Modern Service Pistols: Will Ponderous, Clumsy, Clunky, Pistols Make A Comeback?

Opinion

Browning 1911-.380 Black Label Pro
Browning 1911-.380 Black Label Pro

Ft Collins, CO –-(Ammoland.com)- “You may delay, but time will not” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Many autoloading pistols of the early 1900s were not compatible with the “high,” two-handed grip that is currently popular with American shooters. “Hammer-bite” is thus to be expected when one shoots most of this generation of pistols via a high grip.

As my esteemed colleague, Tom Givens, correctly points-out, on most of these pistols, both rear and front sights were tiny, extremely hard to see, and little more than an after-thought.

Also, many of these same pistols were not designed to be carried with a round chambered. Designers, manufacturers, and military trainers mostly assumed (until relatively recently) these pistols would be routinely carried with the chamber empty. Hence, “drop-safety” was not a particular concern.

In America, autoloading pistols were uncommon in domestic policing until the 1970s. Until then, most American police carried revolvers.

Browning's 1913-dated patent for M1911 improvements. (US Patent Office)

Routine concealed-carry by non-police was uncommon in America until the 1980s. That trend continues to expand.

When autoloading pistols gained traction among American police officers and concealed-carriers, there was much debate in early stages about carry status. However, the “empty-chamber” argument quickly fell into disrepute, so designers, manufacturers, trainers, and holster-makers all started generally assuming these pistols would be routinely carried fully loaded, with a round in the chamber.

Manual safeties eventually went by the wayside, as did manual decocking levers/buttons, external hammers, steel frames, butt-release magazines, tiny sights

The cherished Browning 1911 Pistol, while it still enjoys an ardent following, today represents a small and diminishing, minority.

Striker-fired, polymer-framed, trigger-cocking service pistols, that are light, slick, easily maintained, easily-serviced, mechanically drop-safe, reliable, durable, high-grip-friendly, and feature high-tech coatings, as well as sights that are easy to see and use, now rule the serious pistol market in America, and the balance of Western Civilization.

Well known manufacturers, Glock, SIG, S&W, SA, Kahr, Ruger, Beretta, FN, Walther, H&K, now have to share this market with Canik, CZ, Honor Defense, Kimber, Mossberg, et al.

The 2020 SHOT Show is next week in Las Vegas, NV, and I’ll be interested to see the way these manufacturers continue to advance our Art.

I’ll be reporting back, as is my habit.

Will ponderous, clumsy, clunky, user-hostile, complicated pistols with tiny sights and superfluous controls be making a comeback?

Not likely!

/John


Defense Training International, Inc

About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc

As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or in-actions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr. Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit: www.defense-training.com

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2WarAbnVet
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2WarAbnVet

If 1911 aficionados are a “a small and diminishing, minority”, one must wonder why manufacturers produce new models and variations every year.

Will
Member
Will

@2War,I have two full size 1911’s and a Colt New Agent. I really enjoy shooting and practicing with them guns but they aren’t my personal favorites.(Although the Colt is at the top of my list) I still believe there is a pretty solid demand for these firearms. The 1911 is a weapon I personally believe every firearm owner should have in their collections. Take care.

JH1961
Member
JH1961

I’ve come full circle. In 1982 I acquired my first serious CCW handgun: a Colt Combat Commander. From 1989-2004 I carried every high-tech plastic duty weapon imaginable. Today? I’m back to carrying a Kimber ProCarry as my preferred CCW handgun.

Carthoris
Member
Carthoris

I am the same. The first pistol I bought was a Springfield XD45, and a large factor in that choice was the ammunition capacity. Carrying that only lasted about a year (military time)/3 years (civilian time). Now the only gun I will carry (everyday, my hunting load out is a bit different) is my Kimber 1911. Once I found a belt that could handle the weight it is comfortable to carry, utterly reliable, and extremely accurate.

Arny
Member
Arny

I think the author is trolling us old dudes. lmao

Don
Member
Don

A Glock G48 carries so much better than a 1911. 10 reliable shots when you need it without having to pack 40 ounces of cast iron.

a.x. perez
Member
a.x. perez

Don’t mean to talk dirty, but it’s not impossible that the 1911 and earlier Browning designs may be the only weapons legal if the Democrats have their way. I like being able to choose between them and plastic framed striker fired guns like the .40 S&W FNS compact that is my EDC gun. Vote and protect your choice.

