LineDoggie wrote:John Moses Browning wasn't stupid. he purposely designed the 1911 to be carried round chambered and on safe
Sometimes referred as "condition 1", which is basically: Loaded magazine in, cartridge in chamber, hammer cocked and manual (intended to be flicked with a thumb) safety on. The other option would be "condition 0" in which thumb operated safety switch is off and grip safety is the only safety being relied on.
It would be worth noting that if compared to modern striker-fired pistols that are now the most popular thing in handgun market, many of the most successful designs (such as Glock) have a safety latch in the trigger that works with the same principle as "condition 0" in Colt 1911/1911A1, while others (like CZ 75/85 series) have manual safety operated with thumb allowing "condition 1" like carry. The popularity for these basic options seem to be based on the fact that they simply work. Going with simple and as easy to use safety design as possible has its obvious benefits - being in firefight is high stress situation with adrenaline pumping and sane people being scared for their lives, hence their fine motor skills and thinking are not at their best. I have some action shooting (movement combined with shooting, shooting scenarios with timer - IPSC, 3-gun etc) experience, which has shown that even the little stress caused by competing against the clock, when timer goes "BEEP" it is not that uncommon for rookie shooters to fumble with safety or even forget to switch it off.
As for magazine capacity - bigger the better. None of the service pistol cartridges used during World War 2 or now was nowhere as effective "a stopper" as rifle cartridges, so needing multiple rounds per target should realisticly be expected. As the latest military pistol manual notes here the using principle for pistols is "keep shooting round after round until desired effect (on target) has been achieved".
I have shot P-38 and own P1 (post-war version with aluminum frame made for Bundeswehr). While double action trigger was a useful feature and the design is highly reliable, decocking safety is not that great, magazine safety in heel of grip is slow to use and maximum magazine capacity is limited to 8 + 1. Also original P-38 sights are ok if compared to sights of other period pistols, but not that great.
If I would be allowed to make myself a best possible pistol from all pistol designs available during World War 2 I would go with FN HP and some very small changes. The reasons why I would pick FN HP:
1. Highly reliable (IMO the most important characteristic for military small arms).
2. Good ergonomics - grip works (depends a person though, I used to own one, so I know they work for me), both safety switch & magazine release are well placed.
3. Magazine capacity: 13 + 1 is the best that one can get with World War 2 era pistols. Nowadays also 20 round magazines are available.
4. Uses cartridge that is powerful enough to incapacitate reliably.
5. Strong mechanical design (probably the only World War 2 era pistol that actually survives shooting decent number of extra hot 9 x 19 ammunition that numerous countries manufactured for submachine guns).
6. External hammer - easy to see in what mode the pistol is and also easy to decock.
Details and modifications:
1. The version of HP I would pick as a starting point would be late Inglis manufactured FN HP or with wooden holster attachment point (for versatility for rare cases it might come up handy), but with late rear sight (old tangent rear sight provides sight picture that is terribly small and crowded) opened up a bit to allow faster aiming.
2. Remove magazine safety (easy to do if knows what to do - just remove the pin that keeps it in place). It is not necessary, trigger is much better (less mushy) without it and unlike thumb-operated safety it is not even that useful.
3. Modify thumb-operated safety switch by adding material into it to make it easier to operate. The original switch is just unnecessarily small.
Needless to mention I doubt any country would have usually liked its soldiers to do this sort of modifications for firearms issued to them, but then again apparently some countries did allow their soldiers to carry also privately owned pistols in addition of issued weapons.
Colt 1911 would be ok as well, but what I remember during World War 2 only seven round magazines were available and .45 ACP FMJ is not much better than 9 mm x 19 Luger/Parabellum. Ergonomics in 1911 (I prefer it over 1911A1) are slightly better than in FN HP mainly due to better thumb safety ergonomics, but sights are not that great.