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Old June 29, 2013, 02:49 AM   #1
Spadix
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WWII M1911A1 Value, Shoot or Restore

A person I know was transporting two pistols to the Police to turn in for destruction. We discussed them and I offered to purchase them if they had any value. I wanted to clean them up and possibly test fire them if appropriate. The Beretta turned out to be a 1915 in poor shape. (Paper weight)

The Colt was a different story. The weapon had belonged to his Uncle, a WWII Veteran. The Colt had not been fired in more than 30 years and in fact was coated in cosmoline.

The weapon cleaned up quite nicely with no pits or problems with the barrel.

I took it to the range and put 25 rounds through it. I lost track of 6 rounds, they probably went through the hole in the middle of a tight group.

Here are some facts I've been trying to research on the web:

"P" near Mag release
"RS" Field Service Stamp by Disconnector (R scratched)
"RS"& "G" on top rear of Receiver
Hammer Type 4 Wide Spur
Checkered Mainspring Housing
* The Bad *
Barrel not Original? Blued with interlaced HP on top and small G in font of lugs - 1919 "Black Army"?
Walnut Grips none matching large diamond
Ugh!!! Serial Number on Receiver (ends in 3) and Slide (ends in 2)

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Old June 29, 2013, 06:27 AM   #2
wheelyfun
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How come I never run into anyone getting ready to throw away awesome guns from WWII??
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Old June 29, 2013, 10:08 AM   #3
RickB
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That's a beautiful 1941 Colt. My '42 has a slide that's three digits off, and that's very common; in 1942, nobody cared if the pistol was "all matching", or not.
The RS inspection stamp is quite rare.
The barrel is of a type use earlier by Colt, but I wouldn't assume that it's not original, as my sources indicate that the change came about 20,000 pieces before yours, and a lot of changes were instituted gradually.
The grips "should be" brown plastic, but again, the transition from fully-checkered walnut took place at about the same time that your gun was made.
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Old June 29, 2013, 10:40 AM   #4
RC20
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I think you may have a shootable collector. Not a gun I collect or knowledge in but I am shooting and collecting WWI 1917s and 1903s.

Get on the 1911 forum if no one here can really advise you. Don't shoot it any more until you find out for sure though.

Its kind of a fun middle area if so, that as long as you don't shoot it out it will maintain its value and increase over time.

If someone with more knowledge that trumps the above follow their advice.
Take your time about the decision and gather as much information as possible.

I picked up what I though was a shooter Luger a while back and it turned out to be worth a lot as a collector but not to be shot as all the parts are serialized and a broken part can't be replaced.

Fortunately I checked with the experts on the Luger forum and listened to what they had to say (shortly after that a guy wrote in about shooting one very similar and had a part break and reduced the value by 80%.

Its on the shelf to sell some day. Nice to score it but I like the ones you can shoot and enjoy better. The key was that once they told me not to shoot it I gave myself a 3 month window to think about it. No rush to shoot it and the downsides were high.

Yours may not be in that categroy and be a lot of fun as well as having value but find out for sure.
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Old June 29, 2013, 12:51 PM   #5
James K
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That gun was made in 1941 and is a highly desirable collectible. Please do NOT do anything to "restore" it as any changes will reduce the value by hundreds of dollars.

The only thing "wrong" is the grips, which should be checkered wood (NOT plastic) without diamonds, but do not change them unless you can find originals.

The RS is Col. Robert Sears, Executive Officer of the Hartford Ordnance District and inspector of ordnance from 3 Aug 1937 to 30 Jun 1941.

Hi, Rick,

If the slide is numbered and does not match the frame on a Colt M1911/A1, it is because they were mismatched after the gun left the factory; yes they did care about making those numbers match. Many sellers, when a mismatch or fake marking is pointed out, will use the "they were in a hurry in wartime" excuse.

The grips, as noted above, should be checkered wood, not plastic.

Jim
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Old June 30, 2013, 01:34 AM   #6
Spadix
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Plastic Stocks (grips)

JK

Thank you very much for your reply.

It is obvious that my pistol 736,xxx was produced in a period of great change including the introduction of parkerization and grip changes.

Here is what my research found:

"Walnut stocks where gradually phased out around serial #730,000. Plastic stocks were introduced in April of 1940 but where not in wide spread use until March of 1941."

Based the above info here

And

"The brushed blue finish is found in decreasing frequency starting at about 734000. Note the "Coltwood" plastic grips. This example is as close to mint as it gets. Grading it at 99.9% original finish."

Based on this description of 1911A1 Serial Number 733785 (2398 before my weapon) here

And this picture of # 733785 here

I have purchased a pair of Coltwood (Coltrock?) hollow back numbered grips to replace my mismatched Walnut grips.

I am in the hunt now for the proper barrel to replace the older 1911 interlaced HP small G barrel.

I am looking for a barrel like this here

Thanks again for your interest and help. This is indeed a great group folks.

