It is not every day when you run across a cache of carefully preserved Colt semi-automatics, and when Ian of finds a trove of these pistols at the Rock Island Auction house, he decides it’s time for a history lesson. The venerable M1911—and its M1911A1 variant—served as the standard-issue sidearm for the US Armed Forces from 1911 to 1985, and continues to be widely popular today. It was designed by John Moses Browning, a vastly influential gun designer that is today widely regarded as a genius. Seeing as how he designed his first firearm at the age of 13, and was awarded his first patent at the age of 24, we’re inclined to agree.

However, even a genius does not create a masterpiece from nothing. As Ian shows, the 1911 was derived from the successes—and failures—of the guns that came before it.

Image screenshot of video by Forgotten Weapons on YouTube

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