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Posted: 3/14/2006 7:02:59 AM EDT

Why 1911s Are So Freakin' Popular!
By MICHAEL BANE
Mar 13, 2006, 11:15

I’ve been pondering this very question quite a bit lately, largely because when you’re on the road for a long time, there are only so many South Park episodes you can watch in a row before you start jumping up and down on the hotel room bed like Cartman, shouting, “Respect my AWWWTHORITAY!”

Anyway, a few years back, I wrote that by 2011, the 100th anniversary of John Browning’s greatest hit, all gun companies would only manufacture 1911s, with market leader Glock locked in a death battle with the Brazilian/Filipino consortium of Taurus/Charles Daly. Of course, since then both Taurus and Charles Daly have gotten into the 1911 business, and Glock is being coy…stay tuned.

What really got me started was one old and one new conversations, both with the CEOs of pretty substantial gun companies. The old conversation took place in Europe with the President of CZ, who told me that CZ desperately needed a 1911 .45. “We can build better guns,” he said, “but Americans want their big .45s.” They subsequently acquired Dan Wesson and its line of 1911s. The second recent conversation was with the head of a company that cut its teeth on high-end reproduction and cowboy guns. “Guess what we’re working on?” he asked me.

“A 1911?” I said cleverly.

“How did you know?”

Call it a semi-educated guess. Americans buy a stunning number of 1911s every year. It honestly boggles the mind, because it’s not a rational number. Even the people who make 1911s stand in awe of the market’s ability to absorb new old guns. If you press them on the reasons, they’ll talk about the enduring appeal of the old warhorse, the tunable ergonomics, the aesthetics of the gun, et cetera, and, okay, that has something to do with the sales figures.

But, I would argue, not that much to do with why you’re buying your third, or fourth, Kimber/Springfield Armory/S&W or, heaven forbid, even a Colt. Instead, the 1911 market is, IMHO, being driven by a strange convergence of mircrotrends, most of which have little to do with the gun itself.

Think of these microtrends as lines on a graph — when the lines converge, or start running parallel to each other, you have a genuine honest-to-goodness trend. And when you get enough of those lines moving in the same direction, you get a small cultural phenomenon.

Here are the graph lines, the drivers if you will, for the current 1911 boom market:

1) The widespread proliferation of “insider language,” or, How to Talk 1911 Like JMB’s Mother. Somewhere in the Ukraine, two gangsters are arguing about the efficacy of Novak over Heinie fixed sights, while in Japan, many are pondering drilled versus undrilled triggers. Common language is an amazingly powerful thing, because it allows the market to buy based on minutiae.

2) The successful disconnection of “collecting” from “collectors,” or, I’m Not Really a Nerdy Collector; I Just Need More Than One…or Two…or Three. “Collecting” is what your father does with those ridiculous Mosin-Nagant rifles; you, OTOH, are a modern day Samurai in search of the perfect Hattori Hanzo sword.

3) The successful delinkage of the combat mindset — and, subsequently, the discussion of All Thing Combat — from actual combat, or I Am Mall Ninja; Hear Me Roar. It’s handy not to have to be a warrior, with all those pesky blood and guts, to be a warrior these days, and it allows companies to market directly into the niche.

4) The incredible concept of the “factory custom,” or, For Only a Few Hundred Dollars More, We’ll Sell You One That Actually Works. As my Sweetie, who is demonstrably smarter than me, noted, what other high dollar specialty product do I buy that I actually expect not to work?

5) Upward pressure from the Charles Dalys and other guns from the Philippines, the stripped-down Springfields, and other cheaper 1911s, or, Entry-Level Guns Are Like Entry-Level Homes — You’re Going To Move Up As Soon As You Can Loot Your Kids’ College Fund. C’mon…you know this is true! You got the cheap one so your wife wouldn’t insist on a new sofa!

6) The successful branding of high-end 1911s and the subsequent “affiliation groups” that coalesced around those brands, or, Wily Warriors Want Wilsons; Bad Buds Buy Baers. This has gotten as bad as hockey fans fuming over imagined slights to their favorite team, and it’s been made that much worse by…

7) …The rise of “celebrity chef” instructors and their marketing of branded product, or, Stealthy Tactical Ninja School…BAM! Get The Gun! Everybody brands — look at this website, lest you think I am without sin. But I have seen an amazing number of non-essential “tweaks” to the poor old Browning doggie just to “set it apart from the crowd.” What crowd?

8) The successful transition of the 1911 from a gun to a collectable art piece, or, The Bomar Sights Are a Tiny Bit Pretentious, But They Do Set Off The Sensual Lines of the Slide, Doncha Think? Damascus slides, custom grips, engraving, the collect-the-whole-set mentality, has trickled down from what we think of as heirloom guns to “affordable” 1911s and factory customs.

