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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23 thoughts on “Happy birthday 1911!”

  1. I’ve got three 1911 magazines sitting in open view on my desk here at work as I type.

    Is it Chocolate Cake?

  2. I am an unrepentent fan of the 1911 platform. “Genius” doesn’t do Mr. Browning justice.

    Larry, I do, however, blame you for my latest purchase, an STI Ranger II. It’s all your fault. It is. It is. It is. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

    And I thank you for it.

    Happy birthday, Mr. Browning!

  3. The reconstructed Browning workshop in the Gun Museum portion of the BBHC in Cody, WY is a worthwhile spot to visit too.

  4. It would be really inappropriate of me to respond to this by opening a beer to celebrate. Dang it. 😉

  5. Here here!!!

    That’s ok Dillis, Gaston Glock borrowed a few things from JMB for his pistol, which is probably why they work so good. ;>)

    I have my share of 1911’s and a couple Glocks to boot.

  6. “Semi-auto shotgun? He invented that.”

    Heck, did anyone else invent a pump shotgun before he did?

  7. The cake is a lie!
    The 1911 however, is AWESOME!

    I hoist my piece of pie in honer of his masterness, John Moses Browning.
    Now, let’s use our 1911s to blow out the candles.

    1. The Hi Power is an amazing gun as well. If I were to carry a 9mm, I would prefer the Hi Power. Pity he had to go to Belgium to get it made. Still, even after his death, he managed to give us a great pistol in the Hi Power.

    2. Aye! I’ve often said that there has been no significant improvement in semi-auto handgun design since 1935.

      I suppose I should buy a 1911 this year, but every time I have the money, I find a good deal on a BHP.

      So happy birthday to my favorite hand guns ‘s big brother. I hope to be around in 2035 to celebrate the next big day!

  8. The first centerfire handgun I owned was a Model of 1911 US Army. I still have it and it’s been joined by several other 1911s. I own and shoot other semiauto pistols but the 1911 is the one I prefer.
    Most of the match shooting I’ve done has been accoplished with either a 1911 or a BHP.

    I have also had the chance to shoot a Browning 1917 watercooled and an M2. Also great guns designed by a great man.

  9. Did anyone read the comments on that particular NYT editorial? The hatred and disdain held by city liberals for the rest of us in the country could not be any more plain. It’s also evident that many city liberals are convinced absolutely that if we rob the law-abiding citizen of his or her lawful right to self-protection, this will magically drop the violent crime rate to zero. How or why an intelligent group of people can arrive at such a conclusion is a matter for psychological study. Suffice to say that most people who fear and loathe guns never handled them — either as adults, or as children. I grew up around guns and gun owners and without exception the proper teaching of firearms use and handling was ingrained into every boy, and most girls.

    It’s the 3rd and 4th generation city folk who are having a cow over the 2nd ammendment. These are often the same people who won’t lift a finger to help a neighbor in danger or distress. Just don’t get involved. Let the cops deal with it. That’s their job. City libs are too busy reading Daily Kos and having a collective stroke about the Tea Party.

  10. I sent 125 rounds down range through my Colt Gold Cup (an anniversary gift from my Wench) yesterday (the 29th).
    For some reason the slide lock stopped working half way through. Time for a cleaning and quick trip to the gunsmith.
    I have 5 different JMB designs ranging from .22 to 12 gauge. 1911s in .45acp and .38Super.
    I don’t do plastic.

  11. Trivia question:

    “That’s an M2, the Ma Duece, the Big 50, which is a Browning design from the late 1920s.”

    Late 1920s? I thought the M2 design dated to 1919.

    Somewhere on some gunny TV show (possibly “Tales of the Gun”) I heard some military type comment that the M2 has already outlived three US battle rifles (M1903, M1 Garand, M14) and will probably outlive the M16. Four generations of US soldiers have used it, and likely the last M2 gunner hasn’t been born yet.

  12. I carried a MEU(SOC) 1911 back in the day.

    After the Beretta M9 was adopted the MEUs decided they would like something with a bit more knock-down power when is was up close and bad breath time.

    The Marine Corps being cheap as hell scooped up all of the broken down 1911s that had just been taken out of service and AgentFranksed together the MEU(SOC) .45.

    They rattled but they…they rattled a lot, a whole lot…but they could do the job.

    I will now plagiarize Mike Dowdall.
    Gripping a 1911 is like gripping a baseball. Gripping a Berretta M9 is like gripping a softball. The hand fits naturally around a 1911’s contours and you begin to instinctively look for a guy taking a carelessly long lead off second. The M9’s grip is just slightly too thick but not so thick as to obviously be the gun’s fault. It’s a grapefruit in gun form. You think you are the one to blame for any clumsiness when gripping it. The baseball is designed to be thrown. The softball is designed ultimately, to be dropped.

    Larry, I note from your tour roster that you will be spending some time in the Czech Republic (probably the safest place in Europe right now). Do you plan to drop by the home of the Browning Hi-Power’s bastard grandson,Česká zbrojovka ( I.E. The Czech 75 factory)

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