Details on purchasing an M1911 pistol through the Civilian Marksmanship Program

In last week’s print column, I mentioned that the Civilian Marksmanship Program plans to sell the U.S. Army’s stockpile of vintage 1911 .45 ACP pistols. I learned about the opportunity to buy one of these historic firearms during my recent trip to the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas. Congress approved the sales of the firearms through the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act last November.

Sales have not started yet, and readers interested in learning more about the transfer of these powerful handguns to the public can click here. I signed up for the email sales updates that CMP offers, and per the email notices and CMP website, it appears that public interest in these 1911s has been extremely high.

For background, the M1911 served as the standard-issue sidearm for U.S. armed forces from 1911 to 1986. If you packed a sidearm in World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, you probably carried a 1911. In the mid-1980s, the 9mm Beretta M9 replaced it, and incidentally, last year the U.S. Army announced it would replace the M9 with the highly modular Sig Sauer P320.

A federally chartered 501(c)(3) corporation, CMP has rigid guidelines for selling firearms to strictly American citizens, so expect some thorough paperwork to pull off this purchase. Among the requirements, potential purchasers must be over age 18 and provide several documents, including proof of U.S. Citizenship, proof of membership in a CMP-affiliated club, and proof of participation in a marksmanship activity. Plan on a NICS background check, too.

Via CMP in the mid- to late 1980s, my dad purchased an M1 Garand .30 rifle that we periodically shoot to this day. American soldiers and marines carried the M1 across Europe and the Pacific theatre in World War II and during Korea. Going through the process of buying that rifle with my dad required us to join a local shooting club and participate in a sanctioned shoot. Those parameters still apply, though it appears these days that, under CMP’s general eligibility notes, my permit to carry satisfies the latter requirement.

As for joining a club, a quick search on the CMP website listed several dozen affiliated groups, including the Minnesota Rifle and Revolver Association, which I intend to join.

Several manufacturers built these 1911s, many that likely saw serious field service and have been stored in crates for years. Bottom line, quality and condition probably will vary. CMP says they’ll price the 1911s at fair market rate.

Check out this fine piece from for additional information. The writer points out that no matter what the condition of these 1911s, “the gun will be an actual real-deal ‘Government Issue 1911’ which is a timeless aesthetic that has proved to be popular with a host of gun makers over the past century and never goes out of style.”

Sounds like a piece of history I’d like to own.

Categories: Firearms, Rob Drieslein

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