Passinthrgh
Member
Passinthrgh

First paragraph; hammer bite. Solution, if its a problem for you see a good gunsmith. Springfield XD has a similar type problem with their grip safety. Second paragraph; sights. Really? Because every [B]lock comes with those wonderful plastic sights. Most 1911s now come with at least a three dot sight system and most people who make a living with a gun or carry daily install sights that work for them (has this author NOT bought a gun since 1950?). Next paragraph; manual safeties and condition 1 carry. So you are really going to contend that a 1911 type pistol that… Read more »

Finnky
Member
Finnky

@Passinthrgh – 1911 is not the only “old-clunky-steel” gun out there. Makarov doesn’t do much for me, but in my hands my Tokarev is at least as accurate as any plastic gun – even with crappy black sights. Those sights are not simple push-out and replace, but serve just fine for range toy. Far less recoil than 9mm and muzzle energy close to 357 or 10mm. Haven’t weighted them or even done hand held weight comparison – but does not feel at all heavy in my hands. Very slender – I think it’s thinner than an M&P shield. Grip is… Read more »

willyd
Member
willyd

Finnky: I to enjoy my Torarev, which I managed to get off of a deceased N V A soldier in Nam, I would love to carry it all of the time, but like you I value it to much to loose it through some punk! Does your’s have a safety on it, mine is one without one. I prefer my 1911( NEWER MODEL with sights) instead of the plastic guns out there!

Neanderthal75
Member
Neanderthal75

Farnham, you’re usually okay on stuff, but frankly if you consider the 1911 clumsy and clunky You’ve got several screws loose my good man! Compared to the Glock the 1911 is the Mona Lisa, whereas Glock is a small square box filled full of fecal matter! There are no elegant lines on a Glock, or any Glock clone, whereas the 1911 has smooth shapely lines. The Browning Hi Power 1934 Is a prime example of Beauty in action, and it doesn’t resemble a Glock or a Glock clone in any way shape or form! I don’t know where you got… Read more »

MikeRoss
Member
MikeRoss

You have a point, but I’d never call the 1911 a ponderous, clumsy, clunky, pistol. It’s simple, elegant, and fits the hand better than any boxy-gripped polymer pistol. Now, the Beretta 92 on the other hand….

Get Out
Member
Get Out

I prefer to carry a Ponderous, Clumsy, Clunky 1911 .45 ACP Pistol. The best part is when someone alerts me that the hammer’s cocked back on the gun. The look on their face is priceless when I tell them it’s supposed to be cocked, with the thumb safety on and that there’s also a live round chambered.

Neanderthal75
Member
Neanderthal75

I’ve lost count of the times I have informed people under 45 years of age that used to be common practice to be taught how to lower a hammer onto a live round in a revolver! Same mindset with those who don’t understand the phrase condition one for a 1911. People have become unhinged on the so-called safety issue for sidearms! I don’t trust a Glock as far as I could throw a truck and yes I have owned one and shot one, which is why I do not trust them from a safety point of view. I trust a… Read more »

Finnky
Member
Finnky

@Neanderthal – Guess maybe I should have started with a safety class. First firearm was a Taurus 357, bought ~1993. Never occurred to me that one shouldn’t lower the hammer… Quite obvious that care is required, but doesn’t require much coordination… Pointed in safe direction and with my thumb under the hammer as long as possible as insurance against clumsy slippage, due to preference for sore thumb over ND, but never thought it to be an unduly risky act.

Deplorable Bill
Member
Deplorable Bill

The 1911 has been in service nearly 110 years. That alone is telling. It was designed as a military sidearm. It has to be able to operate in the worst of all climes and situations with accuracy, power and authority. If it had failed in any of these extremes it would have gone by the wayside long ago. There is nothing else on earth that can compete with that record. Until there is something that can, the 1911 remains top of the line. I would not doubt for a min. that as long as mankind remains alive on the earth,… Read more »

tetejaun
Member
tetejaun

When I teach folks to shoot, correctly, I have them shoot the 1911.
I tell them it has been around for over 100 years and with all the gun manufacturers, they can’t make anything better. The 1911 has stood the test of combat, competition and time. Nothing else has that pedigree.

Will
Member
Will

Toto,just who do you teach to shoot correctly? Do you teach the same Girl Scouts that you said you teach the US Constitution to? You don’t teach people how to shoot a firearm just because you like it. They should practice and shoot the firearm they like and are most comfortable with. Many people don’t like the 1911 single stack design and can’t shoot it well. Think on that Toto.

Core
Member
Core

I disagree with: “…Routine concealed-carry by non-police was uncommon in America until the 1980s.” All the men in my family and most of the women carried carbines and pistols concealed and openly for many generations since pre-Revolution. The big difference is no one had any sense of entitlement to tell them otherwise, and they had the right to do so. As we all still have the right to carry open and concealed, and that right shall no be infringed! Second Amendment enforced by Article VI. The 1980’s was a turning point for nanny government and their abuses of Article VI,… Read more »

JIAZ
Member
JIAZ

If a 1911’s performance is “ponderous”, its not the pistol. It’s the operator.

