The 1911 does have issues though, which has created a ‘love-hate relationship with many. Either you ‘love it and swear by it, or you hate it and swear at it’, because really there is no in between. Those that hate it, have more than just one complaint such as; “Why would anyone want a gun you have to cock to fire?” or “It only holds 7 and 1 (seven rounds in the magazine and 1 in the chamber). “It’s just too heavy!” “It’s too expensive.”
The 1911 isn’t for everyone, but I can tell you… that you really need to shoot one to enjoy one. Aside from the stunning beauty of today’s modern versions to its incredible reliability, the 1911 is a finely tuned piece of designed machinery.
The caliber of choice for the 1911 is the .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol), invented again by Mr. Browning and Colt because of its size and punch down range. Developed for the military, which at the time was using .38 caliber handguns, the .45 ACP literally blew away the competition. It was and still is 230 grains of pure evil!
The truth is the 1911 is expensive, running from as little as $699 to over $4,000! Yes, they do only hold 7 and 1 and they are heavy (although modern day manufacturers are using lighter materials to keep the weight down, such as the Smith & Wesson 1911 E series made of scandium), but these are the reasons that make the 1911 so attractive to those that love them. They are heavy because they don’t have any polymer components; they are made completely from all metal parts. Many of today’s modern handguns are manufactured mainly from polymer components, while the 1911 has stayed true to its roots.
The 1911 can be a little ‘finicky’ at times, due to the high production tolerances manufacturers must use to keep the standards in reliability and accuracy that has made them so famous. Every piece must fit perfectly, frame to slide, slide to barrel, barrel to barrel bushing, guide rod to barrel… they all have to fit perfectly for the 1911 to continue its dominance over all the others.
They’ve come a long way from the day Mr. Browning first introduce his masterpiece, and are available in calibers ranging from .380 to .50, and are almost infinitely upgradable, due to its design (almost every part in a 1911 can be changed or upgraded).
They now are available in a multitude of colors and finishes as well as differences in features such as slide serrations (front and/or back), straight or checkered, dragon or fish scales. There are wood, aluminum, bone, rubber, and leather grips, skeletonized hammer and trigger sets, accessory rails, and barrel lengths (3.25 to 5 inches).
Many of today’s modern handguns have based their platforms from the 1911, taking for instance the ‘cocked and locked’ or position 1 (hammer cocked and held in position by the grip safety or manual safety). Many people say they don’t feel safe carrying a handgun with the hammer cocked, but what they don’t realize is that many models such as Glock, Springfield or Smith & Wesson (to name a few), have striker fired systems which are also ‘cocked and locked’, but do not have an exposed hammer.
Yes the 1911 has evolved, there is no doubt… they’ve become more stylized and fancy for the modern shooter. They have gone through a cosmetic transformation, but make no mistake; the 1911 still holds its distinction as being the brute it has always been known for, because no matter what the outside looks like, the inside will always tell the tale.
So the next time you’re in the gun shop, and see some guy with a glassy eyed look, drooling over a new 1911, stop and smell the coffee! Pick one up, hold it in your hands… then take one to the range (go ahead, shoot it), and you might very well become like me, addicted!
*research for article by Keith Gober