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Old October 20, 2021, 06:51 PM   #1
Prof Young
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Colt made in Argentina. Talk to me please.

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What can you tell me about this gun? It is at LGS/Range. You might have to expand the pics a bit to see the details.

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Old October 20, 2021, 07:38 PM   #2
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Argentina bought pistols from Colt in the '20s, and apparently liked them so much, they set up a licensing agreement to make them in Argentina.
The latter guns are called "Sistemas" by collectors, because they're stamped "Sistema Colt", which means, I think, "Colt Patent".
For years, they were a cheap way to get into vintage pistols, either as shooters or collectables. A buddy paid $600 for two of them, about fifteen years ago.
Now, they have become more collectible, as the price for vintage Colts is in the $2000-$4000 range, and there are lots of Sistema variants, such as Army, Air Force, Police, etc.
My buddy has tried to sell one of his for $850, but based on what I see on gunbroker, I think $700 is closer to it, depending on original finish, matching numbers, etc.
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Old October 20, 2021, 07:52 PM   #3
Bill DeShivs
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The pictured gun is not a Colt. It's a Sistema.
While identical, it's not a Colt unless so marked.
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Old October 20, 2021, 09:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill DeShivs
The pictured gun is not a Colt. It's a Sistema.
While identical, it's not a Colt unless so marked.
Bill is correct. It is not a Colt. It is a copy of the M1911A1 built by the Argentinean government arms factory Fabrica Militar de Armas Portatiles (Military Factory of Small Arms) under a license from Colt. They are excellent pistols ... but they are not Colts.

I don't know what the going price is. That one appears to be in better condition than mine, but I am of the opinion that $999.99 is high for a Sistema.

If you are looking for a 1911 shooter, be advised that it will have the small, military sights that are not conducive to target accuracy, and the front sight is staked into the slide, so replacement is best done by a gunsmith.
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Old October 21, 2021, 02:48 AM   #5
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I believe Sistemas obviously are not Colts, but licensed copies. Something like Remington Rands, Singers, Ithacas, or US&Ss from the WWII era. Though in those cases was US government who asked Colt to permit all that plants to produce the 1911A1s, to contribute with the war production effort.
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Old October 21, 2021, 10:37 AM   #6
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the 1927 Sistema Colt pistols are licensed built copies of the Colt. They were made to Colt design specs on tooling approved by Colt and Colt got paid for each one. Parts will interchange with Colt guns of the period. Yes, the front sight is staked to the slide, that's the way Colt did it!

The other .45 pistol you may find from Argentina is the Ballister Molina. It looks a lot like a Colt, 1911A1. but it is not. The internals are different. It was not licensed by Colt (because its not a Colt design, just nearly identical on the outside). Been a while, I might be wrong, I think Colt magazines will work, perhaps the barrel, but the rest of the parts won't interchange with Colts.

The Systema Colt is not a Colt, exactly, not made by Colt, but is physically the same as the Colt and I believe at least the first ones were made under Colt supervision. the markings are different, than a Colt, that's about it.

They were $300 guns when Colts were $500-600(new) no idea what today's market has them at. sorry.
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Old October 21, 2021, 11:04 AM   #7
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In looking at postings for Sistemas on Gunbroker, I noticed that a lot of sellers advertise them as Colts. In some cases I think this is an honest misunderstanding -- in other cases, I think the sellers know the difference but hope the buyers don't know the difference.

Some of the confusion arises because Argentina started out by purchasing a run of M1911A1-type pistols from Colt. The number 10,000 comes to mind, but it might have been only 1,000. (Memory is fleeting.) When the initial purchase proved to be satisfactory, Argentina then negotiated a deal with Colt to purchase a license to manufacture future pistols in Argentina under license from Colt. These are the F.M.A.P. "Sistema" pistols.

So there are some genuine Argentinean-contract Colt pistols. The pistol in the links provided by Prof Young is not one of those.
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Old October 21, 2021, 11:26 AM   #8
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Argentine built 1911

These are reliable pistols, though the frames and slides are not as hardened as the Colt and wear more.
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Old October 21, 2021, 11:46 AM   #9
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The Argentine one I had a for a while did not have the grip safety, and IIRC, it was marked Ballister Molina
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Old October 21, 2021, 11:53 AM   #10
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The Ballester-Molina is a different kettle of fish, based more on Spanish Star pistol designs, than on the 1911.
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Old October 21, 2021, 01:05 PM   #11
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RickB is correct. The Ballester-Molina and Ballester-Rigaud pistols are not in any way the same as the Sistema Model 1927 pistols.
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Old October 22, 2021, 12:52 PM   #12
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Collectible in their own right, Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, Fed Police, etc, if you have Argentine blood and love 1911's, Sistemas can fill a national void.

