There is no question that the Browning Model 1911 .45 pistol is the world’s most respected handgun; it has been designated by experts to be the finest service pistol of all time. John Browning, considered the most innovative and visionary firearms designer in history, designed the Model 1911—the best known of his designs utilizing the short-recoil principle, his original invention.
During the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), it became apparent that the then-standard issue .38 caliber Colt M1892 was unsuitable in terms of stopping-power and in jungle warfare. Between 1906 and 1910, the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps held a series of rigorous pistol trials for a new service weapon to replace it.
After testing and further design refinements, it was the Browning-designed Colt-manufactured pistol that surpassed all others. After a final test of 6000 rounds fired over a 24-hour period, Browning’s design passed every test without a single malfunction. The Browning Model 1911 was considered superior because, according to the evaluation committee, “it is more reliable, more enduring, more easily disassembled when there are broken parts to be replaced, and more accurate.” It was formally adopted on March 29, 1911 as the official sidearm of the U.S. Armed Forces, and thus named the Colt Model 1911.
The Model 1911 was an instant success. From its inception through the end of World War II, over 3,000,000 pistols were manufactured. During the frenzied production years of WWII some 1911s were made under subcontract, including five hundred by the Singer Sewing Machine Company. It was also immensely popular as a sidearm for law enforcement officers and was adapted by numerous other nations as the official sidearm for their own military forces.
In the years following WWII, prosperity and peace brought recreation and leisure time for millions of returning veterans, and, a sudden boom (so to speak!) of shooting sports. The Model 1911 was immensely popular for both practical and recreational uses, from NRA Bullseye Pistol competitions to the newly-emerging Practical Shooting movement and events.
After more than one-hundred years, the Model 1911 design is more popular than ever, with countless minor variants in current production. It’s a pistol with the power, accuracy and reliability to prevail in a confrontation, and remains the standard by which all other autoloading pistols are measured.