The 1911 is one of the most notorious handguns in history and easily the most famous in America, having seen action in every U.S. conflict since World War I. One of the most successful product designs ever, the 1911 has achieved something rare in the world of machines: immortality. Over a hundred years old, it remains largely unchanged.
What Apple is to consumer electronics, John Browning was to late 19th and early 20th century firearms. The 1911 is his most famous design. The typical 1911 is 8.25 inches from tip to tail and weighs 2.49 pounds empty — about as much as a trade paperback book. The 1911 is made of steel, steel and more steel, and takes a magazine that holds seven bullets.
The 1911 has seen service in World War I, Mexico, Haiti, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic (twice), Lebanon, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Iran, Grenada, Panama, the Gulf War, the Iraq War and Afghanistan. It has chased bad men from Pancho Villa to Osama Bin Laden.
Minor adjustments have been added here and there, but the general appearance and function of the gun has largely been left unchanged. The 1911 is the personification — among weapons, anyway — of what architect Louis Sullivan termed “form follow[ing] function.” The 1911 was not designed to be beautiful; it was designed to be useful. Ergonomically everything is where it should be for maximum efficiency.
I’m not really a purist, though. I’m happy with virtually any decent 1911 style pistol. In fact, my favorite carry piece from long ago was a Star PD in .45.
And I understand the appeal of some newer designs. I personally dislike the Baretta M9/Model 92. I know LT Rusty likes his. I guess it just fits nicely in his purse.