John Browning’s design of the Colt Model 1905, M1905 or Military Model, Pistol brings us one step closer to the mega popular 1911. The M1905 was Browning’s first pistol designed to use the .45 ACP, making it the predecessor to the 1911. With a quick glance at the Colt Model 1905 you may see similarities to the 1911, but upon closer examination you will be able to pick out quite a few differences.
The Colt Model 1905 Slide:
-Starting with the M1905’s slide you will notice it has a uniform height from the muzzle back to the hammer, whereas the 1911’s slide descends down towards the lower frame and out towards the muzzle.
-There is also a noticeable difference in the location of the ejection port. The M1905 ejection port works horizontally, while the 1911 is more vertical.
-Continuing with the ejection port, the M1905 uses an external extractor where as the 1911 has only acquired an external extractor in later versions.
-You will also notice that the M1911 uses a barrel bushing. Instead of needing a bushing, the Colt Model 1905 uses a very interesting barrel feature.
The Colt Model 1905 Barrel and Recoil Operation:
-The M1905 and M1911 both use a short recoil operation where the slide and barrel move back together a few millimeters before the barrel disengages from the slide. It is the short recoil operation of the M1905 that exposes the barrel’s interesting feature. Unlike the single swinging link on the breech of the M1911’s barrel, the M1905 uses a link at the breech end of the barrel and another at the muzzle end of the barrel. Instead of the short recoil action we have become accustomed to in handguns like the 1911 and Glock where the muzzle rises, the Colt Model 1905’s barrel remains parallel. If you closely inspect the patent drawings below you will see that parallel motion of the barrel.
-Since this was John Browning’s first endeavor into the realm of the .45 ACP he had to design a locking lug that would handle the increased power. To do this the Colt Model 1905 utilized three locking lugs on the barrel that lock into the frame as the barrel and slide recoil. If John Browning did not use the locking lug design the M1905 would have seen continued and catastrophic failure of the two barrel links.
The Colt Model 1905 Frame:
-As we just discussed, the M1905’s frame features three cut outs that match up with the barrel’s locking lugs.
-As the recoil action continues, after the final round, the slide stop is engaged. The slide stop on the Model 1905 is relatively small and only performs that action. On the other hand, the slide stop on the 1911 takes on an additional role as the connection point of the barrel link.
-Moving away from the action of the M1905 you will notice that it does not have a mag release positioned next to the trigger guard like the 1911, instead the mag release is located at the base of the grip. It is a pivot release similar to that of an AK47 (I only use the AK as an example here because most everyone has seen it’s mag release).
-Two additional differences are the safeties, or lack thereof. The Colt Model 1905 did not have a rear grip safety, nor did it have the external thumb safety. Those safeties were added with the M1911 design.
-The final characteristic of note is the grip angle. Unfortunately the M1905 did not introduce the popular M1911 grip angle.
Even though the M1905 was missing quite a few of the M1911 features it is important to know the history of John Browning’s designs.
The M1905 was granted US Patent 808003 on December 19th, 1905. John Browning had applied for this Patent on May 25th, 1905.