John Moses Browning’s M1911 persists as one of the most prolific handguns in the modern era, but how has this pistol maintained its popularity more than a century after its inception?
The Model 1911 surfaced in the early 1900s after American soldiers realized they needed more firepower and capabilities than the standard M1892 revolver, which had been found wanting during service in the Philipines. Browning answered the call for a more robust handgun, introducing the Model 1911 which was adopted by the U.S. Army on Mar. 29, 1911. As the best Valentine’s to gun culture, Browning’s patent on the design was issued Feb.14, 1911. The M1911 offered a .45 ACP chambered pistol with a standard 8+1 capacity and versatility that made it a sensation.
Seeing service during both World Wars, the M1911 was renowned for its reliability in combat. In fact, during initial military testing, the gun underwent an intense 6,000 round torture test with no malfunctions.
After seeing action in World War II the Model 1911 underwent refinements to its design — namely, it gained an arched mainspring housing, better ergonomics, a shorter trigger, and improved sights. The revamped edition was renamed the M1911A1 to set it apart from the original design.
The M1911A1 was employed in combat in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars in addition to riding alongside law enforcement personnel in the U.S. Border Patrol, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Texas Rangers. Though the military eventually replaced it with the M9 in 1985, the M1911A1 remained a steady companion for many special operations units.
Diving into the world of guns, there aren’t too many that have enjoyed the long-term popularity and success as the 1911 platform. Still, a preferred concealed and open carry pistol for many gun owners, the M1911 has proved itself with a slimmer width that often neatly slips into a holster. Available in three sizes —Government, Commander, and Officer — the M1911 allows owners to select a size that fits individual needs, be it carry, competition or home defense.
With an easy to maintain and easy to use design, the M1911 is the go-to for many new .45 ACP gun owners learning the ropes of ownership and carry. Not to mention, for new shooters that manual safety often brings a sense of security while carrying. The M1911 also brings versatility to the handgun game with customizations galore, which has even led to custom 1911 makers like Wilson Combat and Nighthawk Custom making out-of-the-box high-end 1911s.
Whether its the nostalgia that its history brings, its tested reliability or its ability to easily integrate into most facets of gun ownership — be it casual ownership, carry or competition — the M1911 is a stalwart pistol with a steady trajectory that doesn’t seem to be slowing anytime soon.