Auto-Ordnance is no stranger to historic firearms. Part of the Kahr Firearms Group, you probably know the Auto-Ordnance name because it manufacturers world-class Tommy Guns. But the company also creates quality 1911s, and it recently unveiled a line of special-edition 1911s that should interest all the history buffs out there. Models include a casehardened 1911 with “U.S.” grips as well as Fly Girls, Victory Girls and Squadron variants. I recently got my hands on the Auto-Ordnance Squadron for testing at the Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous in Montana.

The Auto-Ordnance Squadron features striking attention to detail. You’ll find custom-engraved panel lines and small dimples that look like rivets along the slide and frame, giving the gun a pieced-together appearance like a World War II fighter plane. The detailing on the checkered wooden grips makes them look nearly identical to those found on original M1911A1 pistols carried by U.S. soldiers. You’ll also find vertical rear serrations and the U.S. Army Air Corps insignia on both sides of the frame.

But the most noticeable touch would have to be the shark Cerakoted onto the slide near the muzzle, like popular “nose art” of the era. Nose art was originally started by the Italians and Germans to help distinguish friend from foe in flight, and the U.S. Army Air Corps adopted the idea. But, in true red-blooded American fashion, the squadrons took unique liberties, bending the rules and muddling the original intention to turn this once-practical method into something that made each squadron stand out in its own way, and it became a symbol of unit pride.

Auto-Ordnance Squadron 1911 On the Range

Not only is this particular 1911 attractive—and a worthy nod to the sacrifice and bravery of our pilots—but it also functions with the quality you’d expect from all Kahr/Auto-Ordnance 1911s. The .45 ACP recoil is minimal due to the pistol’s weight, with very little muzzle rise. This makes it easy to be accurate and consistent on the range.

Of course, I didn’t get enough time behind the gun to measure its reliability, but 1911s are known for being workhorses, and I personally believe every gun owner and collector should have at least one in their arsenal. Firing Auto-Ordnance’s Squadron Special Edition feels as if you’re stepping back in time or partaking in WWII. The weight, handling and iron sights feel old school—and that’s because they are! This why the 1911 is so appealing in the first place. So take the plunge and grab a piece of history. The Squadron 1911 isn’t too fancy or over the top—just quality, American-made engineering.

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Auto-Ordnance Squadron 1911 Specifications

  • Caliber: .45 ACP
  • Barrel: 5 inches
  • OA Length: 8.5 inches
  • Weight: 39 ounces (empty)
  • Grips: Checkered wood
  • Sights: Blade front, adjustable rear
  • Action: SA
  • Finish: Cerakote
  • Capacity: 7+1
  • MSRP: $1,106

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