If I were going to design a 1911 for carry use, I’d have it built on a lightweight frame and use a Commander-length slide and barrel. It would have to have good sights and a clean crisp trigger. I’d also want a beavertail grip safety and extended thumb safety on the gun. Something very much like the Bantam Carry 1911 from Tisas.
The Tisas Bantam Carry 1911
Not too long ago, I wrote an article about rebuilding a Colt Lightweight Commander with all of these features. It has become one of my favorite carry guns. Chances are, if you run across me out in the desert of southeastern Arizona, I’ll be carrying that Colt in a Yaqui slide on my belt.
Recently, while attending an event at Gunsite, I ran across a new 1911 that met all of my requirements without any additional modifications. The gun is called the Bantam Carry, and it is manufactured by the Tisas company in Turkey. SDS Imports has been importing Tisas’ products for a couple of years now, and they have built a solid following with their 1911 pistols.
Packed With Value
Made in Turkey from forgings, the guns represent one of the best values in the crowded 1911 market. I remember the first time I saw the guns. It was at the 2019 SHOT Show, and I remarked to a colleague that if the actual imported guns looked as good as the ones on display, they would take a huge chunk out of the 1911 market.
There was no bait-and-switch here. The imported guns that I received as samples looked every bit as good as the display guns at SHOT!
Last year I did an article on the GI version as well as a more modern style gun, the B45R, featuring a railed dust cover, extended safeties, beavertail, and combat sights. I was amazed at the accuracy they possessed, and both guns were dead nuts reliable. It was their low price that grabbed my attention, but it was the guns’ quality, accuracy, and reliability that held my interest.
Dave Biggers, SDS Imports Sales Manager, is an old friend and has been around the firearms industry for as long as I have. He was attending the same Gunsite event, and we had the chance to sit and chat. He showed me the latest Turkish import—the Bantam Carry.
The gun is built on a lightweight aluminum frame and has a Commander-size slide and 4.25-inch barrel, and features a bobbed mainspring housing.
“We’ve secured a large portion of the economy-priced 1911 market, and we wanted to build something a little more elaborate to display our capabilities. The Bantam Carry is our first attempt to compete at the higher end of the market,” said Biggers.
The Bantam Carry sports a unique look due to the longitudinal flutes cut into the slide and vertical flutes on the front and back straps. The flutes are deep enough on the frontstrap and mainspring housing for the shooter’s flesh to push into them to provide a secure firing grip. Flutes are also used for fore and aft cocking serrations.
Tisas also give the gun’s slide a tri-top configuration leaving a small, serrated rib between the sights. Overall, the Bantam Carry possesses the stylized good looks of much more expensive guns.
But the pistol also has some serious functionality to its styling. The frame is undercut at the junction of the front strap where it meets the triggerguard, allowing the user to get a higher hold on the gun. Placing the hand closer to the bore’s axis helps attenuate muzzle flip.
Aiding the high hold grip is the high sweep beavertail grip safety. This part also includes a memory bump near its base to ensure it disengages, even if you use a thumb high (on top of the thumb safety), as I do. The Bantam Carry is also outfitted with ambidextrous, extended thumb safeties, which disengage and engage quite crisply.
I suppose I tend to be a traditionalist and did not initially like the looks of the bobbed mainspring housing. But, after handling the gun and shooting it, I kind of warmed up to it.
The rounded grip frame is comparable to a round butt revolver in that it is easier to conceal, and layering clothing is less likely to hang up on it. I think this modification is especially beneficial to 1911s built on alloy frames with barrels less than 5 inches. The balance and point-ability of the Bantam Carry are superb.
Hands-On the Bantam Carry 1911
SDS is importing the Bantam Carry in both 9mm and .45 ACP. Biggers let me use the .45 version while working through draw and fire exercises on the range at Gunsite. I had brought along a Bravo Concealment Kydex holster and magazine carrier.
