Lasting Heritage

The other day I read SOTI that a poll showed that owners of Colt’s 1911 are the “most irritating of all” gun owners.

I can sympathize with this view point, even though I am a lifelong devotee of John Moses Browning’s wonderful design, and will admit to having posted haaaateful things like this before:

…and so on.  (more below the fold)

Despite this, I have gone on record, many times, in saying that my dislike of Glocks is primarily because I think they’re fugly and plastic — something, by the way, they share with all the plastic fantastics — and not because they’re crap guns.  Something else I’ve admitted is that (annoyingly) I shoot Glocks as accurately or more so than just about every other handgun I’ve ever shot.

So it’s nothing personal:  I just prefer steel and wood for my guns, and the miracle that is JMB’s design is, to my mind, the best manifestation of that combination of materials plus performance.

I can understand why 1911 owners can be a PITA to owners of lesser other guns, because at the end of the day, nobody likes to have their choice of firepower ridiculed.  But I do it in a spirit of playfulness, because of course I know that a gun that works perfectly for one shooter may not do so for another.

However, I was watching Othias talking about the introduction of Colt’s 1911 as the sidearm of the U.S. military (go on;  it’s only two hours long), and something he said struck a chord.  Paraphrased, it’s this:

Over a century later, the 1911 is still being made, purchased and used, more or less unchanged from its original design.

Which other semi-automatic handgun can say anything like the same thing?  And why do so many manufacturers of other brands (SIG, S&W, Ruger, Springfield etc.) make and sell the 1911 under their nomenclature?  Because the 1911 is overwhelmingly popular with shooters, not because of some JMB cult but because the frigging 1911 works really well, despite its many shortcomings

More to the point, here’s something to all the SIG, Glock, H&K and Beretta owners:  can you say that the gun you own right now will still be made, unchanged, in a hundred years’ time?  Although I’ll never live to see if I’ve won the bet, I would bet that the 1911 will still be being manufactured in yet another hundred years from now.  Glock?  Ruger’s P-series?  SIG’s 22x?  All of them great guns, but in longevity terms, they all have a long way to go to beat that of the 1911.

It’s not that the 1911’s design is perfect;  no gun design is.  But for what a gun owner needs from a handgun, it’s pretty damn close.

And then there’s that untouchable aura surrounding the 1911, which is durable and undeniable,  and certainly so compared to all the others, especially the plastic fantastic ones.  Holding a 1911 in your hand is touching history — also true, by the way, of Colt’s Peacemaker (the 1911 of revolvers) and the Luger P08 (although nobody makes the Luger anymore).  Here’s the same thing, expressed in automotive terms:

The most irritating thing about 1911 owners is their smugness (guilty as charged).  Because no matter how much we and our beloved 1911 are mocked, it has no effect:  we’re proud to own our 1911s, for all their admitted faults.  And while we’re on the topic:

Ring any bells?

And finally, for everyone else:


  1. I used a 1911 extensively in the army half a lifetime ago and didn’t particularly care for it. Didn’t fit my hand right. It was like everything else army, one size fits all.

    Having said that, I’ve seen some nicely “dressed” 1911’s and I would indeed add one to my stable if my wallet would start producing more than it is using.

    Anyway, I grow quickly tired with the silly little boys that brag about their guns because at the end of the day what it boils down to is how many holes you put in the middle and no gun in the world can make that happen if the shooter isn’t good enough.

    Just sayin’… Now get the fuk out there and burn some lead.

  2. I totally understand Kim’s point in this post.

    I myself am not a fan of the 1911. I don’t like the manual safety and I am not a fan of the single action on a semi auto.

    Never owned a 1911 but shot many many many 1911s during my years in the gun biz and I also always seemed to have ones that the Mag catch broke, the safety plunger broke, and the grip safety spring broke. If I had to pick a 1911 it would be a tie between ruger and Springfield. I wouldn’t want any other brand.

    I prefer hammer fired revolvers and DA / SA semi autos. I’m about 51 / 49 on preference between revolvers and autos with the 51 percent being revolver.

    Sig P229 is my fav semi.
    GP100 is my fav revolver.
    LCR is runner up on fav revolver. Part of the lcr is Polymer.

    I have polymer striker fired semi auto guns. They are light and durable. Work well. I wouldn’t want 10 of them. That would seem like having 10 basic commuter cars. 1 2 or 3 is fine.

    The metal guns are an art. Not everyone makes all metal guns , be it 1911 , Old school Sig or revolvers.

    That being said, polymer guns have been around a long time (Remington nylon 66 and the HK 70 and the Glock in the 80s. So roughly 50 plus years and they have proven durable and reliable.

  3. Put me in the “they are both nice” category. I have shot both, carried the 1911 in the Nav a little bit, but neither floats my boat exactly.

    I actually don’t think the 1911 is even JMB’s best design. I would carry a P35/Hi-Power over a 1911. Actually I kind of did because I used to have one but unfortunately sold it (for good reasons at the time, but I kind of regret it. )

  4. My dad was a 1911 fanatic. He would get one and change parts or polish them to get them to what he considered “right” then sell it to finance the next 1911. The Colt Delta Elite was one that he spent years on to get it right. The thing that made it “right” was a mouse fart load with weaker springs.

