Sunday, November 08, 2009

Legacy Sports International (LSI) Citadel Concealed Combat 1911 .45 ACP

Without a doubt 1911 style pistols have been very popular in the U.S. since, well, 1911. As we approach the centennial of John Moses Browning’s genius design there are more manufacturers producing 1911’s than you can shake a stick. The 1911 was synonymous with the word “Colt” as I was growing up. In fact as I grew up it was mostly referred to as the “Colt .45” and occasionally mentioned as the “Colt Government” or “Colt Commander” (denoting either a 5 or 4.25 inch barrel) . It wasn’t until Colt began to turn their back on the civilian buyer and the mantel was picked up by the likes of Kimber and Springfield (and later arch rival Smith & Wesson) that I began to here it referred to as the 1911.

1911 pistols have been fairly expensive prospects since Colt produced them up to the current time when a nice one goes for around $1,000 and REALLY nice ones rocket up to $3,000. There have been some budget pistols produced which have usually wind up as a project pistol for a local gunsmith to make it reliable and perhaps stick a few additional bells and whistles.

Legacy Sports International (LSI) has released a line of 5 and 3.5 inch 1911 pistols which are available for a touch under $500.00. While 500 bucks in not an insignificant chunk of change it is a pretty low price for a 1911. My local gun shop and range had a bunch of them sitting of the shelf below the $2800.00 Nighthawks. After a couple of months of paying them no mind I decided to see if the Citadel was a pistol you could bet your life on.

LSI gets the pistols from Armscor and they are manufactured in the Philippians. I chose the 3.5 inch Concealed Combat that sported the following features:

  • Series 70 firing system
  • 3.5 inch forged bushingless bull barrel
  • Full length guide rod
  • Cast frame and a milled slide
  • Skeletonized hammer and trigger
  • Novak Style Sights
  • Lowered and flared ejection port
  • Positive grip safety and extended beavertail
  • 2 six round magazines

Of those features I can usually do without the extended beaver tail and the bushingless bull barrel with full length guide rod. The extended beaver tail makes the pistol uncomfortable in an inside-the-waistband holster as it sticks in my side. These were originally all the rage to keep the spur hammer on the old Colt Government models from biting the web of your hand. The rounded hammer pretty much handles that so the skinny elongated beavertail just seems to me to be something else to get in the way. The bushingless bull barrel with full length guide rod likewise seems to serve no positive purpose and have the unintended consequence of usually making the pistol more difficult to disassemble and reassemble. Now the Citadel did not seem to be too back to field strip and put back together but no one has ever proven to me that the bushingless bull barrel with full length guide rod is either more reliable or more accurate than a pistol without these features.

Key Performance Indicators At-a-Glance

Handling Characteristics

Terrible

Poor

Acceptable

Good

Excellent

Fit and Finish

Terrible

Rough

Acceptable

Good

Excellent

Sights – Size

None

Too Small

Small but Useable

Good

Excellent

Sights – Enhancements

None

Non-illuminating Dots/lines

Illuminating Dots/lines

Fiber Optic

Night Sights

Trigger

Terrible

Poor

Acceptable

Good

Excellent

Power Scale

.380 ACP

.38 Special/9mm

.40 S&W

.45ACP/GAP

.357 Mag/SIG

.44 Mag

Ease of Carry/Concealment

Too Large to Conceal

Service Sized

Compact

Ultra Compact

Micro Compact

Pocket Pistol

Reliability

Completely Unreliable

Somewhat Unreliable

Fair, don’t bet your life

OK With Some Types

Completely Reliable

Accuracy Rating

Can’t Hit the Broad Side of a Barn

Acceptable

Combat

Bullseye

Let’s break those Key Performance Indicators down and talk about what they mean:

Handling Characteristics

Terrible

Poor

Acceptable

Good

Excellent

There is not really a whole lot to say about the Citadel from a handling standpoint. It is a 1911 all the way around and it you like the feel and ergonomics of a 1911 there will be no disappointment with the Citadel.

