’d have to experiment to see how well they’d hold up and if the mag lips would spread. I’m more convinced the CM mags with 11# Wolff springs and dimpled followers, whether GI or Hybrid lip, are probably the best all around mags you can buy and keep fully loaded without fear of it not working at the moment of truth.

  31. Gunner said

    I agree and have used the magazines you’ve mentioned and then some. My favorite and the ones I use all the time in all calibers is the 8 round Tripp as well as the 10 round Tripp 9MM mags. I just haven’t found anything better. As you said the Checkmates also have a strong spring.

  32. Wichaka said

    I’ve been carrying ETM’s on duty for over 3 years now, keeping them loaded for 6 months at a time, in rotation…and ‘nary a problem have they caused.

    The tried and true 47D’s are also good magazines, until you need to insert one, fully loaded with the slide forward…then the fight is on!

    There are other magazines on the market that are of the same design as the ETM’s, such as Metalform’s model 45-747, and Checkmates Competiton 8, but with a different follower.

    The design is much better, than stuffing 8 rounds in a tube made for 7.

  33. Gunner said

    ETM’s are great mags.Lately I’ve been using Tripp Research mags and been very impressed with them.

  34. charles said

    i have 2 etm’s in the black i love them never had a prob plan on getting about 5 more soon wilson combat makes a great product

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