Okay, all that said…I’m not immune to any of this, nor is it particularly a bad thing. It only feels awkward because the 1911 is the first gun to move from defensive tool to must-have fashion accessory (the Glock quickly followed…YO!).

From Shooting Gallery TV.

Comments?
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:09:42 AM EDT
They're popular because even after 95 years, no one has yet come up with a better trigger or better ergonomics on a handgun.

Point #4 shows the author to be an idiot as well.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:10:18 AM EDT
I am genetically programmed to tag anything that says "1911" in the title.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:11:33 AM EDT
The 1911's I have are just alot of funto shoot. They feel like they were designed for my hand.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:14:48 AM EDT
mmm....I'd say, right off the top of my head
that he's a complete 'tard.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:16:31 AM EDT

Originally Posted By PAEBR332:
They're popular because even after 95 years, no one has yet come up with a better trigger or better ergonomics on a handgun.

Point #4 shows the author to be an idiot as well.

I disagree. For quite a while #4 was the truth. Then Kimber came along and showed you could build an out-of-the-box reliable, accurate 1911 that would even feed hollowpoints, for a reasonable price.

Now damned near everybody builds 'em.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:19:16 AM EDT

Originally Posted By KBaker:

Originally Posted By PAEBR332:
They're popular because even after 95 years, no one has yet come up with a better trigger or better ergonomics on a handgun.

Point #4 shows the author to be an idiot as well.

I disagree. For quite a while #4 was the truth. Then Kimber came along and showed you could build an out-of-the-box reliable, accurate 1911 that would even feed hollowpoints, for a reasonable price.

Now damned near everybody builds 'em.



Yet the author is writing about the 1911 TODAY. So that would either make him: A) a 'tard, or B) willfully misleading. Chose one.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:22:39 AM EDT
Find me a better gun that fits my hand better, shoots as accurate and is a slim to carry as my 1911 and I will consider buying 1. until then , my 1911 stays on my side.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:22:57 AM EDT

Originally Posted By KBaker:

Originally Posted By PAEBR332:
They're popular because even after 95 years, no one has yet come up with a better trigger or better ergonomics on a handgun.

Point #4 shows the author to be an idiot as well.

I disagree. For quite a while #4 was the truth. Then Kimber came along and showed you could build an out-of-the-box reliable, accurate 1911 that would even feed hollowpoints, for a reasonable price.

Now damned near everybody builds 'em.



And when Kimber built 'em, they called 'em "Custom".

Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:23:53 AM EDT

Originally Posted By WinstonSmith:

Originally Posted By KBaker:

Originally Posted By PAEBR332:
They're popular because even after 95 years, no one has yet come up with a better trigger or better ergonomics on a handgun.

Point #4 shows the author to be an idiot as well.

I disagree. For quite a while #4 was the truth. Then Kimber came along and showed you could build an out-of-the-box reliable, accurate 1911 that would even feed hollowpoints, for a reasonable price.

Now damned near everybody builds 'em.



And when Kimber built 'em, they called 'em "Custom".


Yes, but they weren't $1,000+ either.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:25:21 AM EDT
It's been around longer than the B-52
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:25:24 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/14/2006 7:26:53 AM EDT by Alien]
They are nice guns and extremely accurate. I just prefer my HK USP. I would like to get another 1911 at some point just because I was so damn accurate with it.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:25:37 AM EDT
Occam's razor. Middle class wealth is at an all-time high. More people with money, more people buying guns. 1911 is one of the best if not the best design out there.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:28:52 AM EDT

Originally Posted By PAEBR332:
They're popular because even after 95 years, no one has yet come up with a better trigger or better ergonomics on a handgun.

Point #4 shows the author to be an idiot as well.



Yep. Stupid article.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:29:52 AM EDT

Originally Posted By happycynic:
Occam's razor. Middle class wealth is at an all-time high. More people with money, more people buying guns. 1911 is one of the best if not the best design out there.

I think part of it is that the only gun more recognizeable to the non-gun-owning public is the Luger, and they aren't making those any more.

EVERYBODY knows what a 1911 looks like.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:39:28 AM EDT
Why are they so popular?

Because the kaboom factor is non-existant!
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:40:08 AM EDT

Originally Posted By WinstonSmith:

Originally Posted By KBaker:

Originally Posted By PAEBR332:
They're popular because even after 95 years, no one has yet come up with a better trigger or better ergonomics on a handgun.

Point #4 shows the author to be an idiot as well.

I disagree. For quite a while #4 was the truth. Then Kimber came along and showed you could build an out-of-the-box reliable, accurate 1911 that would even feed hollowpoints, for a reasonable price.

Now damned near everybody builds 'em.



And when Kimber built 'em, they called 'em "Custom".