Fit and Finish

Terrible

Rough

Acceptable

Good

Excellent

OK, this is a value priced pistol produced in the Philippians and you should not be expecting the high polished Royal Blue found on premium semi-custom pistols. The fit and finish are acceptable bordering on Rough. The bluing is not pretty, the slide and trigger are gritty, the wood grips are OK and are utilitarian in their fit and finish.

Sights – Size

None

Too Small

Small but Useable

Good

Excellent

Sights – Enhancements

None

Non-illuminating Dots/lines

Illuminating Dots/lines

Fiber Optic

Night Sights

The sights are all black Novak style combat sights. They are fairly easy to pick up but there are no dots, bars, outlines, or anything else to aid you in visually indexing your target. For the price I would not have expected Night Sights for Fiber Optic inserts but a white dot on the front sight and a white outline on the rear sight would not have added that much cost to the production of the pistol.

Trigger

Terrible

Poor

Acceptable

Good

Excellent

The trigger pull had a minimal amount before breaking at just a hair less than 5 pounds. I consider 4.5 to 5 pounds to be just about perfect for a combat pistol. However the gritty feeling in the pull keeps me from giving it an unconditional “good” rating.

Power Scale

.380 ACP

.38 Special/9mm

.40 S&W

.45ACP/GAP

.357 Mag/SIG

.44 Mag

It’s a .45! Not much more needs to be said. The .45 ACP is one of the best all around defensive rounds and has been for almost 100 years. The 9mm may be the most popular round in the world but it really takes good +P hollowpoint ammunition to make it effective. With the .45, just about any round you can find, hardball or hollowpoint, will be effective. A friend was with me at the range recently, someone who has solely shot the 9mm. As I was loading the .45 this person said “that’s a mighty big bullet you’re putting in there”. Paraphrasing American Handgunner scribe Clint Smith I replied “Yes, and it will be a really big bullet when it comes out of there too”.

Ease of Carry/Concealment

Too Large to Conceal

Service Sized

Compact

Ultra Compact

Micro Compact

Pocket Pistol

The Citadel Concealed Combat is somewhere between a Compact and Ultra Compact pistol. Its 3.5 inch barrel is three quarters of an inch shorter than the Commander sized 1911 pistols and one and a half inches shorter than the full service-sized Government model pistols. It carries well in an inside-the-waistband holster but, due to the weight of its all steel construction you will need to find a sturdy holster and belt to make sure it stays put in whatever position you find the most comfortable.

Reliability

Completely Unreliable

Somewhat Unreliable

Fair, don’t bet your life

OK With Some Types

Completely Reliable

I am giving the Citadel a conditional “completely reliable” rating as I only had 12 rounds of hollowpoint ammo that I could afford to part with. Six rounds were Magtech 230 grain JHP and six rounds were Winchester Personal Defense 230 grain JHP. Otherwise the Citadel ate up 325 rounds of Magtech and Winchester 230 hardball ammo without a hiccup.

Accuracy Rating

Can’t Hit the Broad Side of a Barn

Acceptable

Combat

Bullseye

One of the most frequent questions asked since I began toying with this Key Performance Indicators At-a-Glance table has been “What is combat accuracy”. Obviously it is not enough accuracy to win a bullseye championship. What it means is that the pistol provides you with enough accuracy to consistently hit the center mass of a man sized silhouette target at 75 feet from a standing two hand hold utilizing no rest or steadying structure.

The targets below were fired at 21, 31, and 75 feet:


The LSI Citadel will provide you with formidable caliber in a completely usable package. Yes, its fit and finish could be better, the trigger could be smoother, it could have some type of enhanced sights, and it would be nice if it were a little more accurate. It you have to have that then move up the Kimber, Springfield, Smith & Wesson, and STI shelf. Oh, and be prepared to spend an additional $700.00.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Man! Great review. I really like you rating system. Subscribed

Anonymous said...

thanks for the info,great review.

Elisabeth said...

Thank you for the info... looked for others but seams its just to new yet i guess.

Todd said...

Thanks for the review. and Im happy you mentioned the 700.00 difference for some bells and whistles. I just bought the concealed carry yesterday because Im almost more and it took 90 days to pay off. Its nice to see there are average joes like me that just have to buy what we can afford.

Todd said...

