Colt 1911

Exploring the Classics

Colt 1911 Key Information

Although Turnbull Restoration works on multiple generations of the Colt 1911 pistol, this article will concentrate on early history, adaptations, and the World War I era. 


Original Manufacturer: Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company

Model Designation: Model of 1911, also known as M1911, Colt 1911, or Colt Government

Firearm Type: Semi-automatic pistol

Designer: John Moses Browning (click to see restored examples of Mr. Browning’s many firearms designs)

Years Produced: 1911-1924 

Cartridge:  .45 ACP

Key Features & Identifiers: Grip safety, single-action trigger, slide lock safety, .45 ACP caliber, barrel bushing, internal extractor, no recoil spring guide rod, simple recoil spring plug


  • In the late 1800s the U.S. Army wanted a new, self-loading pistol for use alongside its recently-adopted service rifles. But its existing .38 revolver was deemed insufficient in stopping attackers, as experienced during the campaign against the Moros in Philippines.
  • When the Army announced its interest in a new handgun firing a .45 caliber round, Colt designer John Moses Browning re-engineered his existing autoloader handgun concept to accommodate a .45″ diameter cartridge of his own design.
  • So determined to prove the superiority of his pistol design, Browning personally supervised the production of the gun that would be used for later-stage selection trials.
  • During one test in 1910, six thousand rounds were fired from a single Colt pistol.
  • The Colt 1911 pistol was formally adopted by the U.S. Army on March 29, 1911, and then by the US Navy and Marine Corps in 1913.
  • Battlefield experience in World War I led to some changes, completed in 1924. The new version received a modified type classification, M1911A1, in 1926.
  • So enduring is its design, almost every major gun manufacturer in America today produces its own version of the Model 1911.


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