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Colt M1911 and M1911A1

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m1911A1 classic - Colt M1911 and M1911A1

The Colt M1911 vies with the Browning HP as one of the most successful pistols designs ever produced, for it has been manufactured in millions and is in widespread service all over the world some 90 years after it was first standardized for service in 1911.

COLT-BASED DESIGN

The design had its origins well before then, however, for the weapon was based on a Colt-Browning Model 1900 design. This weapon was taken as the basis for a  new service pistol required by the US Army to fire a new 0.45-in (11.43-mm) cartridge deemed necessary as the then-standard caliber of 0.38 in (9.65 mm) was considered by many to be too light to stop a charging enemy. The result was a series of trials in 1907, and in 1911, the Pistol, Automatic, Caliber, 45, M1911 was accepted. Production was, at first, slow, but by 1917 was well enough under way to equip in part the rapid expansion of the US Army for its new role in France.

PRODUCTION CHANGES

As the result of that battle experience, it was decided to make some production changes to the basic design, and this led to the M1911A1. M1911 is also sometimes referred as Colt 45, The changes were not extensive, being confined to items such as the grip safety configuration, the hammers spur outline, and the mainspring housing. Overall the design and operation changed only little The basic methods of operation remained the same, and this mechanism is on of the strongest ever made. Whereas many contemporary pistol designs employed a receiver stop to arrest the backward progress of the receiver slide, the M1911 had a locking system that also produced a more positive stop. The barrel had lugs machined into its outer surface that fitted into corresponding lugs on the slide. When the pistol was fired the barrel and slide moved backward a short distance with these plugs still engaged. At the end of this distance, the barrel progress was arrested by a singing link which swung round to pull the barrel lugs out of the receiver slide, which was then free to move further and so eject the spent case and restart the loading cycle.

Colt M1911A1 US Army - Colt M1911 and M1911A1

This robust system, allied with a positive applied safety and a grip safety, make the M1911 and M1911A1 very safe weapons under service conditions. But the pistol is a bit of a handful to handle and fire correctly, and a good deal of training is required to use it to full effect. The M1911 and M1911A1 were both been manufactured by numerous companies other than Colt Firearms, and have been widely copied direct in many parts of the world, now always to very high levels of manufacture. Modified  ‘fine tuned’ variant continues to serve with the US Marine Corps and with special forces units.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

SPECIFICATIONS
Colt M1911A1
Cartridge: 0.45-in (11.43-mm) ball M1911
Length overall: 219 mm (8.6 in)
Length of barrel: 128 mm (5.03in)
Weight: 1,36 kg (3 lb)
Muzzle velocity: 252 m (825 ft) per second
Magazine: 7-round box
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Sidearms

Meet the Smith & Wesson Model 39/59: The Navy SEALs Old Gun

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Smith and Wesson Model 5906 - Meet the Smith & Wesson Model 39/59: The Navy SEALs Old Gun

The Odyssey of the Smith & Wesson Model 39/59, from its Germanic origins to the gun shops of America and the jungles of Vietnam, was unique and very much a product of the Cold War. Although out of production and no longer common, Smith & Wesson’s nine-millimeter handgun has earned a noteworthy place in American firearms history .

One of the earliest American 9-millimeter pistols was adopted for wartime service to take out enemy sentries… and barking dogs.

The Smith & Wesson Model 39 semi-automatic handgun served U.S. Navy SEALs during the Vietnam War and then went on to become one of the American nine-millimeter high capacity pistols, the Model 59.

The Smith & Wesson Model 39 had its roots in postwar America. U.S. troops, encountering the Walther P-38 on the battlefield, had a favorable impression of the German pistol. U.S. gunmaker Smith & Wesson decided to make an Americanized version of the P-38 for the domestic market, and borrowed heavily from Walther’s design. Internally, the Model 39 was very similar, to the point where magazines could almost be swapped between guns. Externally there were key differences, including a 1911-type full barrel slide removed with a twist of a barrel bushing. The Model 39 went on commercial sale in 1955.

The Model 39 was a double action pistol. It was 7.44 inches long and weighed just 26.5 ounces empty with a four-inch barrel. It was a recoil-operated handgun using a modified version of the Colt/Browning locking system used on handguns such as the 1911. Like the Walther P-38 the slim metal, single stack magazine held eight rounds of 9-millimeter Parabellum.

During the 1960s the CIA had experimented on a suppressor for the Walther P-38, a pistol which in the Agency’s opinion combined reliability, firepower, and a distinctive non-American lineage. The suppressor greatly reduced the Walther’s report, particularly when combined with a slide lock that prevented the slide to fly backward. The use of a slide lock turned the pistol into a single-shot weapon and caused dramatic wear and tear on the handgun’s components, but the result was a very quiet pistol.

