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Snippet from Wikipedia: M1911 pistol

The M1911, also known as the Colt Government or "Government", is a single-action, semi-automatic, magazine-fed, recoil-operated pistol chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. It served as the standard-issue sidearm for the United States Armed Forces from 1911 to 1986. It was widely used in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The pistol's formal designation as of 1940 was Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911 for the original model of 1911 or Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911A1 for the M1911A1, adopted in 1924. The designation changed to Pistol, Caliber .45, Automatic, M1911A1 in the Vietnam War era.

The U.S. procured around 2.7 million M1911 and M1911A1 pistols in military contracts during its service life. The M1911 was replaced by the 9 mm Beretta M9 pistol as the standard U.S. sidearm in October 1986, but due to its popularity among users, it has not been completely phased out. Modernized derivative variants of the M1911 are still in use by some units of the U.S. Army Special Forces and the U.S. Navy.

Designed by John Browning, the M1911 is the best-known of his designs to use the short recoil principle in its basic design. The pistol was widely copied, and this operating system rose to become the preeminent type of the 20th century and of nearly all modern centerfire pistols. It is popular with civilian shooters in competitive events such as USPSA, IDPA, International Practical Shooting Confederation, and bullseye shooting. Compact variants are popular civilian concealed carry weapons in the U.S. because of the design's relatively slim width and the stopping power of the .45 ACP cartridge.

|type= [[Semi-automatic pistol]]
|is_ranged= yes
|service= 1911–present
|used_by= 28 nations, see ''[[M1911 pistol#Users|Users]]'' below for details
|wars= As standard U.S. [[service pistol]]:
World War I <br/>World War II <br/>Korean War <br/>Vietnam War <br/>In non-standard use: <br/>Persian Gulf War <br/>War in Afghanistan <br/>Iraq War
|designer= [[John Browning]]
|design_date= 1911 and 1924 (A1)
|variants= M1911A1
[[M15 pistol|RIA Officers]] |number= Over 2.7 million |spec_type= [[Semi-automatic firearm|Semi-automatic]] [[pistol]] |part_length=Government model: 5.03 in (127 mm)
Commander model: 4.25 in (108 mm)<br> Officer's ACP model: 3.5 in (89 mm)
|cartridge= [[.45 ACP]] (11.43 mm)
|feed= 7-round standard detachable box [[magazine (firearms)|magazine]]
|action= [[Recoil operation#Short recoil operation|Short recoil operation]]
|velocity= {{convert|825|ft/s|0|abbr=on}}
|weight= 2.44 [[Pound (mass)|lb]] (1,105 [[Gram|g]]) empty, w/magazineFM 23-35, 1940
|length= 8.25 in (210 mm)

The M1911 is a single-action, semi-automatic, magazine-fed, recoil-operated pistol chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge,<ref name = “Manual”>

</ref> which served as the standard-issue sidearm for the United States Armed Forces from 1911 to 1985. It was first used in later stages of the Philippine-American War, and was widely used in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The M1911 is still carried by some U.S. forces. Its formal designation as of 1940 was Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911 for the original Model of 1911 or Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911A1 for the M1911A1, adopted in 1924. The designation changed to Pistol, Caliber .45, Automatic, M1911A1 in the Vietnam era.<ref name = “Manual”/> In total, the United States procured around 2.7 million M1911 and M1911A1 pistols in military contracts during its service life. The M1911 was replaced by the 9mm Beretta M9 pistol as the standard U.S. sidearm in the early 1990s, but due to its popularity among users, it has not been completely phased out. Modernized derivative variants of the M1911 are still in use by some units of the U.S. Army Special Forces, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.<ref name=Marines_order_M1911/>

Designed by John Browning, the M1911 is the best-known of his designs to use the short recoil principle in its basic design. The pistol was widely copied, and this operating system rose to become the preeminent type of the 20th century and of nearly all modern centerfire pistols. It is popular with civilian shooters in competitive events such as USPSA, IDPA, International Practical Shooting Confederation, and Bullseye shooting. Compact variants are popular civilian concealed carry weapons, because of the design's inherent slim width and the power of the .45 ACP cartridge.<ref>



Early history and adaptations

The M1911 pistol originated in the late 1890s as the result of a search for a suitable self-loading (or semi-automatic) pistol to replace the variety of revolvers then in service.<ref name=“Taylor”>

</ref> The United States was adopting new firearms at a phenomenal rate; several new pistols and two all-new service rifles (the M1892/96/98 Krag and M1895 Navy Lee), as well as a series of revolvers by Colt and Smith & Wesson for the Army and Navy, were adopted just in that decade. The next decade would see a similar pace, including the adoption of several more revolvers and an intensive search for a self-loading pistol that would culminate in official adoption of the M1911 after the turn of the decade.

Hiram S. Maxim had designed a self-loading rifle in the 1880s, but was preoccupied with machine guns. Nevertheless, the application of his principle of using bullet energy to reload led to several self-loading pistols in 1896. The designs caught the attention of various militaries, each of which began programs to find a suitable one for their forces. In the U.S., such a program would lead to a formal test at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century.<ref>



During the end of 1899 and start of 1900, a test of self-loading pistols was conducted, which included entries from Mauser (the C96 "Broomhandle"), Mannlicher (the Steyr Mannlicher M1894), and Colt (the Colt M1900).<ref name=“Taylor”/>

This led to a purchase of 1,000 DWM Luger pistols, chambered in 7.65 mm Luger, a bottlenecked cartridge. During field trials these ran into some problems, especially with stopping power. Other governments had made similar complaints. Consequently, DWM produced an enlarged version of the round, the 9 mm Parabellum (known in current military parlance as the 9×19&nbsp;mm NATO), a necked-up version of the 7.65&nbsp;mm round. Fifty of these were tested as well by the U.S. Army in 1903.<ref>Hogg (2004) p. 98</ref>

