Extremely Rare WWI North American Arms #89 Model 1911 Pistol, 1918 C&R

Sold for $52,359.50

The 1911 and 1911-A1 pistols served the military of the United States from 1911 to 1985, through two World Wars and the Korean and Vietnam wars. They gained a reputation as a reliable handgun with plenty of stopping power, and are held in high regard by those who have used them. The design was the end-result of a series of developments by famous gun designer John Browning, starting with the Model 1900. The advances made by Browning were revolutionary at the time, and were so successful that they are considered commonplace today. Browning not only developed first a pivoting and then a tilting barrel to allow for a locked system, he developed the concept of “the slide”, which is now synonymous with semi-automatic handguns.

As would occur in the next World War, the demands of the U.S. war machine outstripped Colt’s ability to produce pistols and various other makers would supply Model 1911 pistols to the United States. These included Remington UMC and Springfield Armory, but there were also some companies who received contracts to produced pistols but never got around to delivering them. This is an interesting and exceptionally rare example which was produced in 1918 by North American Arms in Quebec, Canada. Due to wartime demand and complications with transportation, all new factory space or repurposing of factory space in New England had to be approved by the War Department, so the Ordnance Department began looking into other locations for production and settled on the Ross Rifle Company in Canada, though that company had recently closed. The North American Arms Company took over the factory and secured a contract to produce 500,000 1911 pistols. At the time, most of the Allied powers believed that the war would continue for at least a few more years. The German offensive Operation Michael had just been halted and the Second Battle of the Marne, the first successful Allied offensive, was just starting. No one would guess that the war would end less than 6 months later.

When the war ended, so did North American Arms Company’s contract with no deliveries actually made. In fact, only tool room prototypes and parts for approximately 100 pistols had been made by the time of the contract’s cancellation, making them one of the most rare wartime production, though not issued, 1911s. This example is one of those few North American Arms pistols. It has proper markings, or rather lack thereof, with only the manufacturer’s slide legend and serial markings on the slide, trigger and frame. The pistol is in Good condition, typical of most known examples. For the dedicated 1911 collector, this is a wonderful opportunity at an exceedingly rare and high condition piece.