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Thread: Info needed on colt 1911 from 1913

  1. #1
    Boolit Master

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    Info needed on colt 1911 from 1913

    I recently acquired a Colt 1911 made in February 1913. It was rebued at one time and got disastrously buffed on the stamps. I know little to nothing about 1911ís especially original military ones. This one has been set up for target use with an adjustable rear sight and a high front sight. Also the beaver tail has been modified. But it also has an extra barrel, beaver tail, hammer and bushing. How do I tell whatís original, whatís aftermarket, etc. Iím thinking of restoring it as best as I can to original configuration. Also, is there any chance this was set up for a marksmanship unit or anything? (Pics to come)
    Thanks!
    Hornsurgeon's Feedback Thread

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  2. #2

  3. #3
    When the M1911A1 was still the standard service pistol I spent several months attached to EUSA MTU, USARPAC MTU, and USAMTU. Given the weapons I used, I would bet heavily against your pistol having been so modified by the military. Military armorers building pistols for competition did NOT do work like the buff-to-destruction polishing and the strangely modified grip safety shown in your photos.

    As for what is still original, it sounds like precious little. There may be a few unaltered parts left, but in my opinion a restoration would make fabricating a silk purse from a sows ear look easy, soak up far more time and money than the piece was worth, and produce something with no more value than a shooter. But that's only my opinion, and it's your pistol.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    From what I can see it looks like whomever did the modifications did a good job, and the pistol's value now lies in being a nice target pistol. It is what it is. I agree with El Bibliotecario that changing it back to "as-issued" would be difficult and a collector could probably tell that it had been monkeyed with. Those are nice target sights. I'd use it as-is, or sell it and look for an original if that's what you desire.

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy
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    Id just use it as is also. You could buy a better after market beavertail to replace that welded hack one.

    'Is what it is', is a good analogy .

    Damn same some duffus buffed the crap out of it on a electric power grinder

  6. #6
    Boolit Master KYCaster's Avatar
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    The parts in the last pic (barrel, bushing, hammer, grip safety) may be the original parts.
    Replace those and what you have left is a poorly refinished gun with after market sights. The rear sight is no big deal, looks like it's installed in the original dove tail slot. The front sight is a bit more trouble, but still no big deal for somebody with the proper tools.

    OH...while you're at it, get rid of that god-awful wrap around grip. You can pick up a set of GI grips for a couple of bucks at the next gun show.

    Bottom line is, you can do what ever you want with it and it won't hurt the value. You can enjoy shooting it like it is or you can return it to original configuration with minimal expense.

    I hope you enjoy it, whatever you decide.
    Jerry
    Buzzard's luck!! Can't kill nothin', nothin'll die!!

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    I'd enjoy it the way it is.
    I'd probably get a modern generation grip safety, new springs, a fancier front sight, and fit a NM bushing.

    After WWII, a bunch of those came onto the surplus market, along with some 'brought home'
    ones that you could get pretty cheap compared to buying a new one.

    Lots of conversion/modifications were done to those in the 50's or so when any decent size town had a real gunsmith.
    A few tons of rifles that were very well sporterized in that era had followed the same path.

    As old as it is, it might have also had more than one person working on it.
    As GI issue, from way back then, possibly a veteran of 2-3 maybe even 4 wars,
    there may have been some pretty bad pitting that someone felt they had to polish out.
    Last edited by Winger Ed.; 03-29-2020 at 12:33 AM.
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  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Out of deference to its 107 year old self, I would only use light target loads. Good thing it's set up for that. I would lose that grip safety job one, though!

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  9. #9
    Boolit Master

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    Hornsurgeon,

    As one who collects 'em, I'd tell you that your time would be better spent elsewhere. Good 1911 parts (NOT 1911-A1 parts) are usually going to be attached to good 1911's, and it's certainly not worth trashing good to fix the already trashed. Your's is WAAAAAY past the point of simply needing something like a correct safety or pair of grips.

    It looks like your spare grip safety is a longer, 1911-A1 type, and that your short original got the weld-up.

    The 1912 and at least early 1913 guns also had rear sights that were rounded on the sides and closely resembled the sight picture of an 1873 Peacemaker. Cylinder & Slide might have repros for that and the front - otherwise, good luck on that. . . and hope the rear dovetail is unmolested. I'd also be somewhat concerned about the hole into which your match front sight is staked still retaining the original shape/dimensions to take a repro of an early front "thumbnail" sight. Might need to be welded back up and re-drilled.

