The History of the Model 1911 Pistol
News | Sep 15, 2020
If you’ve ever seen the movie “Hacksaw Ridge”, you got a glimpse of what it was like for American soldiers during World War II. The Model 1911 Pistol was invented by John M. Browning. According to Scott Engen, an employee of the current Browning firearms company, “The Model 1911 was the standard sidearm for almost all U.S. military forces fighting on the ground, at sea and in the air” during this time. Going back to the very beginning, the origin of the Model 1911 Pistol begins with a problem that was solved when John M. Browning created it for the U.S. Military in 1911.
In 1898, the U.S. went to war with Spain. While our troops had success in some areas, others were struggling to compete with the Moro tribesmen of the southern islands, whose weapon of choice was a long bladed kris knife. U.S. soldiers were using .30 or .38 caliber firearms which proved very ineffective at stopping their enemies. Scott goes on to explain, “The combat pistol situation became so acute that old stocks of Model 1873 Colt revolvers in .45 caliber, many of which dated back to the Plains Indian Wars, were returned to active service, where they quickly demonstrated a much better track record of stopping an attacker with one well-placed shot.” In 1904 the U.S. Military began conducting field tests and concluded that a caliber of at least .45 should be used in combat from then on.
The U.S. Army officially made their weapon of choice the M1911 on March 29, 1911, while The U.S. Navy and The U.S. Marine Corps did the same in 1913. The first time it was used in combat was in battle with Mexico in 1916. After the success it showed for U.S. troops in World War I, the M1911 became a favorite of many types of law enforcement, including the Texas Rangers, Border Patrol, Prohibition Service, and the FBI.
During the war with VietNam, American soldiers, called “tunnel rats”, began venturing into enemy tunnels to clear them out. Tom Laemlein of The Armory Life explains, “Apart from the VC troops themselves, the tunnels were full of hazards: mines, trip wires, punji stakes and booby traps of all kinds.” The dark, small, complex tunnels were home to fire ants, poisonous snakes, and spiders. The M1911 was the chosen weapon for the tunnel rats because of its power and ease of use in tight spaces.
“The Model 1911 .45 Automatic Pistol is the world’s most respected handgun, and has been designated by many authorities as the finest service pistol design of all time.” Over 100 years later, it is still used by our military today. Using this gun shows patriotism and recognizes the many men and women who have fought for our freedom in this country. If you’re lucky enough to own and shoot one, you’re a part of that story too.
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