American units fighting Moro guerrillas during the Philippine-American War using the then-standard Colt M1892 revolver, in .38 Long Colt, found it to be unsuitable for the rigors of jungle warfare, particularly in terms of stopping power, as the Moros had very high battle morale and frequently used drugs to inhibit the sensation of pain.<ref>Linn, Brian McAllister. The Philippine War, 1899–1902 (Modern War Studies (Paperback)). University Press of Kansas. ISBN 978-0-7006-1225-3.</ref> The U.S. Army briefly reverted to using the M1873 single-action revolver in .45 Colt caliber, which had been standard during the late 19th century; the heavier bullet was found to be more effective against charging tribesmen.<ref name=“Poyer”>

</ref> The problems prompted the then–Chief of Ordnance, General William Crozier, to authorize further testing for a new service pistol.<ref name=“Poyer”/>

Following the 1904 Thompson-LaGarde pistol round effectiveness tests, Colonel John T. Thompson stated that the new pistol “should not be of less than .45 caliber” and would preferably be semi-automatic in operation.<ref name=“Poyer”/> This led to the 1906 trials of pistols from six firearms manufacturing companies (namely, Colt, Bergmann, Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM), Savage Arms Company, Knoble, Webley, and White-Merril).<ref name=“Poyer”/>

Of the six designs submitted, three were eliminated early on, leaving only the Savage, Colt, and DWM designs chambered in the new .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) cartridge.<ref name=“Poyer”/> These three still had issues that needed correction, but only Colt and Savage resubmitted their designs. There is some debate over the reasons for DWM's withdrawal—some say they felt there was bias and that the DWM design was being used primarily as a “whipping boy” for the Savage and Colt pistols,<ref name=“dmwwithdrawal”>Hallock, Kenneth R., Hallock's .45 Auto Handbook, Kenneth R. Hallock, 1980.</ref> though this does not fit well with the earlier 1900 purchase of the DWM design over the Colt and Steyr entries. In any case, a series of field tests from 1907 to 1911 were held to decide between the Savage and Colt designs.<ref name=“Poyer”/> Both designs were improved between each testing over their initial entries, leading up to the final test before adoption.<ref name=“Poyer”/>

Among the areas of success for the Colt was a test at the end of 1910 attended by its designer, John Browning. Six thousand rounds were fired from a single pistol over the course of two days. When the gun began to grow hot, it was simply immersed in water to cool it. The Colt gun passed with no reported malfunctions, while the Savage designs had 37.<ref name=“Poyer”/>

Service history

adopted by the U.S. Army in the 1970s for issue to Generals.]]

Following its success in trials, the Colt pistol was formally adopted by the Army on March 29, 1911, thus gaining its designation, M1911 (Model 1911). The Director of Civilian Marksmanship began manufacture of M1911 pistols for members of the National Rifle Association in August 1912. Approximately 100 pistols stamped “N.R.A.” below the serial number were manufactured at Springfield Armory and by Colt.<ref>Ness, Mark American Rifleman June 1983 p.58</ref> The M1911 was formally adopted by the Navy and Marine Corps in 1913.

World War I

By the beginning of 1917, a total of 68,533 M1911 pistols had been delivered to U.S. armed forces by Colt Firearms Company and the U.S. government's Springfield Armory. However, the need to greatly expand U.S. military forces and the resultant surge in demand for the firearm in World War I saw the expansion of manufacture to other contractors besides Colt and Springfield Armory, including Remington-UMC, North American Arms Co. of Quebec.<ref>Hogg (2004) p. 83</ref> Several other manufacturers were awarded contracts to produce the M1911, including the National Cash Register Company, the Savage Arms Company, the Caron Bros. of Montreal, the Burroughs Adding Machine Co., Winchester Repeating Arms Company, and the Lanston Monotype Company, but the signing of the Armistice resulted in the cancellation of the contracts before any pistols had been produced.

Interwar changes

Battlefield experience in the First World War led to some more small external changes, completed in 1924. The new version received a modified type classification, M1911A1, in 1926 with a stipulation that M1911A1s should have serial numbers higher than 700,000 with lower serial numbers designated M1911.<ref>Canfield, Bruce N. American Rifleman June 2005 p.26</ref> The M1911A1 changes to the original design consisted of a shorter trigger, cutouts in the frame behind the trigger, an arched mainspring housing, a longer grip safety spur (to prevent hammer bite), a wider front sight, a shortened hammer spur, and simplified grip checkering (eliminating the “Double Diamond” reliefs).<ref name=“Poyer”/> These changes were subtle, and largely intended to make the pistol easier to shoot for those with smaller hands. Many persons unfamiliar with the design are often unable to tell the difference between the two versions at a glance. No significant internal changes were made, and parts remained interchangeable between the M1911 and the M1911A1.<ref name=“Poyer”/>

Working for the U.S. Ordnance Office, David Marshall Williams developed a .22 training version of the M1911 using a floating chamber to give the .22 long rifle rimfire recoil similar to the .45 version.<ref name=“Poyer”/> As the Colt Service Ace, this was available both as a pistol and as a conversion kit for .45 M1911 pistols.<ref name=“Poyer”/>

Before World War II, a small number of modified M1911-pattern pistols in .45 caliber were produced under license at the Norwegian weapon factory Kongsberg Vaapenfabrikk, designated “Pistol M/1914” and unofficially known as “Kongsberg Colt”. Production continued after the German occupation of Norway in 1940. The Pistol M/1914 is noted for its unusual extended slide stop which was specified by Norwegian ordnance authorities. Throughout the M/1914's use in Norwegian military service, Norway continued to build the M/1914 pistol as originally specified. These pistols are highly regarded by modern collectors, with the 920 examples stamped with Nazi Waffenamt codes and the unknown number of unmarked examples assembled by the Norwegian resistance movement (the “Matpakke-Colt” or “Lunch Box Colt”) being the most sought after. German forces also used captured M1911A1 pistols, using the designation “Pistole 660(a)”.<ref>


The M1911 and M1911A1 pistols were also ordered from Colt or produced domestically in modified form by several other nations, including Argentina (Modello 1916 and Modello 1927 contract pistols, and the Ballester-Molina), in Brazil by the M1937 contract pistol, in Mexico by M1911 Mexican contract pistols and the Obregón, and in Spain by private manufacturers Star and Llama.

