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First Aid for Colt 1911

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by mikemyers, May 12, 2014.

  1. mikemyers

    mikemyers Well-Known Member

    A few years ago I posted a thread here about a 1911 Colt. I'm still trying to shoot better, but I get worse results with this Colt than from any other gun I've shot. I tried a relative's Wilson, and got results that were great, for me at least. Anyway, the old discussion is at:

    Years ago, when I found out how much work the gun might need to get it fixed properly, I thought a better option might be to get a new gun instead. Then I stopped shooting the 1911, and went back to revolvers.

    Anyway, here's my question today. If I ship the gun off to Colt, and ask them to make capable of getting results similar to a gun that's gone through their custom shop, is this something that they are capable of doing? The only purpose for this gun is target shooting at the local range, not self defense.

    (To me, this is sort of like photography - you don't get better photographs by buying a better camera - you get better photographs by learning to be a better photographer. But, no matter how good a photographer you are, you'll never get good photos from a camera that has problems.)

    If the answer to this question is "yes", are there any restrictions for how I can ship the gun to and from Colt? Can I box it up and ship via Federal Express, explaining what it is, and insuring it? Will Colt be able to ship it back to me the same way?
  2. Valkman

    Valkman Well-Known Member

    I've never had Colt do any work for me so I don't know that one.

    Yes you can send it Fed Ex or UPS and Colt can send it back to you. You must (by their rules) tell them it's a firearm.

    I have a similar Colt 1911 that's never been right from day one. Got it on a group buy for a stupid cheap price but the trigger pull was horrendous and it locks back all the time with rounds still in the mag. I put a C&S ignition kit in and that solved the trigger pull issue but I now know of a good gunsmith who's local and I'm going to have him fix the remaining issue and refinish it.
  3. RussB

    RussB Well-Known Member

    You should call Colt, then get back to us with all the details :)

    My guess is it will take a long time and be expensive
  4. jfrey

    jfrey Well-Known Member

    I would suspect Colt can do just about anything you want done to the gun. The big question here is: What do you want done and how much are you willing to pay to get it done. I've seen guys put twice the original cost of a gun into custom work to get what they wanted.

    MICHAEL T Well-Known Member

    Do it right send it to Wilson and let them work their magic. But it will cost you .
    A friend of mine has had to Colts rebuilt by Wilson. He says its cheaper than buying a Wilson and they shoot as well.
  6. mikemyers

    mikemyers Well-Known Member

    A few answers from Colt.

    a) It must be shipped by Federal Express or UPS. I called FedEx for details, and I need to take it to their main facility, and ship it overnight priority shipping. I need to tell them it is a firearm. I don't know what labels they may or may not put on the package.

    b) Colt will inspect the gun, and get back to me with what they need to do. The cost is $100. I was astonished it was so low....

    c) It is not possible to get the Custom Shop to do any work on it, as it is too old. I specifically asked if I could pay more, to get the gun back in a better condition than the "standard" work they might do, but the answer is no.

    d) It will take 90 days, and they will then ship it back to me.

    e) The customer support person, Michael, told me that if the gun was a lot newer, the situation would be different, but I didn't ask for details. I got the impression the cost would be much less.

    I hope to ship the gun back to Colt tomorrow.
  7. mikemyers

    mikemyers Well-Known Member

    Michael T, your post was added at the same time as mine, so I didn't get to see it until now. Great idea.... something to keep in mind for the future, but the gun is already on its way back to Colt, and as of this writing, it's already there! Gee, 3 pounds weight, 8x8x3 box, overnight air delivery = $ 98. Expensive.

    I hadn't thought of Wilson, but that would certainly be an option - but how many years would it be, before they got around to it? I think they are extremely busy?
  8. Jim PHL

    Jim PHL Well-Known Member

    b) Colt will inspect the gun, and get back to me with what they need to do. The cost is $100. I was astonished it was so low....

    I'm pretty sure you're looking at $100 for them just to evaluate it. The work they may need to do to it will likely be additional. Some shops will charge that plus return shipping if they don't actually do the work they recommend. Some will waive the evaluation charge depending on the cost of the repairs you actually pay them to make.
  9. mikemyers

    mikemyers Well-Known Member

    Jim_PHL, I'm sure you are right - I suspect $100 doesn't go very far. There will be parts, and labor, and on, and on.... That's OK. I'm hoping that I get it back in "like new" capability and condition.

    It's funny, but nobody has ever been able to complete this sentence: "The Colt Combat Commander's accuracy is that it should be able to place 10/50/100/whatever shots into an ____ inch diameter circle at _____ yards."

    Some manufacturers send out a "sample target" with a new gun, showing what they claim the gun was able to do. For all I know, they shot multiple targets until they got one that justified the thousands of dollars that the gun sold for. I'd like a realistic number, that someone could repeat when positioning the gun on a rest, and shooting a minimum of 10 shots.
  10. ohbythebay

    ohbythebay Well-Known Member

    Sounds like...

    The $100 is a bench fee - minimum cost for working on it BUT many times, that fee will incorporate fixes plus a few bucks in parts...

    I am SHOCKED though you had to overnight express - YIKES !
  11. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    I think I would take recommendations on a good independent gunsmith.
    Colt would be good if you had a recent gun with a warrantable defect or if you wanted a "factory refinish" on a gun you wanted to keep some connection to originality on.
    But for improvement in shooting qualities, I would go to a specialist.
    Sorry, I don't have a nationally advertised shop to suggest, I have a couple of local gunsmiths that I go to.
  12. wally

    wally Well-Known Member

    Its Federal Law you must them them you are shipping a handgun, its their rules you must do it next day air -- usually ~$65 from here :(

    Try to get Colt to send you a pre-paid return label its costs them much less as it can go ground or second day that way.

