Friday, July 22, 2011

Colt M1911 .45ACP Pistol

  • Action: Single Action Self-Loading Auto
  • Barrel Length: 5"
  • Weight: 2.4lbs
  • Cartridge: .45 ACP(Automatic Colt Pistol)
  • Muzzle Velocity: 835ft/s
  • Effective Range: 50 yds
  • Capacity: 7 round box magazine
  • US Service: 1911-1985

At the turn of the 20th century, plans began for the US Army to update their current service pistol issued to their troops. The Colt DA .38 revolvers were becoming outdated, as well as performing miserably since the campaigns of the Philippine islands started in 1899. During that time, and up to the pacification of the south islands of the Philippines, US soldiers, Philippine Scouts, and Philippine constabulary officers contended with natives who were religiously charged and enraged against foreign authority. Most particularly the Pulajane group of Samar/Leyte and the Moros. Unlike the more open territory of Luzon during the Philippine American War(1899-1902) with entrenched opposition and hunting down retreating forces; the southern half of the islands proved to be a different beast. Dense jungle terrain inlaid with swamps, over-vegetated valleys, and mountainous terrains made up most of the interior. Resulting in most conflicts being within a much closer proximity than previously encountered. The dense terrain allowed for greater cover and put soldiers in a more vulnerable position for surprise attacks during patrols and expeditions. These fanatical natives mostly armed with nothing more than a short sword, proved to be hard pressed in stopping once rushing conflicts ensued. Rifles also became obsolete in close quarter encounters due to the slowness of fixing ones aim with a lengthy firearm, as well as working the actioned bolt to reload another round. Even more susceptible were the Philippine Constabulary and Native Scouts, who were originally armed with old single-shot Springfield rifles. Many soldiers and officers ended up resorting primarily to their sidearms. Reports began to pour in on the sever lack of firepower the .38 caliber round packed in stopping an oncoming combatant. The US government answered by reissuing old Colt SAA .45 service revolvers to Philippine Constabulary officers and US soldiers serving in the southern half of the Philippines. The Pulajane Campaign lasted up to 1910, with the Moro Rebellion lasting up to 1913.

Either way, with the advent of the new auto loading pistols coming on to the market, the old revolvers were now being viewed as obsolete and a thing of the past; and plans for a new service pistol for the US military began. General William Crozier, then Chief of Ordnance of the Army, established a commission board and assigned Colonel John T. Thompson and Colonel John T. Thompson to conduct testing to determine the best fit caliber to be used in the new soon to be military sidearm. The caliber trials would be know as the "1904 Thompson-LaGarde Tests". Tests on different size calibers were performed on live animals as well as human cadaverous. In the end, both Thompson and LaGarde both concluded, "the Board was of the opinion that a bullet, which will have the shock effect and stopping effect at short ranges necessary for a military pistol or revolver, should have a caliber not less than .45." It is believed both Thompson and LaGarde were already in favor of the .45 caliber even prior to the caliber testing. Both Thompson and LaGarde were of the Medical Corps in the military. With LaGarde spending his earlier career in the Philippines addressing and examining gun shot wounds suffered during the early Philippine conflicts.

Soon after caliber selection were made, the "1906 Pistol Trials" began. Initially six firearm manufactures entered their pistols in to the trial. Three were eliminated early; with Savage, Colt, and DWM contending. But DWM would later withdraw from the trial believing the trials and the military were already strongly in favor of the Colt. In 1910 the pistol trials ended with the Colt auto pistol running near flawless compared to the Savage which still suffered many issues even after several modifications were made through out the years of testing. The Colt would be adopted by the US Army on March 29, 1911, designating it the M1911(Model 1911). It would take another year for Colt to produce the M1911s. On July 25, 1913, the US Navy and Marine Corps accepted the first batches of M1911s.

The M1911 would serve the US Military through two world wars, the Korean War, Vietnam, and countless other engagements in between. In 1986 the M1911 was officially retired, replaced by the Beretta M9 in 9mm. Although, some special units of the military are still issued the M1911 today, the pistol is not completely phased out of service.

The Colt 1911 is considered by many to be an engineering masterpiece. Nearly nothing has changed in design of the pistol for the past 100 years, with nearly 90% of the original pistol parts from 1913 still being compatible with 1911s rolled off the factory line today. The 1911 has stood the test of time, and still is being manufactured by many companies around the world. Interestingly enough, it is more popular today then ever before. Firearm manufactures like Sig Sauer, Ruger, Smith & Wesson, and Taurus are just now getting in to the market of producing 1911s. Remington as well has now got back in to manufacturing 1911s. It is a piece of American history and is by far the most copied gun in the world today. This past March 29, 2011 marked the 100 year anniversary of the Colt M1911 .45ACP.

So... Was the M1911 purpose built to kill Filipinos? The answer plain and simple...NO.

The conflicts that occurred against the Moros, the Pulajanes, and other religious fanatical groups only showed the ineffectiveness the current .38 caliber cartridge were. As a result of these conflicts, "Knock Down Power" and "Stopping Power" became a major factor and priority to firearm and caliber efficiency and effectiveness. The M1911 was an "end product" of these events and of that era, with the purpose of replacing an old obsolete revolver. The last revolt of the time being the Moro Rebellion ending in 1913. With the first batch of M1911s being shipped on July 25, 1913 that went to the US Navy ship yard in New York, the M1911 pistol never truly saw any action during the early major Philippine conflicts.

BUT, it also must be noted, M1911 made their way to the Philippines by WWI(1918). And on the other side of the coin, Juramentados, amuck runners, and these other radical Tad-Tad religious groups still ran rampant long after 1913 all the way up to WWII and even present day; so it would be safe to say, at one time or another an M1911 more than likely were used to stop and kill a fanatical native running wild within the century. But if any gun were to be pin-pointed and specifically labeled as a true Filipino stopper, I would have to say the US military .45 revolvers should be accredited and recognized; particularly the Colt SAA, the Colt M1902 Philippine Model, and the Colt 1909. These revolvers exclusively because they were specifically called for and "re-issued" to the Philippines for the one sole purpose of stopping a Filipino in his tracks.

1 comment:

  1. Accurate as a 1911 45 acp is your account of the history of the weapon and the hostilities. Mabuhay! mabuhay! You are a historical sharpshooter. Nothing in the web is as close to your writing the facts down to zeroed accuracy. I may however, add that there were also encounters at Bagsak, Jolo where incidences reported to the Army Headquarters contributed to its (45) development. Great writing. Just great.