This semi-automatic handgun really needs no introduction. This is one of the first and foremost pistols that became very popular right after the turn of the 20th century. It was introduced just prior to the First World War and has been in just about every American war of the 20th century. Owners of the Colt M1911 and it’s variants swear by it and use it for self-defense as their primary sidearm even to this day. The Colt M1911 really revolutionized the what a Semi-automatic handgun could be.
A reporter recognized the Colt M1911 the Ranger was carrying and asked ‘why do you carry a 45?’ The Ranger responded, ‘Because they don’t make a 46’ – Clint Smith
We have a Government issue Colt M1911 here with us and we are taking it for a spin out on the range. The Colt M1911 is a Single Action .45 ACP pistol that has a standard magazine capacity of 7 round. Single action means that you have to cock the hammer down to fire the weapon. The Colt M1911 is also short recoil operated.
Table of Contents
The Colt M1911 was designed by John Browning in 1911 from a long history of development from self-loading pistols from the late 1800s to the beginning of the 1900s. It was adopted by the US Army as the standard service pistol and was in service from 1911 to 1986.
Since 1911, the concept of the modern handgun really established itself right here. Take a look at the all the moving parts of this pistol to familiarize yourself with how things will operate. If you have shot semi-automatic handguns before, you will notice that everything is very familiar. That is because the concepts haven’t changed. Don’t fix what ain’t broke.
Check out the images below for reference:
Colt M1911 Breakdown
Barrel behind Slide
The long cylinder where the round is shot out of. It is underneath the slide which is used to help cycle a new round NOTE: Slide is back in picture
The part of the handgun that locks the magazine in position for feeding cartridges into the chamber of the firearm
Front and Rear Sights
Reticle device for aiming the weapon. Standard iron sights are pictured here with front sight and rear sights.
Activates the firing pin which fires the round.
Activates the firing pin when the trigger is pulled if cocked
(Under Thumb) Button that releases the magazine so it can be changed out
Handle to wrap your hand to aim. Reinforced with textured gripping
Slide Catch and Release
Lever that catches the slide on empty. Use lever to release.
The port where the used empty shell ejects from after fired
Manual safety you switch with your thumb
Once you have a good idea of where these important gun components are located on the weapon, you should know what is referred to in this “how-to” article.
Loading the Magazine
The first thing we need to do is load the magazine with rounds to fire with. If you have more than one magazine, I recommend loading multiple to practice reloading and firing like in a real world scenario. The Colt M1911 is chambered in .45 ACP with magazines of 7. This is not a ton of rounds compared to many of the newer .45 ACP handguns of today.
Get started by grabbing an empty magazine in the off hand and use the fingers of your precision hand to get a round. Hold the magazine well in your off hand and align the round with the top of the magazine. Make sure it is facing the correct way and push it down so it is pushed underneath the lips of the magazine. Around round 5 is where it will really start getting hard to put in another round. The magazine is pretty narrow and .45 ACP rounds are quite beefy to load in. Keep adding a round to the magazine until you cannot add anymore.
Load the Colt M1911
Insert the magazine
Now that the magazine ready to be loaded, pick up the loaded magazine in your off hand once again (if it is not already in your hand) and make sure the ammo in the mag is pointing away from you. Pick up the pistol with your good hand. Line up the magazine with the open magazine well on the pistol. Push the magazine all the way up into the magazine well until it cannot go any further. Give the bottom of the magazine a good tap up to make sure the magazine is seated well inside. The gun will not cycle if the magazine is not seated correctly so be aware of that.
Loading a round
The slide the long metal outside piece of the Colt M1911 that covers the barrel. The slide also has an opening for the ejecting shell brass of the bullets once they have been shot. This slide needs to be pulled back all the way so the gun mechanism can load a round from the magazine to the chamber of the Colt M1911. Use your off hand to grab the back of the slide and pull it straight back. You should be able to see a round from the magazine inside the ejection port. Once you cannot pull it back any further, let it go and this will load a round into the chamber for firing. The pistol is now ready to shoot.
Warning: You now have a loaded pistol. Make sure your finger is off the trigger until ready to shoot.
