Friday, September 14, 2007

A New, Old Colt, Part I

This posting is about halfway experimental. I need practice in inserting images into the blog, and I guess the only way I'll learn is to try it out.

Recycled paragraph: Last weekend, after much penny pinching and hand wringing, I finally bought a pistol I've wanted for some time. The unsuspecting LawDog was passing through, and I dragged him along to a Fort Worth Gun Show. With him cheering me onward, I spent a pretty fair chunk o'change on a brand new, old model Colt. It certainly deserves a well-documented range session with some decent photos and a good write up. I'll not get it all done in one posting, but here's a start.

A 1917 pistol, just 90 years late.

The pistola under discussion is one of the new production Colt Model 1911 -- NOT the 1911A1 -- World War I types. It is a near exact copy of the sidearms Colt's began producing early in 1912, and kept making as many as possible until late in 1918.

Part of the charm of this piece is the original-style packaging, complete with reproduction manual, a combination tool, and extra magazine. Actually, the throughness of the packaging is impressive, in and of itsownself - - Pistol in light grease, wrapped in brown waxed paper. This is put into the reproduction cardboard box, along with spare magazine. This, in turn is in a large, modern, blue box with the Colt emblem. And to protect THAT, the whole is shipped in a white cardboard box (sleeve.)

The piece looked subtly "wrong," and then I realized: All the old 1911s I'd ever held had been handled by dozens, if not hundreds of people before me. The WW-I large diamond stocks (NOT "grips," but that's another matter) are universally a little worn. On THIS pistol, the stocks are checked (no, not "checkered") and the little diamonds are still sharp on the top. It doesn't take much handling and use in a flap holster to smooth the top edges off these lil' points.

Illustrating the low-riding, narrow U-notch rear sight. It is great for deliberate shooting, but doesn't "pick up" as quickly as a higher, broader sight would do. Also note the VERY sharp little diamonds of the stock checking.

This shows the tiny little, tapered post front sight. Above comments apply.

Matt and the 1911

Elder Son was kind enough to accompany me to the range for photography and such. Naturally, he deserved to shoot it a bit. It's not as if he didn't cut his teeth on (unloaded) .45 pistols, but who turns down a chance to mess with a bit-'o-history, even if not an antique? And, like the Colt's Black Powder Historical Series, this is a true COLT. It is a real Model of 1911, not somebody else's copy. It was just just produced about 90 years behind the ones carried to France by our guys in 1917--18.

Distance, 15 yards. Matt was standing on his hind legs, and it was the FIRST time he'd put a round through this pistol. Somebody taught that lad something about "Front sight, p-r-e-s-s."

The trigger was surprisingly good, probably about five pounds, with just a hint of creep before a nice, crisp release.

We were running out of daylight, and someone had moved the 25-yard bench. I wanted to do at least a little accuracy testing. Notice the ole dude with his head rocked back to see the itty bitty sights. Also, you gotta hold your mouth JUST right.

Not my best-ever 25-yard target, but, given the drawbacks, not too bad at all.

Okay, I could go on and on, but that's about enough for today. Looks as if the image insertion will work out. More artwork and range testing later, in the next thrilling installment.

(Can you tell that I'm pretty taken with my new/old pistol?)


Old NFO said...

Nice piece! I take it that it doesn't rattle like most old Colts either :-)

GeorgeH said...

I got one for Christmas last year. I put some ivory grips on it (to preserve the original wood) and bought it a Patton holster and a US 1911 holster from El Paso Saddlery.

The sights are terrible, it hates almost any softpoint ammo, but it puts a smile on my face.

Brandon said...

Nice writeup for a really nice pistol! I'd be very interested to see the innards when you get to the post-range cleanup, if you're so inclined.

My G.I. reproduction Springfield is off getting the grip...uh...stock screw bushings replaced (because I messed them up), and I miss it even more now!

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous! I want one too.

I'll keep the modern one I have for a service arm.

This model for enjoyment!


James E. Griffin said...

Of course, the idea behind this is using the same pattern 1911 as was used of old. That means putting up with sights that are iffy at best.

Some folks would threaten me with tar and feathers if I point out the 1911 slide is a narrow tenon front sight. And Trijicon makes night sights that fit the rear sight dovetail with a narrow tenon swage on front sight. You don't need to modify the slide.

For me, an acceptable compromise is Bright Sights gun sight coating. It's a bright, flexible paint you can dab on to make the issue sights more visible. Won't hurt the slide finish, and can be removed with alcohol.

I'd put the bright orange on the front sight only, all along that narrow little bow top. Don't paint the sides of the front sight. You barely see it from the side view of your gun, but it really helps pick up the front sight when viewed from the shooters position.

Brownells carries both part number 100-000-243
Five Color Kit $14.95

And a light activated, luminescent coating for use in reduced visibility situations.
Ghost Glow Kit $24.95

OK, so call me a heretic and a third rate blasphemer. My 49 year old eyes don't function like my 18 year old eyes did.

Matt G said...

Dad overstates my shooting ability-- I don't think I was more than 9 yards away from the target when I put that first group up. 10 at most.

Thing about those little sights was, a man COULD do some decent work with them, if he tried. For 7 to Zero yard shooting fast, you slide-sight it; it points like a dream (some things haven't changed in 96 years.)

Dad was doing some very good rapid fire at 7 yards with it. It functioned with Gold Dot HP, as well.

phlegmfatale said...

coolness! I'm having 1911 envy. One of these days, I'll bring my dad's up and we'll shoot it.

Dreaming Mage said...

I consider myself a Colt 1911 AND 1911a1 expert, as it's the only weapon that has ever interested me. FOR 30 YEARS!

The 1911 was inferior to the 1911A1 for one simple reason: Jambing.

