The AWB, the 1911, concealed carry, and revolvers


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leadcounsel
May 20, 2011, 11:29 PM
So, I wonder how and why the 1911 is so popular today. I'll say up front that I love the platform, it is an amazing design and at over 100 years old it stands the test of time and its age is a testiment to the design and quality.

Now, with that caveat out of the way, is it my perception that it has a growing following or has it always had a huge following?

Here are some questions, talking points, if you will...

1) Are there MORE or LESS makers of 1911s today than say 50 years ago?

2) Has the quality of new 1911s gone up or down from 50 years ago?

3) Has concealed carry increased signficantly the popularity of the 1911 (easy and thin to carry)?

4) Did the AWB (with mag capacity limits at 10 rounds) have anything to do with the popularity of the higher caliber/lower capacity 1911 (vs. the wonder-nines of the 1990s)?

5) And - why did police departments and civilians choose the .38 and .357 revolvers over the 1911 in the 1930s through the 1980s? Was it cost, reliability, or stopping power of the 6 shot .357 over the 8 shot .45?

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Hoth206
May 20, 2011, 11:36 PM
#1- More. 50 years ago you had a choice between Colt and the various foreign copies (Sistema, Koenegsberg, etc.)

#2- Quality...hard to say, there's everything from RIA's to full blown customs. 50 years ago you got a GI pistol and had it worked over.

#3- I don't think the 1911's been helped tremendously by concealed carry. It's thin, but it is heavy, and is a little more complicated than most folks who CCW want to mess with. Hence the popularity of J-frames and compact glocks.

#4- Probably so.

#5- Cost, simplicity, percieved safety, ease of training, and institutional inertia kept the revolver the standard. Same reason Glocks and M&P automatics dominate now.

357 Terms
May 20, 2011, 11:49 PM
Evrything Hoth206 said is right on. I can only add that a 1911 feels soo right , when you hold it in your hand, put your thumb on the safety and click it down, take up the trigger and release the crisp SA , Mmmm like butter!

jrmiddleton425
May 20, 2011, 11:56 PM
50 years ago, Colt was about it. 1911 pistols made today are on par with or better quality than anything made back then.

EddieNFL
May 21, 2011, 07:23 AM
...and is a little more complicated than most folks who CCW want to mess with.

Ranks right up there with driving a car...on second thought, driving is far more complicated.

It's thin, but it is heavy


Whenever my wife hears this comment, she snickers and points to her purse.

earlthegoat2
May 21, 2011, 07:41 AM
#4 is a gigantic yes and because of this and nicer carry laws that came in the coming years after the expiration of the AWB, it is still growning in popularity. Even if one does not carry a 1911 does not mean they did not buy it because of increased pro-carry legislation.

mljdeckard
May 21, 2011, 08:46 AM
I have read a couple of articles that say that the AWB steered a lot of people towards lower capacity guns like the 1911, but I wasn't one of them, I was carrying a Glock.

And I doubt you could take a WWII G.I. 1911A1 and torture it and expect it to perform like most modern 1911s. They weren't built to last forever. When I turned in my unit's 1911s in 1992, they were rattling apart. (All except the couple we rebuilt for the commander and the armorer.)

mljdeckard
May 21, 2011, 08:48 AM
As for #5, I think there was a lingering sentiment that cops use revolvers, it was understood tradition. They were reluctant to move away from what they knew worked. I watch "The Untouchables" and see Eliot Ness using a 1911, but I have no idea how historically accurate this is or how common it would have been, or if there was more usage of 1911s among federal agents than state or city cops.

m1911.10mm
May 21, 2011, 09:22 AM
Even if one does not carry a 1911 does not mean they did not buy it because of increased pro-carry legislation.

I do believe that's the truth. I would think that quite a lot, if not most 1911s are bought by people who imagine they are going to carry it. This is why it takes you half a year to get a VM-2 from Milt Sparks.

