The 1911 brought with it some significant upgrades that were much needed from the Revolvers in use of the later 19th and early 20th century. The United States started looking for replacements for their revolvers in service in the late 1890’s, to replace it with a semi-automatic pistol with better stopping power. The first handgun offering from John M. Browning while working for Colt, was the M1900 in 38 ACP. The M1900 had a sight safety that was very unpopular and was eventually removed, leaving it with no safety. This led to the development of the M1903. The M1903 started to bear the looks of the 1911 we know today, however it did not have a grip safety feature and could still only handle the 38 ACP cartridge. Recognizing the military’s desire for stopping power, John Browning released the M1905, which corrected a lot of areas with the M1903, as well as being able to successively handle the 45 ACP round. This would prove critical, as in 1905 the United States Military stopped viewing any considerations that were not chambered in 45 ACP. The Military sent back the M1905 to John Browning and Colt, with requirements for a grip safety and thumb safety. Once these changes additions were made, it was left between the Savage Arms M1907 and what would become the M1911. Shooting in intervals of five-hundred rounds, the final test was to see the response to a water submersion cooling test. The M1911 cooled down and continued firing, while the Savage Arms M1907 did not. Thus, the M1911A1 was adopted by the United States Military in 1911.
While there are different variations of the pistol today, typically 1911’s are geared for a single stack magazine, making the grip of the pistol very slim, ergonomic, and comfortable. Speaking of grips, because 1911’s are so widely manufactured, and all to the same specifications, many different variations of grip panels are available on the market. There are grip panels made from common woods and plastics, all the way to grip panels made of meteorite and mammoth teeth.
There are many reasons that people continue to use and tune their 1911 pistols, these are just a few:
- Accuracy – Typically 2.5" to 3" Grouping at 25 yards. (Varies based on manufacturer)
- Reliability - in its' original test with the US Army, the 1911 had to shoot a total of 6000 rounds. The pistol had to shoot 100 rounds then a 5 minute rest. This continued until it shot all 6000 rounds without failure. That was over 100 years ago!
- Trigger – Light, clean, crisp, typically adjustable.
- Safety – Three different safeties: Thumb Safety, Grip Safety, and Half Cock position on the hammer. Series 80 1911’s also have additional parts that prevent accidental discharges from dropping the pistol.