Colt M1911.45
M1911A1 pistol manufactured by Remington Rand


Semi-automatic pistol

Place of origin

United States

In service



As service pistol:

World War I

World War II

Korean War

Vietnam War


Gulf War

War in Afghanistan

Iraq War


John Browning


1911 and 1927 (A1)


.45 ACP

Feed system

7-round standard detachable box magazine

The M1911 is a single-action, semi-automatic, magazine-fed, recoil-operated handgun chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. It was designed by John M. Browning, and was the standard-issue side arm for the United States armed forces from 1911 to 1985, and is still carried by some U.S. forces. It was widely used in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Its formal designation as of 1940 was Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911 for the original Model of 1911 or Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911A1 for the M1911A1, adopted in 1924. The designation changed to Pistol, Caliber .45, Automatic, M1911A1 in the Vietnam era. In total, the United States procured around 2.7 million M1911 and M1911A1 pistols in military contracts during its service life.

The M1911 is the most well-known of John Browning's designs to use the short recoil principle in its basic design. Besides the pistol being widely copied itself, this operating system rose to become the pre-eminent type of the 20th century and of nearly all modern centerfire pistols. It is popular with civilian shooters in competitive events such as IDPA, International Practical Shooting Confederation, and Bullseye shooting.


The history of the M1911 began in the early 1900s, when famous designer John M. Browning began developing semi-automatic pistols for Colt. In 1906-1907 the US Army announced trials to replace its service revolvers with new, semi-automatic pistols. The Army required the pistol to have a caliber of .45. So Browning designed its own cartridge that fired 230 grains bullet, and then, designed a new pistol. In 1911, after extensive testings, the new pistol and its cartridge, designed by Browning and manufactured by Colt, were adopted for U.S. military service as the M1911. Prior to and during World War I, more than one million of these guns were manufactured, mostly by Colt and Springfield Armory, as well as by Remington-UMC, Burroughs, Savage and some other companies. The rights to manufacture Colt/Browning design were also sold to some foreign countries, such as Norway and Argentine.

In 1926, original design was improved, following the recommendations of the US Army Ordnanve Dept. The improved design was adopted by the US Military as the M1911A1 pistol, and served with distinction until the mid-1980s, when it was officially replaced in service with M9 pistol.