Join Date: December 20, 2008
Location: Pittsburgh PA
I think the M&P, SAA and 1911 have much in common, but I think in every important category, the 1911 shows strength, whereas the M&P and SAA lack in some important categories.
For example, as I said before, the SAA could not dominate ctg revolvers in its day, with the S&W No 3 guns being well regarded, and many felt they were better in some ways. The SAA could not achieve a sole military contract, it was issued with its adversary. Not so for the 1911, as it beat out every other design to win a US contract. Of course many revolvers were made, and issued, but it was not because they felt the revolver was a better design in the way that some soldiers felt about the SAA vs the S&W No 3.
For the M&P, it re-introduced or borrowed older technology, so to me, it was not as great as a design, since much of the work in development was done by someone else. The 1911 was more of a gamble, more of an invention, more original and while if you want play semantics (Mike), it wasn't exactly "ground breaking" but it was definitely a much more original design. It evolved from previous Browning designs, but not designs from other men or other companies. It was an upgraded design from the same man, where all of the improvements married the semi auto chambering of 45 cal to achieve a great pistol whereas the S&W M&P was the S&W version of technology introduced by other companies, notably Colt, where they knew it would have some success, no matter what, because the Colt DA revolver had achieved success. The M&P was more of a common sense move - at the S&W tool room ok guys, lets make an alternative to the colt DA revolver with a better ctg (obvious choice - the 38 colt was a let down in a lot of ways), and a smaller more durable design (obvious). Of course you have to give them credit for perfecting what Colt introduced, but perhaps the M&P would not have been as great, had the colt DA not come out 10 years before.
The 1911 was very different from most other semi autos that came before it, IE the C96, luger, C93 "borchardt", Steyr autos, etc. Then after all of that, after it arrived, and won the US contract, the 1911 went to WWI against many of these other semi auto pistols, and showed that it was much greater. Then comes WWII, and despite being against more modern designs, such as the P38, the 1911 showed it was still very formidable, very useful, very relevant, even against pistols which came about much later, from some of the greatest designers of that time. If you compare the designs, SAA vs 1911, 1911 vs M&P, you see that the 1911 was more original and stood the test of time. The 1911 was king of the hill, and it stayed that way longer.
As for the gun not being as popular civilian wise between WWI and WWII (its not appropriate to site lower civilian sales when there were wars going on, as not many civilian guns were made), this was partly because it was basically a BRAND NEW gun, up against TRIED AND TRUE revolvers. Of course people will choose a revolver, its been around longer, they're cheaper, they're very well made (Cot and S&W), etc. You forget Mike that before WWII, there was a depression, and if you didn't need the 1911, you bought a DA revolver, or something else, to save money. This was very important at the time. The 1911, when new, was IMO the glock of its day, where the old revolver guys made fun of it, and had no interest in its advantages. I believe many people back then doubted the 1911, partly because it was a new gun in many ways (not all ways). The 1911 had to win respect, where for the M&P, the DA revolver, and the revolver itself, had already won the respect of most people. Just like when revolvers were newer, IE the Paterson or Walker, they were made in much smaller numbers, than say the later SAA, or the 1889 vs the Official police, S&W 1899 vs S&W model marked 10, etc.
In another respect, the 1911 was carried by people who were going to war, where shooting the enemy WILL take place, whereas when a PD issued the M&P, it was more of a *if* you need it. There was a chance that the Officer would shoot someone who had a knife, or perhaps was unarmed (say the guy resisted arrest) where as the 1911 was issued to soldiers, where they had to go up against enemy soldiers, who will almost always have a weapon of their own. They had to have something that quick, effective, dependable, something where it was hard to argue for an upgrade. A police officer in the US did not need the 1911, but a soldier, who had to shoot or be shot, needed an advanced (for its time) arm. This is one reason why the M&P IMO is not the top dog.
Winchester 73, the TFL user that won the west