This is a discussion on COLT M1911 / A1 Military Surplus within the Handguns forums, part of the Gun Forum category; Okay, so unlike the M14, I have been unable to get clear information on the history of the 1911 and 1911A1 after 1945.
I'm referring ...
I recently picked up one of the re-introduction 1911a1s that Colt begn to make in 2002. Mine is from this year, 2012, with a 72B serial number. The weight and balance of the weapon is truly amazing. I never had one, and have carried many different semi-autos over the past 19 years. I'm just sorry it took me so long to jump into this platform.
- In particular, when did the thumb safety, hammer, and sights change from the WWII production design to what is used on the commercial 1911A1 today?
- Also, the different COLT roll marks from 1912 to 1918, to 1924, through 1945, and then after the war up through the Mk IV series 70, then and now?
- Most importantly, the Grip Panels/ Stocks. There are wood, plastic, and 100s of aftermarket pieces. What were the USGI Military stocks used, and how can you tell the difference between real USGI surplus, and aftermarket fakes?
- What about the Colt medalion stocks? Who made the "real" ones? There are many out there that are not Colt. They are aftermarket manufacturers who put hte medalions into the stocks.
- What are the USGI surplus items that would be available for the guns?
They were phased-out for general issue when the US military adopted the Beretta in about 1985. At that time the US began buying Italian military and naval items probably so that we could base cruise missiles in Italy. About twenty-five years earlier, the Marine Corps still had an abundant supply of 1911A1s. Replacement part contracts for these for items such as magazines, springs and barrels were awarded during the later part of the Vietnam war. Elite units were continuing to use the .45 at least up until five years ago. Perhaps others have more info.
I was carried two different 1911's during my time in service, before I was issued a M9. Neither of the two I carried were Colts. One was a Remington Rand and the other was a Singer. I'm not certain about contracts awarded for parts, but our armorys had plenty of parts in stick that they had for many years.
I'd recommend you pick up J.C. Harrison's book on the 1911. This is a good general guide to the markings and variations of parts and pistols from 1910-1945, and includes a section on post-war rebuilds and service match pistols.
There were very limited post-war contracts for national match parts for issuance to armorers for the rebuilding of existing inventory into match guns to be used by the various armed forces shooting teams.
There were no contracts for spare parts to issued pistols after 1945 that I am aware of. From everything I've read, existing inventories were sufficient for the rebuild and maintenance of existing stores.
I'm not aware of any reference sources for postwar commercial pistols. The Tinman references two very good sites with knowledgeable members to assist you in any specific questions you may have.
Colt made very few changes in the 1911a1 (introduced around 1927), design until the introduction of the Series 70, Series 80 and finally M1991 (the 70's are notable for their failure prone split bushing, the 80's for nylon parts and the M1991 for not much of anything at all).
Vietnam-era GI mags, grips and barrels are still abundant at shows. These have nomenclature and/or numbers visible on the magazine base, breech at the ejection port, or drawing numbers on the underside of grips of a lighter brown color than original production. It's hard to imagine that during the late fifties and throughout the sixties, GI .45's were about the most common pawn shop gun find at bargain and usually highly negotiable prices. I bought one (Remington Rand) from a shop in Texas and the seller was practically ecstatic because it had finally sold. Back then, everyone wanted Lugers. How times have changed!
Definitely check out the sites above but also check out the 1911forum.com. To the best of my knowledge there were replacement part contracts up through the mid eighties. I forget who made them but there are slides out there with. Otho g but the drawing number on the slide that are eighties vintage. Post WWII there was some overlap in parts between GI and commercial production at Colt. They use up what they had. At one point in the late 40's Colt made replacement slides with commercial rollmarks for GI contracts. They were parkerized and were not polished like a commercial slide was. The info you seek is out there. There probably more than you would expect.
I saw a Singer 1911a1 at a gunshow yesterday and the seller wanted 50k. Thought the guy was nuts. The finish looked wrong.
There are certainly fake Singers and usually from the same sources! It would be useful if someone would do a data base on verified examples. Total production was only 500 and doubtless attrition has taken its toll, so this couldn't be too difficult. Might even make a good book.
My favorites are the Colts inspected by Sears and Broberg that haven't been messed-with. These had matching numbered slides and other early features. Unfortunately, a lot of others like them too, so prices have skyrocketed. Glad I bought mine when I did because I couldn't afford one now.
I'll turn to the grip panels.
Similar to my S&W revolvers I was hoping there would be a way to decipher Colt factory made stocks from aftermarket ones.
The Colt factory rosewood grip panels, that came on my pistol are nice, but not what I was looking for. Plus they are not made at the factory. They are outsourced, and have the ambi-safety cut placed into them.
I wanted to put no ambi-cut factory smooth or check wood stocks on the pistol with the medalions, but there are so many aftermarket makers that do this, there is really no way to know what is real or fake at this point.
Now, I have decided to put military stocks on my pistol. At least these I know are USGI, and sit better with me than using some unknown manufacturers stocks that may or may not be factory authorized to use the medalions. The USGI ones were late contract, and authorized by Uncle Sam.
I found a source for the USGI late contract brown plastic grip panels. I recognized the drawing part numbers on the undersides, which were part of the mold. I picked up a few pairs cheap.
You should be able to buy grip panels directly from Colt on their website. Find a pair you like and ad medallions if you want. I bought a pair of Wilson Slimline grips for my New Agent. I removed the Wilson medallions and replaced them with a pair of Colt medallions I got off eBay.
I may be wrong but what I know the 1911a1 GI never really changed untill the mod.70 . they flaired the bbl. and used the spring finger bushing,the first run of bushings were long and prone to cracking but that was fixed and a great pistol. The sights were changed to white dots and the firing pin block was added in the mod. 80. Late in the run they had plastic main spring housings,nice pistols.most GI grip plates were plastic,and Colts are machined,no mim parts on a colt.Lots of anti Colt people.
I became an Infantry Weapons Repairman (MOS 2111) or standard Armorer in 1972 and an RTE Repairman (MOS 2112) in 1974. I saw thousands, if not tens of thousands of M1911A1's over the years, as well as building NM .45's and MEUSOC .45's.
I saw almost every kind of receiver and slide made because as long as they were serviceable, we did not change things. I WISH I had kept the information on the slide roll marks we used in the RTE shop to determine which slides were the earlier "soft" slides and which ones were Post WWII hardened replacement slides. We had to know that to build NM .45's as we could not build a NM pistol with a "soft" slide.
I agree you need Clausen's book/s to answer many of your questions.
I bought a NOS Colt Series 70 Combat Commander (steel frame) 9mm in the late 80's. It was NOS because no one wanted one in 9mm. However, I WANTED a 9mm Government Model Series 70, but could not find one, so I settled for the Commander. Colt used to make the ramp in the receiver just a bit different on the 9mm pistols and I WANTED that as I also fitted a .45 barrel and slide to the pistol to have a "combo" pistol that would shoot either cartridge by swapping slide groups and magazines. I was GOING to carry that pistol with me on active duty to an operational or war zone, BUT right before we went to Somalia, they no longer allowed us to carry privately owned weapons.
Anyway, that pistol came with a set of checkered BIRCH grips with the Colt Medallions in them. They were the Colt Factory original grips. The FIRST thing I did was take those grips off the pistol as I don't like Birch at all.