Special Episode: 1911 Pistols From The Government! (TFBTV Weekly Ep. 3)

As part of the passing of the new NDA, a provision allows the government to transfer 10,000 surplus M1911 pistols per year to the Civilian Marksmanship Program, a 501(c)(3) corporation that will allow the public to get ahold of them. So how will this work? What does it mean? Well, pardon a bit of optimistic speculation on our part, but we dive into the subject here in this special episode of TFBTV Weekly.

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The full transcript …

– Hey guys, it’s Alex C. with TFBTV and for this week’s TFBTV Weekly we’re actually gonna cover a special topic that’s been in the news a whole lot.

I’ve been asked to cover this by a whole bunch of readers on both The Firearm Blog and in the comments of TFBTV Weekly.

Also by the editor Steve, Steve said that this would probably be a good idea and I really agree.

Basically, for those that don’t know a program called the Civilian Marksmanship Program, was chartered in the early part of the 20th century, and it was in fact chartered to give civilians experience with marksmanship.

They were, from what I’ve read basically, civilians were very good at using things like lever action rifles, and single shot breach-loaders, like Remington Rolling Blocks, but this didn’t really carry over very well to military bolt-action rifles, which weren’t popular for sporting use at the time, such as the 1903 Springfield and the Krag-Jorgensen of that time period.

So in 1996 the, well, until 1996 it was actually administered by the Army, and then in 1996 a 501(c)(3)-ed organization was formed as part of the NDA passing of that year, and that now administers what’s known as the Civilian Marksmanship Program, it actually receives no federal funding.

They have a corporate structure, they have a Chief Operating Officer and everything like that, but basically the way it’s set up is you can get a cheap M1 Garand, formerly things like 1903 and Carbines were available but those have run dry, but you can to this day get Garands if you qualify, we’ll get to that a little bit later.

But the passing of the new NDA, the defense bill, had a provision in it where basically, if they passed it with this wording, 10,000 of these 1911 pistols, have to be released to the public and sold by the Civilian Marksmanship Program per year.

So 10,000 of these babies will be sold by a previously government owned organization, to the public.

Which is pretty cool, you have to excuse me I might be looking up, I wrote my notes on a poster behind the camera.

But, basically everyone’s asking how do I get one of these guns, and it’s not that hard, a lot of you might be familiar with the Civilian Marksmanship Program.

You do have to qualify, it’s not like buying a gun from a regular FFL, but you do have to be of a certain age, obviously for a pistol that’s presumably gonna be 21.

You do have provide proof of citizenship, probably not gonna be an issue for most of you guys.

You do have to be a member of a qualified Civilian Marksmanship affiliated club, which is not hard, check on their website to find a club near you.

These aren’t necessarily clubs like a gun club where you have to sit in a Star Chamber and discuss the month’s minutes and everything like that.

Some of these are just internet-only clubs.

Lastly you do have to provide proof of some kind of marksmanship training.

That can be a concealed handgun license, police, or military experience, really not that big a deal.

You can actually check out their website, there’s some things that are pretty easy to do if you would like to qualify.

Other than that, if I read it correctly, they will be required to get a federal firearms license if they want to deal in pistols.

Not that big of a deal either, especially if you bought a pistol over the internet before, just have it shipped to a dealer and you’re good to go.

Other stuff, let’s see…

Like I said 10,000 per year, strikes, this is cool, it strikes rifles, and puts surplus firearms, so potentially this could actually open the door for other kinds of firearms.

For example, if there’s something other than Garands or M1 Carbines or something like that still sitting around, it is possible and foreseeable that those could trickle in, this is all speculation mind you but, I never thought that these would become available from the CMP, so.

You know it’s not foreseeable, or it’s not unforeseeable that other stuff will make it’s way through that pipeline.

Lastly, let’s see.

As of 11:30, that’s gonna be yesterday, you can tell the CMP themselves have been getting tons of emails regarding how do I get one of these, I’d like to get one, stuff like that.

