Designed by John Browning, the M1911 Colt Government pistol served as the standard-issue sidearm for the US armed forces for over seventy years. During its service life, the US developed about three million 1911s, some of which are still in service today. The pistol’s short-recoil operation system was widely copied, becoming the pre-eminent design for pistols in the twentieth century, and paving the way for the advent of nearly all modern centerfire pistols.

The M1911 is the best-known gun to use the principle of short recoil in its basic design. Recoil operation means that the motion of a certain portion of the firearm is responsible for extracting, ejecting, and chambering the next round. In recoil-operated weapons, the recoil from a shot sets these parts of the firearm in motion, while inertia holds the rest of the firearm in place. A spring absorbs the recoil energy, expanding to provide energy for the rest of the operating cycle. Short recoil operation has the barrel and bolt recoil together for a short distance, before separating. The barrel stops, as the bolt continues rearward, compressing the recoil spring, then completing the extraction and feeding processes.

The M1911 cartridge, the .45 ACP, combines relative accuracy, due to low handgun recoil, with increased stopping power, operating at a relatively low maximum chamber pressure rating of 21,000 psi. The standard military .45 ACP round uses a two-hundred-and-thirty-grain bullet. When fired from the M1911 a .45 ACP cartridge travels at a speed of approximately eight hundred and thirty feet per second. The relatively low psi of the .45 ACP extends the service life of the weapon in which its used, because less force is required to fire the bullet from the weapon’s chamber. The full metal jacket version of the ACP (FMJ) has earned a reputation for its effectiveness against human targets, given that its heavy mass has the capacity to penetrate tissue deeply, dealing damage to the central nervous system. Further, its larger, 11.5mm diameter creates a greater, thus more substantial and permanent wound channel than other calibers, which will lower blood pressure rapidly if certain critical organs of the circulatory system get hit.

The ACP also comes in an expanding hollow point version, which is particularly effective against human targets, creating a significantly large permanent wound cavity for a handgun projectile. While a hollow point has decreased penetration compared to a FMJ .45 ACP, the larger diameter wound cavity causes more blood loss, and reduces the likelihood of overpenetration, more reliably incapacitating targets.

The Colt M1911 was formally adopted by the US Army on March 29, 1911, and adopted by the Navy and Marines two years later. It first saw real military use by the US Army in 1916, during the US’s Mexico campaign against Pancho Villa.

By the beginning of 1917, almost 70,000 M1911 pistols had been manufactured by Colt for use by the US armed forces. The entrance of the US into World War I saw that number greatly increased, as the US demand for firearms increased tenfold. World War II further increased demand for the M1911. During the war, about two million units were procured by the US Government, for use by all forces. In the decade after the Second World War, thousands of 1911s were refurbished and US Army depots, refurbishments that consisted of anything from minor inspections to major mechanical overhauls.

At Sarco Inc., we sell 1911 Barrels. All of our 1911 barrels are blued, meaning that they have undergone a process by which their steel is protected against rust by an electrochemical conversion coating that results from an oxidizing chemical reaction on the metal’s surface. Come shop with us today!

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