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1918 Colt USGI Range Report

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by 1911Tuner, Mar 11, 2005.

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  1. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    1919 Colt USGI Range Report

    A few weeks ago, I aquired a very nice 1919 production warhorse. It had a couple of incorrect parts...which I 'corrected". :p I had at first thought that the barrel was lightly pitted, but after a good scrubbin' it actually looks to be in near-mint condition, and even has a few visible tool marks, indicating that
    it hasn't seen very many rounds through it. The rifling is sharp and clean.
    Slide to frame fit is nice and tight...much better than recent production Colts...and I could see no evidence of refitting.

    I took it for a little outing at the range, and since the gun fairly begged to
    be fired one-handed in classic Bullseye fashion...that's the way I shot it.

    Two magazines full of PMC ball were fired at a 12-inch steel plate at 25 yards
    with a slightly low-center hold.

    "Bang-tink-OUCH! Bang-tink-OUCH! (That long hammer and short grip safety tang are brutal. The one place that JMB dropped the baton on the early pistols.) 14 rounds went bang and the slide locked on empty both times...
    and I was using the magazine that came with it.

    I moved over to the 50-yard range and engaged a 16-inch plate with a center hold. Ejection had initially been a little lazy, so i tweaked the extractor a little before I fired the third magazine. AH! That's better!
    2 O'Clock out of the dinky port, and no brass was dinged. No surprises, since the Army Field manual gives it a maximum effective range...range at which the average conscript should be able to hit an average-sized man...of
    50 yards. (Kinda lays waste to the mistaken idea that the ordnance-spec
    1911 was a 25-foot weapon, now don't it?) :cool:

    The 50-yard target rang like a bell 7 times, and the slide locked on empty.

    I moved over to the 75-yard line and after two low misses, shifted my sights to the top edge of the 16-inch plate. 5 more rounds produced 5 hits...and the slide locked on empty.

    I think it's definitely a keeper. (Sorry 2XS. She's MINE) Besides that, there's just a certain "feel" that one gets from a really old GI pistol. A certain character...charisma, if you will...that the newer guns (and even the older commercial models) just can't match.

    On a further note of interest...I had already seen that the gun would hand-cycle and feed Winchester White Box 230-grain hollowpoints as slick as butter. It will also function perfectly with the stuff...with the original barrel throat...using the old "Hardball" design magazine. It will also hand-cycle
    the old design 230-grain Hydra-Shok...known to be a problem feeder for some guns...though i didn't fire any of it that day. I probably will try a magful of it on the next trip, though I imagine that it will require a modern magazine to function. SInce the Winchester hollowpoints and the Hydra-Shok are noticeable warmer than standard ball, I promise to limit the round count
    to one or two magazines. The old girl sure doesn't deserve to be beat on
    by the likes of me. ;)

    Oh yeah! Headspace checked at .904 inch with less than .005 inch of end-play between slide and barrel, and all lugs are bearing the load. Ahhhhh! They knew how to do'em back then. :cool:
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2005
  2. Mac Attack

    Mac Attack Member

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    Congratulations on your Colt 1918 Colt. I also was fortunate to have purchased a 1918 Colt USGI in January and corrected mine just like you did. Now it's all within spec and I am really happy with it. I had the same shooting results as you did and actually found this old work horse to be quite accurate. What really amazed me so much was the fact that my gun is nearly 87 years old, loose as a goose and still shot better than most of the modern guns I own. There is just something about owning a piece of history that make it even more special. Colt did a whole lot of good things back then. I wonder why they can't do them now? :confused:

    BTW, you probably already know this but there is a subforum dedicated to USGI 1911's on the www.1911forum.com website which provides all sorts of interesting info. If you haven't already you should buy the Charles W. Clawson's book "Collector's Guide to Colt .45 Service Pistols Models of 1911 and 1911A1". It is a great book and very useful in determining what is correct and what is not. On the forum many members recommend that it is not wise to overshoot a USGI 1911 due to the fact that the metal was not as strong back then and was not made to handle todays load pressures which have been known to crack frames and slides. If I were you I would stick to shooting standard 230 grain ball and not the +P or lighter bullets. Just my thoughts, shoot away as you please.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2005
  3. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Tuner … You must be badly mistaken … Again!! :banghead:

