Are more modernized 1911s still "A1"s?

Discussion in 'The 1911 Forum' started by hogger129, May 17, 2011.

  1. hogger129

    hogger129 Active Member

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    People keep asking me what really defines a 1911-A1? As far as I knew, just about every 1911 that's out today is still an A1. Obviously excluding WWI reproduction models and stuff.
  2. Helix_FR

    Helix_FR New Member

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    A1 generally are a design pattern. Usually defined by a higher beaver tail saftey, beveled trigger area in the frame and a shorter trigger, and a arched mainspring housing.
  3. Buckshot

    Buckshot Active Member

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    "Battlefield experience in the First World War led to some more small external changes, completed in 1924. The new version received a modified type classification, M1911A1. Changes to the original design were minor and consisted of a shorter trigger, cutouts in the frame behind the trigger, an arched mainspring housing, a longer grip safety spur (to prevent hammer bite), a wider front sight, a shorter spur on the hammer, and simplified grip checkering by eliminating the "Double Diamond" reliefs."
    The Model 1911 and Model 1911A1 Military and Commercial Pistols - Joseph Poyer, Craig Riesch, Karl Karash (2008)

    Most modern versions change every single one of these features except the scallops in the frame by the trigger. This seems to have the makings of an argument with no end in sight. Just about every modern version is also stamped "1911-A1" by the manufacturer, no matter how highly modified or evolved it might be. It's a convention we've maintained until now...that's good enough for me.
    Last edited: May 19, 2011
  4. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    Spot on Helix. The A1 designation hogger is as described by Helix, and most modern 1911s are indeed just that. Modern versions based on the A1 design. The A1 was an improvement over the standard 1911..

    However, Modern 1911 manufacterers incorporate the best fo both worlds. An A1 frame and slide designation with a flat mainspring housing and long trigger has become the norm...
  5. Buckshot

    Buckshot Active Member

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    Helix,
    Re-reading this thread I wasn't comfortable with my two cents worth posted previously. I was just trying to support what you said, but now it feels like I was ignoring your post and trying to steal your thunder. Deucedly sorry old chap, as our friends across the pond wold say. Not intended that way. As JLA said, were absolutely spot on to start with.
    Last edited: May 19, 2011
  6. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Wrong. Sorry, but - wrong. "Usually defined by a higher beaver tail saftey, " There IS no beaver-tail on a 1911. There IS no beaver-tail on a 1911 A1. There is a grip safety. A grip safety is not a beaver-tail, although I do believe that (as often as I've had to explain this to people), within the next ten years or so, if you say "grip safety" someone will call you a moron, and insist that it is a "beaver-tail", the same way they call you a moron if you say clip, instead of magazine (even though they were called clips for the first 70 years of their existence).

    A "beaver-tail" is a wide, tall grip safety design, that resembles the tail on a beaver. But, just like "all convertibles are cars, but all cars are not convertibles", all beaver-tails are grip safeties, but all grip safeties are NOT beaver-tails.

    [​IMG]
  7. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Hogger, this is my take on it. The trigger, sight, grip safety, hammer spur and mainspring housing are replaceable parts. The thing that, to me, screams "A1" is the scalloping at the trigger.

    If I buy a box-stock 1911A1, and put all 1911 parts on it, it's still an A1 because of the frame cut-outs. If I take a 1911 and put A1 parts on it, that does not make it an A1. It's still just a 1911.

    So, as long as the frame cut-outs are on the gun you are looking at, no matter how weird the rest of the gun is, to my mind it's a 1911A1.
  8. Helix_FR

    Helix_FR New Member

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    Good point Alpo they weren't know as beaver tail safeties till the actual design denoted them as such and the design name became the norm even though as you said, its a grip safety.
  9. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    I remember when beavertails became all the rage. I was just a kid, in prolly 5th or 6th grade. Reading my Guns and ammo mags when i was supposed to be reading my social studies book.. I was the ONLY kid in Keene TX that knew what a 1911A1 was and how to take one apart..
  10. Heretic

    Heretic New Member

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    I thought the "beavertail" was part "of " the grip safety.
  11. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    It is.

    What Alpo is saying is the earlier designs and even the original A1 didnt have a beavertail. The beavertail became prevalent with the custom market when Ring hammers and wide spur hammers were the rage, specifically ring hammers or the 'commander' style hammer. They are there to prevent hammer bite, which can be very painful from a 1911..
  12. samg1

    samg1 New Member

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    Going back to the original question, what design changes would make a pistol NOT a 1911A1? What about barrel lengths that are NOT the standard Colt 1911/1911A1, or the Commander, or even the Compact? I'm thinking 5", 4 1/4", 3 1/2 ". But some manufacturers have slightly different lengths. How about the extended slide stops and extended safeties? We still call all these changes 1911A1, I think. But if you look at some past models, e.g. Llama 45, Ballester-Molina, other copies, I think we would agree that these are based on the M1911 or M1911A1 but are NOT a 1911 of any description. So - with modern manufacturers - better metal alloys? OK. Front slide serrations? OK. Deviation from measurements and weight? Well, tighten up some tolerances and some materials weigh less (or more?). So, again - what changes would make a particular model NOT a 1911A1? I don't know, I'm just here to learn.
  13. Archie

    Archie Member

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    In point of specifics, the only pistols that are M1911A1 pistols are/were those purchased under contract by the U. S. Armed Forces for issue.

    The commercial Colt pistol sold to the general public and generally physically identical to the M1911A1 pistol is known officially as the "Government Model". Other manufacturers have their own trade names for the equivalent device. For instance, Springfield Armory list nine different pistols based on the J. M. Browning falling link design with nine different model names. However, the one called the "Range Officer" has "Model 1911-A1 CAL.45" roll stamped on the side.

    The "Range Officer" is most definitely NOT a M1911A1 pistol. First, it isn't a U. S. Armed Forces issued sidearm and second, it does not have M1911A1 sights. It does not have a 1911A1 trigger and the barrel and bushing are not parkerized.

    Can one call it an "A1"? Sure, why not? One could also call it a purple duck, but I see no reason for doing so.

    To the question posed: The "A1" part of the model number indicates 'alteration one' or first altered model following the initial issue type. One could argue target modified pistols - usually called 'hardball' guns - should be designated M1911A2. However, the U. S. Armed Forces never made such a distinction.

    In short, there is no binding convention or agreement as to what a pistol based on the J. M. Browning design of 1911 is called. Manufacturers can name their products anything they can trademark or is available in public domain.

    I call mine "John Moses".
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