View Full Version : Colt 1911 Goverment advice

March 11, 2012, 05:04 PM
I have aquired a new to me Colt (fullsize) goverment model with the commerical version slide. the barrel has been shot out. I want to replace the sights and a new barrel. what im thinking is a set of novack low profile sights and possiably a Lake Storm barrel? The trigger has been replaced, hammer is "bobbed" and titanium extractor, and new parkerizing finish.. can you all suggest some direction, and sights I can buy parts from? I am looking to have the barrel fitted up and and ramp worked.. + any needed suggestions to get this thing running sweet.


James K
March 11, 2012, 06:32 PM
Brownell's should have anything you need in sights for the M1911. If you want a front dovetail, you will have to cut it or have it cut, as the standard sight fits into a hole in the slide.

If you want other than a drop-in barrel (and they often don't drop in) you will likely have to have that fitted as well. There are many gunsmiths who do tht work, with ability ranging from absolute tops to abysmal. The ones with national reputations are usually backlogged until six weeks after Judgement Day and I can't even make suggestions on local gunsmiths. I suggest you ask around and talk to some of them.

If you want to tackle the job yourself, there are several people on this site that can help, plus literally dozens of web sites and "now-to" books on the 1911.


March 12, 2012, 12:41 AM
thnaks Jim for the speedy reply.. I ma leaning toward a KART barrel but need to keep in mind this is my first semi-build for the 1911.. I have mild machinig exp and have meatal working exp in the past.. can anyone attest to how muc skill and effort is need to match fit these KART barrels.. an with that kit do you get the barrel bushing also to match fit?

James K
March 12, 2012, 01:00 AM
I never fitted a Kart barrel so can't help with that, but generally, fitting a barrel is not a big deal, but you have to have experience in how the barrel, bushing, slide, link, slide stop, etc. work in conjunction with one another. You have to get full engagement of the locking lugs, yet still make sure the barrel unlocks properly. Lots of small things, but you can't miss any and do a good job.

I strongly recommend the Kuhnhausen books on the M1911. Get both; they are well worth the money.


March 12, 2012, 03:41 AM
Could you post some pictures of what a worn-out barrel looks like. I have never seen one.

March 12, 2012, 04:37 AM
The Kart EZ Fit barrel is pretty easy to fit. Your results will depend on where your current frame/slide are fitting vertically now.

You fit the barrel in 4 spots and the bushing OD. The reason your f/s vertical fit is so key is that really is limited in how much fitting you have and still have enough upper lug engagement.

Regarding the shot out barrel...this is a bit questionable since 45 ACP is known to not shoot out barrels or wear out, but they are know for part mixing which causes poor fit and accuracy/reliability issues.

March 12, 2012, 09:24 AM

I was also thinking to ask how you know the original barrel is shot out? The rule of thumb I always heard for hardball was around 25,000 rounds. For lead bullets there doesn't seem to be any limit if you don't scrub the bore with stainless brushes or shoot dirt and grit through it on a routine basis. The link lugs will get loose on the slide stop pin after awhile, if the gun was fit up originally. If the barrel is a standard barrel that wasn't fit up, then you either have to replace it or find a good TIG welder to build some metal up on the link lugs and barrel extension for you to cut and file and scrape to fit. These days that's considered old school, but it still works. A third possibility is a David Chow type spring steel pad in the slide locking lug recess to remove lockup slop, but that's old school, too, these days. The Kart EX-fit is at the opposite end for the easiest way to get a tight barrel lock up.

March 12, 2012, 06:57 PM
it is the origianl barrel and I reload my own ammo+ shoot alot.. so athe only variable in the fact that this one shoot sparatic grouping is the actual gun.. Im very accurate with a handgun and ended up placing this on in a vice to confirm it is the gun.. it throws strays all the time and will not hold a grouping.

March 12, 2012, 07:17 PM
Kart ez kit
wilson combat

Any that are for sure or to stay away from ?

March 12, 2012, 07:49 PM
I think this is a commercial M1911 colt frame with a colt imported slide, bobbed hammer, aftermarket trigger, titanuim extractor and firinging pin, unfortunaly it has been parkerized which killed the collectability so I want to make a shooter out of it..

I want a barrel , hammer? any other upgrades or tell me if im screwing up here or off base..

March 12, 2012, 08:02 PM
feedback please?