World War II

World War II and the years leading up to it created a great demand. During the war, about 1.9 million units 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 & Signal (50,000), and Singer (500). New M1911A1 pistols were given a parkerized metal finish instead of blueing, and the wood grip panels were replaced with panels made of brown plastic. The M1911A1 was a favored small arm of both US and allied military personnel during the war, in particular, the pistol was prized by some British commando units and the SOE as well as Commonwealth South African forces.<ref>

</ref><ref>Dunlap, Roy, Ordnance Went Up Front, Samworth Press (1948), p. 160</ref><ref>Thompson, Leroy, The Colt 1911 Pistol, Osprey Press, ISBN 1849084335, 978-1849084338 (2011), p. 48</ref>

So many 1911A1 pistols were produced during the war that the government cancelled all postwar contracts for new production, instead choosing to rebuild existing pistols with new parts, which were then refinished and tested for functioning. From the mid 1920s to the mid 1950s thousands of 1911s and 1911A1s where refurbished at U.S. Arsenals and Service depots. These arsenal rebuilds consisted of anything from minor inspections to major overhauls of pistols returned from service use. Pistols that were refurbished at Government arsenals will usually be marked on the frame/receiver with the arsenals initials, such as RIA (Rock Island Armory) or SA (Springfield Armory).

Among collectors today, the Singer-produced pistols in particular are highly prized, commanding high prices even in poor condition.<ref>


General Officer's Model

From 1943 to 1945 a fine-grade russet-leather M1916 pistol belt set was issued to some generals in the US Army. It was composed of a leather belt, leather enclosed flap-holster with braided leather tie-down leg strap, leather two-pocket magazine pouch, and a rope neck lanyard. The metal buckle and fittings were in gilded brass. The buckle had the seal of the United States on the center (or “male”) piece and a laurel wreath on the circular (or “female”) piece. The pistol was a standard-issue M1911A1 that came with a cleaning kit and three magazines.

From 1972 to 1981 a modified M1911A1 called the RIA M15 General Officer's Model was issued to General Officers in the US Army and US Air Force. From 1982 to 1986 the regular M1911A1 was issued. Both came with a black leather belt, open holster with retaining strap, and a two-pocket magazine pouch. The metal buckle and fittings were similar to the M1916 General Officer's Model except it came in gold metal for the Army and in silver metal for the Air Force.

In 1986, the M15 and M1911A1 were replaced with the Beretta M9, which is the current sidearm issued to General Officers in the Army and Air Force.

Replacement for most uses

After World War II, the M1911 continued to be a mainstay of the United States Armed Forces in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. It was used during Desert Storm in specialized U.S. Army units and U.S. Navy Mobile Construction Battalions (Seabees), and has seen service in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, with U.S. Army Special Forces Groups and Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance Companies.<ref name=Campbell>


However, by the late 1970s the M1911A1 was acknowledged to be showing its age. Under political pressure from Congress to standardize on a single modern pistol design, the U.S. Air Force ran a Joint Service Small Arms Program to select a new semi-automatic pistol using the NATO-standard 9&nbsp;mm Parabellum pistol cartridge. After trials, the Beretta 92S-1 was chosen. The Army contested this result and subsequently ran its own competition in 1981, the XM9 trials, eventually leading to the official adoption of the Beretta 92F on January 14, 1985. By the later 1980s production was ramping up despite a controversial XM9 retrial and a separate XM10 reconfirmation that was boycotted by some entrants of the original trials, cracks in the frames of some pre-M9 Beretta-produced pistols, and despite a problem with slide separation using higher-than-specified-pressure rounds that resulted in injuries to some U.S. Navy special operations operatives. This last issue resulted in an updated model that includes additional protection for the user, the 92FS, and updates to the ammunition used.<ref name= gd2011>


By the early 1990s, most M1911A1s had been replaced by the M9, though a limited number remain in use by special units. The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) in particular were noted for continuing the use of M1911 pistols for selected personnel in MEU(SOC) and reconnaissance units (though the USMC also purchased over 50,000 M9 pistols). For its part, the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) issued a requirement for a .45 ACP pistol in the Offensive Handgun Weapon System (OHWS) trials. This resulted in the Heckler & Koch OHWS becoming the MK23 Mod 0 Offensive Handgun Weapon System (itself being heavily based on the 1911's basic field strip), beating the Colt OHWS, a much modified M1911. Dissatisfaction with the stopping power of the 9&nbsp;mm Parabellum cartridge used in the Beretta M9 has actually promoted re-adoption of pistols based on the .45 ACP cartridge such as the M1911 design, along with other pistols, among USSOCOM units in recent years, though the M9 remains predominant both within SOCOM and in the U.S. military in general.<ref name=Campbell/>

Current users in the United States

Many military and law enforcement organizations in the United States and other countries continue to use (often modified) M1911A1 pistols including Marine Corps Special Operations Command, Los Angeles Police Department SWAT. and L.A.P.D. S.I.S., the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, F.B.I. regional S.W.A.T. teams, and 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment—Delta (Delta Force). The Tacoma, Washington Police Department selected the Kimber Pro Carry II or Pro Carry II HD as optional, department supplied weapons available to its officers.<ref name=“Tacoma”>


(contemporary remake of the World War II G.I. Model, parkerized).]]

