1911: The classic homeland security pistol
By Massad Ayoob
In the trenches of WWI, for the first and the last time in American military history, it was determined that every single one of America’s troops needed to carry a .45 caliber handgun at the front. Though the “.45 automatic” was the first choice, the industry couldn’t make enough of them and both Colt and Smith & Wesson pressed their revolver lines into production for the classic Model 1917 double action revolvers. These used ingenious half-moon clips developed by S&W to hold three of the “rimless” .45 auto cartridges together for fast reloading of these “revolvers using autoloader ammo.” Not until the last quarter of the 20th century would shooters figure out that a full moon clip could hold six such cartridges at once. This allowed the fastest possible revolver reload…right about the time all the cops decided they wanted semiautomatic pistols, which were faster still to reload.