Are the current Colt 1911 .45 models any good?


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Iron Sight
March 15, 2008, 05:40 AM
Are the current Colt 1911 .45 models any good? Would you buy one?

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paperpuncher49
March 15, 2008, 06:21 AM
Iron Sight,

Yes and yes. And only just yesterday I had an opportunity to shoot a friend's new Gold Cup. All I can say is sweeeeet!

Geno
March 15, 2008, 06:22 AM
Yes, they are wonderful. Many of them pass through the custom shop for hand-fitting. I have several of the new Colts, and they all work well.

I bought one that the finish was less then desirable. I am an admitted perfectionist. Colt made it right. In fact, they made it perfect.

Old Fuff
March 15, 2008, 12:34 PM
Yes and no, and a possible maybe.... :confused:

None of today's 1911 platform pistols are being made to the original U.S. Government blueprints and material specifications. These older guns were the ones that established the pistol's reputation for reliability under the most difficult conditions. Reliability should be the first and principal feature when one is selecting a pistol to use or carry as a weapon. Otherwise this issue may not be so important.

In what they perceive to be customer expectations manufacturers have tightened or “adjusted” some dimensions and tolerances that are more in keeping with a match or target pistol, and degraded the materials used to make some parts. While the results may (or may not) offer better accuracy this sometimes comes at the expense of reliability.

Only a handful of makers actually manufacture the pistol, in the sense that they make the frames, slides, and barrels that go into their products. The rest buy the parts from various vendors, and assemble the parts into guns. Thus they are dependent on the vendor’s quality control procedures, which can vary from good to nonexistent. All of the current makers buy smaller components from outside sources, and again these parts may be good, bad or indifferent. They also buy magazines (which is a critical component) from different suppliers, and too many guns come with magazines that are simply junk.

Because of all this, currently manufactured 1911 platform pistols are most often the subjects of posts that concern functional problems, and in fact these complaints outnumber all other service pistols combined.

It would be unfair to say that all current production consists of absolute junk. But it is clear that when it comes to out-of-the-box reliability these new guns are a crapshoot – most work fine, but too many don’t. This isn’t the way it used to be prior to about 1965 when cutting costs became more important than making quality products, and in all fairness this observation should not be limited to 1911 style pistols.

If one is looking for a big boy toy and not a serious weapon the gamble may be worth it when buying a current production gun. Speaking for myself, I’m not willing to gamble considering the price most of these go for. Others of course have a different opinion but you will find endless posts on this forum from the buyers that got burned.

What you do is up to you, and your decision should be governed by what purpose the pistol is going to be used for, and how much risk regarding a lemon you’re willing to take.

Walkalong
March 15, 2008, 01:27 PM
That is the sad truth Old Fluff. The good news is there are a great many 1911's out there that work great, despite all that. :)

Old Fuff
March 15, 2008, 02:01 PM
The good news is there are a great many 1911's out there that work great, despite all that.

Sometimes... but the issue is that too many don't, and that all of them have reliability issues built in, that the government specification guns didn't.

The makers believe (maybe correctly) that the buyers want big boy toys, so this is what they build. That, and because of production costs they keep going to more and more materials that don't have any place in an early 20th century design.

What interests me is that they can do this and get away with it... :(

Iron Sight
March 15, 2008, 02:01 PM
Thinking about a new Colt Gold Cup .45

Geno
March 15, 2008, 02:08 PM
Why a Gold Cup? I ask because both of my new Series 70 reissues are far more accurate than my new Gold Cup. I don't know of others' experience, but that is mine.

I enjoy taking my pistols to the range and allowing other people to fire them as see their results. Thus far, others too agree that my Series 70s seem to be the most accurate that I own. Perhaps it is only my pistols.

Old Fuff
March 15, 2008, 02:28 PM
The advantage is that the Gold Cup has adjustable/more visable sights. This may or may not matter depending on the intended use. If one is more accurate it's a matter of individual guns.

At one time, during the dark, dark past - Colt test fired and targeted each Gold Cup, and included the target in the box.

Today's buyer will find a fired cartridge case, because the gun might be sent to New York or Maryland... :rolleyes: :banghead:

Mal H
March 15, 2008, 02:32 PM
:confused:

[He looks puzzlingly up at the top of the page - yep, we're still in the Handloading and Reloading forum.]

Moving this to the Semiauto forum.

jdc1244
March 15, 2008, 02:39 PM
Thus far, others too agree that my Series 70s seem to be the most accurate that I own. Perhaps it is only my pistols.

My S 70 repo as well.

To the OP: the two Colts I bought recently - models O1970 and O1091 – have worked perfectly with no problems. I believe Colts are top quality and I can recommend them.

CWL
March 15, 2008, 03:11 PM
My new Combat Commander had a horribly-fitted bushing that I had to replace, beyond that, looks & function are pretty good.

