On this day in 1911 John M. Browning's famous pistol was adopted for service by the United States Army, becoming the M1911 pistol, making this the 100th anniversary of that event. It remained the standard issue sidearm until 1985, and is still in use by Marine Force Recon and the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta (Delta Force) to this day. After 100 years of continuous production and use by civilian and military users, and despite the fact that more types of modern automatic pistols are available, the 1911 pistol is more popular than ever. Why is this the case?
Not being an expert handgun shooter, I cannot give a definitive answer based on my own experience, but I do have my opinions. The 1911 pistol is one half of a fine weapon system, the other half being the .45 ACP cartridge, the pistol existing solely to deliver .45 bullets onto the target. If one believes that big bullets making big holes is an advantage in a defensive handgun, then the .45 ACP is for you, and what better gun to use than the 1911? A proper grip being critical to reliable functioning of an automatic pistol, the 1911 grip is narrower than many modern pistols, allowing people with smaller hands, like me, to securely hold the gun. Being a single action pistol, the trigger pull is short, light, and crisp, although this can vary from model to model. Finally, while polymer frame pistol may be popular, the all steel “Government” model 1911 has enough weight to help the shooter control the recoil produced by the .45 ACP cartridge.
Historically, there are only two “American” handguns, and the other one is a Colt as well. To people like me who see value in using a historically superior firearm, then the 1911 pistol becomes the only semi-automatic pistol to use. There are many others who agree, including the Los Angeles Police Department S.W.A.T. And S.I.S. Units, the F.B.I. Hostage Recue Team and regional S.W.A.T. Teams, and the general shooting public, whose enthusiasm for the 1911 pistol has inspired ever more manufacturers to offer models of every price range and description. Here is a non-authoritative list of 191 pistol manufacturers:
Ithaca Gun Company
Rock River Arms
Smith & Wesson