Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy 100th Birthday

To the M1911, still the finest sidearm design ever.

I have many fond memories of the M1911, or in my case the M1911A1 with the curved mainspring housing and milled frame at the trigger. I prefer the straight mainspring housing because it fits my hand better than the curved, but I digress. Enlisted personnel are not typically issued sidearms, unless they are machine gunners (which I was, with the awesome M60) or assistant gunners, or in other situations where a rifle would be impractical. I was also on my battalion's pistol team, which I volunteered for to get range time.

The M1911 is probably the world's safest handgun. In order for it to fire, the chamber must be loaded, the frame safety must be in the downward position, the hammer must be cocked, the grip safety must be depressed, and the trigger must be pulled.

What is remarkable about the M1911 is that Browning designed it for cavalry troops ("Horses! What the f____ were you thinking?") Yes, horses. The design is so superior to any other handgun design that the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team currently uses it, as do many of the elite military units of the U.S. and the rest of the world. It has gone from the trenches of WWI, the beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima, the frozen Chosin, to the VC tunnels in Viet Nam. By 1985, it was being replaced by the inferior M9, also known as the Beretta 92. Ask yourself: In a rock-throwing contest, would you rather have a whole bunch of little rocks to throw all over the place, or would you rather have a few big rocks that you can throw reliably and accurately? The Army made a bad choice.

There are many manufacturers of M1911s, and some are made better than others. Kimber would be at the top of my list, but I would take my sloppy and poorly matched M1911 the Army issued me any day. I put many a round downrange with that pistol, and it never failed once.

In other words, I love the 1911.

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