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Old March 25, 2013, 12:34 PM   #1
Bob Wright
Senior Member
Join Date: July 10, 2012
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
Posts: 2,603
Some thoughts on the M1911

First of all, the pistol is an M1911 or M1911A1 only if it is US Government issue. Commercial Colt .45 Autos are known as Government Models. Having said that, I had at one time a couple of slick paperback books, one on the Luger and the other a reprint of the U.S, Army Test Trials of 1900. Some pretty interesting information was contained in those two little books, which, unfortunately, I no longer have.

Nearly all of the pistols submitted at first were rejected as being too small in caliber. It was not until 1906 that Springfield Arsenal designed two .45 Caliber cartridges, which were produced at Frankford Arsenal for the trials. One was a .45 Revolver round, the other a .45 Auto round. Both were designated as 1906, some six years after the trial board had convened. Both the Browning and Luger designs originally had been small caliber, the Browning a .38 and the Luger 7.62mm.

The Army liked the Luger, but having been stung by the .38 Revolvers, were not about to adopt a .30 caliber pistol. Luger (Through Ludwig Lowe) submitted a 9mm pistol, but the Army's insistence on a .45 caused Luger to withdraw.

The Cavalry board didn't want an auto, saying it was too dangerous for a new recruit on an unruly horse. If the Army insisted on an autoloader, then they wanted one that would automatically go to the "safe" position after each shot.

While Browning was the designer of the Colt made pistol ultimately adopted, the Army had a great deal of influence on the ultimate overall design. One thing liked about the Luger was the grip angle, and this was sort of copied in the M1911.

Minor changes made during the 'Twenties resulted in the M1911A1.

Much has been said about the Browning High Power made by FN of Belgium as being the ultimate refined version of the Colt Government Model pistol. FN had asked John Browning to design a pistol for them for European use. Browning agreed, but had to make interior changes to avoid infringing on his patents held by Colt.

So the pistol most so lovingly call a M1911 is not just a Browning design, but a combination of features thought up by then U.S. Army Ordnance, Cavalry, and Infantry branches.

Incidentally, I have in my collection one round of 9.8mm ACP for which no complete Colt auto has been uncovered. This was made by Colt for consideration of a European government.

And, before the flak starts, I am aware some newcomers are sold under the designation "M1911."

Bob Wright

Last edited by Bob Wright; March 25, 2013 at 12:41 PM.
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