The Sixgun Journal

A Collection of Firearms Articles & Campfire Tales

Sarge’s 1911 Articles

The 1911A1 and I have a long and happy relationship. My experience with it spans nearly 37 years. The lion’s share of it was with the gun used for duty or daily carry, although there was some informal LE competition, Practical Shooting in its most primitive state and a little game shooting as well. As I have written before, the basic gun with an arched MSH, short GI trigger and diamond checkered wood grips is like the handshake of an old friend to me. I’ve got decades of immersion in that platform and everything about it is second nature for me. I’ve actually shot night-fire (not) using the GI sights and gotten consistent, solid hits well past 15 yards. I simply can’t bring myself to change from something that works so well- for me.

During that time, I’ve learned a lot about the  design and function of the 1911A1. Early on, I determined to accumulate the knowledge and skills to do my own armorer-level gunsmithing on it. There was a lot of trial and error along the way. For those of you similarly motivated, I can offer no better advice than to obtain “The Colt .45 Automatic: A Shop Manual Volume 1” by Jerry Kuhnhausen. When I finally read it I was pleased to discover that a lot of what I’d learned, through trial and error, was supported by this manual. You could save yourself some trouble by reading it first.

I’ll apologize in advance for the length of some of my articles, which are technical and diagnostic in nature. They are long by necessity, but they’ll give you a look at several current versions of the basic 1911A1 including their assets, liabilities and what it takes to optimize them for general use. But enough about me… let’s take a look at this wonderful old pistol.

The Colt 1911 may well be the most ‘timeless’ handgun design in history. While it could be argued that the Colt Single Action Army (a fine handgun in its own right) deserves that title, the fact remains that the 1911 is still much in demand for its original purpose- while the SAA is not. The fact that both these superb handguns were the product of American genius and ingenuity is something which we, as Americans, can be uniquely proud of.

The 1911 still performs its intended duties as well or better than anything offered since- a full hundred years after the machine chips from the early prototypes hit the toolroom floor. There are very few inventions of any kind that can make that claim- but John Browning’s masterpiece of handgun design can. Not only is it a superb fighting handgun, but with a little work it can compete, and win, on any field of conventional handgun competition. It makes no difference whether the objective is punching two-inch X-rings at 50 yards, or slapping down steel targets so fast that the first hasn’t settled before the third one is hit. The old 1911 can do it all.

This is the same handgun that pursued Villa into Mexico, fought across the trenches and diverse battlefields of two World Wars, in the frozen wastelands of Korea and in the jungles of Vietnam. By exemplary performance under the worst wartime conditions imaginable, the 1911 became the envy of armies worldwide. In a fit of insanity, the DOD abandoned it; but the crucible of battle called this old soldier out of retirement. In the sands of the Mid-East, 101 years after its introduction, the Old Warhorse charges on! Its service has spanned a century because the 1911A1 excels wherever good men need a powerful, accurate and reliable sidearm to keep them alive.


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3 Comments

  1. In The Firing Line forum you wrote the following about Kahr’s A/O 1911s: “I have now been all over the insides of one of the Worchester guns, and I am inclined to believe them. Pin holes, ports etc. are now dead-on and the frames will accept max-dimension USGI surplus parts. That’s the good news…the bad news is that as of two years ago, they were still loading them with substandard small parts.”

    I purchased a Worchester made Commander size 1911 and wanted to change the ejector as it was loose when I received the new pistol. These guns never made it into the Kahr A/O catalog, but were on the web site. I did not know if this gun took a government 45 ejector or the 9mm/38s size. I wrote to Frank Harris at Kahr A/O and received the following answer:

    “Barry,

    Here is the reply from our engineering dept:

    I believe these guns were made from parts inventory received from the old Auto Ordnance. Based on their (Numrich- Auto Ordnance) original parts list the Commander size 1911 which was called the General used the same ejector as the regular 1911.

    Frank Harris
    VP, Sales & Marketing
    Kahr/AO/MRI”

  2. I have an 1987 Springfield 45 automatic . I want to use the 185 gr lead king bullet.
    The powder I have is high score 700 x. Is this a good powder for any type bullet for my 45

  3. IMR Powders lists 700X as an “extruded flake type powder is ideally suited for shotshell in 12 and 16 gauge where clay target and light field loads are the norm. It doubles as an excellent pistol target powder for such cartridges as the 38 Special and 45 ACP and many more.” I am not familiar with the ‘king’ bullet but Hodgdons Data Center shows data for the 185 GR. HDY JSWC as follows:
    IMR 700-X .451″ 1.135″
    Start: 4.9 873 14,000 CUP
    Max: 5.5 959 17,100 CUP
    http://data.hodgdon.com/main_menu.asp

    You are solely responsible for determining whether this is a safe load with your components in your pistol. Legal Disclaimer on home page.

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