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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.

1918 Colt Model 1911 Cutaway (courtesy Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, WY, USA; Gift of Olin Corporation, Winchester Arms Collection)

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.

For more information, visit centerofthewest.org

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9 Responses to Cody Firearms Museum: 1918 Colt Model 1911Cutaway

  1. 100 winchester 1911″s. How’d you like to find one of those in great grandpa’s footlocker in the attic?

    I get a kick out of cutaway guns, myself.

    • Right there with ya.
      A buddy of mine is the Glock rep for the northwest. Out of all the guns he packs to demo’s, I always go for the cutaway gun.

  2. I enjoy Ashley Hlebinsky’s contributions to “Gun Stories”, especially as Joe Mantegna has the perfect face for radio.

  3. That is pretty darn cool. If the cutaways are meant to show the operating parts in action, does that mean you could actually fire this gun, or is it for demonstration only?

    • No. With the barrel and breech face partly cut away, firing it would be catastrophic, if not suicidal.
      Provided the burrs were polished away, you could feed snap caps through it though…

      • Ah. I didn’t see that the barrel and breech were cut away, but it makes sense that they would be. And you definitely wouldn’t want to fire anything through it at that point, would you. 🙂

  4. I wouldn’t carry that firearm illegally in California. Even if I used to be a prison guard.

  5. I’m really liking these posts! If I get to Cody again this year, I’m definitely going to drop into the museum.

  6. The Cody Firearms Museum is incredible. Anyone vacationing in Yellowstone should plan on an excursion there.

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