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1911s Handguns Historical

Best Pistol Ever: What Makes the 1911 So Good?

by G&A Staff   |  May 23rd, 2013 32

For more than 10 decades the Colt Government Model 1911 has been without challenge the most recognized, most imitated, most influential, and most used semiautomatic handgun in the world. Some call it the best pistol ever. It is to autoloaders what the Colt Single Action Army is to revolvers. If anything, the Model 1911 pistol—in all its forms, chamberings, and variations—is more popular today worldwide than it has been at any time since John Browning applied for the basic patents under-lying its design.  No other firearm on earth can match its record for longevity, versatility, and performance.

Its basic mechanical design, based on John Browning’s original 1898 patent for a recoil-operated autoloader mechanism, has been the foundation or point of reference for virtually every other centerfire autoloading pistol subsequently produced by handgun manufacturers everywhere for the entire 20th and 21st centuries, and it is more widely copied and imitated than any other pistol ever made. It held its position as the official sidearm of the U.S. Armed Services for 75 years, which is longer than any other continuous-use military arm in any nation’s history.

Due to its extremely widespread use by military forces in many nations, more people have handled or fired some form of the Model 1911 pistol at least once in their lives than any other sidearm ever made. Worldwide, dozens of parts assemblers and manufacturers are presently producing clones and semiclones of the Model 1911, plus a gazillion parts and component makers, and not to mention the authentic versions still offered by Colt.

Even now, after more than a full decade in the 21st century, when high-tech double-action autoloaders with space-age polymer components firing high-pressure metric-designation cartridges have swept many military and law enforcement markets, the venerable all-steel Government Model single action in original .45 ACP chambering remains a continuingly strong seller. Demand for the Model 1911—in all chamberings, all configurations, from all manufacturers and custom pistolsmiths—is, in fact, at an all-time high. After the full-size 5-inch Model 1911 itself, the 4-inch “Commander” format has been the most popular variant among those who carry a 1911 concealed for more than 50 years.

Why has the Model 1911’s position been so strong, so dominant, for so long? Simple. Its straightforward, user-friendly design cannot be outclassed for reliability, accuracy, endurance, and effectiveness. It pretty much shoots where you point it, goes bang every time you squeeze the trigger, and is hard to wear out.

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