    We have it on very good authority that them old guns are junk, being that they were made from old-fashioned steel and not modern powdered metal or plastic. :p

    And no-way could the parts fit right unless them were made on CNC machines with computers running them. Besides nobody could be expected to get things fitted right when there was a war on. Make ‘um fast, and make ‘up sloppy was the motto. Some folks are still doing this today, and they don’t have a war going on … :scrutiny:

    Then too … if your are going to hit anything smaller then a bull elephant at six feet you have to have one of those Easy Something barrels that say “N.M.†or “National Match†or maybe "Tactical Tu-d" on the top or the chamber. Needless to say, one of them special barrel bushings is required too … :uhoh:

    I just know that you can’t feed anything … including ball ammunition until you throat out that barrel and polish the feed ramp with a hand grinder. Don’t you EVER read any advise on the Internet??? :what:

    And don’t forget to get some of them eight-shot stainless steel magazines. Carbon steel seven-shooters just do not cut it any more.

    You have remembered to funnel the magazine well and drill three little holes in the trigger haven’t you??? WHAT!! Well why not ???

    Them little sights have got to go. ‘Specially that one in the back with a little half-round notch. Nobody can hit nut’ten using one of those. If I didn’t know better I’d think you learned shoot’en in the Marine Corps.

    You obviously need to be ed-u-cated about .45’s, and you’re just darn lucky I’m available. :neener: :D
     
  4. Gunsnrovers

    Gunsnrovers Member

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    Congratulations and enjoy! :)

    I'd love to pick up a nice old GI. I would have to bob the hammer a cm or so though. I just get bit horribly by the long spur.

    Tried for years to pry my friends out of his hands without success.

    All the ones (a bunch of Rem Rands) I see here are $1000~$1200. A hacked Systema is selling for $499 right now. Waiting for my C&R and a few business trips to Las Vegas to see if I can rectify this situation. :)
     
  5. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    re:

    Howdy Mac Attack,

    I hear ya my man...I don't plan on this one bein' a shooter any more often than a magful or so on its birthday...which I won't know until Fuff chases it down for me. So far, we know that it was shipped in 1919...and was one of the last of the original military contract pistols from Colt to go. I do want to shoot a little WCC Match ammo through it off the bags...just to see what it'll do without my wobbles. FWIW, this one ain't "Goose Loose." There's barely any sideplay at all... and if I'd oil the rails up good and sloppy, there probably wouldn't be any. Vertical play is about .008 inch, measured with a feeler gauge.

    Contrary to popular belief, the loose pistols weren't delivered that way...They aquired it through use. :cool: This one will be laid to rest shortly with the others...Countin' the 99% Rand that I gave too much for a month ago, I'm up to 25 USGI pistols...11 of'em pre-A1s and including *ahem* a very cherry
    US&S that ain't seen the light of day in over 10 years, and a so-so example
    that came outta the dark last time in '99.

    Now...if I can just bambooz....er uh...talk Mr. 19112XS outta that minty '17 Commercial model, I'll be a happy man.

    Fuff! I was as shocked as you are. Everybody knows that that old technology just didn't produce anything but junk...and that effort spent
    on those old clunkers just resulted in nicer junk. This one MUST be a fluke!
    Either that, or some sharp gunsmith musta got his hands on it somewhere along the line and tweaked it up. Lemme see...Accordin' to the man I got it from, that woulda had to have been along 'bout 1950, since that was when his brother bought it...and stored it away in an ORIGINAL MILITARY HOLSTER WITH A WRAPPED LEATHER THONG AND A 1912 DATE ON IT!!! No. You can't have the holster either. :neener: It's all greasy anyway. Looks like it's been soaked in dirty, boiled linseed oil. Yuck! I guess I'll hafta go get me one of them new-fangled tactical Kydex holsters to tote it around in at the range.
    Wouldn't want anybody to make fun of that OLD UGLY, DIRTY, CAVALRY HOLSTER. :D

    Did I mention the two-tone magazine? Better not. Might be more'n you could
    handle right now.

    Did I mention the (incorrect) full-checkered 1930s era stocks that were on it?
    Guess not. It's got some old, original double diamond grips on it now, though.
    I had a set that I was savin' for just this purpose. I think I'll hang onto those
    old full-checkered stocks too...never know when I might run up on a...uh...nevermiiind. :evil:
     
  6. 45auto

    45auto Member

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    That's interesting on the slide/frame fit. I've read that before.

