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The rise of the Colt 1911
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I just read a press release from Colt Defense LLC announcing that The United States Marine Corps Special Operations Command is placing an order with Colt for up to 12,000 Colt 1911 in 45 ACP caliber. The order will also include spares as well as logistical support. 

The Colt press release called the Close Quarters Battle Pistol (QCBP) “a direct descendant of the iconic Colt M1911 adopted by the U.S. Military in 1911 and carried as the primary sidearm through all the major conflicts of the 20th century. President and CEO of Colt Defense Gerry Dinkel said “To have the 1911 selected again for U.S. Forces 101 years after its initial introduction is just an incredible testament to the timeless design and effectiveness of the Colt 1911. The new model Colt M4 includes a picatinny Rail to attach lasers, high intensity lights or other high tech gadgets.

Awhile back I discussed how the 30-06 caliber cartridge grew out of President Teddy Roosevelt’s experiences in Cuba in 1898, and his desire to never again have American troops outgunned by a superior rifle. A similar situation occurred in the Moro Uprising in the Philippines from 1900 until 1913. At first the U.S. Cavalry troops were armed with 30-40 Krag Rifles and .38 revolvers firing a cartridge known as the .38 long colt. Unfortunately the Moro warriors were hopped up on drugs and also bound their arms and legs with cords so that they couldn’t feel pain. While you might shoot an attacking Moro fatally with a .38 he still kept coming and whacked your head off with his machete before he died. Not a good result.  The introduction of the 45 ACP cartridge fired from the Colt 1911 pistol solved that problem. People shot with a 45 went down immediately and stayed down.

For eighty years almost all members of the American Military were issued Colt 1911s in 45 ACP. There were a few exceptions here and there, like fancy presentation guns in 32 caliber worn by generals. The average G.I. however swore by (and often swore at) the old standby, the Colt 45.

Change was coming however and it did not bode well for the Colt 1911 in 45 ACP.

In 1985, The U.S. Military caved in to pressure from its NATO allies and began issuing the 9mm Beretta as its standard sidearm. There are several reasons given for switching to the 9mm:

1. The ammunition is cheaper to manufacture because the bullets are smaller.

2. The smaller ammo allows greater capacity; many 9mm magazines can hold 15 or 16 rounds.

3. The smaller ammo makes it easier to carry more clips.

4. The smaller ammo allows for more compact design and allows small handed people to shoot better.

During the last 25 years, the 9mm has been the standard issue for most U.S. Military and police personnel. There have been exceptions for special operations troops who are allowed to select almost any weapon they want. Guess what? When given a choice, many expert special ops troops and law enforcement Hostage Rescue Teams choose to use the 1911 Colt firing a 45 ACP cartridge.Why? Because when there’s a life and death situation the 45 will put the bad guys permanently out of action so they can’t hurt innocent bystanders. Perpetrators shot with 9mm rounds can often still harm someone. Perps shot with a 45 don’t. My friend John passed away recently; he had been an FBI agent who retired with a disability pension. He had been shot in a gun fight and hit with a 9mm in the lower left abdomen. John returned fire with a 45 ACP. The difference was that John survived and the bad guy didn’t.

For more detailed information on the performance of the 45 ACP I recommend reading an article in the March 17, 2011 issue of Gun World  written by Dr. Martin D. Topper entitled “106 years of Outstanding Performance From The 45 ACP”. It has an excellent examination of improvements made in 45 ACP ammunition in the past several decades.

If you think I’m an adherent of the 1911 Colt pistol shooting 45 ACP ammunition, you’re right. There are lots of guns out there in lots of different calibers and many of them are fine firearms. The 22 rifle is excellent for plinking and target shooting. The 30-30 is a fine deer rifle in the thick eastern woods and the 270 is great for the long range shooting of the intermountain west. The Colt 1911 pistol, however, in 45 ACP, may well be the best combat pistol ever invented.

Until next week,

Tight Lines