Thanks to the efforts of NRA-ILA and the hard work of pro-gun members of the House and Senate, the Civilian Marksmanship Program has been authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to sell up to 10,000 surplus M1911/M1911A1 .45 ACP pistols in the first year of a pilot program. The pistols will come from U.S. Army stocks—guns not needed by the Army—held in Anniston, Ala. Thankfully, NRA-backed legislation prevents the destruction of such guns.
Just in case you think handguns are outside the CMP’s scope, remember the National Pistol Matches? They include the CMP matches at Camp Perry, and there are CMP pistol matches held all over the country. And they are fired with .22s, center-fire pistols … and .45s. Also, it is through CMP matches that pistol shooters can earn the Distinguished Marksman badge
While the NDAA for fiscal year 2016 was signed into law on Nov. 25, 2015, the details on selling CMP 1911s need to be worked out between the CMP’s CEO Mark Johnson and the Department of the Army. But one thing is for sure, Section 1087 of the NDAA adds M1911/M1911-A1 pistols to the .30-cal. and .22-cal. rifles the CMP is currently authorized to sell. And yes, you can still buy M1 Garands straight from the CMP, and you can read how it works here.
The NDAA directs the CMP to acquire an FFL, and the GCA requires qualified purchasers to only obtain handguns from FFLs in their state of residence. Again, the details on how this will work have not been established.
Decades ago, the CMP was allowed to sell M1911 pistols to qualified NRA Life members—NRA has no records on this, so don’t ask—and this new opportunity for qualified Americans to buy M1911A1s through the CMP has nothing to do with NRA. (Although the accompanying image from the National Firearms Museum of a U.S. Springfield Armory-made M1911 with “N.R.A.” stamped on it is pretty cool).
Currently, in order to qualify to buy a rifle or parts through the CMP, you must:
- Be 18 years of age and prove U.S. citizenship
- Be a member of a CMP-affiliated club or organization (NRA membership does not count) but being a member of an NRA-affiliated state association usually does. Also, one can join the CMP-affiliated Garand Collector's Association.
- Proof of Marksmanship or other firearms activity, which can include service in the U.S. Military, attending a CMP clinic, participation in match, being an instructor or having a CCW or Hunter Safety certificate that included live firing.
- Be eligible to legally purchase a firearm. For rifles, the age is 18, but for handguns the age is 21.
- Comply with state and local laws. State and local laws are not superseded in places that require registration or an FOID card.
The U.S. military last contracted for U.S. M1911-A1 pistols in 1945 (with the exception of guns such as the Marine Corps M45A1 CQB), and the Beretta M9 has been the standard service pistol since 1985. No details are available as to the specific guns that will be transferred to CMP, but they are at a minimum 70 years old and already on the Curio & Relics list. If CMP is true to form, the desirable early true M1911s, Singers and other rare guns will be offered at a premium to fund the CMP’s marksmanship training mission.