So, I made sure I had plenty of .45 ACP loaded up, and my 1948-built Colt Government Model was clean, so I . . . BUT WAIT A SEC! What about my latest acquisition? I've written that it's the spit-and-image of the principal sidearm, carried by US forces into harm's way in the first quarter of the XX century. (Second eighth??) And, in the waste not, want not spirit of that bygone era, the 1911s weren't junked just because the 1911A1 was adopted. Some were updated, many were not. I've seen several photos of WW II personnel packing pistols with flat mainspring housings. I'd hazard to guess that thousands of1911s still do nightstand duty, to this very day. (And wouldn't some of us eagerly swap the present owners a new 9mm for them?)
In the retro spirit of the day, I wore my Gunsite T-shirt I'd gotten while Studying at the Feet of the Master: Arizona, 1980. It fit me better back then..
"Shooter, make ready"
Shooting the Texas Star
Well, I didn't exactly cover myself with glory this month. I wasn't in last place, but I was closer to the bottom than to the top. I attribute this to a variety of reasons. The very small sights of the 1911 simply DO NOT pick up as quickly as do the broad, high profile sights fitted to my “regular match” Govt. Model. In fact, they're not near so rapid as even the regular, low profile sights on a 1911A1. And I found myself taking an extra instant to raise the point of aim on the targets. There's a lot of muscle memory built in after so many years of shooting with an arched mainspring housing.
Heading down the hallway.
Speaking of muscle memory: I'd given some thought to really doing it the old way. There's always a stage or two that begins with firing a series of quick shots at close range targets. I'd done some one hand shooting during the initial range testing and it worked well, but for mostly low impacts. I figured it'd be fun, and entertaining, to do the single-hand point-and-fire thing at the close up targets. Well, conditioning took over, and when the timer buzzed, I came to Weaver as rapidly as I could and was shooting before I recalled “the plan.” Oh, well, I did poorly enough anyway.
One excuse I cannot play, though. The pistol ran perfectly. I took along five good magazines, and hand loads made with Ranier plated bullets over W-231 powder. Every round had been gaged by dropping it into the chamber of an extra barrel. With only some sixty rounds fired during the initial range testing, functioning was flawless. This course of fire would have run about 75 rounds, if fired “clean.” Most stages allowed makeup shouts, so I probably fired around 85.
SOME unkind individuals might venture the opinion that I'm slowing down with age - - That the old hand-eye coordination isn't what it once was, that my visual acuity through my bifocals is not what it was at Orange Gunsite or traveling the IPSC circuit. A crippled hip and a bad back prevent truly rapid movement. Well, all I can say to that is - - -Maybe. Okay, certainly. There was a time, boys and girls . . . . Yeah, there WAS. So I rely on stealth and cunning instead of blazing speed. Maybe I can't “beat the drop” as in days of yore, but some of the ol' dogs still have some bite. That's why I keep shooting with the youngsters.
So the day was beautiful, the company was pleasant, the course of fire was challenging, and a good time was had by all. I didn't win the match, or even scare the leaders, but I was there, and I had fun, shooting the old pattern pistola. And you know, I don't even have a bloody spot on my right-hand thumb web. Well, I've lost some weight since i last did a lot of shooting with a short-tang gun with a broad hammer.
Impressions? About what I expected. The 1911 served me just as well as its ancestor would have served an AEF Doughboy in the Great War. I wouldn't hesitate to carry it into a cold, dark place, in preference to most handguns. Sure, if available, I'd prefer my later style commercial .45. The good sights and arched housing are indeed improvements on the old design. But the old design still works.
More on guns and gear in future installments.