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The U.S. Army adopted John Moses Browning’s 1911 design one hundred years ago yesterday. Mazel Tov! While we can debate the 1911’s modern day utility, there’s no denying Browning’s genius or his gun’s combat efficacy. Not to put too fine a point on it, contemplating the scope and brilliance of Browning’s work reveals many of today’s gun designers as nanos gigantium humeris insidentes (dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants). But not all. As Browning’s dead and, therefore, relatively insensible to accolades, I’d like to take this opportunity to praise a living gunsmith: Karl Lippard. No matter what you think about Lippard’s 400-yard accuracy claim for his custom 1911 A2 NCO (Martin’s still on the case), Karl is the living embodiment of Browning’s passion and craftsmanship. More than that . . .

Lippard’s a true patriot, dedicated to the safety of his Marines, and other American military personnel. Not only has Karl served this country in combat, but he never forgets whom his weapons are for, and what they must do. Here’s an excerpt from a recent email with my name in the CC bar:

I will check the front line Marines and see if they want some damaged NosePieces that are functional for free and put them on the line. Maybe I can save a life with those I can’t sell……

General’s we have some cosmetic damaged NosePiece Marine .45 Compensators that are unlikely to be repairable for commercial sale. Not many, up to 25. George and Bill can you ping SEALS and see if they need any on the line?

Marines if you have someone on the line that needs these for their .45’s let’s get them there. A few external dings doesn’t hurt anything and trust me I don’t shoot a .45 without this on my gun. A man is a fool to go house to house or offensive without one. So here is a chance get some on the line for nothing.

C.J. your people need anything let me know but my preference is I want them for those in harms way. The tip of the sword. These will save a life, and I WANT that life back.

Let me know but let’s also be clear. Any man on the line who cannot afford something of mine that will save his life, ask me and it will be given to him if within my power to do so. Accept my token and my regards always.


Karl Lippard

Browning was one of the greatest gun designers ever born. Hats off to him. But let’s not forget that it’s what we do with JMB’s legacy, the inspiration that it provides, that most honors his achievements.




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  1. My hat is off to Mr. Lippard. Ignoring the activity swarming around the 400 yard accuracy claim and focusing on the letter above, all I can say is wow.. What a man.

    I’d love to get my grubby paws on a 1911 A2 NCO, but there are plenty much more deserving of what appears to be a FINE piece of engineering!

  2. Mr. Lippard is a patriot in my book. But I have a question on the compensators. Aside from the ability to instantly add porting without paying a gunsmith to ruin your slide, making your gun an inch or so less concealable, an ounce or so heavier, and requiring you to have some sort of tool for disassembly, exactly what does a compensator add to your pistol? Are there any real advantages, past the “looks cool” factor?

    • I don’t know anything about mr. Lippard’s design, but normally a compensator vents gas out of the top of the barrel, thereby forcing the barrel down like a little rocket. This compensates the muzzle flip, which makes it easier to reaquire your target.

  3. Since physics doesn’t change there is no debate on the 1911’s or any 45 caliber weapons utility. The 45 is the only handgun that virtually guarantees a one shot stop from almost any hit lethal or not.

    At the beginning of OEF I saw SOF guys email back home telling their fellow soldiers to bring a 45 caliber pistol to the fight. Just as in the Philippine Insurrection a 9mm round would not stop a determined adversary. The 1911 may not be the best 45 out there anymore (I still think it is) but you want to bring a 45 to the fight.

    • Since physics doesn’t change there is no debate on the 1911′s or any 45 caliber weapons utility. The 45 is the only handgun that virtually guarantees a one shot stop from almost any hit lethal or not.

      Not to flame, but the first sentence is true, the second is not.

      • Is your disagreement about the 1911 or any 45. The statement is about the caliber and not limited to the 1911. The lethality studies that underpin the military’s Joint Munitions Effectiveness Manual (JMEM) support the superiority of the 45 caliber round. The round causes more bleeding, physical shock and breaks bones. You get hit, you go down simple as that. Neither the 9mm or 40 caliber has that kind of effect.

        • In answer to your question, any .45

          It may be superior to other pistol rounds (debatable, but conceded for the purpose of this argument), but it is still a pistol round. There were guys in WWII hit with multiple 8mm mauser that stayed in the fight. There is no round smaller than .50 BMG that has first time, every time take down power. Even a .50 BMG shot to the hand will not put you down (right away), which is something I have heard from devotees of the .45 ACP. You might bleed to death, but that is no reason to stop fighting.

