Consider The Old Warhorse

(For Those Deciding Upon A Handgun)

FIREARMS are integral to a modern program of personal defense training and close combat. And while we are not doctrinaire regarding precisely which revolvers and semi-automatic pistols are the best, we certainly have our biases! We go easy with them today, however, because now in this 21st century we have a plethora of totally excellent combat handguns . . . and it would be unprofessional for us to teach students that there was a single “best” handgun for all, and that he (or she) would better choose it, or be poorly armed.

There  was a time when the argument could be made (and reasonably defended) that John Browning’s Government Model .45 automatic pistol was, hands down, the single finest all-round combat handgun in the world. The late small arms expert Jeff Cooper thought so, and was quite well-known for this belief. William Fairbairn, the father of combat handgun shooting, thought so too . . . long before Cooper’s views became gospel to a sea of true believing gun buffs. And to be honest, we still believe, for ourself, and as far as our personal need and requirements goes, that the .45 is still The Best sidearm. That is the Series ’70 Colt Government Model. We would select that handgun first and foremost if we could (and insofar as we can, we do!) but we think that Sig Sauer, Heckler and Koch, Smith and Wesson, and of course Glock produce superbly serviceable sidearms, and we would say to anyone deciding that he’d prefer one of them to the “old warhorse”, “Go ahead, your choice is an excellent one!”  We also believe that revolvers are better choices for some individuals, as are the .38 Special, .357, 9mm, .40, and .38 Super cartridges. For all the yap we have listened to from armchair combat experts over the years, who love guns and who often excel in the competition shooting sports, about how “laughable” and “underpowered”, and “inferior”, etc. most anything but the .45acp is, we have never heard anyone say that he wouldn’t mind getting shot with one of those “lesser” calibers.

You definitely have a variety of sidearms to choose from. Our only insistence is that you recognize the importance of modern weapons in a realistic self-defense program, and that you take suitable safety and handling training, and then purchase the weapon that best suits your needs ––– legally.

But for anyone who finds themselves still undecided and wondering just what handgun they ought to purchase, we have no hesitation in strongly recommending the venerable “old warhorse”. . . the John Browning designed .45acp Government Model pistol. We’d suggest the Series ’70 model, and we would urge investigating the Commander model and the Combat Commander model, as well. The ones manufactured in the 60’s and the 70’s can be found at excellent prices online from various arms dealers. We personally had the experience of carrying a Commander (lightweight aluminum alloy frame) constantly for a time, and it was the most comfortable handgun we ever carried.

Other than the Colt we’d recommend Springfield Armory’s basic G.I. type .45, or Remington’s . . . all top quality. If you like the .45, then we certainly encourage you to opt for it.

We would offer the following list of advantages that the .45 auto offers, with no intention of suggesting that other handguns do not offer their own advantages:

• The 1911 .45 is utterly reliable. Such problems as some shooters have had with the weapon is traceable to either the magazines they were using, or the ammunition they were firing. Use plain 230 grain full metal jacketed ammunition. Nothing else is necessary and the weapon functions flawlessly with this factory new G.I. “hardball”. And use new factory magazines. If a magazine gets bent or is otherwise compromised during range drill or outdoor practice firing, do not use that magazine when wearing your sidearm.

• The .45acp is a brutal man stopping round, as handguns go. No handgun (including the .44 magnum) will drop a man with greater reliability than the .45. Yes, the .44 magnum is more powerful . . . but with handguns you only get a 19 out of 20 likelihood of dropping your man assuming your round(s) hits center mass. For sufficiently greater power than the .45 you want a shotgun or a carbine, at least.

• The .45 automatic is simply constructed. This is important because it makes for greater durability and reliability. For the military man it is crucial, because it makes field repairs and parts replacement possible when no gunsmith or armorer is handy, by the shooter, himself. The .45 is easy to maintain in peak efficiency under unfavorable field conditions.

• The .45 is very flat and comfortable to carry. This is perhaps true of other autos also; but it is more true of the 1911 than it is of most of them.

• The Government model is a thoroughly proven weapon. In world wars and in lesser wars, in wartime and in peacetime, for more than 100 years(!) this incredible pistol has distinguished itself as one marvelous, reliable, powerful, handy weapon. The confidence it rightly gives its properly trained possessor is important.

• Although the 1911 is probably the single most altered, customized, tinkered with, and modified handgun in the world, it is perfectly adequate for battle right out of the box. An army of true believing sycophants who drank the “new technique cool aid” will bristle, guffaw, and snicker madly at our statement, but consider that in world war one and two, in Korea, and in Vietnam (to name only the wars in which the unmodified, out-of-the-box .45 automatic served superbly) the plain unadorned 1911 pistol did just fine. We do urge that the new weapon be broken in with two or three hundred rounds of range firing before carrying it, and we have no argument with anyone who believes that this or that modification will improve the weapon for himself, after he has had experience firing it, we think it foolish to assume that one necessarily needs anything more than that which the factory provides. For 90% or more of those who purchase a .45 automatic, the out-of-the-box weapon will serve perfectly.

• Something for every self-defense and military student to consider: The Government model .45 makes a powerful skull-cracking bludgeoning weapon when empty ––– should the need for such application ever arise. It is durable, heavy, and makes a great blackjack!

• As far as withstanding abusive, unfavorable field service conditions (again, mainly for the military man) nothing beats the 1911.

It has been our intention here to present a case for selecting the Government model 1911 .45 pistol for those who have not yet decided what they wish to obtain for their personal defensive handgun. So long as anyone selects a quality weapon other than the .45 we believe that’s just fine. But we do believe that the .45 is a great choice if you are undecided about what to choose.

Do remember that lots of dry fire drill is desirable so that your handgun becomes an “extension” of yourself . . . a tool that you are accustomed to handling. Get out and fire your weapon; master point shooting, and become expert at close range (i.e. about seven yards or less) quick reaction shooting. Unarmed and armed combat BOTH are necessary for a complete, reliable self-defense and family defense program.

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