Other than that there was no difference. The parts are even interchangeable.

So wax eloquent on the older model's "virtues" all you want... it is inferior. That's why it was superceded by another model which subsequently held true without modification for over 80 years.

And don't try to pull any "I'm an old fart who knows the world" shit on me... I'm no spring puppy myself.

I was military for 14 years, only ending when they made me leave for medical reasons. (Two combat zones and two combat ribbons. 4 Expiditioary medads. Want the whole list? email me) I carried a 1911a1 that entire time as a side-arm. I still own the one I carried.


Dreaming Mage said...

BTW, my pistol was Navy issue, manufactured in 1948, reconditioned in 1962, (the year of my birth) and issued to me in 1980. And I shot Expert with it he first time I fired it.

Dreaming Mage said...

OK, I can be an obsessive idiot.. backtrack me to my blog and you'll find I am bipolar.

But... ANYONE can get good targets from almost ANY weapon sitting in a chair resting on their knee.

What's unique about the 1911 is that almost anyone can get decent results in odd conditions. It's an accurate and easy-to-handle piece. Hence my own facination.

But I stil maintain that older is not better. The 1911a1 was the superior model.

JPG said...

georgeh - - I like the El Paso Saddlery military reproduction holsters, too. I have the full 1912 pattern swivel holster rig, which I'll show in Part II or whatever. I'm not particularly fond of some of the EPS "modern" style designs, but all of their goods are made with very high quallity leather and top notch workmanship. I'll likely keep the factory stocks on this one and let 'em age naturally. I love genuine ivory, and have some on my carry Commander. Trouble is, most of them are made too thick.

brandon -- If you're writing about the Spfld Armory 1911A1 style repro, I really like that one, too. I sold one at a gun show for Matt - - He'd bought it just to help out a pal in a tight for money. It was nice enough that i was trying to figure how to afford it for myself. Some guy came along with the price before I did so, though. Just as well.

I hadn't thought about taking pix of the interiorof my 1911. So far, I've just field stripped it, and I notice it even has the vintage stampings on the inside. I've only fired it with jacketed and plated bullets so far, but the cast boolits are coming.

anonymous wrote - -
Gorgeous! I want one too. I'll keep the modern one I have for a service arm.
*grin* I'll baby this 1911 a bit, sure. I have a "new" (1948 production) Government Model that I use for matches, and a stainless XSE for the truck. But, what I like is that this is an old-style handgun which is just as serviceable as the 1911s that went to war in France and Mexico and the Philippines. Good enough for them, good enough for me. (Except, those teensy sights and my old eyes are in conflict, and it seems to "Point" a bit low with the flat mainspring housing.)
James E. Griffin -- Thanks for the sight highlighting suggestions. I'll struggle along with the black sights as long as I can. Just a matter of personal preference. I've tried the others, but I keep coming back to plain back. I even removed the three white dots that came on my Officers ACP LW.
Phlegmmy- - That would really be fun. And, con su permiso, I'll include an image of your Da's pistol in a later installment, just for comparison.

Tom said...

Nice pistol Mr. JPG. Are all the parts on that pistol machined as they would have been back in the day or does it have MIM parts in it?

Also, I know what you mean about the flat main spring housing. I replaced the plastic, flat mainspring housing on my Kimber Custom I carry for duty with a steel arched mainspring housing. It seems to point better with it. Not something you would want to do with a nostalgia pistol like your new Colt but its a good addition to a duty pistol.

Matt G said...

Hey, Mage?

JPG never claimed that the 1911 was a BETTER pistol than the A1-- just that this was a really nifty repro of an interesting historical pistol.

Because JPG and I have large hands, we LIKE the arched mainspring housings. We like more tang. We like shorter and smaller hammer spurs.

We like good sights.

But still, we liked this pistol.

Kind of like the guy who likes a really swell 1950's car-- he ain't buying it for the handling; he's buying it for the cool factor.

But isn't it nice when they shoot well?

Take a look at that bottom target that JPG shot off his knee at 25. (It was the ONLY one he shot.) Notice something: that's a six-shot group. See that cluster on the bottom of the plate at 5 o'clock? That's 4 rounds. Yeah, he threw a couple, but I submit that this was pretty decent shooting, with Wolf ammo, no less, over a measured 75 feet.

Jerry said...

Sweet! You guys rock!

Ride Fast said...

Gun Blogger Rendezvous

There is a link in my right side bar to the above.

At the bottom of my site is a list of labels on the right. They take you to every post with that label.

Happy Trails.

Hobie said...

I'd love one but spent my hard saved coin on another toy. My friend's gun is as you describe and I envy him and you your good fortune.

I think you've got the photo posting down pat.

crazy baby lainy said...

Looks like you two had a lot of fun !

LauraB said...

I'm glad to see I am not the only one who has learned that holding your mouth right is just as important as proper sight usage. *grin*

comatus said...

Heh, laurab. Too bad it's not live video, 'cos ISTR there's a v.precise "twitch" involved to make it look really right...

Maybe one of our senior statesmen (hint) could once in a while offer a seminar on this critical aspect. I for one would love to move the twitch from my thumb to the corner of my mouth.

Chrysalis Angel said...

What a nice site you have started. I just came upon your son's site and thought I'd pop over and give you a welcome to blog land and well wishes. I see you really don't need it, you have quite a site going already.

I was impressed with that nice tight grouping. Beautiful job! I was taught by a very good instructor. He taught me an appreciation for beautiful pieces, enjoy it.

Flea said...

I mainly fire my 1911 these days. There's just nothing like the feel of it. I tried a CZ75 and a Springfield GI 1911, but they just don't feel the same.

1919 RemUMC 1911 .45 ACP. Two owners (my father and I), other than the military. Purchased from the Springfield Armory in 1962.

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