Chris Kyle names Model 1911 one of the Top 10 in his book American Gun.

Review of portions of the book American Gun by Chris Kyle and William Doyle. Review by Browning November, 2014.

Chris Kyle is the heroic US Navy SEAL sniper whose incredible life story inspired the new Clint Eastwood movie “American Sniper.” What you may not know is that Kyle also worked with co-author William Doyle to produce an impressive tome on US firearm history entitled American Gun.

"The Leonardo Da Vinci of firearms design: John Moses Browning,”

In this historic book, Kyle named 10 of the most important firearms designs that have had the greatest impact on American history. Beginning with the Revolutionary-era American Long Rifle (also called the Kentucky Long Rifle) and progressing to the modern M16 series, Kyle outlines how each of these landmark firearms came to be, who their invertors were and how they left a lasting mark, bringing American to where she is today. The authors also fill the compelling narrative with colorful side-trips to famous and lesser-known events that shaped our history. One of Kyle’s favorite examples is the John. M. Browning-designed Model 1911 autoloading pistol.

“The M1911 is a true warrior’s tool,” wrote Kyle. “It figures into quite a number of war stories, and for its time and place was probably the greatest handgun ever made. We’re a hundred years from its birth, but it’s still going strong.”

Having its roots in the Philippine Insurrection following the Spanish American War, the Model 1911 and its potent .45 caliber cartridge were designed for the US Military’s pistol trials by none other than John M. Browning, the most innovative and prolific gun designer of that era.

It became the official sidearm of the US Army on March 29, 1911.

“The winning design was the brainchild of the Leonardo Da Vinci of firearms design: John Moses Browning,” continued Kyle. “The world of guns would be very different without Browning, and the M1911 was his baby. It became the official sidearm of the US Army on March 29, 1911. The US Navy and US Marine Corps followed suit, adopting it in 1913.”

Kyle also compels the reader with vivid stories about those who have used the Model 1911 to good effect. From the US Army’s 1916 Punitive Expedition chasing down Pancho Villa to Sgt. Alvin York’s heroics in the Argonne Forest during WWI, and from the US Marines’ determined defense of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal to the 82nd Airborne’s combat drop into Normandy in the pre-dawn hours of D-Day, the Model 1911 was (and remains) the best pistol to have on your side or on your hand when the spam hits the fan.

Kyle even recounts the March 1943 encounter that B-24 aviator Owen J. Baggett had with a Japanese Zero fighter pilot. After Baggett and his crew bailed out of their burning aircraft, the Zero pilot began to strafe the helpless men hanging in their chutes. Baggett played dead, waiting for the Zero pilot to line up for a final pass. The gritty US aviator then pulled his Model 1911, fired four rounds and killed his enemy tormentor, sending the Zero into a fatal dive.

Kyle also takes the reader through some of his own experiences with the Model 1911. “A…1911 took a frag for me in Fallujah back in 2004,” recounted Kyle. “The toughness (John Moses Browning) baked into the cake back a hundred years ago saved my hide. So I owe the man my gratitude – I might not have been able to walk after that if it weren’t for him.”

Today there are scores of companies offering the original John M. Browning-designed Model 1911 in numerous calibers and variations. Always the innovator, today the Browning Arms Company offers an 85% reduced scale version of the Model 1911 autoloader chambered in either 22LR or 380 ACP. True to the original design in almost every detail, they are perfect for teaching marksmanship, recreational shooting or personal protection.


1. Chris Kyle, an elite Navy SEAL, was the top sniper in US military history. His autobiography American Sniper became an instant best seller. True to his compassionate warrior creed, Kyle, along with his close friend Chad Littlefield died tragically in February 2013 as they tried to help a fellow veteran.

2. Published by William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins, Chris Kyle’s American Gun is available in hardcopy, e-book or audio book formats. Drop by your local bookseller or visit to purchase a copy of this great book.

3. “American Sniper,” the motion picture detailing the combat exploits of Chris Kyle, A Warners/Village Roadshow co-production, the film is directed by Academy award-winner Clint Eastwood. Visit to learn more about this motion picture.

Original exerpts Copyright, American Gun by Chris Kyle and William Doyle. This review, by Browning staff writer Scott Engen, if provided for informational purposes only and does not represent an endorsement of any kind, Copyright Browning, November 2014. 

Chris Kyle book with 1911 Pistol