In the years following World War Two, there was a desire to move away from the classic M1911 pistol. The standard 1911 was heavy and slightly unwieldy to some, and the government was looking for something lighter, smaller and, perhaps most importantly, something chambered in the NATO standard 9mm. The Commander was Colt’s answer for a more compact, lightweight 1911 when it introduced the original model back in the ’50s. In the many years since, the company has only continued to improve upon and upgrade that initial concept.
Colt’s Manufacturing Company introduced a number of new guns in 2016. The lineup features the Expanse M4, the Colt Competition Pistol and the new Colt Lightweight Commander in 9mm and .45 ACP.
Why do governments always have to screw things up? Take the US Army’s attitude towards our service pistol used successfully through two world wars, for example. After WWII, some desk-pogue decided that the 1911 in .45 ACP had to go; it wasn’t “continental” enough, I guess. The first time the US Army tried to get rid of the 1911 Government model in .45 ACP was in 1949. Back then, US Government requirements were issued stating that the new pistol had to be chambered in 9mm parabellum (Latin is even neater than French) and couldn’t exceed seven inches in length or weigh more than 25 ounces. Colt’s entry –a shortened 1911 with an aluminum frame (called Coltalloy) wasn’t adopted (neither was the Smith and Wesson M39). So in 1950, Colt started producing their version for the retail market, calling it the Commander. Colt wisely brought it out in .45 ACP as well as 9mm and also in the red-headed stepchild, .38 Super. In 1970, Colt began making the Commander with a steel frame, calling it the “Combat Commander” and it’s still produced today. .