firearms, shooting equipment, and outdoor gear for the average enthusiast.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Citadel CS 1911 review

In an effort to make my gun reviews more helpful, I'm going to try a bit more structure in the presentation of information. So bear with me, as the new format might have a few kinks that will need ironing out. I consider the Citadel a carry gun- as such, I will compare it to other carry guns in its class- specifically my Original Colt Lightweight Commander in Stainless.

Initial Prep / manner of testing
With almost 200 rounds through the citadel, I feel I have enough of a feel for it to give an initial review. Shooting was spread over 3 range visits with no cleaning between them. The gun was broken down, cleaned, and lubricated upon purchase. I also inspected the fit between the internal parts. Anything that seemed unnecessarily rough received 50 strokes with fine steel wool (my standard fluff and buff procedure). That's it. Lube was shooter's choice red grease. No additional lube was added between range visits.

Ammo fired was a mix of factory and reloads including:

Remington 230gr FMJ factory
WWB 230 gr Personal defense factory
230gr Gold Dot reloads
200 gr LSWC (H&G 68) reloads
215gr LRNFP reloads
230gr LRN reloads
230gr TC reloads (Lee truncated cone design, actually 237-240 gr)
200 gr LSWC (lee design, not a true H&G 68 clone)

Distances ranged between 7 and 25 yards, with 25 yards getting most of the trigger time.
chamber after all rounds fired to see carbon buildup

Accuracy / Shootability

7 yard accuracy was 1 ragged hole with all ammo tested. POI with 200 gr stuff was just below POA at that range. The gun seemed calibrated for 230gr ammunition.

at 25 yards, rounds were fired at a swinging NRA rimfire sized chicken. My best was 5 out 8 on the steel. For comparison, I'll go 10 out of 10 with my Ruger Mk II with iron sights, and 7 out of 8 is my personal best with a full sized government 1911 for centerfire handguns. As such, I would rate the shootability of this gun as very high. The sights don't snag and are easy to see, and appear to follow the novak design. I did paint the front sight post with flourescent orange nail polish to make it a bit more visible, but other than that the gun is entirely unaltered.
view of the painted sights


The feel of the pistol is good. The grips look a bit rough, but they are textured enough to give the pistol solid purchase in the hand during firing, but not so much as to be rough against the body during carrying. I've had problems with 1911 grips in the past being either too grippy (as is my experience with many rubberized grips) preventing smooth draws and increasing snags or in grips being too rough in texture, causing pain against the body during everyday activities while the gun is carried. It was so annoying, that I switched the grips on my Commander to a smooth walnut grip. The grips on the citadel might stay a while though, as they don't seem to give me fits like other styles have in the past.
comparison of the grips- also note the CS comes with a long trigger, as well as a memory pad on the grip safety


Wow. The trigger on this gun is LIGHT. Almost too light for my taste. I actually had an accidental double tap during the first range session as I adjusted to the new pull. Take up is minimal, and the break is actually pretty smooth. Overall, it produces a very easy to shoot gun that is enjoyable to get range time with.


The chamber on this gun is tight. Some of my reloads would not fit without the use of a lee FCD. That is something to be aware of before purchasing. To test ammo fit, I removed the barrel and 'dropped' my reloaded rounds into the barrel while holding it perpendicular to the ground. Once I used the FCD, all ammo dropped freely into the chamber.

The gun feeds ammo very, very well. Better than my colt and as well as my mil-spec or my American classic II. In order not to burn through my JHP stash, many rounds were hand cycled instead of fired. No setback was noticed (the colt will give some JHP hellish setback as it smashes them haphazardly into the chamber, such was not the case with my citadel)

rounds which were hand cycled (in addition to the above ammunition which was fired)
Hornady 230gr TAP
Winchester 185 gr Silvertip
WWB 230 gr Personal Defense
El Dorado Starfire 230gr JHP
Remington Golden Saber 185gr

the only ammunition that would not cycle was 185 gr Gold Dots. In defense of the gun, none of my 1911s will feed that load (which is a shame- its great ammo). for comparison, my colt will only handcycle:
Hornady 230gr TAP
WWB 230gr Personal Defense
Remington Golden saber 185gr

No FTF, FTE, or other issues were noted during my initial test. I am glad I did do an ammo drop into the chamber though before firing (see above paragraph on reloads). Had I not taken that first step, I doubt the test would have went so smoothly.
the CS has a flared ejection port- though it doesn't really look all that lowered. also note the straight MSH.

Carryability (not a word, but work with me here)

The gun is heavy. judging by feel, the citadel cs is heavier than my colt LW commander. however, that extra .75 inches off the front and 1/2 inch off the bottom do make throwing the CS into an appendix carry holster noticeably easier. The hammer doesn't poke me as much as the ring hammer on my commander, and no aggressive textures rub up against my body. despite the weight, I would say the gun carries easier than the colt.
note the shorter barrel and grip frame
another angle - also note the novak style sights on the front and rear- no trunion front for this guy!

