TTAG is delighted to welcome Ashley Hlebinsky, the Robert W. Woodruff Curator at the Cody Firearms Museum. Ms. Hlebinsky will be giving TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia insight into the museum’s extensive collection of historical firearms.
A Winchester 1911 semi-automatic pistol? OK not quite. But Winchester came close to manufacturing the legendary Colt Model 1911 at the close of WWI.
The competition between Winchester and Colt was fierce. In the 1880s, they both came perilously close to playing in each other kiddy pools. Colt purchased the Burgess Lever Action Patent and Winchester hired former Colt designer William Mason to create a revolver that looked like the Peacemaker – gee I wonder why?
When that hit a boiling point, the companies decided to stick to what they do best. According to legend, they made a gentlemen’s agreement to stay out of each other’s markets. But of course everything changes when you’re in a world war.
While the drama behind the scenes at these companies would make great fodder for reality television, the real reality is that in a time of war, rivals come together to fill massive government contracts.
When the US got involved in World War I, the government ordered more than 2.5 million pistols. Colt couldn’t fulfill the contract on their own, so Remington and Winchester pitched in. Remington 1911s are well known. Winchesters not so much.
Colt shipped this cutaway Colt Model 1911 semi-automatic pistol in .45 ACP to Winchester in 1918 to demonstrate how the pistol was made and operated. The War ended and the contract was cancelled. However Winchester made an estimated 100 pistols before they pulled the plug.
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