March 13, 2012, 04:40 AM
What does it say on the other side of the slide?

March 13, 2012, 05:10 AM
Yes. Other side of slide??

March 13, 2012, 09:17 AM

March 13, 2012, 09:31 AM
The barrel looks pretty good, from the outside.
Have you tried a slightly oversized bullet?
That might improve things, without needing a new barrel.
Just a thought.

March 13, 2012, 09:46 AM
Ill give it a whril.. thought about some lead castings..

March 13, 2012, 12:14 PM

The precision (grouping) of a 1911 usually isn't the fault of the barrel bore condition. That's why I asked how you knew it was shot out. Usually it's the fit of the outside of the barrel into the frame that's 95% of the problem.

The rules of thumb I was taught were that barrel to slide and assembly pin lock-up is 65-70% of the improvement in group size. The barrel bushing is 15-20%. The slide to frame fit 5-10%. I've never heard of the barrel bore condition even coming into it, though in an extreme case of crown damage or a defective rifling job, or a lot of sand shot through the bore, it would. A truly shot out bore will have its throat gone, the dognut on the outside of the muzzle worn severely or some other factor that makes refitting impossible. But, in general, the .45 ACP runs at such low temperatures and pressures that you never see the kind of heat stress cracking of the throat than you will with a rifle, nor the kind of erosion you do in a magnum revolver forcing cone and throat until an extraordinary number of rounds have gone through it.

If you've never done this work before, I would go for the Kart EZ-fit, as you can usually get a good job with one without having to fit the slide and frame or the link lugs to the assembly pin or the link to the barrel, and still not have excessive barrel tip-up. It's also a good idea because Fred Kart will take the time on the phone to explain it to you if you get into a snag. It comes with a bushing, so you'll be taking care of the first two elements I mentioned and likely get 90% of any possible improvement without having to do anything else. You'll find fitting the bushing to the slide the hardest part. Before I had a lathe, I did it with shoe-shine sandpapering, a bushing wrench and valve lapping compound and patience. Slow going but not difficult.

If you plan on doing any other tuning on the gun, like smoothing the barrel tunnel in the slide or polishing the feed ramp or breaking the corners of the locking lugs, I recommend you do that first so you don't affect tolerances that affect the barrel fit after already doing the barrel fitting. If you decide to try to learn how to tighten a slide to a frame, you also want to do that first.

When I first got my Goldcup in the late 70's, it would not hold a 5.5" group with lead bullets at 25 yards. After fitting it shot lead bullets into under 1" at 25 yards. Jacketed match bullets shot into under half that. Same original Colt barrel; just welded up and hand fit on the outside. And that bore was half a thousandth out of round when it shot those groups off the bench, so it's just not the primary issue in this gun.

I've put these up before, but it should give you some idea what to look forward to when you get all the i's dotted and t's crossed in the fitup.


James K
March 13, 2012, 01:08 PM
I tend to agree with Unclenick, though I have seen some pretty bad .45 barrels. Remember that GI ammo was corrosive through about 1952 and I heard a rumor that South Pacific jungles did not improve barrel condition. But a worn out barrel on what looks like a commercial gun seems a bit unlikely; if the only sign is a falling off in accuracy, I think I would look elsewhere for the problem.


March 13, 2012, 03:12 PM
thabks guys this is why I love it here.. you all are more than willing to help noobs like me.. im excited and will roport back to ya on the findings.. thanks again..


March 13, 2012, 06:38 PM
As an addition to what Unclenick posted, here's a photo of a 1911 barrel (made in 1918) that is pitted and dark. But the pistol it is part of groups just like my Series 70 from 1978 with a bright shiny pretty bore; this barrel is not 'shot out'. Ugly? Sure it is. But it works just fine


March 13, 2012, 07:54 PM
ok knowing that .. I still want to rrplace the hammer , barrel link and hand match a bushing .. so with that said what series goverment should I order?

March 14, 2012, 05:06 PM
other side of slide



Ummmmmmm...... that's the same side as the other photo.

March 14, 2012, 09:54 PM
the Other .. Other side of the slide.. lol

March 15, 2012, 12:32 PM
ok knowing that .. I still want to rrplace the hammer , barrel link and hand match a bushing .. so with that said what series goverment should I order?

