The Citadel 1911
The 1911 world is full of options that range from entry level to insanely expensive. With so many customers who appreciate the 1911 design, it makes sense that budget friendly models are so popular. Citadel capitalized on the middle ground market with their M-1911 handgun – balancing cost with quality. So, let’s dip into this Citadel 1911 review and see if it’s worth adding to the collection.
General Overview: Citadel 1911
The Citadel 1911 was introduced in 2009 by a brand belonging to a company called Armscor. Production takes place in the Philippines with distribution by Legacy Sports – a company based in the United States.
Citadel offers the M-1911 in either .45 ACP (as tested) or 9mm with three different sizing options. I was provided a “Government” model that is California legal and is the larger of the three with a 5″ barrel. Built based on a traditional steel frame 1911 design, the Citadel M-1911 offers a classic appearance and feel.
Considering the entry level price point (MSRP of $599) with the Citadel, the features and design stood out to me. Dark matte black steel combined with deep stained wood grips provides an aggressive but sleek look.
Each of the two factory included magazines hold 8 rounds providing a total capacity of 9 rounds with one in the chamber. A backstrap and manual thumb safety are both included on this 1911.
Being completely transparent here, I’m not one to typically enjoy the 1911 style – at least not chambered in .45 ACP. I know, I know…how dare I even say such things. It’s just that I typically am not able to shoot these guns as efficiently as a modern polymer frame. This being said, I still appreciate the design and quality of many in this category.
This particular 1911 does provide a quality feel in the hands, and as the pictures attest, a quality look as well. Now for what everyone is here for, how does it run?
Range Time: Citadel 1911
My first magazine through the Citadel 1911 provided a typical 1911 experience for me. Compared to some of the more “gucci” 1911 variants, this one didn’t stand out as anything spectacular. With that being said, it functioned and was relatively simple to operate. What more can you really ask for at such a fair price, right?
I was fortunate enough to be provided with a good variety of ammunition for my testing of the Citadel 1911. To my pleasant surprise, the Citadel 1911 ate all of the ammunition that I threw at it. After seeing some complaints online regarding stock magazines not feeding reliably, I was pleased to have no issues in this regard.
All of the several hundred self-defense rounds and target rounds cycled and fired with no problems experienced.
Felt recoil wasn’t fantastic in my opinion – especially next to some of the more refined 1911 options. I guess with such a large frame and barrel, I expected a tad less felt recoil. My experience here was likely due to the size of the grip in relation to my dominant firing hand. With average sized hands, I typically need to adjust my grip with 1911 style handguns. Comparing this to a more expensive 1911 – such as a Dan Wesson – the felt recoil difference was noticeable more in the Citadel.
Because the grip felt a bit large in my hands, I did struggle some with the manual thumb safety. I found myself accidentally engaging the safety while adjusting my grip.
Still though, I would say the Citadel was enjoyable to shoot. My experienced accuracy was well within my standards and skill level. Most of my shooting within 20 yards, but I did venture out to 50 yards for an occasional challenge with success. That success at further ranges was attributed to the unexpectedly smooth trigger in my opinion.
Overall, I was pleased with how the Citadel 1911 performed at the range. Off to a decent start.
Specifications: Citadel 1911
- MSRP: $599
- Caliber: .45 ACP
- Capacity: 8+1
- Barrel Length: 5″
- Total Length: 8.87″
- Width: 1.38″
- Frame: Steel
- Trigger: Single Action
Sights & Trigger
When I first got my hands on the Citadel M-1911, I quickly noticed the black on black sights. I thought it was a bit odd, but not necessarily a deal breaker. As expected, they were acceptable to shoot with but not much beyond that. It would have been nice to see some effort put into this area from the factory. Considering the price tag, tossing on some aftermarket sights isn’t going to hurt all that much.
All of my shooting was conducted on a sunny day with plenty of light so I can’t speak to night time or low light shooting with these sights. My experience looking down the sights indoors wasn’t great due to the lack of contrast.
The trigger – considering the price point of this firearm – was much better than I expected it to be. A smooth, short takeup before a crisp break almost caught me off guard. My respect for Citadel definitely increased after a few pulls.
Testing of the trigger using a Lyman trigger scale showed an average pull weight of 2.5 lbs. Overall, my impression of the gun was improved by my experience here.
Functionality & Features: Citadel 1911
Functionality is an area of discussion that seems strange to me in regards to the 1911 platform. I’m one that believes the 1911 design (typically) sacrifices performance and practicality for flare. This being said, several (including this Citadel 1911) are very much dependable and efficient handguns.
This particular 1911 provides a fairly wide grip – something I find prevents me from accessing the magazine release with ease. I am still able to access it, it just takes me turning the gun a fair amount in my hand. Again, this is another user-preference issue where hand size will dictate experience.
Speaking of magazine releases, quick reloads with any 1911 platform are usually something that requires a good bit of practice. I get spoiled with flared magwells on modern polymer handguns and forget how little room for error there is here. Unless the magazine is angled just right, it’s not going to just “slide in.” *Insert joke about only needing 8 rounds of .45 ACP for any potential self defense engagement.*
A backstrap safety and ambidextrous manual thumb safety is provided. As mentioned earlier, I did find myself accidentally engaging the thumb safety with my grip between shots on occasion.
The front and rear slide serrations were appreciated. It’s always nice to see companies putting effort into including front serrations. Overall, the frame and slide texture provided a very nice surface in regards to grip.
Muzzle Velocity Testing: Citadel 1911
As I do with almost every tested handgun, I used a Labradar device to test muzzle velocity out of the Citadel 1911. For this test, I used a very common self defense round – Speer Gold Dot 230 Gr. HP. A test group of 5 rounds was fired with data averaged.
- Average: 812 fps.
- High: 857 fps.
- Low: 672 fps.
- Standard Deviation: 78.4
As is apparent from the data, one of the rounds was a good bit slower than the others for some reason. Speer advertises a muzzle velocity of 820 fps. out of a 4″ barrel.
Final Thoughts: Citadel 1911
The Citadel 1911 might not be as refined and “gucci” as some of the other – more expensive options, but it packs some value. Some of the minor fit and finish details don’t quite stack up to say, a Dan Wesson 1911. Small amounts of vertical play in the trigger and fitment of the backstrap safety point to this. Felt recoil is a tad more here, but considering price tag, this Citadel can surely hold it’s own against some of the big dogs.
For someone looking to get into the 1911 platform, I feel that this would be a great place to start. It’s hard to go wrong with a 1911 at this price and build quality.