The vintage M1911A1 handguns have been in storage at least since 1985.
The vintage M1911A1 handguns have been in storage at least since 1986. web photo

If you’ve always wanted a genuine military surplus 1911 pistol, listen up, there could be some good news on the horizon.

A measure recently approved by the House of Representatives that would transfer the U.S. Army’s remaining stock of .45 ACP M1911 and M1911A1 handguns to the Civilian Marksmanship Program for sale to the public.

According to this story from, the House version of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes the plans, which were added as an amendment by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Alabama), and was passed 344-81, sending it to the Senate for consideration.

We reported in 2015 that the same 100,000 M1911 and M1911A1 handguns would soon be up for sale, thanks to a provision of the NDAA that had been signed by President Obama. However, a subsequent outcry from anti-gunners—who made absurd claims, saying the guns would be untraceable and hit U.S. streets caused the Obama administration to block the transfer of even the first 10,000 guns.

“This policy has been included in the NDAA since 2015, but the Obama Administration blocked the Army to transfer the 1911s for political reasons,” said Rogers in a statement. “I am hopeful that with the help of the Trump Administration, we can make this provision a reality.”

In 2015, Obama signed the FY16 spending bill into law, which authorized the Army to transfer no more than 10,000 of its estimated 100,000-gun surplus of 1911s per year to the CMP during a one-year pilot program. But the transfer never happened, leaving the fate of the pistols uncertain, the story says.

It was carried by American troops for over a century. Untold numbers of civilians own one. Why is the 1911 the greatest pistol in U.S. history?

The 1911: America’s Greatest Pistol

Rogers’ amendment would strip away the 10,000-gun limit and make it mandatory for the handguns to move, striking “may transfer” and replacing it with “shall transfer.” The schedule would then be decided by the secretary of the Army, the story says.

“The CMP’s sales of 1911s would be treated as other retail sales under the federal Gun Control Act, including the attendant background checks and point of sale record keeping,” noted the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm last week in the story. “The design of the pistols dates back to the late 19th Century, and they come equipped with a seven-round magazine. One would think this would render the sales harmless in the eyes of the ‘reasonable gun safety regulation’ crowd, but we’re not holding our breath.”

Not only will this measure allow some great vintage 1911s, some with a lot of history, to make their way to gun owners and collectors, it will also save taxpayers a good amount of coin.

Rogers’ office says the Army spends about $200,000 a year to store the handguns.

The M1911A1 hasn’t been issued to soldiers by the U.S. Army since 1985 when it was replaced by the Beretta M9, so they have been in storage at least since then (that’s about $6.5M in storage costs, not adjusted for inflation). Some of the guns may have been in storage even longer, since the 1911 went out of military production in 1945.

The story says the legislation also sets the stage for the question of what to do with all the soon to be surplus M9 and M11 9mm handguns as they are replaced by the new M17 and M18 Modular Handgun System pistols (variants of the SIG Sauer P320).

You can read the language of the entire NDAA for 2018 headed for the Senate here.

The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) is a U.S. government-chartered program that promotes firearm safety training and rifle practice for all qualified U.S. citizens with special emphasis on youth. Any U.S. citizen who is not legally prohibited from owning a firearm may purchase a military surplus rifle from the CMP, provided they are a member of a CMP affiliated club and meet a number of other requirements, which you can read more about here. They are famously the only source for genuine surplus M1 Garand rifles, when they are available.