View Full Version : Update a 1911 or not .....?

April 20, 2001, 01:09 PM
Here's the deal. A vintage US army 1911 was passed on to me by a relative a year or so ago. Serial # puts it in the 1916 class of manufacturing. It's in pretty primo condition - I'd say 90%+ blueing, very minor holster wear, minimal scratching, etc. It was modified, by US armory, only to replace the flat ms housing with the A1 version. Shoots well but its drawbacks include those tiny sights and original hammer & grip safety which contribute to serious web bite.

If I were to make shooter out of it I'd plan at minimum some decent (visible)front and rear sights, new hammer and beavertail grips. Perhaps extended safety.

Am I talking sacrilige here? Is a vintage colt a suitable platform for a range shooter. Am I about to destroy an antique just to have a more user friendly 45? What's your advice? What would you do? TIA

April 20, 2001, 02:04 PM
Keep it as is...buy a newer piece for decking out, or a pre-decked model...

These are pieces of histoire...a WWI era model, for God's sake, please, leave it as is...you don't know how lucky and privileged you are to own such a piece.

It would be like owning a Bugatti and chopping it down to a roadster with flames on the side

April 20, 2001, 09:01 PM
Romulus thanks for your views. Yep...got a museum piece alright. Suppose I could just park it in the sock drawer for HD duty and pass it on to my son some day. The sights would hardly matter and I don't think web bite would be of much concern if pressed to use it. Historical concerns aside, is an older piece like mine a viable shooter? Since coming into my family in the mid-forties, I know less than 200 rounds have been run through it. Should I be concerned with metal fatigue of any critical parts? I guess I'm a little pig headed but I just don't have time for a gun I can't count on to go bang. Don't want to sell it either. Anyone out there regularly shoot "senior" handguns? Advice is welcome and appreciated.

April 20, 2001, 10:39 PM
I guess that all I can add is that if you have any doubts about the metallurgy of the gun (fatigue, stress cracks, softness of original alloy, etc...) that is even more reason not to mess with it and turn it into a race gun...

Unless it was mistreated, though, there is no reason why it shouldn't still be shootable


Jim V
April 21, 2001, 05:23 AM
be "drop in", except the sights. You could pick up anothe slide, have the better sights installed on it and add your drop in parts to the frame. Shoot the pistol and still be able to convert it back to a collectors piece. Of course the bluing on the frame will wear doing that.

April 21, 2001, 11:50 AM
Put the weapon down, gently! Step away from it, now! When the thoughts of desecration have passed, oil it, wipe it down with a silicon rag, and place it where you can cherish and worship it. It's a piece of history.

Of course, if you had to use it for home defense, that's the best usage. Those things were weapons designed to keep their users alive while their users kept the world free. If it has to be used, I can't imagine anything better than defense of one's family.

[Edited by buzz_knox on 04-21-2001 at 01:17 PM]

April 21, 2001, 12:58 PM
Buzz, yours are words of irrefutable wisdom...

Art Eatman
April 21, 2001, 02:58 PM
Back when there was not the collector interest in vintage Colts, I bought a like-new 1911 with a four-digit serial number. I put a few thousand rounds through it. It was my "nightime gun", as well as my plinker.

Later on, I modified it slightly for IPSC shooting. I put many thousands of rounds through it during the next five or so years, with no problems whatsoever. No cracks, no nothing in the way of Oops.

I wouldn't worry about the metallurgy of any older Colt, assuming it hasn't been notably abused.


April 24, 2001, 08:23 AM
Gentlemen: Thank you all for helping me clear up my thinking. I plan to order an SA 1911 today. Original equipment to be returned to safe and preserved intact for posterity.
I've visited this forum regularly for the past year and been alternately informed, amused, entertained and p***ed off. I'm not shy, just haven't felt the need to post until recently. Mistake! Again, thanks for contributing. Never know when you'll keep someone from making a serious blunder. And of course....God Bless Texas.

April 24, 2001, 03:35 PM
If this Colt was manufactured in 1916, The Blue Book of Gun Value says:

Colt Mfg. Model 1911 Military - right side of slide marked "MODEL OF 1911 U.S. ARMY", blue finish only (not parkerized unless reworked).

1912-1913 mfg. 100%-$2,900 98%-$1,995 95%-$1,325 90%-$925 80%-$550
Add 10% for the first 114 pistols with oversize "United States Property" marking
Add 75% for pistols in the ser. no. range 115-2,400

1914-1925 mfg. 100%-$2,300 98%-$1,600 95%-$975 90%-625 80%-$525

Over 2,550,000 M1911 pistols were ordered for WWI and WWII by U.S. Government but approx. 650,000 were manufactured between 1911-1925. Those pistols with a parkerized finish will indicate post WWI-reworking, usually marked with an arsenal code (ie AA-AUGUSTA ARSENAL, SA-SPRINGFIELD ARSENAL, etc.) These reworks do not have the same values as orginal, unaltered specimens and prices generally are in the $325-$550 range.

page 416 of the Twentieth Anniversary Edition Blue Book of Gun Values

Hope that gives some insight.

April 26, 2001, 05:24 AM
Perhaps buying a Hartford Colt or Argentine Systema Colt and putting the add-ons would be a better choice.They are reletively cheap guns and great shooters with the same design /looks as your original 1911.

AC's & 45's
April 26, 2001, 11:50 AM
Don't do it Dog! You'll be sorry !!