Happy Birthday 1911!

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The M1911 pistol was officially adopted by the US Army on 29 March 1911. Two years later it was adopted by the Navy and Marine Corps. Today, a hundred years later, it has never been more popular with shooters worldwide. It is also still in service. Last year the USMC purchased an additional 4000 1911 pistols in the M45 Close Quarters Combat Pistol configuration.

[ Photo : Remington Rand M1911A1 © M62) ]

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Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • AnointedSword

    You might be outdated, but you make a good paperweight!:) Just kidding!:)

  • Ivan

    Greatest handgun ever.

  • Dave

    Out of curiosity, does anyone actually make original pattern 1911s anymore, or is it just A1 patterns and tacticalized A1s? I’m wondering because I’ve never actually seen a pre-A1 design 1911 outside of pictures. And always very old pictures at that.

  • WeaponBuilder

    The designs of prophet John Moses Browning have stood the test of time, and will continue to kick-ass well into the foreseeable future!

    A wise man well ahead of his time!

  • Don

    For a piece of reasonably sophisticated technology to remain essentially the same yet continue to be practical for so long is AMAZING.

    We’re not talking hammers and shovels, we’re talking a complex mechanical device with about 49 parts which could be completely broken down and built up again without using a single external tool. That is an unbelievable marvel of engineering.

    -D

  • George McCurdy

    One of the best gun designs ever made. ALL the rest are just copies.

  • Airrider

    …what DO you buy a pistol for its 100th birthday? A diamond holster?

  • Erik

    @Don, you need a screwdriver to completely strip a 1911.

  • kurgen99

    I got mine within the last 5 years, and love it. I’m sorry I didn’t buy it sooner. Such a cool piece of history that still performs!

  • Aurelien

    Dave, Colt makes M1911 with the original markings.

  • Lance

    And may it have 100 more birthdays.

  • texasplinker

    Does anyone have a link (or, gasp, know of a book) to an article that covers all or most of Browning’s firearm work and designs?

  • greasyjohn

    Colt makes a WWI replica pistol, but other than that, I don’t think so.

  • Mr. Fahrenheit

    Argh. So I went and bought one. I’ll take it to the range tomorrow.

  • Jacob T. Royer

    How many other weapons has this outlasted? pretty much every other weapon adopted into the U.S. Military Arsenal, not many (IF any) guns can say they fought in WWI, and still fight today in a barely modified configuration. Ever since I first fired my Grandfather’s Ithaca Model 1911A1, I’ve been addicted to these. Now a real interesting day will be in another 100 years. :-P

  • Martin (M)

    It’s a workhorse, that’s for sure.

  • AJ187

    My favorite pistol…every gun owner should try one.

  • SpudGun

    For the record, I’ve not really got anything against the 1911, I’ve fired a couple but couldn’t see what all the fuss was about.

    Nonetheless, time for some mischief making, please read the rest of my post with your tongue firmly in your cheek. ;)

    The Real Truth About The M1911

    As any serious shooter knows, the M1911 pattern pistol is the greatest gun ever made ever. Designed by Jesus Christ to fight off the Devil – ACP originally stood for Anti Christ Pistol – the 1911 first came to prominence after George Washington used it at Pearl Harbour to fight off the Nazi British single handed. He remarked at the time that the flat shooting .45 slug was ideal for sinking Navy Frigates.

    Despite this illustrious history, there are those on the Google-Webs (traitors, non-believers, the mentally ill) who dare criticize the M1911. Well, I’m here to tackle those criticisms, dispel myths and give you the real truth about the M1911.

    The M1911 is heavy – Quit whining you girly man. Man up, buy some weights and work those guns, so you can work those guns. If you’re not strong enough to lift a .45 then you don’t deserve to own any gun of any kind. You make me sick, you weakling!

    The M1911 has a small magazine – Listen buddy, if you can’t end a gunfight with 7 rounds, then you shouldn’t even be in a gunfight. That’s why I petitioned my local Police Department to carry Derringers, if they can’t end a gunfight with 2 rounds, then they must be useless. Do you see how logic follows logic?

    The M1911 is an old design – So’s the human race and you don’t see anyone trying to get rid of that. The M1911 is so ahead of it’s time, that it won’t be an old design for at least another 50 years. My dear old Grandpappy carried one in World War 2 and if it was good enough for him, then it’s good enough for me. My Grandpappy also caught Syphilis in World War 2 and if it was good enough for him…etc.

    The M1911 is unreliable – Says who? I’ve personally (dry) fired over 800,000 rounds through my Para-Ordnance Warthog without a single FTF, FTE or catastrophic failure. Those who have had problems are limp wristing, using the wrong ammo, have probably walked under a ladder and don’t know how to shoot anyways.

