Over a span of more than a hundred years, the 1911 pistol platform has earned a reputation as an accurate and reliable shooter. Designed specifically to comply with the requirements of the U.S. Army after a campaign in the Philippines saw the current service pistol, a double action revolver chambered in .38, fail to provide the necessary stopping power soldiers needed on the battlefield. Out of desperation, the Army and Marines began fielding Model 1873 Colt revolvers in 45 caliber that had been stockpiled since the days of the Plains Indians Wars. Despite their age, these revolvers proved more capable as a defensive pistol for Americans fighting in the Philippines than their modern pistols, prompting the army to start the search for a new service sidearm.
Col. John T. Thompson, the inventor of the Thomson submachine gun, better known perhaps as the Tommy Gun, chaired an Ordinance Board at the time that concluded a .45 caliber pistol was the answer to the Army’s need for more power on their soldier’s hip. It was at that point that another legend of the firearm world got involved: John Browning, who had already been working on an auto-loader design he hoped to pitch to the U.S. military based on their current ammunition standard, the .38. When Browning received word that the Army was looking to move toward larger rounds, he immediately set to work adjusting his design to include their new request.
The selection process, not unlike today, saw participation from a number of firearm manufacturers. Colt, Luger, Savage, Knoble, Bergmann, White-Merrill and Smith & Wesson all submitted firearms, with Browning’s submission for Colt ultimately winning the day. The combination of two fairly new technologies (autoloading and smokeless gunpowder) in Browning’s reliable design was revolutionary, which is evident when you consider that the same design with few modifications continues to exist with such a level of popularity to this very day. Lovers of the 1911 continue to put these pistols through their paces all over the world, and will happily put theirs up against the latest and greatest polymer pistols on the market.
Indeed, although I’ve made a public spectacle of my seemingly traitorous transition to using a Glock for my everyday carry (a decision I had to defend recently on the podcast All Marine Radio) I love my 1911, the history it carries with it, and in particular, its fantastic level of accuracy. In my mind, the 1911 serves as the classic muscle car I keep in my garage and the Glock is more like my comfortable daily driver. When I want to make a statement, there’s nothing like a big, heavy, Dodge Charger you can see and hear coming from miles away, but when I want to pick up some groceries, it’s nice to have a small, nimble 3-Series that doesn’t draw too much attention to itself. Maybe it’s just me, but I never could choose between blondes and brunettes either (I married a brunette, but not because of the color of her hair).
For those of you that love your 1911 (or those of you who are simply interested in an incredible achievement of engineering) Jacob O’Neal from the website Animagraphs has released a series of moving infographics that show you exactly how the 1911 functions. The X-Ray style cutaway images demonstrate each step of the firing mechanism in incredible detail, and offer even a nerd like me a greater understanding and appreciation of what’s going on inside my trusty classic.
These GIFS are as informative as they are beautiful, and are only a few of the great info-GIFs you can find on O’neal’s website.
Check them out below:
Feature image courtesy of 1911Forum.com