Jun 18, 2013

Weapons of Choice: M1911 and M1911A1 and new M1911A2

If I am going to discuss the M1911, then I must introduce the genius of its design and several other types of firearms – pistols, shotguns, rifles, and machine guns.
John Moses Browning, January 23rd 1855 to November 26th 1926 was born in Ogden, Utah and was an American firearms designer who developed military and civilian firearms, cartridges, and gun mechanisms that are still used around the world. When it comes to automatic and semi-automatic firearms, he is still the king with 128 firearm patents credited to his name. He made his firearm at the age of 13 in his father's gun shop, and was awarded his first patent on October 7th 1879 at the age of 24. Browning was a great influence in almost all categories of firearm design, inventing or improving the single-shot, lever-action, and slide-action rifles and shotguns; as well as pistol bolts and shrouds and pistol slides. He developed the first gas-operated machine gun, the Colt-Browning Model 1895. He also designed the M1911 pistol, the Browning Hi Power pistol, the Browning .50 caliber machine gun, the Browning Automatic Rifle, and the Browning Auto-5 that was an original semi-automatic shotgun. Most of these firearms are still produced today with some minor changes and cosmetics and his guns are the most copied in the world. See his full biography at Wikipedia.

The M1911 was originally designed for the military to replace the issued revolvers to provide more firepower in combat. Today, law enforcement and civilians prize these handguns and copy derivatives in traditional .45 caliber and modern NATO 9mm. The pistol is featured in private clubs and websites. The US Marine Corps still uses them, but the US Army replaced it with the Beretta 9mm; and let's face it – Italians take pride in producing fine firearms as well as quality replicas of the firearms of the Old West by Uberti.
The M1911 is a single-action, semi-automatic, magazine-fed, recoil-operated pistol chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. It served as the US Armed Forces side arm from 1911 to 1985. It was used in World War I, World War II, Korean War, and the Vietnam War. A variant, tactical model is still used by the US Special Forces, the US Navy, and the US Marine Corps. Its design, by John Browning used the short recoil principle in the basic design. It comes in various designs and models, more compact and lighter ones for concealed carry.
After a series of trials, the Colt M1911 was formally adopted by the US Army as its side arm on March 29th 1911 and later, in 1913, by the Navy and Marine Corps. After experience in World War I, the M1911 underwent small external changes that was completed in 1924. The new version was classified as M1911A1 in 1926. Changes were minor and consisted of a shorter trigger, cutouts in the frame behind the trigger, an arched mainspring housing, a longer grip safety spur (prevents hammer bite).
The pistol has been widely adopted world wide with different variations and is the basis for all of the 20th century type semiautomatic centerfire pistols with variations like using 9mm cartridges instead of the traditional .45 ACP cartridges. The greatest demand for the M1911 was in World War II and became the favored pistol of US military personnel. It became a standard issue to general officers from 1943 to 1945, but some of the older generals still favored the revolver, like General Patton who had a pair of ivory-handled revolvers he once fired both at an enemy German aircraft strafing his command area. The standard issue was the M1911A1 that came with a cleaning kit and three magazines. From 1972 to 1981 the modified M1911A1 was called RIA M15 General Officer's Model issued to general officers in the US Army and US Air Force. From 1982 to 1986 the regular M1911A1 was issued and 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 silver metal for the Air Force. In 1986, the M15 and M1911A1 were replaced with the Beretta M9, now the standard issue for General Officers in the Army and Air Force. Many military and law enforcement organizations in the United States and other countries continue to use the M1911A1, often modified, including the Marine Corps Special Operations Command, Los Angeles Police Department S.W.A.T., the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, FNI regional S.W.A.T. Teams, and the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment called Delta Force. The M1911A1 is also popular among the general public in the United States for practical and sporting purposes. It is often used for conceal carry because it has a single-stack magazine that makes it thinner and easier to conceal and smaller frame models are now being made for that purpose. Price range are from a low $500 for basic pistols imported from the Philippines or Turkey to more than $4,000 for the competition or tactical versions made by Wilson Combat, Ed Brown, Les Baer, Nighthawk Custom, and STI International.
There has been an increase in demand for M1911 pistols among Army Special Operations units, so the Army Marksmanship Unit began looking to develop a new generation of M1911s and began the project to make M1911-A2 models in 2004. The Springfield Custom Professional Model M1911A1 is produced under contract by Springfield Armory for the FBI SWAT teams and Hostage Rescue Team. They are available, on occasion, to the public for about $3,000. They are assembled with after-market grip safeties, ambidextrous thumb safeties, custom triggers, improved high-visibility sights, accurized barrels, custom grips, and improved Wilson magazines. \