    That's good. I'm tired about reading that Colt's current "rattle trap" fit was the way it's supposed to be. Maybe, they just don't take the time to do it right. :rolleyes:
     
  7. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Beg to report that the poor Ol’ Fuff is now sitting in a chair looking at a blank wall with unfocused eyes… Keeps mumbling something about, “full checkered grips,†and “two-tone magazines.†:confused:

    His personal mental counselor has been called and is on his way. We’ve been instructed are to hold an open bottle of Hoppe’s Number Nine under his nose until professional help arrives.

    It is highly probable he will remain in this comatose state until someone wraps his hand around the butt of a vintage Colt. Mental Health Professionals are presently consulting as to which is the better choice – a pre-World War One 1911 or a middle 1930’s USGI 1911-A1. Perhaps it would be advisable to get him both …

    Ya’ think???? :evil: :D

    Edited to add: Be sure to send the holsters to ...
     
  8. Fed168

    Fed168 Member

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    Tuner- I'll give ya $50 and a 686 for it.

    Seriously- it had the old gun smell to it. Nice piece of work.
     
  9. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    O.K. Now how many of you guys can tell me WHY those pistols had such a good slide-to-frame fit? Remember, they were being mass produced under wartime conditions.
     
  10. 45auto

    45auto Member

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    I don't know, but I'll guess.

    They had dedicated workers doing just slide fitting. Probably had a file in each hand, metal shavings flying and bingo... :)
     
  11. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    45auto:

    Nope, or at least very little of that. They couldn't take the time because a war was on. Still they got near perfect fits. Think again. :scrutiny: :D
     
  12. Gunsnrovers

    Gunsnrovers Member

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    because Colts machines and toolings were still new at that point. :neener:
     
  13. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    >> Because Colts machines and toolings were still new at that point. <<

    Yes and no. Some machinery was relatively new, but some went back to the Civil War. Try again ... :D
     
  14. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Why ask Why

    :D
     
  15. 19112XS

    19112XS Member

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    Hi Tuner. I’m glad MY 1918 USGI COLT shoots so well! Thanks for trying it out for me. Sorry it bit your hand, but I’m sure it won’t bother mine. Original holster and mag…Great! Now I won’t be short either one. All I need to worry about now is someone bamboozlen’ me outta a couple ol’ POS Smiths if they look up in time :D Slather my honey in FP10, I’ll be there soon. Fuff, don’t worry. This ‘un will end up with a good home.
     
  16. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Now Tuner .... :rolleyes:

    Don't get these good folks more upset and frustrated then they already are ... :confused:

    This is not a trick question. There is a good reason that Colt in particular, but also some of the other World War One contractors could rapidly assemble a frame and slide and get the kind of fit Tuner has explained. At one time it was a fairly common practice throughout the firearms industry, but now I think it has almost been lost. That's why I brought up the subject, and I will "'fess up" and explain before this thread is over.

    Today we brag (sometimes) about how much better our machine tools are, and the close tolerances they can hold (which is true). Yet these old-timers with less precise machinery could produce closer fitting frames and slides then we see today except in custom-built guns, and they could mass produce them.

    If no one comes up with an answer I'll spill the beans tomorrow - after I've had my Turbocoffee.

    So ... Tuner???? Or anybody???? :cool:

    Oh, and about that … ah … well rather common … 1918 pistol you have, I’ve done a little more research and decided I should bluff … no, I mean tell you … yes! That’s right, tell you … that … it really isn’t of any consequence at all. I’m sure there are hundred of thousands out there that are exactly the same … well maybe not hundreds of thousands but … well maybe hundreds …. :scrutiny:

    Would Arts Grandma get mad if I told a little fib … ??? :evil: :D
     
  17. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    >> Fuff, don’t worry. This ‘un will end up with a good home. <<

    Yes, (SOB!!) But that's the trouble. I want it to be MY HOME!!! :evil:
     
  18. scratchy wilson

    scratchy wilson Member

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    Tuner,
    I am envious of your barrel condition, sir. Mine looks like acid was poured down the bore at some time and allowed to sit. Any recommendations on an 'honorable' or 'righteous' replacement?
     
