I already know what many of y’all are thinking. “Why isn’t it in original condition! It is ruined!” Well, this gun has a lot of history, and has been in my family since 1945. When I was a kid watching “Saving Private Ryan” and seeing the 1911, I fell in love with this beautiful firearm, and had wanted one ever since. When I turned 20, I was surprised with a WW2 era 1911, but little did I know what was in store for me. This is how I received the 1911, in parts, polished and accurized , and the only history I knew about it was, it belonged to my step father’s dad.
Many of the parts were in the [original] box with the gun, including 15 barrels, many still wrapped in factory paper and grease. So, I took time to learn to put it all back together. I put a cold blue finish on the frame, rebuilt the war horse from the ground up, and replaced the broken pieces. Then, I decided I needed to protect the metal, so I took it to get it Cerakoted.
As many of you know, once the original finish is gone, so is most of the value of a historic firearm, such as this M1911. But, selling it wasn’t an option (pretty sure my family would threaten my life if I sold the M1911A1). While getting refinished, I learned the full history of this M1911A1. It was made by Colt in January 1945, and sold to the U.S. Army (even stamped property of US ARMY), and then sold to the U.S. Navy, where it was issued to my step grandfather. He recorded the serial number and date of issue in his flight log. During the war, he was shot down over the Philippine islands with the M1911A1 on his side. A few months later, he was rescued. As a result of the injuries he sustained after being shot down, he received a Purple Heart and the Navy Flying Cross, a rare combination of awards to be given to someone still alive. To my surprise, I learned they took the M1911A1 from him following his crash, and 10 years later, he won the same M1911A1 back in a shooting competition for the Navy.
I’ve had this M1911A1 at the range more times than I can remember, and I’ve attempted to retire her many times. But, there is just something about an American-made war horse pistol that keeps me bringing her shooting. It’s a graceful beauty to shoot. The trigger is light, smooth, crisp, and the best I’ve ever shot. When I pick her up, the grip safety forms just right into the frame. The safety is just in the right place. Everything just feels right. The way the M1911A1 recoils can be described as a gentle push, yet you know you are shooting the .45 ACP. One thing that differs from the old war horse M1911A1s and current productions, regardless of maker, is the old M1911A1 rattles like a rattlesnake tail, but it fires, no matter what.
The accuracy is surprising, and in the hands of my uncle, a USMC SGT in Vietnam, it will take the wings off a fly at 100 yards. The classic +100 year old design, with its smooth edges, small trigger, and large bore, that just about screams “America.” To me, the M1911A1 is the one gun that will never leave my collection, not only due to the family history but because of the elegance and class that comes with it, and the pleasure that shooting one brings.