Walkalong
March 15, 2008, 03:19 PM
Sometimes... but the issue is that too many don't, and that all of them have reliability issues built in, that the government specification guns didn't.
Agreed, and I took that into consideration when I said "the good news"

I fully understand that these new 1911's are not what the wartime 1911's were by a long shot, but despite all that, the original design is good enough, that even altered, it still works a great deal of the time. :)

SlamFire1
March 15, 2008, 03:58 PM
None of today's 1911 platform pistols are being made to the original U.S. Government blueprints and material specifications.


And I doubt they could.

What Old Fuff has not mentioned that the original Colt M1911 was never made to a TDP. My source is "The Colt .45 Service Pistols" by Charles W. Clawson. Colt built the M1911 following a master model, in the model shop. All dimensions, critical or otherwise, were measured off this master model.

When WWI kicked off, only Colt could make M1911's. There were not enough of them, so now you know the origin of the M1917 45 ACP.

Colt was given a contract to develop drawings, and the due date was 6 Feb 1918. The drawings were so dimensionally incorrect and did not contain all important information that a functioning pistol could not be built from them. Instead of using the Colt drawings, Remington UMC received ten functioning Colt pistols, five of which were acceptable for taking measurements.

Remington created a set of "Salvage" drawings based on the average measurements taken from these Colt pistols. While you could not build a functioning pistol from these drawings, this TDP formed the basis for all subsequent production, including the WWII pistols.

From an gunsmith friend of mine, who was on the Armalite 50 design team, he has gotten pages of the Government M1911 TDP (I think it took a Freedom of Information act to get those), and he has found inconsistencies and tolerance problems with the existing TDP. So it appears that you cannot build a functioning M1911 from the obsolete M1911 TDP.

What I think is going on is manufacturers have created their own standards for dimensions in the M1911's they produce. This is the same situation for AR-15's. So at some level you can interchange parts without problems, but also at some level, you are going to find that some parts won't drop in.

Now, as for the New Colts being any good. Everything I read is that they function and go bang. Few gun stores carry them anymore because they are very expensive. A local high volume store claims that they are not as well built as other premium manufacturers, so they don't stock them. I don't doubt that, I have picked up new Colt M1911's and found they rattled more than the cheapest Springfield Armory M1911. At half the cost. I also have heard directly from people who have been to Colt that their machinery is obsolete. At least five years ago, when I heard this from a guy who was offered an important manufacturing position in the company, they did not have something as modern as a modern CNC machine center.

If Colt ever facilitizes, gets new equipment, their quality will get better. Subcontracting with quality manufacturers will help. If they will sub contract everything but the final fitting inhouse you will get a well built product. This is what they did on the Colt Blackpowder series. All the major components were made by Uberti, content laws allowed Colt to stamp “Made in the US” on the pistols. For Colt, we will see.

MM
March 15, 2008, 08:40 PM
In my experience, some 30 + years hence, that "rattle" in an issue government model .45 equaled a functioning weapon. In my particular situation, on a distant cold beach, with a shot-dry M-14, cast aside, that old, "rattley" pistol loaded with 230 grain ball ammo did it's job with enough reliability and combat accuracy to turn the tide and earn it's wielder a decoration for proficiency with same. I own and shoot several rattle-prone .45's to this day.
MM

MICHAEL T
March 16, 2008, 01:05 AM
My last 2 new colts have been great right out of the box Relieable and accurate

Hunter0924
March 16, 2008, 01:42 AM
The current Colt Government Models are excellent pistols hand built built with quality material.

JasperST5
March 16, 2008, 09:27 AM
I read a review of a Colt plant tour and it does seem that their equipment is not current state of the art and maybe because of their union, much is still hand done. I think that can work for you or against you depending on the particular hands putting the guns together. I was so impressed with my recent new LW Commander that I bought a steel one a week ago. I haven't shot it yet but I dry cycles just fine, fit and finish are top notch.

scubie02
March 16, 2008, 09:59 AM
hmm, well, conventional wisdom seems to be that they are not the gun to order sight unseen--you want to be able to look it over in person beofe buying as they are prone to things like the dustcovers/guiderod holes being off center an such. I have two nrm Colt's as well and 1911's by several other makers, mostly S&W and Springfield. On the down side the Colt's are the least accurate of my 1911's, but they are what I would consider "combat accurate" and comparable to most auto's. Finish is probably about comparable to the springfield's, with the smith's having a bit better finish/semi melted quality, though I have seen some with poorly fitted triggers or grip safeties or with the odd blemishes in the finish. ALL of my 1911's have been completely reliable--guess I've just been lucky as I hear they are all jamomatics ;)

My advice is go to a shop with a decent selection, handle them all, and buy the one that looks good and feels the best to you (they tend to have subtle differences in grip safeties, etc.)

