Friday, March 14, 2008

A Legend of the Philippines - The Colt 45

During its campaign against the Moros, 1899 –1935, the U.S. Army adopted the Colt .45 Model 1911 semiautomatic pistol after American soldiers found that the .38 caliber New Army Long Colt and Smith and Wesson revolvers they had previously used were unable to stop the fierce Moro warriors of the Southern Philippines. Eyewitness accounts describe Moros continuing to kill American soldiers with their barongs and kris after receiving multiple rounds from the .38 pistols and .30 caliber Krag rifles. Realizing the Moro was tougher than any opponent previously encountered, the Army requested guns with more “knocking power” to physically shock and immobilize their opponents.

In 1904, Brigadier General William Crozier, Chief of Army Ordnance, requested a study to determine what caliber would be best to serve this need in a new service handgun. The research led to the recommendation of a cartridge with a caliber of no less than .45.

In selecting a new model for the gun itself, designs from several manufacturers were examined. The choices were narrowed down to two candidates including the Colt. On March 15, 1911, an endurance test was held having each gun fire 6000 rounds. Afterwards, the pistols were then tested using deformed cartridges, which had been rusted in acid and submerged in sand and mud. By the end of the test, the competing design suffered over 37 incidents of malfunction or breakage, but the Colt never failed even once.

Thereafter, the Colt design known as the United States Pistol, Caliber .45, Model 1911 became an icon of Philippine and American history as it was adopted on March 29, 1911 and served the U.S. Armed Forces for decades.

Five Facts about the Colt 45 M1911:

1. The 45 in .45 caliber refers to the .45 inch diameter of the cartridge also known as the round or slug.

2. Following its adoption by the Army, the M1911 was also accepted by the Navy and the Marines and became the official sidearm of the US Armed Forces.

3. The Colt .45 M1911 was designed by legendary gunsmith John Browning who invented a variety of pump and automatic shotguns, rifles, and the Browning .50 caliber Machine Gun, as well as most of the .30 cal and .50 cal machine guns produced by Colt and used in WW II.

4. Although minor modifications were made, the essential M1911 design continued to be used by the U.S. Armed Forces until 1985.

5. In selecting the .45, the Army tested several types of handguns, calibers and bullet styles on live cattle, deer and human cadavers.

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