    The M1911 is badly made – Oh I get it, you’re one of those Euro-Fruity Fanboys who wants his gun to work first time and then subsequently every time after that. Well let me tell you something, the M1911 is not only American made (except for those built in Brazil, the Philippines and China) but it’s literally made of America. By going for a German, Czech or Belgian gun, you are metaphorically urinating on Lincoln’s grave, wiping your ass with the Constitution and letting terrorists win, you traitor!

    The M1911 is expensive – That’s a goshdurn lie and you know it. You can buy an entry level Phillipino copy of the 1911 for less then $400. Then, if you actually want it to work, all you have to do is replace the barrel, the frame, the slide, the magazine, the magazine well, the extractor, the springs, the hammer, the trigger, the sear and the grips. Of course, you can’t expect it to work first time, so don’t forget to polish the feed ramp, polish the bevel, polish the chamber, file the locking lugs and widen the ejection port. What could be easier and cheaper then that?

    No seriously, a decent M1911 is expensive, like more then a HK dude – Just because something has been mass produced for a century by a variety of manufacturers worldwide, doesn’t mean it’s going to get cheaper. The 1911 is the best selling pistol ever so it’s going to cost twice as much. Look at Glocks, no one has them, so they have to sell their guns at a bargain price. It’s simple economics. As for HK’s, I used to own one, but it stole my wallet, beat my kids and ran off with my wife because it hates me. (True story).

    The M1911 is difficult to conceal – No, you are too small. I personally carry a Long Slide AMT Hardballer with an extended 25 round magazine, light, laser and holographic sight every where I go, even in the summer. But then again, I’m used to carrying something that’s over 7 inches long and weighs 2 pounds in my pants everyday. Just because I tip the scales at 389lbs and wear a poncho most of the time, (so theoretically I could conceal a mountain bike) is beside the point.

    The M1911 is old fashioned – Well excuse me Coco Chanel, but when does being in fashion and fancy looks have anything to do with guns? My everyday carry .45 may have a two tone chromed titanium slide, anodized duracoat frame, laser engraving, ivory grips, a gold trigger, a tactical rail, tritium night sights, an extended slide release, extended beavertail, extended mag release and a bobtail housing but it’s still a decent honest basic pistol.

    Finally, if you’re on an Internet Gun Forum and some smart ass starts bad mouthin’ the venerable 1911 then please remember the golden rule – get personal. Question their manliness, accuse them of being a Democrat, call them an anti-gunner, infer that they are un-American, copy and paste quotes from elderly gun writers, make up stories about plastic guns melting, spin nostalgic tales, remind them that the .45 won WW2 (but don’t mention Vietnam) and on no account should you mention that you also own a Glock because of it’s reliability. If all else fails, come up with something meaningless and rhetorical like ‘you can’t improve upon perfection’.

    Buying an M1911 isn’t just purchasing a gun, it’s an invitation to an exclusive club. Admittedly an exclusive club made up of hundreds of thousands of people, mainly elderly men, but an exclusive club nonetheless. Imagine what it would be like to take your first M1911 to the range and instantly receive approving nods from like minds who respect your choice in firearms? Imagine not sticking out from the crowd and drawing attention to yourself? Imagine being free from the responsibilities of choosing your own gun? Gives you a warm feeling doesn’t it? Remember, if you can’t conform, then you can’t belong.

    Happy shooting!

  • iroquois pliskin

    probably my favorite handgun ever and the most epic :) happy birthday !.

  • Cymond

    @ Dave

    Cimmaron has a pre-A1 design, although the experts say that it’s closest to being a 1917 transitional period model. It isn’t quite right for a true first gen 1911. Gunblast has some very pretty pics of a high gloss Cimmaron.

    FYI, all of Cimmaron’s guns are manufactured by other companies for them, but the models are slightly different from the builder’s models and exclusive to Cimmaron. The 1911s are from Armscor in the Phillipines, the same folks as Rock Island Armory.

  • Don
  • Don

    @Erik

    A video of a 1911A1 pattern being completely stripped with no external tools.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=er6EIDW2Xec

    This is one of the reasons why I believe the original design to be so elegant!

    -D

  • Erik

    Eh I suppose. Many modern 1911s come with hex screws for the grips though ;-)

  • Don

    @Erik

    Hex screws certainly look a lot nicer!

    -D

  • tommy2rs

    Ah yes, when you care enough to send the best, get a 1911A1. I carry one my dad won at a shooting match in Navy. The same one he went on to use at the ’61 Fleet championships. It’s as beloved as my police model ’97 12 gauge and my made in 1954 .22 that outshoots every 10-22 I’ve ever tried it against. Carries half again+ the ammo too.

    New and improved ain’t always better.

  • Jeff m

    I prefer the cz style pistols over the 1911, I have a eaa/tanfoglio witness elite match in 10mm that I love, functions a lot like the 1911 but no grip safety and better grip contour and 15 rounds, both pistols (1911 and cz) are popular at the local matches. Its an incremental improvement over the classic 1911.