Why the 1911? Warning - long and possibly inflamatory...

Why the 1911? Warning - long and possibly inflamatory...

This is a discussion on Why the 1911? Warning - long and possibly inflamatory... within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Now, believe me, I don’t want to start any wars, hurt anyone’s feelings, or otherwise turn this into a ‘negative’ thread, but …. Why is ...

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Thread: Why the 1911? Warning - long and possibly inflamatory...

  1. #1
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    Why the 1911? Warning - long and possibly inflamatory...

    Now, believe me, I don’t want to start any wars, hurt anyone’s feelings, or otherwise turn this into a ‘negative’ thread, but….

    Why is the 1911 so popular? Up front, I’ll grant that I have only limited experience with the platform – a few hundred rounds here and there through friends guns – but in all my readings, research, and other firearms experience it seems to me that the platform has been improved on so dramatically that it is now – 96 years after its introduction – been rendered irrelevant.

    Here are some of my observations:

    - The 1911 has the lowest capacity to size/weight ration of just about any pistol out there. A full sized 1911 is a big, heavy pistol – much bigger and heavier than many other pistols with significantly more “firepower” on board.
    - They are notoriously finicky; often requiring polishing, smoothing, long break-in periods, et cetera, and they still are not known to feed modern ammunition as reliably as well, modern pistols.
    - They have external thumb safeties. Yes, this is necessary because of the light trigger associated with SA, but modern trigger designs such as the DAK, LEM and LDA have made the difference between SA and DA pulls much less significant – never mind striker fired pistols. However, an external safety can come off inadvertently, can fail to come off when you want it to, creates extra thickness, creates an ‘edge’ that doesn’t have to be there, and can only be operated by one hand in many cases (yes, you can get an ambi safety, but this exacerbates the thickness aspect, and many knowledgeable 1911 shooters don’t like them in any case).
    - They have grip safeties. Why? They already have a thumb safety? Why force the shooter to have a near-perfect grip in order to fire the weapon? What if your grip is compromised – in a struggle, wounded in the shooting hand, poor grip when presenting from the holster, et cetera… Not everyday occurrences, certainly, but not unheard of either. It seems like the proverbial solution looking for a problem when compared to modern designs.
    - They cost MUCH more than similar, non-1911 platforms.
    - They seem to require so many additional modifications/additions to make them work. Opened and flared ejection ports, mag well funnels, extended thumb safeties, beavertail grip safeties, and on and on and on. There is not one single part of the 1911 that is not made “better” by a dozen aftermarket manufacturers. If I had to replace all the guts of my brand of toaster in order for it to make toast, I know I’d buy a different brand of toaster…

    There are more, but I’m sure I’ve done enough damage to myself with a large portion of the CC community already! The bottom line is this – from a purely rational standpoint, why spend more money on a heavier, lower capacity, less reliable, overly “safetied,” finicky, prone to problems, 90+ year old design. From a tradition and heritage standpoint, I get it. From an aesthetics standpoint, I get it. From a practical standpoint, I just don’t… No one drives Model Ts or flies Sopwith Camels when they want to get from point A to point B efficiently, and if anything in my life is to be efficient I want it to be my self defense handgun.

    Again – this is not an attack and is not intended to be insulting in any way… I’m honestly looking for answers that I can’t seem to come up with myself. Thanks in advance for understanding, and for (undoubtedly) enlightening and educating me.
    A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands - love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper - his hands remember the rifle.


  2. #2
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    I am a M9 guy myself, but I do really want a Browning designed pistol a Hi Power for the pure fun of it. I would hug it, and hold it, clean it when its dirty and spank it when it is bad.

    I have never understood the fascination with the 1911 either, but I am sure I will find out.

    Note I carry a revolver even though there are compact autos that are better and when I get a Hi Power, I will carry it even though there are better more mordern designs out there.

    So yeah I get the falling in love with a classic, if that is what it is.
    “You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.”

    ― Robert A. Heinlein,

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    "The pistol, learn it well, carry it always ..." ~ Jeff Cooper

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  4. #4
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    Like a few other things, If you have to ask, you just wont understand.

    Really though, they are not finicky until unskilled hands start messing with things they dont understand.
    The fact that they are big heavy pistols are a plus. They are very easy to shoot well, in part because of the weight.
    A well crafted 1911 is like a well made watch, its going to cost you a few dollars, but its worth it.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    Member Array bones's Avatar
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    Metal
    Not Plastic
    Not Puny
    Manly
    Has Proved Itself in Many Wars
    Not Wimpy
    Not Cute
    Soldiers Weapon
    Big Hole In End Of Barrel
    Doesn't Kick Too Much Because of Weight
    5" Barrel Equals Longer Effective Range
    8 Rounds = Not A Spray And Pray Weapon (You Kinda Need To Be A Better Shot).
    Yes, It Needs Attention Just Like My Dog and Will Love Me Back When The Time Is Right.
    "There is no such thing as too much ammo. Unless you're swimming!"

