Happy birthday 1911!

Today is the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the 1911 pistol.

I am wearing one as I type this. A hundred yeas after its invention, it remains popular.  How many inventions can stay viable for a hundred years? To put that in perspective, that would be like me commuting to work in a Model T.

Why is the 1911 so awesome?

Because this man was a wizard. (quite literally, in one alternate-history series of mine, but I digress)

For you non-gun people, that’s John Moses Browning, the greatest gun designer of all time. He invented… well, just about everything. If he didn’t invent it, it was probably because he was too busy being awesome. Do you own a semi-automatic pistol? Odds are that it works on a principle called Browning Tilting-Barrel Lockup. Do you own a lever action? Odds are it is based on a Browning design. Semi-auto shotgun? He invented that. Are you speaking German right now? (does not apply if you are German). No? Then be glad that all of our aircraft were armed with machineguns he designed. See those big machineguns sitting on top of our tanks today? That’s an M2, the Ma Duece, the Big 50, which is a Browning design from the late 1920s.  And there are a so many others. The man was a machine.

He was also a Utahn. There is a lot of Browning history in this area. I make an annual pilgrimage to the Browning museum in Ogden. His old shooting range is just down the mountain from my house. This year, the Utah legislature adopted the 1911 as our state gun, an act which immediately caused the editorial staff of the New York Times to go into frothing tissy fits. Excellent. I’m in favor of anything that does that.

The 1911 design has changed over the years. What started as a single-stack, .45, 5″ barrel gun from a single manufacturer has been modified to work in a dozen calibers, in sizes from tiny carry guns to gigantic hunting cannons, from probably 20 different companies. The basic design was so versitle that you can make it do darn near anything. In that respect the 1911 is the ultimate hot rod of guns. Nothing else is as personally customizable or as cool.  

I’ve shot a lot of handguns in my life. Probably all of the major ones and a slew of the obscure ones. I’ve sent a lot of rounds downrange. For a few years I owned a gun store, and I could have owned/carried/used just about anything I felt like. Yet for me, it is always a 1911 of some kind. (Usually an STI). I just love them. They run, and I shoot them better than anything else.

So happy birthday, 1911. Now let’s have cake!

EDIT: We took a little birthday walk today. Yes. This is walking distance.


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