For ammunition, Biggers had brought along some full-power, 230-grain ball ammo. The gun shot beautifully, and even though it is built on an alloy frame, I did not feel the recoil to be overwhelming.
I was able to produce some very nice, controlled pairs and even hammers placed their shots as closely as I normally do with a full-size steel gun. By the end of my Gunsite trip, I was really starting to enjoy the Bantam Carry and made arrangements to have another test gun shipped to me for a more thorough examination.
When I received my sample Bantam Carry, I was immediately impressed with its fit and finish. The frame-to-slide fit was as nice as any production gun I’ve ever experienced. Thumb safeties snicked on and off crisply, and even the slide stop was fit with precision. By the way, Tisas countersinks the slide stop pinhole on the right side of the receiver. This is something I have only ever seen done on much more expensive custom guns.
After disassembling the Bantam Carry, I was astonished to see there were virtually no machine or tooling marks inside the frame’s dust cover. Even the inside of the slide was devoid of any machine marks. I couldn’t wait to get out and shoot some groups with the new Bantam Carry!
I got up around 4 a.m. and made the hour-long drive to a piece of BLM land. I set up my paper target at 15 yards and used a Shoot-N-C 2-inch diameter sticker as my aiming point. My single best five-shot group was recorded with Hornady’s Critical Duty 220-grain Flexlock +P rounds, and it measured right at 1.25 inches. That’s tremendous accuracy for a lightweight Commander-size .45!
The +P round also bordered on being uncomfortable to shoot. But it does generate a whopping 400 fpe. The most comfortable load I fired through the Bantam Carry was my handload, using a 200-grain round nose laser-cast projectile and enough Winchester WW231 powder to produce a velocity of 833 fps from the 4.25-inch barrel.
It’s a great practice round that is easy on the shooter as well as the gun and will make USPSA major when fired from a 5-inch barrel. The aggregate group size for the four loads I tried was just 1.40 inches.
While shooting groups, I came to appreciate the sights and trigger. The rear sight is a stout, one-piece affair with a generous “U” notch while the front sight features a green fiber-optic rod that glows brilliantly with just a little ambient light. My test sample’s trigger broke crisply at 4 pounds with very little overtravel with a firm reset. This made the gun easy to shoot quickly.
Fast Follow Up
I set my MGM BC C-Zone steel target out at 12 yards. It approximates a USPSA target with the “D” zone removed. Loading the Bantam Carry with my handloads, I found that I could doubletap the target with a split or time between shots consistently under 20/100th of a second, and this impressed me!
I also liked the Bravo Concealment Kydex holster. It provided a stable platform for me to present the Bantam Carry from. It holds the gun close to the body, and the holster makes a satisfying “pop” when the gun locks into the holster. Like most holsters of this type, it uses friction to lock the gun at the front of the trigger guard. And it is as fast of a rig as any I have ever used.
During my 400-round evaluation, the Bantam Carry never once stuttered. In fact, there were no problems of any kind. Nor did I find anything that I thought needed to be modified to suit my “ideal for carry” criteria. This gun was obviously designed by someone who has intimate knowledge of the 1911 and its carry use.
A Lightweight, Reliable, and Accurate Carry Gun
Tisas’ new Bantam Carry pistol, as imported by SDS Imports, represents a tremendous value to shooters who want the looks and performance of a custom 1911 at a production gun price.
While the suggested retail price is $1,200, it is my guess you’ll find this gun for considerably less at your local gun shop. If you’re a 1911 devotee in search of a lightweight, reliable, and accurate carry gun, the Bantam Carry should be where your search begins!
For more information, please visit SDSImports.com.
Tisas Bantam Carry 1911 Specs
Caliber: .45 ACP
Barrel: 4.25 inches
Overall Length: 7.95 inches
Weight: 39 ounces (empty)
Sights: One-piece rear, green fiber-optic front
Finish: Black Cerakote
This article was originally published in the Combat Handguns September/October 2022 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email email@example.com.