They called them "Custom" because they came from the factory with what had previously been custom features: Extended Beavertail, Extended safety, beveled mag well, tight frame-to-slide fit, etc.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:40:57 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/14/2006 7:41:39 AM EDT by sherrick13]
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:42:35 AM EDT

Originally Posted By sherrick13:

Originally Posted By PAEBR332:
They're popular because even after 95 years, no one has yet come up with a better trigger or better ergonomics on a handgun.

Point #4 shows the author to be an idiot as well.




It is supposed to be funny. There is a grain of truth to it. That is why it is funny.

1911 people are so UN humorous.



If it is supposed to be funny, he ought to try to turn a funny phrase. As written, it is just lame clap-trap.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 7:56:31 AM EDT
BHP>1911

Even Browning thought so


Link Posted: 3/14/2006 8:23:38 AM EDT

Originally Posted By CFII:
BHP>1911

Even Browning thought so





Wrong on all counts, of course. Browning wasn't the principal designer of the Hi Power, that was Saive. Also, Browning didn't consider the Hi Power a better design, it was a design to different specs.
And of course, it's not a better gun.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 8:25:17 AM EDT
For me, my Kimber is the perfect handgun. It points and shoots exactly where I aim it and is flawless. The only mod I've made is adding an arched MSH which fits me better than the flat MSH.

HH
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 8:32:16 AM EDT
As soon as somebody comes up with a gun that fits my hand better than a 1911, with a better trigger, and more accurate, for a reasonable price, I'll buy the sumbitch.

As far as failures go, I've owned four 1911's, with no failures not ammo related, even in the crappy old RIA.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 8:44:59 AM EDT
......ummmm......They work.

That is all....
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 8:50:25 AM EDT
One the biggest reason the 1911 will be on top for many more years is that one can do almost anything to it within and outside the realm of reason. Grips, sights, triggers, you name it, it's been tried at least once. No gun, either rifle or handgun, is as easy to "customise'.

Link Posted: 3/14/2006 8:54:38 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/14/2006 8:55:16 AM EDT by NCPatrolAR]
You guys are funny. Last time I checked, Bane was a HUGE fan of all things 1911-related and carries several different variants for personal protection. Atleast it seems he can look at things objectively (unlike some here)
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 8:56:06 AM EDT

Originally Posted By KBaker:

Originally Posted By happycynic:
Occam's razor. Middle class wealth is at an all-time high. More people with money, more people buying guns. 1911 is one of the best if not the best design out there.

I think part of it is that the only gun more recognizeable to the non-gun-owning public is the Luger, and they aren't making those any more.

EVERYBODY knows what a 1911 looks like.



I disagree.

The public would know a what a wheel gun looks like - Dirty Harry's gun.

Ask them about a 1911 and you'll get a blank stare.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 8:58:44 AM EDT
Kimber almost singlehandedly put the small gunsmith out of business. I know some that took a whippin because their bread and butter was tuning a 1911. Kimber proved that you could make a production 1911 with the most desired upgrades stock. Their series I and series II w/ internal extractors were some of the finest production pistols for the money. They came with a good trigger, beaver tail grip safety, etc. For around $600 they were a steal. I have a CustomII and a Ultra CDP II that have internal extractors that just run. The triggers are crisp and break cleanly.

Of late, I beleive Kimber's quality has slipped and the gawd awful decision to move to the external extractor has made them less than first choice in my book. I think that Springfield has taken the top spot in terms of value. SA's service is top notch.

YMMV
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 9:06:56 AM EDT

There's just no getting around ergonomics. The 1911 is the best with the BHP right behind.

The human hand will not appreciably change (if ever).

All those who say out-of-date and other non-sensical things are simply ignorant and seem to forget that:

When its done right, its done right and time will not change that.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 9:07:03 AM EDT

Originally Posted By KBaker:

Originally Posted By WinstonSmith:

Originally Posted By KBaker:

Originally Posted By PAEBR332:
They're popular because even after 95 years, no one has yet come up with a better trigger or better ergonomics on a handgun.

Point #4 shows the author to be an idiot as well.

I disagree. For quite a while #4 was the truth. Then Kimber came along and showed you could build an out-of-the-box reliable, accurate 1911 that would even feed hollowpoints, for a reasonable price.

Now damned near everybody builds 'em.



And when Kimber built 'em, they called 'em "Custom".


Yes, but they weren't $1,000+ either.



True, but they were using the same "factory custom" nomenclature that the author complained of, with associated higher prices. Quality and price both are higher than a GI spec and lower than a real custom pistol.

That's not to say that the author doesn't come off like a pissy, bitter fan of an "also-ran" platform with nothing better to do than bitch some. He started out with his conclusion (1911's are outdated, their fans are goofy, and their popularity unexplainable), and worked up his arguments from there.

