Starting in 2018, the Civilian Marksmanship Program kicked off a milsurp M1911 pistol program. It took me a few years, but I finally got one.
 

How did the CMP get those 1911s?


Not to toot my own horn or anything, but back in 2015, I was one of the first people in gun media – or any media for that matter – to cover the story of Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers’ effort to include an amendment to the NDAA while the Pentagon spending policy bill was in the House Armed Service Committee. Rogers, who represented the district of Northern Alabama that included the Anniston Army Depot and CMP’s headquarters operations, found out that the Army had 100,000 surplus World War II-era M1911s in long-term storage for $200,000 per year, or about $2 per gun.
 
The amendment would essentially save Uncle Sam that cash by transferring the guns to the CMP for sale to qualified members of the public, with the funds generated used to support worthwhile marksmanship projects ranging from JROTC to 4H and the National Matches. The program also has a vibrant youth scholarship program.

Plus, it was much better than feeding the historic old warhorses to "Captain Crunch." 
 
I continued to cover the story, which grew legs and captured the imagination of – no joke – millions, according to the analytics. Throughout the next half-decade, I would file at least a dozen updates. In 2017, after an initial batch had been greenlighted for transfer by the Obama administration (!), while on a visit to the “Army’s attic.” the service's Museum Support Center at Anniston Army Depot, I was shown crates packed and filled with M1911s pulled from the military’s museum stocks that were in excess of the service’s needs, pending shipment to the CMP once the handgun program got underway.
 
The thing is, 19,000 people got excited about the first round of M1911 sales from CMP and submitted packets for the first 8,000 guns transferred. Demand far outstripped supply. With that, I felt I had little to no chance of getting one for myself, so I did not wade into the deep waters of trying to get one of these old Government Models through the program.
 
My luck, right?
 
However, when the CMP announced Round 2 of the M1911 program in early 2021, I cautiously allowed myself to get optimistic that, perhaps, my chance had come. The rabid collectors had already shot their bolt – CMP only allows an applicant to get one of these pistols – in the initial go-round.
 
So, I spent a day getting my packet together, sent it in through the open window (Jan. 4 to March 4, 2021), and sat back to wait. On April 6, I got an email saying I had a randomly generated number (20581) and found out that the current batch of orders was going to start at 20,000.
 
Nice.
 
Then, on April 20, I got the call. All three grades (Service, Field, Rack) were available, so I selected "Service" – the best of the three – and asked politely for a Colt, if possible.
 
The very next day (after a mandatory two NICS checks!) I walked away from my FFL with this:
 

Colt M1911A1 military model of 1943
The CMP tag listed it as Service Grade, which is listed as: "Pistol may exhibit minor pitting and wear on exterior surfaces and friction surfaces. Grips are complete with no cracks. Pistol is in issuable condition. Pistols may contain commercial parts." It is thought that DLA Supply Condition Codes A–D fall into this grade. (All photos: Chris Eger/Guns.com)
 
Colt M1911A1 military model of 1943
The tag tells the story of it being a mismatched gun – common for old pistols that have been in the Army's inventory for 80 years – wearing a Colt frame and GI Replacement slide. A quick serial number lookup for #904594 brings back a hit for a circa-1943 Colt Military Model.
Colt M1911A1 military model of 1943
The M1911A1 has a Colt GI Military frame, SN 904594, of 1943 production, with GHD inspector’s stamp complete with a dummy mark (!).

 
The GHD inspector mark was for Lt. Col. (later Brig. Gen.) Guy Humphrey Drewry, the Army Inspector of Ordnance at the Springfield Ordnance District from June 1942 through July 1945. Colts in the serial number range from S/N 845,000 to 2,360,600 bear his mark. 
 

