The U.S. Army is expected to transfer upward of 8,000 surplus M1911 pistols for civilian sale in fiscal 2018.
That's based on this year's National Defense Authorization Act, a massive defense policy bill recently approved by Congress and awaiting President Donald Trump's signature.
The legislation includes an entire section -- Sec. 1091, to be exact -- detailing how the iconic firearms can be transferred to the entity that oversees the Civilian Marksmanship Program, a government program that allows eligible civilians to purchase surplus military weapons.
The section is from an amendment introduced by Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican from Alabama, whose district includes the Anniston Army Depot and the Anniston regional office of the CMP.
Specifically, the bill would allow recently confirmed Army Secretary Mark Esper, previously the top lobbyist at defense contracting giant Raytheon Co., to transfer 8,000 or more .45-caliber M1911/M1911A1 pistols, spare parts and related accessories to the Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and Firearms Safety as part of a two-year pilot program.
The program would cap the number of transfers at 10,000 a year and also require the Army secretary to send an annual report to Congress on the number of pistols transferred, number of pistols sold and information on any crimes committed with the pistols.
For now, officials at CMP are sitting tight, according to a recent message on its website.
"We are waiting patiently and quietly to see how the NDAA 2018 turns out," Mark Johnson, CMP's chief operating officer, wrote in a note last month to customers. "All prescribed steps have been taken by CMP to fulfill the mandated requirements for receipt of the 1911s from the United States Army. CMP is in a constant state of readiness. The CMP has no further information at this time."
The .45 entered service in 1911 and was replaced in 1985 with the Beretta M9, which is now being replaced by Sig Sauer's P320 pistol as part of the Modular Handgun System, or MHS, program.
The Obama administration as part of the fiscal 2016 NDAA authorized transferring 10,000 .45s out of an estimated 100,000 remaining in the inventory, though the effort didn't result in any actual sales, according to an article this week on Guns.com.
The CMP is popular, with more than 5,000 shooting clubs around the country affiliated with the program, which offers for sale a variety of historic rifles, including the M1 Garand, M1903 Springfield, M1917 Enfield and M1 Carbine.
"Depending on type and model, manufacture dates range from the early 1900s for some M1903s to as late as 1990 for some .22 caliber rifles," according to its online catalogue. "Just as they vary in age, they also vary in condition and amount of use. Some appear to be new or barely used, while others show plenty of battle scars and character (dings and dents)."