Rare 1911


January 4, 2008, 12:23 AM
Watched American RIfleman TV today and they told of a 1911 made in Canada during the closing days of WW1 by North American Arms (no relation to the NAA mini-revolver that I know of!) that is the rarest of all 1911 variants. Only about 100 of them were made. The price if you can find one in 90-95% condition? $25,500! The bad thing is that because they are so valuable there are a lot of idiots faking them, and they said on the show that there were probably more forgerys floating around than the real guns! Anyway, I thought this very interesting, as I never heard of this particular gun, and here I thought I knew everything!

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January 4, 2008, 12:57 AM
I think the rarest 1911s are those made by Singer Sewing Machine during WWII. Not sure of the numbers but is the Canadian made one rarer?

January 4, 2008, 02:15 AM
I think Singer made 500 delivered. I think a Singer just recently sold for $46,000 or so.

January 4, 2008, 06:00 AM
Yes, the NAA-made ones were produced at the original Ross rifle factory in Quebec, but they had just gotten production started when the war ended. Believe it or not, one of these was used in a robbery up here, with the "take" from the robbery being only a couple of hundred dollars. One of the odd things about these is that they're not serial-numbered on the frame, only on the slide.

January 4, 2008, 08:36 AM
There were only about 100 of the NNA 1911s produced.

The Lone Haranguer
January 4, 2008, 09:08 AM
Believe it or not, one of these was used in a robbery up here, with the "take" from the robbery being only a couple of hundred dollars.
I knew I had heard that. :D Talk about irony - his gun could have fetched ten times that, or more.

January 4, 2008, 09:32 AM
Probably less jail time for the armed robbery than selling a gun in Canada.:what:

January 4, 2008, 09:39 AM
Originally Posted by SDC
Believe it or not, one of these was used in a robbery up here, with the "take" from the robbery being only a couple of hundred dollars.

This is hillarious! Any links to an article? Where can I read about this? Questions abound. Where did he get it? Stolen? Did the robber ever find out how much it was worth? What ever happened to it? Was it destroyed as an "evil" illegal firearm?


January 4, 2008, 09:54 AM
It ended up in a forensic collection up here (sort of lucky, since it's a genuine piece of history), but I bet he's still kicking himself over that boner. I didn't hear where HE got it from, though. The Canadian War Museum has an amazing collection of firearms that includes at least one of these as well, but they hardly ever go on display.

January 4, 2008, 12:01 PM
No, one wouldn't want to traumatize people by letting them see a murderous handgun. Guns make normal good hearted people into murderers! Just seeing one is about all it takes, the spirit of evil so pervades them.

January 4, 2008, 12:40 PM
I think Singer made about 800 during WWII then
shifted to manufature other items for the War.
Anybody know the numbers of 1911s produced by
During WWII?

or how many of the Norwegian 1914 were produced.?

January 4, 2008, 06:50 PM
Blind Justice

As I understood it, the Singer 1911s were produced as sort of a pilot program, to see if any manufacturer could produce weapons if given the equipment to do it with. This was in 1941, and Singer produced the 500 pistols by early 1942. The equipment was then taken out and sent to the Ithaca Gun Co. for further production. Singer 1911A1s were the only pistols to have an S prefix with the serial number.

January 4, 2008, 10:28 PM

Apparently NAACO never ran a complete production run of the 1911s; it really was more like the Singer experiment, sort of like a prototype run. It is believed that the whole series was definitely less than 100, making these the rarest of 1911s.


Some numbers that you requested; not real sure as to their accuracy:
United Switch and Signal-50,000
Norwegian-300 Colt M1911 for trials
-33,000 M1914 produced by Kongsberg Vapenfabrik (via FN)

January 5, 2008, 02:49 AM
Singer was awarded educational order No. W-ORD-396 for the manufacture of 500 M1911A1 cal. .45 pistols on April 17, 1940. The contract was to be completed by May 1, 1942. All 500 pistols of the order were posted in Ordinance procurement records by December 1941. They were then shipped to Springfield Armory and distributed mostly to Army Air Corps.

January 5, 2008, 03:20 AM
North American Arms: S/N 1 to 100 & S/N's 111, 222, 333, 444, 555 = July 1, 1918 to Dec. 4, 1918. They are very rare and rank in value with Singer models. (None of these were reported shipped to any branch of the military but about 100 regular models and about 5 presentation models were manufactured in Quebec, Canada by the North American Arms Company, Ltd.)

January 5, 2008, 03:29 AM
More info on the government contracts;

Who made it?

by Robert Gibson (RGIBSON@ua1vm.ua.edu).

Several have posted over last couple of months asking how to ID the
M1911A1 Govt 45 Auto, as in "I've got one, who made the darn thing?"
Good question since the frame usually just says "GOVERNMENT MODEL" or
"UNITED STATES PROPERTY M 1911 A1 U.S.ARMY"...or some such.

I'm certainly no Govt 45 expert but I dug up some info, maybe it will
help....but first a bit of history.

