A FATAL FLAW OF THE 1911 - WITH DIRE CONSEQUENCES FOR A 1911 USER.
Per Wikipedia, the Colt automatic pistol caliber-45, was adopted by the US forces in 1911. It was the standard-issue side arm from 1911 to 1985, and it still is carried by some US forces.
Due to the design of the slide stop, a 1911 user does not have the option of using a very simple shooting method that the US Army says is instinctive, fast and accurate. Here's how it works. The index finger is placed along the side of the gun, pointed at a target, and the middle finger is used to pull the trigger.
And this is what the U.S. Army says about pointing and aiming in its Field Manual 3-23.35: Combat Training With Pistols M9 AND M11 (June,2003):
"Everyone has the ability to point at an object.
"When a soldier points, he instinctively points at the feature on the object on which his eyes are focused. An impulse from the brain causes the arm and hand to stop when the finger reaches the proper position.
"When the eyes are shifted to a new object or feature, the finger, hand, and arm also shift to this point.
"It is this inherent trait that can be used by a soldier to rapidly and accurately engage targets."
The method does not require the use of the sights, and has been known of since at least 1835. With it, you get both automatic and correct sight alignment and an automatic and correct sight picture.
I call it AIMED Point Shooting or P&S, and have used it with very good results at close quarters distance.
The reason the method can't be used with the 1911, is because the slide stop pin sticks out from the side of the 1911, and if the index finger is placed along its side and presses on the slide stop pin with firing, the 1911 can jam.
Cautionary language against using P&S with the 1911 is in the original manual on the 1911 which was published April 1, 1912. The language is on page 12.
Here is the language as it appears with highlighting added by me:
"3. The trigger should be pulled with the forefinger. If the trigger is pulled with the second finger, the forefinger extending along the side of the receiver is apt to press against the projecting pin of the slide stop and cause a jam when the slide recoils."
That same cautionary language, or language that is very similar to it, is repeated in other military manuals published in later years. Those that I have found are dated: 1912, 1915, 1917, 1918, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1929, and 1941.
Here's a link to a list of manuals and books that caution against its use, and to others that mention its use.
I'm sure that there are many more manuals that I am unaware of, which have been relegated to the dust bins of history.
On one hand, we have the US Army of today saying that a soldier can inherently, rapidly and accurately engage targets by pointing at them.
On the other hand, we have the US Military manuals of old prohibiting the use of that effective method of aiming and shooting because of the design of the 1911's slide stop.
Also, we now know, due to modern science and the study of thousands of police combat cases that:
1. Sight Shooting is not or can not be used in most all close quarters battle situations due to lack of time, bad lighting, the loss of near vision caused by the automatic activation of our Fight or Flight response, etc., and
2. if you are going to be shot and killed, there is a 80% chance it will happen at less than 21 feet.
So knowing of, and being able to use an optional, practical, and effective shooting method such as P&S, could be critical to the survival of a 1911 user.
The US Military did not fix the slide stop flaw of the 1911, so that optional shooting method was not available to the 1911 user; and not having it, could prove to be fatal.
As to why a fix to the 1911 was not made, one can only wonder.
The Sight Shooting Vs Point Shooting argument of today, was alive and well way back in 1835. And even though modern science and studies say that Sight Shooting won't or can't be used in most all close quarters combat situations, there are Sight Shooting purists who advocate that one must always use the sights.
I have no doubt that "Sight Shooters" were in charge back in the early 1900's, and based on what one reads on the web, they still are in most places in the world of the gun.
It is logical and reasonable that:
1. repeating the caution/prohibition against using P&S with the 1911 in manuals from 1912 until 1942, effectively squelched the use of P&S in the United States, and
2. the mantra like repetition of "just how to shoot a 1911" for thirty years,
3. gave rise to the dogmatic belief in the gun world of today that the only way to shoot a pistol is to use the index finger on the trigger.
Also, as the 1911 was used in WW I, WW II, Korea, Vietnam..., there obviously were many many Close Quarters battle situations when P&S could have been used to good effect were it not for the design of the slide stop. And NOT having that option, no doubt resulted in hundreds if not thousands of U.S. casualties over the 70+ year reign of the 1911.