The COO himself posted basically something that said, guys we, this is great but we don’t have any other information, we have no more information than you do.

Which basically means, they don’t quite know how to move forward yet, they haven’t figured out how to administer this yet.

I’m sure they will mind you, but this would almost be like if your boss came into your job and said, “Alright guys, we’re expanding our new “product line to something that we’ve never done before.” There you go, so they’re kind of in this weird spot right now where they have a lot of time to figure it out and I’m sure they will but…

We don’t want to jump the gun and give you any false information or speculate too much, but we can assure you that this is really fantastic news for everybody.

You know on that, this is great news.

I’m really happy about this.

This could mean cheap 1911s, I think the first 10,000 or so will go for a lot of money because people will be foaming at the mouth to get one, but in a couple years they might be pretty affordable and reasonable, we’ll see.

I’m sure the usual gun show vultures will be scooping ’em up and tryin’ to resell ’em and what not, but who knows.

We’ll see what happens and I for one, really look forward to getting a surplussed 1911.

You never know, you could get a Remington Rand, Ithaca, a Colt, and I’m sure that maybe some rare stuff like Singers will trickle in through the auctions.

But we’ll see about that, so.

Anyways, this was a special episode, I’m sorry we didn’t get to more.

I was asked to do this, I think it’s awesome though.

I’m Alex C. with TFBTV, big thanks to Ventura Munitions for helping us out normally.

Heck, I’d almost like to thank the CMP for moving forward with this and trying to figure everything out.

But that’s pretty cool that this is a reality.

We hope to see you next week, hit that subscribe button.

What we do have in store next week is someone asked how does a belt-fed machine gun work, by pulling the links and loading into, loading into the chamber of various belt-fed firearms.

We can definitely cover that.

By far the most asked question was how do I buy a machine gun.

I’m actually gonna make a separate stand alone video for that rather than addressing it in Weekly so that you guys have the best possible information.

Other than that we hope to see you next week.



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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  • “10,000 of these 1911 pistols, have to be released to the public and sold by the Civilian Marksmanship Program per year.”

    You should go back and read section 1087, there is nothing in that section that mandates the transfer of the 1911s. It’s totally up to the Obama appointed secretary of the Army if he chooses to transfer them to the CMP. The relevant part of sec 1087 reads as follows:

    ‘‘(h) AUTHORIZED TRANSFERS.—(1) Subject to paragraph (2), the Secretary may transfer to the corporation, in accordance with the procedure prescribed in this subchapter, surplus caliber .45 M1911/ M1911A1 pistols and spare parts and related accessories for those pistols that, on the date of the enactment of this subsection, are under the control of the Secretary and are surplus to the requirements of the Department of the Army, and such material as may be recovered by the Secretary pursuant to section 40728A(a) of this title. The Secretary shall determine a reasonable schedule for the transfer of such surplus pistols.

    The use of the word “may” is critical here. There is nothing mandating the sale to use regular folks.

    Furthermore, sec 1087 also contains the provision that the CMP gets and FFL for the transfer of none .22 and .30 cal guns. That’s here:

    ‘‘(b) EXCEPTION.—With respect to firearms other than caliber .22 rimfire and caliber .30 rifles, the corporation shall obtain a license as a dealer in firearms and abide by all requirements imposed on persons licensed under chapter 44 of title 18, including maintaining acquisition and disposition records, and conducting background checks.’’.

    1911s being in the CMP inventory is not a sure thing, and given this admins reluctance to accept the return of guns from Korea (which would go to the CMP), I would doubt very much that this Secretary of the Army is going to transfer any handguns to the CMP. It’s not like he was begging Congress for the authority to get rid of these things.

    • I have read it, but keep in mind that Obama will not be president forever.
      I have a sneaking suspicion that if the pistols were not released by whatever bureaucrat occupies that cabinet position, the pro-gun lobby AND a slew of other groups would turn up the heat.

      • MrEllis

        They’re actually doing the dumb thing instead of shutting up.

