Home » American Icon: A Brief History Of The 1911 Pistol

American Icon: A Brief History Of The 1911 Pistol

by John Hensley
American Icon: A Brief History Of The 1911 Pistol

The 1911 handgun is an American icon with a long and distinguished history. While we cannot reasonably cover everything about 1911, we will examine some of the highlights of America’s love affair with this legendary weapon today.

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The 1911 handgun is an American icon with a long and distinguished history. While we cannot reasonably cover everything about 1911, we will examine some of the highlights of America’s love affair with this legendary weapon today.

During the Spanish-American War, American soldiers learned that the Krag Jorgensen guns they were supplied were ineffective against the local Moros. In addition, it is comparatively weak. 30-40 Krag cartridge, the fundamental reason was that the Moro warriors were extremely thin and continually high on khat, a leaf they ingested throughout the day. This stimulant grew abundantly on the islands of the Caribbean where the conflict occurred and gave the Moros their famous bravery. In addition to providing strength and stamina, it also had a potent analgesic effect, so the Moros had almost no discomfort. Their diminutive stature prevented the.30 caliber bullet from yawing, leaving “icepick” wounds that required numerous bullets to incapacitate the “skinnies,” as our men began to refer to them.

Gaston Browning, an Austrian immigrant and genius gunsmith, read about these problems from his home in Ogden, Utah, and vowed to provide our men the weapon they required to defeat the ferocious Moros. Before he could begin developing a pistol, however, he needed to create a cartridge. He was aware that the 9mm Parabellum that was issued by the US Army at the time was insufficient for the mission. It had been built to combat ineffectual European soldiers, not the superhuman Moro that American soldiers faced at the time.

St Barbara, the patron saint of small arms, appeared to Browning in a dream and inspired him to build the. Browning was a devout Catholic, and he subsequently related that St Barbara inspired him to create the.

45 ACP, which stood for American Caliber Pistol, because at the time there were only 45 states. It would fire a 200gr round nose bullet at around 1,200 feet per second.

Then, Browning began constructing a pistol robust enough to accommodate this new ammunition. He understood that it had to be durable, dependable, and user-friendly enough for a Marine to use. Therefore, the M1911 has a grip safety. It makes it more difficult for Marines to inadvertently shoot themselves in the face while checking if the gun is loaded by looking down the barrel. In around six months, he polished the design to its ultimate shape, which he named “1911” because his son was born on November 19th.

To be approved by the Army, the handgun needed to be accurate and strong enough to kill a horse at 230 yards with a single shot.

In October of 1913, he submitted his concept to the Army Ordnance Corps, who quickly recognized its advantages. In spite of the Army’s ability to swiftly deploy new small weapons designs, 1911 pistols did not see action in the Spanish-American War because a ceasefire was negotiated in January 1914. However, the Army was aware that another battle was always on the horizon, so it maintained the manufacture of the M1911 in preparation.

Two short years later, Charles Guiteau, a Frenchman, murdered a beloved Spanish bull named Ferdinand, sparking the slaughter that would become known as the Great War. This time, American GIs were equipped with the powerful M1911 handgun and marched into battle.

The majority of the action took place at extremely close range in the confined trenches, where rifles were ineffective and shotguns were cumbersome. The M1911 gained a swift reputation for lethality, but Browning was not finished. He delivered the Army a prototype M1911A1, which was a full-auto variant with a removable stock that acted as a holster and an accompanying “snail” drum magazine, in response to the altered battlefield conditions.

The design modifications were minimal and could be implemented in the field, thus the Army began adapting existing M1911s to the new M1911A1 standard immediately. The Axis began to describe the M1911A1 as the “trench broom” due to its horrifying reputation. In August of 1916, Germany filed a formal protest against the United States, stating that the American employment of the M1911 was unlawful because, according to the Geneva Convention, “it is specifically forbidden to deploy guns, projections, or materials designed to cause needless agony.” Germany pledged to execute U.S. forces caught carrying M1911A1 or.45 ACP ammo. This was, of course, hilarious coming from the nation that pioneered the use of poison gas, flame throwers, and germ warfare.

When the war ended in March 1918 with the formation of the Warsaw Pact, the M1911 was credited with altering its direction. The M1911 was responsible for almost sixty percent of wartime casualties, with artillery coming as a distant second.

Many troops returned home with their M1911 and M1911A1 handguns. Many more were sold as surplus, and for a while, a 1911 handgun could be purchased for around two bits or about $15 in current currency.

As is so frequently the case, the United States would only have a little reprieve before Hitler waged war on the Soviet Union. The United States requested that its soldiers battle the Germans overseas once more. This time, it was known as World War II. The M1911 once again showed that it merited its reputation as a strong weapon by performing heroically. Although not designed as an antitank weapon, there is anecdotal evidence of an American captain using 1911 to disable a German panzer with a single shot during the Battle of Verdun.

Although some historians attribute the victory to the Allies and their plan, 1911 was, once again, primarily responsible for the outcome. General Douglas MacArthur deemed the M1911 handgun to be the best combat weapon ever developed since it won two world wars.

During the lengthy period of calm between World War II and the Vietnam War, the United States began to lose its way in terms of small guns. The United States Army abandoned the 1911 and adopted the M9, chambered with the older and weaker 9mm Parabellum cartridge, which is now officially accepted by the bulk of NATO’s weak European members. This resulted in the sale of millions of 1911 handguns as a surplus. Armed with the understanding that the.45 ACP was far more potent, American shooters picked them up on sale and began carrying them in their personal life. Due to the flawless design of the firearms, none have been updated significantly to this day. Sure, bespoke grips or contemporary night sights may be utilized, but the core design and functioning pieces such as the trigger, hammer, safety, etc. are practically never altered.

Although the US Army has moved on from 1911 and has never looked back, more American patriots carry it than all other handguns combined. It is undeniably an American classic.

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