The Colt XSE Lightweight Commander traces its roots back to 1949, when Colt developed the first production pistol to use an alloy frame for lighter weight. The XSE line itself was introduced in 2000, as Colt saw that they needed a 1911 with features sought by competition shooters.
The XSE fills this need by having front and rear slide serrations, an ambidextrous safety, a three hole lightened trigger with extended travel, white dot combat sights, rosewood double diamond checkered grips, and more.
The Lightweight XSE Commander also has a Teflon-coated alloy frame that's not just light, but also moves smoothly with the stainless slide, thanks to the Teflon coating.
The alloy frame reduces the weight of the Lightweight XSE Commander to 26 ounces, 10 ounces less than the Stainless XSE Commander. This makes it an even better choice for carry.
For a little history about the Commander 1911, click here.
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After having used the 1911A1 as the standard issue sidearm for two world wars, the US military decided after World War II to explore the possibility of a new pistol. The first request was for a pistol to be carried by officers. Since officers were less likely to use their sidearms than were front-line soldiers, the military reasoned that the pistol could be slightly smaller, and use a lighter round than the .45 ACP.
The military asked manufacturers to submit new prototypes to fit their requirements, which were a length of no more than seven inches, a weight of twenty five ounces or less, and chambered in 9 millimeter.
Inglis submitted the Hi Power. FN submitted their Hi Power prototype. Smith and Wesson came up with the model M39. Also submitted was a trial version of the T3.
Colt had worked at developing a 1911 style pistol chambered in 9mm, which would be the first production 1911 pistol specifically designed for the 9 mm Parabellum cartridge. Reducing the size of the 1911 was easy. Reducing the weight required experimenting with various metals. Colt found success with using aluminum alloy as a frame material, which was another first for the 1911 pistol.
The military rejected all of the designs. Colt, however, decided to go to the civilian market with their newly designed 1911 in .45 ACP as well as 9 mm and .38 Super. The new pistol was called the "Lightweight Commander".
The Lightweight Commander was such a success that, since 1950, Colt has included a Commander size version of just about every 1911 pistol they manufacture.
The photo on the right shows a Commander from 1950. Notice the solid trigger, rear-only slide serrations, original short style grip safety, and military-style sights. The safety was left side only on the early models.
A steel framed version of the Commander was introduced in 1970, and was called the "Combat Commander".
As for the effort by the military to find a smaller, lighter pistol? They decided to stick with the 1911A1, right up until the 1990's when they adopted the Beretta 92.