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Old June 16, 1999, 12:09 PM   #1
Larry P.
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Join Date: May 18, 1999
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Or anybody else with a clue!! It's like this; in 1983 I bought a limited edition Colt Government Model .45 auto from the Colt Custom Gun Shop, 200 units made, the Vietnam Special Edition. It has a slide described in the accompanying letter as "photo-engraved, chemically etched and selectively gold plated.", and cocobolo grips with Custom Shop medallions. I recieved it in the original shipping box, unopened, with the rosewood (I think) presentation case topped by a glass plate etched with a map of Vietnam.

In the 16 years since, the magazine has been removed and the action worked exactly once, because I could somehow just not allow a firearm in the house which I had not personally confirmed was either loaded or unloaded. Otherwise it sat in its case.

I have never owned a bullet which would fit it.

I did not buy it for its value to anyone else, it was never an investment. But now I have to consider that someday my children will own it, and they might care. My thought has been in the past that with 3 million vets of that war and 200 copies of this special edition, its value just might have escalated into the seriously stupid region. Also might not. I bought it as a memory for my big brother and myself, both of us having served, and I never intended to shoot it. But that was then, and this is now.

My problem is twofold; first, I obviously need to disassemble and clean this lovely thing (I have no idea how) before it rusts away; but more to the point, I've realized that in about a year now, on 14 June 2000, it will be 30 years since my brother took one in the chest from a sniper in what is described in an upcoming book as "the last major battle of the Vietnam war", Firebase Ripcord, and died in the arms of the wounded man he had gone to rescue, within minutes. On that day I want to shoot this gun. If anybody has to ask why, they wouldn't understand. After that I may just use it as an occasional carry gun (how stupid is THAT?)

I think I already know what I'm going to do, but I do have some interest in how much it will cost my kids. Won't cost me but the price of the ammo, since I will have it for my lifetime.

Also, being .45 challenged, what kind of ammo do I want, kick-ass brutal stuff, teach that paper target a LESSON!? I have no interest in target ammo, I would really prefer for it to HURT when I shoot it. A lot.

Thanx a bunch for any help you can give me, I'd rather go into just about anything with a bit of knowledge of the potential cost.

Larry P.

[This message has been edited by Larry P. (edited June 16, 1999).]
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Old June 16, 1999, 01:51 PM   #2
James K
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Join Date: March 17, 1999
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I don't think that gun is going to rust away. Most of those cases were treated with a rust preventive.

From a value viewpoint, I would NOT shoot it or work the action, but you have personal reasons that may outweigh dollar values.

Oddly, I can't find that gun listed in the Colt Commemorative list I have, so I don't have a price on it.

If you do fire it, clean the barrel and wipe the breech face with a patch without stripping the pistol. Then wipe it lightly with a soft, oiled cloth. Working or firing any of those guns cuts value by as much as 4/5, so a $1000 gun becomes a $200 gun just because someone wanted to shoot it.

The .45 Colt is a fine pistol. If you want one to fire but which also has a history, buy a genuine GI pistol, which might have been in Vietnam, and shoot it with little concern about decreasing the value.

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Old June 16, 1999, 02:17 PM   #3
Mal H
Join Date: March 20, 1999
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My first reaction was going to be - no don't fire it, you'll greatly devalue it. That was until I got to your reason for wanting to fire it. That is certainly a noble reason to fire it and makes your decision extremely difficult. Have you considered an alternative, that is to try to find a gun similar to the one your brother carried, perhaps from the same year, and fire that instead? This would be a fitting tribute and at the same time would keep the memorial gun as pristine as it should be. In the long run, it would also be cheaper. But that reason is far down the list considering your feelings for your brother.
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Old June 16, 1999, 03:30 PM   #4
Harley Nolden
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Join Date: January 8, 1999
Location: Brunswick,GA USA
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I have checked my most recent publication of Colt Commemoratives and cannot locate the one you are requesting a value. "Been There, Done That, RVN and understand your feelings.

As I reserched this piece, I noticed that the other 1911 Commemoratives are chambered for ball ammunition only. As the originals were chambered and tolorances fed the ball ammo. this would make sense. There are "ball guns" that will feed wad cutter etc. but I would surmize the "Ball" would be the ammo to use if you decide to fire it.

