Colt M1911A1 Semiautomatic Pistol. The U.S. Military's Mainstay Sidearm for the 20th Century, and Still Going Strong.
Anyone who served in the United States
Armed Forces from 1911 to 1985
is most likely familiar with the Colt Government M1911 .45 automatic. During both World Wars, Korea and Vietnam, whether in combat or just pulling guard duty, the M1911 was the standard military issue sidearm for all branches of the US military. While in the US Navy, I carried one myself while on guard duty aboard the Guided Missile Cruiser, USS Texas (CGN-39) in the summer of 1988, patrolling the decks while we anchored just offshore at Ras Al Hadd, Oman in the Straight of Hormuz. Though the Colt was oficially replaced in 1985 with the newer Beretta M9, (US Military designation for the Beretta 92F) it continues to see service in police forces around the world, and still has limited uses in the US military. The replacement of the M1911A1 was supposed to officially take place in 1985, but due to the usual quality and parts compatibility issues that always arise during field trials, the M1911A1 continued to be used by the United States military well into the 1990s. This further adds to the track record of the legendary Colt pistol as a strong and reliable sidearm.
After extensive field tests of many
pistols in the late 1890's--including tryouts of
the German Mauser C96 and Luger P08--the M1911 was chosen as the standard US military issue sidearm. The Colt .45 Government M1911-A1 proved to be a reliable, durable and highly effective firearm. It was the first pistol to utilize the recoil energy from firing a bullet to reload. This "short-recoil" firing system became the prototype for all modern centerfire pistols. There have been modifications too numerous to explore here, but the original, innovative design has remained mostly unchanged for decades. Today there are many different variations of the original firearm, from many different sources. But they all use the same tried and trusted frame and short-recoil firing mechanism as the first M1911 that has stood the test of time by remaining in service for more than 74 years--a sure sign of a great design. The M1911 has earned a place in history as one of the best gun designs of all time.
Legendary for its accuracy and straightforward ease of use, the .45 is still very popular for its rugged design. Because of its long association with U.S. military forces, it has attained the status of a true American patriots' firearm. Recently, an all-new version, the M1911A2, was introduced by Rock Island Armory, and is already in use by some police officers. Based on its track record to date, it's a safe bet that the M1911 is here to stay.
Blowback-Operated Single-Action Semi-Automatic Pistol
Nation Of Manufacture: USA, Norway (still in production in US)
Military Service Dates : 1911-1985 (Still in use worldwide)
Variations: M1911, M1911A1, Kongsberg, many other variations
Ammunition: .45 ACP Cartridge
Wars: WW1,WW2, Korean War, Vietnam War, others
Recent Prices at Auction for Originals: US $200-$3,000+ (depending on age etc.)