Pistol Caliber Automatic M Al

Editor; Jeff Lesemann Assistant Editor; Francois Rhcault Artist; Alan Longwith


Pdrdgrupiw Page





Section I. General 1-3 15

1!. Descriprion and data 4,5 16



Section 1. General 11-1} 22

11. Inspección priKedurw 14-16 23

Chapter 4. GENERAL MAINTENANCE 17 23 2ft

Chapter 5. REPAIR

Secrion I. Cartridge mafjazinc 24-28 31

III. Receiver K<vup 34-38 40

Chapter 6. FINAL INSPECTION 39.40 54



Supplemental Text from TM 9-1005-211-12


Chapter 4. AMMUNITION f,;


John Moses Browning Portrait

Figure I. John M. Brouiung. Portrait token in 1886. Union Suxcirm Museum. Ogden. Urah.


This manual is the first offering in a series which wc hope will be regarded as an improvement over the original Army publications and the reprints which have appeared through the years There are several elements which have been brought together in this effort, and we have been fortunate to have had the encouragement and valuable assurance of a number of friends and associates. We must give special thanks co Mr. Mike Bmbaker, Museum Co-ordiriator of the Union Station Museum, in Ogden, Utah. Several oi the photos in the introductory chapter came from the Browning arm* collection in the museum. We are also indebted to Mr. Foye Tuu>ley III, master leather crofter, of Macon, Georgia« tor his assistance in the restoration and conditioning of the leather goods shown in this and other manuals in this series. David and Mary Granger, who have a eun parts business in Tampa, Florida, provided many parts and tools, plus large quantities of panence and encouragement from their almost unlimited inventory of all ot these items. Without the contributions of rhese people, this manual would have been tar less rhan it is.

There is one other person without whom we could not have completed the project, at all. h>r her almost endless support and help, the editor wishes to thank his wife, blame.

Browning 1895

Figure 2. Browning's prototype gas operated pistol of 1895. Union Station Museum. Ogden. Uca/i.

Browning 1895 Pistol

Figure 3. Brouvtngs prototype ofthe Colt Model J900 recoil ofterated pis toi. Union Statkm Muséum. Ogden. Utah.

Introductory Chapter "History and Development of the M19U/M19U A1 Pistol"

by Jeff Lesemorin

John Muses Browning (1855-1926) was boni and raised with on amis making heritage. His farher, Jonathan, had been born among the sparsely settled Tennessee lulls, northeast of Nashville, in 1805. In those early days the flintlock rifles, fouling pieces, and pistols oi the era were among the basic tools of daily life, necessary fur self defense and hunting. Jonathan took a strong interest in guns at an early age, attracted by rhcir mechanisms and constnicrion, rather than by their utility. While he was still in his teens, he apprenticed himself to a blacksmith near his family's homestead, in order that he might learn the gunsmiths craft. Later, he made his way to Nashville, where he worked at the shop of an established gunmakcr until his own skills were fully developed. In 1824. while he was still only nineteen years old, Jonathan completed his apprenticeship by making his own fine flintlock rifle. He then set up shop in Sumner County, Tennessee, married, and settled down to his life's work and the raising of a family.

Jonathan Browning was not destined, however, to remain in Tennessee. In 1834 he loaded his family and their belongings onto wagons and set out on a four hundred mile trek to Quincy. Illinois, a new and fast growing town on the Mississippi River, squarely in the path of westward migration. It was here, during the next eight years, that rwn elements came together in Jonathans life» with results that would shape the destiny of his yet unborn son, John M. Browning.

The first of these elements was a rifle which Jonathan invented and built in his Quincy shop. Pcrcussion cap ignition had been invented just a few years earlier, and it quickly swept the flintlock aside. The cap was far more reliable than the flintlock, and it opened new possibilities for further developments, such as repeating arms. Jonathan exploited this potential by inventing a tally elegant repeating rifle. It was a .45 caliber underliammer design, wirh a horizontal Opening cut through the receiver. The magazine was a simple steel block, made to fit into the opening. It was bored with five or more chambers, which could be preloaded with powder and ball. At the base of each chamber, a snug nipple held the primer cap. The block was placed in the rifle, and each charge could be locked into position by means of a simple lever mounted on the side of the weapon. As each round was fired, the shooter would unlock the block and move it into position for the next shot. Although the rifle had flaws, such as poor horizontal balance, the possibility of losing rhc primer caps, and the necessity of handling the hot magazine manually, it was a remarkable gun for its time.

