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Old March 23, 2013, 12:36 PM   #1
Punisher_1
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US ARMY Colt 45

My wife inherited her grandfather's WW2 Colt that he carried as a Merchant Seaman in the Pacific. It is in the 860,000 serial number range and marked United States Property. M1911A1 U.S.Army. The Left side of the slide has the Colt MFG and Patent numbers and the right side of the slide has COLT AUTOMATIC CALIBRE .45 with the reared up Pony Emblem.

Someone told me in the past that this was a civilian pistol at one time which was drafted by the military to aquire more pistols in a hurry because the military manufactured versions didn't have the Pony on the right side of the slide. Anyone heard of this before?
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Old March 23, 2013, 12:54 PM   #2
Jim Watson
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Sounds like Grandpa's gun is indeed a commercial transfer.

From www.coolgunsite.com
"In 1942 Colt transferred 6,575 unsold Commercial pistols to the Military. The pistols were reworked to bear the Military numbering, finish, and inspection marks. The original Commercial marking and serial number on the frame were obliterated and re-marked with the Military markings. The serial number under the firing pin stop plate was also renumbered . The slide retained the original Commercial markings."

860,000 is a 1942 serial number and your description of the slide roll marks matches pictures on coolgunsite.com

To see them, go to the site, left menu on 1911 gallery, and pick the 1942 Colt M1911A1 Commercial Conversion.

If in original as issued condition, that gun is of considerable collector interest and worth a good bit of money. If it has been modified or refinished, most of that value is lost... but it is still Grandpa's gun.
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Old March 23, 2013, 01:02 PM   #3
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The military Colt M1911A1s had serial numbers that are just numbers, preceded by "No."

If the pistol began life as a commercial pistol, the serial number will have a 'C' either at the beginning or at the end.
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Old March 23, 2013, 01:15 PM   #4
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If my guns get drafted i'm sending them all to canada.
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Old March 23, 2013, 01:50 PM   #5
Jim Watson
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Sorry, Aquila, to quote a usually reliable source (ME!) the 1942 Commercial Transfers were renumbered in the GI series, the "C" prefix obliterated.

At least that is what I got from coolgunsite.com and several posts on m1911.org
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Old March 23, 2013, 03:10 PM   #6
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That explains why it looks like it was ground where the current serial number was stamped. The pistol is in pristine shape with no rust or pitting. We also have the Colt two tone magazine that came with it. This is a Heritage firearm so it will never be sold but it will go to a deserving nephew when the time comes or if not, to a Firearms Museum.

Thanks for your help with this.
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Old March 23, 2013, 06:35 PM   #7
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When Colt rebuilt these pistols for the military contract they simply peened over the commercial markings on the frame to obliterate them, then stamped the military markings right on top. The commercial/military transfer pistols are worth a considerable premium over a regular USGI Colt from the same time period, so make sure it's taken good care of and not turned into a shooter.
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Old March 24, 2013, 10:24 AM   #8
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Can you take some photos of both sides and post them here? You will get a lot more information and commentary on it that way.
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Old March 24, 2013, 10:28 AM   #9
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Before we assume its a "drafted pistol" we should have pics, because in theory it could also be a military 1911a1 lower, with a civilian slide aka parts gun. The markings mentioned by the OP are standard for a commercial "government model" whereas a US military 1911a1 slide will not be marked that way (the slide markings changed several times since the beginning). If its a drafted pistol, then the slide could be perfectly original, but I think there is too little info right now to say for sure.

AFAIK, the slide should serial number to frame, which would end all debates about what the gun could be. The slide would be marked with the SN under the firing pin stop.
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Old March 24, 2013, 11:54 AM   #10
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You see a lot of these stories coming out of WW1 and WWII where Grandpa brought "his" pistol home. It is always interesting to me since the M1911's and M1911A1's were not "his" pistol since they belonged to the U.S. Government.

I do not believe the U.S. Government ever gave them away legally to soldiers or sailors. There are even more than a few of them out there where the returning servicmen or someone filed off the serial numbers and even the UNITED STATE PROPERTY marking since they knew they were misappropriated to use a nicer term than stolen. One has to assume they were just crammed in the duffle bags, slung over the shoulder and brought home.

