The 1911 Pistol – A Close Look at a Legend Handgun

colt 1911 pistol -

The 1911 Pistol – A Close Look at a Legend Handgun

Colt 1911 is one of the most iconic and popular handguns ever made that dominate the self-defense market. This article is going to help you explore the world of 1911s and why they are still the top choice of gun professionals & experts.


The history of Colt 1911 starts after the US defeated the Spanish colonial government (1899) that had occupied the Philippine Islands leading to the Philippines. This guerrilla war included close quarters combat where the army’s bolt action rifles were too awkward and 38 Long Colt double-action revolvers were too underpowered for the fight.

They identified a lack of stopping power, which led to the beginning of tests in 1904. Which determined military pistols and revolvers should have a caliber of at least .45. In 1906 the US army started evaluating competing for designs for a new pistol, as well as the new.45 ACP cartridge. The Colt manufactured semi-automatic pistol designed as a magazine-fed, single-action pistol with both manual and grip safeties provided an unmatched level of safety. Browning’s design was adopted by US Army in 1911 with the official designation of Model 1911.

Clot 1911 actually earned its famous reputation during WWI where its firepower proved itself in the close quarter’s combat environment of trench warfare. During WWII around 3 million 1911s were produced becoming the standard sidearm for almost all US military ground forces. Colt 1911 became military history when Sergeant Alvin York used it to stop six German soldiers with six shots, earning him the Medal of Honor.

In 1924 first major upgrade of the 1911 Colt design was launched. This upgraded design included improved sights, shorter trigger, arched mainspring housing, longer grip safety spur, and other minor improvements. The improved 1911 A1 soon became a favorite gun of law enforcement. In 1985 the US Military replaced the single stack 1911 pistol with the 9MM Beretta M9 due to its higher capacity double stack magazine and cheaper 9mm ammo. It was also compatible with our NATO allies.

Specification of Colt 1911 Handgun

The only differences between the models of 1911s are the size of the frame and barrel type. However, there are many modern manufacturers who have given their guns unique names to designate sizes, the original Colt designations are still the standard. You should also be aware that some manufacturers will mix slide and frame sizes to create new combinations.

Government: 5″ barrel, full-sized frame & grip – 7 or 8 round magazine

Commander: 4 1/4″ barrel, full-sized frame & grip – 7 or 8 round magazine

Officers: 3″ barrel, short frame – 6 or 7 round magazine


Original bull barrel design was introduced with the shorter barrels to solve the problem of shorter barrels locking up when out of battery. However, the choice between bull and bushing barrels is largely a matter of personal preference. most of the shooters feel that the added weight of the bull barrel aids to control the recoil and adds longevity to the barrel itself while others go by the traditional bushing method.


Internal vs external extractors are also a matter of personal preference. In the beginning, the production 1911s were equipped with internal extractors by request of the US military for ease of maintenance in the field. Moreover, internal & extractors must be properly tuned and shaped when installed. Also, the parts are interchangeable with other internal extractor 1911s. External extractors, are easier and cheaper to manufacture are more specific to the manufacturer and model of the gun. However, early external extractors earned less than stellar reputation, most modern manufacturers have worked out to leave the choice between the two largely an esthetic one.


This article won’t be complete without addressing the trigger. 1911 uses a straight action that slides the trigger from the front to the rear, not like the rest of the semi-auto handguns which use a lever mechanism that pivots at the top of the trigger. Moreover, this feature is combined with a single action-only mechanism, which creates a smooth trigger.


Colt 1911 has a significant history, with a joy to shoot. Its century-old design is not esthetically pleasing but it is also reliable, sale, and ergonomics even today. There are many experienced professional shooters that prefer 1911’s added weight over modern polymer firearms. With a wide range of calibers and options from manufacturers such as ColtSmith & WessonSpringfield Armory, Rock Island Armory, and more, no serious gun collection should be considered complete without one.


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