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Colt M1911 Semi-Automatic Pistol (1911)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 1/28/2015

The Colt M1911A1 is regarded by many as the most successful semi-automatic pistol design of her time - seeing consistent action in a plethora of conflicts during the 1900s.

The Colt model M1911 series of pistols is one of the most successful small arms designs of the 20th Century - and in all of warfare history for that matter. The handgun has been produced in quantity in the United States, Argentina and Norway (the latter two under license production as the m/1914 and the Model 1927 respectively) and was fielded in both World Wars and many of the major and minor conflicts of the century - eventually becoming a commercial success for the Colt concern. The M1911 continues service in many forms today (2012) and is still a favorite among sporting, security and casual operators the world over.

The M1911 was a design by famed American gunsmith John Browning and was based on his earlier Model 1900 design. By 1905, the system was refined to the point it could compete for government contracts. With so many like-minded automatic weapons companies vying for such lucrative government deals with the US military, it was decided that all interested parties should compete through trials to be had in 1907. The requirement of the government was for a modern, semi-automatic pistol capable of firing the lethal 230gr bullet - a bullet which had already been made for another Colt product. By the end of the trials, only the Colt M1911 remained against a Savage sidearm with Colt eventually earning the US military deal.

The Colt M1911 was chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge and this was fed from a stout 7-round detachable box magazine. The large, man-stopping rounds promoted an equally large pistol grip (which housed the magazine) and filled up the firing hand rather completely. Muzzle velocity was listed at 380 ft/lb offering up the required man-stopping capability that went on to be a staple of the pistol's service record. Additionally, the pistol proved to be wholly reliable and robust even in the heat-of-battle, qualities that would ensure its survival through the countless conflicts it would be featured in.

The external design of the M1911 proved the classic semi-automatic frame. A slide covered the internal working functions as well as the barrel. The magazine was inserted into the base of the pistol grip in the traditional way. The pistol grip was well-angled up to the receiver. The curved trigger assembly sat within an oblong trigger ring which gave good support when firing. Various levers along the side of the receiver controlled a safety, magazine release and slide release. Wooden or rubber grips straddled the metal pistol grip frame. A tang overhung the rear area of the grip and sat over the firing hand's web. Overall weight was roughly 2.4lbs (sans magazine) with an overall length of 8.25 inches (the barrel measuring just over 5 inches).


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Specifications for the
Colt M1911
Semi-Automatic Pistol


Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: (See text for full listing of manufacturers)
Initial Year of Service: 1911


Overall Length: 210 mm (8.27 in)
Barrel Length: 127.00 mm (5.00 in)
Weight (Empty): 2.51 lb (1.14 kg)


Caliber*: 45 ACP
Action: Single-Action; Short Recoil-Operated
Feed: 7-Round Detachable Box Magazine
Muzzle Velocity: 830 ft/sec (253 m/sec)
Range: 82 ft (25 m; 27 yds)
Sights: Iron Front and Rear


* Listed caliber(s) for firearms may be model dependent if more than one model type/chambering was produced. Always consult official manufacturer's information or a licensed dealer.


Variants:
M1911 - Original Production Model; appearing in 1911.


M1911A1 - Revised M1911 production model; appearing in 1924.

Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911 - Formal Designation for M1911 production model.

Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911A1 - Formal designation of M1911A1 production model.

Pistol, Caliber .45, Automatic, M1911A1 - Revised formal designation for M1911A1 production models.


Operators:
Argentina; Brazil; Bolivia; Colombia; Coasta Rica; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; Fiji; Greece; Guatemala; Haiti; Indonesia; Iran; Liberia; Mexico; Nazi Germany; Nicaragua; Norway; Philippines; Spain; South Korea; South Vietnam; Soviet Union; Taiwan; United Kingdom; United States; Zimbabwe