There’s a reason why the 1911 had such a long track record with the US armed forces. The pistol is easy to maintain, exquisitely simple in design, and known for it functional reliability. As far as sidearms go, the 1911 is a workhorse.
And that might explain why there are still 1911’s in service, more than a century after John Browning put the finishing touches on his masterpiece. The gun was replaced by the Beretta M9 in the 1980s, but some units still field the 105 year old design.
The video below is an extreme example of why some feel so much pride in the old gun. It works. It works under almost any condition. Even at -65°F. The video, made by the guys at Brass Fetcher, has a simplistic beauty to it.
Pay close attention to the hammer falling. When it strikes the pin, which stops the hammers forward travel, a sheet of ice in the exact shape of the hammer continues forward and smashes itself on the rear sight. It is beautiful to behold. If there is one moment in this video worth rewinding over and over, that is it.
The gun fires fines, too. That much is almost a given. There are no known conditions–hot or cold–in which a human could survive and the 1911 would fail. They run fine with too much oil. They’ll function completely dry.
This particular gun is a Remington R1 1911, one of the venerable old company’s new takes on the old design. It is a bit anachronistic, as it is not a full on replica of the original M1911, nor is it a replica of an M1911A2. But it has that historic flavor.
There are two parts to this reliability test. The first is the hammer falling (and striking the pin–which then moves forward and strikes the primer). This shows that the internal parts that transfer force from the trigger to the hammer, and then the hammer to the primer are all working.
The second part of this equation is the gun firing, and then chambering a second round, which it seems to do flawlessly. The slide travels rearward, and then returns, picking up the next round off the magazine. At these temperatures, that’s not a given, and is the true measure of reliability in an automatic.
Oddly enough, this video is labeled “SIG 45 Auto 200gr V-Crown JHP shooting at -65°F .” That’s the type of ammo, not the gun.