Tag Archives: Office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship

Trick or Treat: CMP Just Extended 1911 Lottery Round 3

I was lucky enough last year, after a four-month wait (and six years of writing about it), to get in on the 2nd Round of CMP M1911 lottery guns– and I love my gun!

The M1911A1 has a Colt GI Military frame, SN 904594, of 1943 production with GHD inspector’s stamp (left) complete with a dummy mark (!) and ordnance wheel/US Property/M1911A1 US Army stamps on the right.

Rather than the original slide, it has a “hard” GI replacement slide with FSN (Federal Stock Number) #7790314 M (magnaflux inspection) TZ (IMI Israeli, who supplied such slides under contract to the U.S.) with a minty chrome-lined barrel marked with FSN #7791193 91. The plastic grips have “24” rack number.

A FOIA shows that it was still in circulation with a unit somewhere until 2010 when it was sent to AAD for a decade of storage prior to being sent to CMP

Well, the CMP just extended the 3rd round for the next batch of 10,000 guns.

It had been set to accept packets postmarked in September but now it looks like the new cutoff date is October 31, 2022.

So if you haven’t gotten yours in yet and missed out on the first two rounds, now is your chance.

Background on the CMP M1911 Program

One of the biggest boondoggles has been the Army’s repeated attempt at getting rid of its M1911 .45 ACP pistols. With over 2 million made, the classic “Government Issue” pistol was the staple of American fighting men in both world wars as well as Korea and Vietnam. The Army, after trying and failing in the 1950s and 60s to replace the old warhorse with a more compact 9mm that held more ammunition, finally managed to pull it off in 1985 with the adoption of the M9 Beretta. By then, even the newest of the M1911s in stock had been manufactured and delivered in 1945, making them downright elderly. Nonetheless, the military still used the single-action .45 throughout the Cold War and into the Global War on Terror, as the gun remained much-loved by commando types– Special Forces A-teams were still carrying it in Afghanistan post-9/11.

However, even SOCOM eventually put the old M1911 out to pasture, replaced by easier-to-maintain Glocks and SIGs. This left the Army in 2016 with about 100,000 guns still left in storage at Anniston Army Depot, with a cost of about $1.5 million a year to keep clean and dry. This led to a push from the Congressman who represented the Anniston area to donate the guns to CMP for sale and, by 2018, Congress had approved the transfer at a rate of 10,000 pistols per year provided the organization carefully secured the guns (including building a $700,000 handgun vault) and meticulously managed how they were sold– more on the latter in a minute.

This led to a lottery system that the CMP has used since late 2018 to sell the M1911s portioned out to the organization by the Army. The process is simple, with the applicant filling out an eight-page packet similar to that for an M1 Garand and mailing it to their Anniston office.

Once approved, the CMP will email the applicant a number randomly assigned in the current year’s drawing and then the fun begins with about 800 or so pistols shipped out each month.

When the lucky applicant’s number comes up, they will get a call from a usually very chipper young woman with the CMP and be told what grades are available at the time, ranging from Rack grade ($1,050) to Field grade ($1,150) to Service grade ($1,250) of which all will be functional, historic guns. There is also a Range grade for $1,100 that has been modified– usually by Army unit armorers while in service– to contain a lot of commercial aftermarket parts. Like the Garands sold through CMP, the M1911s will typically have been rebuilt a time or two either by unit armorers or Army arsenals since 1945 and usually will have mix-matched parts, for instance with a Colt-marked slide, Ithaca barrel, and Remington frame.

During that call, you can ask for a particular manufacturer (Colt, Ithaca, etc.) and may get lucky, if they have it in stock. Then, after paying, it will arrive at your FFL in a matter of days, complete with a single magazine and a reprint of the Army field manual on the gun, often all inside a very nice CMP-branded Pelican case.

A few things to be aware of is that, unlike the M1 Garand program, CMP is required to ship the M1911s to an FFL, so the transaction is much like buying an out-of-state gun from Gunbroker, Armslist, or Guns.com in that respect. Further, as the packet is only entered after the CMP does a NICS background check on the buyer, at least two such checks are done. This is part of the extra scrutiny that the Army wanted CMP to agree to before sending over the pistols.

There have been two rounds of lotteries done thus far, with a bit over 20,000 guns sold, and CMP just recently completed the enrollment period for the third round at the end of September 2022. It is likely the fourth round will occur sometime in late 2023, so stay tuned for that.

Is the price that CMP sets a lot of money for an M1911? Not if you want a legit Army surplus gun it isn’t as such pieces often resell for twice that much. If you want just an inexpensive M1911 GI pistol to bang around at the range, you may be better off with an imported clone such as a Turkish-made Tisas or Philippine-made Rock Island, either of which can typically be had for around $450-$500 but don’t have any history attached.

Post-9/11 M1911s Downrange

Other than a couple of heirlooms that are steeped in family history, the most cherished firearm in my collection is the Colt M1911A1 mixmaster that I received through the Civilian Marksmanship Program via the “Army’s attic” at Anniston Army Depot.

