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mint Colt 1991al, what's it worth?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by willbrink, Apr 14, 2008.

  1. willbrink

    willbrink Well-Known Member

    I was about to have a new Caspian 1911 built, but a gent I know has a Colt 1991a1 with less then 300rnd on it, which is a no frills base model as I understand it. Dont know the exact age, but I do have the serial numbers: 2705267

    I assume this has the series 80 safety in it? Problem is, I have no idea what it's worth. What should one pay for a essentially new Colt 1991a1? Im sure it would make a nice build out gun.

    BTW, this is in MA so you cant buy a new Colt here, so this is a pre ban gun, which tends to increase prices here. :barf:
  2. Moonclip

    Moonclip Well-Known Member

  3. willbrink

    willbrink Well-Known Member

    Thanx, I was going to offer him $600, so I was on target. My major concerns are

    (1) the series 80 safety, you get rid of that without great expense? If not, I wont bother with it

    (2) assuming I can get it for $600, does that end up costing more or less than using caspian? That is, are most of the internal parts of the Colt of such a quality I use them and thus save me money, or do you generally replace all the internal parts? I dont care all that much about the Colt name per se, I am more interested in getting the best 1911 for the $$$ vs a name.

    I am going to need at the very least, new trigger and trigger assembly, sites, hammer, beaver tail grip, possible flat MSH, grips, re finishing, and other stuff, but I dont know about the barrel and other internals.

    So do I end up saving $$$ by using the Colt as a base gun, break even, do does it cost me more? Im sure it would have better resale if I used the Colt, but that's not a major concern to me.

    MICHAEL T Well-Known Member

    Most Colts shoot better than their owners . Leave it alone and after a few 100 rounds then see what you might want to change. As for the 80's fireing pin safety I can't really see a lot of difference in the trigger. A good gunsmith can make a 80 trigger as good as a so called 70's
  5. willbrink

    willbrink Well-Known Member

    "Most Colts shoot better than their owners . Leave it alone and after a few 100 rounds then see what you might want to change. "

    I have had other custom 1911s built and know what I want and like in them, and the stock GI guns aint it...but back to the question: is there potential savings due to being able to use most of the Colt internal parts, barrel, etc, or is it a wash?

    "As for the 80's fireing pin safety I can't really see a lot of difference in the trigger. A good gunsmith can make a 80 trigger as good as a so called 70's"

    I will ask the smith about that, thanx. My pref would be to remove it.
  6. Tom Fury

    Tom Fury Well-Known Member


    Yes, you can remove FP safety without much trouble if you wish. You will need a drop in part, available from Brownells last I bought one, to replace the parts in the frame. (Srs 70 wedge I believe its' called...not sure where else you might get one, Heinie comes to mind).

    I think you could come out cheaper than starting out ground up with Caspian, but if you're going the custom route it might be easier in the long run to go all the way (start from Caspian).

    Figure; what you'll pretty much start with for $600 with base gun is barrel, slide and frame. Mag catch & mainspring housing in 1991a1 are plastic.

    Sight cuts and beavertail cut will push that up another 2 0r three (may as well have them installed too).

    Now you're roughly even with what Caspian with those detail cuts done as extras from the factory would cost. (And you could have had SS to boot: why? Because SS doesnt' need plating or bluing after cuts, so its' the way to go if you want to avoid refinishing costs).

    Right about here is where this proposition gets interesting; because cost at this point is close, about the only thing that makes the modstock vs total aftermarket thing work is you can have the modstock gun done in a series of separate operations (read spread out the money outlay over time) actually having the gun in your possession in between. Also gives ops to experience several different gunsmiths who have specific specialties. Novak for sights, Bar Sto for barrel, etc, etc.

    Of course you'll have to fit slide to frame; but a matched set from Caspian with detail cuts is still pretty close. (Wilson or Baer also, but Cas is least expensive I think: no ill reflection on Caspian quality).

    Most 1991a1's I have seen were pretty tight; one was atrocious; How's yours? That would be a deal breaker on the Colt; I'd rather start from new aftermarket than try to fix (rather, pay for gunsmith to fix) poor Slide to Frame fit. (Maybe a older, golder Colt, but not a 1991a1).

    Then there is the barrel; IMHO the 1991a1 barrels were as good as anybodys factory/commercial barrels at the time and some were excellent; Yes there are better, and IMHO a better barrel fit and installed by a better gunsmith is worth paying a premium for (Bar Sto, Kart). If I liked the way the Colt barrel shot, I might leave it untouched, or limit nyself to having a match bushing fitted and do custom barrel later.

    This is one of the most subjective areas of our discussions here. Most of all have fun with the process of customization (did I mention this will be a learning experience as well?) and looking forward to hearing about yours and seeing the finished product.

    Cheers, TF
    2 Paras built from kits; one a Commander
    4 customized SA Mil Specs; Kings and EGW
    Caspian Officers model with Kings comp barrel built by Novaks
    Currently 2 Custom Combat Commanders from EGW
    1991a1 Compact built by Kings.
    P-13 customized by Novaks', Kings, Robar
    Colt Recon Customized and plated by Robar
  7. TimboKhan

    TimboKhan Moderator

    First off, by way of a friendly reminder of THR etiquette, we don't post serial numbers on an open board. Not a horrible breach of etiquette, but if you don't block it out, chances are a mod will.

