History of the 1911: The 1909, its predecessor, from Forgotten Weapons

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In the world of firearms it’s always exciting to see the latest and greatest advances, whether it’s in ammunition – like Hornady’s recent announcement – or guns. While it’s fantastic to live in such technologically advanced times and you’re unlikely to find someone longing for the germ-ridden days of yore, there are still pieces of the past worth cherishing. When it comes to firearms, one of those pieces is the 1911.

The original was, of course, created by John Browning in 1911. The United States Army wasted no time in adopting the M1911, and neither did the NRA. In fact, M1911s were being manufactured for NRA members by the summer of 1912, and the next year the Navy and Marine Corps followed in the Army’s footsteps by using the popular pistol as well.

Today the 1911 remains quite popular with an extensive group of dedicated fans, and sometimes it seems gun aficionados either love it or hate it. Many new pistols are made with 1911 frames of all sizes; it seems unlikely this particular model will ever go out of style. After all, it’s going strong after more than 100 years.

Forgotten Weapons decided to take a closer look at one of the pieces of the 1911’s historical puzzle, the 1909. Apparently a 1909 is about to be auctioned off at an upcoming Rock Island event and he was able to take a closer look beforehand. If you’re a fan of the 1911, you should find this fascinating.

TFB Staffer

TFB Staff, bringing you the latest gun news from around the world for a decade.


  • mosinman

    the 1909 looks like it was the inspiration for the TT-33

    • Anonymoose

      At least this has a grip safety.

    • Vitsaus

      The TT-33 was heavily influence by Browning’s designs. If you take them apart, they are basically just a cave man version of a 1911, more or less.

      • Tom

        Off the top of my head the TT30/33 borrows heavily from the FN 1903 pistol as well as the 1911.

        Of course since JMB gave us the slide pretty much every semi automatic pistol in production today is based on his work.

      • mosinman

        they certainly look like the 1909 in grip angle and general construction.
        I have one and i see the similarities with my 1911, they certainly aren’t a caveman version though

  • Edeco

    That charcoal blue, mhrrr. Lovely but so delicate a kitten could nuzzle it off.*

    *deliberate hyperbole… but then if the kitten deposited sweat or saliva maybe not.

  • Taofledermaus

    Mrcolf45acp has a really well-documented series of videos that show the evolution of the 1911. He hasn’t posted anything in a few years but his videos are still gems of history.

  • Chase Buchanan

    “At the time, these pistols were marketed by Colt as being the most powerful handguns on the market…”

    Oh man. Think of what could have been:

    “I know what you’re thinking: did he fire eight shots or only seven? Well, to tell you the truth I kinda lost track myself in all this excitement. But being that this is a Colt 1905, the most powerful handgun in the world, and could blow your head partially off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”

    But since it’s the 1900s, you have to imagine that it’s all in text on a black background in a silent film.

  • gunsandrockets

    I find most interesting is that the original 1905 had no safety device, either grip or manual. It’s ‘safety’ was the same as a SAA revolver, control of the exposed hammer.

  • Rock Island Auction

    What’s the story on that SN 18 in the lead photo? It still looks pretty darn good as well.

  • iksnilol

    Not as convenient to set, but really convenient to deactivate.

    • mosinman

      Yeah the TT-33 can really make STALKERS get out of here