Owning both, I would say the biggest, most significant difference is the trigger. Ain't nothing like a 1911 with a nice trigger job. I second the nods towards the STI and the Springfield Mil-Spec. I would also urge you to look at the SIG 1911. Many people don't like them (and I am sure you'll hear about that shortly
), but mine has been excellent. As for the P226, I love it and won't get rid of it (disclaimer: German-born, circa 1988).