Wilson Combat has long been known for its custom 1911 pistols, and they make a number of them to suit just about any need. Most are chambered in .45 ACP, but many are available in 9mm, .38 Super, and even 10mm calibers. One look at their site and you’ll notice that 30 different models are offered. Given that each pistol is put together by hand and tested prior to being shipped out, the choices are pretty significant.
The vast majority of their pistols are either compact or larger, but Wilson does offer a few pistols that could be carried in a pocket. Bill Wilson has always prized reliability in his pistols. This is one of the reasons Wilson does not offer a .45 ACP pistol in a barrel length shorter than 4 inches. Many 1911 pistols chambered in .45 ACP with barrel lengths shorter than 4 inches suffer from reliability issues—something Bill will not tolerate. In order to maintain the highest standards, Wilson Combat offers a great alternative to a compact .45 ACP 1911 pistol.
Chambered in 9mm, the Sentinel line of pistols is their smallest and most compact Wilson Combat offers. Built to the highest standards, they are put together one at a time, by hand, and above all, they’re reliable. They easily have some of the nicest features available in a 1911 pistol without regard to size.
The Sentinel offers maximum concealment while providing excellent accuracy and reliability. Utilizing an aluminum frame and a 3.5-inch carbon-steel slide, it is a half an inch shorter than a compact 1911 pistol. The barrel is match-grade, stainless, coned, and measures 3.5 inches. Like all Wilson pistols, it is hand-fit for precise accuracy. The frame is cut high and checkered at 30 LPI (lines per inch). The Sentinel sports a high-ride beavertail safety as well as a tactical thumb safety. The trigger pull is a crisp 3.5 pounds. A Battlesight U-notch rear and fiber-optic front sight blade are standard. The entire pistol is cut and melted for clean and comfortable carry. Carrying 8+1 rounds of 9mm, it’s an excellent concealed carry pistol.
The Ms. Sentinel was designed with the special needs of the female shooter in mind. With 30-plus years of building custom pistols, Wilson Combat has had many requests for these features. Built from their shortest frame, the Ms. Sentinel is one of their shortest and lightest pistols. The concealment beavertail, grip safety, and hammer are used to keep it controllable yet smaller. The frame includes 30 LPI checkering as well as a round butt and contoured magazine well. The slide stop is nicely countersunk, making for a really smooth frame.
The 3.5-inch match-grade barrel is fluted for lighter weight, and it’s hand-fit into the carbon-steel slide for reliability and accuracy. The slide has 30 LPI serrations on top to protect from glare and a set of Tactical Combat Pyramid sights are installed. Both the front and rear utilize tritium inserts. The cocobolo starburst grips round out the package, providing a really nice and professional look. A short trigger is great for smaller hands, and Wilson sets it to a crisp and predictable 3.5 pounds. Given the effectiveness of modern 9mm ammunition, the 8+1 capacity provides for an excellent self-protection pistol in a very small package.
Ultralight Carry Sentinel
The latest in the Sentinel line of pistols is the Ultralight. Given the lower recoil of the 9mm cartridge, a lighter pistol is possible. With the success of the Sentinel and Ms. Sentinel, many asked for the lightest possible pistol for the deepest concealment. The Ultralight delivers one of the lightest pistols available from Wilson Combat. The aluminum frame starts with their 30 LPI high-cut checkering on the frontstrap. The butt is rounded and the magazine well is contoured. Fitted with the Concealment Bullet Proof beavertail grip safety and hammer, a solid grip is capable with a truly concealable 1911 pistol. The Tactical Bullet Proof thumb safety provides solid engagement while allowing for complete concealment. The slide stop is countersunk, and the remainder of the frame is cut for smooth and consistent draws.
The 3.5-inch, stainless, match-grade barrel is fluted and coned for accuracy and reliability. The chamber is fluted for the lightest possible combination. It is hand-fit to a carbon-steel slide that includes 40 LPI serrations on the rear and 30 LPI serrations on the top, providing for the best possible anti-glare options. The Ultralight Carry Sentinel is topped off with the Battlesight U-notch rear and the fiber-optic front sight. Completely finished in Armor-Tuff and topped off with a set of G10 grips, the pistol is rugged as well as beautiful. With an 8+1 round capacity and a loaded weight of 31.4 ounces, it is easily one of the lightest compact 1911 pistols you can get.
Accuracy & Reliability
Each of these pistols carries an accuracy guarantee of 1.5 inches at 25 yards. Having had the opportunity to either completely test or simply shoot all three, this accuracy guarantee is well within the capabilities of these pistols. They are easily some of the most accurate 9mm 1911 pistols on the market. They all will feed carry ammunition with ease and shoot well. There were never any malfunctions during my testing of these pistols—something you come to expect from a Wilson Combat pistol regardless of its size.
The term “pocket pistol” often conjures up thoughts of tiny pistols in very small calibers. While that is certainly true, it is not always the case. For many, those pistols are either lacking in power, reliability, or both. The Wilson Combat Sentinel line of pistols offers an excellent alternative. Providing reliable and accurate firepower in a proven caliber, they may be the best pistols you can carry in your pocket—no matter the size.