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May 08, 2006

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The Colt Model 1911: The Fifty-First Gun on the List

In the year-plus since I compiled Field & Stream’s 50 greatest guns list, I’ve had time (and incentive from many readers) to think on which guns I’d add or subtract if I had it to do again.

Without question, the gun I’d add would be the Model 1911 Colt automatic. It was left off because we tried to limit the 50 firearms to sporting guns, and the 1911 is not. But it’s not only one of the 50 greatest guns; it’s one of the great inventions of the 20th century. John Browning’s pistol has never been surpassed in the nearly 100 years it’s been around.

Can you name any other machine with such a record? If it were not a gun, the Model 1911 would be celebrated everywhere as the work of genius it is.

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Comments

El-Wazir

Mr. Petzal, your omission stands corrected.
For a moment there, you had me worried.

tom

The AK-47 is a machine, but because of the bad press it is a bad machine. I happened to recently read a great article about the AK and it's inventor and it seems as though it also is a "Great Machine" that would fall under the military type weapons.

Dave: Maybe you should do a top 50 of military guns.

Cory

The 1911 is a great combat handgun, but it is a lousy hunting gun. Still wondering where in the world the M77 is. It is as good as the Remington 700 and the Winchester M70.

jeremy

its about time.

brian

Top military guns would most definitely interest me too.
Such fascinating ones out there.

Matt

Yes Dave, please put that mind to work concerning military weaponry as well. I loved the 50 Greatest article but knew instantly at least someone would complain the M1911 was not included. I concider the M1911 THE greatest pistol ever invented but since it was an article on HUNTING firearms, the ommission will not cause you to be cast into firearm hell where your soul would burn next to those who refer to cartidges as "bullets" and magazines as "clips".

O Garcia

I think the most amazing thing about the 1911 is:

-by Gawd, even Smith & Wesson is producing it now! (And I heard the "SW1911" is a fine gun,
like all Smiths.)

Jason

what about a 50 worst guns list?

Peter Caroline

In terms of age and overall utility, the 1911 is an invention second only to the flush toilet.
On the other end of the scale, I agree, a 50 worst guns list would be a lot of fun.

ralph1971

I nominate the Marlin Model 90 12 ga O/U near the top of the worst gun list. Nice gun, well made--- but after 50 shots at sporting clays, the inside of my middle finger, above the second knuckle, right where the finger contacts the trigger guard, was swelled to twice it's size and was tender for several days thereafter. I talked to an old-timer who said
"that's why I sold my Model 90!"

MattWV

I agree that the 50 best military firearms would be an interesting read but also think that an article like that would have no place in F&S, but maybe that's just me.

Chad Love

This has nothing to do with the top 50 guns, but since I can't find a Petzal e-mail link, it will have to do...

Just wanted to say congrats to F&S for being a finalist in this year's National Magazine Awards in the service category. Shoulda won it, of course, but for an outdoor mag (of the non-bullshit variety)it's quite an accomplishment.

Barney

Thanks for the 51st on the list. My model 1911 served me very well in combat in Southeast Asia, as did my M-1 carbine. Both fine weapons. I am encouraged by your division of the sporting and military categories. I look forward to your view on the 50 best military weapons. Each has its place.

Thos. Fowler

I have heard this before, about the 1911 NOT being a sporting gun...and it has not been especially true in my book. I have enjoyed using it on armadillos, snakes, jackrabbits, and once---scared the wits out of a running coyote at 200 yards--witnessed. I believe that we have consigned the old workhorse to a retirement home, and forgot that he has a lot of mule in him...and when he arrives, he has a lot of kick in him.

Just one man's view...sporting is as sporting does. The .45 auto with lighter hollow points or semi=wadcutters is an awesome and fun gun.

Tom Fowler

Concerned_Soldier

Mr. Petzal,
What do you think of the Springfield 1911-A1 specifically the MIL-SPEC model (Parkerized PB9108LP)

Any help would be great,

thanks

C_S

O Garcia

Those who wish to see a website on military firearms can try this one:

http://world.guns.ru/handguns/hg52-e.htm

It's authored by a Russian, and you can expect some bias, but he is very thorough and professional and he doesn't spare even the great AK-47 from some criticism.

To choose a model, click on the list on the left margin. To choose a class of firearms, use the main menu on the top left corner. Not all the firearms were/are in service, some were entered in trials, some are very rare specialist models.

It should be fun reading.

BarkeyVA

I have been shooting a 12 ga. Marlin Model 90 for over 50 years. I have never bruided my middle finger as mentioned by Ralph1971. Perhaps it is because I pull the front trigger with the pad of my index finger instead of placing the trigger in the crease of the first joint. I have 6 Marlin Model 90's and I think they are terrific guns.

KJ

I love the 1911 (I have one of the Kimber varieties). There's another Browning design I'd love to read more about - the High Power. That might be one to include in the military firearms discussion.




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