How a 1911 Pistol Works

Chances are good that if your stories feature a lot of pistol play, one of those handguns is a .45 caliber Colt 1911. This type of handgun’s been around for more than 100 years, and is just as popular today as back then. You’ll instantly recognize it from countless TV shows, movies and references in books. Usually, when writers reference a “.45,” they mean it’s a .45 caliber 1911. Unless it’s a western, in which case they’d likely be talking about the iconic Colt Single Action Army revolver. But that’s for another post.

The website Animagraffs features super cool GIFs of how a 1911 works. Here’s the main one. The rest, showing close-ups of certain mechanics, are here. Be sure to check them out. The person behind this GIF will even make one for you, from speakers to spiders (for a price, of course).

example of automatic reloading firearm gun

The takeaway for writing fiction might not be apparent just by looking at this GIF. But look a little closer, and you’ll see that the slide on top is back and the barrel is exposed once the ammunition runs out. The hammer is automatically cocked as the slide moves back between shots (it resets into a forward position in the animation, but that’d have to be done manually). You can also see not one but two safeties: the thumb safety and the grip safety. Both would need to be disengaged before firing. Details like that can add a nice touch to a passage featuring a 1911.

* Thanks to crime writer Court Merrigan for the tip about this GIF. Check out his books on Amazon.

Get the Book

The Writers Guide to WeaponsThe Writer’s Guide to Weapons: A Practical Reference for Using Firearms and Knives in Fiction (Writer’s Digest Books) comes with everything but the ammo. Pick up a print or digital copy from these fine retailers:

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