I’m told that among some gun fans, January 9, 2011 is going to be the official day to carry or shoot a 1911 pistol. After all, the date is technically 1/9/11.

Of the countless masterpieces of gun design genius John Moses Browning, this one may be the most enduring. Adopted by the US Government as its military handgun all-service-wide in the spring of 1911, it remains in service today. The USMC’s MEU-SOC unit issues 1911 Kimbers; each member of the Army’s elite Delta Force gets an allowance to purchase his own 1911; all the military teams still issue 1911 .45s to their pistol teams; and this style of handgun is probably more popular than ever today in both the private citizen and the police sectors.

There are Browning designs that are still more important in battle today, such as the almost-as-enduring M-2 .50 caliber heavy machine gun. If you hunt birds with a Browning Automatic-Five shotgun, you know it carries its name for a reason. Do you hunt deer with the venerable Winchester .30-30 lever action, Model of 1894, or go to cowboy action shoots with a Winchester ’92 pistol-caliber carbine or one of its clones, and a Chinese Norinco copy of the Winchester Model 1897 pump gun? If so, you’re still running with JMB designs that are older than even the 1911.

I shot a good part of last year’s competition season with a Wilson Combat CQB 1911 .45, and will doubtless spend a substantial amount of time with it during its centennial year. After all, I’ve had one since I was twelve, and have been a 1911 shooter for roughly half of its century of dominance in its world.

It points well. It fits the hand well. While it tends to have problems when people who think they know more about it than the genius who designed it change its springs or its parts or its tolerances, it remains the first pistol to ever pass a US Army Ordnance test 100%: six thousand straight rounds of .45 ammo without a malfunction.

Originally conceived as a .45 caliber Colt with five-inch barrel, the 1911 is available today chambered for a long list of cartridges, from .22 Long Rifle on up, and can be had with barrels ranging in length from three-inch subcompacts that can be concealed in ankle holsters to six-inch barrel dedicated target pistols, and produced by more manufacturers than I can keep track of. In the firearms world, the 1911 design has a history worthy of tribute.

I always celebrate January 9, anyway. It’s my first grandchild’s birthday, and also my mother’s. My mom was there when I unwrapped my first Colt 1911 .45 under the Christmas tree half a century ago. Will I carry a 1911 on 1/9/11? You bet, if only for the sake of sentiment.

My mother would understand.

1911 pistols…gotta love ’em, if you’re into guns …this one is by Ed Brown Custom.


  1. Mas,

    Out of all the pistols, rifles, shotguns and SMGs I’ve fired, the 1911 is still one of my top two favorite firearms. Sadly, I’ll be stuck in NYC tomorrow and as I’m merely a lowly civvy will not be able to participate in such a fine commemoration.

    With your first grandchild having been born on 1/9. Why is it that I expect they’ll be getting a 1911 of their own, when their responsible enough and of legal age in their state?


  2. Love my 1911’s, my daily carry is a Sig 1911 C3 not sure if there could be a better 1911 carry gun. Well worth the money I spent on it. Had been considering a Commander size Kimber until I saw and was able to fondle this one, love the shorter grip frame

    btw, have you seen this over 82K right now with 12 days to go, to crazy for me that’s for sure http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=206871796

  3. Hi Mas,

    Well I won’t be getting out to shoot a 1911 today as the temp is 2 degrees below 0. I did go out yesterday when we were having a heat wave of 18 above. I shot my 1911, series 70 Mark 4 that I have extensively modified. It has a Kart match barrel and a Clyinder and Slide trigger group. Wilson put Bomar sights on the slide approx. 30 years ago. I put an Ed Brown beavertail grip satety on it although, because of my small hands, after 1000’s of rounds I have had hammer bite only once. Stippled the front strap and tightened the slide to frame fit. I also fitted a Wilson comp. on the barrel and it has served me well. (2 year project) I also have a Star PD in .45acp, I believe that Cooper said it was meant to be carried a lot and shot very little. It has a 3 3/4″ barrel, 6 shot mag. The other 1911’s I have are a Colt Gold Cup that I shot bullseye with and then I.P.S.C. Right now I have a Kimber .22 conversion on it. Also In my battery is a Colt Series 70 frame with a National Match slide and a Cylinder and Slide trigger group and Elliason sights. And of course I have my Ed Brown Ayoob Signature model.

    I think the reason that the 1911 has endured for so long is that it just works and the fact that the trigger slides straight back instead of the crummy hinged triggers that are easier to produce.

    What the hell happened in Arizona? With a open and concealed carry state, I find it hard to believe that there wasn’t someone of decent character who could have put a quick end to the slaughter. My prayers are with the congresswoman as well as the families of the deceased.


  4. Browning’s HP is MUCH better. Much higher capacity, also a “natural pointer,” also easy for do-it-yourself customization.

  5. Got to love 1911s. Right now, about half my handguns are 1911s and the other half are Springfield XDs. I love my XDs but sometimes I wonder about the striker and how the 1911 has a lot more spring behind the hammer when you need it.

    It’s great how some gun store commandos complain that a 1911 jams every magazine and how the 1911 is such an old gun that the newer guns like the SIGs or Glocks are so much better. Had one gun recommend a Beretta 92 over a 1911 to me once…

    Out of curiosity Mas that Kimber Custom II you show in some of your books and old videos, was it stainless steel with a black oxide finish or carbon steel with another kind of finish? Reason being, I have a Custom II that’s carbon steel with black oxide and just about everyone says it’s horrible about corrosion and really bad for daily carry because of it. I’ve been debating between either refinishing it KimPro II or getting an all stainless 1911 or aluminium framed one.