Walkalong
March 16, 2008, 10:03 AM
The ones I have seen look real nice, but I have not fired one.

riverdog
March 16, 2008, 12:09 PM
I own two Colt 1991A1 pistols. The first needed some work but is a good shooter now. The second came out of the box with a good trigger, accurate and reliable. My initial thought was to send it to the 1* custom work done, but then thought, "Why? It's fine as is." The recent Colt 1991 and Series 70 pistols have improved much over the Colt pistols of the 80's.

paul45
March 16, 2008, 02:21 PM
Absolutely yes to both questions!!

weisse52
March 16, 2008, 09:02 PM
My last three Colts have been flawless from the get-go. And yes, my Series 70 repro is my most accurate 1911 I own.

They may not be what they where 30+ years ago, but given the choice between a Colt and most other 1911's, I will take the Colt.

You experience may differ, mine says buy.

Iron Sight
March 18, 2008, 10:14 PM
Got my Gold Cup today. Still looking at it! It appears very fine and I ran some unloaded dummy's through it. Did a field strip & mopped up what I thought was excessive almost dripping lubrication. I will not get to shoot it for 2 or 3 days and it will be some of my re-loads. 230 FMJ and 200 Lead SWC's that my Kimber Custom II likes. Interesingly it came with an extra recoil spring + extra magazine. Did not have the paper proof target described by Gun Gallery? If its like my Kimber it will take at least 500 rounds before judgement. (Kimber is good)

Baneblade
March 19, 2008, 11:24 AM
I have owned two colts. The first, my first pistol, is an Officers model, and I have had feeding and ejecting problems. It was my carry gun but was replaced and is now kept for sentimental value.

The second was a new Colt Gunsite Pistol. I LOVED that gun... until the sights fell off. The front sight was a Trijicon and the rear was a Novak. Turns out the slide was over-milled. I returned the gun.

My personal opinion is that you are paying a couple hundred $ for the "Colt" logo. I feel very confident in saying that because I am also a Colt certified armorer. I have seen a lack of quality in their 1911 and AR-15 line. They are good quality, just not as good as they claim or charge.

texagun
March 19, 2008, 11:35 AM
Old Fluff hit it on the head. Current Colt quality is hit or miss. Quality varies from piece to piece. Last year I bought 3 new Colts. Among them was a WWI Repro and a 70 Series Repro. I looked at several examples of each before I found one that I would buy. Beware of improperly fitted slides, slides rubbing on dust covers, recoil spring plug holes drilled off-center, poor triggers, poor finish or polish jobs, etc. That being said, when you find one you like, without any of the above-mentioned problems, you will have a superb gun that will likely serve you for a lifetime and only increase in value. I love the Colt products but I wish their Quality Control were a bit better. I would never buy one sight-unseen. You stand a good chance of winding up with something you won't be happy with.

Omaha-BeenGlockin
March 19, 2008, 11:59 AM
2 newish Colts here---no problems at all.

2nd 41
March 19, 2008, 12:45 PM
I just bought Stainless Gold Cup. Accurate & flawless. And pretty. I'm thinking about buying a Blue GC also. You can't go wrong buying a GC. This is my third.

Old Fuff
March 19, 2008, 09:13 PM
SlamFire1:

What Old Fuff has not mentioned that the original Colt M1911 was never made to a TDP. My source is "The Colt .45 Service Pistols" by Charles W. Clawson.

Ah… I think you need to read the book again… Your history is a bit muddled.

Colt built the M1911 following a master model, in the model shop. All dimensions, critical or otherwise, were measured off this master model.

Mostly true, parts were also gauged by both machine operators and inspectors. Keep in mind that Uncle Sam had their own inspectors at the plant, and apparently they didn’t get upset with all of this. Otherwise they would have shut down production.

Colt was given a contract to develop drawings, and the due date was 6 Feb 1918. The drawings were so dimensionally incorrect and did not contain all important information that a functioning pistol could not be built from them. Instead of using the Colt drawings, Remington UMC received ten functioning Colt pistols, five of which were acceptable for taking measurements.

Well not exactly. According to the original contract between Colt and the Army the company would produce the first 50,000 pistols to recover some of their development and tooling costs. Thereafter the government could set up Springfield Armory as a second source. For obvious reasons the military services did not want all of their eggs in one basket. Springfield’s first order was received on December 27, 1912. This is when the Army discovered that Colt couldn’t produce drawings, so they selected 20, (not 10) Colt pistols that had been gauged and were known to be dimensionally accurate, took them apart, measured everything, averaged the results, and made their own drawings. These were completed on or about September 1914, so obviously The Army’s Ordnance Department would have been able to provide Remington UMC with a set by February 1918. I presume that these drawings and other assistance from Colt worked, because Springfield Armory did indeed manufacture the 1911 pistol prior to 1918.