The M1911A1 is popular among the general public in the United States for practical and recreational purposes. The pistol is commonly used for concealed carry thanks in part to a single-stack magazine (which makes for a thinner pistol that is therefore easier to conceal), personal defense, target shooting, and competition. Numerous aftermarket accessories allow users to customize the pistol to their liking. There are a growing number of manufacturers of M1911-type pistols and the model continues to be quite popular for its reliability, simplicity, and patriotic appeal. Various tactical, target, and compact models are available. Price ranges from a low end of around $400 for basic pistols imported from the Philippines or Turkey (Armscor, Tisas, Rock Island Armory, Girsan, STI Spartan) to more than $4,000 for the best competition or tactical versions (Wilson Combat, Ed Brown, Les Baer, Nighthawk Custom, and STI International.<ref>


Due to an increased demand for M1911 pistols among Army Special Operations units, who are known to field a variety of M1911 pistols, the Army Marksmanship Unit began looking to develop a new generation of M1911s and launched the M1911-A2 project in late 2004.<ref name=“AMU”/> The goal was to produce a minimum of seven variants with various sights, internal and external extractors, flat and arched mainspring housings, integral and add-on magazine wells, a variety of finishes and other options, with the idea of providing the end-user a selection from which to select the features that best fit their missions.<ref name=“AMU”/> The AMU performed a well received demonstration of the first group of pistols to the Marine Corps at Quantico and various Special Operations units at Ft. Bragg and other locations.<ref name=“AMU”/> The project provided a feasibility study with insight into future projects.<ref name=“AMU”/> Models were loaned to various Special Operations units, the results of which are classified. An RFP was issued for a Joint Combat Pistol but it was ultimately canceled.<ref name=“AMU”/> Currently units are experimenting with an M1911 platform in .40 which will incorporate lessons learned from the A2 project. Ultimately, the M1911A2 project provided a test bed for improving existing M1911s. An improved M1911 variant becoming available in the future is a possibility.<ref name=“AMU”/>

The Springfield Custom Professional Model 1911A1 pistol is produced under contract by Springfield Armory for the FBI regional SWAT teams and the Hostage Rescue Team.<ref>

</ref> This pistol is made in batches on a regular basis by the Springfield Custom Shop, and a few examples from most runs are made available for sale to the general public at a selling price of approximately US$2,700 each.

MEU(SOC) pistol

Marine Expeditionary Units formerly issued M1911s to Force Recon units.<ref name=“Marine”>

</ref> Hand-selected Colt M1911A1 frames were gutted, deburred, and prepared for additional use by the USMC Precision Weapon Section (PWS) at Marine Corps Base Quantico.<ref name=“Marine”/> They were then assembled with after-market grip safeties, ambidextrous thumb safeties, triggers, improved high-visibility sights, accurized barrels, grips, and improved Wilson magazines.<ref name=“SemperFi”>

</ref> These hand-made pistols were tuned to specifications and preferences of end users.<ref name=“SOF”>Johnston, Gary Paul.(2004)“One Good Pistol”, Soldier of Fortune Magazine, December 2004, 62–67</ref>

In the late 1980s, the Marines laid out a series of specifications and improvements to make Browning's design ready for 21st century combat, many of which have been included in MEU (SOC) pistol designs, but design and supply time was limited.<ref name = “SOF”/> Discovering that the Los Angeles Police Department was pleased with their special Kimber M1911 pistols, a single source request was issued to Kimber for just such a pistol despite the imminent release of their TLE/RLII models.<ref name=“swat”>Rogers, Patrick A.(2003)“Marines New SOCOM Pistol”, SWAT Magazine, December 2003, 52–57</ref> Kimber shortly began producing a limited number of what would be later termed the Interim Close Quarters Battle pistol (ICQB). Maintaining the simple recoil assembly, 5-inch barrel (though using a stainless steel match grade barrel), and internal extractor, the ICQB is not much different from Browning's original design.<ref name=“swat”/>

In late July 2012, the U.S. Marines placed a $22.5 million order for 12,000 M1911 pistols for MEU(SOC) forces.<ref name=Marines_order_M1911>

</ref> The new 1911 was designated M45A1 or “Close Quarters Battle Pistol” CQBP. The M45A1 features a dual recoil spring assembly, Picatinny rails and is cerakoted tan in color.

Other users over the world

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Numbers of Colt M1911s were used by the UK Royal Navy as sidearms during World War I in .455 Webley Automatic caliber.<ref name=“Poyer”/> The pistols were then transferred to the UK Royal Air Force where they saw use in limited numbers up until the end of World War II as sidearms for air crew in event of bailing out in enemy territory.<ref name=“Poyer”/> Some units of the South Korean Air Force still use these original batches as officers' sidearms.

Norway used the Kongsberg Colt which was a license produced variant and is recognized by the unique slide catch. Many Spanish firearms manufacturers produced pistols derived from the 1911, such as the STAR Model B, the ASTRA 1911PL, and the Llama Model IX, just to name a few.<ref>

</ref> Argentina produced a licensed copy, the Model 1927 Sistema Colt, which eventually led to production of the cheaper Ballester-Molina, which resembles the 1911, but is not actually based on it.

The German Volkssturm used captured M1911s at the end of World War II under the weapon code P.660(a), in which the alphabet means “Amerika”, the weapons' origin country.<ref>



The Brazilian company IMBEL (Indústria de Material Bélico do Brasil) still produces the .45 in several variants for military and law enforcement uses.The Greek Hellenic Army issues the World War II production American M1911 as sidearm. These pistols are supplied as military aid in 1946 and afterward as the U.S. aided Greece against Communist expansion.<ref name=“GreekMil”>


The Royal Thai Army and Royal Thai Police uses the Type 86, the Thai copy of the M1911 chambered in the .45 ACP round,<ref name=“Small Arms Illustrated, 2010”>Small Arms Illustrated, 2010.</ref> and still uses USGI M1911s supplied as military aid during the Vietnam War era while Rapid Action Battalion (RAB Forces), an anti-terrorist police tactical team in Bangladesh uses this weapon.<ref>


The Armed Forces of the Philippines issues Mil-spec M1911A1 pistols as a sidearm to the special forces, military police and officers. These pistols are mostly produced by Colt, though some of them are produced locally by Armscor, a Philippine company specialized in making 1911-style pistols. The Indonesian Army issued a locally produced version of the Springfield M1911, chambered in .45 ACP along with the Pindad P1, the locally manufactured Browning Hi-Power pistol as the standard issue sidearm.

