While it dominates the various action pistol disciplines today, at one time the only thing the 1911 pistol was used for, other than military and police service, was serious bullseye target shooting – a sport better known as ‘paper punching’.
Competitors stand in the classic pose and fire ‘accurised’ 1911 pistols at bullseye targets at measured distances. These matches required the shooter to one-handedly fire his or her pistol and to get off a set number of rounds in a specified time. While those of us who are used to ‘run, gun and have fun’ matches might find this a bit boring, it requires the utmost in training, concentration, discipline and skill, and bullseye shooting produces some truly amazing groups.
From 1933, Colt offered a National Match pistol that was little more than a slightly tuned 1911A1 with an adjustable rear sight. In 1957, the introduction of the Gold Cup National Match pistol gave target shooters a 1911 with all the bells and whistles needed for the sport in an off-the-shelf, out-of-the-box factory pistol.
The very first custom 1911 pistols were, in fact, built solely for paper punching. Skilled gunsmiths, such as Jim Clark, Bob Chow and Al Dinan, specialised in making ‘Old Slabsides’ more accurate and reliable with better slide-to-frame fitting and trigger work, and installing adjustable sights.
While the majority of 1911s built by custom gunsmiths today are intended for action pistol competitions, there is still a devoted cadre of shooters who demand a traditionally-styled 1911 designed for the sole purpose of punching tight groups of holes in paper bullseye targets.
Read the full article in the May 2017 issue of Magnum.