Colt 1911 made from inferior metals


March 3, 2009, 11:14 AM
I am looking at a "Combat Government Model" and mentioned it to a friend. He stated what I wrote in the thread title and said they have a reputation for not holding up over time and high-volume shooting. Stated they just "beat themselves to death" due to the use of lesser quality metals. He mentioned a couple of other points but it all sounded like a bunch of internet "and so on.." stuff he had heard. Thing is, he knows quite a bit about guns and I normally trust what he tells me. He has been dead-on with a lot of other advice he has given me in the past. But this is something I've not heard before even though he made it sound like it was common knowledge. I read a lot about guns on the web, mainly on forums similar to this one (THR is my favorite and by-far the best!) and I haven't come across this info before. (That doesn't mean it's not true.) I was more than a little dismayed at hearing this, not just because I really want that Colt but also because I don't want this to be true about an iconic American company.

He did go on to state he doesn't hate Colt in general and has no axe to grind. He loves their revolvers, small autos and AR-style rifles but would never own one of their 1911's because of this.

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March 3, 2009, 11:22 AM
Colt has been making the 1911 forever. QC has been an issue only a few times. Why would Colt make the iconic 1911 of sub-standard quality parts, and none of the rest of their firearms? The United States military must not have had too much trouble with them, as they kept the last ordered guns, circa 1945, in service for nearly 40 years.

March 3, 2009, 11:25 AM
After extremely high round counts I imagine every other pistol in the world beats itself to death too.

Only gecko45 has the fabled 1911 made from unobtaniundisctuctiblium.

I think the friend is privy to some erroneous information here.

March 3, 2009, 12:24 PM
By the way... I heard from a friend, who heard from a reliable 2nd hand source, that Springfield 1911's have been made from pencil shavings and Elmer's Glue for years. I've fired hundreds of rounds through my Springfield with no ill effects... Knock on my 1911.

Sorry OP, but this thread has no merit what so ever.

March 3, 2009, 12:35 PM
Some of the MEU(SOC) pistols have over 500,000 rounds on the frame and were last built in 1945.

March 3, 2009, 12:39 PM
guess I better retire my dads WWI era 1911.and we were getting so close to the gazillion round mark. jwr

March 3, 2009, 12:43 PM
Your friend is full of it!

Many of the custom pistol-smiths who build the very best and very highest dollar 1911's, will only do it on a Colt frame & slide, or a very select few other brands.

Wilson Combat for instance, will only build a custom gun on a Colt, Springfield, Kimber, or Smith & Wesson frame.

Why do you suppose that is?


Baba Louie
March 3, 2009, 12:52 PM
My dear departed Dad (a machinist/smith) always steered me away from Colts alloy framed models and showed me some older LW Commander frames that had hairline cracks developing around the high stress points... but he did love the 1911 format and the old Warhorse Colts in particular.

Older heat treating or lack thereof perhaps, but I'd take the "Inferior metals" factotum with a shaker of salt, myself.

But that's just me and I have been wrong more times than I like to remember. :rolleyes:

March 3, 2009, 04:31 PM
+1 rcmodel - Colts have forged frames and sslides, and are a top
choice for a base platform to build a custom 1911 because they're
built to correct spec. dimensions.


March 3, 2009, 05:05 PM
GI M1911s and M1911A1s have been known to crack, regardless of the maker. Heat treatment for these pistols was still in it's infancy. Lightweight Commanders have a history of cracking the aluminum frame.

Modern Colt 1911s whether forged steel or aluminum framed have no such history. Perhaps your friend was thinking about high round count M1911s. If he was talking about a modern Colt 1911, then he is wrong.

March 3, 2009, 05:13 PM
When a steel-frame 1911 cracks, it is almost always through the very thin section of slide rail right above the slide-stop pin cut.

It is purely cosmetic.

I used to weld, re-cut the slide rail & refinish them, but have since concluded it is a waste of time.

Once they crack after thousands of rounds, they never get worse anyway.


Lone Star
March 3, 2009, 08:44 PM
rc model-

Star was aware of this. On many of their late guns, they made a relief cut at the top of the slide stop hole, to preclude this very problem.

Old Colt autos were made of softer steels, not as well heat treated as post WW II guns. They will show wear sooner. Light alloy frames have indeed been known to crack. One did in a trial by, "Shooting Times" years ago. I think it lasted about 5500 rounds before the crack was noted, I think by the late writer Skeeter Skelton.

Modern steel Colts will withstand more use than anyone but a competitive shooter will ever give them. I suspect that is also true of the ex-GI ones, in most cases.

Lone Star

March 3, 2009, 10:45 PM
"Sorry OP, but this thread has no merit what so ever."

My apologies to you, gglass, but when I have a question about guns, this is where I usually come for the answer.:mad:

Most of the responses seem to be similar and I would have thought as much, but he seemed to speak matter-of-fact about it, again as if it was universally known and accepted. (Like a S+W 19/66 being prone to cracked forcing cones or similar...) I am not an expert but am pretty "into" guns. I was probably more put out by the fact that I'd never heard it before than the thought of it actually being true! Thanks for the responses, all.......