    • “The 45 is the only handgun that virtually guarantees a one shot stop from almost any hit lethal or not.” This could not be any more wrong–on many levels.

      • Agreed with the Rabbi! The .45 is an awesome round, but certainly will not guarantee a “one stop shot”, even on a center mass shot.

  4. With all due respect to Mr. Browning, if the 1911’s slide stop pin is depressed when the gun is fired, the gun can jam. That fact is mentioned in the original manual on the 1911, and others which were published up until the 1940’s. It was mentioned along with a caution against using the long known method of using the index finger to aim the gun, and the middle finger to pull the trigger. As such, that optional and effective method of CQB shooting, was not available to 1911 users during its 70+ year reign as the only and standard issue sidearm of US forces.

    Here is a link you can use to get a free copy of the original manual on the 1911: Some other articles on the 1911 which discuss its design shortcoming, and also its merits are on my site. I know that this is a VERY TOUCHY subject to 1911 fans, but veritas est veritas.

    As to one shot stops, I suggest one read the paper on it published in the FBI’s 2004 Law Enforcement Bulletin

    And also the FBI’s paper on handgun wounding effectiveness: and

  5. Karl takes great pride in his work and he really cares about our soldiers safety. I will be adding one of these beautiful 1911’s to my collection in the near future.

    • Joe, a question just popped into my mind. What is the farthest you have ever tried to take one of your Model 500s out to? I suppose that those could have some serious legs on them.

  6. The 1911 is the Model-T of guns. It’s a tired design that needs an updating to bring it into this century. If KL can do that, then he’s da man. But I remain unconvinced, if not downright skeptical. As far as his patritism is concerned, that is praiseworthy even though so many Americans regard love of country as something that provokes laughter.

  7. Read the FBI study all the way to the end and you will find, “Given desirable and reliable penetration, the only way to increase bullet effectiveness is to increase the severity of the wound by increasing the size of hole made by the bullet. Any bullet which will not penetrate through vital organs from less than optimal angles is not acceptable. Of those that will penetrate, the edge is always with the bigger bullet.”

    Lethality in a gunfight is always a combination of factors, but bullet size does make a difference.

    I have shot a couple of million rounds through different 1911’s and stood next to others shooting quite a few million more, and, quite frankly, never seen nor heard of a 1911′s slide stop pin being depressed when the gun was being fired, causing the gun to jam. The only way that might happen is to use this point shooting method, using the index finger along the slid of the gun and pulling the trigger with the middle finger. But if you want to use that method with a 1911, simply shorten the slide stop pin and counter sink the frame. Bill Wilson does that to give you the option to use the Crimson Trace laser grips.

    I have Glocks, XDs, and Sigs in 9mm, .40, and .45. But the gun I most carry is a Wilson Sentinel in .45. The problem with a 1911 is not the gun, it’s that the gun must have an operator that has practiced enough that taking off the thumb safety is an automatic part of drawing the gun. I want to give myself every edge in a gunfight. Shot placement is probably the most critical factor, but bigger bullets do matter.

    • I think placement is vastly more important than any other factor, but I decided to do some math and I must admit the results surprised me a bit.

      Diameters come from wiki, only using two significant digits, including pi.

      .355=9.02 actual 9mm = 4.51(2)*3.14 = 63.87 mm(2)

      .40= 10.16mm/2 = 5.08(2)*3.14 = 81.03 mm(2)

      .45 ACP = 11.45 mm = 5.73mm(2)*3.14 =103.10 mm(2)

      On the margin, ceteris paribus, those 20-40 mm(2) could make a big difference.

      • As much as I carry a .45, I’d still take (or give!) a 9mm hole in the chest/neck/head to a .45″ hole to the foot!

  8. John Browning was an absolute genius. It’s hard to comprehend the brilliance and creativity that can put on PAPER, not a computer, designs for firearms in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s that are still used today. Can you imagine if we still drove Ford Model T’s? Arms Post has been working on a Tribute Page to John Browning. Right now we have a good number of his Patent drawing on our History and Patent Forum, as well as a Facebook page we set up in tribute to him.

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