However for some reason they placed an order with Colt to provide Remington UMC with drawings and gauges. Colt did so, but Remington found the drawings to be unacceptable, and so made their own. They too were filled with inaccuracies, and problems with part interchangeability continued throughout most of the war.

In passing I would point out that the pistols that were made by Colt, Springfield Armory (the U.S. Arsenal, not the company), and Remington UMC earned an excellent reputation for reliable service under the worst of conditions, issues with different sets of blueprints not withstanding.

Having been badly burned by the “blueprint wars” between Colt and various other contractors during World War One, the Ordnance Dept. came out of it determined to get the issue settled once and for all, and between the two world wars they developed what became the 1911A1 pistol, and saw to it that a full and accurate set of drawings were created.

The above paragraphs describe problems during the era when the original 1911 pistol was being made. When World War Two arrived the military services were using the 1911A1 version and serious discrepancies with blueprints and dimensioning had been resolved. What had happened in the past was moot.

Now as to the question of availability of up-to-date machine drawings of the 1911A1 pistol and they’re use by current manufacturers. It seems to have been implied that these were, or are difficult to obtain. Not so. Anyone, be they a pistol manufacturer, gunsmith, or simply a hobbyist can purchase a full set from this link:

www.nicolausassociates.com

And probably other sources. They are interesting, but largely ignored by current makers. Either they buy all of the parts from other sources and then assemble them, with minimal or no inspection – or they make their own parts to their own blueprints. These we are sometimes assured, represent an improved product with tighter tolerances then those seen in the “government gun.” They are less apt to explain why so many of the “improved models,” have functional problems, don’t always work with the magazines that come with the gun, and require long (and expensive) break-in periods before they (maybe) can be expected to work.

We are also not supposed to notice that other service pistols made by Beretta, Glock, H&K, Ruger, SIG, and others do generally work reliably out-of-the box, and with the magazines they are shipped with. One may contend that the newer guns are indeed superior regardless of their shortcomings, but the fact is that the earlier guns, made to USGI drawings and government inspection procedures, have a better overall reputation for reliability then those being made now.

Hawk
March 19, 2008, 10:49 PM
My first centerfire semi-auto was a Colt Gold Cup purchased round about '79 give or take. What a nightmare that was - swore off 1911s for a long time from that episode. It may not have run well but at least it was expensive.

Fast forward 25 years and I bought a bog-standard Colt as part of a group buy from some cranky Alaskan. It runs well, I rather like the sorta polished blued flats and, despite a notable lack of bling, has usable sights. Based on a limited sample size of one, I'd say they've improved.

Sometimes the good old days weren't. Colt was supposedly having all manner of issues, most of which manifested in my Gold Cup, Harley Davidson was making motorcycles out of bowling ball parts and hating life and even S&W was, thankfully rarely, producing pinned and recessed stinkers.

I've heard Colt now makes SAAs with removable bushings and acceptable trigger actions making the 3rd gen much less of the crap shoot it once was, rumor has it the MIM part count is reduced in their 1911s, new S&Ws have disturbingly nice triggers I've read reports that Dennis of Yonkers has gratified sufficient numbers of people recently that several have made note of same on internet fora and I found a dealer that would rather take a molten lead enema than use the words "limp wrist" or "break in" and understands what a weapon is supposed to do.

As Fuff and Tuner have noted, the manufacturers only ship meadow muffins because we tolerate it. Perhaps we're starting to not tolerate it any more - I had my Howard Beale moment a couple of years ago and things are much improved. Everybody else's milage may, of course, vary.

The only proper response to being told you need to buy Wilson 47Ds to make your new gun run:
http://www.wfmu.org/Playlists/Ken/gfx/howard_beale.jpg

dfariswheel
March 20, 2008, 12:07 AM
Interesingly it came with an extra recoil spring

Note that Colt used to send TWO recoil springs with the Gold Cup. The loose spring was for light target ammo, and the spring that was in the gun was for full power ammo.

MAKE SURE WHAT YOU HAVE BEFORE INSTALLING THE OTHER SPRING.
Shooting the gun with full power ammo and a light weight spring can damage the gun.

Airjunki
November 26, 2009, 12:40 AM
The older ones may have been made to original U.S. Government blueprints and material specifications but they were also baby rattles back then weren't they?

gc70
November 26, 2009, 01:37 AM
but they were also baby rattles back then weren't they?

Nope. The original 1911s were made to tolerances to ensure reliability. What you refer to is the observed result of wear from use during a service life of half a century.

mm6mm6
November 26, 2009, 09:50 AM
http://www.gunblast.com/TALO-Colts.htm

Check out the above review and excellent photos, including groups sizes and make your decision based on a professional's actually handling and firing of new Colt 1911's.

If you enjoyed reading about "Are the current Colt 1911 .45 models any good?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!