Colt M1911A1 military model of 1943
The triangle includes a Colt VP, for "Verified Proof" mark, and is rather washed out, which means the frame probably got refinished at some point in the past 80 years. That would account for the well-matching finish on a circa-1943 frame and a 1980s/90s slide.
Colt M1911A1 military model of 1943
Rather than the original slide, it has a “hard” GI replacement slide with a "TZ," denoting an IMI maker's mark – that's Israel Military Industries, which supplied such slides under contract to the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s. These slides were considered of better metallurgy than WWII-era "soft" slides.
Colt M1911A1 military model of 1943
The slide has FSN (Federal Stock Number) #7790314 M (M=magnaflux inspection).
Colt M1911A1 military model of 1943
The barrel is marked with FSN #7791193 91, with the last being a year code, from what I understand.  
Colt M1911A1 military model of 1943
It is a minty chrome-lined barrel.
Colt M1911A1 military model of 1943
The GI plastic grips have a fading yellow "24" rack number. 
 


Although I could find no arsenal rebuild stamps, I am theorizing that the gun was reworked at least once, late in its life, probably in the 1990s, then put back in storage or forwarded out for further use.
 

Where had No. 24 been?


In a follow-up Freedom of Information Act request to the Army's Logistics Data Analysis Center, I received the following, saying it was received at the Anniston Army Depot from wherever it had been in July 2010, and after being logged there at least nine times in regular inventory checks, was transferred to CMP in June 2020.

 

The FOIA accounted for 10 years of arsenal storage.


Where had it been before 2010? Somewhere outside of the scope of Anniston's records for sure, perhaps in a base armory somewhere.
 
Backtracking the other way, records in the old Springfield Research Service files showed that Colt SN 904594 shipped to Springfield Armory between Feb. 3 and Feb. 17, 1943, and the trail went cold. Of note, most of the serial numbers near this one in the SRS list went to the Office of Strategic Services, or OSS, the Army's WWII forerunner of the CIA, with the closest serial number on file going to the OSS detachment in Cairo, Egypt, in August 1944.
 
As for where Rack No. 24 had been in the Army's system between when it was delivered to Springfield Armory in 1943 and showed back up at Anniston in 2010, who knows? Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War gave lots of chances for it to be issued and reissued. Heck, rebuilt WWII-era M1911s were even much-used used by SF troops in Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000s. "Carrying your grandpa's pistol tomorrow" kind of thing.
 
That's part of the allure of these milsurp .45s. Uncle surely got the taxpayers' money's worth out of No. 24. Then, its transfer to the CMP translated to funds to help instill a love of the shooting sports in today's youth. An echo from "The Greatest Generation," if you will.
 

How to get your own CMP 1911

 

The CMP recently closed its open dates for Round 3 of the 1911 program, meaning some 30,000 pistols have been cycled through since 2018. Round 4 will likely start sometime next year, so stay tuned to their website for more information on that.
 
The mail order process seems daunting but is fairly easy. The user simply fills out a packet including copies of proof of U.S. Citizenship, proof of membership in a CMP-affiliated club (groups like the Garand Collector's Association count), and proof of participation in a marksmanship activity (a CCW counts). Once accepted, you get an RGN, then you wait for the call, pay, and pick it up from your FFL.
 

 

Is it worth it?


The current price range of the CMP 1911s runs from $1,100 to $1,250. Some argue that juice isn't worth the squeeze.
 
Arguably, if you are just looking for a shooter that mimics the classic layout, you can get a new Turkish-made Tisas U.S. Army modelwhich is a fine all-steel replica of the wartime M1911A1, for about around $450. If you want to go American-made, there is the Auto-Ordnance BKO or Springfield Armory Mil-Spec for about $800, also brand-new.
 
Here at Guns.com, we do get some truly nice former martial M1911s from time to time, including such rarities as Union Switch models, but they run according to the market price, which is often well beyond what the CMP is asking, unless they have been rattle-canned blue or something. Just saying. Still, getting an old 1911 from us is less paperwork – just a few clicks, and it is at your FFL.
 
In the end, there are lots of options for a sweet 1911 to become part of your collection, no matter how you get one.

I'm glad I have No. 24.
 

Colt M1911A1 military model of 1943
(Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)
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