RIA will be offering some pretty serious historic collectable firearms at its Premier Auction, May 22-24, 2020: Pretty Boy Floyd’s 1911 Government Model .45 ACP Colt, Al Capone’s Model 1908 Colt .380 Automatic Pocket Pistol, and (!) a Colt Thompson Model 1921 Submachine Gun with provenance from the Dayton, Ohio Police Department describing it as “confiscated from a bank robber,” with some possible connection to John Dillinger.
The summer of 1972 found me in San Luis PotosÃ Mexico, trying to learn enough Spanish to get my final college credits for graduation. I had not been a stellar foreign language student up to that point, so I was a bit “under the gun”.
To get a better understanding of the culture, etc., blah-blah, we had a few travel days to see some sights. A couple of those days were spent in Mexico City.
My mother had traveled extensively in Mexico, and she “collected” people wherever she went. She “arranged” for my then-girlfriend (now my wife of 45 years standing) and me to meet a young woman she knew. We rode the Metro to the end of the line, south of Mexico City, and “Blanca” picked us up and took us to her home in CoyoacÃ¡n for dinner. My Spanish was still sketchy at that time, and I don’t remember many details, except the following little tale.
We were visiting in the sala (the two young women were visiting–I was smiling, trying to look agreeable, and straining for a familiar word) when Blanca’s father came home from work. He entered through the back door that led into the kitchen. He was a stocky, mostly bald man of early middle-age with greying temples. He wore an oxford cloth blue shirt, open at the collar, and some nondescript pleated-front gray wool slacks. But he totally caught my attention when he pulled a 1911 from his waistband and deposited it in a drawer beside the back door!
Now, I had been reading Jeff Cooper for a few years at that point, and he often mentioned “Mexican carry”. Cooper had a well earned reputation as a teacher, BUT–he was not good about repeating his definitions for late comers (which was ME). When Blanca’s father hauled that old 1911 out of his waistband where it had been nestled just behind his hipbone, I KNEW EXACTLY what Mexican carry meant!
Ever slow on the uptake, I did not fully appreciate the significance of the father’s occupation until many years later, when I read Joaquin Jackson’s book, “One Ranger“, wherein he describes the singular power of being a Mexican general. Yep–that was Blanca’s father!
Paul Glasco explains that they have really piled on the paperwork and special requirements to get one of the 100,000 1911s being released by the Army to the Civilian Marksmanship Program. All this foofaraw will add to your costs and artificially inflate the price of these pistols.
In my parents’ generations’ day, you could simply mail order surplus firearms from the CMP if you were an NRA member. My uncle had a stockpile of Springfield and 1917 Enfield actions he had purchased for peanuts stored in the floor joists of his basement ceiling to be made into sporters, one rifle at a time, by the gunsmith Al Compton of Ringtown when each of the boys in the family made it to hunting age.
The .45 ACP M1911A1 pistol has served the U.S. armed forces for more than a century in every war zone and hotspot on the planet â€” and thanks to this yearâ€™s federal defense budget, it will serve civilians for the foreseeable future.
The $700 billion 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that Congress sent to President Donald Trumpâ€™s desk on Nov. 16 included an amendment that required the Secretary of the Army to transfer a cache of small arms and ammo â€œno longer actively issued for military serviceâ€ to the government-sponsored Civilian Marksmanship Program, including the M1911 and M1911A1 pistols, the Mâ€“1 Garand, and .22 rimfire rifles. …
The last transfer of 1911s to the CMP was in 2015, when President Barack Obama signed a defense bill that included a measure to transfer 10,000 pistols for sale to the program; lawmakers har stated that May that the DoD spends $2 a year to store each of its 100,000 surplus 1911s. With 10,000 already transferred and 8,300 additional pistols â€œsold or disposed of,â€ per Guns.com, that means there are at least 80,000 1911s ready and waiting for a nasty civilian to give them a good home.
Phil Bourjaily, in Field & Stream 2011, remembered the best shot ever made with a Model 1911.
The most unusual shot,(and possibly the best ever) made in wartime with a 1911 pistol had to be the one fired by a USAAF B-24 co-pilot named Owen J. Baggett in March, 1943 in the skies over Burma. …
On a mission to destroy a railroad bridge, Baggett’s bomber squadron was intercepted by Japanese Zero fighters and his plane was badly damaged. After holding off the enemy with the top turret .50s while the gunner tried to put out onboard fires, Baggett bailed out with the rest of the crew. He and four others escaped the burning bomber before it exploded.
The Zero pilots circled back to strafe the parachuting crewmen, killing two and lightly wounding Baggett, who played dead in his harness, hoping the Japanese would leave him alone. Though playing dead, Baggett still drew his .45 and hid it alongside his leg…just in case. A Zero approached within a few feet of Baggett at near stall speeds. The pilot opened the canopy for a better look at his victim.
Baggett raised his pistol and fired four shots into the cockpit. The Zero spun out of sight. Although Baggett could never believe he had shot down a fighter plane with his pistol, at least one credible report said the plane was found crashed, the pilot thrown clear of the wreckage with a single bullet in his head.
If Baggett really did shoot down a fighter with his 1911, it has to count as one of the greatest feats ever accomplished with a .45.
The Armyâ€™s troubled program to buy a new standard-issue handgun for soldiers was the subject of renewed debate on Capitol Hill.