      • I gotta ask, did you actually read the relevant section of the NDAA? This program is authorized for one year:

        (b) PILOT PROGRAM.—
        (1) ONE-YEAR AUTHORITY.—The Secretary of the Army may
        carry out a one-year pilot program under which the Secretary
        may transfer to the Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle
        Practice and Firearms Safety not more than 10,000 firearms
        described in paragraph (2).

        I’m afraid you’re doing a hollow victory dance and you’re spinning this like the NRA is – as something that’s a sure thing.

        There will be another NDAA next year and the year after that. There won’t be any 1911s coming until after January of 2017 – and that’s if Hillary doesn’t make it into the oval office.

        • I’m afraid I have nothing to gain by “spinning” this.

          That said, the mere fact that something like this happened in today’s political climate is nothing short of astonishing. While pessimists can certainly point and cynically scoff at this, it is a rather remarkable indicator that to at least some people in office firearms do not exist solely to demonize.
          The fact is that this is a humbling and unexpected set of circumstances that I never would have thought possible.

          Sometimes you have to raise a glass to small victories.

          • Again, nothing is mandated when it comes to the 1911s. It’s totally up to the Secretary of the Army. I think your words in the video and the transcript are clear, and incorrect, that the Army must transfer the guns to the CMP. You’re misreading the text of the NDAA and what it doesn’t mandate.

            There will only be a victory if the Secretary of the Army transfers any 1911s, something he wasn’t asking Congress for the authority to do.

            Don’t hold your breath that anything will change.

          • John, the fact that the transfers are even authorized is in fact a small victory (as I just stated).
            And if I was a betting man I would wager that the firearms will in fact be transferred to the CMP… or I could let my inner cynic out and dump on anyone who cracked a smile at the prospect of this happening.

          • Well, for someone who said, in his Mea culpa post just about one year ago:

            “I deal with litigation constantly”

            You should know that the, the words “may” and “shall” are most certainly not the same thing when written in a contract, legislation, or agreement.

            So the prospect is that the Secretary of the Army, and Obama appointee, now has an authority that he was not desiring or demanding Congress provide. The choice rests totally with the Secretary and is not any way mandated or forced. I stand by my previous statements, your words that were spoken and transcribed as follows:

            “But the passing of the new NDA, the defense bill, had a provision in it where basically, if they passed it with this wording, 10,000 of these 1911 pistols, have to be released to the public and sold by the Civilian Marksmanship Program per year. ”

            Are inaccurate and misleading. They don’t have to be released. There is no sure thing here saying that 1911s are absolutely going to the CMP in the next year.

            I think you owe to your readers to print a correction and make your statements factually accurate. We don’t need another December debacle.

          • It is unfortunate that Obama will be President forever 🙁

            John, mellow out and take the win (however small you may believe it to be). I thought I made it reasonably clear that we don’t want to speculate too much, by saying just that, and that even the CMP is unsure of exactly what will happen.
            Call it misguided optimism, but as a man who cherishes historical firearms I consider this an amazing step in the right direction for American shooters.
            Alternately you may continue to think everyone is foolish for reacting positively to this news. That is your prerogative.

          • Again Alex, you’re not reading – why? This is a one year program that ends when? Before January of 2107. Who will be the POTUS for the next year? The NDAA is an authorization act that’s rewritten, and voted on, each year. Just because it’s in this year does not mean it will be in next year or any other year.

            What you’re doing is not misguided optimism, it’s a false reading of the act. You’re hanging yourself out there and expert and you should be telling the truth and reality of the act – you owe that much to the reader and viewers or you become TTAG with its opinions and falsehoods. For a site that is usually accurate and factual, you’re video is neither. It’s selling false hope and you’ve misread sec. 1087.

            The NRA is dancing, like it is, as a fundraising move. I get why the NRA is doing what it’s doing (disclaimer, I am an NRA member and will be for life).

            There isn’t any win here, nothing is mandated. Nothing at all. Oh and if you want to make it more fun, what agency get to approve or stall an FFL application? Who appoints the head of that agency?