If you are referring to which trigger group parts to purchase, the Series '70 parts and earlier would be the type of part you want for a standard government model frame and slide. A Goldcup style hammer has a slightly different hammer strut pin hole position to make trigger work easier to do, but unless you are going to do trigger work or unless you want a lanyard hole for dry fire cocking via a cord, or unless you are installing a beavertail grip safety design that interferes with a standard hammer's spur, there are other places you could put your money than the hammer to get more bang for your buck.

George Nonte pointed out there are really two kinds of accuracy work, mechanical and practical. Mechanical is mainly the barrel fit up work and the slide fit work; it's anything that would make the gun shoot better from a machine rest. Practical is the sights and trigger work and grip panels and any other modification that makes the gun easier for the shooter to operate it to best advantage.

I always get the mechanical accuracy of a 1911 together first, or the rest you do most likely won't improve results to a degree you can really see on paper. Be aware that if you replace only the barrel link with a long link to improve lockup, you can cause subsequent damage if you don't know how to check and correct the barrel lockup timing. Battered locking lugs in the slide is a common outcome from doing this incorrectly. Worst case, the barrel won't lower fully into the frame cradle in counterbattery and feeding is compromised and actual interference with the slide pulling back can then also occur. Also, using a long link to improve lockup is not as repeatable or accurate as welding up and fitting the barrel link lugs together with it, because it still allows some lateral rocking and position variation because of the narrower perch on the slide stop assembly pin it provides. It also puts more stress on that pin. It is done and you can try it, but is not best practice from a durability standpoint and does not typically achieve the gun's full accuracy potential.

You should read the books, Kuhnhausen in particular, and it's not a bad idea to read Hallock and Nonte for simpler and more old-school descriptions to help you get your brain wrapped around what all can be done and how. Mainly, like a doctor, you first want to do no harm.

You may also find you want to install an adjustable rear sight or file down the front sight. When you get the barrel locking up high in the slide, it will be angled down more in battery than it was originally. This will lower bullet point of impact, typically a few inches at 25 yards. But you need to try this to test it in your particular gun.

For the above reasons, unless you do a weld-up or buy a new barrel with extra metal on it, I think F. Bob Chow's technique of fitting a shim to control the locking engagement depth is better than messing with the link. It'll keep the barrel angle low. Basically, this concept accepts that the lockup is already adequately engaged (or the gun wouldn't be working) and that Colt leaves about 0.015" of extra room in their tolerance stack for you to fill. All you need to do, then, is stick a roughly 0.015" shim up in the rearmost locking recess of the slide that will take up the extra space and stop vertical barrel play.

There is a good description of the method in the fifth post in this archive (http://yarchive.net/gun/pistol/1911_accuracy.html).

That arrangement makes your existing link and link lug profile correct and you don't have to mess with them. Since you have a mismatched slide and frame and barrel, you want to double-check for the correct shim thickness. You could do that with automotive plastic shim gage material stuffed into the recess, then removed and measured after letting the barrel close into it. Another method is to get some brass or soft steel shim stock you can cut trim easily into small pieces and You can hold the gun upside down while you try dropping trial layers of shim material in and noting how the back of the slide and frame line up when it closes on them. Once the shim fills the space, the slide will start backing up with additional shim, and you can pick then select the shim thickness so the slide and frame back up a hundredth of an inch or so, leaving is room for the new arrangement to settle in.

March 15, 2012, 01:36 PM
I would not count on being able to just put in a hammer.

I say this because once the hammer and sear relationship is established,then the thumb safety is fitted.Odds are good you will have to put in a new thumb safety.(If you put the safety on,pull the trigger,release the trigger,then pull back the hammer while watching the sear,the sear must not move)

I am a rookie with 1911's.Some may disagree,but after wasting parts,time,and effort,I have come to the conclusion ,for myself,order a Cylinder and Slide matched hammer,sear ,disconnect kit,a thumb safety,(an OEM Colt is not a bad idea),if you think you may want a longer trigger or a different grip safety,get it NOW.

All that stuff gets fit in order,and changing a part can make everything downstream wrong.

March 15, 2012, 04:06 PM
Looks like you have an Argentine Colt Hartford built pistol. "Policia Federal" refers to Buenos Aires Police.

Argentina contracted with Colt in 1927 to purchase 10,000 pistols for the Argentine Army. (Later (ca. 1946-47), Argentina got license to build Colts in Argentina, which are labeled "Sistema Colt.")

