What Does 1911 Mean in Guns | Our Guide to History and Benefits

America's love affair with firearms began as an experimental phase with primitive, heavy muzzle-loading muskets, cannons, and arquebuses. As technology advanced rapidly, the world witnessed a growing demand for compact models.

Regardless, the most significant turning point was the introduction of pistol designs, also known as the colt government, in 1911. On that account, what does 1911 mean in guns? This groundbreaking 45-ACP automatic pistol kicked off a dynamic chapter, especially during the Indian wars, Mexico conflicts, the Vietnam war, Wilson combat, and the two World Wars.

What is the History of the 1911 Pistol?

It's hard not to mention the famous 1911 pistol in gun discussions. Still, some novices may wonder, what is considered 1911? In other terms, what kind of gun is a 1911? Often called "colt government" or "colt 1911", this is a semi-automatic, recoil-operated gun designed by John Moses Browning.

Thanks to its ergonomics and simplified grip checkering, the united states military formally adopted 1911 replacing the 38-caliber Colt model 1900 on 29th March 1911. Two years later, the Marine Corps and US Navy followed suit.

Colt 1911 detail

During World War I, pundits rebranded the original design 'Model of 1911' to' Model 1911' and finally the 'm1911 pistol'. Is a 1911 a 9mm or a 45? The new service pistol is a definition of ingenuity loaded from a single stack magazine and chambered in various calibers. New variations may use 45 ACP or any other caliber of their choice.

Why Was the m1911 Pistol a Favorite in World War II?

The world was different in the pre-world war days. Then, the public favored less complicated revolvers instead of an automatic pistols. As a result, Colt had a hard time selling the 1911 model until the US entered World War I. The sudden demand for small arms prompted the brand to produce submachine rifles for military service.

Since then, several gunmakers have introduced many variations to the initial design. On that account, what differentiates 1911 from other guns? The following defining characteristics expound more on the role of the weapon during World War II.

Grip Checkering Safety

In 2013, the US marine changed some aspects of the M1911A1 to improve safety. They added a longer grip safety spur, simplified grip angle, and shortened hammer spur. The longer grip safety spur is a visual guide to natural and comfortable grips. With the combination of a shortened hammer spur, the gun became a hit with the military due to enhanced ergonomics.


Short Recoil Operation

The 1911 barrels had a swinging link beneath the chamber. During firing, the swing and the barrel would move back simultaneously. The link would then rotate the barrel's breech part, unlocking it. This shift enables the slide to move backward and eject spent cartridges. The super-efficient spring then picks fresh cartridges and recaptures the barrel for the next shot.

Slide Lock Safety

Slide lock safety is essential for a semi-automatic pistol safe, particularly those in service life. The beauty of this john browning's design is that it prevents unnecessary discharges leading to fatalities. Given that the 1911 pistol was a single-action operation invention, soldiers had to cock the hammer first before carrying the weapon. That explains the popular term of the era, " cocked and loaded."

Trigger Geometry

Trigger geometry holds tremendous importance in the functioning of a rifle. Unlike modern centerfire pistols with triggers at the top, the 1911 gun behaves more like a sliding door. This pistol design is ideal for military designation because it prevents the press motion from shifting the firearm off the target.

Colt 1911 trigger

Single Action Trigger

One aspect that makes the 1911 pistol stand out is the single-action trigger. Shooters only need to pull the firing pin from the rear to the front for the gun to function. Unfortunately, several competitors have tried to imitate the firing pin design throughout the years. Still, no one came close to perfection as the 1911 pistol. 

Recent Updates that Make 1911 Remain Relevant

Despite serious replacement attempts, the design has survived 100+ years of US military use. Moreover, it was used by the American armed forces, marine corps, and law enforcement agencies for over a century; the 1911 model is an iconic service pistol, considered the gold standard. 