            There are so many “may” and “if” conditions in the act.

          • It’s a pilot program, meaning it’s intended as a “trial run” for what may become a future staple of the CMP.

            Johnny, I appreciate your reservation about this, but consider that before Thanksgiving Eve, Alex and I would have both told you “there is no way in hell the CMP will EVER be able to distribute pistols”. Now, there is a law saying they can distribute 10,000 pistols at the discretion of the Secretary of The Army. Now, you’re right, the Acting Secretary might not allow those 10K handguns to go through, and you’re right, this is a pilot program, but what a huge leap that is anyway!

          • Yes Nathaniel, and I certainly would love to see those 1911s on the available roster. But, saying and promoting the idea that Army has to transfer the guns to the CMP is not correct and not supported by the text of the act. At least you seem aware of this while Alex goes into double down mode over his inability to admit that he was wrong in his statements.

          • Pretty sure they have to if the Secretary of the Army says they do. It would be at his discretion, anyway.

          • Yeah, and that’s written right into the text of the act. Congress has not forced the transfer of these 1911s. Tell me again, who is the Secretary of the Army and who appointed him?

          • Cut the condescension.

            It’s very normal for this to be authorized under a “may” provision. You can put on your tinfoil hat about it, but a “may” provision is what a reasonable person would have expected. Would I rather a “shall” provision? Selfishness to the forefront, sure I would. But realistically, Army inventory is something usually left to the discretion of the Secretary, and the provision for rifle sales through the CMP has always been only for those that are surplus to Army requirements.

            Therefore, if a Secretary wanted, he could say “nope, all these M1s are not surplus to our requirements, they are essential for national defense. Too bad.” He’s always had that power. If he said so, it might raise some eyebrows, and he might even be called on it; that’s how politics works. Same thing with the “may” provision for the M1911 handguns – the Secretary is absolutely obligated to act in the interests of national defense, not according to a political agenda. If he did prevent the transfer of M1911 handguns to the CMP for a blatantly political reason, it probably wouldn’t fly, either.

            In this political climate, of course, it’s hard to tell what a political affiliate will do, and I can no more predict the Acting Secretary’s actions than I can predict what the weather will be on June 24th, 2166.

            So you can calm down a bit.

          • “Cut the condescension.”

            Why don’t you do what a good journalist would do and admit that Alex gave incorrect information. Or do you stand by his statement of:

            “But the passing of the new NDA, the defense bill, had a provision in it where basically, if they passed it with this wording, 10,000 of these 1911 pistols, have to be released to the public and sold by the Civilian Marksmanship Program per year.”

            “have to be released”
            “have to be released”
            “have to be released”

            This is basic legislative/contract language. May and Shall are very different when written in legislation or a contract. You have to have a legal resource, consult them about this. Alex has sold an incorrect reading of the act and given false hope to people too are too lazy to read it themselves.

            May = optional.

            Shall = It’s going to be done.

            This is the same Congress that has forced the military to keep the A-10 program, so it’s not out of line for them for them to cast their will on the Army.

            So I see you too are going to double down on Alex’s error instead of correcting the story.

          • First of all, let’s get something straight: I am not a journalist, historian, or anything like that. People can call me whatever they want, but those who expect me to act as someone who’s had training in a given field that I have not had training in will be disappointed.

            Second of all, while Alex and I are perfectly happy to have public disagreements, I am not going to come in here and kneecap him just because you’re making a fuss about the wording. The CMP has always been dependent on the Secretary’s determination that the weapons sold through it are military surplus; the 10,000 M1911s of the pilot program are in the exact same boat.

            The CMP has been selling rifles to the public for over 100 years using this model, so I fully expect that we’ll see M1911 handguns sold through the company, too. If this does not happen, it would certainly be noteworthy and I will report on it. Barring that, however, your comments are essentially semantic in nature, and read as though they are intended to stir the pot.

            Wording is of course important to legal documents, but your focus is overly narrow and does not account for a thorough, even reading of the text of the law. For example, it states:

            “The Secretary shall determine a reasonable schedule for the transfer of such surplus pistols.”

