The M1911 is a semiautomatic hand chambered, single action weapon designed for the .45 ACP cartridge. It was originally created by John Browning, and was consistently utilized as the standard issue side arm for the entire United States Armed Forces military and law enforcement from 1911 to 1985.
The M1911 Colt Pistol was frequently used in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The weapons formal designation as of 1940 was Caliber .45, Automatic Pistol, M1911 for the original Model of 1911 or Caliber .45, Automatic Pistol, M1911A1 for the M1911A1, adopted in 1924. The official designation of the weapon was converted to Pistol, Caliber .45, Automatic, M1911A1 during the Vietnam era. In total, the United States manufactured and produced around 2.7 million M1911 and M1911A1 pistols during its extensive service life.
The same basic design of the M1911 Colt Pistol has also been offered commercially, and is frequently used in the militaries of other countries. In addition to the primary .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol), additional models including those chambered for 9 mm Parabellum, .38 Super, .400 Corbon, and other cartridges have also been offered. The M1911 was created utilizing earlier Colt designs by firing rounds such as .38 ACP. The current weapon design beat out many other additional options during the government's covert selection period, during the late 1890s and 1900s, up to the pistol's ultimate final adoption. The M1911 quickly and officially replaced a range of military use revolvers and pistols across most branches of the U.S. armed forces, though a select number of other similar designs would see some use in certain niches.
The M1911 is the most popular of John Browning's pistol designs to use the short recoil principle in its primary design. This operating system has become the premier type of the 20th century and covers nearly all moder pistols. The design is frequently copied as well.
Browning's successful creation of a .45-caliber automatic pistol in the early 20th century was a difficult task to replicate. Browning chose a design considered to be timeless that has seen little change in over 100 years of production. The primary principle of the M1911 is the recoil operation. Therefore, as the bullet and combustion gasses proceed down the barrel of the weapon, the barrel and slide travel rearward a short distance.
At this time, a link inside the weapon pivots the barrel down, out of locking recesses in the slide which successfully brings the barrel to a stop. As the slide continues to the end, a claw dispels the spent casing from the weapon's firing chamber. The slide stops when it reaches its furthest point and then is launched forward by a spring which strips a fresh cartridge from the attached magazine and places it within the firing chamber. At its most forward point, the slide fastens the barrel and the weapon is ready to be fired again.
The M1911 was mandated by the military to have a manual safety and grip safety. A rear disconnect, grip safety, half cock position, slide sotp adn manual safety (located towards the backend of the frame) are all standard on the M1911A1s. Numerous other companies have created a firing pin block safety. Colt's 80 series weapon utilizes a trigger that is operated one and several other 19aa manufacturers utilize one with a grip safety.
The M1911's basic design has frequently been offered on the market and sold by other military units throughout the world. In combination with the .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol), 1911's chambered for .400 Corbon, 9mm Parabellum, .38 Super and some other cartridges were offered on the market. The M1911 was specifically developed from earlier Colt designs of the weapon firing round including the .38 ACP. This design beat out numerous other entrants during the government's selection process, throughout the late 1900's and the pistol's adoption. The M1911 became the pistol for the United States armed forces replacing various service revolvers and pistols.
The original 1911 continues to soar in popularity despite being threatened by lighter and newer pistols in the .45 caliber. The challengers includ the SIGARMS P220, the Glock 21 and the Heckler and Koch MK 23. Though it has a relatively large size, the weapon's flat profile and single stack magazine, make it fairly easy and useful for concealment.
- Cartridge: .45 ACP;
- Military and commercial derivatives of the weapon include: .38 Super, .40 S&w, 9mm Parabellum, 10mm Auto, .22 LR, .400 Corbon, .50 GI, 9x23 Winchester and several others.
- Barrel: 5 in (127 mm) Government model, 4.25 in (108 mm) Commander model, and the 3.5 in (89 mm) Officer's ACP model. Some modern "carry" guns have significantly shorter frames and barrels, while other weapons use extended frames and standard slides with 6 in (152 mm) barrels
- Rate of twist of the weapon: 16 in (406 mm) per turn, or 1:35.5 calibers (.45 ACP)
- Operation of the pistol: Recoil-operated, closed bolt, single action, semi-automatic
- Weight (unloaded) of the pistol: 2 lb 7 oz (1.1 kg) (government model)
- Height of the pistol: 5.25 in (133 mm)
- Length of the pistol: 8.25 in (210 mm)
- Capacity of the pistol: 7+1 rounds (7 in standard-capacity magazine +1 in firing chamber); 8+1 in aftermarket standard-size magazine for the pistol; 9+ in extended and hi-cap magazines/frames guns chambered in .38 Super for the pistol and 9 mm have a 9+1 capacity. Some model M1911's using double-stacked magazines increasing capacity, including those from Para Ordnance Comapny, Strayer Voigt Incorporated and STI International Incorporated have significantly larger capacities of ammunition. Colt Firearms makes their own larger 8 round magazines which they include with their featured Series 80 XSE 1911 models.
- Safeties: A grip safety, slide stop, sear disconnect, a half cock position, and manual safety (located on the left backend of the frame of the weapon). Each feature is standard on are on all M1911(A1)s. Several other companies have developed and produced a firing pin block. Colt's 80 series weapon uses a trigger operated one and additional other manufacturers (such as Smith & Wesson) use a safety operated by the grip safety.
- Grip safety deactivation: A potential problem for some shooters is that they have significant trouble deactivating the grip safety when they handle the weapon. Shooters with small hands are susceptible to this problem. It can also happen when a shooter puts their thumb on top of the thumb safety of the 1911, which may tend to reduce the overall pressure on the grip safety. To correct this problem, many grip safety manufacturers have designed and produced safeties with extended ridges. Therefore when a shooter grips the gun, the shooter's hand will come into contact with the ridges and take off the safety (i.e., allowing the gun to fire).