Levelhead
Member
Levelhead

I’m ashamed of you John. The most important reason for the 1911 style pistols is the trigger. After carrying a Shield, and a P365, both nice guns, I decided that the better pistol was the Officer style 1911 for discrete carry and bought one. Ahhhh, much better. I can’t haul around one of my three full size 1911’s so the smaller gun with the excellent trigger does the trick. As for sights mine has perfectly serviceable Novak fixed combat style sights. As for safeties as soon as one trains up for the gun the grip and thumb do their jobs.… Read more »

Neanderthal75
Member
Neanderthal75

Quite obviously, he’s been smoking peyote!

JPM
Member
JPM

I was shooting with some young folks who all had “plastic” pistols. I had one of my 1911s and handed it to one of the young men who wanted to try it out. He said, “It’s heavy”. I said, “That’s because it’s a REAL gun”.

45acp.jpg
Finnky
Member
Finnky

@JPM – Hey I’ve liked all the honda civics we’ve had over the years. Obviously or we wouldn’t have gone back. Feels, drives and works differently than a pickup truck – missing the power, fun and capabilities my subaru had – and not as sporty as the minivan I’m driving these days… but ….
OK. Utilitarian, affordable, appropriate for kids, and popular with the masses. Guess you are right – it is a good analogy.

tetejaun
Member
tetejaun

True. With a 1911, even after it is empty, it makes an excellent head-cracking club.
Mmmmmmm…steel……

KCsmith
Member
KCsmith

What a totally useless pseudo-article.
Why was this published?

Arizona
Member
Arizona

Someone likes to hear himself speak? Ego? Attempts to drum up business with people who have no idea which way to point a firearm?

Carthoris
Member
Carthoris

The author of this post forgot one very important factor: personal choice. Personally, I HATE Glock pistols; not because I have anything against the company, but because they do not fit my hand, whereas my 1911 fits like it was custom built to fit my hand. Also, declaring that there is only one way to grip a handgun is the same as saying that there is only one stance everyone should use (Hint: it doesn’t matter). Weaver, Box, Isosceles… it doesn’t matter which one you choose as long as you choose the one that is best for you, the one… Read more »

Arizona
Member
Arizona

Exactly. The best grip is the one that fits. Glocks and 1911’s have very distinct and different grip angles. The best stance is the one that puts accurate shots on target.

Will
Member
Will

AZ,nothing is more important that hitting what your shooting at.

Finnky
Member
Finnky

@Carthoris – I’d say stance choice should be dictated by circumstances. If one is trying to shoot under a car, prone would be the best choice. If shooting long and something is available to brace against – whatever get’s you the steadiest is appropriate. If on the run, stance is dictated by where in your stride you are when you take the shot. Important to practice shooting from any and all possible positions, so one can function reasonably well no matter what the circumstances. Being a wimpy desk jockey – I have to focus on squeezing my pinky to prevent… Read more »

Carthoris
Member
Carthoris

Yes, stance should be dictated by circumstance. There is, however, a growing trend of people like the author of this article who dictate that there is only one right way when it comes to guns or shooting. Knowing and trying various shooting stances when practicing the basics is like handling and/or shooting various models before buying. There is no one right answer for everyone when it comes to guns or stance; and while the circumstances of a gun fight may dictate your firing position, you should use the stance you are most comfortable with when practicing, so long as it… Read more »

pAe
Member
pAe

Glock is doing well with the G48: a slimmer G19 – but with only a 10 round magazine. Thing is, my Colt lightweight commander in 9 mm is slim and surprisingly concealable with 9 or 10 round magazines. Carrying two spare slim magazines keeps rhe total round count on a par with my noticably clunkier G19 plus 1 thick clunky spare mag – but conceals better. Don’t get me wrong – I love my Glocks. Also love the 1911. Am effective with either platform. Confidently carry either. Don’t see the need to trash a classic, historic platform that is still… Read more »

24and7
Member
24and7

I have made it a point to buy up “handguns that are built like tanks”..Old school rugers p models, smiths and others..The Soldier proof all metal handguns with heavy duty parts.. It’s really concerning to me to watch all of these gun makers go strictly to polymer handguns and parts.. Polymer handguns where designed to be disposable handguns from the beginning..They were a “cost cutting” and easier mass production measure… Over time the material gets brittle and degrades due to the elements and oils.. Some reports of Glocks cooking in hot cars.. I’m not saying the guns aren’t good..But will… Read more »

Rock
Member
Rock

100% correct…

Don
Member
Don

OH BS. Polymer guns are not disposable. My G17 had 33,000 rounds through it when I was offered a new gun. There are Glocks with much higher round counts than 1911s. Ask the people that run shooting schools about what guns break and go down the most. If they answer honestly it is the 1911 types. I know that when I was doing IDPA matches the guys with 1911s often had failures.

