New bill allows civilians to buy old WWII-era U.S. Army handguns

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New bill allows civilians to buy old WWII-era U.S. Army handguns

  • Story Highlights
  • The U.S. Army and CMP will sell 100,000 old pistols
  • These pistols have been in Army storage since 1945
  • The guns are M1911 .45 carried by soldiers as side arms

Congress will allow the transfer of old U.S. Army pistols to the Civilian Marksmanship Program as a part of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. 

The 2016 NDAA allowed the release of 10,000 M1911 .45 caliber pistols to be released via a pilot program, but providions in the bill didn’t mandate the transfer of the guns to the Civilian Marksmanship Program. The new bill, passed by Congress and expected to pass the Senate, would allow the CMP to sell the pistols to civilians.

The surplus pistols are the largest remaining stock of military World War II-era handguns according to Guns.com, which costs the Army 200,000 to store. Guns.com reports they’ve been out of contract production since 1945.

The 1911 is a historic pistol and one of the most popular models made today. Originally designed for the U.S. Military by Colt, the gun continues to be manufactured in various models by dozens of firearm manufacturers. 

The semi-automatic pistol, which fires a .45 caliber round, because the base Army side arm in 1911 before World War I. It was most famous as the gun used by Sergeant Alvin York in World War I at the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France, where York killed 25 German soldiers and captured 132 by himself, winning him the Congressional Medal of Honor. Some claim the pistol was carried and used by more Medal of Honor winners than any other U.S. military firearm.

York was portrayed by Gary Cooper in the Oscar winning movie Sgt. York in 1941, which won him Best Actor. 

The guns being sold by the Army and the CMP are expected to be well-worn, but still have considerable worth as a collector’s item, an inexpensive shooting gun. 

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 17: Attendees try out Sig Sauer 1911 model pistols at the Sig Sauer booth at the National Shooting Sports Foundation's 34th annual Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show at the Sands Expo and Convention Center January 17, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The SHOT Show is the largest annual gathering of shooting professionals with more than 1,600 exhibitors and 30,000 attendees expected. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) Ethan Miller/Getty Images
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