The suggestion to fire another piece like the one you have is an excellant suggestion. The results would be the same, physically, however, maybe not mentally.

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Old June 16, 1999, 04:46 PM   #5
Joe the Redneck
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Maybe get a little brass plaque made up with the story and keep it with the gun.

At the risk of sounding like a tree-hugger, I think you could find another way of honoring your brother than shooting a gun. Were it me, as soon as I fired the gun I would be struck with the idea that a gunshot was the last thing my brother heard before he left this world. It would bother me. But I know you have personel reasons.

I say go to Arlington on that special day. Walk the grounds with all the men and women who gave so much to secure our freedom. Visit the Vietnam Memorial. Walk the Wall and think about all the men that gave some much in that conflict. I went a few months ago and it was really very moving. It will mean a lot more to then burning a little gunpowder.

Let us know what you decide and all my thanks to all our vets.
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Old June 16, 1999, 05:04 PM   #6
Harley Nolden
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Sound advice. I have experienced the Wall, both in D.C. and I organized and completed to have the wall come to my home town. Both experiences were as you described.

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Old June 16, 1999, 05:10 PM   #7
Larry P.
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Join Date: May 18, 1999
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Fascinating. Letter dated 30 April, 1983 on Colt Industries letterhead (I can scan and include it in an e-mail if anyone wants).

Dear Mr. Palm:

The following information is being inserted in the Colt records:

Colt Government Model Automatic Pistol
Vietnam Special Edition
200 Units

Serial Number: 83343B70
Caliber: .45 ACP
Finish: Royal Blue
Type of Stocks:Cocobolo with Custom Shop medallions
Shipped to: Northeast Gun &Supply Co. Inc.
Address: 6 Brook Road
Needham, Massachussetts
Date of Shipment: December 4, 1981

The concept that Colt suddenly does not remember this firearm is a bit stunning to me. I'll consider that and get back later.

Meanwhile, I have been to the Wall several times, I don't know if I could survive another, though I'm sure I'll try eventually. For those who have not, let me say this; the first time, I thought it was so silly it wasn't worth considering, but I was in the area, so what the heck...

I basically crawled away, and if my bride hadn't been along to guide me I might still be there. Pictures don't work, drawings don't work, if you care you gotta go.

[This message has been edited by Larry P. (edited June 16, 1999).]

[This message has been edited by Larry P. (edited June 16, 1999).]
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Old June 16, 1999, 05:54 PM   #8
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Location: Georgia
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larry, colt probably produced your 1911 as a special production run for the company named in the letter. colt did not offer it directly, so would have no reference to it as such. still,it would have interest to some collectors,and unfired would bring the highest price. i understand your dilemma and your reason for wanting to fire it. can't say your reason for firing it is bad, but maybe a substitute would be better if collector value is an issue.



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Old June 18, 1999, 06:12 PM   #9
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Location: Idaho
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I have to admit that I cringed when I read you worked the action that one time. Then I read the rest of your post.

""I did not buy it for its value to anyone else, it was never an investment. But now I have to consider that someday my children will own it, and they might care.""

I can see no better reason for you and your children to fire it untill the springs get soft and the pins work loose.

Would you spend a thousand dollars cash for a fitting tribute to your brother? I think you would. It's the same thing. The monetary sacrifice is nothing compared to the sacrifice your brother and thousands of others made in that war. I think that that will be the true value of the gun when you pass it to your children, and to their children...

My deepest respects for the sacrifices your family has made for us.
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Old June 19, 1999, 08:52 PM   #10
Ken Cook
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Shoot it and celebrate your brother's life.
Semper Fi.

Your mind is your primary weapon.
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Old June 19, 1999, 09:01 PM   #11
Ed Brunner
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Location: Natchez, MS, USA
Posts: 2,562
Forget the value of the gun before and after. You want to honor your brother-do it. I doubt that you will ever regret it.
Get someone who knows how to clean and lube the gun before and after and keep it as the family heirloom it will become.

Better days to be,


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