World War I production: Four (4) manufacturers made M1911 pistols that
actually saw use during the war years:

* Colt
* Remington-UMC
* Springfield Armory (U.S. Government owned & operated)
* North American Arms Co. of Quebec (just a VERY FEW)

Seven (7) manufacturers were tooling up to produce M1911 pistols but
the Armistice stopped it all and program was cancelled:

* National Cash Register Co.
* Savage Arms Co.
* Caron Bros. of Montreal
* Burroughs Adding Machine Co.
* Winchester Repeating Arms Co.
* Lanston Monotype Co.
* Savage Munitions Co.

World War II production: five (5) manufacturers made the M1911A1

* Colt
* Ithaca
* Remington-Rand
* Union Switch & Signal
* Singer Sewing Machine Co. (approx. 500)

The problem with ID'ing M1911A1's is that parts are totally
interchange- able, and during the lives of many examples their slides
were many times switched or replaced. Since the slide is the only part
actually marked with the manufacturer's name, you can see the problem
that arises.

The following taken from an article by Charles W. Karwan in the 3/1/95
issue of Classic Firearms will shed some light.

"All is not lost, however. The guns themselves can help you reveal
which company made the pistol's frame. First, if you encounter an
M1911A1 - identified by the finger cutouts and/or the M1911A1
markings on the frame - and it has a slide made by Remington-UMC,
Springfield or Savage, you know the slide is not original to the
gun since the first two manufacturers only made M1911 pistols
during WWI, and the latter only made M1911 slides.

The slide is also not original if it has a drawing number on the
side, usually 7790314. These are replacement slides made long after
WWII by Colt and SanColMar. The same is true if the slide is marked
Drake - the company that built National Match slides for the

Looking at the pistol's frame, here are some rules to help you
identify its maker:

1. The presence of VP proofmark in a triangle at the left front of
the triggerguard; a GHD inspector marking or an M1911A1 marking
with- out any spaces between the figures indicates an M1911A1
manufactured by Colt.

2. A serial number preceded by an "S" indicates an M1911A1 manufact-
ured by Singer _(not many of these around - an understatement)_

3. A serial number preceded by a "NO" instead of a "No" indicates
manufacture by Remington-Rand.

4. An RCD inspector mark or double spacing between the M and 1911A1
indicates manufacture by Union Switch and Signal.

5. A geometric-shape proofmark, like a triangle, arrowhead or such,
on the front left of triggerguard indicates an M1911A1 made by

6. An "X" prefix to the serial number indicates a gun that has been
re-serial numbered by ordnance, and the maker is neither
identifiable or relevant.

These rules will not allow you to identify every single frame you
en- counter, but the will suffice for 99 percent of them."

BTW, when M1911A1 pistols were rebuilt a military facility they were
rebuilt without any regard to the maker of the frame, slide or other
parts...mix 'n match, first in - last out, whatever was expedient to
get the pistol in and out was the rule of thumb. Any such rebuilds
will normally be stamped with a code indicating the facility that did
the work. It might be any of the following (and there may have been
others not shown):

AAA - Anniston Army Depot AA - Augusta Arsenal
OG - Ogden Arsenal MR - Mt. Rainier Ordnance Depot
RA - Raritan Arsenal RR - Red River Arsenal
RIA - Rock Island Arsenal SAA - San Antonio Arsenal
SA - Springfield Armory BA - Benecia Arsenal

Anyway, hope some of this is of help to someone out there.

Robert Gibson

January 5, 2008, 03:29 AM
Bannock the US&S count is 50,000. I had the good fortune to get my hands on a nice example last year.

January 7, 2008, 08:10 PM
Very interresting posts.In the 1999 July/August American Handgunner issue there was an article called "Gimme the money,or maby buy my gun".It was recalling the 1990 story about Danny Simpson of Ottawa Canada. He is the guy that did the bank heist...with a North American Arms .45 pistol. For some reason, I remembered this story and I got one in 2000. This prototype was chrome plated sometime in the 60's.If someone had information regarding pistol the "de-chroming"procedure, I would appreciate greatly. NAA.45, Québec, Canada.

January 7, 2008, 08:38 PM
...you can email me direct ve2psq@amsat.org Regards.

January 7, 2008, 08:47 PM
Dechroming is fairly uncompicated. It's basically changing the polarity around on a a chroming rig. Caswell plating sells some amateur use stuff.

By the way if anyone has an original example for sale contact me I know of Singers that have brought over $50k in private sales. I would think one of these might be worth a bit more than the OP's assertion if properly marketed.

January 7, 2008, 09:36 PM
the 500 or so Singers were actually issued weren't they? If I understand correctly, NAAs were not bought by the US government (or at least not acquired). I guess NAA sold them commercially?

January 7, 2008, 10:02 PM
In 1918 WW1 ended and the NAA pistols did not cross the border.The prototypes or pre-production pistols (approx. 100) were not delivered to the U.S Gov.for whom they were intended .The contract was cancelled. It would be interresting to know how many of these "toolrom pistols" are still in circulation today. From what I know, here in Québec where they were made, mine excluded, I have heard of only 2 other NAAs that have been acquired by Americans. Being by definition non-military would make it more simple.

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