The iconic .45 caliber Colt M1911 pistol, used most notably by American forces during the First and Second World Wars, is still appearing in combat zones. This iconic sidearm was most recently spotted in the holster of the top U.S. officer in Afghanistan, U.S. Army General Scott Miller. During a stop in Afghan territory known for hostile insurgent activity, Miller was sighted wearing a custom version of the 1911 pistol at his side. News photographs from Afghanistan showed the general wearing the single-action semi-auto in “condition one [SJ1] ”—cocked, safety engaged, and ready to fire in an instant. A spokesperson confirmed that the pistol is Miller’s issued weapon.
General Miller must value the M1911’s performance, as his military leadership activities frequently bring him into situations that may demand immediate action. Smith was present during the notorious October 2018 insider attack in Kandahar, Afghanistan, which left a U.S. Army Brigadier General wounded and two Afghan officials dead. Smith drew his sidearm during the affray, but was uninjured.
The photo on the top left above shows the Colt 1911 pistol issued during World War II to Gen. Joe Foss, a Medal of Honor recipient and later President of the NRA. The one on the right was issued to Admiral Willis Lee Jr., a Navy Cross recipient and Olympic shooting gold medalist. These pistols may be periodically on display at the NRA Museums.
The M1911 was designed by John Browning and first adopted by the U.S. Army in 1911.
It was used in action by U.S. troops during World War I, and skyrocketed to fame for its successful deployment on Allied battlefields in World War II. The M1911 was widely used by nearly all American military forces on land, sea and air. An estimated 3 million pistols were produced for U.S. military use.
Additionally, modified versions of the M1911 were adopted by British Commando troops and South African Special Forces.
The M1911 pistol has since achieved legendary status. Although it was in use by U.S. troops for many years and replaced by the Beretta M9 as the official sidearm in 1986, it remains most well-known for its World War II history. Commercial versions of the 1911 pattern pistol are widely popular with competition shooters and for personal defense. Many 1911 shooters prefer its larger caliber .45 ACP round over the 9mm cartridge that replaced it in military service.
A version of the M1911 is still used by the U.S. Marines. However, the famed pistol is fading into the annals of history as it steadily becomes uncommon.