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A gun fit for a general.

Add the M15 pistol to your list of rar and wondrous things. At first glance, the General Officer Model 15 looks like any number of modified .45 automatics that have appeared in recent years. But this one's in a class by itself.

Only 1,004 of these stubby .45 autos were specially made. Today, they are mostly in the hands of U.S. Army generals (or their families). The General Officer M15 was produced on a one-time-only basis in 1973 and early '74 after being standardized for issue in 1972. M15 serial numbers run from G-O ("Oh," not zero) to GO-1004.

In the late 1960s, the Army began searching for a pistol to replace the aging .32 and .380 Colt Model "M" pocket pistols (Models 1903 and 1908 hammerless arms), which had seen decades of use by general officers.

M15 pistols were designed at Rodman Labs, Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, according to Paul Powell of the Arsenal's Public Affairs Office. Basically, they are modified M1911A1 National Match (NM) pistols but display a distinctive character.

The most obvious difference between M15 and NM pistols is that the M15's barrel is 3/4 inch shorter than the 5-inch NM barrel. Rear sights of General Officer Models are the high-profile, fixed type like the early (c. 1957) National Match .45 sights. M15 grip heels (mainspring housings) are deeply grooved unlike NMs, but grip fronts are finely checkered.

Rock Island's Office Model takes a 7-round magazine and weights 2-1/4 pounds compared with the NM's 39 ounces. The M15 grips are made of checkered walnut, as was the National Match's. On the left grip panel is a vertical silver bar for inscriptions; on the right side is a silver replica of Rock Island Arsenal's official Ordnance escutcheon.

The left side of the slide is marked in two lines, "General Officer Model" over "RIA" (Rock Island Arsenal) done in silver italic lettering; the slide's right side is bare. Serial numbers appear on the right side of the frame above the grip, and they are also executed in silver italic letering: "Serial No. GO XXXXX."

The M1911-style trigger and hammer are bright metal, but the frame and slide are finished in a flat black and shades of gray. Otherwise, the pistol looks like a standard M1911A1 right down to the lanyard loop on the base of its grip.

M15s were issued with a custom leather holster, three magazines, a M1912-style leather magazine pouch and a cleaning rod and brush.

These guns were "loaned" to general officers who requisitioned them. They were allowed to retain them for the duration of their term of service, with the option of buying the arm for $147. "They seldom decline to purchase these pistols," Mr. Powell notes. He reports that 600 General Officer Model pistols are currently on loan, and none are on hand at the arsenal.

Have you seen one lately--at any price?
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Title Annotation:Rock Island Arsenal General Officer Model .45 auto
Author:Rutledge, Lee A.
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Sep 1, 1985
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