            So the Secretary is obligated to schedule the transfer of the handguns to the CMP. Of course, he could, being the Secretary, nuke this if he wanted to but that was always true even with regards to the transfer of M1 rifles and other equipment! You seem to have missed this detail.

          • “First of all, let’s get something straight: I am not a journalist, historian, or anything like that.”

            Yet you write for website that derives income from your work. Funny, I thought bloggers were always right in the fight to be called journalists. Good to know you’re not one. But wait, Alex does have a degree in History from a rather good university.

            ” I am not going to come in here and kneecap him just because you’re making a fuss about the wording.”

            The wording is absolutely what matters, what’s written in the act is clear. What was represented by TFB was not what was written. The words of the NDAA create the legal framework for the possible (not mandatory) transfer of the 1911s to the CMP. What you should do is tell Alex to correct his story and do what a legitimate news outlet would do. It’s a simple retraction to correct something that’s factually inaccurate and misleading. Or maybe TFB is not a news outlet “or anything like that.” I know Alex is scared to death of having to admit an error. You should have known him in his pre-TFB days.

            “The CMP has been selling rifles to the public for over 100 years using this model”

            The CMP has only been operating under its current charter and corporation status since 1996. From 1916 to 1996 it was a U.S. Army program totally under the Secretary’s control. So, no the model has been used for 100 years.

            “Wording is of course important to legal documents, but your focus is overly narrow and does not account for a thorough, even reading of the text of the law. For example, it states:

            “The Secretary shall determine a reasonable schedule for the transfer of such surplus pistols.”

            The schedule is only necessary if the Secretary determine to transfer the pistols to the CMP. So yeah, a single word in legislation really does make a difference.

            Thanks for telling your readers that you’re not a journalist “or anything like that”. Your opening statement there says a lot. For someone attaching his name to a piece of work, I would have thought you would take pride in accuracy, completeness, and provide a level of expertise on the subjects you cover. As for stirring the pot, yeah I’m doing that. In my pot I’m cooking truth and reality while you’re looking to serve rainbow farting unicorn soup with a side of surplus .45.

            It’s all moot at this point. Your bigger competitor, TTAG, actually got it right when Leghorn wrote about it today. I would have thought it would be the other way around.

          • “As for stirring the pot, yeah I’m doing that.”

            Thanks for clearing that up. 🙂

          • whskee

            Here here for small victories! I’ll take it, it’s certainly a gain!

        • Make no mistake, this is a major step forward. Not only does the 2016 NDAA authorize the CMP pilot program (called that, implying that it’s a “trial run” for what may become business as usual), but it also strikes out any chance of ammunition components being ruled toxic substances under the Toxic Substances Control Act, and it passes authority to the commanding officers of military installations to allow their personnel to carry firearms while on duty.

        • The Brigadier

          Hillary already blew her chances when she made the statement that “gun confiscation should be looked at,” when answering a female reporter about that issue. When it went viral recently her numbers went south in a hurry. The old socialist Sanders is actually more than 10 points higher than her in New Hampshire and other early state primary polls show the same thing.

          The thing that will kill this NDAA is that Obama still has a bit over thirteen months left to go in office and the NDAA as you pointed out has only a year left as active. Even if Trump or another front runner soundly beats Hillary, Congress will have to act again authorizing the DoD to release the pistols to the CMP. Hopefully the Donald will authorize it.

    • MrEllis

      With the NRA taunting him publicly I’m sure he’ll go along with it.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Why would I want one of these old pistols?

    • So you can shoot it.

      That’s usually why people buy pistols.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Ill be more specific: Why would I want to go to the trouble of joining one of these clubs and then spending a lot of money on one of these old worn out pistols when I could more easily pay less for something new?

        • Collectibility and historical significance are pretty good reasons in my opinion.
          Who knows, they might even be affordable.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            Not my cup of tea but fair enough.

          • According the CMP charter, they must be sold at market rate. Given the current pricing of rifles, the CMP seems to underprice its items compared to what the market is both asking and offering.