As the Vietnam War ramped up U.S. Navy SEALS requested a new suppressed pistol. The Naval Ordnance Laboratory picked the Smith & Wesson Model 39 and proceeded to adapt the CIA’s P-38 suppressor to it, including slide lock. The pistol used a heavy, full metal jacket 158 grain round developed with the assistance of Remington Arms. The extra weight slowed the normally supersonic 9mm round to below the speed of sound, eliminating the sharp crack of a bullet exceeding Mach 1.

The pistol’s imminent issue to SEAL units required it to be able to work after being transported through water. Plastic seals and muzzle plugs could seal off the suppressor from water and prevent water from entering the pistol barrel. The waterproofing was sufficient to protect the gun up to 200 feet underwater, both with the suppressor installed and without. The gun could be fired without removing the muzzle protection, which was blown off as the bullet exited the barrel.

The resulting weapon was given the Navy designation 9mm Pistol Mark 22 Mod 0 . The weapon could be used by SEALs to covertly take out sentries guarding an enemy-held village or enemy stronghold, or even dogs that threatened to bark and reveal a SEAL unit’s presence. The Mark 22 Mod 0 received the nickname “Hush Puppy” for this reason.

The Model 39/Mark 22 was used by SEAL units throughout the Vietnam War. As the war wound Smith & Wesson turned its attention to updating the Model 39. The company’s designers went back to the drawing board and widened the grip, adding one of the first double-stack magazines ever on an American handgun. This nearly doubled magazine capacity to 14 rounds. While that may sound perfectly normal today, at the time six-round revolvers dominated the firearms scene and other semi-automatics carried a similar amount of rounds to the Model 39. The increased magazine size added only eight ounces to the weight of the pistol empty, in part due to the use of aluminum. The new pistol, called the Model 59, hit the U.S. domestic market in 1971.

The Odyssey of the Smith & Wesson Model 39/59, from its Germanic origins to the gun shops of America and the jungles of Vietnam, was unique and very much a product of the Cold War. Although out of production and no longer common, Smith & Wesson’s nine-millimeter handgun has earned a noteworthy place in American firearms history.

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The Bersa TPR9 – Bersa’s finest handgun

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Screen Shot 2018 04 04 at 12.21.07 PM - The Bersa TPR9 - Bersa's finest handgun

The Bersa TPR handguns were published in February, and the changes they made from the long-standing Bersa Pro Thunder series of pistols are substantial.

Bersa produced their TPR (Thunder Pro Redesign) pistols to be more sleek in the slide and the grip, while shortening the single action trigger pull to the shortest reset I believe ever experienced on a semi-auto handgun. They also added additional slide work that most shooters will find advantageous.

I was able to review the Bersa TPR 45c (the “c” stands for compact) and the full-size Bersa TPR 9, and after a couple sessions of range time with the TPR 9, I believe this model is Bersa’s finest handgun yet. To top it off, the Bersa TPR 9 is a budget-priced handgun with an MSRP of $465, but the standard gun store is selling it between $360 and $370.

The Bersa TPR 9 features a slimmer polymer grip, an ambidextrous thumb safety/decocker and slide discontinue, serrated memory pads for the weak-side thumb, three-dot sights with the rear being drift adjustable, a fore-conclude pictinny rail for accessories, front slide serrations, a raised loaded chamber bar on the top of the slide and a wide trigger guard that allows for additional finger space to reach the trigger. It also sports a 4.25-inch barrel, a steel guide rod, ships with two 17-round magazines and with the alloy aluminum frame, it weighs just 31 ounces unloaded. The Bersa TPR models continue to exercise the disassemble lever from the Thunder Pro series that I believe is the quickest and easiest field strip of any gun in today’s market. A simple downward push of the rob-down lever, and the slide releases from the frame for cleaning and maintenance.

The Bersa TPR 9 models’ (both the full-size and compact size with a 3.25-inch barrel) most significant improvement is the single action trigger. Upon the initial trigger pull, the trigger reset for the following shot is incredibly short. I consider the single action trigger reset equivalent to, if not shorter than, the Sig Sauer STR (short trigger reset). The advantage to a short trigger reset is for quicker and more accurate follow-up shots, which will allow the shooter to remain on target easier.

At the range, the Bersa TPR 9 performed just as I had expected. I shot approximately 250 rounds of Magtech 115 gr. 9mm target loads and a couple magazines of Remington Golden Sabre Black Belt 124 gr. hollow points. The Bersa TPR 9 fed, fired and ejected every round without any failures. It was also incredibly accurate. While shooting from various distances, both two-handed and one, I was able to hit my steel targets with ease and with confidence. I did not need a “learning curve” with this handgun. Straight out of the box, the Bersa TPR 9 performed excellently for me.

This review features the full-size Bersa TPR 9, but Bersa also produces a compact-size TPR 9c that is smaller, lighter and more conducive to carry on an everyday basis. Check out the tabletop and range reviews, and let us know your experiences with Bersa handguns along with your interest in their recent TPR models.

All opinion articles are the opinion of the author and not necessarily of Spec Ops Magazine. If you are interested in submitting an Op-Ed, please email [email protected] 

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