Staff Writer (Updated: 5/12/2016):
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 830 feet-per-second giving the required man-stopping capability that went on to become 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).