  19. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Tolerances

    'Tis said that the mark of a good machinist is to be able to hold his tolerance,
    even with worn machinery...and it's very true. They can do that...and many do it every day. That's the one advantage that old, sensitive machine tools have over CNC machining and turning centers. The human element. The skill
    to "feel" when something's wrong with the cut. The automated machinery
    can't do that. It can hold a very close tolerance, and dead in the middle of print specs...as long as the cutter holds true. When it wears or dulls...the machine doesn't know it, and will finish its program regardless of a finished dimension. It doesn't know that the part out of spec until the operator
    runs a check. It depends on the motivation of the operator to use his gauges and measuring tools.

    'Tis also said that the secret to making a good part is to have a good machinist who checks his set-up often for tool wear and/or fixture
    slippage or movement. That is also very true. A really GOOD machinist will
    check his dimensions no less often than one in five parts, even though he is only required to check one in ten. A dedicated machinist will check every part, and usually during the process so that he can correct a mistake before it gets too big to correct.

    Standardized blueprints are also handy to have...and people who are both conscientious and skilled (Read that as well-trained and experienced)...and a quality assurance department that doesn't let something go because it's
    "Close enough for Gub'mint work."

    Training...Experience...Skill...Dedication to producing quality parts...part after part. Day after day.

    Finally, Proof-firing the pistols before they leave the facility so that any functional problems will occur in the factory instead of in the field, and final adjustments made before the pistol is released and packaged for shipment.

    As Ralph "Papa" Thornsen said:

    "New things are nooooo good!" :p
     
  20. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Almost Forgot!

    Fuff...I think the frame's defective! The openings in the frame under the grip panels ain't right. I found it when I put the right stocks on it!
    They look kinda like a double chin with pointy shapes in the middle! Think
    maybe it was a reject?

    :evil:
     
  21. sm

    sm member

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    Congrats Tuner!

    Thanks for sharing another great gun, and gun history with us.

    I suspect the reason the OLD guns "fit" with a war going on - well you said. A fella knew his stuff and took pride in it. A tool is only as good as the operator, be it a #2 pencil to a pc of machinary, to a file.

    In order to continue my Reprobate Studies, I must have that pistol to inspect and shoot. My Mentor has said so. Now you do want me to do well in my studies- right? ;)

    [Dang it Fuff, work with me here] :D
     
  22. buttrap

    buttrap Member

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    good to see someone can hit with one. the 1918 colt I have has such pee poor sights its hard to get on a target much past 75 feet. the old gun actualy will shoot tight groups at short range but that thumbnail front site tends to disapear in that rear tiny U and then its a bit like tossing rocks at the target.
     
  23. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Whoa! Hold the Phone!

    Diggin' a little deeper early this mornin'...My Colt may technically be 1919
    production. In the works in December 1918, but not finished, proofed, and accepted until sometime after January 1 of 1919...which would put it a little farther up into the "Collectible Status." Wowzer!

    Waitin' for the Old Fuff to see if he can dig up any information on where the gun has been, and/or who it's been issued to over the years. Given its overall condition, my bet is that it hasn't been to truly awful places...so it's probably not carrying any ghosts around with it.

    I don't have a way to post pictures, but I'm gonna try to find a way soon. This one's worth showin' off. Stand by...
     
  24. Feanaro

    Feanaro Member

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    No wonder I can't find a good GI pistol for a decent price, ya bought 'em all. I'm green with jealousy here. Sounds like you have some keepers. Now how 'bout a few pictures? Maybe I could do the photography? :D

    But can't you keep the "everything old is better" out of ONE thread you and Fuff post in? :neener: It'll be like WildAlaska's challenge but you pledge not to rag everything invented after fire(or dirt, in Fuff's case) for... three days. Betcha can't. ;)
     
  25. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Bettin' on it...

    Dang Feanaro! Three days? You woudn't try to stack a deck, now wouldja? :p

    Now hold onto yer seat while this next one sinks in...One of my carry pistols is
    a 1918 Colt in the 280,000 serial range. Style! STYLE! :D

    Got no digital camera to post pix, and don't know how nohow...Not on the forum anyhow...I might hafta borrow one for this old Colt though...She's too purty not to show off. I'll probably E-mail the shots to one of the 'puter whiz
    kids here and get it posted. Might even toss in a picture of a minty Rand that
    I wheedled Keller out of not long ago...and I do mean MINT!
     
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