The Amazing History of 1911 Pistol | Firearms of America
Welcome to Firearms of America! Today, let’s dive into a history, the history of one of my favorite guns of all time, the pistol that is often regarded with statements as “world’s most respected handgun,” “the finest service pistol design of all time,” and brought into life by a person, known as “the greatest firearms inventor the world has ever known,” John Moses Browning and his 1911 Pistol. This is the Amazing History of 1911 Pistol.
Unlike many other firearms that were designed throughout the history, simply as result of technological progress, invention of new systems, certain discoveries that helped shape and perfect modern firearms as we know them, 1911 pistol was born out of a dire need in the midst of combat.
At that time, in the late 1800s, US troops were armed with .30 caliber Krag or Springfield bolt action rifles. They also had the .38 caliber double-action revolvers. While their rifles had sufficient stopping power, you just could not say the same thing about their revolvers. This was especially apparent during the Moro Rebellion, the armed conflict between the Moro people and the US military during the Philipines-American War. In fact, the dire need for more stopping power, prompted the US military to REVERT, yes revert back to the decade older 19th century M1873 single action Colt revolver caliber .45. This heavier bullet proved to be much more effective in battle, however, the M1873 just did not meet the requirements in the rate of fire aspect.
It was crystal clear. US military needed a new handgun, with a higher rate of power AND with the stopping power of .45.
This was the task that only one man could accomplish, the man named John Moses Browning. In the 1890s, when the work began to fulfill the needs of the US military, John Browning was only in his 30s, and yet he was already an accomplished firearms designer. Young John was only 13 years old when he made his first firearm in his father’s gun shop. At the age of just 24, John was awarded his first firearm patent, on October 7, of 1879. The first patent, out of total 128 that will become.
This was only a year after John Browning co-founded with his younger brother Matthew, the John Moses and Matthew Sandefur Browning Company, later renamed in a WORLD known Browning Arms Company.
John Browning also worked for Colt, known as Colt’s Manufacturing Company, LLC, founded in 1855 by Samuel Colt. It is during that time, John designed a semiautomatic pistol, which was presented to the world as a Colt M1900.
Meanwhile, not satisfied with the results of the pistol round effectiveness tests of 1904, Colonel John T Thompson declared that the new pistols “should not be of less than .45 caliber” and hoped to have them as semi-automatic in operation.
And so in 1906, six firearms manufacturers were picked for further testing, Colt, Bergmann, Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (known as DWM), Savage Arms Company and a few others. Of the six designs that were presented for testing, early stage eliminated half and left only three options, from Colt, Savage Arms and DWM, all chambered in the new .45 ACP (or Automatic Colt Pistol, designed by… yet again, John Moses Browning himself in 1904).
All three of the remaining designs showed some issues, but it was only Colt and Savage that resubmitted improved designs for consideration. And so, another round of series of field tests took place between the years of 1907 and 1911, to pick the winner between Colt and Savage.
At the end of 1910, the Colt test was attended by the creator himself, John Browning. Six thousand rounds were fired from a SINGLE pistol in the course of only two days. And when the gun was getting too hot to handle, it was simply submersed into water to cool it down. The test was intense! And yet, Colt passed without a single malfunction, all while the Savage had 37.
Following the success of the test, the M1911 was formally adopted on March 29, 1911. M1911 was in combat in both the First and the Second World Wars, in Korean War, Vietnam War and is still in service with some military units. In 1924, M1911 evolved into the M1911A1.
There were about 2.7 million 1911 pistols used by the US military in the service life of the 1911. And even after it was replaced in 1986 by 9mm Beretta M9 as a standard sidearm pistol, it still remains in service in many different configurations from many different manufacturers, for both the military and civilian use all around the world, all thanks to John Moses Browning.
Today, you can buy a 1911 from manufacturers like Ruger, Kimber, Sig Sauer, Colt, Remington, Springfield, STI, Ed Brown, Rock Island, Wilson Combat, Dan Wesoon and of course, from Browning… In calibers like 357 Sig, .40 S&W, 22LR, 9mm and of course 45 ACP amongst many other options to suit your needs.
John Moses Browning, created a legacy. He was the innovator and dedicated his life to firearms design. In fact, he never retired from his work and worked to the very day of his life. On November 26, 1926, John Browning passed while working at the bench on a new self-loading pistol design. This pistol design was later completed by Belgian firearms designed Dieudonne Saive in 1935, almost 10 years after the passing of John Browning. Released as Fabrique Nationale GP35, this pistol is much more well known under the name of Browning Hi-Power. John Moses Browning was creating a legacy even after he passed.
And that is really one of the main reasons why I absolutely love 1911 pistols. Not simply because they are some of the most reliable pistols, some of the most accurate pistols, some of the most beautiful creations that came to life in the world of firearms… but because owning a 1911 is owning a peace of this amazing history of gun, that came to life in a dire need, in the midst of combat, created by “the greatest firearms inventor the world has ever known,” John Moses Browning.
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