Reblued Colt 1911


Kyle M.
December 12, 2012, 02:11 PM
I have a chance to buy a commercial colt 1911 government made in 1913, the only problem is that it's been reblued. Now I realize that it has lost all of it's collector value, but I still would like to have a 1911 made that early in production. LGS is asking $550 OTD is that a bad price? Also if I get it would it even make a decent shooter? I've heard rumors that the early 1911's werent heat treated that well but I don't know if thats true. Maybe I'm thinking of the wartime models that had the slides only partially hardened.

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December 12, 2012, 02:35 PM
Buy it! A 1913 Colt that's been reblued? Does it look at least decent? For $550, I'd buy it immediately. Maybe try to round it off to $500 just for the hell of it, but I'd buy it! As far as shooting.....yes the early Colts can develope cracks in the frame because of lower quality steel and heat treating, but if you handload and stick to mild target loads, it should be fine. Just don't run hot loads through it, or shoot it a LOT.

But oh hell yeah, I'd jump on it like a horny chimp. Certainly up to you though. It's not a collectable because it's been refinished, but that's not a collectable price either.

Jim Watson
December 12, 2012, 02:47 PM
If the reblue was well done, it is surely worth that much.

It IS built out of unhardened mild steel such that the 6000 round endurance test of the Army trials was the wonder of the age.
If you wear it out, the slide is liklier to break than the frame. The frame is not really a heavily stressed part and there are guns out there that have worn out multiple slides.

December 12, 2012, 02:53 PM
".... has lost all of it's collector value,"

All? Absolutely not true. Not even half its collector value.

If finishes were so valuable, they'd be selling bottles of chemicals filled at the time as collector pieces.

Finish only adds or subtracts limited value from a base, collectible firearm.

Just don't overpay at pristine, unmolested value and you're fine. Let the purists go around never able to afford the guns tey want because the one's they can afford aren't "correct".

From you're description - I'd buy it.

December 12, 2012, 03:44 PM
The price is probably OK.
The steel issue is not "rumors".
It wasn't a matter of "inferior" steel, Colt used quality steels.
The problem is that those pistols were not heat treated AT ALL till several years later than the one you're talking about.
Slides do crack, and for that reason most of us advise not to shoot them.

My 1918 will never be fired as long as I own it & that's why.
And, if I were to re-blue it, it WOULD lose more than half its value in its current original condition.

Re collector value, the one you're looking at really has little to none. The loss in value is much more than "limited".
Serious collectors are generally not interested in a re-finished pistol.

December 12, 2012, 04:38 PM
Any refinished firearm will lose some collectors value depending on how well it was or was not done. A factory refinish will have less impact on any collectors value.
I was not aware of the cracked slide issue with early 1911's, interesting. As for price $550.00 is a fair price, but only if you can shoot it from time to time. I don't want to have any firearm that I can't, within reason, use at intended.

December 12, 2012, 05:16 PM
The 1911 A1 introduction in the 1920s involved steps to address the deficiencies of the original 1911, including progressive heat treating in certain wear areas till the entire slide was eventually hardened.

You may get away with shooting a 1911 slide for quite a while, depending on how much, but each & every time you fire it you risk accellerated wear at the least & destruction at the most.

If you want a shooter, buy modern, or at least go for a more recent pistol if it has to be military "issue".

Kyle M.
December 12, 2012, 06:27 PM
Talked to the owner of the lgs, the guy he bought it from has had it since the 70's and said he's put 1,000's upon 1,000's of rounds through it. With the lack of heat treat I imagine it's about whipped so I'm going to pass on it. I thought it would make a decent shooter for every now and then but I'm starting to have doubts.

December 12, 2012, 08:13 PM
With no real collector value & a questionable lifespan as a shooter, I think you made the right decision.

December 12, 2012, 10:15 PM
Years ago I had a 1917 vintage commercial 1911. It had been very amateurishly engraved and nickel plated so I got it really cheap.

When I got it, it showed lots of carry wear and signs of having been shot a bunch. I replaced the original barrel with a military barrel that I had lying around due to the fact that the rifling was very faint when I got it.

I owned that gun for over ten years and I shot the snot out of it, using a combination of factory ammunition and (mostly) handloads. I put thousands of rounds through it myself.

I like to clean and inspect my guns after I shoot them and I never noticed any unusual wear or signs of slide or the frame cracking.

Good thing I didn't have the internet to scare me away from owning and shooting such a great piece of history. If I could pry it away from the fellow I sold it to for $500 I would buy it back in a New York minute.

December 12, 2012, 10:31 PM
And if you frequent enough info sources you'll also find numerous guys who did crack their slides.
It is not an Internet rumor.
As I said- you may get away with it for a while, you may not.

The original 1911 was determined to have its weaknesses from field testing, and those led to improvements in metallurgy and other changes later on.

December 12, 2012, 11:07 PM
I have no doubt that there have been instances of slides cracking on really high round count old Colts.

All I know is that on the 1911 that I had, I did not experience any problems. It could be that because I don't try to push my handloads to the maximum, I didn't stress the reciprocating components to the breaking point.

Nevertheless, If I had a chance to acquire a early 1911 that was in good condition (regardless of the refinish) for a reasonable sum I would be all over it.

December 13, 2012, 04:05 AM
I would get it 550 seems like a very good price

December 13, 2012, 02:57 PM
I figure this metallurgical fear mongering has more to do with repetition on the internet by people with no first hand knowledge of a few possible past failures.

The I heard/I read/I know a guys far outweigh the... "My gun..." experiences and the weight of repetition increases the perceived threat.

Reminds me of the "wandering zero" on Enfield Jungle Carbines. I've owned several, shot them and those of friends a heck of a lot and directly experienced not one issue of a wandering zero nor have I personally known any other owner to have experienced it yet nearly every time the rifle comes up, one or more will chime in with the scary stories of haunted rifle.

This is not to say that the phenomenon never existed but just as with metal fatigue interblabble as regards early 1911s - I'm certain that it's overstated.

I'd buy said pistol in a New York minute were it local as I regret having sold each of my very early commercial.

As stated by HIGHPOWER it was fortunate that the internet didn't keep me from buying and shooting them let alone selling them each to knowledgable collectors at a profit. Of course - maybe they weren't so knowledgable as I seem to have duped them into buying rubber guns.

Peter M. Eick
December 14, 2012, 01:00 PM
If it looked nice, I would probably drop 550 on it just for grins. I would shoot it with mild loads and accept that I will probably break it some day. Big deal. It was only $550 and for the fun I would get out if it, I would not complain.

Jim Watson
December 14, 2012, 04:21 PM
I have only seen a couple of cracked slides and one cracked frame over the years.
One slide was on an ultra high round count match gun and the frame was on an everything gun shot frequently for all purposes.

The other slide was what the Internet Experts warn of; a GI 1911 broken with relatively little use after being surplused. Of course there is no way of knowing how much the Army shot it, it might have been a worn out training base pistol. Or it might have been a seldom shot sidearm that just gave up the ghost.

December 14, 2012, 04:30 PM
So long as the rest of the pistol is in good mechanical condition, yes I would buy it. Maybe even as a pseudo restoration project. Does the frame match the slide, or is it a mixmaster? If its all original, just blued, hell yes, I would jump all over it.

However ....

... I'd jump on it like a horny chimp.

Ewww, now that's a mental image that's gonna stick for a while.

December 14, 2012, 05:37 PM
Shooter? Hell, if you even manage to crack the slide, just buy a Caspian slide for a replacement and keep shooting!

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