Rambling Thoughts On The Colt 1911
by Greg Ritchie
[Remington's modern take on the classic Colt design]
In the 1880's, John Moses Browning, inspired in part by Hiram Maxim, became interested in machine guns, culminating in the Browning "Potato Digger" machine gun. The J. M. B. Semi-automatic handguns were a direct result. By 1895, John Browning had designed a toggle linked, magazine fed, gas operated handgun. This handgun was never put into production, Browning realizing that recoil operation would be a better option. This was the great granddaddy of the 1911 though.
The Colt Model 1900 was put into production. A recoil operated locked breech pistol chambered for the 38 Colt Automatic (ACP). The barrel was attached to the frame by two pivoting links and lockup was achieved by ridges and grooves machined in the barrel and slide. This pistol was rejected by the US Army.
In 1902 John Browning added a slide stop, thus incorporating a last round hold open, increased the length of the grip frame adding one round to the pistols capacity, and incorporated a lanyard ring. Still the US Army rejected the handgun.
In 1904 the US Army conducted the Thompson/LaGarde tests and the Army reached the conclusion that a military handgun must be a minimum of .45 caliber. John Moses Browning started development of his .45 caliber round.
In 1905 Browning scaled up the 1902 and chambered it for his newly developed 45 round.
In 1908 a grip safety was added.
In 1909 a major change happened. The front pivoting link was replaced by a barrel bushing. Before this change the slide and barrel could detach from the frame in certain conditions, striking the shooter in the face. This change prevented this from happening.
In 1910, at the request of the US Calvary, a frame mounted safety was added.
Finally in May 1911 the pistol was adopted by the US Army.
In 1912 the Norwegians adopted the pistol. It was produced under license by the Kongsburg Weapons Factory as the Colt Automatic Pistol Model 1912. In 1914 the Norwegians made a second run of pistols. These were marked 11.25 m/m Auto. Pistol M/1914. (The plant was again restarted in WWII when the country was occupied by Germany)
In 1924 the US ARMY, finding the 1911 somewhat hard to control made changes to the pistol. The changes were:
1. The mainspring housing was arched
2. The tang was extended
3. Beveled cuts were made in the frame behind the trigger
4. The trigger was shortened
5. The sights were enlarged
6. The modified pistol was called the M1911A1
The Colt M1927 was produced for the Argentinian military . These pistols were marked
Colt CAL. 45 MOD 1927 S/N
In 1930 Argentina produced the 1911 under license at the Fabrica Militar de Armas Portatiles. These are the Sistema Colts. These are marked "F.M.A.P" on the left slide and the right is marked: Ejercito Argentino, Sist. Colt, cal 11.25 m.m. MOD 1927.
An unlicensed copy of the Colt was manufactured by Hispano Argentino Fabrica de Automoviles. These are the "Ballester Molina". Only the trigger and the trigger linkage is different from the Colt.
In 1972 the US Army began replacing the M1908 colt that was issued to General Officers with the United States Pistol, General Officers, Caliber 45, M15. This of course is the "officers model". The barrel and slide were shortened by 3/4 inch, one locking lug was removed, it had a full length recoil spring guide rod and enlarged sights. The checkered gripping had a plate engraved with the officers name engraved.
In 1983, the MKIV Series 80 Was introduced which had a firing pin safety added.
In 1985 the US Military replaced the M1911 with the Beretta 92F as its standard issue sidearm.