Fascinating History Of The 1911

Fascinating History Of The 1911

This is a discussion on Fascinating History Of The 1911 within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M1911 M1911 From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The M1911 is a single action, semi-automatic handgun, originally chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge, although it has ...

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Thread: Fascinating History Of The 1911

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array ExSoldier's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Fascinating History Of The 1911


    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    The M1911 is a single action, semi-automatic handgun, originally chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge, although it has also been chambered for the .38 Super and 9mm Parabellum. It was designed by John Browning, and was the standard-issue handgun in the combat arm of the United States Armed Forces from 1911 to 1985. It was widely used in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.


    The weapon originated in response to problems encountered by American units fighting Moro insurgents during the Philippine-American War. The then-standard .38 caliber (9.65 mm) revolver was found to be unsuitable for the rigors of jungle warfare, particularly in terms of stopping power. The Army briefly reverted to the .45 Long Colt revolvers which had been standard during the last decades of the 19th Century; the slower, heavier bullet was found to be more effective against charging tribesmen. An Ordnance Board, headed by John T. Thompson, concluded that a .45 caliber (11.4 mm) semi-automatic weapon would be most appropriate, and took bids from six firearms manufacturing companies in 1906.

    Of the six designs submitted, two were selected for field testing in 1907, one of them being Colt's model, which Browning had basically modified to government specifications from an earlier autoloading .38 caliber (~9.65 mm) design of his. Most pistols were eliminated early leaving the Savage, Colt, and DWM designs. Both Colt and Savage required refinements and the DWM Luger was soon withdrawn. The Luger in .45 caliber was considered suitable and competative, however DWM believed their weapon wasn't going to get a fair shake in the trials and therefore wasn't worth the financial investment required.

    A series of field tests was designed to decide between the Arthur Savage designed gun and the Colt. Attended by none other than John Moses Browning, the Colt gun passed with flying colors, firing 6,000 rounds non-stop, a record at the time. The soundness of design is also borne out in its longevity of service (over 70 years).

    Of interest is the Remington model 53, an upsized Remington 51, which was later accepted by the Navy to suplement the M1911. Because of the advanced state of production on the M1911, the Remington pistol was never produced beyond prototype stage. Having been accepted was a monumental accomplishment given the widespread acceptance of the M1911 throughout American military circles.

    In order to meet the Ordnance Board's requirements, the 1911 was designed to fire a .45 caliber (11.4 mm), 230 grain (15 g) bullet at approximately 800 feet per second (240 m/s). These specifications were championed by Gen. Thompson, and were the result of terminal ballistics tests conducted in 1904 at the Nelson Morris Company stockyards in Chicago on live cattle and human cadavers. These test lacked scientific rigor, but the stopping power of the .45 ACP cartridge was clearly demonstrated.


    The weapon was formally adopted by the Army on March 29, 1911, thus gaining its designation. It was adopted by the Navy and Marine Corps in 1913. Originally manufactured only by Colt, demand for the firearm in World War I saw the expansion of manufacture to the government-owned Springfield Armory.

    Battlefield experience in the First World War led to a redesign of the weapon, completed in 1926, and the new version was designated the M1911A1. Changes to the original design were minor and consisted of a shorter trigger, cutouts in the frame behind the trigger, a curved mainspring housing, a longer hammer spur (to prevent hammer "bite"), a wider front sight, a longer spur on the thumb safety, and simplified grip checkering. Those unfamiliar with the design are often unable to tell the difference between the two versions at a glance.

    World War II and the years leading up to it created a great demand for the weapon. During the war, about 1.9 million examples of the weapon were procured by the U.S. Government for all forces, production being undertaken by several manufacturers, including Remington Rand (900,000 produced), Colt (400,000), Ithaca Gun Company (400,000), Union Switch and Signal Company, and Singer (the sewing-machine manufacturer), as well as the Springfield Armory and Rock Island Arsenal. So many were produced that, after 1945, the government did not order any new pistols, and simply used existing parts inventories to 'arsenal refinish' guns when necessary.

    Before World War II a small number of Colts were produced under license at the Norwegian weapon factory Kongsberg Vaapenfabrikk (these Colts were known as "kongsbergcolts"). After the German occupation of Norway the production continued, but this time with a Swastika mark next to the serial number; these pistols are highly regarded by modern collectors. Captured 1911 pistols were highly prized by German troops as well. The 1911 pattern also formed the basis for the Argentine Ballester-Molina and certain Spanish Star and Llama pistols made after 1922.

    After the Second World War, the sidearm continued to be a mainstay in the United States Armed Forces, seeing action in the Korean War and the Vietnam War (where it was the standard weapon for U.S. "tunnel rats"), and was even used during Desert Storm in some U.S. Army Units. It was officially replaced, largely due to considerations of NATO commitments, with a 9 mm sidearm, the Beretta 92F/FS, on January 14, 1985. Remaining M1911A1s in military service have largely been replaced by the Heckler & Koch Mk 23 .45 ACP pistol. The M1911A1 design is also favored by a large number of police SWAT teams throughout the United States. In total, the United States procured around 2.7 million M1911 and M1911A1 pistols during its service life.

    A large number of illustrious military, para-military and law enforcement organizations in the United States continue to use (often modified) M1911A1 pistols because they favor the stopping power of the .45 catridge and the superior handling of the weapon in close fighting. Marine Force Recon, Los Angeles Police Department Special Weapons and Tactics and Special Forces Operational Detatchment Delta (SOFD-D, commmonly known as the delta force) are among some of them. The weapon is also extremely popular among the general public in the United States for practical and recreational purposes.