The second factor that was to shape the remainder of Jonathan Browning's life was part of a much larger turn ot events, over which he had little Control. Joseph Smith had founded a new-religious sect, called the Church of Jesus Christ of Litter-Day Saints, otherw ise known as Mop mens. Their theology was based on a series of prophesies, which, according to Smith, had come to him in visions. The :eal of Smith's follower* was to intense rhar the Mormon Church was the fastest growing religious group in rhc United States, but there had also been serious pnv bletns. Some of Smirh's reaching* were viewed with sconi by more orthodox society, and rhc Mormons aggravated the uneasiness of outsiders by adopting a clannish and isolated lifestyle. This led to suspicions and to several incidents of persecution and violence against Smith and his Mormon followers.

In response to these difficulties, rhc Mormons embarked upon a mass migration, in search of a homeland where rhey could practice their beliefs freely. In 1839 they established a settlement in Illinois» a little more than forty miles north of Quincy. They named their new town Nauvoo, and it quickly became a model Mormon community, from which they reached our in seareh of still more converts. One of these converts was Jonathan Brow ning.

In 1842 Jonathan moved to Nauvoo, where he again set up his gunsmiths shop. Just a few-years later, however, he and his family were swept up in the great Mormon exodus. Joseph Smith was set upon and killed by a mob in 1846, and Brigham Tfoung, one of Smith's mot* ardent followers, decided that he would lead the faithful westward, in search of a safe haven. In 1847 the Mormons moved to Kanesville, Iowa, which is now the city of Council Bluffs. There Jonathan once more set up shop, remaining for five years, while the main body of Mormons moved on tu Sale Lake, Utah. It was Jonathans task to furnish as many of his rifles as possile for the Mormon settle™. Finally, in 1852, he joined the migration and settled in the town of Ogden, Utah. In 1854 Jonathan married the second of this three wives, polygamy being an accepted Mormon practice at the time. On January 23, 1855, John M. Browning, the first child of this second marriage, was bom.

Jonathan did not continue to manufacture guns after the move to Utah, but he did continue his work as a gunsmith. At an early age John bccame a pupil and helper in the shop, to such an extent that he would later refer to the gunsmithing shop as his only real school. Although John Browning's apprenticeship was just a natural part of growing up around his father's shop, he learned so well that the career which followed caused him to be recognized, world-wide, as the most prolific and successful genius in the history of firearms.

In 1878, while Jonathan was still alive to see his sons talent blossom, John invented his first gun, a sturdy, single^hot, falling breech rifle, which was to become the Winchester Model 1885. He then went on to invent the famous Winchester Model 1886 lever action rifle, and a host of other guns, including all of Winchester s subsequent lever action and pump action rifles and shotguns. When Winchester balked at accepting John Brownings design for a semi-automatic shotgun, he sold the weapon to Remington, and went right on inventing! He next turned his attention to the development of one of the first successful automatic machine guns, and it was from this work that his greatest legacy emerged, in the form of the modem self loading pistol. All of Colts automatic pistols have been based on John Browning's patents, and, of these, the Colt "Government Model** .45 caliber pistol has become the most widely built and used, high power; autoloading pistol of all time.

John Browning became interested in automatic and self loading weapons when he realized that much of the energy produced by the detonation of a cartridge was wasted. His Ant experiement* aimed at harnessing this energy were focused on the gas pressure which built up behind the bullet. By tapping the gas pressure near the munle, and using it to operate an actuating lever, Browning succeeded in devloping the gas operated machine gun. His gun was built by Colt, and later, under license, by Marlin, as the Model 1895 Machine Gun. It won acceptance by both the Army and the Navy; as well as by several foreign customers. Although machine guns and pistols may noc seem to have much in common, Browning's self loading pistols were, in fact, direct results of his work on the machine gun. Browning added a simple spring loaded disconnector device to the trigger mechanism in ordeT to achieve interrupted, or semi-automatic fire, and it was this device which made semi-automatic pistols, rifles and shotguns possible.

