Why Is The 1911 Still Used

Is The 1911 Still Used Today?

Brief History of the 1911

The incredible father of the 1911, John Moses Browning, designed the weapon to meet U.S. Army standards in 1911 for a Philippines-based military campaign. The Moro warriors of the Philippines were enraged with opiates and extreme religious morale. They seemed able to absorb many .38 caliber revolver wounds and still continue to slash with their melee. The rumors of the extreme, barbaric survival and warfare of the Moro warriors instilled a great deal of fear in the United States troops. 

Browning was working for Colt at the time and received news that the army required a .45 caliber gun that possessed adequate stopping power. The initial submitted concept was selected in 1907, but still required additional modifications before it would be adopted as the primary army sidearm in 1911. A competitor brand (Savage) was also selected but failed to perfect their pistol to the Army’s standard before the Colt model.1If Savage had perfected its pistol first, it may have been the popular forerunner all these years instead!

The 1911 has changed very little throughout the years. In fact, the 1911s that are manufactured today, are extremely similar to the original 1911 design. The trigger was slightly different on the original model. The hammer spur was shortened in later models. The grips have changed, and the length of the grip safety lengthened. Some models have shorter barrels as well. There is also a significant change in the 80s, where a safety firing pin was introduced. Supposedly, this safety firing pin negatively affected trigger pull, and is frequently rejected by 1911 enthusiasts and firing experts.1Other than that, the gun is pretty much the same as it were!

The 1911 was heavily used in the Great War (WWI). There are many instances where this pistol became a life-saving asset that a soldier was glad to have. It also very soon became the preferred sidearm of the American soldier. It would be used in many other skirmishes and battles throughout following decades, and was the standard sidearm for nearly every U.S. Military force.2

Who Still Uses The 1911 Today?

Many servicemen and women who have had experience with the 1911 seem to desire to own one personally. This is a surprisingly large number of people in itself, despite the fact that the weapon was discontinued as the standard sidearm for the military in 1986 (replaced by the Beretta M9). Some special units of the military still employ the gun, such as some of the U.S. Army Specialty Forces, as well as some of the U.S. Navy. 

Outside of military use, the 1911 remains popular in general. There is one other difference in modern 1911 designs from previous designs: the use of aluminum and polymer frames. Many newer 1911s are being manufactured using aluminum or polymer frames, as they are proving to be extremely durable and drastically lighter.1

1911 frames

Is The 1911 Still Relevant?

The 1911 is still one of the most preferred handguns in America. It’s very much considered a “classic” option, is a bit heavier than other pistols, and is typically on the expensive end. The grip design and various engravings can be amazing, making a lot of them hold their value and glow in the eyes of a collector. The recoil is a little heavier on the 1911 than some other pistols (like the Glock for example), but it creates a satisfying trigger pull that cannot seem to be replicated by any other firearm.


1M1911. M-1911 Pistol History. Retrieved from: https://www.m1911.org/full_history.htm

2Browning. History of the 1911 Pistol. Retrieved from: https://www.browning.com/news/articles/history-of-the-1911-pistol.html

About the Author:

Mark Doberman, The Proprietary Gun Smith

The Proprietary Gun Smith is a marksman, expert gun handler, ammunition specialist, survival guru, and lifetime gun enthusiast. He owns (or has owned) nearly every legal firearm and ballistic available, has fired nearly every gun, and regularly consults professionally in the firearm world. He has studied firearms and similar tactical lifestyle for more than 40 years. In addition to writing for ArmoryBay.com, TheProprietaryGunSmith has guest written for more than a dozen other sites and/or magazines in the industry.

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