This particular Colt was NOT part of the 10,000 pistol order in 1927, as it falls into the "C" serial number range, making it part of a special order for the Buenos Aires Police. The 1927 order was in its own serial number range, 1-10,000, and frame numbers are actually stamped under the mainspring housing.

To be honest, even though it has been Parkerized, you have a fairly scarce variation of a Hartford built Argentine Colt, since it has the Buenos Aires Police markings. Personally, I wouldn't be replacing anything on it that would entail a permanent change. If you want to install a new barrel, that's not a problem, but replacing sights, etc. will mean permanent changes and a reduction in value of the gun.

March 16, 2012, 07:36 AM

It's only the Colt slide he has. His receiver says Interarms. Also, it looks to me like whoever refinished it weld-filled a rust pit or a stamping just in front of the "P" in "Policia", so I expect any significant collector value to the slide has already spoiled.

March 16, 2012, 10:03 AM
...It's only the Colt slide he has. His receiver says Interarms.... If I am not mistaken, that is an import mark (re-imported from Argentina), not the maker's mark. Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

March 16, 2012, 10:31 AM
That's a good point. Could be. They used to import a lot of stuff, though it is an added mark. Maybe the gun is original then, even if all the markings are not. I'm still curious about the apparent weld spot.

March 16, 2012, 05:31 PM
yeah that was my feeing as to the value and it being gone.. planning to make a cool shooter.. outa it.. getting the slide dovetailed and putting on adj sights..

March 17, 2012, 07:25 AM
It's only the Colt slide he has. His receiver says Interarms. Also, it looks to me like whoever refinished it weld-filled a rust pit or a stamping just in front of the "P" in "Policia", so I expect any significant collector value to the slide has already spoiled.

Wrong. The "spot" in front of the P in Policia is the Argentine national crest.

"Interarms" (now defunct) was the importer of the gun, as required by U.S. law and regulations.

Most of these guns had a fairly rought life in Argentina and so were refinished there either by Parkerizing or rebluing.

ANY Argentine Hartford Colt is a fairly scarce item, this one all the more so since it was a very small special order for the Buenos Aires Police and not part of the original 10,000 gun order for the Argentine Army.

As it stands, although some originality is lost because of the refinish and importer's mark, anything the OP does to further modify this gun is only going to reduce it further in value.

Maxx_ammo, if you want to make a "cool shooter," sell this gun to a collector and buy yourself an RIA and have money left over to buy your accessories.

If you ruin this Argentine, you're only going to lose money, as you will never get back your investements for whatever changes you make to it.

March 17, 2012, 07:27 AM
yeah that was my feeing as to the value and it being gone..

The value is NOT gone, but it will be as soon as you make any permanent modifications.

March 17, 2012, 09:11 AM
I think Gyvel is right. I enlarged the "weld spot" and see feathers or leaves around the edge. It looks like it lost sharpness due to the Parkerizing, but it not a weld. The serial number is low enough to be the real thing, too. Hasty call on my part.

I'd take his suggestion and see if you can find a collector. You may come out ahead on this deal.

March 18, 2012, 06:19 AM
I can have the parkerizing removed and the gun re-blued in your opnions is this the safe move? I am not doing anythig to the gun it in any way that can not be change back by swapping parts..

March 18, 2012, 06:23 AM
anyone that can ball park me on an asking price for this gun in the current state I would be grateful.. think I will place it in my collection and just buy me a RIA to mod.. good advice..

March 18, 2012, 04:19 PM
You can strip the Parkerizing off easily enough, but the folks who applied it probably abrasive or bead blasted the metal first, taking off the original polishing and reducing the depth and definition of the stampings. If you are talking about restoring the gun to original condition some polishing will likely be involved and the markings will likely thin out even more. Unless you like collecting, I would leave that expense to the next owner so you don't have the money invested and putting yourself in the position of having to get a higher price to recoup the investment, which may be harder to do.

March 18, 2012, 07:04 PM
well said.. thanks

March 22, 2012, 01:10 AM
The Parkerizing is part of the history of the gun. Investing $200-300 in a professional reblue just doesn't make economic sense. It is money that you will never recover.

Check on Gunbroker to see what the market is bearing. Just remember to look at ONLY sold guns, not some guy with an unsold gun and an unrealistic price.

March 23, 2012, 03:59 PM
I can have it prof. reblued for free.. :)