When you leave home…
…it begins to change with out you immediately. Moreover, when you go back it will be different. You can never go back to the home you left. While the physical aspect may be true, the imagery of home, however good or bad, tends to remain constant.
In the abstract, “home” can also be a reference: A point to which other points, lines, and so forth are referred, usually in terms of distance or direction, or both. In a poetic sense, home is where the heart is. In a “life'” sense, home is the point of origin from which our direction in life stems. In my line of thinking, “home” is also the first of things that lead to greater discoveries. In my case, my first bicycle, my first car, my first kiss, my first love, and my first firearm led to greater discoveries – some good and some,well, not so good.
A Pistol, Caliber .45, Automatic, M1911A1 (formerly known in 1940 as the Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911 for the original Model of 1911 or Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911A1 for the M1911A1, adopted in 1924) was my first introduction to handguns. It took the U.S. of Army very little effort in convincing me that this was my “personal” line of defense against an enemy foreign or domestic. Like all introductions, first impressions are important. My first impression was that I was in real trouble if this hunk of metal in my hand was my “personal” line of defense. Being an optimist, I figured that when the enemy saw me holding a 1911 that they would roll over in laughter and that would give me an opportunity to make a hasty and strategic withdrawal.
The M1911A1 impressed me so much that I knew that one would be mine some day if for nothing else but the challenge of being able to shoot one. What also impressed me was that I could not hit the broadside of a barn with one if I was so inclined to shoot at the broadside of a barn. The barn would be safe should one decide to attack me.
I have to say that with training, the U.S. of Army turned me into the prime example of the modicum of “combat accuracy” among my peers. Despite my best expectations of failure, I could hit a target at 25 yards if I held my breath, my tongue, and the pistol just right. The gun started to feel natural rested in the web of my hand. More importantly, I learned the difference between a “clip” and a “magazine” and can use them in the proper vernacular even today.
Like a well-made pair of slippers, the pistol felt comfortable as well as comforting. The 1911 Government Model became the “home”, the base, the foundation upon which I would build my marksmanship skills and practice those skills in the years to come – and still do today when I take the time. However comfortable with the M1911A that I was becoming, it was not my first choice in purchasing a personal defense firearm. Due to financial constraints, that duty fell to an RG38 revolver – another first that convinced me to believe firmly that there was something better.
The ensuing years brought many firearms to the table but “Old Slabsides” was not one of them until a life-altering event changed all of that – I became an LEO. The agency that I worked for allowed us to carry what we wanted (short of a .44 magnum) as long as we qualified with it. This meant that I had almost a free reign in deciding what my choice for a “personal protection tool” was going to be. I think that I even surprised myself at my choice – A Colt Government Mk. IV Series 80 (1983–1988) for on-duty use and the Colt Officer’s Model for off-duty use. This combination graced my hip for a year until a department edict forced a change to our carry choices for on-duty carry and a single-action pistol was not among those approved for carry. The Sig-Sauer P220; however, was and become my constant companion. Moving forward, the department (I did not say that the department was “forward thinking”) chose the S&W 686 and I found myself carrying and competing with this excellent revolver. Later, in the progression of things, the department moved to the Beretta 92 platform due to its greater (alleged) firepower and magazine capacity. After I left the department, the Glock 17 become the “carry-of-all-carries” because it was, after all, a Glock and Glock had hit its stride among law-enforcement professionals.
As the years come and go, so do the firearms that I carry for defense. The last battle for carry supremacy has been between the Bersa 45UC and the Glock G36. Perhaps not a battle to some as the G36 would win out easily. Since the Bersa 45UC has external controls similar to the 1911, perhaps some nostalgia, or just familiarity, played in my decision to carry one, as I was used to those controls.
Recently, I have once again considered the 1911 platform for self-defense carry – from enemies foreign and domestic. Am I being a bit nostalgic? There are those who know more and that have more experience in these matters than I that claim the higher capacity and more powerful .40 caliber platform is the “way to go”, after all. There are also those who claim that the 1911 platform will always fail under pressure in competition. I say that if I cannot hit what I am aiming at with that first and cold shot it does not matter what I carry. It is time for me to “go back home”.
When you leave home, it begins to change with out you immediately. Moreover, when you go back it will be different. You can never go back to the home you left. A point to which I agree, wholeheartedly. The 1911 (my “home” as far as handguns are concerned) platform has been refined to the point of excellence. There are advances in materials and workmanship, even in the least expensive of copies that defy explanation and why the 1911 is still around and revered by the shooting community. For me, home has never been better and I am looking forward to returning.
As a footnote, and if you like the 1911 platform (or even if you don’t like it), “By the Grace of God and Old Slabsides” is a short article worth reading.