Monday, June 17, 2024

M1911A1: America's Definitive World War Two Pistol

VIDEO HERE  (21:30 minutes)

The United States adopted the M1911 pistol just in time for the First World War, and between Colt and Springfield Arsenal some 643,000 of these pistols were made by the end of 1918. During that production and the gun's field service in France, a number of potential improvements were recognized. They were put together in a batch of 10,000 new pistols ordered from Colt in 1924, but not officially designated until years later. A second batch of 10,000 was ordered from Colt in 1938. These were the first guns officially designated M1911A1. The changes were all about improving user handling, with a reshaped mainspring housing, larger sights, longer grip tang, and shorter reach to the trigger.

In 1939 the government put out a tender for M1911A1 education contracts. These contracts were for production of just 500 pistols, and they were intended to pay a company to build the a complete set of production line tooling and then store it in case of future need (similar contracts were also issued for rifles and machine guns). Two companies were granted such contracts - Harrington & Richardson and the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Singer produced a quite satisfactory batch of pistols, but ended up making higher-priority material like artillery sights. H&R was unable to complete its contract, which was cancelled in the spring of 1942.

When the US entered the war, pistols were needed in large number, and three companies were given contracts to produce the M1911A1: Remington-Rand, Ithaca, and Union Switch & Signal. These three new contractors, along with existing production lines at Colt and Springfield, produced 1.9 million new pistols during World War Two, enough to fully supply all branches of the US military until 1985 when the 1911 was replaced by the Beretta 92. 

The example we are looking at today is a Remington-Rand, manufactured in April 1945. Remington-Rand received its first contract in May 1942, and delivered its final pistols in July 1945. In total, it made 877,751, in the following serial number blocks:

916405 - 1041404
1279699 - 1441430
1471431 - 1609528
1743847 - 1816641
1890504 - 2075103
2164404 - 2244803
2380014 - 2619013 (the last one made was 2465139)


  1. I watched something on TV about guns and war and found it real interesting

  2. My favorite pistol. Rugged, reliable, easy to clean, and always goes bang.

  3. Got a '43 Remington Rand through the CMP a few years back. It may have served in WW2, Korea, and/or Nam. Fine piece of history that I'm happy to hold in my collection.

  4. I'm about ready to send a Combat Commander to Nighthawk for some custom work.

  5. We actually found one made by the Singer Sewing machine company. We were at the range back in the early 90s when we were cleaning everything a youngster pointed it out to the Chief. When they decommissioned them for the crappy 9mm the Chief petitioned DOD to get that pistol. He had written the serial number down and they actually sold it to him. He may still have it.

  6. BIL has a Remington-Rand that jumped into Normandy on D-Day. It then traveled to the Battle of the Bulge with a neighbor in 101st Airborne. He kept it as a momento and decided to get rid of it when he found his son playing with it. I've fired about 600 rounds through it.


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