George Wilson’s Prototype .45 Autopistol

George A. Wilson was a designer for the High Standard company, and also a competitive bullseye pistol shooter. Formal bullseye shooting requires the use of a .45 caliber pistol, and the 1911 really isn’t an ideal design for that sort of shooting – so Wilson decided to make his own pistol. Patented in 1961, the design he came up with is an outstanding competition piece. Instead of using a traditional slide, Wilson kept all the reciprocating parts out in the front half of the gun, allowing him to bring the grip very high up to minimize muzzle flip.

Mechanically, the pistol uses a pivoting wedge to lock, somewhat like a Walther P38. It has a long sight radius, good sight design, and an excellent competition trigger (wide and smooth, with no creep and a light, crisp letoff). The machine work on the pistol is top notch – it is really a work of art. Only three of these guns were made by Wilson, and we are privileged to have been able to examine, disassemble, and shoot one of them:

Want to see more details? Take a look at Wilson’s Patent #2,975,680.


  1. Wilson was a VP AT High Standard. The pistol was actually designed by Robert L. Hillberg. I worked with him for forty years. He died recently. He designed the Whitney Wolverine. You will see the resemblance.He also did the original Wildey pistol (gas operated)

    • The desıgn is really very interesting. Noticable
      features are, low barrel axis and trigger/hammer
      connections without alongated parts enabling the
      user’s action with minumum deviation. But, there
      are some vogue features like; movable dust cover
      over the magazine well instead of a fixed, and a
      complicated tilting block barrel lock, instead of
      more simple and rugged rotating barrel kind. Have
      you got any idea about why Mr. L.Hillberg preferred
      such a construction.

  2. and yet Gunny Zin still uses a highly tuned 1911 kinda sad that such an inovative and well though out design never managed to come to a point where it could actually compete for the affections of the bullseye world.
    seems so strange given that most forms of pistol competion quickly adopt the latest and greates little mechanism

      • The biggest problem is that of production. 1911s are familiar and can be tuned to be fine for fast shooting – although at the price of making them look ridiculous. Pistols like George Wilson’s .45 other than this niche target shooting market have no real customers. The idea of a low bore axis .45 isn’t ridiculous, but making it affordable is the major problem. Wilson’s was clearly never intended for that. I swear that thing would cost more to produce than a Luger.

        I want one, though. Although the list of guns I want is rather absurdly long.

  3. Thanks Ian.
    Looks like a great well made pistol.
    You have an estimate of what one might sell for?
    Any chance any one of the three will come up for sale or at an auction?

    Changing the subject (sorry) any update on what’s going on with SMGguns folks making the GG42s?


    • It’s too rare of a pistol to even begin to estimate. Prototypes and low production guns are notorious for being impossible to predict what they’ll sell for, unless they’re famous like the .45 ACP Luger.

      As far as SMGguns’ FG-42, why not send them an email?

  4. It looks like a very nice gun with all of the things that we bullseye shooters want.

    And given the wadcutter loads that would be used in it, breakage of the locking block or battering of the frame would likely never be an issue.

    Regarding price, serious bullseye shooters don’t bat an eye at the cost of Hammerlis, Walthers and custom M1911 wadcutter and ball guns. Ever price a BOX of good .22lr match ammuntion (RWS, Eley, etc.)? You don’t race Formula One in a Chevy Cavalier and you don’t shoot serious bullseye with a Hi Point.

    It’d be the perfect companion to my Giles .38 Special M1911… unless the design was adaptable to .38 Special too…

  5. Earlier this year at the Brownell’s Gunsmith Job Fair/Conference, Dan Love displayed a prototype pistol that appeared to be inspired by this design. Foolishly, I didn’t take photos of it.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Another one for Charlie: High Standard .45 Prototype - Gun Hub
  2. Unique Pistols: George Wilson’s Match .45 Auto – Adventus Arms

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.