Overall impressions/cost/final thoughts

By me, the guns sell for about 550 to 600 bucks, when you find a shop that has them. I traded in some old stuff with mine, so my price isn't really a fair judge, but the sticker on these guys is usually under 600 with some haggle room in there as well. I'm very pleased with the gun, and its performance. I'm hesitant to say it will usurp the colt as my go-to carry piece, as I hear the springs can get finicky with these officers sized guns; however, I remain optimistic.
the gun fits easily in my largish sized hands.

at this point- I'm giving this gun a 'buy' rating. If you are in the market for a 3.5 inch 1911, check the citadel out. They are made in the Philippines (I believe at Armscor) and are well built guns. The fit and finish seems good- and the slide to frame fit, as well as the blending of the extractor and rear of the slide to the frame is all excellent. The bushingless design seems to work on this shrunken platform, and the gun already comes with the reverse plug which seems to be such a popular upgrade form some other guns in this size category.

the gun has a FLGR, bushingless, design.

as a final point, my gun fed and fired fine from the 2 included ACT 7 round mags, and full sized magazines as well. The gun was tested with the officer sized 7 rounders, full sized ACT 8 round magazines, and a mix of 7 round mags from metalform, springfield armory, surplus, and colt knockoffs.


CTone said...

The officer framed 1911s are the way to go for day to day carry. My first handgun was a SA Ultra-Compact, and it was good to go. After about 5k rounds though, the reliability went away and it was a jammamatic. I suggest changing the recoil springs whenever you have issues, or after about 2k rounds, just to be sure. I also found that my Springer didn't like most hollowpoints, so I fed it ball ammo only.

With that said, I think the compact 1911s point faster than a govt model, and are more optimal for defensive use.

mike's spot said...

totally agreed Ctone. What weight springs were you running?

Veritas said...

Mike I found this at a local sporting goods store called Scheels for $459 for the Citadel 45ACP Conceal Carry, do you think that's a decent price?
I'm trying to decide between this a RIA 1911 Conceal or the Springfield XDM 3.8" all in 45 ACP. Any thoughts?



mike's spot said...

Hey Chris-

if that is the price for the chromed version- I'd say that is a pretty good deal. Cheaper than they are by me by a long shot. If that is for the park'd version- it is a competitive price as well, but not nearly as big a steal.

The XDM 3.8s are nice shooters too. I prefer steel over polymer, so for me I would pick the citadel- however both are excellent and I suspect many would choose the XDM in this scenario.

Veritas said...


It is not chromed for sure. I'm just trying to decide now if the extra 60-75 bucks is worth it to buy the XDM. I have shot both and like both. It sounds like the RIA and the Citadel are both made by Armscor and the only difference is probably the finish. Decisions, decisions :)

mike's spot said...

hmmm. Tough call. I will throw this out there- if you like the Speer 200 gr GoldDot as a defense load, then choose the XDm - I have yet to own a 1911 that will reliably feed that round.

My hollowpoint choice in the 1911 format are generally those with either a profile very much like 230gr ball ammo, or of a Truncated cone design.

The XDm will probably be much more forgiving in this regard.

For general shooting though, I have had polymer 45s that just did not like the 200gr LSWC profile (particularly a G30). That was a deal breaker for me, as most of my 45acp shooting is done with a 200gr LSWC over a stout charge of Unique.

Also, if you use any oddball ammo (snakeshot, etc) the XDm might be more forgiving when it comes to feeding.

As for magazines, I have had excellent luck with ACT 7 round mags, as well as MetalForm 7 round mags- both for officers sized frames.

for me- the 1911s are much much better shooting guns. I can ring steel at 50 yards with my citadel nearly at will. Not so much the case with an XD (which is not an admonishment - merely an observation on what works best for me).

If you own other 1911s, many parts do interchange between the officers sized frame and other frame sizes (hammer, links, slide stops, thumb safeties, etc) so that might be helpful.

Anonymous said...

I purchased the Citadel Officer 1911 last weekend. Today was it's first trip to the range. I used Blazer Brass 230 gr. FMJ mainly as cheap break in ammo. I was pleased with the way this gun feels in the hand and the way it lends itself to CC. The plan was to just shoot 50 rounds today for a function run.
It failed horribly. At the 34 round mark the front sight came off. Of that 34 rounds 4 were FTF, meaning 30 rounds fired ok. The 4 FTF's did fire on a second try after inspection showed no outward appearance of something gone awry.
I am not ready to throw Citadel under the bus just yet, but I am truly disappointed especially after doing my research and reading so many good things about this weapon.

mike's spot said...

Hello Anon/RATCOM-

I am very sorry to hear about your citadel! if possible, please post back about the customer service on your piece. I haven't had to use it yet- but would like to know how Legacy treats you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,
RATCOM here. I have sent the Citadel Officer 1911 back for repair. I purchased it at Academy Sports and let me say that they were very courteous in helping me with my issue. I did call them in advance to verify how to handle things. They actually gave me 2 choices. I could contact the mfg. myself or I could take it back to Academy and they would ship it for me. As soon as it comes back and I run another function test I'll let you know "The rest of the Story".

mike's spot said...

Great news! thanks RATCOM

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,
Got the Citadel Officer back today.
The guys at Academy Sports called me yesterday to let me know it was in. Man that was fast! Taking into account the transit time and weekend days I'm impressed. They also gave me a good description of the repairs they made. The front sight issue speaks for itself, but they also polished the feed throat, adjusted the magazine springs, de-burred the extractor and safety and test fired the weapon. I will critique the results this weekend and post the outcome. Oh, by the way and maybe you are already aware of this. Armscor (Can you say ROCK ISLAND)is the Authorized Warranty Repair rep for Legacy Sports. However, the repair tag on my Citadel has the name Sports World,Inc. 6841 East 41st Street Tulsa,Oklahoma 74145. Makes me wonder if Armscor is farming out alot of warranty work? Merely speculation on my part what can I say? I will keep you posted. Thanks for alowing me to snivel on your site!

mike's spot said...

Awesome to hear RATCOM! Here is to hoping it runs right!