In July of 2012, the US Marines placed a $22.5 million order for 12,000 M1911 pistols for MEU(SOC) forces. The new M1911 was redesignated as M45A1 or CQBP [Close Quarters Battle Pistol]. The M45A1 features a dual recoil spring assembly, Picatinny rails and is cerakoted tan in color.
Civilian models are: Colt Government Mk. IV Series 70 (1970-1983), Colt Government Mk. IV Series 80 (1983-1988) and Colt M1911A1 (1991-2001 for ORM [compact model] and 2001 to present for NRM). The 1991 to 2001 models sport the old Colt rollmark engraved on the slide.
Despite being challenged by newer and lighter weight pistol designs in .45 caliber, like the Glock 21m SIG Sauer P220, and Heckler & Koch USP, the M1911 continues to be popular with custom guns being purchased for over $5,000.
It's design has not changed much, the basic principle being it is a recoil operation. The military insisted, since it was a single-action, that a grip and manual safety be installed and thus became the standard for the M1911A1 and copies.
In honor of John Browning, as of March 18th, 2011, the state of Utah honors their native son who designed the Colt M1911 and Browning Hi-Power, the Browning M1911 has become the official firearm of Utah. There was a bit of a squabble in the Utah legislation about having a firearm as part of an icon for a state. Carol Spackman Moss [Democrat] claimed the idea was benign and:
It seems insensitive to me at this time when many people are mourning the deaths of six people in Tucson and the serious wounding of Gabrielle Giffords, a friend of mine, Many people have a negative experience with guns because guns do kill people when they're in the hands of those who use them wrongly. When I was first elected to this office someone gave me this advice: Don't ever speak against guns. And now I'm going to break this advice. … I have difficulty imagining schoolchildren drawing and coloring the Utah state symbols – the delicate sego lily, the majestic Rocky Mountain elk, and the tasty sugar beet and turning to a lethal .45-caliber handgun. Guns have their place, but their place is not among the things we designate.
Stephen Sandstrom, Republican, then rose to defend the weapon and its recognition of its creator:
There's never been a case where a handgun has jumped off a floor and started shooting people. There's somebody behind that trigger. And I believe it's safe to say that John Browning has … done more to preserve the lives of American soldiers on the battlefield than any other person in the history of this country.
Brian King, Democrat, insisted that state symbols are supposed to unify …
I think it's a very poor idea as a matter of public policy that we choose, as a symbol of the state of Utah, something that is as polarizing as a handgun.
But in the end, the John Browning memorial tribute won out with the last words coming from as Republican Carl Wimmer of Herriman, Utah stood up and spoke:
There is a huge difference between the actions of a madman using a firearm … and patriots using a firearm to defend our county.
He then urged his colleagues to vote, and they did – 51 to 19. After passing the state senate and the governor of Utah signing the bill, it became law in 2011.
In a letter written in Paris to his nephew, Peter Carr in 1785, Thomas Jefferson wrote [partial quote from Encyclopedia of Thomas Jefferson, p. 318]:
A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprize, and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks. …
There are videos and websites on the Internet that are against the M1911, claiming things like “a piece of junk” and unsafe. The following video is one of the best portrayals of the safe way to use a single-action firearm [semiauto or revolver], specifically the M1911, which this informed woman so professionally explains. This woman has the knowledge of a gunsmith and certainly knows her favorite choice of firearms. The most negative things I have heard come from Glock owners, which if you ask any gunsmith is a real “bear” to work on, while the M1911 and reproductions are much easier. The Browning Hi-Power is a bit different and a little bit harder to disassemble or assemble, but Browning improved upon the M1911 with it. Here is the informative and professional video that will explain safety features and explanations of who WW2 military personnel operated their M1911s ….

An M1911 Function Check, by the same awesome lady who apparently has a husband who is also a firearm enthusiast …
The 100-year celebration of the M1911 is remarkable considering that after 100 years this firearm is still being produced and used, and copied. All because of the genius of the "father" of American Gunsmiths, John M. Browning; a sidearm whose mechanics have been copied around the world producing the modern double-action handguns that is popular today. No other service weapon has survived being used in the US Armed Forces than the M1911. Indeed, military personnel today have shown preference to the single-action .45-caliber M1911 over the Beretta M9, 9mm double-action with a doubled magazine for more rounds. Today one can obtain a larger capacity M1911 if they wish to fork out the dollars.
American Rifleman, Issue June 2011 has an excellent section concerning the M1911, its history and models available today, as well as tuning your M1911 for reliability and accurate shooting.
Smith & Wesson presents a video showing their production of M1911 firearms ...

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