Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club hosts Cabot Guns on Saturday

A Rubin Cronig timepiece and a limited edition “American Joe” from Cabot Guns that features a design by rock star designer Joe Faris. — Photo courtesy of Cabot Guns

Combine the design of America’s classic 1911 pistol and a young Island custom watchmaker and what do you get? An event-filled day at the Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club that will include instruction by a national shooting champ, a pistol competition, an opportunity to handle one of the finest guns produced in America today and a pig roast.

Cabot Guns of Cabot, Penn., makes high-end 1911 pistols built on the original design of John M. Browning, widely acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest firearms inventor.

Rubin Cronig of Vineyard Haven developed his first prototype for a high-end timepiece while attending the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School and now makes custom timepieces under two different company names, and that includes a watch face that features the Cabot 1911 blueprint.

Mr. Cronig said his collaboration with Cabot began at an event where he was displaying his watches. One of the owners of Cabot also attended and the two men began talking. That led to a new watch design. Last year, the idea for an Island visit took shape.

The pistol maker and the watchmaker share a commitment to form and function. On Saturday, both qualities will be on display at the Rod and Gun Club, located off Third Street in Edgartown.

Representatives of Cabot Guns and Brian Zins will be on hand to show off the 1911 Cabot in a variety of styles and help people become better shots. Mr. Zins is well-qualified for the job. A retired Marine gunnery sergeant, he is an 11-time national pistol shooting champion.

Saturday morning will include a shooting clinic with instruction on pistol fundamentals, a bull’s-eye seminar and an opportunity to shoot, handle, and experience the Cabot 1911.

The afternoon will include a pig roast lunch followed by a Vineyard 900 competition. Competitors may shoot their 1911 or revolvers only.

Participation for the day’s events, which begin at 9 am, is limited. Participants are asked to pre-register by emailing

American classic

The fact that the American military still uses weapons built on John Browning’s designs is testament to his genius. And it has made the Model 1911 as much a symbol of the American spirit as the bald eagle.

The original Model 1911 .45 Automatic was born in the tropical heat and guerrilla warfare U.S. soldiers suddenly found themselves engaged in against Moro tribesmen when the U.S. entered the Philippines following our victory in the Spanish-American war. Much of the combat was at close quarters, where the Moros’ long-bladed kris knives were used to lethal effect, according to a history of the Model 1911 by Scott Engen of the Browning Company.

The standard issue pistol of the time, .38 caliber double-action revolvers, proved ineffective in stopping the attackers. The combat pistol situation became so acute that old stocks of Model 1873 Colt revolvers in 45 caliber, many of which dated back to the Plains Indian Wars, were returned to active service, Mr. Engen wrote.

The military began looking for a better pistol. Ultimately the winner of the competition was a Colt pistol designed by John M. Browning. In fact, during a 6,000-round test fired over two days in 1910 that was personally supervised by Mr. Browning, his sample pistol became so hot that it was simply dunked in a pail of water to cool it for further firing. Browning’s sample reportedly passed the test with no malfunctions.

The Browning pistol design was formally adopted by the U.S. Army on March 29, 1911, and thus became known officially as the Model 1911. The U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps adopted the Browning-designed pistol in 1913.

Its reputation for reliability, accuracy, and stopping power became legendary in wars and military actions around the globe throughout the 20th century and into the next. An entire industry based on parts, accessories, custom gunsmithing, training centers, and formal competition has grown up around the Model 1911, and today the 1911 design remains the world-wide standard for competition pistols.