'From The Ordnance Department': The NRA Model of 1911

posted on May 4, 2021

"Life members of the National Rifle Association and individual members of its affiliated rifle clubs may purchase from the Ordnance Department the new Army Model .45 Colt Automatic Pistol. Owing to the necessity of first equipping the regular troops in the National Guard only one hundred of the pistols are available at this time. ... [T]hose who desire to secure one of the new pistols may do so by forwarding their application, as provided by law, through the governor of the state and a remittance of $13.50.”

Those words are from the Aug. 8, 1912, Arms & The Man. Qualified NRA Life members were allowed to purchase M1911s directly from the Director of Civilian Marksmanship, although the price rose to $16.04. These guns bore full military markings, but they had “N.R.A.” stamped on their frames to show they were not stolen government property.

This gun, No. 107419, was made by Springfield Armory in late 1914 and purchased by NRA Life member James O. Adams. It is on display at NRA’s National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Va., and you can learn more by going to nramuseum.org.

In the years leading up to the United States' entry into World War I, NRA members were eligible to purchase a number of arms through the ordnance department. Model of 1903 Springfield rifles were available and were stamped "N.R.A." as well to avoid confusion with government-issue rifles.

Surplus stocks of military arms were also available for purchase through the ordnance department, including Krag-Jorgensen rifles and Trapdoor Springfields. Civilian shooters could also purchase ammunition, spare parts and accessories at the time, too.


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