    Colt really pulled out the stops on the first couple years of production. When you find one in even OK shape, you'll see something that you can tell, when new, would make a Royal Blue Python look like a starving coyote that's suffering from parvovirus and mange. Where yours is. . .there's no bringing it back. It is what it is.

    And truthfully, what it is is kind of a neat bit of history by itself. EXAMPLE: The revolver Indiana Jones leaves home with in Raiders of the Lost Ark is a cut-down .45 Smith Hand-Ejector - presumably a WWI leftover. We're horrified of doing something like that today, but back then, they were common-as-dirt surplus guns that were out there by the millions, no one ever thought they'd run short of them, and they were a decent canvas on which to build sometimes very nice, or at least practical things - - like Indy's carry piece, lots of sporterized deer rifles, or your match 1911. In that context, they tell the story of how people thought about the guns and how they came to be used. Collectible? Nope. Interesting? Yep.
    WWJMBD?

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  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy

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    Hornsurgeon,

    All good comments & advise from others here. Just enjoy the pistol for what it is. A good truck & field gun you don't have to worry about scratching up. Just don't use hot loads. The metallurgy & heat treatment of 1913 is not up to what the later ones were built to. Be careful & shoot safely.

  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Amen, Bigslug. Well put.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    The work done in the past has put this one way past restoration to original. Replace the fugly parts and stuff it full of cast RN or SWC and shoot the hell out of it. Check the recoil spring, may have been cut down for light loads and if dedicated to light target loads replace it with a known weight spring of appropriate power to ensure reliable function. If using full power loads get a new 16# spring. The hammer in the picture is original, but not sure of the other parts. The trigger looks like original long trigger but can't tell for sure from the pic.

  13. #13
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    As an old, and retired Bullseye shooter, that is one nice gun. I would love to own it, but like I said retired and money don't go together.

    It's an excellent example of the early days of Bullseye shooting when the only good guns were reworked military surplus. There were a lot of excellent groups fired by these guns, well into the 1970's and 80's. The Pachmayer grips were a great addition back in the day. As for the grip safety, it needs polishing and bluing. There were no aftermarket parts back then, gunsmiths had to make their own if the customer requested it.
    That looks like the Micro rear sight, it was a standard then, and the front sight is likely silver soldered on.
    Does the barrel have any name on it?

    It would be fun to put a few rounds through it, just for old time sake.

    Leave it as is, forget the naysayers, it is an important part of target shootings past.

    Ken
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  14. #14
    Boolit Master



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    After learning the hard way a number of times, it’s better to spend the extra money to buy what you want in good condition, than paying less for one, that needs alterations. You probably have a nice target pistol. If that makes you happy, great. Otherwise, sell it and buy what you want.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alstep View Post
    Hornsurgeon,

    All good comments & advise from others here. Just enjoy the pistol for what it is. A good truck & field gun you don't have to worry about scratching up. Just don't use hot loads. The metallurgy & heat treatment of 1913 is not up to what the later ones were built to. Be careful & shoot safely.
    Eeeeeeeeehhhhhhhh. . .not entirely true. The rush to produce as many, as quickly as possible during the 1940's led to some compromises. The slides used softer, more easily machined steel that were differentially hardened - initially at the front from about the dust cover forward, and then from about '42-'43 onward around the slide stop and disassembly notches. Aside from the fact that it's 30 years older, and obviously rode hard & put away wet, Hornsurgeon's slide might well have been made from higher grade raw materials. Even so, it's certainly not what I'd pick as a candidate for a .45 Super conversion - that would be asking for trouble.
    WWJMBD?

    "I'M MELLLLLLLLLLTING!" - Elphaba

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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    Thanks for all the insight guys. I decided to keep the pachmyr grips. I ended up swapping out the beaver tail, and picked up a NOS original national match rear sight. Oh and I put in a Wilson combat spring kit. It feels like a new pistol. Everything nice and crisp, and an amazing trigger pull. Here’s a couple of pics of how it turned out. Once this carona crap is over and the range is open again I’ll have to get out and shoot it.
    https://flic.kr/p/2iN6re8
    https://flic.kr/p/2iN6rb7
    https://flic.kr/p/2iN4H4T
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  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    That's a nice looking pistol. I think you made just the right improvements.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check