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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all, I am new to this forum and new to 1911’s. Other than my initial post to the introduction forum, this is my first post. I am a firearm enthusiast and avid supporter of our 2nd Amendment rights. I am excited to join the 1911 community.

OK, I’ll start here with a few questions that I hope are appropriate for this particular forum. First of all I will start by trying to describe what I think I am looking for.

I am a long-time aviation enthusiast and have recently become involved with some living historians in the WWII USAAF era. I have put together my first uniform, a USAAF Officer’s dress uniform, and looking to put together more. One of the things that I would like is to have an authentic looking sidearm to compliment my uniforms as appropriate. Since I am a firearms enthusiast as well, I want to use a real firearm as part of my uniforms. So I am here looking for some initial thoughts as to which direction I should go. There are many 1911’s to choose from and I know some of the basics as to what to look for as to period features but want to get more info here.

As I understand it, the 1911A1 has the shorter trigger, finger relief in the frame for the trigger finger, and the beaver tail grip safety is a bit larger to protect from hammer bite as improvements over the original 1911.

Questions (numbered for ease of replies)

1. Were Colt and Springfield Armory the only manufacturers of WWII era issued 1911’s?
2. What were there different configurations of the WWII era 1911’s? (i.e. Commander, Officer, barrel lengths, finishes, grips, etc.)
3. Although this may be a question for my living historian counterparts; with regard to the USAAF, who would have carried which models during WWII?
4. Same question as #2 but for holsters? (may also be a question for my living historian counterparts)
5. Is there an advantage/disadvantage of a period firearm vs. a MIL-SPEC reproduction?
6. Are period pieces readily available? Significant cost difference from a MIL-SPEC reproduction?
7. Could/should a period 1911 be used as a sport shooter*?
8. What would be your recommendation for a MIL-SPEC reproduction firearm that I would like to use as my uniform piece as well as a sport shooter*?

* My definition of a sport shooter is <200 rounds per year

Thanks for tolerating all my initial questions; I am looking forward to the discussion and learning more about the 1911.

Dan
 

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You're asking for way too much info to be covered in a single post or two, as entire books have been written on the subject. But in a nutshell:

1. WW1 producers were Colt, Springfield Armory (gov't arsenal, not today's Springfield), and Remington-UMC.

2. WW2 producers were Colt, Singer, Ithaca, Union Switch & Signal, and Remington Rand.

3. Pistols were issued without regards to brand, so anybody could have received any pistol regardless of branch of service. Also, M1911 and M1911A1 pistols used interchangeable parts so a soldier could easily have been issued an arsenal rebuilt pistol using a combination of old/new parts.

4. The last pistols made for the military were produced in 1945, so Korean and Vietnam pistols dated to WW2 and earlier.

Regarding the differences:

 

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After you find the right 1911, check out Pacific Canvas for a correct reproduction pilots holster. An alternative to the 1911 would be a Smith & Wesson Victory Model 38 revolver. Pacific has the repro holsters for that also. I came across a beautiful original Victory Model with the top strap stamped with the US Navy markings. Thing was in 95+ % condition and it was part of a four gun set that the guy was selling.
 

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I'm not sure all pilots were issued 1911's. I think fighter jocks were issued small caliber "survival" pistols you could just strap on and leap out with if you were shot down. I know the whole Army/Navy/AF/AAC thing was kind of a mess for a while there also.

I have a friend who is a Lt Col in the AF and he would probably know for sure. He has flown everything with wings and is a huge history buff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
After you find the right 1911, check out Pacific Canvas for a correct reproduction pilots holster. An alternative to the 1911 would be a Smith & Wesson Victory Model 38 revolver. Pacific has the repro holsters for that also. I came across a beautiful original Victory Model with the top strap stamped with the US Navy markings. Thing was in 95+ % condition and it was part of a four gun set that the guy was selling.
Thanks for the advice Capt Pete, I will definitely be looking for a holster once I get the firearm taken care of.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
You're asking for way too much info to be covered in a single post or two, as entire books have been written on the subject.
Thanks for the info DSK; it is helpful. I understand that I am asking a lot of questions, but different people know different things and these questions are supplementing my own research. As you stated, "entire books have been written on the subject."

It is always nice to get first-hand information from those who are actually using/experiencing things.

Thanks again for the reply.
 

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Umm, I usually watch YouTube only to get a laugh. :hrm:

By far the best source on 1911s is Charles W. Clawson, who has written numerous books on 1911 pistols. His references are regarded as being the closest to factually correct. There's a good sticky in the USGI section on available references from him as well as other authors.
 

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I just talked to my buddy (who still knows a few WWII flyers) and he said AFAHK it was a total hodge-podge. He said many did get 1911's but there was a little bit of everything floating around. Apparently .38 revolvers were pretty popular for Navy/USMC
 

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Welcome DR-B

If you want to pay $1200 or more for a war time original so be it. IMHO, a NIB reproduction model would serve well for your purpose.

Auto-Ordnance has one with period correct repro grip panels here:http://www.auto-ordnance.com/Firearms/Auto-Ordnance-1911PKZSE.asp

Springfield Armory has a MIL-SPEC model with better sights and newer grips, here:http://springfield-armory.com/armory.php?model=7

There are others, but they don't "look" like the originals. Might learn more in the USGI sub-forum.
 

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My father joined the Army Air Corp in 1940. He was in bombers. He said they took them in a room and there was a big table with a bunch of 1911s on it and told them to grab one. He looked at several and picked a WWI style pistol with holster wear that looked good, so a WWI repo would get you close to that one.
 

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Prior to 1944 the old WW1-era pistols were actually more prevalent. It wasn't until Remington Rand, Ithaca, and Union Switch & Signal finally got their production ramped up late in 1943 that the new M1911A1 pistols finally outnumbered the old M1911s still in service.
 
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