‘Starfield’ Is Another Reminder that the M1911 Pistol Is Eternal

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September 8, 2023
M1911 pistol

The most realistic part of “Starfield,” the epically massive interstellar role-playing game newly released by video-game publisher Bethesda Softworks, may just be the presence of a sidearm carried (and adored) by real-life U.S. troops for more than a century: the M1911 pistol.

While “Starfield” takes place nearly 300 years in the future and requires players to gear up with all manner of futuristic technology (like laser weapons) to explore more than 1,000 unique planets, some contemporary firearms live on as “Old Earth” weapons, most notably the M1911 as the “Old Earth Pistol” and the ever-reliable AK-47 as the “Old Earth Assault Rifle.”

The M1911 is known as the Old Earth Pistol in the ‘Starfield’ role-playing video game. (Courtesy of attackofthefanboy.com)

For “Starfield” players eager to snag their very own in-game M1911, the Old Earth Pistol can be looted from crates and fallen adversaries and purchased at any of the game’s various weapons stores like, for example, Laredo Firearms and Rowland Arms in Akila City on Akila in the Cheyenne system. But for U.S. service members and veterans getting their feet wet in “Starfield,” the inclusion of the M1911 may be less tactical asset and more warm, welcome surprise, given the sidearm’s longevity in the ranks of the U.S. armed forces.

Developed by prolific firearms inventor John Moses Browning and chambered in .45 ACP, the semi-automatic single-action 1911 was adopted by the U.S. Army to replace the Colt M1892 revolver in response to the latter’s ineffectiveness during the Philippine-American War at the turn of the century, according to The National Interest. The pistol immediately proved a more-than-adequate sidearm during World War I; indeed, famed Sgt. Alvin York would employ one to single-handedly defeat six German soldiers who charged him with bayonets, a gunfight that would earn him the Medal of Honor.

Beloved for its ergonomics and stopping power, the 1911 quickly became the sidearm of choice across the U.S. armed forces, with the American defense industrial base cranking out nearly 2.9 million M1911 and modified M1911A1 pistols through military contracts during the weapon’s service life. And the firearm’s popularity extended outside the U.S. military, with anti-Axis allies and guerrilla forces around the world receiving M1911s through the WWII-era Lend-Lease program, according to The National Interest.

The U.S. military eventually adopted the Beretta M9 as its new service pistol in 1985, but use of the M1911 has persisted in certain quarters of the armed forces, particularly among U.S. special operations forces. In 2012, Colt Defense won a Marine Corps contract to provide up to 12,000 so-called M45A1 Close Quarter Battle Pistols based on the company’s M1911A1 for use by U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) and certain Force Recon elements within special operations-capable Marine Expeditionary Units. The then-commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, former special operator Army Gen. Scott Miller, was even spotted rocking a M1911A1 during a meeting with Afghan officials as recently as 2019.

An M45A1 pistol is laid out on top of a Force Reconnaissance Marine’s loadout prior to a visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operation aboard the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), Philippine Sea
An M45A1 pistol is laid out on top of a Force Reconnaissance Marine’s loadout prior to a visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operation aboard the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), Philippine Sea, Feb. 2, 2022. (Lance Cpl. Cesar Ronaldo Alarcon/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

With more than a century spent in the hands of U.S. troops and a reputation for reliability and accuracy, it’s no wonder that the M1911 is still alive and kicking nearly 300 years in the fictional future of “Starfield.” After all, if the assault rifle in the “Halo” franchise still uses 7.62×51mm rounds, why can’t some mad gunsmith be out there in the fictional “Starfield” galaxy cranking out .45 ACP rounds in some ancient press somewhere?

Indeed, the presence of the pistol among the futuristic particle and laser weapons of the 24th century speaks to the game’s “NASA punk” aesthetic, eschewing the sleek cleanliness of holograms for future tech that feels cluttered, clunky and worn, more messy and wild “Star Wars” than utopian and technocratic “Star Trek.” It’s a design decision that feels so visceral and authentic that even the European Space Agency praised “Starfield” and its relationship to real-life space technology.

“There aren’t holograms everywhere. It’s got buttons. They’re tactile. You want to press ’em,” “Starfield” art director Istvan Pely told GQ of the “NASA punk” design logic he envisioned. “Don’t think of it as futuristic. Think of it as a period piece. These are things that happened.”

“Starfield” is currently available to play on XBox Series X/S consoles and Windows personal computers as of Sept. 6.

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