Parallel developments of a similar nature had been taking place in Europe, and the early autoloading pistols designed by such pioneers as Bayard, Bergmann, Borchardt, Mauser and Schwarzlosc w*re at least functional, though terribly complicated and unwieldy. In contrast, Browning's first autoloading pistol was a gas operated, toggle action design which introduced the smooth and graceful lines that became common to all of his later models, (sec fig. 2) The pistol made use of a detachable box magazine, housed in the grip frame, which also contained the firing mechanism. The mechanism was connected to the trigger by means of a cleverly designed link, which was wrapped neatly around the maga2ine. Compared to the early European pistols, Browning's prototype was simple, compact, and highly reliable.

Good as this first pistol was, however, it was never placed into production. John Browning had no sooner completed fabrication of the prototype when he surpassed it with two entirely different designs! The first was a small pistol, in .32 caliber; with a blowback action. It became the prototype for the FN Model 1900 and the Colt Model 1903 pistols. This was quickly followed

by a recoil operated pistol in the same caliber (.38 (!olt Automatic) as the gas operated prototype, (see fig. 3). It to become the Colt Model 1900, and it was gradually improved and modified until the Model 1911 emerged m final form.

Browning concluded that a recoil operated pistol would piwide tl»e most satisfactory means of locking the breech during firing, without the necessity of providing complicated linking arxl actuating mechanisms. A locked breech was absolutely mandatory in oider to safely use high power ammunition, and Browning's method of accomplishing a secure lock was sipiple and effective thar it has heen used almost universally ever sincc.

The major components of the Model 1900 pistol consisted of the hanel, the slide, the magazine and the frame. The barrel was attached to the frame by means of pins which passed through pivoting links, located beneath the muzzle and the breach. The slide was fitted into channels in the frame, and with the action clnscd it cnvcrrd the barrel almost to the music. (Corresponding ridges and gnxives were machined into the top of the barrel at the chamber, and on the inside of the slide. With the action closed, the grooves wxRjkl interlock and the firing pin housing closed off the chamber, completing the lock-up.

Upon firing, recoil forced the slide and barrel to travel rearward together tor a distance of about one quarter of an inch. The links caused the barrel to pivot downward at the same time, in an actkm similar to that of a draftsman's, parallel ruler, until the slide and banel vwrre freed fawn the locking grooves. The slide then continued rearward to hill rccoil, extracting and ejecting the spent cartridge case and cocking the hammer. With the slide at full travel aiul the recoil spring fully com' pressed, the spring then rook over, pushing the slide closed again as ir stripped a fresh cartridge from the magazine and loaded it into the chamber.

The Model 1900 pistol worked quite well, and it was soon placed into commercial production. A small number of pistols vrcre also sent to die Army for trials, but initial reaction to this new weapon was negative. The Infantry, Artillery and Cavalry all had their own ideas about the desired qualities of a side arm, and all three branches sliaied a deep^ooted preference for revolve»- Among the more valid objections raised by the first tnals of the Model 1900 pistol were complaints about unreliable operation, the necessity tor two hand operation dunng loading and cocking, and the lack of safety features. These problems would be corrected, one by one, as Colt and Browning worked together to refine the pistol.

In 1902 Blowning added a slide stop to die pistol, so d\at tl\e action would be held open after the last cartridge had been fired. Other changcs included deletion of the early safety, a lengthened grip frame, with a corresponding increase in magazine capacity from seven to eight rounds, and the addition ot a lanyard ring. A number of cosmcnc changcs were made to the pistol dunng its production life, including changes in the location and configuration of the slide serations, and several sanations in the hammer. The 1902 Military Model (see fig. 4) came closer to meeting the Army's needs, and it was produced commercially until 1927, but it still was nor the final answer.

Part of the problem, as seen by the Army, was the small caliber of the pistol. The .38 ACP round was hardly a pipsqueek, with velocity and energy levels that were superior to .38 Spccial. Nontheless, the Army had determined that nothing smaller than a .45 caliber handgun round would deliver sufficient power for a sure knockdown. It is ironic to note thar the thinking on military handguns has now gone full circle. The newly adopted Beretta, in 9 milimeter, returns to ballistics very similar to the numbers that were rejected back in 1902.

