Famous Weapons: M1911 .45 caliber handgun

Built by famed weapons designer John Browning in the late 1890's, the M1911 .45-caliber handgun was used by the American military in WW1, WW2, Korea, and Vietnam. Although the Pentagon replaced it in 1985 with a Beretta 9mm handgun, there was evidence during wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that the 9mm did not possess sufficient "stopping power', and so U.S. Special Operations Command and both USMC Special Operations Command and Force Recon use the heavier-caliber (.45) M9111 handgun today.

Technical Specifications

Cartridge: .45 caliber,
Operation: Recoil-operated, closed breech, single action, semi-automatic,
Weight (unloaded): 2 lb, 7 oz (1.1 kg) (government model),
Height: 5.25 in (133 mm),
Length: 8.25 in (210 mm),
Capacity: 7+1 rounds (7 in standard-capacity magazine +1 in firing chamber),
Safeties: A grip safety, sear disconnect, slide stop, a half cock position, and manual safety (located on the left rear of the frame) on all standard M1911A1s

Service History

Manufactured by Colt Arms, Browning's handgun was formally adopted by the Army in March, 1911, thus gaining its designation, M1911 (Model 1911). It was adopted by the Navy and Marine Corps in 1913. Originally manufactured only by Colt, demand for the firearm in World War I led to additional production at government-owned Springfield Armory. Demand for the M1911 skyrocketed during World War II and the years preceding, requiring additional manufacturing facilities. The U.S. Government bought approximately 1.9 million M1911's, with Remington Rand, Colt, Ithaca Gun Company, Union Switch & Signal, and Singer all manufacturing the popular handgun. So many were produced that after 1945 the government did not order any new M1911's, but instead simply used existing parts inventories to "arsenal refinish" guns when necessary. After World War II, the M1911 continued to be a mainstay of the United States Armed Forces in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. It was used during Desert Storm and has seen service in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom with U.S. Army Special Forces Groups and Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance Companies.

Civilian Use

The M1911A1 is popular among the general public in the United States for practical and recreational purposes. It is commonly used for concealed carry thanks to it's having a slide magazine(which makes for a thinner pistol that is therefore easier to conceal), personal defense, target shooting, and competition shooting. There are a growing number of manufacturers of M1911-type pistols and the model continues to be quite popular for its reliability, simplicity, and patriotic appeal. Various tactical, target, and compact models are available. Price ranges from a low end of around $600 for basic pistols imported from the Philippines or Turkey to more than $5,000 for the best competition or tactical versions.

Although the basic design of the M199A .45 caliber handgun goes back 115 years, design remains unchanged to this day.

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