I just read a press release from Colt Defense LLC announcing that The United States Marine Corps Special Operations Command is placing an order with Colt for up to 12,000 1911A1 Rail Guns chambered in .45 ACP. The order will also include spares as well as logistical support. The Colt press release called the Close Quarters Battle Pistol (QCBP) “a direct descendant of the iconic Colt M1911 adopted by the U.S. Military in 1911 and carried as the primary sidearm through all the major conflicts of the twentieth century.” The President and CEO of Colt Defense Gerry Dinkel said “To have the 1911 selected again for U.S. Forces 101 years after its initial introduction is just an incredible testament to the timeless design and effectiveness of the Colt 1911.” The new model Colt M4 includes a picatinny rail to attach lasers, high intensity lights or other high tech gadgets.

Awhile back I discussed how the 30-06 caliber cartridge grew out of President Teddy Roosevelt’s experiences in Cuba in 1898, and his desire to never again have American troops outgunned by a superior rifle. A similar situation occurred in the Moro Uprising in the Philippines from 1900 til 1913. At first the U.S. Cavalry troops were armed with 30-40 Krag Rifles and .38 revolvers firing a cartridge known as the .38 long colt. The Moro warriors U.S. troops fought against were particularly determined and wrapped their arms and legs with cords so that they couldn’t feel pain. While you might shoot an attacking Moro fatally with a .38, he would still keep coming and get close enough to attack you with his machete before he died. Not a good result. The introduction of the .45 ACP cartridge fired from the Colt 1911 pistol solved that problem. People shot with a .45 went down immediately and stayed down.

For eighty years, almost all members of the American military were issued Colt 1911s in .45 ACP. There were a few exceptions here and there, like fancy presentation guns in .32 worn by generals. The average G.I., however, swore by the old standby, the Colt .45.

But change was coming and it did not bode well for the Colt 1911 in .45 ACP.

In 1985, The U.S. Military caved in to pressure from its NATO allies and began issuing the 9mm Beretta as its standard sidearm. There are several reasons given for switching to the 9mm:

  • The ammunition is cheaper to manufacture because the bullets are smaller.
  • The smaller ammo allows greater capacity; many 9mm magazines can hold 15 or 16 rounds.
  • The smaller ammo makes it easier to carry more magazines.
  • The smaller ammo allows for more compact design and allows small-handed people to shoot better.

During the last 25 years, the 9mm has been the standard issue for most U.S. Military and police personnel. There have been exceptions for special operations troops who are allowed to select almost any weapon they want. Guess what? When given a choice, many expert special ops troops and law enforcement hostage rescue teams choose to use the 1911 Colt firing a .45 ACP cartridge.

Why? Because when there’s a life and death situation, the .45 will put the bad guys permanently out of action so they can’t hurt innocent bystanders. Perpetrators shot with 9mm rounds can often still harm someone. Perps shot with a .45 don’t. My friend John passed away recently; he had been an FBI agent who retired with a disability pension. He had been shot in a gun fight and hit with a 9mm in the lower left abdomen. John returned fire with a .45 ACP. The difference was that John survived and the bad guy didn’t.

For more detailed information on the performance of the .45 ACP I recommend reading an article in the March 17, 2011 issue of Gun World written by Dr. Martin D. Topper entitled “106 years of Outstanding Performance From The .45 ACP”. It has an excellent examination of improvements made in .45 ACP ammunition in the past several decades.

If you think I’m an adherent of the 1911 Colt pistol shooting .45 ACP ammunition, you’re right. There are lots of guns out there in lots of different calibers and many of them are fine firearms. The .22 rifle is excellent for plinking and target shooting. The .30-30 is a fine deer rifle in the thick eastern woods and the .270 is great for the long range shooting of the intermountain west. The Colt 1911 pistol, however, in .45 ACP, may well be the best combat pistol ever invented.

Image © iStockPhoto.com/Ron Bailey

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6 thoughts on “The Colt 1911: The Best Battle Pistol Ever Invented

  1. The Glock is far superior to the 1911. The only real advantage the 1911 has is the much shorter sear interface, and hence better triggering. Glocks are more durable, and more reliable than 1911s, and more accurate than any mil-spec 1911. This decision was made because Colt hires retired generals to run the company, and after the end of their last rifle-production contract, they became desperate for more government money.

  2. Totally disagree with this article. It passes personal opinion without any backing for informative data.
    This is a love letter to Colt, not an article. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you sell it for what it is and clarify the premise.
    There are plenty of people that would disagree with the issue of lethality made in this piece.

  3. The main problem with the military 9mm Nato cartridge is the fact that it is a fmj round nose bullet. If the military would adopt something like the Speer Gold Dot hollow point, or Hornady critical Duty rounds, the results would be far better. Then you have the best of both worlds, an effective round AND high capacity magazines. I would much rather have 17 + 1 in the pipe in a combat situation than 7 + 1.

  4. Ok, Glocks are good weapons. Feel better? If the 1911 sucks so bad, why does it still have such a strong following, 101 years latter? You don’t see many Ford Model “A”s running around, but most people will be hard pressed to say they were at a range and didn’t see a 1911.

    I would prefer the military use something like the STI 2011’s where you have the best of both worlds, 1911 mechanics and double stacked magazines for maximum capacity. If Glocks are so great, why don’t they dominant the competition circuit like the 1911/2011?

    The only place the Glocks do well are in the divisions and competitions that don’t allow double stacked 1911’s.
    I

    1. People aren’t shooting back in competition. Thus when your 1911 or 2011 chokes you won’t die, and how is it fair to compare a 2000 dollar handgun to a 600 dollar handgun. The damn thing better work if it costs more than 3x as much.

  5. To be fair, the crux of your argument details the .45 ACP cartridge, not the Colt 1911. A more applicable article title, based on your content would be, “The .45 ACP, the best battle cartridge ever invented,” (Though I would disagree with that assessment).

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