In 1905, Browning and the Colt factory made another step toward meeting the Army's re' quirements with the development of the .45 ACP round. The Model 19CS pistol, made for this new round, was a scaled up version of the Model 1902. When the Army tested this basic design in 1905 and 1907, the results of these tests were finally encouraging enough to generate real interest in a .45 caliber automatic pistol. A formal competition was scheduled, with the promise of a rich contract tor the winner.

Model PistolSavage Arms 1905
Figure 5. Colt Model 1902, Military Pistol -


ie/t .suJo t<eu. Field stripped.

The formal competition drew several other entries, including serious challenges from Lu^er and Savage Arms. Browning, in turn, continued to introduce refinements to the Colt pistol. A grip safety was added in 1908. followed by a major development in 1909, which brought the pistol to the brink of final success. The two~link system relied upon the slide block key to hold the entire pistol together, (sec fig. 5) If this block should happen to fail, or if a careless shooter should happen to fire the weapon while the block was not in place, the slide could blow off. right into the shooter's face! To solve this potentially deadly hazard Browning devised the single link recoil system. The new configuration replaced the front link with the banel bushing, which encircled the barrel. The bushing was locked into the front of the slide, and it was held in place by the recoil spring plug. This system resulted in much gTcatcr safety and reliability, and the competitive pistols soon fell by the wayside, unable to match the performance of the Colt.

In 1910 the final prototype for the Model 1911 pistol, incorporating the addition of the manual safety lever, was put through an exhaustive test regimen. At one point, six thousand rounds were fired through a single pistol without a single jam or failure. On May 5, 1911 the Colt pistol was officially accepced as the "Automatic Pistol, Calibre .45, Model of 1911" (see figs. 6 and 7)

Following its adoption by the Army, the M 1911 was also accepted by the Navy and the Marines. It was also adopted by Norway, for use by their armed forces. Supplemental production capacity was set up at Springfield Armors; in order to meet the heavy demand for the pistol. When the United States entered World War I, demand for the pistol was so great that contracts were let out to several other manufacturers. Only Remington/U.M.G actually went into production, however, before the war ended, resulting in the abmpt cancellation of all outstanding contracts.

In service, the pistol was widely used as a side arm by officer; and nontrorns, as well as by such specialized units as the Military Police. It won a reputation for niggedness, reliability and effectiveness, but a tew more improvements were still to follow.

It was found that the pistol was somewhat difficult to control, especially in situations which required rapid fire. John Drowning collaborated with the engineers at Coll. in what was to be one of the last projects of his lifetime, and the resulting modifications brought about significant improvement, without altering the basic design. In fact, all but one of the modifications inwlved components which were interchangeable with parts from earlier pistols.

The modifications made to the M 1911 arc described as follow*. The main spring housing was arched and checkered, in order to fit the hand better, with a more secure grip. The gnp safety tang whs extended, in order to reduce the "bite" of Tecoil. Bevelled Cuts were machined into the frame, behind the trigger, in order to provide a more comfortable fit, and the trigger, itself, was cut back and its face was checkcrcd. Finally, the ftont and Tear sights were widened, in order to provide for a clearer sight picture. These changes were all adopted in 1924, and the design*' tion of the pistol was changed to "Model 1911 A IT

Because all of the modifications, except for the cuts in the frame, involved component parts or sub-assemblies, the years between the two World Wars saw rhe use of surplus M 1911 slides, mated to M 1911 A 1 frames. The resulting "Transition Model." as it is known CO collectors, is a highly prized item, indeed. Of somewhat less interest, though no less authentic, are those M 1911 pistols which were returned to dcjxits or areenals during their service and modified, using M 1911 A 1 parts.

Following its adoption by the military, the pistol wus also placed into commercial production. In addition to the .45 caliber pistols, il has also been produced in Super and in .22 LR caliber. Other variations have been developed, including the lightweight "Commander" versions and the MNational Match" pistol, with greatly improved accuracy and target sights. Colt lias paxluced well over 3,OCX>,OCO pistols, and during World War II il was built under license by Remington Rand. Ithaca Gun, Union Switch and Signal Co.. and in very small numbers b> Singer Sewing Machine Co. Argentina also built both licensed and unlicensed versions of the pistol. In Spain, it has been copied by Star and Llama, and copies have also been produced in Poland and the

How Dismantle Caliber Pistol

Figure 6. Caliber .45 Automatic Pistol M I9JI - right side view.