I would imagine that it's when folks finally get that holster that they quickly come to realize that they can't fit themselves into their clothing, much less their body and a 1911 at the same time.

There are still plenty of folks who can carry it. I don't find that an extra 3 and a half pounds has me leaning to one side.

There are a heck of a lot more manufacturers than there used to be. Quality has certainly improved.

We are not going to get OC legislation passed in Texas this year. I believe we will in 2013. At that time, I believe 1911 sales will go through the roof. Once again, purchases by folks who buy to carry, but never actually carry at all.

If you had called Wilson Combat this time last year and asked them how many 1911s they were working on (new production) at the time, they would have said "about 900". Call them now and they'll say "about 2000". This during a so-called "recession".

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EddieNFL
May 21, 2011, 10:22 AM
I don't find that an extra 3 and a half pounds has me leaning to one side. I have to put ballast in my left pocket or I walk around in circles.

JTQ
May 21, 2011, 10:38 AM
Don't forget the impact of Kimber, whether you like them or not, they changed the 1911 landscape. By making such items as beavertail grip safeties and high visibility sights standard equipment at a production gun price, made the 1911 a more reasonable choice.

Find some pictures of custom 1911's from '60's and '70's, and you see them wearing S&W adjustable revolver rear sights. They aren't great sights, but they are better than the old GI sights on the 1911.

dcarch
May 21, 2011, 02:32 PM
1) Significantly more. Almost every single pistol manufacturer now has some variant of the 1911 out there (except Glock).
2) I would say generally up. Although you do get junk like Citadels out there, most of the $800 and up 1911's are quite well made. And in my opinion, the high-end customs (i.e. Baer, Wilson, etc.) are some of the finest pistols ever made.
3) Perhaps, but I would accredit that more towards the influence of writers such as Clint Smith, Massad Ayoob, and most importantly, the great Col. Jeff Cooper.
4) Definitely. When you realize you only have 10 shots anyway, you want to make those shots the biggest, meanest shots out there.
5) Tradition, and the fact that armorers and department chiefs are very conservative when it comes to outfitting "the troops". I think one of the reasons the Glock was adopted was because it was the most revolver-like semi auto on the market. All of these are simply my opinions, of course. You all are free to agree, disagree, or whatever. Just my two cents on some good questions.

mljdeckard
May 21, 2011, 02:38 PM
I also think there's a lot of truth to what JTQ says. Kimber did a lot to change people's perceptions about what you should get for the money in a 1911.

Vern Humphrey
May 21, 2011, 07:18 PM
1) Are there MORE or LESS makers of 1911s today than say 50 years ago?
Far more. In 1960, the only real maker was Colt. There were a few companies that were making frames so you could build your own, but I can't think of any competition for complete guns in those days

2) Has the quality of new 1911s gone up or down from 50 years ago?
Up, particularly in recent years. We can thank Kimber for that -- their CNC pistols really rocked the world of the M1911

3) Has concealed carry increased signficantly the popularity of the 1911 (easy and thin to carry)?

I think very much so. And of course Jeff Cooper and his writing and teaching didn't hurt. Although I have to say that 50 years ago, I discovered all by myself how carriable the M1911 is and have carried one ever since.

4) Did the AWB (with mag capacity limits at 10 rounds) have anything to do with the popularity of the higher caliber/lower capacity 1911 (vs. the wonder-nines of the 1990s)?

I suspect it did -- the power of the .45 clearly made it superior to a mere two more rounds of a lesser cartridge.

5) And - why did police departments and civilians choose the .38 and .357 revolvers over the 1911 in the 1930s through the 1980s? Was it cost, reliability, or stopping power of the 6 shot .357 over the 8 shot .45?
Police chose .38 revolvers around the turn of the century, and simply stuck with them. In the '30s, the .357 came out, and is clearly the top fighting round for those who carry revolvers. The police transition to auto pistols came slowly -- and they were often attracted by high-cap 9mms.

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