You have heard the saying before ‘I carry a .45 because they don’t make a .46’ or ‘It was good enough for John Wayne in The Green Berets, It’s good enough for me’. The .45 ACP, or Automatic Colt Pistol, was designed over a hundred years ago and the model 1911 had many variants and customizing options. I believe that it is not only a piece of history, it is an icon that many people have in their collection. Someone asked me why I shoot a 1911 chambered in .45 caliber. I said ‘It’s not what you think’.
I grew up in The Peoples Republic of Khalifornia, OK it wasn’t a bad state when I was growing up, unlike now where people eat tofu and hate guns and freedom and live off the teet of government, but I digress. My dad would take me into the mountains, when it was still legal, and teach me to shoot. He started me out with a .22 then worked his way up to .38 then we would shoot rifles and shotguns, you know…skeet. I can’t tell you how many clay pigeons we killed. But my dad did not have a .45 for me to shoot. His friend, we will call ‘Bob’, was into the shooting sports and shot competetively. My dad had gone to visit Bob and I got to tag along. Bob had just bought a Colt Gold Cup and I saw it. It was beautiful. I asked ‘Bob’ how it shot, and his reply was ‘It’s a hand cannon’. Well, I was an impressionable kid and I respected ‘Bob’ alot….he was a nice guy. He was big like my dad, so I had this visual of something that could ‘blow your hand off’, so I had this fear of the Colt .45. I even remember watching old world was two movies and seeing guys get blow backwards after being shot (hollywood trickery and over acting I’m sure). But the image stuck in my head.
Now, fast forward about 15 years or so. I was newly married with our first child on the way, and I wanted to be a protective husband and father, so I went on a search for the perfect self defense weapon. I went to the local gunshop that also had an indoor shooting range, and started renting various guns and trying them out. My childhood heros included James Bond, who may have been shaken but never stirred, so the first gun I rented was a Walther PPK chambered in .380. I may like James Bond, but I hated the PPK. So I rented others….. a 9 mm Beretta, Smith and Wesson, Ruger. I tried my hand at a Dirty Harry special, a .44magnum. I tried a .357 magnum and what was new at the time, a 10mm. I just did not like them or the price. But I specifically avoided the 1911 platform or any gun chambered in .45 caliber.
The Gunsmith saw me spending so much time and money trying out different guns, so he talked to me and asked if I had tried a .45. I exclaimed ‘The hand cannon? No way’. After he choked back a chuckle, he said ‘Here, try mine. You buy the ammo.’ So, reluctantly, I agreed. I took it to the range, loaded it and grimaced, almosed winced as I fired the first shot. I half expected to blow my hand off, remember, I had a mental visual no matter how foolish it was. I was supprised, pleasantly, and fired again. The gun fit well in my hand and was all metal. I am a big frame guy, OK, OK, I am a little overweight, but my hand was still intact, and I not only hit the target, I had good groupings. I decided on the 1911 platform right then and there.
You see, I overcame a childhood fear and am close to mastering it. I am now planning to goto Camp Perry and participate in the NRA Conventional Pistol Competition. Everytime I pick up a .45 caliber and shoot it, it is a sign of me overcoming a childhood fear. I know some people may laugh at my childhood fear and how unreasonable it was, but really, what childhood fear is rational? So my answer as to why I like to shoot the .45 caliber, it is because it is a personal sign to me that I overcame my own fears….that’s why.