Who wants to carry a plain old Government model when you can own a 1911 with stylish excellence? The Smith & Wesson E series is a full-sized traditional pistol that does not apologize for its size and weight. Instead, it brags about it! 

It is a shiny heavyweight that tames the .45 ACP cartridge and does it accurately. The GI .45 never looked this good. Is it just another pretty face, or does it have it where it counts?  Join me as I examine and test this beauty.  

Table of Contents

My Impressions
Range Time 
Power of a .45
Pros & Cons
Final Thoughts
Customer Reviews






Smith & Wesson 1911 E Series .45 ACP pistol
The E Series 1911s are branded with a conspicuous "E" in the center of the grip. (Ben Philippi/Guns.com)

This pistol is noticeable. Its stainless-steel frame is highlighted by checked walnut grips with a distinctive design and prominent “E” in the center. The slide hold-open, extended safety, and magazine release are deep blued, contrasting with the silver slide and receiver. Check out the slide serrations. They are reptile-scaled to match the grips, making them functional and eye-catching. I like the way they feel when I draw back the slide.

Smith & Wesson 1911 E Series .45 ACP pistol
Check out the scaling on the slide, which matches the grip pattern... (Ben Philippi/Guns.com)
Smith & Wesson 1911 E Series .45 ACP pistol
...and provides a nice grip for racking the slide. (Ben Philippi/Guns.com)

Any of Smith & Wesson's E series guns beg to be held and fired. When I first held it, the front and rear grip checkering gave me the confidence of control needed to shoot a full-sized 1911 pistol. The extended beavertail safety assures me of further control and protection. At over 2 pounds, this 1911 is not meant to be tucked into your pocket. That is a good thing, in my book. The sights are a simple non-adjustable white dot arrangement. Notice the ejection port. It is widened and lowered to help with healthy ejection. S&W departed a bit with tradition and installed an external extractor. 

Smith & Wesson 1911 E Series .45 ACP pistol
The ejection port is enlarged to spit out used casings with ease. (Ben Philippi/Guns.com)
Smith & Wesson 1911 E Series .45 ACP pistol
The trigger has some nice touches, as it's lightened, serrated, and adjustable for over-travel. Pull came in a litle over 5 pounds. (Ben Philippi/Guns.com)

The trigger is lightened, serrated, and adjustable for over-travel. Inserting a magazine is made easy by the beveled magazine well. These are all nice touches. It feels good despite the weight and points naturally as intended. You must hold this gun to feel what I mean. Knowing that it is powered by .45 ACP means that I can put a hole in anything at close range and knock it down, too! I cannot wait to shoot this baby.



Smith & Wesson 1911 E Series .45 ACP pistol
The E Series has a reptilian look with its scaled grips and slide. (Ben Philippi/Guns.com)
  • Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Overall Length: 8.7 inches
  • Height: 5.6 inches
  • Barrel: 5 inches
  • Material: Stainless steel throughout
  • Grips: Custom checkered and scaled walnut 
  • Slide serrations: Wavy reptilian front and back
  • Sights: Fixed front and rear white dots 
  • Trigger: 5.5 pounds as tested, over-travel adjustable
  • Magazine: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 8 rounds
  • Caliber: .45 ACP 
  • MSRP: $1,089 


Forged frame 1911 S&W
Smith & Wesson forges its frames, slides, and many small parts in-house, one of the few companies that do so. In fact, a lot of "forged 1911s" on the market in the U.S., even if they have someone else's name on the gun, start off at S&W's foundry. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)




Smith & Wesson 1911 E Series .45 ACP pistol
Sights are simple but eye-catching white dots. (Ben Philippi/Guns.com)

Welcome to Area 51 in Arizona springtime! What a beautiful sunny day to shoot targets. I love the 1911 design and am fond of anything .45 caliber. The S&W E series combines all in one package. Today I will shoot Sellier & Bellot 230-grain jacketed hollow points at all targets, including steel and liquid. The trigger pulls at over 5 pounds but has very little take-up and is crisp. 

Smith & Wesson 1911 E Series .45 ACP pistol
The Arizona sunshine really brings out the tone on those walnut grips. (Ben Philippi/Guns.com)

Although I anticipate kick, the full size and weight of the E series tames it nicely. The first round from the eight-round magazine was slow to chamber, possibly due to the hollow point round and the newness of the gun. No other feeding problems or jams were encountered while testing.

Smith & Wesson 1911 E Series .45 ACP pistol
The extended beavertail protects my hand from any bite. (Ben Philippi/Guns.com)

I fire a few shots on the steel target to check the gun’s zero and find that I can hit the flapper easily. Even a headshot on steel is possible when I follow through. My gosh, this gun is powerful! When shooting the heavy steel “milk-bottle” target on the right, it rings loudly and rocks like it is made of paper. That is .45 power, and I am impressed. The white dot sights are simple, eye-centering, and effective. I do not need a red dot or optic sight to hit at close range.

Power of a .45


Smith & Wesson 1911 E Series .45 ACP pistol
Heavy enough to handle the .45 round while staying on target, the E Series also proved reliable out at Area 51.  (Ben Philippi/Guns.com)

Time for water jugs and 2-liter soda bottles. The water filled gallon jug explodes when hit. That is impressive. Even more so, the root beer jugs explode violently as if hit by a rifle! I can depend on this pistol to defend my turf. 

The real test of a big pistol is hitting small soda-filled pop cans. Yes, they are close, but I must concentrate on my trigger squeeze to hit the first two. The .45 hollow points surprise me with their explosive reaction. The cans are opened, shredded, and flung many feet from where hit. The third can required a few shots and a reload to hit. No one told me it was wearing body armor! Maybe I should practice a bit more with the big .45? 

Smith & Wesson 1911 E Series .45 ACP pistol
The wooden grips are cut away at the bottom for easy access to the mag well. (Ben Philippi/Guns.com)
Smith & Wesson 1911 E Series .45 ACP magazine
And these quality stainless mags drop out smoothly, just what I like to see. (Ben Philippi/Guns.com)

Several magazines were reloaded during testing. Notice how smooth the stainless-steel mags drop freely from the gun. That is a mark of quality that I always expect from a high-quality 1911 platform. The rubber bumper pads on the two magazines included are nice. I know that they are inserted and ready to fire quickly. I like to empty my final magazine on steel in a mag-dump and notice no malfunctions as the heavy steel plate rings and swings.



  • High-quality production gun
  • Reliable
  • Stainless steel construction
  • Attractive contrast with walnut grips and blued controls    
  • Excellent trigger for a production gun
  • Distinctive slide serrations
  • Extended beavertail safety and beveled magazine well


  • Heavy, at over 2.5 pounds
  • No accessory rail
  • Not optic-ready
  • Right-hand controls
  • Chambered for .45 ACP only


This is a full-sized handgun and not for everyone. However, it is a powerhouse and commands attention and respect. If you carried a GI 1911 in the service or just like the design as I do, this is a great choice without the expense and wait for a custom gun. 

S&W’s E series is a production gun with plenty of custom features. Accurate and reliable, you can count on it to protect or shoot targets for fun. It is not your granddaddy’s 1911 – this pistol is a modern beauty!

Customer Reviews

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