Figure 6. Caliber .45 Automatic Pistol M I9JI - right side view.

Randall Automatic Cal

Figure 7. Caliber .45 Automatic Pistol M 19/1 - left side view.

Figure 7. Caliber .45 Automatic Pistol M 19/1 - left side view.

Sovier Union. The original patents have long since expired, and in recent years Essex Anns, Arcadia Machine Tool Co. (A.M.T.), Randall Arms, Auto Ordnance, MJS. Safari Arms, Armincx, Springfield Armory (the private company), and others have all built their versions of the pistol. The compact and sophisticated Detonics pistol is a descendant of the original design, and the end of the line for the M 1911 and it* offspring is nowhere in sight.

Modifications to the pistol arc also possible, and many of them can be accomplished by the home gunsmith. Such modifications can produce an "accurtzed" target weapon or a highly customized weapon for various forms of competitive sh<x>ting. Indeed, the shooter can literally design his own pistol in order to suit almost any preference.

The pages which follow are republished from the official U.S. Army Technical Manuals for the weapon. They provide complete information on the disassembly; repair, reassembly and testing of the basic pistol, as built by Colt and other directly licensed manufacturers. It must be noted that this information is provided for reference, only, and that the manufacturer's own manuals should be consulted whenever they arc available, especially in reference to pistols produced by any other arms maker. Above all, no attempt should be made to perform any of the operations described in this manual or any of the possible modifications which can be made to the M 1911 pistol without consulting a trained gunsmith.


For those who wish to learn more about the pistol or its history, we rccommcnd the following sources:

Colt Automatic Pistols, by Donald B. Bady; Borden Pub. Co.

John M. Bnwnmx Amcncan Gunmnktrr. by John Browning and Curt Gentry; Doubleday & Co. Harafomi* of the Worid, by Edward C. Ezcll; Stackpole Books Knou' Your Coir ,45 Auto Pistols, by Hoffschmidt; Blacksmith Co.

-Wide Sights

Extended Grip Safety Tang

-Wide Sights

Gun Side View

Figure 9. CrtW'er .45 Auiumuiic Pistol M 19II Al — left side view. Note features which distinguish M 1911 Al from M 1911.

Curved Mainspring Housing

Figure 9. CrtW'er .45 Auiumuiic Pistol M 19II Al — left side view. Note features which distinguish M 1911 Al from M 1911.

GB 33-4

Milimeter Auto Pistole

GB 33-3

Figure 8. Caliber .45 Automatic Pistol M 1911 A I — right side view.

GB 33-3

Figure 8. Caliber .45 Automatic Pistol M 1911 A I — right side view.

Boltun Pistol 1910

2 ^


[ Inches

1 1

' 1

Figure 10. Caliber .45 Automatic Pisto/, M 1911 A l — field stripped.









ñ r*










u 3 n

31rs IB

22J rs 5

lis H S

DP 5


cl H




cl H

Malfunctioned 1911 Pistols

b. Authorized Forms* The forms generally applicable to units maintaining this materiel arc listed in the appendix. For a listing of these forms, refer to DA Pam 310-2- For instructions on use of these forms» refer to TM 38-750.

c. Field Report« of Accident*.

(1) Injury to personnel nr damage to mataiei. The reports necessary CO comply with requirements of the Army safety program are prescribed in detail in AR 385-40. These reports are required whenever accidents involving injury to personnel or damage to materiel occur.

(2) Ammunition. Whenever an accident Of malfunction involving the use of ammunition occuix, firing of the lot which malfunctions will immediately be discontinued. In addition to any applicable reports required in (I) above, details of the accident or malfunction will be reported as prescribed in AR 700-1300-8.

<L Report of Unsatisfactory Equipment or Materials. Any deficiencies detected in the equipment covered herein which occur under the circumstances indicated in AR 750-5 should be reported immediately in accoitfamcc with applicable instructions in cited regulation».

e. Equipment Improvement Recommendation»« Deficiencies detected in the equipment or materials should be cepocted, using the Equipment Improvement Recommendation section of DA Form 2407.

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