Metro Arms, American Classic Commander 1911, by Pat Cascio

I love a good deal when it comes to firearms – so long as the gun performs as it should. I can’t afford to purchase expensive firearms – once in a while, I run into something I can’t pass up, and buy it – but the checking account takes a hit – and my wife has to figure out how to balance things. I’m also a sucker for a good 1911 – full-size, Commander-size, or Officer’s size. I haven’t been into my local FFL since the pandemic started, close to two years ago. I’m at double risk with high blood pressure and diabetes type 2, so I don’t go into any stores. My wife does all the shopping. I’m simply her driver!

I used to be that my local FFL would have a couple of the Philippine-made 1911s in stock. And, they make more 1911s in the Philippines than any place in the world. There are three major manufacturers there, and I’ve owned 1911s from all of them, and I couldn’t see much difference in the workmanship between the various makers. Of course, the best thing is their prices. They are very reasonably priced.

Today I’m reviewing the Metro Arms, American Classic – Commander 1911 and this one is a real winner in my book. They also make an American Classic II – and I don’t know what the difference is between the two models. But we’re looking at the American Classic in this article. Again, keep in mind that, this gun was manufactured in the Philippines.

The American Classic has the shorter Commander-length barrel/slide – of 4.25-inches – and I think this is the perfect length – just seems to balance better in my hand. The gun is made out of carbon steel, and has nice bluing on the slide and frame – and it weighs in right at 37-ounces. The slide has Novak-style three-dot sights on it. In my opinion, these are the best, when it comes to combat sights.

The barrel feed ramp is throated and polished so it will feed anything I put into the gun. The frame has a throated and polished feed ramp – again, this contributes to reliability. Plus, the barrel and feed ramp on the frame are perfectly mated, too.

There is a standard short recoil plug. The spring it came in at 20-lbs – about perfect for a Commander-sized 1911 if you ask me. There are slide serrations on the rear sides of the slide, for a sure grip when chambering a round, too.

The frame – as already mentioned is carbon steel, and perfectly blued, with a nice high-luster finish. The trigger – one minor complaint – it is adjustable – but made out of steel – I would prefer an Aluminum trigger – adjustable or not. The magazine release is every so slightly extended for faster and easier magazine swaps. The slide release is extended – another minor drawback to my way of thinking, since it is too easy to hit it when the slide is locked back – I prefer a standard-sized slide lock/release. I do like the extended thumb safety – perfectly fitted too – no slack – it clicks on and off with authority.

The beavertail grip safety – fitted nicely, but it could have been a little better – not a deal-breaker at all. There is also a “memory” bump on the beavertail. Plus the beavertail is timed just right. The front strap on the grip is plain – smooth! I simply added a strip of skateboard tape to it – like I do to a lot of 1911s – for a more sure grip, under all weather conditions – about once a year, I replace this tape – it costs pennies. The mainspring housing is metal and serrated – it does the job.

I wish Metro Arms would have beveled the magazine well – even just a little bit – it would make getting a fresh mag into the magazine well smoother and faster. That is easy enough to do yourself with a hand file and some patience. Just touch up the bare metal with some cold bluing when you’re done.

All-in-all, this American Classic Commander is set up to run, and for self-defense, without changing anything…it would cost you a lot of money to swap out some of the parts if this were a mil-spec 1911, but it has already been done for you.

My Shooting Tests

For some reason, I never packed this 1911 on my hip – I have more than enough handguns to pick from, and more often than not, I can be caught with a compact polymer-framed pistol of some type. However, I did do a lot of shooting with this gun over the past several years and it is a tack-driver.

As we all know, we are in an ammo drought – will be – maybe for decades, but I still took this American Classic out for some shooting for this article. Black Hills Ammunition – provided me with a great assortment of .45 ACP ammo for this article. I did run through 200-rds of ammo in my testing. I had their 230-gr FMJ, 230-gr JHP +P and their 185-gr Barnes Tac XP +P all-copper hollow point ammo. I also had some of the Black Hills lead semi-wadcutter ammo – this is a super accurate load, however some 1911s won’t feed it. The American Classic fed and functioned with all of the aforementioned ammo – not a bobble or anything – loaded the magazines, inserted them, and chambered a round and the gun would shoot as fast as I could pull the trigger – this is one of the tests I always perform on any handgun – to see how reliable it will be. I also mixed the above types of ammo in magazines – this will often cause a gun to have a malfunction. Not so with this 1911. Nothing stopped it.

I set up my target stand at 25-yards, and did my accuracy testing, with the gun rested over a padded rifle rest, on top of a big boulder. So long as I did my part, I was getting 3.5-inch groups without too much effort. I did have one group right at 3.0-inches, and that was the 230-gr FMJ load – always a very accurate load from Black Hills. I’m not going to complain with a factory, out-of-the-box 1911 that will give me groups like that – nope, not complaining. I think the gun will even do better – just have to find just the right load for the best accuracy.

I did some “long range” shooting at boulders, and fallen trees and branches, out to about 100-yards and I was hitting them. The 230-gr .45 ACP round will only drop about 3-4 inches at that distance – so once I got my eye on things and saw where the rounds were dropping, I could regularly hit those bigger targets out to 100-yards – that’s good shooting – not me, but the gun and ammo combination.

One complaint, and it has nothing to do with the gun itself – it’s that all the 1911s I’ve seen coming out of the Philippines, all have steel frames. I wish they would start making some lightweight 1911s, with Aluminum frames – I’d snap one up in a New York Minute.

My local FFL is very accommodating in that, when I text them and ask what they have new in-stock, they will text me back with picture of their latest inventory. And, they are finally starting to get their inventory built back up. But no Philippine-made 1911s. If they do have something I want, they will bring the 4473 out to my truck so I can fill it out – BATF said they could do this – and then deliver the gun to me when the background check is completed. That’s customer service!

I honestly can’t find anything to really fault with this 1911 – other than a few minor personal changes I would make – and I still might. I don’t like the overly extended slide lock/release – its simply not needed. The all-steel trigger – that is easily replaced with a nice match-grade Aluminum trigger – will do that one of these days.

Before the pandemic started, when I would walk in the front door or my FFL dealer, and they saw me, they would hold up the latest 1911 they had just gotten in – knowing me to be a real sucker for a nice 1911 – they know me too well.

Now, I know a lot of readers believe that gun writers make a lot of money – the simple fact is we do not! So, I have to watch how I spend my money – and I have to pass-up a lot of guns I would like to own. Once in a while, a used version will come in, that I can afford – so it pays to wait – sometimes. Other times I walk away broken-hearted without a gun. Sigh.

The Commander-sized American Classic I tested for this article, was $425, brand-new, out the door. I replaced the wooden grips, Code Zero M1911 grips of my own design, made by Mil-Tac – and they really added to the way the gun feels in the hand.

You could do a lot worse, if you’re in the market for a really nice 1911, than one of these Philippine-made 1911s. They make a great truck or car piece, too.