Colt Combat Elite Review





The name “Combat Elite” is nothing new to most Colt fans or anyone who is old enough to remember. Initially it was an upgraded government model tweaked for carry with fighting more in mind.  Over the years it developed into a two tone gun with adjustable sights much like the Gold Cup of the day.  It was always a sought after 1911 and the two tone look was really well liked at the time.  In days past, the blued slide and stainless or chromed frame was almost a trademark of high quality, custom or semi custom 1911s.  But sadly for one reason or another the combat elite left us for a time.

Colt brought the model back a few years ago and it is like its ancestor in that it is a fine looking gun but with added features designed to make it a out of the box carry gun.

The new issue has the excellent Novak sights with a slightly larger front sight than the XSE line. The gun has the beaver tail grip safety that is most likely a S&A and a single right side extended wilson safety from what I can tell.



Like the excellent XSE line, it has some extra work done to it to refine it beyond just a GI issue 1911. One of the features I appreciate greatly is the scallop cut on the grip behind the trigger guard that allows for a higher grip and better recoil control.  This is also standard on the XSE pistols from Colt ( the Combat Elite is also in the XSE line). This is not something as commonly done on other factor 1911s as you may think.


The magazine well has the typical bevel you get from Colt. Functional and enough to help with speed reloads but nothing crazy. I have always found this to be enough for me. In my younger days I always wanted the extended bevel well seen on a lot of custom and competition guns, but over the years I have grown to not like it much for my uses. The extended mag wells. require a magazine with a bump pad on the bottom, and while I use these magazines, it is not at all fast or easy to load the gun with a standard GI mag. I like to be able to quickly reload my gun with whatever magazine I may find myself having to work with.  I may need a reload from a friend, or who know, and with the extended mag well, it may be a problem. I prefer to keep this simple and be able to use any magazine handed to me.


Though my 100 buck camera does not show it well. The polishing job on the feeding surfaces is great.  It is not as near perfect as a custom job, but it is mighty fine and smooth  regardless. The ejection port, same as the other XSEs is worked to allow for unimpeded ejection.  the slide serrations are also on the front and rear of the pistol for which ever option of working the slide that you may prefer.


It also comes with one of the things I can do without. A extended guide rod.  A lot of people will debate about it all day long but it is not needed. I have personally never seen the 1 piece rod from Wilson Combat cause any problems with function, but it does render certain methods for one handed manipulation undo-able.  That alone make me get rid of it and go to the standard JMB GI Issue system.

In the picture above you can also see the grip panels that are unique to this model. They are very nice and give a custom look. The half and half smooth and checkered feels a lot better than I thought it would. the grips are also thicker than the standard double diamond style. this really fills the hand more. I like a slim grip myself, but these are right in the Goldilocks zone for feel. And, of course is the standard three hole trigger.  The frame is forged stainless steel with a forged carbon steel slide. The barrel is also forged stainless as well as a stainless steel forged slide stop. Colt uses no MIM parts like other big name 1911 makers. One other point about the barrel is that it is the companies National Match barrel. this is the same barrel used on the Gold Cups, the Rail gun and the MARSOC M45A1. these barrels are very accurate to be factory. This is one of the big things different from the regular XSE line.  The Combat Elite can be thought of as an XSE pistol brought up to Gold Cup accuracy but meant for fighting more than competition.


Using match ammo off of a bench with sand bags I fired 5 round groups  to see how accurate the gun is.  Firing at 10, 15 and 20 yards, I got the results that I have come to expect from Colt 1911s made over the years.  The National Match barrel on the Combat Elite shot as well as every other NM barrel I have seen on Colts.  One of the best points in my opinion that will surprise no long time reader, is that the gun maintains this level of accuracy without being a “hard/tight fit”. It still has the loose specs that allow reliable function when exposed to utter filth, but maintain this accuracy.   I have as of today fired 1,800 rounds with no cleaning. That is not much of a test. but its a pretty good amount to make a guess at how it will continue to work.


I did notice the point of impact of the rounds at the different ranges and was very happy with this.  Other groups shot showed the gun to shoot perfectly point of aim at 15 yards with 230 grain ammo.  The other groups appear higher because of a different aiming point due to the black circle in the center and the sunlight on target making it hard for me to center the front sight.  The 15 yard group was shot using center hold before lighting changes made me change it up.


Like all other models, the Combat comes with two mags. This one came with two stainless 8 round Colt magazines. As plain as the are or seem to be.  I have never in in close to 30 years, seen one fail or had one give me problems. They may not be as sexy as some other brand mags, but you can count on them to always work.

This gun, in my opinion is ready to go as a carry pistol. And it looks very good while doing its job.  For some one who is a new buyer or 1911 user who does not really know what they like or want, this is an almost perfect place to start.  It can do what you need immediately. As a long time user of the 1911 I personally would choose a few minor changes, but I have been using the 1911 long enough to know exactly what I want for myself.  I would opt for an ambi safety for one thing. I feel it is essential to be able to work the safety with either hand in case my strong hand is disabled. I am not a fan of no safety , or the trigger safety of a glock( otherwise known as no safety). I would also remove the extended guide rod to allow for one hand manipulations. other than that, I  think it is an great CCW or fighting gun ready to go.


The Colt Combat Elite is a classic and its name is well known. It was highly respected and  the retro, original still is.  The new model continues that tradition but is even better with its new improvements.  the original is seen above the new model in the picture. As good as it is. the new model has got it beat with its refinements.


The original. the new Combat Elite and the Colt XSE  are all excellent carry and hard use 1911s made right.


  1. I just order one after reading your review.

    BTW- I also picked up a Colt 901 LE-16S two years ago after your extensive reviews – Question –

    What Troy sights to get to replace the stock front so a red dot will co-witness??? Replace both with some other troy set-up?

  2. i ordered one of these and ran 125 rounds thru it today at the range. Ran great and was reliable. What i noticed yesterday when i picked it up was the thumb safety moved downward when your resting your thumb on it a little bit. My kimber elite 10 mm does not move at all. Is that normal or a issue? Next is the faint extractor marks on brass above the rim on the bottom shoulder of the cases. Its not putting gouges in the brass but faint nics. Is this normal or does the extractor need beveled and fitted better?

    • The safety moving down a smidge on 1911s is as normal as a cloudy day. I have 12 and 8 of them will do this same thing. If the safety locks up and and works is the only thing that matters. Its not an “issue” at all.

      Without looking at the brass myself, I would say not to even let it trouble your mind. If they eject with authority and continue to do so, I wouldnt care. it could be something as simple as a tiny sliver of brass from the first round the gun fired getting in there around the extractor causing it and it is something that may go away on its own.
      If the gun’s safety works, f it ires and cycles, don’t worry about little quirks.

  3. Thanks for the quick reply. If your shooting groups like in your photos without a ransom rest you were one to answer my questions.

    • its just from 30 years of shooting basically only the 1911. out of all the other pistols I have fired in my life not 1911s, I doubt I fired 500 rounds total up until we started this website. in 2012. Only since then have I had to fire non-1911s for serous use, out of necessity for reviewing, Anyone can do it if they have spent that much time seriously devoted to just one model. Its not something special.

      Thanks for coming to out E-zine website

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