The US Army now calls for the use of the isosceles stance for shooting at night or at less than 15 feet. However; the study of thousands of Police combat cases, found that with few exceptions Officers fired with the strong hand. So lacking proof of its actual use in close quarters defensive combat, one should not count on it as a practical defensive shooting tool.
The Denied Option
With P&S. you:
1. grab your gun and place your index finger along the side of the gun,
2. point at a target, and
3. pull the trigger.
P&S is the easiest of shooting methods, can be used at day or night, when moving or standing still, and it's not dependent on a specific stance, grip, body indexing, using an aim point, locking the shooting arm, trigger manipulation, etc..
It also can be learned with little or no training, and maintained with minimal practice. It can be used to enhance other shooting methods, and as such, should not be consider to be a threat to Sight Shooting. It can assist any shooter in rapid and accurate target engagement. And if there is time to use the sights and they can be seen, they can be used to complete the action.
There are many that have grip concerns. They think the grip used with P&s is not as good as the weak 3 fingered competition or range grip required for Sight shooting.
With P&S, you get a secure and level shooting platform utilizing a strong 4 fingered grip. The gun is held in the natural pincer of the thumb, web of the hand, and the index finger. The ring and little fingers add both strength and tenacity to the grip.
Also, according to the literature, in combat you will have a crush grip on your gun so it doesn't really matter which finger is used on the trigger.
With P&S, you can squeeze the begeebers out of the pistol, and all you will do is make the grip stronger. You can make front punches, elbow smashes, and even use the gun and forearm as a crude battle ax.
A Point & Shoot index finger rest as shown in the pics above, can make index finger placement both mechanical and automatic, and also can keep it away from the slide as the gun is jumping and bucking in your hand with rapid firing.
Anyone is welcome to add the aiming aid to their personal firearm/s at their own risk and expense. And ditto for Police Agencies for their weapons. Arms makers are welcome to produce and provide them to Police Agencies as well. If "one" wants to produce and market them to the Military or to the "civilian" market, please contact me about very reasonable licensing.
Here is a link to how-to info on adding one to a gun.
The Tokarev Fix
The Tokarev pistol produced by the Soviets, was very similar to the Browning design. 1.5 million were produced, and a simple 2 pronged clip was used to fix the design flaw of the slide stop.
Not pretty, but effective.
Here are pics of two Serbian Zastavia pistols of the same design and with the same fix.
How To Get A Free Copy Of The Original 1911 Manual
The drawing at the start of this article on the M1911, is from the April 1, 1912 publication: Description Of The Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, Model Of 1911.
Both Microsoft and Google have made e-copies of the 1912 manual which was updated in 1914. They are in the public domain.
Here is a link to the Microsoft version.
On the left side of the page, you can read the manual or download it as a PDF, B/W PDF, EPUB, Kindle, Daisy, Full Text, or DiVu. I have checked out the PDF's, and text versions.
Here is a link to the Google version that is on the web. Click on the arrow and PDF on the right side to download.
The Mechanical Performance Of The 1911
Criticism of the 1911, does not take away from its pure mechanical performance. It was the winner of the 1910 shoot off test.
This link is to the test info. And this is the URL: http://www.sightm1911.com/lib/history/background.htm#IMAGE
Here is language from it:
"...In November 1910, the second competitive range test was held on weapons improved as a result of field trials, but problems were still noted with both designs. Both firms went back to the drawing board preparing for the next round of testing. On 15 March 1911, an endurance test was held. The test involved having each gun fire 6000 rounds, with cleaning after every one hundred shots fired, then allowing them to cool for 5 minutes. After every 1000 rounds, the pistol would be cleaned and oiled. After firing those 6000 rounds, the pistols were then tested with deformed cartridges, rusted in acid or submerged in sand and mud.20
By the end of the test, the Savage design suffered over 37 incidents of malfunction or breakage; the Colt did not have one. On 23 March 1911, the evaluation committee's report stated,
"Of the two pistols, the board was of the opinion that the Colt is superior, because it is more reliable, more enduring, more easily disassembled when there are broken parts to be replaced, and more accurate..."
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