Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Weapon of the Drug Wars

For the American soldier fighting in the Philippine jungles a century ago, Colt's new revolver wasn't cutting the mustard. More specifically, the .38 caliber bullets barely slowed Moro guerrillas stoked on frog juice, mushrooms, and the best pot west of Saigon. Armed with machetes, spears, and knives, these drug-crazed warriors had "high morale," the Army said, and kept charging through a hail of thirty-eights to chop American asses.

In 1902, Chief of Ordnance, General William Crozier, authorized further testing of new service pistols. We need a bigger gun, boys, he pleaded. Stopping power is what we're missing

Some guy named Hiram S. Maxim had already designed a self-loading pistol using bullet energy to reload the chamber. Lots of governments and individuals worked on programs, including people like Mauser, Mannlicher, and Colt. But of the six designs submitted to General Crozier, only three chambered the new .45 cartridge. In field tests from 1907 to 1911, the Colt was fired 6,000 times by its designer, John Browning. Zero malfunctions.

The Colt semi-automatic was formally adopted by the U.S. Army on March 29, 1911, and thus gained the designation, M1911. The Army is nothing if not crudely logical. It was adopted by the Navy and Marine Corps in 1913, and though originally manufactured only by Colt, World War I expanded production to the government-owned Springfield Armory.

The M1911 is a single-action (you can't "cock" the hammer like cowboys do in movies) semi-automatic, magazine-fed, recoil-operated handgun. The .45 caliber weapon was the standard-issue side arm for the United States military from 1911 to 1985, and is still carried by some U.S. forces. Browning's design was widely used in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Reliable. Powerful. It even stopped those wild-eyed Moro guerrillas, and the Phillipines (and all that offshore oil) came under U.S. control.

Let's call this one Research #1. Thanks to John Browning, Colt, and Wikipedia.

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