The 1911 Pistol History: Where It's Been


If you haven’t heard of John M. Browning before today, then you’re in for a treat. Mr. Browning earned the reputation as the “The Father of Automatic Fire,” and some of his famous pieces of work include the Browning Automatic Rifle (a.k.a. the BAR), the Browning Hi-Power and the 1911 pistol.

Let’s take a closer look at the history of the 1911.

In the Beginning...

It all started in the early 1900s, after a series of previous conflicts pushed the U.S. military to look for a new service pistol that would use the .45 Automatic Colt Pistol (abbreviated as 45ACP) cartridge.

Browning submitted his design for military testing. The pistol was a magazine-fed, single-action, semi-automatic pistol that featured a manual and grip safety. The pistol had a remarkably straightforward and durable design that other handguns of the time couldn’t meet.

The military began test trials in 1906 and took in submissions from other notable manufacturers, such as Smith & Wesson and Savage. Browning’s Colt pistol passed a test that saw the gun fire several thousand rounds without a single malfunction, the first tested pistol to accomplish such a feat.

Browning’s design was adopted by the U.S. Army on March 29, 1911, and was subsequently known as the Model 1911. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps followed suit in 1913.

The World Wars

After WWI, the Model 1911 design received refinements, such as a shorter trigger and improved iron sights and ergonomics. In 1924, the pistol became known as the Model 1911A1.

The 1911 would serve in various smaller conflicts between WWI and WWII, becoming a preferred sidearm for many soldiers and law-enforcement officers across the nation, including the FBI.

When the United States entered WWII in 1941, the 1911 was the standard sidearm for American armed forces. Nearly 3 million 1911 pistols were produced for the war.

The 1911 Today

After WWII, the 1911 continued to serve with soldiers in conflicts across the world. It wasn't until 1985 that the renowned pistol was officially retired, as the Army adopted the Beretta 92F as its official sidearm. However, some special-operations soldiers still use the 1911 as their sidearm of choice.

While the 1911 may not have a significant presence in the American military of today, it continues to be a mainstay in competitive shooting and as a classic American pistol cherished by firearm enthusiasts, including Rock Island Armory fans.


Keep Your 1911 Working Until 2111