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  #1  
Old 05-25-2020, 01:34 PM
1911_Bandit 1911_Bandit is offline
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1911 Design History

I am not looking for the evolution history of the 1911 since it's introduction, I am just trying to find out about any or all of the "firsts" included in it's design. Was it the first to use a link pin to lock up the barrel into the slide? Was it the first to slip the mag through a trigger bow? How about the first to use a barrel bushing? I am looking to read about things like that. I am not looking for gunsmith advice, I just want to appreciate even more about the timeless design. Are there books out there? Thanks.
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Old 05-25-2020, 02:13 PM
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgOicEVA4u8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Th1QdhMExKU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tc2PPh-kohk&t=
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Avoid the temptation to replace everything on your brand-new 1911 just to make it "better". Know what you're changing out and why. You may spend a lot of money fixing things that weren't broken to begin with. Shoot at least 500 rounds through it first, then decide what you don't like and want to improve. Regarding vintage 1911s, pre-1970 pistols are highly collectible in original, unaltered condition and should NEVER be refinished or modified as it completely ruins their monetary value.
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Old 05-25-2020, 02:13 PM
bmcgilvray bmcgilvray is offline
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I'm thinking the Colt Model 1900 is where you need to look for some "firsts." http://www.coltautos.com/1900prt.htm I have a Colt Model 1905 and it makes use of link pins and trigger bow.



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Old 05-25-2020, 02:29 PM
1911_Bandit 1911_Bandit is offline
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Thank you, DSK and bmcgilvray, these are exactly what I was looking for. Ironically, I used to work part-time at the RIA during every auction. I got to handle an extraordinary number of guns that I would have otherwise never been able to see.
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Old 05-25-2020, 06:06 PM
chrysanthemum chrysanthemum is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
I'm thinking the Colt Model 1900 is where you need to look for some "firsts." http://www.coltautos.com/1900prt.htm I have a Colt Model 1905 and it makes use of link pins and trigger bow.



Indeed. Understanding the design of that dual-barrel link model, a brilliant design in its own right, is kind of essential to understanding the origins of the 1911. JMB's patents for this gun, the 1905 model, and then the 1911 are best read as a total package of design innovations.
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Old 05-25-2020, 07:27 PM
1911_Bandit 1911_Bandit is offline
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Originally Posted by chrysanthemum View Post
Indeed. Understanding the design of that dual-barrel link model, a brilliant design in its own right, is kind of essential to understanding the origins of the 1911. JMB's patents for this gun, the 1905 model, and then the 1911 are best read as a total package of design innovations.
Thank you. This leads to what I was originally wondering about: Were there precursors to the 1911 design? Apparently yes. I didn't know. Now I am finding out more and enjoying the learning experience.
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Last edited by 1911_Bandit; 05-25-2020 at 07:31 PM. Reason: syntax
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Old 05-25-2020, 07:58 PM
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If you're going to be a serious student of the 1911 you need to know about John Browning's early designs which led to it.
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Avoid the temptation to replace everything on your brand-new 1911 just to make it "better". Know what you're changing out and why. You may spend a lot of money fixing things that weren't broken to begin with. Shoot at least 500 rounds through it first, then decide what you don't like and want to improve. Regarding vintage 1911s, pre-1970 pistols are highly collectible in original, unaltered condition and should NEVER be refinished or modified as it completely ruins their monetary value.
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Old 05-25-2020, 08:05 PM
chrysanthemum chrysanthemum is online now
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Originally Posted by 1911_Bandit View Post
Thank you. This leads to what I was originally wondering about: Were there precursors to the 1911 design? Apparently yes. I didn't know. Now I am finding out more and enjoying the learning experience.
For someone with your interests (which I share), there is no substitute for reading JMB's original patents (those patents associated with these guns). Pretty easy to find with a Google search.

I only wish I owned one of those 1900/1901/1902 models; that's where it all started (generally speaking, IMHO, although JMB undoubtedly borrowed from learnings from certain other of his guns). A few years ago, Doug Turnbull had a beautiful restored 1901 example to sell...but alas it was beyond my budget/financial comfort zone.

As an example related to your original good questions, the 1911's barrel bushing was a response to address shortcomings in the earlier 1900/1901/1902 models. It was a better mechanism to "put things together" and probably also a better mechanism to deal with barrel tilt angles brought about by use of a single barrel link (rather than the earlier design's two links and a "parallel-to-slide" barrel position.

---

Edit/Addition: I suppose that a discussion of the 1911's development and history is not wholly complete without at least some reference to the sometimes dubiously regarded Thompson-Lagarde tests. Without those tests and the "larger caliber" recommendations (accepted by the U.S. Army) from those tests, I'll guess that the 1911 might never have been developed; there would not have been a demand for it. For anyone not already aware of those tests, details can easily be found via a Google search. One of the more direct links to the original source, containing original details not for the squeamish, is the following: https://unblinkingeye.com/Guns/TLGR/tlgr.html
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Last edited by chrysanthemum; 05-25-2020 at 11:28 PM.
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Old 05-25-2020, 11:18 PM
RON in PA RON in PA is online now
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Here is a book reference, "The Government Models. The Development of the Colt Model of 1911." By William H.D. Goddard. Published by Andrew Mowbray Inc.
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Old 05-26-2020, 01:43 AM
1911_Bandit 1911_Bandit is offline
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Originally Posted by RON in PA View Post
Here is a book reference, "The Government Models. The Development of the Colt Model of 1911." By William H.D. Goddard. Published by Andrew Mowbray Inc.
Thanks, Amazon and Abe both have it available.
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Old 05-26-2020, 07:33 AM
Frog1 Frog1 is offline
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Another reference : U.S Military Automatic Pistols 1894 - 1920 by Edward Scott Meadows.
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Old 05-26-2020, 08:22 AM
Frog1 Frog1 is offline
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It was originally called Powder V (for Vieille of course) and later recalled powder B in 1886 (B for Blanche = white, to distinguish it from the black powder) to try and mislead the Germans when it was adopted for the 8 x 50R (8 mm Lebel).
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Old 05-26-2020, 10:02 AM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is online now
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Originally Posted by chrysanthemum View Post
I suppose that a discussion of the 1911's development and history is not wholly complete without at least some reference to the sometimes dubiously regarded Thompson-Lagarde tests. Without those tests and the "larger caliber" recommendations (accepted by the U.S. Army) from those tests, I'll guess that the 1911 might never have been developed; there would not have been a demand for it.
There would have been a demand for SOMETHING.
If the Old Indian Fighters had not insisted on a return to the .45, there was still the international move to the automatic pistol. And Mr Browning was still our top designer.