    One trick that has gotten me ~$25 shipping is to show up late on Friday after the deadline for next day air, either the clerk made a mistake, or their policy of not taking packages for promised delivery they can't make supersedes their gun owner rip-off policy.
  13. mikemyers

    mikemyers Well-Known Member

    Colt specified one day shipping on their web page:

    Both UPS and Fed Ex also told me one day overnight, when i said I was shipping a firearm. I assumed that was a requirement.

    I never thought to ask for a pre-paid shipping label; I just followed what everyone seemed to be telling me I needed to do. I could have saved $10 or so if I didn't insure it, so maybe that was foolish on my part, but I felt better about shipping it insured. It also cost a few dollars more, because we specified that a signature was required.

    Jim, I tried to find a gunsmith in Miami, but didn't have much luck. There's also a problem of how do you know how good the gunsmith is? It was much easier to find good gunsmiths in Michigan!! :)
  14. Valkman

    Valkman Well-Known Member

    Now there's a good question. I just found a very good gunsmith in my town that works out of his house. He said at one point "The problem with gunsmiths is anybody can hang a sign out and claim to be one".

    That's what you have to watch out for, and it's mostly word-of-mouth reputation or if they get mentioned on boards like this one. Other wise you have no idea.
  15. MikeFrank

    MikeFrank Member

    I guess any company can build a lemon at any time, but let me say that I have a 5-year-old Colt Commander Series 80 that can shoot better than I can (as a friend of mine who is a better shot has proven to me), and has had two FTFs (with the same brand of ammo) in right around 1,500 rounds that have gone through the gun. I put on rubber grips, an extended thumb safety and mag release, and a different grip safety - that's all. The trigger pull was a little heavy but seemed to smooth out after 200 or 300 rounds. It's just a great gun.
  16. mikemyers

    mikemyers Well-Known Member

    Mikefrank, can you put some actual numbers here, rather than "shoot better than I can"? Sort of along the lines of, if you're standing 15, or maybe 25 yards away from a target, and shoot somewhere between 10 and 25 rounds, what is the maximum distance between any two of all the shots, on a typical target that you shoot at (not the very best you can do).

    I'm interested in both what the Colt can do in the hands of an expert, and what it's likely to do for a reasonably good shooter at the typical range, on a typical day, with the shooter taking his time for each shot.
  17. 98Redline

    98Redline Well-Known Member

    Generally the least expensive way to get a gun back to the manufacturer is to take it to your local FFL and have them ship it USPS. Around here they generally charge $25-$35 to ship a gun.
    Be warned, USPS shipping of a handgun is only available for a FFL. It is a felony to use USPS if you are not.

    I agree about the bench fee. My suspicion is that your actual charge will be many times the $100 evaluation fee.

    Regarding local smiths and the 1911....be wary...be very wary. The 1911 is not a run of the mill gun. It is a hand fit, symphony of moving parts and critical tolerances. When everything is fit correctly with the correct tolerances, 1911's are reliable, accurate, durable, and great weapons. Mess up just one or two of these tolerances and you can end up with a jam-o-matic or a gun that runs fine for awhile but begins to exhibit problems as ill fitting parts increase wear, leading to out of spec conditions. Any smith that works on 1911s needs to have a very good working knowledge of all of these in order to get a 1911 to run properly. I have seen quite a few 1911's screwed up by smiths that are more of kitchen table Bubbas with a Dremel tool than actual smiths.

    Not that it matters, as the gun is already on it's way back to Colt, but there are some very good tutorials on line that will enable you to evaluate the different aspects of the gun fit to determine what might be your biggest issue.
    This is not to say that you should use them and try to fit the parts yourself, however it would allow you to better understand possibly why this particular specimen has issues.
  18. MikeFrank

    MikeFrank Member

    I've never shot it from a rest, and I have to draw on my memory of the drills I did the last time I qualified (last fall):
    At 7 yards doing draw from holster/double tap/return to holster drills, I can put at least 6 of 8 rounds in the 9-ring on a standard silhouette target consistently. The other two won't be far outside.
    At 15 yards shooting offhand but taking my time I can do a little better and usually put all 8 in the same 9 ring. I can't tell you if my groups are 3", 4" or 5" because I've never measured them with this particular gun.
    In both cases I'll get the occasional flyer when I rush my trigger squeeze or get sloppy with my sight picture, but that's on me, not the gun.
    I've done a little shooting at longer distances and I would estimate that I can reliably put 7 of 8 somewhere in the 7 ring of the silhouette at 60 feet. At 75 feet it's probably down to around 6 of 8. More than that I can't commit to. Again, I think that's me, my eyesight and my muscle control rather than the gun.
  19. rockhopper46038

    rockhopper46038 Well-Known Member

    It is perhaps different, being 9mm, but I have two 9mm Colt Commanders (one a Combat, the other with an aluminum frame) and I shot both of them for group size in the last two weeks because one was new to me and the other was going off for some custom work. Both were capable of 2" groups at 15 yards and 3" groups at 25 yards. I didn't bench them, so they are probably capable of better than that. That's a sample size of only two though.
  20. MikeFrank

    MikeFrank Member

    Oh, and the friend I was referring to can take my gun put all his shots in the red at 7 and 10 yards, and cut a full second off my best shooting time doing it. He also is a bit more accurate at distance. That's why I say the gun can do better than I can.

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