1911: An Ode to the American Classic
April 26th, 2019
3 minute read
Take a trip down to any military post and there’s a couple of things you’ll immediately notice – Jeep Wranglers and Gun Shops. And walk in any of those gun shops and you’ll find, in a class by themselves, the Model 1911. The 1911, a pistol steeped in legend, shares much in the culture of the American fighting man the same way that Jeep does. For the owners it shares a distinct link to the past while being very much a part of the present. And in both cases, they may have changed slightly but the roots remain the same. I contend that no two icons, rivaled perhaps only by Harley Davidson, symbolize an attitude of determination and freedom which only those who’ve fought for it truly appreciate.
Throughout my life, the 1911 was the standard-bearer of a sidearm; all-steel, single action, finely tuned. Growing up in the southern United States it was commonly understood that the 1911 was a man’s gun and .45 ACP is a man’s caliber. And to the man who carried it, the wear marks and scuffs tell a story just like that old 30-30 or 12 gauge from decades of hunting seasons. It was the pistol trusted by America’s best for over seven decades. For me, my foray into the world of the 1911 came from being a young soldier with more money in his pocket than he knew what to do with after a combat deployment to Iraq. I didn’t just want that Springfield Armory TRP Operator, I needed that pistol. It represented to me a connection to the past as much as my Combat Infantryman’s Badge and it was the best in its class, with a stainless bull barrel and perfectly fit slide. It’s my modern connection to the American fighting man before me.
But is the 1911 simply a pistol steeped in nostalgia? Heck no. It’s every bit the combat pistol its legend would suggest amid all of its peers. My TRP, in thousands of rounds in the decade I’ve owned it, has performed exemplarily both as a daily carry and a competition weapon. Aside from a worn-out magazine failing once, its reliability has been as flawless as its construction. With an incredibly crisp trigger that’s only gotten better over the years, the added weight of the rail and bull barrel makes for a soft shooting 45. And there’s a confidence when it’s carried that those 230 grain slugs will do exactly what’s needed when the time comes.
The TRP Operator for me is a connection to those who walked the walk before, who answered that call to freedom. It’s a feeling I think every veteran gets deep down. It is as much an heirloom as a tool, an embodiment of the sacred reverence to that past we all look for, a symbol of validation for us in the present, and a confidence walking forward into an unknown future. The 1911 pistol is so much more than a design, and just as important today as it was over a hundred years ago.