A Chinese Arms manufacturer, Norinco, exports a clone of the M1911A1 for civilian purchase as the M-1911A1 and the high-capacity NP-30, as well 9mm variants the NP-28 and NP-29. Norinco also manufactured conversion kits to chamber the 7.62x25mm Tokarev round after the Korean War.<ref name=“Small Arms Illustrated, 2010”/>

As of 2013, the pistol is made under license instead of copying with Colt manufacturing machinery, due to an agreement between Norinco and Colt in order to stop Norinco from producing the Norinco CQ rifle. Importation into the United States was blocked by trade rules in 1993 but Norinco still manage to import the weapon into Canada and successfully adopted by IPSC shooters, gunsmiths and firearms enthusiasts there because of the cheaper price of the pistol than the other M1911s.

In the 1950s, the Republic of China Army used original M1911A1s, and the batches are now still used by some forces. In 1962, Taiwan copied the M1911A1 as the T51 pistol, and it saw limited use in the Army. After that, the T51 was improved and introduced for export as the T51K1. Now the pistols in service are replaced by locally-made Beretta 92 pistols- the T75 pistol.

Civilian models

  • Colt Government Mk. IV Series 70 (1970–1983): Introduced the accurized Collet Barrel Bushing (1970–1988).
  • Colt Government Mk. IV Series 80 (1983–1988): Introduced an internal firing pin safety.
  • Colt M1991A1 (1991–2001 ORM; 2001–present NRM): A hybrid of the M1911A1 military model redesigned to use the slide of the Mk. IV Model 80. The 1991–2001 model used the old Colt rollmark engraved on the slide. The 2001 model introduced a new rollmark engraving.

Custom models

Since its inception, the M1911 has lent itself to easy customization. Replacement sights, grips, and other aftermarket accessories are the most commonly offered parts. Since the 1950s and the rise of competitive pistol shooting, many companies have been offering the M1911 as a base model for major customization. These modifications can range from changing the external finish, checkering the frame, and hand fitting custom hammers, triggers, and sears. Some modifications include installing compensators and the addition of accessories such as tactical lights and even scopes.<ref name=“Thompson”>

</ref> A common modification of John Moses Browning's design is to use a full-length guide rod that runs the full length of the recoil spring. This adds weight to the front of the pistol, but does not increase accuracy, and does make the pistol slightly more difficult to disassemble.<ref>

}}</ref> Custom guns can cost over $5000 and are built from the ground up or on existing base models.<ref name=“Rauch”>

</ref> The main companies offering custom M1911s are: Magnum Research, Springfield Custom Shop, Ed Brown, STI International, Nighthawk Custom, Wilson Combat, Les Baer and Astra Arms in Switzerland. ISPC models are offered by both Strayer Voigt Inc (Infinity Firearms) and STI International.


Browning's basic M1911 design has seen very little change throughout its production life.<ref name = “Manual”/> The basic principle of the pistol is recoil operation.<ref name = “Manual”/> As the expanding combustion gases force the bullet down the barrel, they give reverse momentum to the slide and barrel which are locked together during this portion of the firing cycle. After the bullet has left the barrel, the slide and barrel continue rearward a short distance.<ref name = “Manual”/>

At this point, a link pivots the rear of the barrel down, out of locking recesses in the slide, and the barrel is stopped by contact of the lower barrel lugs against the frame's vertical impact surface. As the slide continues rearward, a claw extractor pulls the spent casing from the firing chamber and an ejector strikes the rear of the case, pivoting it out and away from the pistol. The slide stops and is then propelled forward by a spring to strip a fresh cartridge from the magazine and feed it into the firing chamber. At the forward end of its travel, the slide locks into the barrel and is ready to fire again.<ref name = “Manual”/>

The military mandated a grip safety and a manual safety.<ref name = “Manual”/> A grip safety, sear disconnect, slide stop, half cock position, and manual safety (located on the left rear of the frame) are on all standard M1911A1s.<ref name = “Manual”/> Several companies have developed a firing pin block safety. Colt's 80 series uses a trigger operated one and several other manufacturers, including Kimber and Smith & Wesson, use a Swartz firing-pin safety, which is operated by the grip safety.<ref>U.S. Patent 2,169,084 (1939)</ref><ref name=“Davis”>Davis and Raynor(1976), Safe Pistols Made Even Safer, American Rifleman, Jan. 1976</ref> Language cautioning against placing the index finger along the side of the gun to assist in aiming was included in the initial M1911 manual, and later manuals up to the 1940s.<ref>1912 Military Manual on the 1911 (published in 1912)</ref>

The same basic design has been offered commercially and has been used by other militaries. In addition to the .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol), models chambered for .38 Super, 9 mm Parabellum, 7.65mm Parabellum, 9mm Steyr,<ref>

</ref> .400 Corbon, and other cartridges were offered. The M1911 was developed from earlier Colt designs firing rounds such as .38 ACP. The design beat out many other contenders during the government's selection period, during the late 1890s and early 1900s, up to the pistol's adoption. The M1911 officially replaced a range of revolvers and pistols across branches of the U.S. armed forces, though a number of other designs have seen use in certain niches.<ref>