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    Let me quote something I wrote when someone else asked the same thing...

    ***

    Since safety was brought up I would like to go into a bit of history about the controversial 1911 (poor thing, being forced into so many fights. It's a good thing it was designed for battle ... anyway).

    In the late 1800s and early 1900s the Calvary was a very influential branch of the Army. As we all know, the Calvary ran around on horses and needed a gun that was both easily manipulative in action and safe. They wanted a gun they could carry both cocked and locked or unlocked should the need arise, but they also wanted a fail-safe just in case, therefore, the grip safety was added. Much of the success of the 1911 is directly related to the forward thinking and demands of the US Calvarymen. Their profession demanded a sturdy gun that would not "accidentally" fire while they were riding, bouncing, controlling their horses, turning, jarring, falling, fighting, and so on.

    In today's use of the handgun it sits in a holster, safe from manipulation until deliberately taken out for use. Not many of us ride around with our guns on lanyards around our necks because the action we are involved in may leave them 20 yards behind us while our horse gallops away from us. The 1911 was designed to be safe from all means of manipulation (even trigger manipulation) until the gun was deliberately fired by a trained hand.

    For the average pistoleer who is understanding and respecting of firearms, the safeties of the 1911 are a moot point. The newest models of guns are very safe from drops, kicks, and other abuse. They are designed to be safe until the trigger is pulled. The only problem with such a design, however, is that if the trigger is unintentionally pulled the gun will fire.

    Now, I understand that one should never place their finger on the trigger of their weapon until they are ready to fire, but sadly, reality has proved that far too often, triggers are unintentionally pulled. We read the cases of children and even experienced handlers shooting themselves all the time. In light of the modern firearm safeties all of these reports means one simple thing: people were manipulating triggers when they shouldn't have.

    In my opinion, the 1911 is a step above other handguns in safety in that it requires TWO extra steps for the gun to fire. One must both disengage the thumb safety and disengage the grip safety in order for the weapon to fire.

    I have a childhood friend who may be dead or injured were it not for the thumb safety of a 1911.

    I walked in a room as my friend picked up a 1911 she had found under a bed, held it up exactly how she had seen in movies and pulled the trigger. Obviously it did not fire as the thumb safety was engaged and she studied it for a moment, got frustrated that she could not figure it out and put the gun down again. Later it was discovered that the weapon was hot and would have fired were it not for its safeties.

    As a personal preference, I require thumb safeties on all of my handguns because of this incident that took place almost twelve years ago. I've seen a thumb safety save an innocent life, and that's worth more to me than the sixteenth of a second to disengage it.

    ***

    Now.. that was just mentioning the safeties of the 1911.

    As far as your other concerns are concerned (say that six times real fast). A LARGE amount of the 1911 vs other models debate is purely personal preference. Some people LOVE a good, heavy, sturdy gun. They LOVE that traditional look and some people just LOVE holding a small part of American history in their hands. Also, a lot of people really appreciate how easily it is to customize. I know I do.

    Personally, I enjoy the slimmer grip of the 1911 and, as stated above, I appreciate the external and additional safeties.

    I certainly know that there are plenty of slim guns out there with external safeties but I really do enjoy my 1911. I will use and work with other guns and I plan on becoming intimate with many more platforms, but for personal and home defense I'm pretty sure I won't stray far from my 1911.

    Let me also say that I disengage my safety as I draw so whatever time it takes me to disengage it is no more time than it takes me to draw my gun so the "time" it takes is another moot point.
    Last edited by limatunes; April 25th, 2007 at 04:26 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Array INTJ's Avatar
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    Let's make it more interesting and guess what would be popular in leu of the 1911.
    "Beware of the man who only owns one gun. He probably knows how to use it."

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by INTJ View Post
    Let's make it more interesting and guess what would be popular in leu of the 1911.
    To me, nothing.
    "The pistol, learn it well, carry it always ..." ~ Jeff Cooper

    "Terrorists: They hated you yesterday, they hate you today, and they will hate you tomorrow. End the cycle of hatred, don’t give them a tomorrow."

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    Quote Originally Posted by bones View Post
    Metal
    Not Plastic
    Not Puny
    Manly
    Has Proved Itself in Many Wars
    Not Wimpy
    Not Cute
    Soldiers Weapon
    Big Hole In End Of Barrel
    Doesn't Kick Too Much Because of Weight
    5" Barrel Equals Longer Effective Range
    8 Rounds = Not A Spray And Pray Weapon (You Kinda Need To Be A Better Shot).
    Yes, It Needs Attention Just Like My Dog and Will Love Me Back When The Time Is Right.
    I'll just add to your list it is slim.
    Slimmer then a XD or a glock.

