By Lars Dalseide | May 9 2011 08:59

In the May issue of American Rifleman, Field Editor Bruce Canfield reviews the exploits of the .45 in World War II:

The G.I. "Forty-Five" in World War II
Although the Model of 1911 .45 ACP pistol was adopted a century ago, nearly 2 million of its improved successor, the M1911A1, were made for soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines during World War II.

Conceived in the fertile mind of John Moses Browning, the .45 ACP U.S. Model of 1911 was the culmination of extensive testing around the turn of the 20th century to develop a military handgun to replace the still-potent, but hopelessly obsolete, Model 1873 Single Action Army and its replacement, the anemic .38 Colt doubleaction revolver. Immediately upon its introduction into service, the new pistol was apparently something special.

This was evident in World War I when a large number of Doughboys arrived in France armed with .45 pistols along with their M1903 or M1917 service rifles. The short-range stopping power of the rugged and reliable M1911 proved its worth in many brutal, close quarter trench warfare engagements. After the war, many .45s went home in the duffel bags of members of the American Expeditionary Force. Although it performed superbly in the woefully misnamed “War to End All Wars,” the gun saw some changes, including slight modifications of the sights, frame, trigger, hammer and mainspring housing.

By 1926 these various modifications were instituted, which resulted in the newly updated pistol’s nomenclature becoming “M1911A1.” A May 17, 1926, Ordnance Dept. directive stated: “[A]s a means of ready distinction between the two models, it is agreed that all pistols bearing serial numbers under 700,000 should be designated as 1911 pistols, while pistols beginning at 700,000 should be designated M1911A1 pistols.”

Read the full American Rifleman article here.

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