Im happy to find a person that does a realistic firearms review for the average joes. That is an accurate review as I just payed off my lay awayed concealed version a week ago and I've already put 400 reloaded rounds through it without any flaws. I did change the grips to rubber ones for comfort. Thanks again for the great review!!

Anonymous said...

I bought one of the compact versions and have to say I am very happy with it. the review helped me make the decision to buy one and agree with everything that was said. I would also like to say that for the price it is one of the nicest 1911 compacts out there that I have shot.

keither said...

I have a few American made full size 1911s, so I don't feel any guilt buying one foreign made concealable 1911, the Armscore guns are a good gun, I'd trust them over the Brazilian pistols. One bone to pick, Your comment that $500 is considered low end for a 1911 bugs me greatly. It was not that long ago that Kimber's classic custom full size entry model could be had for around $550-$600 and an Armscore model would cost around $350! Its time we Americans stand up against the theif known as inflation! Gun prices have outrun inflation by a heck of a lot over the years and its time we demand a reason for this. I understand steel prices have skyrocketed, but there has to be more too it. I used to tell folks that there were good auto guns for defense that could be had for a good price. Nowdays new conceal carry folks tell me what they have to spend. They ask me about autos and I say they can't find one for the amount they want to spend. I tell them to look into a good snubby 357 revolver! Nothing wrong with a good Ruger SP101 357magnum, revolver's go bang every time you pull the trigger! But its a shame that its more and more impossible to be able to afford a good 45 or 40S&W auto!

Darryl said...

I just came from the gun stores unsure of which "budget" 1911 to purchase for concealed carry. Fortunately, I just came across your article and supporting photos. Thank you for superior research and writing--my decision just got easy!

bX-e7qrc9 said...

Finally an honest handgun evaluator. After 30 PLUS years, blessed to find you! THANKS

Joe said...

Did you have any feed trouble, I brought it home and fired it, and I was having some feeding trouble, no stove pipes, but it was like the first round did not want to chamber?

Average Joe said...

Joe,

No I did not. You might try changing ammo or just putting more rounds through the pistol. Some 1911's need about a 250 round break-in period. Also try downloading the magazine by one round. If that works then the pistol is going to have to go back to the factory or authorized repair station.

Anonymous said...

have had my citadel 5" barrel 2 years and probably ran 500 rounds through it with no problems ever. for the price you cant beat it and your ratings are pretty much dead on

John said...

Excellent review, very impartial and excellent information - thank you.

Anonymous said...

Did that problem continue?

62calflint said...

I have one like it a lot the biggest problem I have with it is a once every 15 clips or so I get a stove pipe. However for the price the gun is very accurate and makes cc. a snap. thanks for the great review.

rb56 said...

thanks for the simple but effective testing and review of the citadel. i've been considering one since march as i have always wanted a 1911, but an auto from a lesser known...hmmm. one gun dealer where had gone had assured me the citadel was a solid piece. like you he said it is a budget gun, it doesn't have all the thrills of a higher priced name brand model. they cut corners a little in places but none that really affect the guns works. i was going to get mine earlier today but ran late and am having to wait until tomorrow. i'll come back with my own review in a day or two, thanks again.

bern said...

Wanted to purchase a 45 for carry reasons.....used to own a Sig P220...slept with it I loved it so much....after reading your article I went to the store and handled the CITADEL 45.....can't compare it to the Sig, but for the price...it's just as good in bed...and I can take it anywhere I go....thanks

Anonymous said...

Good Honest Review, I got mine in California last year. We have to pay alittle more for everything here . I am very happy with mine it is as reliable as my Kimber at 1/2 the price ( not quite as pretty put very useful when Iam out in the desert or mountains. I am 60 years old and have bad arthritis my Citadel broke in nicely and shoots everything I feed it . Thanks!
No Berps enen,


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the info! I own a 5" & 4" 1911 and am looking at the Citadel as an everyday carry gun. As you say, for the price it is a formidable concealed carry gun. I do not expect to shoot 25 yards with it but it is good to know it will still do the job in skilled hands! I reload my own 185 grain HP at 1100 FPS which shoot great out of my two 1911's. I expect they will do well out of this 3.5". Thanks again!