Semper Fi

Last edited by Spadix; June 30, 2013 at 04:32 AM.
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Old June 30, 2013, 06:15 AM   #7
thedudeabides
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I'm pretty sure it's a Hartford Ordnance (RS) and valuable despite the mismatch on the SN's and crap grips. I wouldn't mess with the barrel, unless it's damaged and you want to get the gun shooting again. I don't have enough experience to know if the barrel is appropriate, but have no reason to believe that gun didn't start life with that barrel.

You can leave it as is (maybe get a proper pair of period grips) if you want to keep it or resell it.

If you really want to shoot it, you can replace the springs to make it work (but keep the originals). I'd also probably not shoot the original GI mags, they add value to the gun, and just get a set of GI-style repros from a modern manufacturer.
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Old June 30, 2013, 01:14 PM   #8
James K
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Hi, Spadix, sorry on the grips - my error. My problem is that when I see a nice gun and someone says the word "restore", I have a vision of shiny blue and fake pearl grips.

I am glad you have done your research and intend to limit "restoral" to getting the correct parts.

Jim
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Old June 30, 2013, 03:20 PM   #9
RickB
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Quote:
Hi, Rick,

If the slide is numbered and does not match the frame on a Colt M1911/A1, it is because they were mismatched after the gun left the factory; yes they did care about making those numbers match. Many sellers, when a mismatch or fake marking is pointed out, will use the "they were in a hurry in wartime" excuse.
Of course, but there's no reason to believe that the mismatching was done any time after the war. A Remington Rand with a frame and slide that show similar wear patterns are usually assumed to be "original", but a Colt with a slide that's one digit off that of the frame is considered a "mistmatch". I'd say a "mistmatch" like the OPs is probably closer to being original than a gun without a numbered slide.
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Old July 1, 2013, 03:59 PM   #10
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I have nothing of importance to add.

I just wanted to say "Thank you for saving that beauty from the police scrap heap." It is a piece of our U.S. history. Cherish it.

Thanks again.
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Old July 1, 2013, 08:43 PM   #11
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Yeah what Wyoredman said. Now I need to find someone that is giving away a WW2 1911.
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Old December 30, 2013, 02:02 AM   #12
chumlee780
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interested in barrel trade

do you still have the colt im interested in the barrel you have it is for an early colt 1918 black army which i have i have a flanery barrel in my which would be a good replacement for you if interested pm me
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Old December 30, 2013, 02:08 AM   #13
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Wow! I can't believe somebody would turn that in to the police for destruction. That is just crazy to me. Good thing you now have it. It belongs with somebody that will appreciate it and it's history.
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Old December 30, 2013, 12:47 PM   #14
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Nice catch.

Be aware that besides it current collector status, the old 1911s were not made to the same standards as more recent guns. Heat treating of the slide was not what is done now. I have seen some reports that say there was no heat treating done, that the strength of the untreated steel was considered to be fully adequate.

Required Service life was 5,000 rounds. I would say that if you are going to shoot one of these fine old warhorses, you use only GI ball (or equivalent) and do it sparingly.

I note that you said it grouped tightly. Congratulations on finding the truth. GI guns, were made to GI specs, and while "loose" for serviceability (compared to target guns) they were generally quite accurate, when in good condition (fairly new).

The "truth" about GI .45s not being accurate came from the 1970s, mostly. The newest 1911s in service were bought in 1945, and by the 1970s a lot of them were getting kind of worn. Not unserviceable, but not as good as they once were. These guns, in the hands of Vietnam era GIs led to the "sloppy so it works, not very accurate" stories, which became entrenched in legend pretty quickly.
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Old December 30, 2013, 08:04 PM   #15
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I can't believe there are people out there that would actually give away their Uncle's wwII sidearm to a police buy back! The nation's citizens have been totally zombified.

Thanks for saving a part of all of our heritage from the blowtorch!

Actually, if anybody out there believes the cops actually destroy these guns, I've got beachfront property in Kansas for sale for you too!
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Old December 31, 2013, 08:06 AM   #16
Kimio
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Wow! What an amazing find, glad you were able to rescue this amazing piece of history from the smelters.

Absolutely blows my mind that there are people out there that would actually turn in such historical artifacts to be melted down by the Police.
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Old December 31, 2013, 08:22 AM   #17
UncleEd
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Spadix,

As said earlier, go to the Colt.Forum

Also check in at 1911Forum.com
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Old December 31, 2013, 10:30 AM   #18
Deaf Smith
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Spadix,

Leave that gun alone.

If you want to restore or alter I'll dig up a Springfield 'GI' .45 for you to mess with and I'd be happy to take that WWII gun off your hands.

It's history sitting in your hand.

I have WWII Beretta 1934 and S&W pre-victory RAAF .38. as well as GI M1 Carbine (NPM!)

And no, I ain't modifying them.

Deaf
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Old December 31, 2013, 12:28 PM   #19
kilimanjaro
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That pistol would have gone in the front door of the police station, and out the back door into some flatfoots' house.

Folks who would destroy a family heirloom for the 'sake of the children', or whatever, will burn the family Bible next.
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Old December 31, 2013, 06:14 PM   #20
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kilimanjaro,

I once did get a family bible at a garage sale. Written in German and had some markers that had family names to them. Still have it.

Sad some younger folk don't realize what they are selling for $5 bucks.

Deaf
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