    The pistol is commonly used for concealed carry, personal defense, target shooting, and competition. Numerous aftermarket accessories allow the user to customize the pistol to his or her liking. There is a growing number of manufacturers of 1911-type pistols and the model continues to be quite popular for its reliability, simplicity, and all-American appeal. Various tactical, target, and compact models are available.

    Price ranges from a low end of $250 for an imported "clunker" to more than $3,000 for the best competition or tactical models such as those by Wilson and Kimber, which are precisely assembled and tuned by hand.

    Despite being challenged by more modern and lightweight pistol designs in .45 caliber, such as the GLOCK 21, the SIGARMS P220 and the aforementioned Heckler & Koch Mk 23, the original 1911 design will soon be 100 years old with no signs of decreasing popularity.


    The 1911 pistol is as ubiquitous in movies, television shows, and media as it is in actual use. Produced for over 100 years (starting with the Colt 1905), the Colt 45 automatic has firmly entrenched itself in society.


    Cal: .45 ACP; Other versions are available in .38 Super Automatic, 9 mm Parabellum (Luger), .40 S&W, 10 mm, .22 lr, and probably many others.

    Barrel: 5 in (127 mm) Government, 4.25 in (108 mm) Commander, Others.

    Rate of twist: 16 in (406 mm) per turn, or 1:35.5 calibers (.45 ACP)

    Operation: Recoil-actuated, closed bolt, single action, semi-automatic

    Weight (unloaded): 2 lb 7 oz (1.1 kg) (government model)

    Height: 5.25 in (133 mm)

    Length: 8.25 in (210 mm)

    Capacity: 7+1 rounds (7 in standard-capacity magazine + 1 in firing chamber); 8+1 in aftermarket standard-size magazine; 9+ in extended and hi-cap magazines/frames Guns chambered in .38 Super and 9 mm have a 9+1 capacity.

    Safeties: A grip safety, sear disconnect, slide stop, and manual safety (located on the left rear of the frame) are on all standard M1911(A1)'s.

    Several companies have developed a firing pin block. Colt's 80 series uses a trigger operated one and several other manufacturers use one operated by the grip safety.
    Former Army Infantry Captain; 28 yrs as an NRA Certified Instructor; NRA Patron Life; Avid practitioner of the martial art: KLIK-PAO.

  2. #2
    VIP Member (Retired Staff) Array P95Carry's Avatar
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    ''Saint John'' - AKA John Moses Browning.

    He has to share center stage with Mikhail Kalashnikov and Colt, Brown, Thompson, and Hiram Maxim to name just a few.

    The 1911 has to be perhaps THE archetypal handgun of the last 100 years.
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."

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    Senior Member Array CombatEffective's Avatar
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    I would say Browning doesn't stand with them. He surpasses them. The 1911 is just the tip of the iceberg. He also designed the Winchester 94. Plus, he designed several machine guns still in use by the US Military and other.
    Shooters' Legacy

    Special sections for S&W and Ruger

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  5. #4
    1952 - 2006
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    Browning is without doubt THE most prolific gun designer the world has ever seen. Many of his designs are still in use today. The 1911, BAR, M2 .50BMG, even the .30cal MG is still in use today.

    In the world of guns John Moses Browning IS God.
    Heroes are people who do what has to be done, when it has to be done, regardless of the consequences

    "I like when the enemy shoots at me; then I know where the ******** are and can kill them."
    ~George Patton


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    VIP Member Array Bud White's Avatar
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    Browning was the best there are veryfew guns that are not somehow related to his designs

  7. #6
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    John Moses Browning's

    1885 Winchester Hi-Wall & Low Wall
    1886 Winchester Lever Action
    1890 Winchester (pump .22)
    1892 Winchester Lever Action
    1894 Winchester Lever Action
    1895 Winchester Lever Action
    1900 Winchester (bolt action .22)
    Remington Model 8 Semi-Auto
    F.N., Remington & Browning .22 semi-auto
    F. N. Pump .22
    Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR)

    1887 Winchester Lever Action Shotgun
    1893 Winchester Pump Action Shotgun
    1897 Winchester Pump Action Shotgun
    Stevens Model 520 Pump Action Shotgun
    Remington Model 17 Pump Action Shotgun (Ithaca M-37)
    Browning Auto 5 Semi-Auto Shotgun
    Superposed Over-Under Shotgun

    1895 Automatic Machine Gun (Colt's "potato digger")
    1917 .30cal. Water Cooled Automatic Machine Gun
    1923 .50cal. Water Cooled Automatic Machine Gun
    .50cal. M-2 Automatic Machine Gun

    Browning .38cal Semi-Automatic Pistol
    F.N. .32ca. Semi-Automatic Pistol
    Colt 1903 Semi-Automatic Pistol
    Colt 1905 Semi-Automatic Pistol
    Colt 1907 Semi-Automatic Pistol
    Colt 1908 Semi-Automatic Pistol
    Colt 1909 Semi-Automatic Pistol
    Colt 1910 Semi-Automatic Pistol
    Colt 1911 Semi-Automatic Pistol
    Colt Woodsman .22 Semi-Automatic Pistol
    9mm Parabellum Semi-Automatic Pistol (after his death, F.N. P-35 Hi-Power)

    Those are just his designs that saw fruition, no other designer has been that prolific.
    Last edited by OD*; August 31st, 2005 at 09:29 PM.
    "The pistol, learn it well, carry it always ..." ~ Jeff Cooper

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