..........except YOU, gglass :neener:

glocks rock
March 3, 2009, 11:38 PM
QC might be bad at Colt but the materials they use in their guns is top notch. I think Colt has the best frames,slides and barrles on the market.

March 4, 2009, 12:46 AM
he must been thinking about Kimbers Mine Elcips frame came pre rusted from factory Never has a SS Colt come that way.

March 4, 2009, 04:22 AM
Colt has been guilty of sloppy manufacturing, careless assembly and continuing to use worn tooling, but I've never heard about purposely using inferior metals.

March 4, 2009, 08:33 AM
At first - unattentive- glance I misread the title as "Colt 1911 made for mental inferiors". That could have been a suicidal thread.

March 4, 2009, 09:22 AM
Early Remington made 1911 pistols did have some issues with soft steel and not meeting hardness requirements to the point that Springfield Armory, the actual Armory, not the Inc., had to step in and provide frames and slides during the initial set up of production.

Once production was up and going the pistols produced were completely adequate and met the military expectations.

Your buddy probably heard or read something about this incident and assumed all the pistols were soft and this isn't true.

Product improvement took place throughout the production runs of military 1911 and 1911A1 pistols.

The only time that quality of the product ever dropped off is when military contracts were fulfilled and the commercial side of Colt got into the act.

Commercial interests generally involve cheapening up the production costs, i.e, cutting corners, while maintaining the top prices realized.
Even so, these cost cutting measures have never involved making the gun frames of slides softer so they wear out quicker.

Your buddy may be mistaking Colt for another large American manufacturer that is no longer making firearms.

The Lone Haranguer
March 4, 2009, 09:49 AM
It is certainly possible to manufacture a part out of specs - e.g., frame feed ramp contours/angle, pin hole location - but inferior metal is very farfetched. If anything, metal alloy composition, quality and heat treating have improved - simply because of advancing technology - since the gun's introduction.

March 4, 2009, 10:46 AM
Pretty much what CWL posted; there have been various times in the recent past when labor problems and poor business practices allowed for some sub-standard M1911s to be shipped from the factory. But in all the years I've been dealing with Colt M1911s, I've yet to see one that was faulty due to its construction from inferior metal.

March 4, 2009, 03:11 PM
Please get rid of EVERY COLT 1911 YOU HAVE, THEY ARE JUNK! I'm in a gracious mood and will send you $100. USPS money order, for each and every COLT junk you own, even those Argentinian made Systema things. Don't thank me, I know, I'm just a good guy.:evil:


March 4, 2009, 03:23 PM
I carry my late father's 1969 built Colt 1911 every day. I know for a fact that it has well over a thousand rounds through it and is still all original, heck I even had the box it came in when my mom bought it for him in 1970. It shows no signs of abnormal wear and has yet to beat its self to death. Nothing but good memories and holster wear.

March 4, 2009, 03:43 PM
Star was aware of this. On many of their late guns, they made a relief cut at the top of the slide stop hole, to preclude this very problem.

I think you may be referring to the slide stop cut in the slide, at the upper left side (top) of the cut there is a tiny hole, or end milled cut. The mentioned area RCmodel was talking about is in the frame, I've seen them cracked through there and modern Colts have no bridge across the top, at least my stainless Commander doesn't, why have it if it's just going to crack anyway. :)
I just looked at my Star S models, neither of them has the little hole in the corner that I mentioned, but my Llama .380 does. As a machinist I've often wondered how they get a square blind corner in the slide stop notch in the slide on any of them.

As to the OP's question, I don't know what materials Colt currently uses, I'd assume that the blued ones are made to ordinance or commercial specifications. Kuhnhausen states "Late ordinance specified slide material is gun quality 4140 or 8650 steel, austenitic grain size 5 or smaller.", and "Investment cast from IC 4140 or IC 8650 steels, grades A and B per (milspecs)."
The same source states (frame) material is SAE 1035 or 1127 steel, and later commercial frames are 4130 and 4140 steels for blued guns and 410 and 416 stainless for stainless guns. None of that is specific to Colt, nor do I expect that most modern commercial makers care about ordinance specs.

One point here I'd like to make is that Colt has it's own steels division, unless something has changed.

I've heard that knife makers like some of Colt's steels.

March 4, 2009, 09:52 PM
Wilson Combat also builds on Norinco frames and slides. So is a Norinco just as good as a Colt because Wilson Combat uses them? Just kidding, I know the answer. I think the idea that Colt has the HIGHEST quality slides and frames is absurd.

March 5, 2009, 09:12 AM
They have Elmer's glue in Brazil?

Good ol' Elmer.

Izaak Walton
March 5, 2009, 09:45 AM
I guess we can say good by to Elmer’s glue in schools now.:p

March 5, 2009, 05:36 PM
I think this might be a Metal Injection Molding (MIM) issue. I understand that Colt is using this technique to make some parts now. Like any new technique, there is a learning curve. Like any technique, its possible to do wrong.

March 5, 2009, 07:35 PM
Colt uses less MIM parts than Springfield, Kimber, S&W.

The claim of inferior metal is just BS hearsay without any knowledge of facts.

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