    Most of the Glocks sold in America are made in Smyrna Georgia. The one thing a Glock doesn’t have that the 1911 has is the palm bite with anything more powerful than 9mm. In warm weather I carry a Glock 10mm, in cooler weather I have a S&W model 65 357 mag as my daily carry. My current range gun is a Colt 1911 Government in 9mm.

    1. All good stuff, except for your very last sentence. Had JMB wanted his gun to fire a Europellet, he’d have made a gun to do so… oh wait, he did.

  5. 1) The single best feature of the 1911 is the trigger. No Glock in the world will ever reproduce it. The poor M-9 has a trigger specifically designed to make it difficult for soldiers to shoot themselves or their squad mates and not engineered to hit a target. ( My theory.)

    2) I carry the Europellet shooting Glock because if I am ever called on to shoot Homo Criminalas, I won’t care if they take the G-19 for evidence. I’d be calling the poor detective every day asking if I could have my Kimber back

    1. #2 – that right there!!!

      If the po-po seized my S&W Shield, well, I can buy another tomorrow and keep on going. I’d be pissed, but the cost and replaceability are just as important as the fit and function of the carry piece.

  6. This phenomenon has nothing to do with the merits of specific firearms. It’s just an example of the human tendency to turn personal preferences into religions. Kim’s meme about motorcycles illustrates this. If your favorite motorcycle brand motivates more people to have its name or logo tattooed on themselves, that doesn’t prove that the motorcycles are superior — it just proves that the people who like that brand tend to be fanatics. Fanaticism may feel virtuous, but it doesn’t prove you right.

    We see this with all kinds of things. Computer operating systems are notorious for it. The world is full of people who aren’t content to tell you that a particular OS is their personal favorite; they need to tell you that it’s objectively superior, and their use of it makes them superior to YOU, if you have the temerity to choose anything else. Computer experts are supposed to be smart people, but it’s depressing to see how many of them believe “my way or the highway” is a rational and persuasive argument.

    Personal preferences are subjective. Insisting that they are objective facts, and that everyone who disagrees is wrong, is a pointless waste of time. Unless you enjoy arguments that go on forever and resolve nothing.

  7. Text for another meme: “9mm is just 45 ACP set on ‘stun’.

    My only gripe about a standard issue 1911A1 is with myself. Back around age 45, I became wrinkly enough to start getting ‘bit’ by the hammer.

  8. I kept meaning to buy a 1911, over the years, but every time I had the money and went shopping, I found a great deal on another Browning Hi-Power that I couldn’t pass up.

    Like Gerry though, I now carry a Glock for EDC, for the same reasons. Is Gun, Is Shoot. I can pick up another one just about anywhere while mine sits in an evidence locker somewhere. And probably not as susceptible to “getting lost” in the system.

  9. My gramps taught me to shoot his WWI bring-back 1911 (no bloody “A1” on it). Even as a sprout I thought it was the best pistol ever.

    I used to shoot 1911’s in bullseye competition until my eyes kinda-sorta disintegrated on me, and I’ve been carrying one ever since my former state went “shall issue” for carry permits. I’ve morphed through 3 different carry guns: A full-size 1911A1 (Springfield, SST), a Springfield Micro-Compact V10 also in stainless, but even that was starting to give me a back ache. I’ve now settled on a Sig “C3”, which is an officer’s size aluminum frame with a Commander-length barrel and slide. I qualified it for carry with 700 rounds of various types with only 3 stoppages, all related to a single magazine out of the 25 I tried…that mag didn’t make it back from the range, being flattened under boot heel and dumped.

    A 1911A1 in .45 ACP just feels right in the hand and shoots well for me. I carry it everywhere it is legal for me to do so, which in NW Wyoming is everywhere but the courthouse.

    And just as a by-the-way, I’m also a Honda rider. I’ve gone through three (3) different GoldWings, all black (which explains the “Blackwing1” moniker). An ’83 1100cc 4-cylinder (115,000 miles), a ’95 1500cc 6-cylinder (105,000 miles), and a 2008 1800cc 6-cylinder (only 38,000 miles since we don’t tour anymore). I’ve never been left on the road with a dead bike, and the only “repairs” I’ve ever had to do was a faulty flasher pot on my ’83 and a blown headlight on the ’08. Routine maintenance (oil/filters, brakes, lube, tires, timing chain) based on mileage was the only expense other than gas. There probably aren’t a lot of Harley riders that can honestly say they’ve put that many miles on their bikes without any problems.

    1. I’m not the type to get tattoos, but iffin I was, a HONDA tattoo would be near the top of the list. Wish I had a wing, but right now content with a 2014 CB1100 retro and a 73 CB350 for fun. The last Harley I owned leaked oil, gas, battery acid, and went thru chains faster than tires. Seriously, replaced chain and sprockets with every tire change and then some. Piece of shit.

  10. To me, Glocks are sort of like rented cars. Nice, but no real attachment.
    A friend had a Glock 17 that I fired a couple of times. Recoil was about the same as the 1911A1 I shot, but it wanted to roll back in my hand. That also happened with another friend’s Steyer GB, also a polymer framed pistol, also 9mm. The 1911A1 pushed straight back into my hand, yielding controllable, fairly pleasant recoil. This was apparently a feature of JMB getting the grip angle correct. I don’t know what my neighbor when I was just out of college was talking about when he said in the Army it had terrible recoil. He collected H&K pistols and rifles, so I do wonder about his mind.

    I haven’t figured out yet if I held the polymers wrong, or too limp or what.

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