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What I learned about the Colt Government Model XSE

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Hangingrock, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. Hangingrock

    Hangingrock Participating Member

    Mar 10, 2010
    What I learned about the Colt Government Model XSE early production model and the changes I made.

    As purchased the sights semi-fixed standard OEM, Duckbill grip safety, synthetic mainspring housing, full length guide rod with plug, and wood grips.

    The slide edges were razor sharp which I attributed to CNC Machining Center produced production piece. It required judicious deburring/chamfering. The frame also required judicious deburring/ chamfering. The slide to frame fit about what one would expect not overly tight or loose.

    I fired 500 rounds total of WWB 230gr-FMJ over the course of several range sessions. I wasn’t real satisfied with the grip panels loosening up. Yes I could have used the O-ring expedient with the grip screws but decided not to. I ordered a set of Micarta double diamond pattern grips. This allowed me to snug up the grip screws thus eliminating the grip loosening which was nettlesome.

    The other thing that was bothering me was the dinky synthetic mainspring housing so I opted for a Wilson flat mainspring housing checkered.

    As I continued using the XSE I was less than satisfied with the Duckbill grip safety. My grip style/hand placement wasn’t compatible so it became a nagging issue with me. My older 70 series Colts had not been a problem with the grip safety (at least that’s the way I remember it to be). The only problem I had with the 70 series was the collet bushing which I replaced with a standard bushing.

    So I decided to replace the Duck Bill grip safety with an Ed Brown Beavertail and replaced the Colt OEM sights with a set of Novak’s which required machine work to the slide Which brought the XSE up to the condition as shown in the 2008 Oct photo.

    Recently I replaced the Colt OEM one piece guide rod & plug with the convectional standard guide and plug. I never saw the advantage of the one piece rod& plug which I understood the design principle was to smooth out cycling. As for Shok-Buffs/Slide Buffers I didn’t see the need for them either.

    I have a five gallon bucket full of 45ACP brass that I cycle thru using my standard load of W231 (5.6 grs) with 230gr FMJ or 230gr cast.

    As for magazines I’ve settled on Chip McCormick Power Magazine.

    I also acquired a Springfield 1911-A1 which is basically externally configured the same as the Colt XSE now is. I got rid of that goofy lock system that Springfield is so devoted to but none the less Springfield makes a good product thou be it in Brazil.
  2. Sauer Grapes

    Sauer Grapes Participating Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    S.E. PA.
    Looks like you got her just the way you want it. My gold cup trophy has the ''duckbill''. I've learned to except it.
    I still don't understand why Colt puts those damn GI style sights on most of their guns. :fire: My old eyes just can't deal with it.
    Most of what you did to yours, is pretty much standard on the XSE now. I got to shoot an XSE about 4 weeks ago. [new one] I liked it so much, I have a combat elite coming next week.
    I'm really hoping I only need to switch out the front sight for a fiber optic.
  3. Hangingrock

    Hangingrock Participating Member

    Mar 10, 2010
    The Colt Gold Cup was that elusive acquirement that I chased after in my younger days.

    Family members had National Match renditions which preceded the Gold Cup. As I recall they could be acquired in 38 Special for wadcutter only and the more standard 45ACP. I was relegated to shooting a Colt Woodsman Target Model in 22RF which suited my budget. I didn’t fire a 1911-A1 until Parris Island and if memory services me correctly that was two magazines of seven rounds each.

    A local gun shop has the latest rendition of the Gold Cup in stainless steel for the asking price of $1095.00 plus tax.
  4. fastbolt

    fastbolt Senior Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Within the lightning
    I picked up a stainless XSE Govt several years ago.

    I rather liked the duckbill grip safety. My grip & drawstroke doesn't rely on the upswept beavertail, and I remember when it was an improvement over the standard Govt unit (I can experience hammer bite pretty easily).

    I liked the plastic inserts for the 3-dot wht sights, since they were convex instead of flat or concave facing the shooter's eyes. They catch any ambient light and reflect rather well.

    What I didn't like was the vendor-supplied ambi safety lock (thumb safety). The left side snapped off during the first range session, at about 200 rounds fired. Examining it, it had taken a surprising amount of filing for them to get it fit flat alongside the frame, and the broken edge reminded me of when I'd broken "pot metal" toys as a youngster.

    The nice folks at Colt said they didn't get a lot of complaints about the vendor-supplied ambi units, but said it was a cast part their customer base seemed to like (versus the standard Govt-style single side unit).

    After I told them I was a Colt-trained pistol armorer, they mailed me a standard single side part (after I declined their offer of another ambi). I'm not particularly enthused ab out ambi units on my 1911's, anyway.

    Reliability & inherent accuracy were very good. It fed, fired, extracted & ejected a number of duty-type hollowpoints I had on hand without any issues. It worked fine with a small assortment of magazines I typically use with my 1911's.

    Out of curiosity, I pulled the hammer & sear out and scoped them on a magnifying fixture. The hammer cuts were clean & crisp and both sear nose angles were nicely done. The engagement and textbook. Nice.

    I like my "working/defensive" 1911 trigger pull weight to run 5-6 lbs, and this fell within that range. I use a digital gauge for rough "range use" measurement, but tried & true weights for serious inspections. ;)

    The finish was ... okay. A bit lackluster. Grip stocks a bit rough, and they had allowed some moisture underneath. Oh well, I'd got it as a working gun, after all.

    Colt's "computer designed & refined" (I asked) barrel throat was something that I'd found "interesting" during my armorer class ... but it works.

    The rest of the machining & finishing is typical Colt. :uhoh:

    All things considered, not bad for a gun that cost me a few bucks under $700 back then.

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