1918 Colt Black Army Curio


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cyclopsshooter
July 21, 2012, 12:26 AM
Looking for some info on this pistol. Clawsons (sure wish I could afford a copy of his commercial model volume) has been an invaluable tool for learning about military 1911s, especially since I so rarely have an opportunity to fondle the older pieces. Seems folk have gobbled 'em up... :cuss: Yesterday was a rare exception.. This came my way of an elderly gun enthusiast who has had it since the 50s or 60s, he can't quite remember. I really didn't have much chance to chat with him but I know he either got this from CMP or the NRA? I have read a little about these post war arsenal rebuilds but they are largely an enigma to me. It is not often that you come by these with the original box but a few things about the pistol bother me.

Notable concerns:
-Wood grips (should they have been plastic?)
-Micro adjustable sights (The gun build is far too loose to be a NM pistol)
-No AA or other arsenal rebuild proof that I can find.
-Mismatch color of parkerizing

Simply notable:
-1950s Colt commercial contract barrel with boxed C
-mismatched small parts as expected from an arsenal rebuild

I wonder about putting original U notch / half moon blade sights back on but I fear that the front post hole has been enlarged for the target sight... ssould I just leave it be?

Oh, and I dearly love the contract slide with box. My only two builds I have never been able to part with were build with these exact slides. Made them a few years ago in college when I couldnt afford a real G.I. :p

http://i415.photobucket.com/albums/pp233/wrc376/IMG_1688.jpg

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Trebor
July 21, 2012, 12:50 AM
I don't have any info to add except to see that that is a great looking pistol.

If you do find out more from some other source, can you make sure to update this thread? I wouldn't mind learning more myself.

For instance, are those 1950's era military replacement slides fully heat treated? Or are they only spot heat treated like the WWII era slides? Are the other specs for them more like wartime military specs or 1950's era Colt commercial specs?

cyclopsshooter
July 21, 2012, 01:14 AM
Yup, they are fully heat treated. Post War "Hard Slides" That's why I chose them for my builds ;) As far as I know all Colts, military and commercial were made true spec... at least through the late 50s or early 60s..

cyclopsshooter
July 21, 2012, 12:00 PM
No GI experts here that know which configurations these came in after rebuild?

Old Fuff
July 21, 2012, 12:25 PM
The pistol is probably one that was sold to NRA members by the Director of Civilian Marksmanship (DCM) which was created by a law signed by President "Teddy" Roosevelt, and finely (mostly) done away with by LBJ around 1968.

These .45 pistols were classified as "Unserviceable" but in fact were fine, and the price as I remember was $17.00 plus shipping and delivered to your door. :what:

They had been Parkerized, and came with World War Two era plastic grips, but they weren't arsenal rebuilds, and are not so marked. Checkered walnut stocks were available so the plastic kind were often changed.

They were not match grade, but the issue sights were often replaced with commercial MICRO adjustable ones. No one at the time thought they'd ever have any collector's value.

During the Korean War time the Army rebuilt a considerable number of the used .45's they still had in inventory. For the purpose they bought upgraded slides, barrels and some other parts. The extra slide you have is one of these.

When Parkerized, different alloy steels, and the condition of the bath and how long parts are left in it can, and does affect the color.

I think what you have is a pistol that served in World War One, and likely in World War Two. It is not impossible it was called back for service in the Korean War. It was finely sold to an NRA member under a program designed to arm, not disarm the civilian population with what were current-day military arms.

Unfortunately times have changed.

cyclopsshooter
July 21, 2012, 04:10 PM
Thank you so much! I suppose 50 years from now it will be more "collectible" because "That's how they did 'em in the 1950s" Being that the front post hole is too large now for a proper sight I suppose I will leave them be... Would like to put plastic grips back on it... these ones seem a little too nice for the match.

Did these come with mismatched used plastics? Or new production of a particular make?

rcmodel
July 21, 2012, 04:15 PM
Your fully checkered wood grips appear to be the same as those we used in the Army in the late 1960's when building National Match guns.

I'd leave them be, as they are no more "wrong" then the sights are "wrong" for the time.

rc

cyclopsshooter
July 21, 2012, 05:10 PM
Noted. Thankyou THR

Jim K
July 21, 2012, 07:24 PM
When those pistols were rebuilt, they were generally refinished (Parkerized) and upgraded to some extent. But pistols in the hands of using units were not subject to some massive recall for refinish or upgrade. If they were OK and the finish was still good, they stayed where they were. So a fair number of M1911 pistols were later sold through the DCM without being Parkerized or upgraded. Those purchasers were lucky and some got beautiful guns for their $17.

Jim

1911Tuner
July 21, 2012, 07:34 PM
Those purchasers were lucky and some got beautiful guns for their $17.

They did for a fact. My ol' man got two nice ones. A Colt and one of those clones from Swissvale, Pa.

Yes. I've still got both, and no...they're not for sale.

cyclopsshooter
July 21, 2012, 08:39 PM
They did for a fact. My ol' man got two nice ones. A Colt and one of those clones from Swissvale, Pa.

Yes. I've still got both, and no...they're not for sale.

So you're the curmudgeon keeping all the goodies from my safe... :(

Old Fuff
July 21, 2012, 09:08 PM
So you're the curmudgeon keeping all the goodies from my safe...