He is right however that the alterations to the 1911A1 standard which are commonly believed to improve reliability are normally only found outside the most basic models, and are rarely if ever the factory standard for those cheaper weapons. Does this negate the effectiveness or importance of the model? Only if you thought of it as neither effective nor important to begin with.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 9:07:49 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/14/2006 9:08:23 AM EDT by _DR]
I probably have more trigger time with the M1911A1s I had as my sidearm in the service than any other pistol type.

And today my first choice in .45 ACP is the P220.

The 1911 is a superb design. But the best .45 ACP pistol made? Not in my opinion.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 9:24:19 AM EDT



i bought into the 1911's a while back. my first was a warrior. excellent craftsmanship, gun worked well, i sold it after putting about 500 rounds through it.

it's all about what works for you.


Link Posted: 3/14/2006 1:29:19 PM EDT

Originally Posted By purplecheese:

Originally Posted By KBaker:

Originally Posted By happycynic:
Occam's razor. Middle class wealth is at an all-time high. More people with money, more people buying guns. 1911 is one of the best if not the best design out there.

I think part of it is that the only gun more recognizeable to the non-gun-owning public is the Luger, and they aren't making those any more.

EVERYBODY knows what a 1911 looks like.



I disagree.

The public would know a what a wheel gun looks like - Dirty Harry's gun.

Ask them about a 1911 and you'll get a blank stare.

Try ".45 Automatic." They know THAT.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 1:39:04 PM EDT
I never could get into them.

Link Posted: 3/14/2006 1:40:39 PM EDT
While I disagree with Point Number Four, but IMHO he's pretty right-on with the rest.

I love the 1911 but there is no reason it should still be doing so well... Well, other than "it was done right the first time and improved steadily since then", anyway.

1911 fan for life. Looking forward to 2011, hopefully by then I'll have enough $$$ for a Nighthawk Customs 1911
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 1:47:16 PM EDT
" The incredible concept of the “factory custom,” or, For Only a Few Hundred Dollars More, We’ll Sell You One That Actually Works."

Link Posted: 3/14/2006 1:49:18 PM EDT
I'd like to see an article written by those in other parts of the world, and what they think of our .45's?

Probably the same type of response they get from our Corvettes/American Sportcars......just designed to go in a straightline....

Link Posted: 3/14/2006 1:55:05 PM EDT

Originally Posted By CFII:
BHP>1911

Even Browning thought so





Browning died before he finished the Hi-Power
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 1:59:06 PM EDT

Originally Posted By llanero:

Originally Posted By CFII:
BHP>1911

Even Browning thought so





Browning died before he finished the Hi-Power



Browning should've created the BHP in .45.



HH
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 2:29:58 PM EDT

Originally Posted By KBaker:

Originally Posted By purplecheese:

Originally Posted By KBaker:

Originally Posted By happycynic:
Occam's razor. Middle class wealth is at an all-time high. More people with money, more people buying guns. 1911 is one of the best if not the best design out there.

I think part of it is that the only gun more recognizeable to the non-gun-owning public is the Luger, and they aren't making those any more.

EVERYBODY knows what a 1911 looks like.



I disagree.

The public would know a what a wheel gun looks like - Dirty Harry's gun.

Ask them about a 1911 and you'll get a blank stare.

Try ".45 Automatic." They know THAT.



.45 automatic what? Some people will think glocks, beretta, sig, s&w... list goes on.

The 1911 just not as identifiable as a wheel gun like dirty harry's.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 2:40:50 PM EDT

Originally Posted By macman37:
I am genetically programmed to tag anything that says "1911" in the title.



You too huh?
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 2:49:34 PM EDT


4) The incredible concept of the “factory custom,” or, For Only a Few Hundred Dollars More, We’ll Sell You One That Actually Works. As my Sweetie, who is demonstrably smarter than me, noted, what other high dollar specialty product do I buy that I actually expect not to work?



Link Posted: 3/14/2006 3:00:42 PM EDT
It was a funny article.

But here are my real thoughts on why the 1911 is so popular.

1. It works. My SA is reliable and accurate out of the box, at least once I got some Wilson magazines. It might not be as technically reliable as some new pistols but I’m not planning on soaking it in salt water and sand for a week before shooting it.

2. It’s designed right. There is no long DA trigger pull, it has a thumb safety, and the trigger is pretty good out of the box. Many other designs have slide mounted safety or no safety at all. For me, that takes them out of consideration.

3. It fits people with medium sized hands. Double stacked double action automatics just don’t.

4. It’s single stack magazine makes the pistol thinner, which helps with concealed carry.

5. It’s a .45.

6. Parts, magazines, ammunition, and holsters are all easy to find.

7. The 1911 has a certain style that other pistols just don’t.
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