Once in a while, something unusual comes through the door. This is a rather uncommon one. Custom-made 1911 frame pistols are very popular because of the quality of construction and their resultant accuracy. This is a VERY lightly used Les Baer PREMIER II. Not fully broken in, it is unbelievably tight – not mention, all hand fit, right down to the takedown pin. This is at the top of the list when it comes to my favorite pistols from the mind of J. M. Browning.
It’s Memorial Day Weekend, and when you work in a gun store you are sometimes confronted directly with pieces of history which bring home the fact that men used some amazing tools to protect our rights to live as free men and women.
These are two such pieces, handled by real people who spent a part of their lives defending ours. The upper piece is a WW 1 Smith & Wesson Model of 1917 in .45 ACP. If one knows their guns, they know ACP means Auto Colt Pistol. It was created in 1905 for The 1907 semi-automatic following dissatisfaction with the Model 1905 .45 Smokeless Rimless round. But all of that is another story. (Believe it or not Winchester almost started 1911 production but the war ended earlier than expected so…). Being 1917, Colt’s patent on the 1911 was still in force. No one else could make it without permission and tooling which would take time to make, so the government ordered revolvers that headspace with the case length not relying on a nonexistant cartridge rim. Ejection of empties was facilitated with the use of steel half-moon clips, holding the cartridges thereby providing a rim for ejection. Of course, these clips were more than a pain and further in a muddy trench often were lost. The average soldier carried a small stick or used the tip of a rifle cartridge to push out the empties. Colt made just such a revolver too in conjunction with the fully taxed 1911 production line.
The second gun is WW 2 vintage from roughly 1943. It is a Smith & Wesson hand ejector .38 special. This gun debuted in 1899, and has only had minor engineering changes since. It is still made as the Model 10. It is the single most produced handgun in history.
During the war, revolvers of this type were issued, mostly stateside, to low priority people like factory guards and such in order to free up 1911s for soldiers in the field (there’s the 1911 again). After the war, the government brought them back.
In 1946, it was decided that German police in the occupied American section of West Germany would be issued these leftover guns instead of semi-automatics. The average German hated revolvers (quick, name a German revolver maker! You cant either, eh?), and typically did not take care of them. This one was issued to the Bavarian Rural Police (State police) along with about 1199 others. It is so stamped on the left side of the frame and was returned in incredible shape. A little bit of history for your Memorial Day weekend. Just a little bit of why I enjoy firearms. It is a fantastic way to hold “history” in your hand, and sometimes even get a feel for what the time was like. Important.