The Mystery of the Stamped Steel 1911

    It appears that The Internet does not know everything after all! I have been trying to find solid information on this hideously ugly .45acp pistol prototype, but without much success. Apparently less than 20 prototypes were produced by the Guide Lamp Division of General Motors, but when and why? Conflicting stories emerge….

    Stamped 1911

    Internet Story Version 1: During World War Two, Guide Lamp developed the pistol alongside the FP-45 “Liberator” to drop behind enemy lines en masse. The idea was for freedom fighters to shoot German sentries (probably while they were doubled over in laughter after glimpsing the pistol) and thus grab some Nazi long guns and ammo. The project was canceled when it became clear that mass-produced Sten submachine guns would be the air-dropped weapon of choice. Using the Stens would reduce casualties for the French Resistance, and laughter for their German occupiers.

    Internet Story Version 2: Guide Lamp started development post World War Two, in 1947. It seems the US Army, impressed with the simplicity of stamped 9mms recovered in Germany, wanted to explore stamped steel technology to produce a lighter weight sidearm. Guide Lamp’s M3 “grease gun” was already a great success in terms of weight and simplicity compared to the Thompson of the same caliber, and it was hoped that similar gains could be realized with a pistol. The project was deemed a failure when the stamped 1911 tipped the scales at 51 ounces (a standard G.I. 1911 coming in at only 39 ounces).

    Sheet Metal 1911

    The example in these photographs resides in the Springfield Armory Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts. All parts are stamped steel except for the barrel link, the barrel itself, the pins holding everything together, and a single piece of bar stock welded inside the back of the slide to act as a breech face. The rear sight doubles as a firing pin safety, rotating on a large rivet holding it into place on the rear of the slide. The pistol holds a standard military issue 7-round 1911 magazine.

    Does anyone know an official designation for this pistol, or its true story? Tell us! Post in the comments below or email us with your arcane knowledge!