    I would think, given that you want to do a fairly extensive rebuild, that going the Caspian route would be cheaper, and I would also assume that your probably going to be happier in the long run with it. I don't think it's a case of trying to turn a sow ear into a silk purse, but it just seems like it would be pointless to buy the Colt and then do everything in your power to make it, well, not a Colt! Out of curiosity, what is the money outlay on parts for the Caspian, frame and slide included? Not the work, but just the parts?
  8. willbrink

    willbrink Well-Known Member

    Speaking at length to the smith I have used for other builds, he felt the Colt at that price if mint condition, was the way to go as a high % of the parts in the gun were good quality and worth using. Unless the frame to slide fit is sloppy or something, I will probably go that route. As I already have a Ti framed Caspian Commander, the Colt will be something different, so if it end up being a wash or a few more $$$ in the end, I am OK with that. He said removing the series 80 safety was not an issue. I will see the Colt tomorrow and make final decision there after seeing the fit and finish. Will probably keep barrel and the internal parts that are of high quality, and have hand fitted bushing, etc added.

    Gun will be used for IDPA and CCW.

    Thanx for the advice, much appreciated.
  9. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

    Would I buy it? Yes, if I wanted it but I would start negotiations at $500 and top out at $600. One thing no one mentions is, there is a little flipper (ala S&W) in the back of the frame that has to be pushed down when reinstalling the slide. I have shot a lot of 1991A1s and they fine guns. Regards, Richard:)
  10. willbrink

    willbrink Well-Known Member

    Good info Richard, thanx. Is the flippy thing part of the series 80 safety or some other gizmo? I have an SnW and know of that annoying little flippy thing that has to be depressed fully to get the slide back on the frame. I can live with it if it's something I can't get rid of I suppose.
  11. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

    willbrink, yes, the flipper is part of the Series 80 safety and no, the Series 80 safety doesn't bother me one way or the other. If the Series 80 safety was part of the original JMB design no one would say a thing. Regards, Richard:)
  12. willbrink

    willbrink Well-Known Member

    "If the Series 80 safety was part of the original JMB design no one would say a thing."

    But it wasn't...:cool:
  13. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

    willbrink, "But it wasn't..." The fact that the Series 80 safety was not part of the original JMB design is only fodder for the nae sayers:) Regards, Richard:)
  14. willbrink

    willbrink Well-Known Member

    I think it's perfectly legit fodder, and I own a 1911 with the series 80 safety. Given a choice, I don't want it there. Everyone has their own policy on such things. Here's mine:

    Anything that is cosmetic and or adds non mechanical functionality or improves existing mechanics to the JMB design: improved sites, triggers, hammers, beaver tail safety, etc are acceptable

    Anything that alters the actual design of the HMB gun, shorter barrels, added safety gizmos, FLRGs, and such are not acceptable.

    That's my personal policy on 1911s and i think JMB would approve! :neener:
  15. MM

    MM Well-Known Member

    I bought this "plain jane" 1991 A1 used about three years ago. I have changed nothing on it and it is an absolute, tack-drivin' JOY!

    Attached Files:

  16. willbrink

    willbrink Well-Known Member

    Here's the Colt. The slide to frame fit seems good and the lock up is very tight. It was clearly used very little. 200rnds at the range this afternoon and no malfunctions of any kind. Joy. My basic plan for this gun right now is:

    New MSH
    New sites
    New trigger and removal of series 80 safety
    New hammer
    New hand fitted bushing
    New grips
    Front strap checkering
    new springs all around
    New coating (will probably just get standard blueing)

    Will most likely keep the barrel as that's a few hundred saved right there and it seems well fitted. Some of things I am not sure of, are some of the other parts such as the extractor, etc. in terms ot quality, MIM, etc. I was told most of what Colt used for smaller parts where good, so hopefully most of it can stay.


    Ideas, thoughts, recommendations welcomed. However, from some of the comments above, this is not a "should I alter my Colt 1991A1?" thread, but advice/ideas on the best way to accomplish the planned mods to this fine base gun.
  17. hanno

    hanno Well-Known Member

    Here's mine. I replaced the trigger and MSH to get rid of the plastic and changed the rear sight to a Novak because the Novak suits me better than the stock rear sight. The grips are Kimber rubber. I prefer 1911s without the FSP but this one hasn't caused me any problems so I've just left it alone. At this point, I'm satisfied with what I have. It may not be "purty" but it works.

  18. willbrink

    willbrink Well-Known Member

    Looks good. I like all business looking guns like that. Guns that people like Rogers and Yam build. Even the Ti framed Caspian I had built, has that look vs pretty. For example, I didn't even have the frame coated with anything and like the Ti gray:


    I don't have any safe queens and am not a collector per se. All my guns get shot, and shot a lot, and if they don't, they are sold or traded for something I will shoot...a lot! :D
  19. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

    willbrink, why not sell it to someone that will give the Colt a chance, as is? You can use the proceeds to buy a Springer, Kimber, or Dan Wesson that already has all the doodads. Regards, Richard:)
  20. willbrink

    willbrink Well-Known Member

    Hmmm, and I had thought "this is not a 'should I alter my Colt 1991A1?' thread, but advice/ideas on the best way to accomplish the planned mods to this fine base gun" was a pretty clear comment...:rolleyes::scrutiny::rolleyes:

    To answer your question, don't like any of those brands really (expect for some of the top end custom shop built Springers perhaps), can't get them in MA anyway, and semi tricked out Colt is what I want and what I shall have. If I was going to buy a gun that would be the equal of this Colt once done, at least in my eyes, that would be a Ed Brown, Baer, Wilson, etc., none of which I can get in MA new, and although I am not a 1911 Colt snob type, the name does have improved resale value, so that's that...;)

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