View Full Version : When did Colt first offer factory nickel 1911s?

44 AMP
February 7, 2008, 10:00 PM
It started with a discussion of what the nickel plated auto in the movie Titanic ought to have been. Could it have been a nickel 1911, or a 1905, or even a 1903 or 1900 model? I haven't dug up the movie to study frames yet, but I thought it looked like a 1911.

Anyway, my friend says he can find no reference on any factory nickel 1911 before the 1920s at the ealiest, and maybe not before the '30s. He does have a 1940 catalogue which lists 1911s in nickel.

So please, you experts of the Internet, help us out if you can. When were the earliest factory nickel 1911(a1?) available to the civilian market?

Could one have been owned by the rich guy on the Titanic? Or will we have to accept the fact that he had his new 1911 nickeled aftermarket, before that fateful sea voyage in early 1912?

Or maybe just the director just wanted a flashy gun and the prop guy came up with the nickeled Colt? Seems kind of lame, considering all the effort they went through to make all the sets authentic looking, but stranger things are common on movie sets, I hear.

February 7, 2008, 10:23 PM
Again, director's choice. I read all the knives in "Last of the Mohicans" were
two feet long so they'd show up on screen, the gunstock club carried by
Chingachook was likewise oversized for visual impact. In "Rough Riders" TR
carries a nickeled Colt SAA, he did own such a gun but at San Juan Hill he
carried a Colt M1889 Navy salvaged from the USS Maine.

February 7, 2008, 11:47 PM
Since actual production of the Model 1911 didn't start until early 1912, it would be virtually impossible for a 1911 to have been manufactured, THEN lavishly engraved and plated, been taken to Europe and have made it in time to be aboard the Titanic.

Colt did always offer the customer anything they could pay for, so if a customer ordered a nickel plated 1911 in 1912, they would have made him one.
Only Colt knows when the first production 1911's were plated, or when the first custom order nickel was done.

T. O'Heir
February 8, 2008, 11:04 PM
"...or even a..." Yep. Very little firearm/weapon usage in any movie has anything to do with reality.

February 9, 2008, 11:31 AM
Yeah, let's just skip over the little historical inaccuracy that none of the survivors noted that two guys were running around the sinking ship with one firing a shiny semi-auto at the other. That movie was terrible. If you're looking for historical accuracy, see A Night to Remember (1958). The manufactured drama of the latter film trivialized the real human drama depicted so well in the 1958 film. Pure Hollywood fiction, they may as well have been using a Glock.

February 11, 2008, 10:01 PM

"...they may as well have been using a Glock."

Thanks, that made my day. And your right; "A Night to Remember" is still the definitive Titanic movie.

James K
February 11, 2008, 11:00 PM
The 1912 Colt catalog lists only a blue finish as does the 1931 catalog, so the nickel finish option was apparently offered after the latter date. The 1940 catalog shows nickel finish as an extra cost option. None of the earlier (pre-1912) catalogs show any auto pistol as having a nickel finish, but some revolvers show that option.

Of course, the whole "love story" was pure fiction and I doubt that kind of accuracy was even given a thought by the director or the prop department. "Hollywood research" is an oxymoron. they will brag about getting the correct buttons on a Civil War uniform then give the wearer an 1892 Winchester.


44 AMP
February 12, 2008, 11:24 PM
And I do agree about Hollywood research. The sad thing is that sometimes they actually do the research to find out what is right and the director overrules historical accuracy for "dramatic visuals".

We knew the 1940 catalogue listed nickel as an extra cost option, but had no info on anything earlier. Thanks for the info about the 1931 catalogue. So it lookes like the factory nickel finish for autos became available (as an extra cost option) after '31 and by 1940.

Again, thank you all. And yes, A Night to Remember is a better, if less visually captivating movie.

February 13, 2008, 03:51 AM
I agree with Dfariswheel. If somebody wanted one nickled bad enough Colt would have plated it for them. I seriously doubt one would have been on the Titanic tho, nickled or otherwise.