Despite being challenged by newer and lighter weight pistol designs in .45 caliber, such as the Glock 21, the SIG Sauer P220 and the Heckler & Koch USP, the M1911 shows no signs of decreasing popularity and continues to be widely present in various competitive matches such as those of USPSA, IDPA, IPSC, and Bullseye.<ref name=“AMU”>



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  • Cartridge: .45 ACP;
  • Other commercial and military derivatives: Other versions offered include .22, .38 Super, 9mm Parabellum, .40 S&W, 10mm Auto, .400 Corbon, .460 Rowland, .22 LR, .50 GI, .455 Webley, 9×23mm Winchester, and others. The most popular alternative versions are 9mm Parabellum (9×19mm), .38 Super and 10mm Auto.
  • Barrel: 5 in (127&nbsp;mm) Government, 4.25 in (108&nbsp;mm) Commander, and the 3.5 in (89&nbsp;mm) Officer's ACP. Some modern “carry” guns have significantly shorter barrels and frames, while others use standard frames and extended slides with 6 in (152&nbsp;mm) barrels
  • Rate of twist: 16 in (406&nbsp;mm) per turn, or 1:35.5 calibers (.45 ACP)
  • Operation: Recoil-operated, closed breech, single action, semi-automatic
  • Weight (unloaded): 2&nbsp;lb 7 oz (1.1&nbsp;kg) (government model)
  • Height: 5.25 in (133&nbsp;mm)
  • Length: 8.25 in (210&nbsp;mm)
  • Capacity: 7+1 rounds (7 in standard-capacity magazine +1 in firing chamber); 8+1 in aftermarket standard-size magazine; 10+1 in extended and high capacity magazines.<ref>

    }}</ref> Guns chambered in .38 Super and 9&nbsp;mm have a 9+1 capacity. Some manufacturers, such as Armscor, Para Ordnance, Strayer Voigt Inc and STI International Inc, offer 1911-style pistols using double-stacked magazines with significantly larger capacities (typically 14 rounds). Colt makes their own 8 round magazines which they include with their Series 80 XSE models.

  • Safeties: A grip safety, sear disconnect, slide stop, a half cock position, and manual safety (located on the left rear of the frame) are on all standard M1911A1s. Several companies have developed a firing pin block. Colt's 80 series uses a trigger operated one and several other manufacturers (such as Smith & Wesson) use one operated by the grip safety.

Cultural impact

As of March 18, 2011, the state of Utah in the United States—as a way of honoring their native son, M1911 designer John Browning—adopted the Browning M1911 as the “official firearm of Utah”.<ref>


Similar pistols

See also


Further reading

  • Meadows, Edward S. U.S. Military Automatic Pistols: 1894–1920. Richard Ellis Publications, 1993.
  • The Bluejackets' Manual, 12th edition. Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Institute, 1944.
Why The 1911?

Colt 1911

By Syd


I like it.

I shoot it better than any other pistol I have tried.

It looks good.

I can put any kind of grips on it that I want.

It is accurate, powerful and fast (DVC).

I understand and can maintain any part on it.

It has the best trigger of any handgun ever built.

It is durable.

I like it.

A visitor to The Sight M1911 once asked me to “sell” him on the M1911. I said, “Well, shucks, I thought your were going to ask me something hard.”

People often quiz me about why I’m so stuck on the M1911 pistol. After all, it’s an old design, in service since 1911 – the source of its name – and there are newer, excellent designs of auto pistols. The SIGs, Glocks, CZ, and H&K pistols are all excellent designs which perform admirably. None of them are perfect, but many are mighty doggone good. The modern pistolero really suffers from an abundance of riches.

The International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) selected as its motto, “Diligentia – Vis – Celeritas” – “Accuracy – Power – Speed”. This comes directly from the teachings and philosophy of its first president, Col. Jeff Cooper. It’s no coincidence that Col. Cooper’s handgun of choice was the M1911 .45 automatic pistol. In my own thrashing about to find the right personal sidearm, I found that I agreed with Cooper. I got more accuracy, power (not firepower) and speed with the M1911 than I did with other types of pistols. It’s really as simple as that. It’s the gun I shoot the best.

Other things I like about the M1911 include its distinguished M1911 service history and the fact that it readily lends itself to customization. More Congressional Medals of Honor have been won with M1911 pistols than any other side arm. There are lots of M1911 aftermarket modifications you can do to personalize your gun. If you’re inclined to tinkering, the M1911 is your gun. One of the interesting ironies about the M1911 is that, while it’s one of the oldest autoloader designs, it’s still the fastest (for my money). An expert Glock shooter who knows how to do the Glock short trigger reset can keep up with an M1911, but a normal shooter can get off rounds faster with Old Loudmouth than any of the other autos.

Reliability: I have one autoloader which has never jammed, and that’s a S&W 6906 9mm. Every other autoloader I know about has jammed sometime. For all of their hype, I have seen Glocks (and most other brands) act up at matches and training sessions. Compared to a good wheel gun, all autoloaders are fussy. There are several variables that affect this, including ammo, magazines, and how your grip your handgun. An auto which is not supported properly can gun jam. My Kimber M1911 is rock solid, but I have had times in which I was shooting from weird positions and around barricades on my weak side and have experienced feed failures. My son shoots a Beretta M9, a pistol renowned for its reliability, and when he was first learning to use the pistol he was plagued with feed failures because his grip simply wasn’t firm gun grip enough. A damaged firearm magazine, weak firearm springs, and out of spec ammo can all trigger firearm malfunctions in autoloaders. Part of learning to effectively use an autoloader is mastering a solid grip and learning to clear malfunctions. An M1911 which is properly set up and using appropriate ammunition is a highly reliable gun. An M1911 which is tightened and “accurized” to shoot 1” patterns at 50 yards should not be expected to enjoy a high level of combat reliability. Appropriate M1911 ammunition is 45 ACP 230 grain FMJ or 45 ACP 230 grain hollowpoints which have the same bullet shape of the FMJ round. Colt Combat Commander 1911

Testimonials for the M1911

Jeff Cooper:

“The 1911 pistol remains the service pistol of choice in the eyes of those who understand the problem. Back when we audited the FBI academy in 1947, I was told that I ought not to use my pistol in their training program because it was not fair. Maybe the first thing one should demand of his sidearm is that it be unfair.”