Oh heck no, I am too. :neener:

cyclopsshooter
July 21, 2012, 11:59 PM
Suppose I shouldn't complain too much- You guys have earned your stripes... And I inherited a neat 1941 Luger from my dad too, he bought it off of a customer of his that brought it back from North Africa. Anyway, this is my meager start to U.S. pistols. My second build on the bottom.. the first is buried in my desk at work.. Cheers to all you curmudgeonly enthusiasts preserving our firearm heritage-

http://i415.photobucket.com/albums/pp233/wrc376/IMG_1697-1.jpg

Trebor
July 22, 2012, 12:18 AM
Cyclops,

Nice looking collection there and a nicely done pic.

It's too bad that GI 1911's are now out of the reach of many beginning collectors (including me).

Old Fuff, et al, what's the relative value of one that has had those aftermarket sights installed and been rebuilt compared to more "stock" examples these days? I may have to look for one of those, but if they are the same, or more expensive, it won't matter...

cyclopsshooter
July 22, 2012, 01:14 AM
Fuff and Tuner probably have a better idea than me but I am operating with a loose assumption that the two Black Army pistols in the photo are worth about $600 each. (Mind you I see very few of these) I don't particularly trust the GB pricing- The asking prices are out of this world and the completed auctions where one actually sells still seems a little high. My two are at the low end.. From what i understand though, the really rough one in original condition (even as crappy as mine) is more desirable to a collector than the refinished one. A refinished WWI parts gun is probably the most affordable G.I. you can get... Actually a raw Remington Rand might be had for the same.

Old Fuff
July 22, 2012, 12:03 PM
You have collectors, and then you have shooters. The DCM sold those pistols to what were presumed to be shooters, and usually that was the case. Collector value didn't enter into the question because at the time it was't much.

What collectors want today is an example that is completely original and hopefully unfired. Obviously that doesn't happen very often, but when it does a big chunk of money can change hands.

Your pistol would have some appeal to a would-be collector who couldn't afford the high-end one, and also someone who wanted to occasionally shoot it.

From a collectors' point of view, mixed parts and non-original finish is important. From a shooter's perspective this doesn't matter, and the rebuilt pistol may have advantages (hard slide, better sights, etc.) then one still in its original form.

Enjoy it for what it is... :)

1911Tuner
July 22, 2012, 04:40 PM
Pistols that were in actual service...either as trainers or sent to theater...are only rarely original. Something has been changed somewhere along the line, even if it's only a pin or a spring. There are, of course, a few that were liberated early on, and a few issued new to General Officers, or Chicken Colonels and such that did a career and were only fired occasionally, and then sold or gifted to them on retirement...but for the most part, if it's truly original...it was likely stolen.

There are a good many that are "original enough" and correct, and are commanding some pretty steep prices.

This March 1919 production Colt is one of those. I turned down a solid offer of 2500 dollars, and then sold the minty Remington Rand on the table a month later to the same guy for that amount.

http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e243/1911Tuner/Colt.jpg

cyclopsshooter
July 22, 2012, 04:57 PM
Your 1919 is almost as nekkid as mine- mine is correct aside from the grips and a WWII Colt barrel (with a dark nasty bore)

Old Fuff
July 22, 2012, 05:33 PM
In 1918 Colt was having some serious problems. Uncle Sam wanted more pistols then they could produce, and one bad bottleneck was the bluing.

It was a heat process that dated back to the middle 19th century, if not before. Parts were blued on a grate over a charcoal fire. For a high commercial blue many polishing steps were required, but the Army was not interested in a high-polish blue, so the number of steps had been reduced and that resulted in a flat, black that was to say the least, unattractive. They also rushed the cleaning steps, part of which involved boiling gasoline... :eek:

One consequence was that it wasn't long before the blue started to fleck off. But there was a war on, and nobody payed much attention.

After the war, and during the 1920's and 30's Springfield Armory refinished a lot of them, and others were sold as surplus. Whatever was missed usually got Parkerized after 1939.

This is the reason that few 1918 and 1819 pistols are found with an original finish, and when they are most of it is gone and the underlaying metal is a dull gray.

1911Tuner
July 22, 2012, 06:27 PM
mine is correct aside from the grips and a WWII Colt barrel

Mine is original/correct, including the barrel...which is bright and clean, with sharp rifling. Very likely stolen early on. After 90 years...who knows or cares.

For a high commercial blue many polishing steps were required, but the Army was not interested in a high-polish blue, so the number of steps had been reduced and that resulted in a flat, black that was to say the least, unattractive.

Hence the term: "Black" Army Colt.

cyclopsshooter
July 22, 2012, 07:52 PM
Mine is original/correct, including the barrel...which is bright and clean, with sharp rifling. Very likely stolen early on.

If you want I can take it to the next near by gun buy back for you- THR sure doesn't need the publicity of a moderator in possession of a stolen weapon.

cyclopsshooter
July 22, 2012, 09:03 PM
Tuner, I just noticed the magazine in your Colt does not fit flush. I have three WWI mags with my 1919 and they all sit low like yours... Is that indicative of Black Army production?

1911Tuner
July 23, 2012, 07:03 AM
It's the mag catch. I haven't spec-ed the gun out, so I don't know if it's the location or wear, and I haven't even tried a different catch. It doesn't affect the function, and the pistol will feed hollowpoints and 200-grain cast SWC of the H&G #68 flavor as slick as hardball...and it does it from that magazine. I haven't shot it a lot, but I have shot it enough to prove reliability.

As an interesting aside...from the bags, it'll shoot into 4 inches at 50 yards with PMC hardball, close enough to POA to call it that, and with the cast bullets with 890fps mv...about an inch-point-five low and into nearly an inch smaller group. Not too shabby for an old girl.

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