Except for the ones with removed or altered serial numbers, it hardly matters now since these old pistols are no longer Service. In fact many were legally purchased through the Army Depots in the past.
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Old March 24, 2013, 02:22 PM   #11
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I do not believe the U.S. Government ever gave them away legally to soldiers or sailors.
A lot of them were written off as "combat losses".
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Old March 24, 2013, 03:00 PM   #12
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^If I had carried a 1911 to hell and back, had it save my life more times than I could count. I wouldn't want to give it back to the government. I am sure this is a mindset a lot of those soldiers took. Stamped government property or not, the gun should survive with the solider as long as the solider is alive. Many of them probably took this view, and did whatever they could to keep it...

Like you said keeping it was probably about as simple as cramming it in the bottom of a duffel bag and brought home.
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Old March 24, 2013, 03:16 PM   #13
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It sounds better to say "Granddad brought home his pistol" than to say "Granddad stole this pistol", even if the latter is true and even if no one really cares any more.

But in many cases, a veteran simply bought an M1911A1 pistol or an M1 rifle or an M1 carbine after the war and told his family it was "like" the one he carried in WWII. Over the years, especially after the veteran went to his reward, the "like" was forgotten and the gun became a "bringback" war trophy.

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Old March 24, 2013, 03:27 PM   #14
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Bad post, had to edit but one thing raises an interesting question,doesn't the gun, technically and legally belong to the US government?
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Last edited by Wreck-n-Crew; March 24, 2013 at 03:35 PM.
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Old March 24, 2013, 03:43 PM   #15
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I thought that some were allowed to purchase their sidearm in certain theaters of the war? Has anyone else heard this before or is it rumor?
In 1959 I was stationed in North Africa (Morocco) and Supply had a surplus of .45 Autos. Everyone in my squadron was given the opportunity to purchase two new (still wrapped in cosmoline and probably arsenal rebuilds) .45 Autos at $25 apiece. That was a lot of money in 1959 and I declined. They probably would have been stolen anyhow because when you shipped out it was very likely than anything of value in your foot locker would turn up missing in shipment. I was missing a very nice stereo and some other valuables when my footlocker was delivered after returning to the States.
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Old March 24, 2013, 05:27 PM   #16
Punisher_1
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After researching the "Coolgunsite.com" link I found all the markings are correct and the serial number on the slide under the firing pin stop plate matches. As far as it being stolen? Really? Well the offender is dead so it's exceptionally cleared. If they want it back, come get it and bring help. I'm sure if they pushed tanks and aircraft into the ocean to get rid of them they don't care about these.
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Old March 24, 2013, 06:01 PM   #17
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I seems strange, but yes, they did keep accountability of small arms even while shoving fully equipped tanks, trucks, and airplanes into the ocean or just walking away and leaving them.

I have heard several stories about supply officers or commanders selling various weapons. I have reasonable cause to believe the "sales" were not, shall we say, quite "kosher" and the officer had no legal authority for the sale. He would simply put the money in his pocket.

Technically, any U.S.-owned item that was not sold under the regulations was stolen, but with millions of U.S. pistols, rifles, etc., sold off after WWII by the U.S. and its allies, it would be impossible to prosecute anyone and no one is going to even try.

Prior to sales of carbines by DCM back in the 1960's, the government did try to prosecute owners of GI carbines for receiving stolen goods, contending that no carbines had ever been released. But then it came to light that Benecia Arsenal had sold ten (10) carbines and didn't record the serial numbers. That blew it, and the U.S. never again attempted to prosecute for possession of an M1 carbine.

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Old March 24, 2013, 06:07 PM   #18
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Quote:
Prior to sales of carbines by DCM back in the 1960's, the government did try to prosecute owners of GI carbines for receiving stolen goods, contending that no carbines had ever been released.
Actually some .30 Cal. carbines had been sold to service members. When we were offered the chance to purchase .45's in 1959 for $25 each, we were also offered .30 Cal carbines (brand new) at either $45 or $50 apiece, I can't remember exactly because I had no interest in buying one...or two. These weapons were sold to members of my Air Police squadron at Nouasseur AB, Morocco.
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Old March 24, 2013, 06:07 PM   #19
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I don't think you will find anyone is coming to look for it. As I stated earlier, it seems this happened a lot. If it had not happened there would be far fewer M1911's and M1911A1's in personal collections these days.

I own a Colt M1911 of 1918 vintage I purchased several years ago. It was even processed through the Federal NICS. It also had to of been one of those misappropriated from the U.S. Government as some point in time.

So in different eyes, grandpa(s) was either a villian or a hero for stealing a Government pistol(s).

The only people in jeopardy is possibly someone with one of these pistols with an eradicated serial number or inappropriately altered serial number.
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