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M1911 M1911A1 Pistol
The M1911 Colt .45 Automatic Pistol is one of the most successful designs in the history of firearms. The M1911 and M1911A1 pistols served as the primary U.S. military sidearm for about 80 years through two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and countless other engagements.
More photos and videos of the M1911 Colt .45 Automatic Pistol are available at the linked page.
History of the M1911 Colt Automatic Pistol
The commercial .45 automatic pistol was designed by John Moses Browning. It was first mass-produced by Colt, as its M1905, then adopted, in modified form, by the U.S. Army in 1911 as the Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, Model of 1911", chambered for the .45 cal. ACP cartridge. It won fame in WWI and was re-designated as the "Pistol, U.S. Caliber .45 Model 1911A1" in 1922 when some minor design improvements were introduced. About 150,000 were produced before World War II. Colt, Remington-Rand, Union Switch & Signal and the Ithaca Gun Company manufactured 1,800,000 pistols during WWII. Production ended in 1945 but the substantial inventories were in service for decades afterward until replaced by the M9 Beretta 9mm automatic pistol.
The classic .45 cal. Colt automatic pistol was much sought after by GIs as a personal back-up weapon. It was officially issued to officers, NCOs, demolition personnel and vehicle crews. Many other soldiers and officers obtained and carried a "45" without authorization.
The M-1 belt holster and the M-3 shoulder holster were issued for the pistol. Most Airborne soldiers carried their pistols in M-3 shoulder holsters.
Characteristics of the M1911A1 Colt Automatic Pistol
The .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol M1911A1 (a.k.a. the "Colt .45") is a conventional semi-automatic pistol, holding seven rounds in a detachable magazine (photo, left). It is 8 ½ inches long and weights 2 ½ pounds. It has a muzzle velocity of 860 fps and uses a .45 caliber ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) cartridge. It has considerable "stopping power" in close-in fighting. Most have a lanyard loop attached to the pistol grip's base for attaching either the 1918 or 1943 lanyards.
The .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol M1911A1 is a recoil-operated hand weapon. The magazine-fed semiautomatic weapon fires one round each time the trigger is squeezed once the hammer is cocked by prior action of the slide or thumb. This design is referred to as "single action only." The thumb safety may only be activated once the pistol is cocked. The hammer remains in the fully cocked position once the safety is activated. (Note: More modern pistol designs of the "double action" type will allow the hammer to move forward to an uncocked position when the thumb safety is activated.)
The M1911A1 was widely respected for its reliability and lethality. However, its single action, cocked and locked design required the user to be very familiar and well-trained to allow carrying the pistol in the "ready-to-fire" mode. Consequently, M1911A1s were often prescribed to be carried without a round in the chamber. Even with this restriction on the user, numerous unintentional discharges were documented yearly.
Differences Between the M1911 and M1911A1 Colt Automatic Pistols
The M1911 and M1911A1 models of the .45 Automatic pistol are quite similar, with the changes in the following list the only differences:
For immediate identification, the curved shape of the back of the mainspring housing indicates that the pistol is an M1911A1 as opposed to the straight housing on the M1911. Most military production of the Colt .45 Automatic pistols was of the Model M1911A1.
Replacement of the M1911A1 by the Beretta 92F
On 14 January 1985 the Pentagon announced that the Model 92F 9mm pistol manufactured by Fabbrica D' Armi Pietro Beretta S.p.A. of Italy would officially replace the M1911A1 .45 caliber pistol. The new pistol would be known as "Pistol, Automatic, Caliber 9mm, M9" to be manufactured by a Beretta subsidiary in the U.S. Actual replacement of the M1911A1 by the M9 took place from the late 1980s into the 1990s while production problems with the M9 Beretta were worked out.
In August 2005, the DoD issued specifications for the Military Forces Joint Combat Pistol (JCP), a possible replacement for the M9 Pistol. The specification requires the JCP to be chambered for .45 ACP ammunition. The JCP procurement was postponed in 2006, but it seemed clear that the days of the M9 9mm pistol were coming to an end and that its successor may return to the reliable .45 ACP cartridge.
MEU (SOC) and M45 Close Quarter Battle Pistol
The M1911A1 had been the standard handgun issued to Marines for many decades. Selected weapons were modified in the 1980s to meet the requirements of the Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations capable) or MEU (SOC) in lieu of arming them with the M9 9mm pistol. 500 pistols were selected and modified.
Weapon modifications were designed in 1986 to meet the requirements of the MEU (SOC). Each pistol is hand-built by specially trained armorers at the Rifle Team Equipment (RTE) shop, Quantico, Virginia. The weapon is a modified M1911A1 .45 caliber pistol sometimes referred to as "near match" or "combat accuratized." The MEU (SOC) Pistol is the designated backup weapon of Marines armed with the 9mm MP5-N Close Quarters Battle weapon. The M1911A1 was chosen for this role (and its modifications generated) because of its inherent reliability and lethality, and because the MEU(SOC) modifications make the M1911A1 design more "user friendly."
The unique characteristics of the MEU (SOC) pistol are:
In 2005, the Corps bought 150 MEU (SOC) pistols from Springfield Armory in Geneseo, IL. In October 2010, the USMC sought a vendor for up to 12,000 of the MEU(SOC) .45 cal. pistols, now designated the M45 Close Quarter Battle Pistol, for issue to Marine Forces Special Operations Command and Force Recon. The USMC FY2013 budget submitted in February 2012 included $3 million for the M45 CQBP, citing a doubling of requirements due to the formation of MARSOC and the reconstitution of the Force Reconnaissance Company in each MEF.
Recommended Books about the M1911/M1911A1 Pistol
Production and Serial Numbers: U.S. Pistol M1911 & M1911A1 .45
The figures in this table were compiled by Springfield Armory and are the best numbers available on the web. However, careful research may reveal gaps and problems.
Find More Information on the Internet
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