Arny
Member
Arny

Funny I was a company armorer. I never had a failure on a 1911. These weapons were still in service from WWII. I never replaced a part on one of them. Unless one of the clowns lost a part during cleaning. I wonder how many rounds went threw them ? My guess would be more than 33,000 ? I was a M1A1 tanker but also the company armorer. These were our personal weapons. I was also one of the first to cycle the Beretta. Needless to say they had no issues at first, then slide locks started breaking on the… Read more »

gcm
Member
gcm

Hi Don, your obviously replying to a person that knows squat about Glocks or any polymer pistol. A Glock melting in a hot car in the sun light? Surely he jests. Glocks were made to be disposable? That tells me he knows nothing about Glocks period. that’s the voice coming from a parrot that repeats what he hears from others. They don’t fit my hand, I got a blister, or I broke a nail. Guess some don’t realize they come with back straps to fit your hand. Look, I have nothing against 1911’s, they been around forever, and they used… Read more »

tetejaun
Member
tetejaun

Disappointing that some young person with zero knowledge, wrote this diatribe. True, the 1911 in regular form carries only 9 rounds and is made of steel, generally (Heavy for the no muscles, weak millennials). The wide body 1911, much more rounds and comes in aluminum or synthetic. Whomever wrote this spiel is common to some folks I meet at gun shops; Their entire firearms knowledge came from HALO and Call of Duty video games. They have never competed in firearms competition and cannot fit the trigger in a Springfield XD9 or any other pistol for that matter. Most assuredly have… Read more »

Rock
Member
Rock

Gotta love a 1911 ! Designed and built to last FOREVER, the newer ones are very accurate too.

JW
Member
JW

I am not here to defend the author, nor to berate you. I don’t know him from the next guy, but 30 seconds of research reveals he is not a millennial, and also is quite knowledgeable in the subject of firearms and has been publicly recognized for it. Also the very top of the article designates this article as an opinion piece. I’m not going to tell you what to think because we all see that doesn’t fly with you, but I would suggest you not sling arrows about someone’s lack of knowledge if you don’t in fact know who… Read more »

tetejaun
Member
tetejaun

“millennial” was used as an EXAMPLE. Sorry you took it personal and could not understand using the ‘millennial’ meme to prove a point, about how they live their lives by what OTHERS think of them, and had NOTHING to do with the author.
Seems you had a chip on your shoulder and were looking for a chance to display it.
I DO NOT carry the 1911. I said I love my 1911s because of what they are. I NEVER proclaimed its superiority.
You have a SERIOUS lack of understanding.

Treadin' Water
Member
Treadin' Water

Simple research would show you that the author is not a millenial. Maybe check out his bio before spouting off. Although I agree, the article does not have much content.

INSTRUCTORS

tetejaun
Member
tetejaun

AGAIN, another idiot that does not understand using a meme to explain the example. The ‘millennial’ meme HAD NOTHING to do with the author. It HAD to do with people buying expensive guns so others will be impressed…moron.
You people are really stupid.
If you are a defense trainer and you could not recognize the example, I hope your students do not shoot themselves.

Will
Member
Will

Got full size 1911’s but never for EDC. My Colt New Agent 45ACP really is one of my favorite sub compact handguns. It’s old like me and I am really good with that weapon. My G19 is on my belt.

Deplorable Bill
Member
Deplorable Bill

As far as I am concerned, the 1911 is the best fighting handgun ever made — hands down. Not enough ammo? Get a wide body. There is something to be said for 9, 45 caliber rounds and more to be said for 16, 45 caliber rounds. Ever wonder why the Army picked this gun? They tested it on cadavers and prisoners condemned to death. No kidding, look it up. Very good horse pistol. They also used different calibers. When you find someone who knows how to run one, the 1911 is not beatable. Clunky? Try wearing one. Difficult to master?… Read more »

willyd
Member
willyd

DB: So true, the war horse 1911, is tried and true. I qualified and carried one in Nam along with an M-60, both helped me through that adventure in my life. Shooting competition in the military, with a military 1911 was a challenge but could be done, but today’s 1911 is more refined, better sights and optics are available, which makes it an even better weapon to shoot and carry. Heavy yes, but if you are shooting one and you hit your target, you have a better chance of stopping it with 1 or 2 shots of 45 rounds placed… Read more »

Superman
Member
Superman

If you consider a 1911 style handgun to be ‘complicated’ then you had better stick to a slingshot.

Rock
Member
Rock

Indestructable, simple design. AWESOME pistol !

Carthoris
Member
Carthoris

I think people get confused on the ‘complicated’ issue due to takedown. They assume that because pistols like a Glock, Beretta 92FS, or Smith & Wesson M&P are easier to field strip than a 1911 they must therefore be simpler.