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Dumb Question Alert: When did the 1911 become known as the 1911?

Discussion in '1911 Forums' started by BossMaverick, Jun 16, 2010.

  1. Warning: A potentially dumb question that I've had for a couple weeks and finally got enough beer in me to ask.

    So I just got done reading an old book that was given to me about police handgun combat shooting from the 60's but my revised version included a chapter on semi-autos (my revised version was copyrighted in the very early 70's). The semi-autos included the "Colt government model" and the S&W 2 digit series (S&W's 1st gen semi-autos). The book never mentions the term or year 1911 anywhere.

    This got me thinking, when did the "Colt government series" become known to everyone as the 1911? Was it after the M9 was adopted, was it the military guys always calling it the 1911 and it just grew, or was it when multiple gun makers started making the 1911 and needed a name but couldn't use the name Colt government series so it was just referred to as the 1911?

    For those interested, the author did not have favorable views on then standard 1911 (think 1911A1). The author favored the S&W series for better sights, mag capacity, and the DA/SA firing mechanism. It made me realize there always has been and probably will always will be the 1911 vs other debate.
  2. paul45


    Jul 18, 2004

    March 29, 1911. Designated the M1911.

    1924, changes designated as the M1911A1.

    A Government model is/was a commercially available 5 inch.


    The term "1911", over the years, has become an unofficial, catch all term.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2010

  3. BlayGlock


    Feb 18, 2010
    Is that what you call it. I call one of mine Bruce Campbell and another the "fun cooker".
  4. bac1023


    Sep 26, 2004
    Pretty much right away after being patented.
  5. jhooten

    jhooten NRA Life Member

    Jun 25, 2003
    Central Texas.
    I prefer my Model O Colt to a 1911.

    BTW, Why is a pistol designed in the 1900s a Model O and one designed in the 1860s a Model P?
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2010
  6. DPris


    Mar 3, 2006
    I think in line with what I see the original question as being, the answer would be sometime not long after Colt gave the market away. When I was young, the pistol was pretty much referred to as just the "Colt .45" in a pistol context. People knew what you meant.

    The "other" Colt .45 was the Peacemaker, and when mentioned in context people knew what you meant.

    When Colt was largely the only game in town, if you said ".45 Auto", you generally meant the Colt pistol. (Yes, there were other foreign .45 Autos, but you rarely ran across enough of them to make much of a difference.)

    Once other makers began to enter the market, like Kimber, offering variations that Colt wouldn't, use of the term "1911" as a generic designator spread along with the proliferation of other 1911-pattern pistols by other companies, and because of a parallel increase in DA .45 Autos.

    You could no longer say "my .45 Auto" and expect people to know automatically what you were refering to.
    When Colt's .45 was it, no need to specify an SA, a DA, a 1911, etc.
    When the market began to expand in several makes, models, types, and variations of .45 Auto, the term "1911" came into widespread use as a generic descriptor.

  7. most folks don't know it, but JMB patented the "1911" design in 1897. certainly a designer ahead of his time :)
  8. The more thinking I've made over this, the more sense it made to me for the context of the book at the time it was written. Back then, the only 1911 was made by Colt. If the author would've spoke about the 1911A1 being an option for police, it wouldn't have made sense as the civilian (non-military) model was called the government model and you wouldn't have been able to buy the actual 1911A1 model.

    It would be like saying a Beretta M9 is an option for individual police officers nowadays. Even being in law enforcement, I doubt that I could order an actual M9. I would be able to get a Beretta 92 though. Same but yet different thing.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2010