I just refer to it as “No.24” for obvious reasons. Gotta love the 19-year old PFC that probably put the dummy mark on it…

So far about 20,000 of these veteran pistols have been transferred to the CMP over the past few years from the Army’s stockpile of about 100K held in long-term arsenal storage at Anniston. The guns, remnants of more than two million produced for the Army between 1912 and 1945, were withdrawn from front-line duty in the mid-1980s, replaced by the M9 Beretta.

However, to be clear, some of these guns were very much in recent 21st-century martial service.

Retired Green Beret Jeff Gurwitch covers the “re-adoption” of the M1911A1 by U.S. Special Forces after 9/11 in the below very interesting video. The half-hour piece covers the timeline, how it was employed, accessories, and its performance in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meet No. 24

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but back in 2015, I was one of the first people in gun media– or any media for that matter– to cover the story of Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers’s effort to include an amendment to the NDAA while the Pentagon spending policy bill was in the House Armed Service Committee. Rogers, who represented the district of Northern Alabama that included the Annison Army Depot and CMP’s headquarters operations, found out that the Army had 100,000 surplus World War II-era M1911s in long-term storage at a cost of $200,000 per year, or about $2 per gun.

The amendment: save Uncle Sam the cash by transferring the guns to the CMP for sale to qualified members of the public, with the funds generated used to support worthwhile marksmanship projects ranging from JROTC to 4H and the National Matches.

I continued to cover the story, which grew legs and captured the imagination of– no joke– millions according to the analytics. Over the course of the next half-decade, I would file at least a dozen updates for a couple different publications. In 2017, after an initial batch had been greenlighted for transfer by the Obama administration (!) on a visit to the “Army’s attic” the Army Museum Support Center at Anniston Army Depot, I was shown crates packed and filled with M1911s pulled from the military’s museum stocks that were in excess of the service’s needs, pending shipment to the CMP once the handgun program got underway.

The thing is, 19,000 people got excited enough about the first round of M1911 sales from CMP and submitted packets for the first 8,000 guns transferred. With that, I felt I had little to no chance of getting one for myself, so I did not wade into the deep waters of trying to get one of these old warhorses through the program.

C’est la vie, right?

However, as CMP announced their Round 2 of the M1911 program earlier this year, I cautiously allowed myself to get optimistic that, perhaps, my chance had come as the really rabid collectors had already shot their bolt– CMP only allows an applicant to get one of these pistols– in the initial go-round.

So I spent a day getting my packet together, sent it in during the open window (January 4 to March 4, 2021), and sat back to wait. On 6 April, I got an email saying I had a randomly generated number (20581) and found out that the current batch of orders was going to start at 20,000.

Nice.

Then, on 20 April, I got the call. All three grades (Service, Field, Rack) were available, so I selected Service– the best– and asked politely for a Colt.

The very next day (after a mandatory two NICS checks!) I walked away from my FFL with this:

The M1911A1 has a Colt GI Military frame, SN 904594, of 1943 production with GHD inspector’s stamp (left) complete with a dummy mark (!) and ordnance wheel/US Property/M1911A1 US Army stamps on the right.

Rather than the original slide, it has a “hard” GI replacement slide with FSN (Federal Stock Number) #7790314 M (magnaflux inspection) TZ (IMI Israeli, who supplied such slides under contract to the U.S.) with a minty chrome-lined barrel marked with FSN #7791193 91. The plastic grips have “24” rack number.

Although I could find no arsenal rebuild stamps, I am theorizing that the gun was reworked at Anniston late in its life, probably in the 1980s, then put back in storage.

I’m totally happy. It was worth the wait.

The 7791193 series barrels have a good reputation for accuracy. I’ll let you know…

Whistling up 90K M1 Garands

CAMP AGUINALDO, Philippines - Joint Armed Forces of Philippines and U.S. team conducting M1 Inventory, 2017

CAMP AGUINALDO, Philippines – Joint Armed Forces of Philippines and U.S. team conducting M1 Inventory, 2017

The backstory on how six divisions worth of M1 Garands got repatriated from the Phillipines, where they have seen hard service since the 1950s in some cases, back to the U.S. to be sold through CMP in Anniston. Contrary to what a lot of people think, CMP actually had to spend a small fortune to get these vintage weapons back CONUS.

“It goes almost without saying that accurately accounting for and transporting approximately 90,000 small arms from the other side of the globe is challenging under any circumstances. Throw in termite infestation, monsoon season, and asbestos contamination, and you will have a recipe for disaster.”

More here.

Language added to NDAA to speed up 1911 transfers to CMP

An Alabama Congressman has managed to pass an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act out of committee aimed at moving surplus Army pistols to the public.

In a statement from his office, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican that represents the Anniston area in Congress, announced his amendment to the NDAA has moved out of the House Armed Services Committee and is headed to the floor. The measure is designed to speed up the now two-year saga of transferring a stockpile of 100,000 surplus M1911 .45ACP handguns from Anniston Army Depot to the Civilian Marksmanship Program.