Firing the Colt M1911
Flipping the Safety
This 1911 actually has 3 different safeties. The manual flip safety and 2 other “passive” safeties. The 2 “passive” safeties are the the grip safety and the safety that shields the firing pin. These ensure that you are actually gripping the Colt M1911 properly and that you actually pull the trigger to fire the weapon.
The manual flip safety is something you consciously need to operate before shooting. To put this on fire-mode, use your thumb to flip the switch down. This will disengage the safety so you can fire.
Another thing that is necessary for firing and might be considered as a safety as well is the hammer. The hammer needs to be cocked in order to fire since Single-Action pistols require this to strike the firing pin. Use your thumb to pull the hammer back to where it is primed and you are good to go.
Warning: You now have a loaded pistol
Lining up your shot
Ready to fire? Your Colt M1911 is ready to shoot. Use any stance you feel you are comfortable with to line up your shot at a target. With two hands now on the pistol grip and your arms extended out in front of you, raise your pistol so you can fire. Use the pistol sights so you can line up your target accurately. You will want to put the front sight dot in between the back sights to aim properly. Use the picture for reference. Once you are lined up correctly with your target. Pull the trigger to fire. Make sure you have a firm grip on the Colt M1911 because firing .45 ACP rounds can cause quite a bit of recoil – especially for new shooters. Keep firing until satisfied or empty.
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The Colt 1911, better known as the M1911 is one of the most used and iconic handguns of all time. Featured all through pop culture, if it be movies like Casino, tv shows like Magnum P.I, or most popularly remembered as the signature “Silver Baller” pistols of Agent 47, in the Hitman Series, the M1911 has been used everywhere. Follow the link on our post of this iconic weapon at beginnergunner.com. Comment below! Tell us your favorite rendition of the the legendary M1911. . . . www.beginnergunner.com . . Comments and criticism are always welcome and help the site become the educational platform all enthusiasts, beginner and proficient, need. LEARN WITH US . . . . . #gun #gunsofinstagram #guns #aim #target #targetpractice #gunrange #sports #sport #gunsafety #science #safetyfirst #practice #jedi #shooting #movie #fun #travel #train #anime #practicemakesperfect #explorepage #complex #wshh #ww #ww2 #work #learn #read #reading
Reload the Colt M1911
Magazine Trade up
It doesn’t take long for the Colt M1911 to go dry in the ammo department. After 7 shots, the magazine is empty and it is time to reload with a freshly loaded magazine. Hopefully you have more than one magazine and they are loaded. If you do not have a loaded magazine, go back and repeat the Load Magazine section to repeat the process of loading the magazine you have with new ammo. If you do, lets take out the old one and insert the new one.
With your thumb or a finger on your other hand, hit the round textured magazine release button that is located right below the trigger. When you hit it, make sure you have your other hand catch it because it is likely to fall out. You can also guide it out with your hand. Put the empty magazine away or to the side and grab the new fully loaded magazine with the same hand. Make sure thing are lined up correctly with the ammo facing away from you. Put the magazine up in the magazine well of the pistol as you did once before and give it a tap to ensure that it is seated properly.
Release Slide Lock
As you may notice, the slide is in the back position. The slide catches once you are out of ammo. Once you have a new magazine loaded in the pistol, releasing the slide with chamber a new round. With your thumb, you can hit the slide release lever on the side of the pistol right above the trigger. I find this way tough though, for the Colt M1911. I prefer pulling the slide back just a little further to release the lock and having it slide back in to position on it’s own. Releasing the slide will chamber a round and now you are loaded to fire again.
Warning: You once again have a loaded pistol
Turn the safety back off if you have turned the safety on. Reassess your target to be fired upon once again. Repeat the Firing section to continue firing.
Clearing the weapon
If you are completely done firing, turn the safety on. Remove the magazine as you would when reloading. Instead of putting a new magazine in, put it away or to the side. Pull back the slide to see if there is a round in the chamber still. If there was, pulling back hard on the slide would have most likely ejected the round for you. The weapon should now be clear of any ammo.
I highly recommend you shoot this classic handgun – the Colt M1911. If anything this is a wonderful piece of history that you can take great joy in shooting. If you wanted to buy yourself a pair of shooting gloves, our favorite pairs of shooting gloves are listed in our favorite gloves for shooting. Get your self a pair. They are not necessary but they really come in handy.
All in all, get better by learning as we are. To do this you have to practice. Practice Makes Proficient.