The Civilian Marksmanship Program has always been a great way to get your hands on some vintage military rifles. Garands and M1 Carbines have been the staples, but the odd batch of 1903 Springfield bolt-actions pop up from time to time as well. It’s a program actually designed to put military style rifles in citizens’ hands for the purposes of making Americans better marksmen.
However, the program isn’t known for selling pistols, just rifles. That’s about to change.
The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act was approved Thursday to include a plan to transfer the U.S. Army’s remaining stock of .45 ACP M1911A1 pistols to the Civilian Marksmanship Program.
Added as an amendment while the NDAA was in debate in the House Armed Service Committee, it would speed up the transfer of potentially the largest remaining stock of military surplus World War II-era handguns in government hands to the public. The mammoth legislation, which outlines $700 billion in overall defense spending, cruised to final approval on a voice vote in the Senate and now heads to President Trump.
“I call upon the President to sign this important legislation into law—and in doing so acknowledge that this is the level of defense spending necessary to meet current threats, prepare for the challenges of an increasingly dangerous world, and keep faith with our men and women in uniform,” said U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the Armed Services Committee chairman.
On the handguns headed to the CMP, the bill instructs the Secretary of the Army to conduct a two-year pilot program that will transfer “not less than 8,000 surplus caliber .45 M1911/M1911A1 pistols” in 2018 with a cap of no more than 10,000 transferred per fiscal year. The program would then be reviewed to ensure the guns were sold by CMP in accordance with applicable federal laws and evaluate its cost to the Army.
A 2015 bill was passed that authorized the transfer of 1911 during the Obama Administration, though none were actually transferred. This bill, however, sets a minimum for transfer, so it should take place this time around.
It’ll be interesting to see what the price point for these 1911s will be.
As it stands, CMP officials are eager to get their hands on these pistols so they can begin the process of inspecting and grading them, then introduce them for sale. At that point, they’ll know how much of what they have and be able to begin the work of putting these pistols into people’s hands.
I can’t speak for the gun community as a whole, but I’ve noticed a great deal of excitement for these pistols from my social circle, and I don’t actually associate with that many who consider themselves collectors. They want these pistols as shooters, and I’m right there with them. I’m not even a particular 1911 fan, but one that’s potentially seen service with this country, keeping our beloved nation free? Yes, please!
And even if it hasn’t, so what? The 1911 is a venerable design that is still popular over a century after its introduction, and for a good reason. Getting some from Uncle Sam that they no longer use? That’s a heck of a way to pick one up.
The fact that it’ll also mean our tax dollars don’t go toward storing these anymore? Bonus.