  10. #10
    OD*
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    Lima,

    It was actually the thumb safety that was requested by the Calvary and not the grip safety. John Moses first started using grip safeties with his 1903 .32 Pocket Model.

    This is what the 1911 looked like before the Calvary's request. The Model 1910 became the 1911 after the incorporation of the thumb safety.

    "The pistol, learn it well, carry it always ..." ~ Jeff Cooper

    "Terrorists: They hated you yesterday, they hate you today, and they will hate you tomorrow. End the cycle of hatred, don’t give them a tomorrow."

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    Cuz I grew up watching...



    Magnum PI.

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    bones, you certainly bring up some interesting points, but allow me to rebut:

    - Metal: Why is that inherently better than non-metal? Modern polymers can be equally durable, and there may be even better materials around the corner.
    - Not puny: OK, but if "puny" helps you conceal better, which means you carry more often, how is that a bad thing?
    - Manly, Not Wimpy, Not Cute: These are purely arbitrary descriptions, and could be said about anything. None of them make an object more efficient at its task.
    - Has Proved Itself in Many Wars: So did the musket, the crossbow, and the sword. Simply because it was good at the time doesn't necessarily mean it is good for the times.
    - Soldiers Weapon: Well, by that reasoning the Tokarev, M9, and dozens of patently inferior weapons are equally good...
    - Big Hole In End Of Barrel: Relative to what? And why is that important? Isn't it about the damage done on the receiving end? Do bad guys notice the .05 inch difference between a .40S&W 1911 and a .45ACP 1911 when they're looking down the barrel?
    Doesn't Kick Too Much Because of Weight: Granted.
    5" Barrel Equals Longer Effective Range: When talking about all the different pistol calibers out there, I bet you'll find several that have longer "effective ranges" than the 1911, even when using a shorter barrel. And if you like a 5" barrel, why not a 6", or a 7"?
    - 8 Rounds = Not A Spray And Pray Weapon (You Kinda Need To Be A Better Shot): I have never understood this argument at all. Why does having more rounds mean I will fire more rounds, and suddenly stop aiming? Think of it like this - car A has a top speed of 80mph. Car B has a top speed of 100mph. In car A, I am a careful driver, obey the traffic laws, and practice driving skills regularly. How does the fact that I get into car B indicate that I will now go my maximum speed and ignore safe driving practices? Again, this is my logic possibly blinding me, but I don't get it...
    - Yes, It Needs Attention Just Like My Dog and Will Love Me Back When The Time Is Right: I can't really argue with this, except to say that a dog is a living, breathing creature that requires care to go on living and breathing. A pistol is a mechanical device, that will not stop being a mechanical device if I simply take it out of its box and put it on my hip.

    Again (and again and again) - I respect the opinions of CC members greatly, and am trying to learn - not trying to insult or inflame. Many, many very experienced shooters love the 1911 as a defensive handgun, and I don't doubt that they have good, logical reasons for doing so. I'm just trying to learn these reasons. Thanks for the responses so far.
    A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands - love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper - his hands remember the rifle.

  13. #13
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    So did the musket, the crossbow, and the sword. Simply because it was good at the time doesn't necessarily mean it is good for the times.
    Many of the Elite fighting forces still believe in them (M1911A1s) to be "good for the times."
    Last edited by OD*; April 25th, 2007 at 11:22 PM. Reason: Clarification
    "The pistol, learn it well, carry it always ..." ~ Jeff Cooper

    "Terrorists: They hated you yesterday, they hate you today, and they will hate you tomorrow. End the cycle of hatred, don’t give them a tomorrow."

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    Lima - wouldn't the ideal situation to your "safety" incident have been to keep the pistol out of the hands of the child in the first place, or to teach the child not to play with guns? These are the arguments for all the "child safety locks" that most of us abhor. Modern firearms are inherently safe. Actions, and actions alone, make them unsafe.

    Your other points - tradition, history, beauty, et cetera - I completely understand. However, my appreciation for these things has nothing to do with a tool that I use in defense of my life. The west was won with SA revolvers - I admire them and respect their contribution to history. But I won't strap one on when I expect to go into harms way. Muskets, by and large, won the Revolution. I'm still not carrying one on the streets of Baghdad...

    Thanks for the reply, and I appreciate your eloquence as always.
    A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands - love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper - his hands remember the rifle.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Array dunndw's Avatar
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    I shoot a 1911 better than my Glocks. The angle of the grip, the crisp sight picture, the natural 'pointablity"if that's even a word of the 1911 style pistol lends itself to being easy to shoot. The first time I picked up a 1911 style gun...it just fit.

    now...all that is based on MY personal experience...your mileage may vary.
    "If I was an extremist, our founding fathers would all be extremists," he said. "Without them, we wouldn't have our independence. We'd be a disarmed British system of feudal subjectivity."

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