Guns & Ammo, January 2002

Clint Smith On The 1911

“The 1911 remains popular because it’s an efficient tool. In more than 30 years of experience, I’ve met more competent, serious gunmen who carry 1911’s than those who pack any other handgun. They are professionals – policemen, government agents and others who carry a handgun daily because the know their life may depend on it…Me? I’ve carried a 1911 every single day for the past 20 years. It’s a very comforting gun to have at your hip. It offers a good, consistent single-action trigger pull and is wonderfully dependable. Because the 1911 is basically a defensive handgun, I’m not concerned about tight groups. I don’t bother with expanding hollowpoints that could cause feeding problems in M1911s. For absolute reliability, I shoot only high-quality ball ammunition. That big .45 slug doesn’t have to expand to be effective.”

From Guns and Ammo, September, 2001.

Kimber Classic II

Tom Givens, Author and Trainer

As a “fighting” handgun, a properly set up and tuned 1911 has no equal. It has superb handgun ergonomics, redundant handgun safeties, excellent reliability and longevity, and the best M1911 trigger action available on any common service pistol. The trigger alone makes it the easiest service pistol to shoot well at speed. My primary handgun every single day, 365 days a year, is a lightly customized 1911.

That said, the 1911 is NOT a gun for the casual user, or what we call NDP’s (non-dedicated personnel). The gun was designed when technology was expensive, but skilled labor was not. The exact opposite is true today. A carry 1911 should be gone over by an experienced specialist (Heinie, Burns, Yam, Yost, Garthwaite, etc) and then properly maintained by the end user. The average cop or typical CCW holder would be better served with a Glock or SIG in most cases. If you’re willing to spend the money to get a properly set up 1911 and TRAIN with it, then you’re not “average”.

Last year I took three classes as a student (Taylor, Gonzales, Suarez) and the year before one from Clint Smith. In each of those classes I fired about 800 rounds through my carry 1911 without cleaning it and with zero M1911 malfunctions. At the NTI last year, I dropped an impact target with about an eight inch square vital zone at approximately 80 yards, from an awkward position, with one shot from my carry 1911, while being filmed by a TV crew. The superb trigger on my gun made that a lot easier. Since I have a choice in my personal weapons, I choose to carry the system that stacks the odds in my favor. My life is worth the extra expense/effort. YMMV.

Chief Michael King on the M1911

“I’ve shot EVERYTHING in twenty-five plus years of law enforcement and never found anything I like better.”

Chuck Taylor

“If you’ve heard that Old Ugly is on the way out, you’d better look again, for such is simply untrue; quite the opposite. Everything it has had the capacity to do for the last eight and a half decades remains valid. It thus remains King Of The Hill and will likely continue to do so well into the next millennium. To produce a handgun with better or more practical capabilities will be difficult and perhaps impossible. And I, for one, feel that we can look forward to watching the M1911 continue to dominate the handgun world well into the foreseeable future.”

“So, is there really a “best” pistol? Technically, if we eliminate shooter skill from the equation, yes. When interviewed after the tests, all participants agreed that the big Colt Government .45 (SA) had the best all-around combination of power, “user-friendliness,” accuracy and functional reliability, while the Glock 22 .40 S&W (“semi”- DA) and LW Commander .45 (SA) tied for second. The Browning P-35 9mm (SA) was rated fourth and the Smith & Wesson M-39 9mm (DA) last.” Kimber Pro Carry 1911 Pistol

Officer Lawrence Birch

“Being a police officer, I have always carried a sidearm. For the past 9 years it has been a 9mm S&W M&P 9. I never liked it and always wanted my 1911 as a sidearm. In 2001, I, along with two other officers took on a tremendous task of selecting a new sidearm for my police department. All of us are partial to the 1911. It was very difficult to be fair and objective in this test. In an age of polymer guns and the 9mm and .40 rage, it was a task to find a suitable sidearm for some 50+ officers. The round was nothing but the .45, and why not? Isn’t that what everything is compared to these days? We shot and tested our guns in a brutally harsh manner, water, sand, mud and pond water rinses, thousands of rounds and a few sessions of “toss the gun at the wall”. The four competitors were Glock, Smith, SIG and Para-Ordnance M1911. Only two passed our tests, SIG and Para. In the end, 19 our of 20 police officers picked the Para, the chief went with the choice of the men and now our department carries the Para-Ordnance 14.45 LDA. Our officers qualification scores have risen dramatically and in a since we still carry a piece of history with us wherever we go. If John Browning only knew what a creation he had made.”

Daniel N. Powell, USMC

When I qualified with the 1911 in the Marines, my pistol rattled when I shook it, but it would still put a full magazine into the center of a combat target. Later, when we were issued the M9, none of us could shoot them accurately. Not long after they were issued, the Corps recalled the M9 and re-issued the 1911 for that reason. It wasn’t until the Pentagon ordered the Marines to carry the M9 that they were re-issued. However, almost every Marine I encountered carrying a sidearm carried a 1911 in defiance of the order right up until I was discharged in 1991.

Hal Lowder, US Army Military Police Corps

I was very fortunate that when I was deployed to the Persian Gulf that my unit was low on the list to get Beretta’s. so I HAD to carry my 1911. It was nice having a functioning sidearm that I didn’t have to carry in a plastic sandwich bag like most of the other guys did. And I might add, with no malfunctions. My Remington Rand M1911 issue fired every time !!

