The 1911 is one of the most sfe hand gun designs ever made. John Browning created the 1911 as well as other infamous guns such as the Winchester 30/30, Winchester Pump Shotgun, The Browning Auto-5 Shotgun (produced by Remington as the Model 11), The BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) and the Browning .50 caliber Machine Gun, plus most of the .30 cal and .50 cal machine guns produced by Colt and used in WW II. His designs are still being used today in war today. The .50 caliber Machine guns in service with the Navy, Coast Guard, Army and Marines are basically an updated version of John Browning designs. It is estimated that he is credited with 128 gun patents, and some fifty million sports and military weapons were manufactured from those patents.
The 1911 had its trial by fire on March 3, 1911. The Army had a test with 6000 rounds and the pistols were cleaned and oiled after every 1,000 rounds. With several other gun manufactures in the tests, the Browning design was selected for service. The original requirements were for the .45ACP to allow the same round as the Thompson Machine gun and for greater knock down power. The pistol had several modifications after World War I and saw service in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Today in special services or special ops they are being used when possible.
The basic design allows for two main safeties. The “Beaver Tail” safety prohibits the handgun from firing unless the hand is wrapped firmly on the pistol grip. This is also supposed to help from an accidental firing when dropped. The other safety or “Thumb” safety is easily released when holding the pistol in a ready to fire position. This allows for the gun to be carried “Cocked and Locked”. This means a round is in the chamber and the hammer is back in the ready position. As the Browning design is a single action the hammer must be back and ready to strike the firing pin. The 1911 is one of the only guns that I feel very comfortable carrying a round in the chamber due to these additional safeties.
There have been many stories of police officers who carried 1911 pistols and used electrical tape to disable the “Beaver Tail”. This was to ensure that they would have the gun go bang even if their hand was not seated correctly. Personally I prefer to keep the gun in fully operational status.
One of my dear friends was shooting with me at the range years ago and he brought his Springfield Arms 1911. We shot up all of his ammo, and I ran out to the front desk of the range for more. The 5 inch 1911 fit my hand like a glove and it was deadly accurate. The thinner profile of the 1911 frame fits very close to the body while still offering a very large bullet for greater stopping power. So after several years and thousands of rounds, I was able to get another Springfield Arms 1911 except this one was the Micro Compact. This is a 3.5 inch barrel with night sights which makes for a very easy gun to put on your hip and pull a light coat, sweat shirt, or even a Hawaiian style type shirt. The Micro Compact even fits in the NRA 5.11 shirt that fits like an under shirt with pockets on each side. If a nice button down shirt is required the gun does not “Imprint” and is not visible. The night sights help with quick target acquisition in low light situations. The green glowing dots also help at night to find the gun on the night stand.
Having several different models has been nice to pick the right one for the activity that is going on. The longer barrels are for outdoors, and the shorter barrels are for concealing in the city and when discretion is needed. One of the key reasons to standardize on 1911 style pistols is the ability to interchange magazines. I have the ability to leave magazines in boats, or cars without leaving the actual gun. The Micro uses regular magazines, but care needs to given because the shorter 6 Micro does not work in the other 1911 models.
There are 1911 magazines available from various sources and they can range in price from $7.00 to $30.00. There are even 20 round magazines that work great. They do hang down and add an extension to the handle and you need to practice with the longer magazines as they change the feel of the hand gun. Standardizing on the 1911 style gun has increased the ability for me to have the most amount of knock down power and not having to carry additional magazines. Scott, one of our Law Enforcment advisors is trying out the extended magazine. He was tempted to turn it sideways, but he stopped himself.
The cheaper and better availability of magazines also goes with parts, handles and upgrades. The upgrades can include trigger assemblies, grips, and sights. This was one argument that you could have used when talking about Glocks vs. the 1911. Now that Glocks have become so widely accepted parts and additional handles are available that portion of the argument has gone away. We will discuss the Glock vs. the 1911 in another article.
When at the range or shooting out doors, it has always been a real joy to pick up a 1911 as it has become a good friend over the years. My son and I have taken up shooting at the 100 yard range for fun. He has done outstanding with his Colt Government 1911 and I prefer my Springfield. In some of the shootings we were able to get 5 out of 7 in the torso of the target. This is not possible every time, but we have fun trying. Notice the shell in the air, and his 1911 Colt is ready for the next shot. His concentration is one of the reasons he shoots so well.
The bottom line: If you do not have one, rent or borrow one. Just shooting a piece of history is worth it to help get a better idea what our brave Veterans used as one of the greatest defense tools ever made. If you decide on using one for a CCW please practice. The single action can throw some one if they think they can just pull the trigger. There are good brands to look at when shopping for a 1911. Kimber, Springfield Arms , Colt are just a few. Enjoy and keep the lead down range.
Fri, June 18, 2010
by Mark Gerstle - CCN Contributor