Colt’s M1911 pistol design is still used by millions (100 years later)



John Browning, arguably one of America’s most iconic and talented gun designers, designed what would become one of the most produced, copied, and recognizable pistols in history, now known under the name of M1911.

After the Second World War

Although the M1911 made its combat debut in WWI, the design really took on real meaning during WWII. During this conflict, the value of the design solidified – millions of M1911s were produced not only for the United States, but also for other allied countries.

After the war, the United States relied on the design of the M1911 during the Korean War and during Vietnam, although by the 1980s the design was starting to show its age. A replacement was found in Beretta’s M9 pistol, chambered in the smaller 9x19mm Parabellum.

A favorite of the Marine Corps and SOCOM

Despite the widespread adoption of Beretta’s larger capacity small pistol, the M1911 remained a mainstay of the Marine Corps among certain specialist groups such as certain reconnaissance units as well as among certain MEU personnel (SOC).

And, despite the widespread adoption of tens of thousands of Beretta M9 pistols, the United States Special Operations Command felt the need for a pistol that retains the stopping power of the large .45 ACP cartridge, while updating the M1911 platform.

To this end, USSOCOM launched the Offensive Handgun Weapon System Competition to find a suitable replacement .45 ACP service pistol. Although Colt had high hopes for its own replacement for the M1911, the Colt Colt OHWS, the design ultimately failed. German Heckler & Koch ultimately won the competition with his MK23 Mod 0 pistol. The MK23 Mod 0 was intended to be an offensive weapon, rather than a secondary back-up weapon like the M9 and remains in service with some Special soldiers. Operations Command.


Despite the maintenance of the updated and modified M1911, the Colt M45A1, by the Marine Corps, the M1911 and derivative designs are on the verge of being discontinued as the US military moves from a lower capacity, more ammunition. powerful, increased capacity designs with less downtime. Power. More recently the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps have adapted the M17 and M18 service pistols, chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum as standard service pistols.

Post Scriptum

And, although it no longer enjoys the widespread success it once had as a standard service pistol in the United States, the iconic M1911 design is still made by Colt, as well as a number of other manufacturers. guns in the United States and elsewhere. abroad – not too bad for a pistol originally designed at the turn of the last century.

Caleb Larson is a defense writer with The National Interest. He holds a master’s degree in public policy and covers US and Russian security, European defense issues, and German politics and culture.

Image: Reuters


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