The 1911 Pistol: 100 Years of Wild and Crazy Innovation…

US Army officer training with 1911 pistol in France circa 1918

US Army officer training with 1911 pistol in France circa 1918 (image: FortDouglas.org)

Since the 100 year anniversary of the adoption of the John Browning 1911 pistol design took place on March 29, 2011, we figure it’s about time that we write something about this historic event. 2 weeks late? That’s pretty much defines our style here at My Gun Culture. Our culture is mellow after all.

Being the twisted cynical-sarcastics that we are, we thought it might be interesting to compare 100 years of 1911 pistol innovation to advances in other technologies – just to see if the 1911 has kept pace. Let’s take a look at this Carousel of Progress:

Medicine 1911: While we’re pretty sure leeches were out of vogue by this point,  radiation was in. Marie Curie figured out that there were things called Radium and Polonium and her peers were pretty sure that radiation was a bad thing for humans. Unless you’re Peter Parker of course. Duh. Oh, and by the way, dental braces had just been invented.

Medicine 2011 Innovations: You can have your gall bladder removed through a straw. Trust me I know. I just did this – hence my light posting the past couple of weeks. The cool thing is that I look like I have 5 gunshot wounds in my abdomen. That’s what I tell people anyway. Chicks are impressed I think.

1911 Pistol Innovation: The ejection port has been embiggened. For improved reliability. Or something like that. The engineering is a lot more complex than it sounds. This technology leap took decades of intense research and product development. Custom shops do this for large fees. Why the factory can’t just cut a bigger hole in the first place remains a mystery.

 

Personal Luxuries 1911: When no one is looking, you can take off your wool overcoat during the hot summer months. Coal is far more convenient, although dirtier, than firewood for cooking, heating your home, and warming your bed with a metal pan on a stick.

Personal Luxuries 2011 Innovations: You can order a Snuggie on TV in many snazzy colors – all from the comfort of your couch. Clap on. Clap off. The Clapper. iPhones. Enough said.

1911 Pistol Innovations: At least one company has en-widened the magazine to hold a few more bullets. Once again, the engineering involved is very, very complex.

 

Aviation 1911: Eugene Ely lands a bundle of fabric and sticks on a bunch of planks bolted to the top of a ship. The first undisputed aeroplane flight is made in New Zealand. There is no such thing as commercial air travel. The TSA has not yet started to molest children; although many important planning meetings are going on.

Charles Ritchel Flying Machine

Charles Ritchel Flying Machine (image: flyingmachines.org)

Aviation 2011 Innovations: You can go to Australia in a large metal flying machine on an hours notice for a 90 minute business meeting that could have been done by video conference. If you’ve got enough money, you can experience space sickness on the International Space Station. Hint: The Russians are always desperate for cash. Or if you’re really fortunate, you can join the 173 to 286 mile high club. We send things to distant planets by remote control, and sometimes they actually arrive. You can pack personal items in something called a suitcase and have them immediately transported to any virtually any location worldwide – regardless of where you yourself are landing.

1911 Pistol Innovations: They made that beavertail thing a little bigger so the hammer doesn’t pinch your hand and interfere with your career as an aspiring gun writer. Again, the engineering involved is way more complex than it sounds.

 

Personal Fitness 1911: Throw 1 more bail of hay on your horse drawn wagon Gomer. And jog to the barn, instead of walking, when milking the cows. Hand cranking the car engine, if you have a car, is a great way to build sexy biceps. Churning butter works pretty well too.

Personal Fitness 2011: Chuck Norris is selling the living snot out of the Total Gym XLS. And you can buy battery powered things to sculpt your abs while watching Wheel of Fortune on Hulu – on your iPad.

1911 Pistol Innovations: There are now replaceable sights. And some of them glow in the dark. Some of the more advanced models actually have the safety on the other side.

 

Wow, innovation is an impressive thing! If the next 100 years of the 1911 pistol are anything like the first, we might end up with things like adjustable grip sizes. But that might be too much to ask. After all, you can only get so much done in just 100 years.

Comments

  1. Electronic Communication 1911: I say, that wireless telegraph may just be the way of the future! Imagine sending a dispatch from Nova Scotia to Cornwall without the aid of a telegraph line! Astounding!

    Electronic Communication 2011: Here, let me MMS the GPS coordinates to your iPhone.

    1911 Pistol Innovations: Now with checkering on the front AND back straps!

    • ROFL! Very funny stuff! I think this line of thought has the potential to spiral downward into an infinite rathole of sarcasm and wit :-)

  2. This is too true. The industry is actually proud of the fact that the 1911 is still the standard after 100 years, with no platform changes. What has everyone been doing for the past 100 years? We have progressed in every other industry in the US but for the firearms industry. The revolver is the same platform they used over 100 years ago. But do not fear, the AR platform is only 50 years old so it is a very, very new firearm platform with decades of potential for mediocrity still ahead.

  3. Fortunately, some things were pretty-much designed correctly the 1st time, like the 1911 (& w/o fancy-schmancy CAD programs), & attempts at subsequent redesign/overhaul merely tend to mess up a good thing w/o much improvement (fingernail clippers, scissors, and paper clips come to mind). @Arsenalwerkz says, ‘if it ain’t broke,…’ unless, of course, you’re a neo-technophile and just can’t help yourself.

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