During Thursdayâ€™s confirmation hearing for retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to become defense secretary in the Trump administration, Republican Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Thom Tillis of North Carolina took turns criticizing the serviceâ€™s XM17 Modular Handgun System (MHS) program, a $350 million competition to buy a replacement to the Cold War-era M9 9mm pistol.
At a time when Russia is upgrading its service rifle, â€œwe continue to modify our M4s [and] many of our troops still carry M16s, the Army canâ€™t even figure out how to replace the M9 pistol, first issued in 1982,â€ Ernst said.
The senator, a frequent critic of the program who in 2015 retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, said she and others would joke while in the military that â€œsometimes the most efficient use of an M9 is to simply throw it at your adversary.â€
Ernst blasted the Modular Handgun Programâ€™s many requirements. â€œTake a look at their 350-page micromanaging requirements document if you want to know why itâ€™s taking so long to get this accomplished,â€ she said.
She also mocked the stopping power of the 5.56mm rifle round. â€œOur military currently shoots a bullet that, as you know, is illegal for shooting small deer in nearly all states due to its lack of killing power,â€ she said.
Tillis went even further by showing up to the hearing with the pistol programâ€™s full several hundred pages of requirements documents wrapped in red ribbon. â€œThis is a great testament to whatâ€™s wrong with defense acquisition,â€ he said, slapping the three-inch-tall stack of paperwork.
In response, Mattis said, â€œI canâ€™t defend this,â€ but added, â€œI will say that at times there were regulations that required us to do things.â€
Coincidentally, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley was asked about the program earlier in the day at a breakfast sponsored by the Association of the United States Army. Milley was tight-lipped about the effort but hinted the service is making progress.
Beretta, FN Herstal, Sig Sauer and Glock are reportedly still competing for the program after the Army dropped Smith & Wesson from the competition last year. Weâ€™re hoping these gunmakers will help shed more light on the status of the program next week at SHOT Show in Las Vegas.
Hell, I’ll solve their dilemma for them for half of that.
From the November/December American Handgunner (paywall) Reader Speakout Column, p.18, titled “Military 1911 Shooting,” Robert Johnson discusses the 1911A1’s loose tolerances:
After I received my [Marine Corps] commission as an officer, this gave me the right to carry a sidearm. An old Gunny told me: “Get one that rattles, it’ll never jam on ‘ya.” Well, the Gunny was right. I wasn’t a great pistol shot, but the old 1911A1 never missed a beat. In my two tours in exotic Southeast Asia (’68 and ’69) I used the pistol on a couple of occasions, and true to form, it never missed a beat. When I got back to the land of the Big PX I went out to the firing range and got the same results Roy did: 3-3 1/2″ at 25 yards. I still have that old warhorse, and from time to time I touch it off on my backyard range.
I would expect CMP 1911 pistols to be about 30-50% less than the current market price. The market price for WWII M1911 pistols is about $1000 â€“ $4000+. $2000 seems to be the going price for Service Grade pistols.
Based on the market prices, the CMPâ€™s pricing history and the the increase of supply that these pistols will bring to the market, my guesstimate pricing for CMP 1911 pistols are:
CMP Rack Grade 1911 Price â€“ *
CMP Field Grade 1911 Price $750
CMP Service Grade 1911 Price $850
CMP Special Grade 1911 Price $1100
Other ** $1800 +
* I do not expect there to be rack grade pistols for sale initially.
** Depending on what is in the Army inventory, there could be a range of rare pistols in their own categories, but not rare enough to go to auction.
I hope the prices will be lower than my estimates. I know many of you are hoping for $500 1911 pistols but I do not realistically expect this to happen. Modern 1911 pistols are popular enough in their own right without the added attraction of being military surplus.
No one thought it would happen, but Barack Obama actually did a few days ago sign the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which included an amendment introduced by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL3) authorizing the Civilian Marksmanship Program to sell to Americans some 100,000 Model 1911 Colt pistols which have been sitting in warehouses since the US Military replaced the beloved .45 1911 with the 9mm Beretta M9 in 1985.
Gun collectors have pushed prices for existing 1911s up to serious levels. Meanwhile, the gospel of the late Jeff Cooper has made the old 1911 into a tremendously popular choice for both target matches and personal defense. These days, everybody, Ruger, Remington, even Smith & Wesson is manufacturing his own knock-off of John Browning’s century-old masterpiece.
Nonetheless, guns which saw military service possess a special cachet and will always be particularly appealing to collectors. Frankly, I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these myself.
Mike Weiser, astonishingly appearing at what El Rushbo likes to call the Puffington Host, finds the glass half empty.
There’s only one little problem. Right now if I want to sell one of my 1911 service pistols with the original markings on the slide and frame, the gun will fetch me somewhere just south of two thousand bucks. Know what’s going to happen to that price when thousands of surplus army pistols hit the street? The value of my 1911 stash just disappeared. Thanks for nothing, NRA. Thanks for nothing President Obama. And Merry Christmas to both of you too.
I think his fears may be exaggerated. In the old days, the CMP’s mission was encouraging civilian marksmanship by getting surplus military weapons into the hands of shooters. Before WWII, the CMP sold through the NRA and my uncles used to get Springfields and Enfields for $25 and Krag carbines for $5. These days, the CMP only sells to individuals who jump through lots of hoops, including proving that you participate in matches at a CMP-recognized shooting club, and they sell carefully-graded Garands at pretty steep prices. My guess is that the CMP is going to let go of those 1911s in a slow trickle at very retail-ish prices. They will probably also sell a lot of them at auction. And the supply will be kept low and slow, precisely in order to keep prices up.