Might find a Hartford Pony prancing in their midst. 10,000 were made by Colt for Argentina circa 1927. Ejercito Argentino Another 20000 or so under Colt contract(?) (out of 112,000+/- total?)

I blame XavierBreath for mine. (if you recall his blog) Thanks for good advice.
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Old October 22, 2021, 08:57 PM   #13
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Sure looked like a 1911 without the grip safety; otherwise same control and manual of arms
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Old October 22, 2021, 11:53 PM   #14
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If I'm not mistaken, the early Sistema Model 1927 pistols used a frame made by Colt in the USA, and all the other parts were made in Argentina. (Correct me if I'm wrong) After a few thousand, everything was made in Argentina. I have one of the very early ones. Mine was rough, very rough, but the frame was still very good. I have since replaced everything expect the frame. Sold off all the take off parts for more than I paid for the entire pistol. So basically, I got a free Colt frame.
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Old October 23, 2021, 12:50 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike38
If I'm not mistaken, the early Sistema Model 1927 pistols used a frame made by Colt in the USA, and all the other parts were made in Argentina. (Correct me if I'm wrong)
I don't think this is correct.

The first 10,000 pistols were made by Colt in Hartford under contract to Argentina. Those guns are marked 'Colt." After that, subsequent pistols (the F.M.A.P. "Sistema" pistols) were 100 percent made in Argentina under license from Colt.
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Old October 23, 2021, 09:50 AM   #16
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Opinions please more shooter or collectable?

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This has been quite an education. Looking on Gunbroker the prices are all over the place. Low as $700 highs of 2k plus.

So, assuming this gun is in good shape is it more something to collect or is it a shooter, or both.

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Old October 23, 2021, 10:28 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Prof Young
So, assuming this gun is in good shape is it more something to collect or is it a shooter, or both.
IMHO, it's sort of both. However, considering the small GI-style sights, it's not a great choice as a shooter, and you can buy NEW 1911s with better sights for less money, so I'd say perhaps more of a collector.
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Old October 23, 2021, 10:47 AM   #18
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The history of the Sistema pistols has already been covered, So I have nothing more to offer in that respect. But I can offer a few pointers in regards to the collector vs shooter Sistema question:

First is going to be the overall condition. A close second is whether it still has it's original finish and kind of depends on when it was originally made. Also note that in years past, they were modified by the thousands by people after they were imported and you will see many with aftermarket sights and opened ejection ports. Guns so modified are purely shooters and should be priced accordingly.

Original Sistema's will have matching numbers on the frame, slide and barrel. They were issued with matching numbered magazines, but it is rare to find one that still has it's original numbered mag.

A original finish pistol is going to be the most valuable and should command the most money depending on just how much finish is left. After that it is kind of a crap shoot as to desirability.

Also already pointed out they were issued to various branches of the Argentine military and police forces and usually marked as to where they went. Some of the agencies got far less than others and so some of them are far more uncommon than others. The army seems to have gotten the most followed by the navy and then air force. The secret police marked ones seem to be the rarest. They used to be inexpensive but lately they have really jumped in price. Even the Ballester-Molina pistols have taken a steep increase in price.

I can't really tell from the pictures, so I won't hazard a guess as to the originality of the finish, but that one does have the original grips, which is a good sign that it hasn't been messed with. The original finish of the early Sistema's was a brushed blue just like that on Colts made for the US military after 1924. Later on they were parkerized and pistols brought in for refurbishment were parked the same as new production. Lots of them were refinished in Argentina before they were imported to the US.

A quick segue into another interesting little bit of history is that in the entire history only three countries have produced the 1911 under official license. I am fortunate to have examples from all three:
1. Argentina
2. Norway
3. United States.

I have a 1951 Sistema that is original in all respects including the matching number magazine and a 1941 vintage Ballester-Molina that I believe was parkerized by an arsenal in Argentina.






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Old October 23, 2021, 03:48 PM   #19
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Aguila Blanca, you are probably correct. I just spent 30 minutes searching, and couldn't come up with what I thought. I did find that according to the serial number on mine, it was made in 1947. Here all along I thought mine was made in 1945.
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