    Thanks in advance,

  6. I fired an old 1911 for the first time in 20 years. It felt great, in fact my Glock felt like a two by four in comparison. You cant beat the ergonomics of the 1911. It must be the combination of the thin, circular shaped grips and the grip safety. Very few pistols are so steeped in tradition. As always thanks for the good read.

  7. I have a S&W 1911 on my hip right now and just got a Kimber this week. I would have got it today but the gun shop I use is closed.

  8. I carry a EMP 9 all the time. It works every time I squeeze the trigger. My favorite though is my restored colt 1911a1 that was built in 1948. Its still able to put them all in 3″ at 25 yards.

  9. I just returned from the grocery store. Carried a Para-GI 1911 .45cal CCW on my hip, just like most days. Hadn’t even realized it was 1-9-11.
    Thanks Mas, sounds like a great tradition to uphold ~ ; – )

  10. I have a 1970 Colt .45ACP;only modification was to change backstrap to straight, not curved, and make it like original issued 1911. I have read that our troops often ditch their Berettas in-country and get .45 ACP for the stopping power. Not sure if true.

    I have a 1970’s Belgian Browning HP also;fine weapon. Those older pistols have great finishes and fit.

  11. Mas, as you know I was a die-hard revolver man for many many duty years – my first issue S&W model 15 would slpit hairs at 25 yards…then, we went to Glocks and that has been my carry piece for 26 years, and I do love the gun! But just a year and a half ago I bought a new Dan Wesson PM7 10mm 1911, and I love it. It is, clearly, the MOST accurate handgun I have ever shot. Ergonomic, reliable, and able to repeatedly hit a twelve inch square metal target at 100 yards rapid fire. I need to train with it, but it’s fit and accuarcy is unmatched! A convert!
    Best to you and yours, Jack

  12. Years ago I bought a 1911 that is a WWII Remington Rand(?). I love to shoot it and have NEVER ever had one stoppage with it. Also bought my husband a beautifully blued Gold Cup long time ago; however, he’s not a shooter so I get to use. Shameless, huh?

  13. First 1911 I shot was a Colt Commander that my brother acquired from a friend. This would have been in the late 70’s early 80’s time frame. I was hooked.

    I currently own three 1911 style sidearms. A Springfield 1911-A1 GI, a Colt Mark IV Series 80 Lightweight Officer’s ACP, and an original WWII 1942 Navy issue 1911A1.

    Funny you mention it, but I have a pair of model 94’s too; 30-30 and 32 Special.

  14. I didn’t realize it was 1911 day! 🙁

    But the good news is I carry my Colt Enhanced Model LW Commander every day so it was with me anyway. 🙂

    I currently have three of them; the LW Commander and two Gov’t Models all in stainless. Used to have a Norinco and a Para Ordnance, but let them slip away, silly me.

    Been wavering on buying a Glock but haven’t fallen yet.

    LONG LIVE THE 1911!!!

  15. 5years ago i went to range with my brother to shoot my new Smith&Wesson 9mmSigma my brother brought his Kimber 1911match gold it was apleasure to shoot .it made me remember when i use to shoot and carry a 1911when iwas in the army. ihade to have a 1911of my own. problem was i was retired and on a fix income.i had work for the state and i was hurt my back kneck and i also had aservire concussion .so ihad to save what i could to be able to afford a1911 Taurus was comming out with there new 1911 with all the bell and wissles. iwas able to get one for$609 my Taurus shot like a dream my brother and i went to the range again we ha a shoot out his kimber agaist mt Taurus my Taurus out shot his KImber.

  16. I too got my first 1911 when I was a young teen age kid, about 13. I’ve owned several over the course of 54 years including a Singer Sewing Machine company 1911, Remington Rand, Essex, Colt and a few I don’t remember the mfg’s. Right now I have a Thompson Auto Ordnance I bought several years ago. It had a trigger pull that felt like pulling a lead-sled across a rock pile. As soon as I got it home I took out the guts and replaced them with OEM Colt parts. My T.A.O. is a slick shooter. Like most folk who read your columns I’ve owned bunches of guns but I’ll never be without a 1911A1 .45ACP, there is simply no replacement for them.

  17. Long live the King! I never leave home without my personally customized Springfield 1911 in .45 ACP and over two spare magazines. I couldn’t see paying thousands for a custom pistol when I can do it myself for about $800 including a Birdsong Black-T finish, and my .45 pistols shoots almost as accurately and are probably more reliable than those of any big name gunsmith’s. I bought my first 1911, a Colt Series 70 when I was 18 and had my mother get it for me. Since then I have owned over a dozen Colt and Springfield 1911s, all of them personally customized, but most of them are sold or traded off now. The only time I have not carried a 1911 every day was when I was required to carry a double action pistol at work and carried my SIG 220 with Black-T finish. But when I got off duty, that Springfield 1911 was slipped back into it’s Milt Sparks Summer Special until I’m on the job again. If I could only have one handgun, a 1911 of some sort in .45 ACP would be it.

  18. My son now owns the Colt 1991 (his birth year) I used at LFI I. I was married this past Friday (7 JAN), and when my chaplain buddy said, “You may kiss the bride,” his wife (our witness), could probably have noted the faint outline of the butt of my Norinco 1911 in its Comp-Tac IWB holster against my suit jacket.

    I had decided to dedicate myself to 1911 carry last summer. After about three weeks back with the ol’ girl, I wonder why I ever left her for the fantastic plastic.

    Shane Morris
    LFI I, Winimac ’99

  19. 1911’s ya gotta love ’em. Got me some a dem. I always said you can’t have too many .45’s laying around the house, 1911’s of course.

  20. My wife and I both had Colt 1911s as a concequence of military service until she decided she was no longer tolerant of the spitting and convulsions. I believe she is adequately served with her S&W 686+