2LT Robert Wancha, 1776th Military Police Co., Michigan Army National Guard

About 15 years ago my National Guard unit went to qualify with weapons (individual and crew-served). I stepped up to the firing line for qualification and I was handed a very, very old Colt 1911A1. The thing was beat to death, sloppy in fit from years of service, and badly pitted from just as many years of neglect. With a tight annual budget and little money for ammo, we didn’t even have the chance to fire a few rounds for familiarization. So at this point having never handled a 1911A1, I started the qualification. I couldn’t see where the rounds were striking the target, but I had faith and kept shooting center mass. When the firing stopped, we were told to walk downrange and check our targets. I put them all in a very tight circle in the black. I qualified expert. I could not believe a rattlebox in that state of shape could deliver such performance.

CQB 1911

Bob, USN

When I was a young man (19 I believe), I had to apprehend a guy who went berserk and was holding a Navy nurse with a knife to her throat. I fired a round that hit the forearm just above the elbow. The impact spun him around completely and threw him to the ground. It was then that I knew why this piece was the standard issue sidearm. After 40 years, it’s still as vivid in my memory as if it has happened yesterday. For me it was a sad day when it was replaced by the 9mm Beretta back in ’85.

Martin, US Army

I was an Urban warfare instructor in Berlin, Germany with the Army. There I learned that the m1911 is the best pistol for warfare and home defense. We used both .45 cal. Colts and Beretta’s in 9mm. Nearly all instructors praised the 1911A-1. It is a great weapon for urban warfare and home defense.

Jeff Chandler, Movie Actor

A youth spent in New York City, where even admiration for a gun struck terror in the hearts of one’s elders, kept me from gun appreciation for some time. In fact, it wasn’t until I was in the service that I made close contact with firearms. And out of the welter of guns they threw at us, my fondest association was with the Colt.45 Automatic Pistol. It’s a tricky little devil, but has always paralleled, for me, the kind of punch I admire in the ring—short, well-aimed, and devastating.

Cpl. Rick Jakubowski, 31st MEU(SOC),

Experience and practice give DAP Marines the capability to fire three short, two-round bursts at each target they engage, and every member carries a .45-caliber pistol as a secondary weapon because of its high-caliber knockdown power. The handgun normally serves as a backup when there is no time to reload the MP-5. It is also used for accuracy when firing on a ‘bad guy’ using a civilian as a shield. DAP Marines train extensively with their pistols to expand their skill at accomplishing these difficult shots. Some of the DAP Marines carry 12-gauge shotguns for “minor nuisances” like locked doors.

Jans Sistem

Bill P., Law Enforcement

Early in my career, probably 27-28 years ago, I was involved in a drug bust/warrant arrest. One of my partners was armed with a Colt .45 1911. Upon entering the apartment of the bad guy and announcing our purpose, the bad guy, who happened to be standing next to an ironing board with a hot iron on it picked up the iron and was about to use it as a weapon when my partner drew the .45, pointed it at the bad guy’s chest, saying “Put it down or I’m going to put 5 big ones in the middle of your chest.” Needless to say, the bad guy succumbed to the big hole in the end of the Colt.

“Is the 1911 an Outdated Design?”

Rosco S. Benson on rec.guns “Is the 1911 an Outdated Design?”

Of course the 1911 is an outdated design. It came from an era when weapons were designed to win fights, not to avoid product liability lawsuits. It came from an era where it was the norm to learn how your weapon operated and to practice that operation until it became second nature, not to design the piece to the lowest common denominator. It came from an era in which our country tried to supply its fighting men with the best tools possible, unlike today, when our fighting men and women are issued hardware that was adopted because of international deal-making or the fact that the factory is in some well-connected congressman’s district. Yes, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the 1911 IS an outdated design….and that’s exactly what I love about it.

The gangster era of the 1930s and the two world wars are mythical, archetypal times, and during that time, the “Colt Automatic” was the butt-kicking pistol. There really wasn’t any competition over here in auto pistols. Of the great pistols, only the Luger co-existed with the M1911 and they weren’t very popular in the States. The Luger was feared and respected, but our lawmen, soldiers and hoods didn’t select it to create their legends. I don’t know if the Glock or the Beretta will ever get the chance to serve during an era as uniquely suited to the creation of legend and mystique in the way the M1911 did. It’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time, and getting the job done when the chips were down.

Kimber Desert Warrior 1911 Pistol Fair Use Disclaimer Source:

“The Colt .45 Automatic: A Shop Manual Volume 1” Book by Jerry Kuhnhausen

Publisher: Heritage Gun Books Date of Publication: 1990 Number of Pages: 202 Pages

Summary of Material: Covers troubleshooting & problem solving, parts inspections, and complete repair, rebuilding & accurizing of the Colt .45 Government Models, including Series 80's, and the U.S. Military M1911 & M1911A1 Models. Also covers all copies and clones of the M1911 Pistol. Necessary tooling is also shown.

“The U.S. M1911/1911A1 Pistols and Commercial M1911 Type Pistols Volume 2: A Shop Manual” Book by Jerry Kuhnhausen

Publisher: Heritage Gun Books Date of Publication: not listed Number of Pages: 207 Pages

Summary of Material: This manual covers new and updated material, parts dimension and hardness specs, and the nuts and bolts tech data required to dimensionally inspect, restore, repair and build accurate, reliable, “blueprint” quality carry and competition grade M1911's.

Specific References
General References

Based on research from diverse Fair Use Disclaimer Sources:

Snippet from Wikipedia: 1911

1911 (MCMXI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar, the 1911th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 911th year of the 2nd millennium, the 11th year of the 20th century, and the 2nd year of the 1910s decade. As of the start of 1911, the Gregorian calendar was 13 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

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m1911_pistol.txt · Last modified: 2020/03/12 18:35 (external edit)