The following recent upgrades on the basic design make the combat model perfect for target shooting and other wider variety of roles.

a person holding a pistol in the hand

Improved Barrel bushing

The most notable improvement in the history of 1911 is the barrel. Initially, John Browning added a barrel bushing that fits the barrel perfectly. Unlike the bull barrel, the bushing is a collar usually made of rubber or nylon that sits inside the slide fore-end. It acts as an extension of the frame that supports the barrel's muzzle end and supports the rear portion of the barrel during cycling.

As we enjoy an era of custom guns, most M1911 still employ bushings. Yet, the latest models, particularly the compact designs, have well-shaped barrels that hold on to the slide without a bushing.

Better Grips for Personal Defense

Nothing beats the swiftness of changing the 1911 grip panels with simple tools like a screwdriver. Most impressive, the market floods with several high-quality, customizable aftermarket grips. You can choose between a Crimson Trace, Wrap-around Hogue, or any other preference.

The range of options is astounding and affordable, costing approximately $ 20 for a grip. Improve the grip safety and performance of your 1911 handgun by adding different grips to it.

the battalion shooting

Full-Length Guide Rod

A guide rod is a polished stainless all-steel bar that supports and strengthens the recoil spring. Some older version of 1911 uses a standard rod which unfortunately fails to lengthen the entire dimension of the recoil spring. The original Browning used a simple spring plug to hold the spring to the pistol frame.

Some manufacturers added two-piece or full-length guide rods on the pistol to enhance reliability. This improvement spurs a hot debate as some shooters find it unnecessary. Overall, touted benefits include smoother cycling, improved accuracy, and a tighter barrel.

External and Internal Extractors

Extractors are mechanisms on guns that aid in ejecting spent shell casings. In some 1911s and automatic pistols, the internal version uses a spring-loaded button on the back of the slide to remove spent shell casings. In short, it vacates the gas chamber to host a new round of ammunition. The external version has a button or lever located on the bottom of the gun frame to get rid of spent shell casings.

Some people insist original 1911 pistols had a spring and cartridge mounted on the inside side of the slide and not on the exterior. Modifications later, experts realized that it was easier to remove cartridges and reload ammunition with external extractors. Depending on your preference, you can pick an external or internal extractor 1911. However, consider that internal extractors only give promising results if fine-tuned and made from a quality metal frame.

On the other hand, the system in external extractors is self-adjusting. Still, it would help to place them correctly in the claw and slide to prevent feeding failures.

parts of a gun

Different Calibers

Caliber refers to the size of the gun's barrel, precisely its diameter. The initial lone caliber for Browning 1911 was a 45 ACP. Today, different calibers available enable shooters to carry more than one type of ammunition in one weapon. Over a dozen different handgun calibers play specific roles. Whether you want to hunt, target, or self-defense, M911 has a caliber for you.

Modern 1911 gun boast of .45 auto, 9mm, .38 Super, .40 S&W, 9x19mm, 10mm, .357 SIG calibers and more. In addition, the 2011 version has a replaceable modular grip and an option of adding double stack magazines.

Concealed Carry

Many research and reviews consider the m1911 handgun a reliable combat weapon for military service. The main reason behind the claim is the weapon's grip size which simplifies concealed carry. We cannot deny that technological advances have made a big difference in making guns this small.

A small concealable firearm boasts several advantages over big ones because of their featherweight and minimal chances of the weapon getting noticeable in public.

Why is Gun Discipline Critical?

While anti-gun activists refer to these weapons as tools of tyranny, we cannot disregard the impressive century ride by 1911. 

pistol holster on the chair

In short, concealable, fast-firing, and accurate 1911 pistols now replace yesteryears' slow, bulky muskets. The bullet's power no longer boils down to pinpricks in the process. Instead, when the standards of operating systems rose, a combination of the correct load and pistol had the potential to shoot through walls, maiming and killing. For these reasons, shooters should treat the concealed carry M1911 and other high-end arms from other countries with the respect they deserve. In a nutshell, rifle handling requires a high level of sobriety and discipline to bring the gun-violence nightmare to a halt.

Leave a Comment