More in my column at Guns.com

Inside the CMP, and the word on M1s coming back from overseas and possible 1911s…

To see just what the non-profit has on the shelf, I visited the Civilian Marksmanship’s South operations in Anniston. Co-located near the Anniston Army Depot — which is actually in nearby Bynum — and stores much of the Army’s stockpile of guns and items not needed for current operations, the CMP has a series of warehouses dotting the rolling hills of the area.

Unfortunately, most of them are nearly empty.

While now-retired CMP boss Orest Michaels told me back in 2010 the organization had 125,000 M1 rifles on hand including complete rifles, stripped receivers, and welded drill rifles, the group is coy about just what the numbers are today after several years of brisk sales and surging interest in U.S. martial rifles.

As Jim Townsend, CMP’s business development officer, walked me through a tour of their largest warehouse, he swept his arms over a large expanse of empty floor space and said, “When I first started here, this whole side of the building was full of M1s.” Repurposed crates that once contained M1s returning from allies in Greece and Denmark now hold everything but.

Repurposed crates that once contained M1s returning from allies in Greece and Denmark now hold everything but.

Why keep the empty space?

Check out my column at Guns.com for the answer.

Disneyland for Shooters…

I recently had the opportunity to visit the immaculate ranges used by the Civilian Marksmanship Program to support public firearms training.

The CMP is a federally-chartered non-profit corporation tasked with promoting firearms safety training and target practice. It originated as the Office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship in 1903 under orders from Congress to improve the country’s marksmanship skills to minimize training in case of war.

Split off from the U.S. Army under the Clinton-administration in 1996, it still conducts training courses and holds shooting competitions and clinics nationwide but draws its primary source of funding through the sale of surplus firearms to qualifying members of the public which were donated to the organization by the Army.

With an eye to see just what all those M1 Garand sales have helped pay for, I visited the CMP’s Alabama operations to get a better idea about what they offer the public:

How about a covered 54-positon 600-yard range with targets at 100-200-600, all electronically scored with a monitor at your station…

15 different clays stands on golf-course quality grounds..

Olympic-quality 10m airgun ranges set up for 80 competitors at a time– also with electronic targets

It’s almost like they are into civilian marksmanship training or something…

More in my column at Guns.com.

Some 86,000 surplus M1s could be coming to CMP from the PI

This is my favorite work of Rafael Desoto. The Garand is great

The Civilian Marksmanship Program advises the Army could soon hand over a large stock of historically significant M1 rifles.

A post on an M1 Garand collectors group on Friday mentioned a group of loaned rifles coming in from the Philippines was being processed by the U.S. Army for shipment back to the states. Mark Johnson, CMP’s chief operating officer, confirmed that a large group of rifles may indeed be headed home and wind up in the organization’s hands.

”There are 86,000 or so M1’s hopefully coming back to the Army,” said Johnson. “We hope to see them in the future.”

More in my column at Guns.com

The Army’s surplus gun pipeline may be fixing to run dry

m1_lede

Last week the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the 2017 defense authorization act– but hidden inside its pages is a section that could destroy the military’s current stock of surplus rifles and pistols.

The Senate’s version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act authorizes some $602 billion in spending and despite President Obama’s threat to veto the annual policy measure over issues including a ban on closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison, saw widespread support, passing 85-13 last Tuesday.

While many have noted the measure includes such items as requiring females to register for the draft beginning in 2018, others have been lost in the almost kafkaesque layers of the bill.

In short, within 90 days of the bill becoming law, the Army would transfer almost all of the surplus guns it held at Anniston to Rock Island for meltdown. The only exceptions would be for up to 2,000 M1911 pistols and 2,000 M14 rifles that could be donated to military museums for preservation.

This could mean the death knell for surplus guns for CMP, the 1033 Program which supports some 8,000 local police agencies, and the Ceremonial Rifle Program which provides guns for veterans’ groups such as the VFW and DAV.

More in my column at Guns.com

CMP may get into the 1911 business

remingtn 1911 with knuckleduster1918
An add-on to the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act that passed committee includes a plan to transfer the U.S. Army’s remaining stock of .45 ACP 1911A1 pistols to the Civilian Marksmanship Program.

Added as an amendment by Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, while the NDAA was in debate in the House Armed Service Committee, it could see potentially the largest remaining stock of military surplus World War II-era handguns in government hands sold to the public.

The lawmaker disclosed that the military currently spends about $2 per year to store 100,000 Model 1911s that are surplus to the Army’s needs. While 8,300 have been sold or disposed of in recent years – largely through the controversial Department of Defense’s 1033 Program, which offers eligible law enforcement agencies up to one pistol per full-time officer – the guns still on hand have in many cases been stored since the 1980s when they were withdrawn from service in favor of the then-new Beretta 92F (M9).

More in my column at Guns.com