          • Oh yes, their M1s are priced exceptionally well. Nate sent me a message a while back saying “I forgot how much gun stores gouge people on Garands” when he got his gun in. It looks flawless, and at a gun store he would have paid twice as much!

        • I think you’re over-generalizing. Think about it, the M1s that the CMP sells also have seen a ton of service, but they still are able to sort them in grades (rack, field, service, etc). So there will be some that will be ratty and worn out, and some that will be great, most likely.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            Maybe, but the few that are actually “great” will be way overpriced.
            Personally I dont get it, you can get the same pistols at any gun show without joining a club.

          • I just bought a Service Grade M1 for $730 shipped. I don’t feel that was overpriced.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            Fair enough, if you have a penchant for historical firearms then that’s cool. Me too I just don’t see the fuss over a Cold War era 1911.

        • whskee

          The price is going to be my concern. I’m already in a club and I’m the patient sort. I’ve got a growing Tax Stamp collection, so I doubt this process will be any more challenging than the NFA process. If the pricing is good, I might go for it for reasons of nostalgia. I won’t pay more than I would in a local shop though for a new built one.

          • The process is several orders of magnitude easier than the NFA process. It took me a few days to assemble all the pieces and send it in.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            To each his own, I dont see the appeal. I would prefer to buy a new 1911.

        • mosinman

          Because history?

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            Because history what?
            Were these guns used in some famous battle?
            No, more likely they were simply used to shoot thousands upon thousands of training rounds and then treated indifferently by whatever recruit drew them from the armory for MP duty or whatever.

          • mosinman

            Forgive me, I forgot that firearms must be used in famous battles to be historically significant

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            OK, then I can just go to the gun show this weekend and buy me a “historically significant” 1911 without bothering to join a club and wait for paperwork.

          • mosinman

            go right ahead 🙂

          • TheNotoriousIUD
      • MrEllis

        I think he means most 1911s in the military are pretty, hmm, used? CMP does a fine job refurbing guns though, don’t get me wrong I’m a big proponent of the CMP. Didn’t Rock island buy some of the old Colt equipment and they crank out some pretty sweet 1911s for cheap. I doubt these will be cheap. I suppose it’s owning a bit of history in some small way.

        • The Brigadier

          Rock Island Armory pistols are made in the Philippines. The old plant in Connecticut has long been closed. While I have not heard any safety concerns about their handguns, I have heard complaints about their automatics’ accuracy and the fit and finish. They are cheap, and they do have several different model lines from GI basic to better grade, but they are among the cheapest .45s being sold out there. Do your homework first.

          • MrEllis

            I’ve actually shot four flavors of them, no issues. I never claimed they were based in the US. “Sweet for cheap.” Man you still suck at this, bad. Maybe you should stick to judging kids skateboarding in the mall?

          • The Brigadier

            I’ve noticed most of your replies contain personal attacks. Maybe you avoid replying to anyone.

          • MrEllis

            I noticed you are pretty hypocritical when it comes to that… always quick to interject your opinion as fact then play victim. How about you forgo responding to me or even commenting to me in the first place? You can let someone else Internet Warrior for the day.

    • Don Ward

      Then don’t. No one is putting a gun to your head here.

      • They’re not even putting a rattly, old, useless M1911 to his head!

  • Don Ward

    Holy Hades! The amount of pouty-pants whiners spouting off about this subject is incredible!

  • Jim_Macklin

    Many of these WWII and earlier production guns may be worn out and in need of a rebuild. Or they will have been arsenal overhauled means replaced parts, mismatches serial numbers. Still as long as the frame is not cracked and the slide is sound, a few small parts and a properly fitted barrel and it can be a great shooter.

  • Peewee Sierrafour

    This is the beginning of the end of the 1911 as an adopted model. Long live the 1911.

  • Ambassador Vader

    So if they get an FFL for the pistols, would that mean they could no longer sell the garands in the current fashion since they would be held to different rules?