U.S. martial M1911s were in production from 1912-1945 from companies as diverse as Ithaca, Remington-UMC, Singer, and US&S. (Photo: National Archives)
The Civilian Marksmanship Program is ready to offer to the public 8,000 vintage M1911 pistols transferred from the Army this year.
The government-chartered non-profit will begin accepting orders in a one-month window spanning between Sept. 4 and Oct. 4 only. Packets postmarked outside those dates will not be accepted. The day after the window closes, all of the qualifying names will be fed into a Random Number Generator and CMP staffers will start making calls. A similar random draw was used in part to sell a small quantity of M1 Carbines the group put up for grabs in 2016.
The seven-page packet, split between forms and instructions, requires a signed copy of an FFL for where the gun will be shipped. Other requirements include showing proof that the individual is an adult U.S. citizen legally able to possess firearms. There is also a mandate to prove membership in a CMP-affiliated organization and, for those under 60, proof of marksmanship-related activity. The latter can be satisfied with items such as a copy of a concealed carry permit, military service records or proof of participation in a shooting competition.
Applicants who get a call will be offered a choice from the grades that are available and will have five days to make payment if they choose a handgun. The guns will range from $850 rack grade to $950 field grade and $1,050 service grade, figures cited as market value. The guns are reportedly a mix between firearms transferred from the Army’s museum system and Defense Logistics Agency arsenal storage weapons that were rebuilt in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Very rare or unusual specimens will be sold through an online auction process rather than the order system.
As with everything else, the money goes back into the organization to help promote the shooting sports and marksmanship. This year alone, CMP awarded 151 college scholarships to students involved in JROTC, 4-H and other junior shooting club marksmanship activities.
To allow as many collectors interested to get their hands on the GI .45s as possible, sales will be limited to one pistol per person, per year. This is a substantial change from the eight per calendar year, per customer, limit recently set on M1 Garand rifle sales.
An additional batch of between 8,000 and 10,000 1911s is expected to be transferred from the Army, which has as many as 100,000 of the handguns in storage at the Anniston Army Depot, to the CMP in 2019. After that, lawmakers will have to approve further transfers. As part of the pending legislation authorizing the transfer and sale of the 1911s, the Army is required to inform Congress on the program’s activities during the two-year pilot program.
The move to have the group offer the iconic military pistols is the cumulation of a three-year legislative drive spearheaded by Republicans who felt the sales were a better alternative than storing the surplus weapons at a cost of $2 per gun, per year. The standard M1911 was largely replaced in military service after 1985 by the M9 Beretta, which in turn is being phased out as the new M17, produced by Sig Sauer, comes online.