I think we would have standardized on the .38 Auto in a gun that looked a lot like a .38 Super. Or just maybe .41 Colt or 9.8 mm Colt but that would have been a hard sell against the .38 already on the market.
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Old 05-26-2020, 06:23 PM
chrysanthemum chrysanthemum is online now
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Originally Posted by Jim Watson View Post
There would have been a demand for SOMETHING.
If the Old Indian Fighters had not insisted on a return to the .45, there was still the international move to the automatic pistol. And Mr Browning was still our top designer.

I think we would have standardized on the .38 Auto in a gun that looked a lot like a .38 Super. Or just maybe .41 Colt or 9.8 mm Colt but that would have been a hard sell against the .38 already on the market.
Pretty much see it the same way as you, Jim. I agree with you that a smaller caliber (not necessarily "weaker") would -- otherwise -- have most likely become the norm. After all, that's what pistol designers of that era, JMB included, had chosen to work with up until Thompson-LaGarde.

38 Super has a lot going for it. Kind of a puzzlement that it's never quite "caught on" in the same manner as 9mm or 45acp.

But the Thompson-LaGarde tests, following Army experiences against Moro tribesmen, with its very explicit endorsement of bigger calibers, pretty much sent Army specs towards the 45acp. I suspect your observations of Indian fighters was also a big part. Anyway, immediately following the 1904 report, JMB, for the first time, shifted his pistol designs toward that larger caliber with his 1905 model.

A key summary sentence from Thompson-LaGarde (their opinion, not necessarily others):

"The foregoing experiments in cadavers, and the skiagraphic evidence from the same, show that the effectiveness of weapons of the pistol or revolver class increases with caliber rather than with velocity"

Sometimes I wonder if that conclusion might have been different if they'd had today's 10mm loadings available. We'll never know.

----

I welcome additional historical input, including any differing perspectives, on all of this. We learn by sharing.
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Last edited by chrysanthemum; 05-26-2020 at 07:02 PM.
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  #16  
Old 05-26-2020, 09:19 PM
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BTW speaking of the 1911's design history here is an odd duck that many of you never knew existed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Wer3J7VMGw
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Avoid the temptation to replace everything on your brand-new 1911 just to make it "better". Know what you're changing out and why. You may spend a lot of money fixing things that weren't broken to begin with. Shoot at least 500 rounds through it first, then decide what you don't like and want to improve. Regarding vintage 1911s, pre-1970 pistols are highly collectible in original, unaltered condition and should NEVER be refinished or modified as it completely ruins their monetary value.
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  #17  
Old 05-26-2020, 09:58 PM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is online now
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I had read of the Grand Browning and the 9.8 Colt but that was more detail.

Interesting that both Colt and FN thought that even Europeans would be interested in a (slightly) bigger caliber than .38, though considerably smaller than .45. Maybe that was somebody's idea of optimum "stopping power" if you weren't thinking in terms of fanatical savages. Had to be something like that, .38 ACP would have been a cinch in the US and FN could have done it easily as a development of the 9mm Browning Long.

In fact, somebody at Colt wouldn't give up and assembled another gun after the War, but since all the oddball ammo had been shot up, made a .38 barrel for it. Management decided they didn't need another frame size and canned it. A few years later, they admitted the 1902 was obsolete and shimmed the GM magazine for .38s and we had the Super.
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Old 05-26-2020, 10:36 PM
bmcgilvray bmcgilvray is offline
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Yeah, knew of the Grand Browning and 9.8 Colt, but that was a fun video.

The Grand Browning was a good looking pistol.

The .38 ACP round began with such promise. A 130 grain bullet at near 1300 fps was pretty salty. Apparently it was toned down several times before the .38 Super came along. It would seem that the .38 Super restored original .38 ACP performance in a superior pistol design. Perhaps the original .38 ACP loading was a bit rough on the early Colt automatics. I know I would be reluctant to push them at all.

The limited shooting I do with that Colt Model 1905 above is accomplished with a moderate charge of Unique under a 200 grain lead round nose bullet which gives about 775 fps. The pistol eats it up and I don't feel like I'm subject to wearing the slide protruding out of my right eye.

Some say that the Model 1905 has been used with standard 230 grain ball ammunition and held up to it. Mine's not going to be subjected to it though. A 200 grain jacketed bullet, supposedly at 900 fps was the original ".45 Rimless Smokeless" (.45 ACP) factory quoted velocity.

Of course there are those who advise against shooting any of the early Colt automatics at all but they're party poopers.
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