Review: Colt Lightweight Commander – The Gunsite Edition | Outdoor Channel
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Review: Colt Lightweight Commander – The Gunsite Edition

The Colt Lightweight Commander is the perfect, limited-edition defensive pistol with unique features

The Colt Lightweight Commander Pistol (Photo courtesy of The Colt Lightweight Commander Pistol (Photo courtesy of

By: Ed Head

Jeff Cooper and I were sitting in front of the fireplace in his home, he in his favorite chair and me on the couch to his left. As we sat we un-holstered our pistols and set them down on the end table as a concession to Mrs. Cooper, who didn’t much like pistols tearing or smudging her upholstery. We spoke about 1911 pistol reliability and Jeff said the smaller you make a 1911 the harder it is to get it to work. He offered his opinion that the Commander sized guns were “just right” considering reliability and ease of carrying. Thinking back on that conversation and the many times I saw Jeff at Gunsite, I can’t remember a time he wasn’t wearing a pistol and that pistol was invariably a Commander in a Yaqui slide holster. After many years of carrying, shooting and teaching with 1911s I’ve come to the same conclusion – the Commander is just right and my favorite Commanders are Lightweights.

Join me for a short journey in the way back machine to understand the origins of the Colt Lightweight Commander. The year was 1949, the Second World War had ended four years earlier and the Army wanted a compact, lightweight pistol chambered in 9mm to issue to officers. Go figure. This prompted Colt to invent their first aluminum alloy framed pistol and they called it the Colt Commander. Initially chambered in 9mm the 4.25” barreled 1911 was produced in 9mm, .45ACP and 38 Super the first year of production, that being 1950. Fast-forward twenty years to 1970. Colt introduced an all steel version called the Combat Commander and renamed the aluminum framed pistol the Lightweight Commander. And that’s where it stands today; steel framed pistols are Combat Commanders and aluminum framed pistols are Lightweight Commanders.

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