The 1911: Legendary Handgun of Lawmen

Last year (2011) marked the 100 year anniversary of Browning’s M1911 pistol design, produced by Colt. This is made all the more remarkable in that he also designed the .45 ACP round that feeds that firearm.

According to “The .45 Automatic, An American Rifleman Reprint,” March 20, 1911; National Rifle Association of America, “Of the two pistols, the board was of the opinion “that the Colt is superior, because it is more reliable, more enduring, more easily disassembled when there are broken parts to be replaced, and… more accurate.”

Colt’s final production pistol became the M1911. Browning designed a semi-automatic, single action, locked-breech pistol that chambered rounds fed from a single stack, 7 shot magazine in .45 Caliber ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) that became the official sidearm of the United States Armed Forces on March 29th, 1911. Prior to World War I, the United States Government purchased over 140,000 pistols produced by Colt and Springfield Armory (SA began making the M1911 in 1913 when it became clear that Colt could not produce them in great enough numbers).

At the onset of the war production had increased again and several other companies (some of them not arms manufacturers) would be called on to produce the M1911. They included: Remington-UMC, Winchester, Burroughs Adding Machine Co., Lanston Monotype Machine Co., National Cash Register Co., A.J. Savage Munitions Co., Savage Arms Co., and two Canadian firms: Caron Brothers Mfg. Co., and North American Arms Co., Ltd.

In 1917, planners predicted they would need 765,000 pistols to supply our ever expanding military. This number was then increased to 1.3 million and finally to 2.7 million. Following the war the Army Ordnance Department concluded that further changes should be made to John Browning’s design. These changes would produce the Model 1911A1. We will continue with Mr. Browning’s incredible pistol and bullet design next month.

Stay safe.

About The Author:

Charles Bennett was born in our Nation's Capital and grew up in the Maryland suburbs. Mr. Bennett has been working in all aspects of the publishing industry since the late 1980s primarily in the fields of commercial photography and magazine production. Moving to California in 1992 to attend college resulted in B.F.A and Masters degrees. California also supplied Mr. Bennett with his wife. The two of them are avid sports persons and participate in shooting, scuba diving, surfing, running and bicycling. As a long time hobby Mr. Bennett has studied the legends of American law enforcement which led to his writing these columns.

  • Enhance your experience.

    Thank you for your regular readership of and visits to To continue viewing content on this site, please take a few moments to fill out the form below and register on this website.

    Registration is required to help ensure your access to featured content, and to maintain control of access to content that may be sensitive in nature to law enforcement.