Introduced in 1957, The Gold Cup National Match looked pretty much the same from a distance for years. Below a 66, a 79, and an 88.
Even if we look at the tops of the slides they look pretty much the same. Colt went with Ellison Sights in 66, replacing the Accros they had used from 57-65.
Now turn the slides over and the guts of these guys are quite different. The 66 had a lighted slide, and I dropped a penny in there and the 79 slide to show the difference. You can also see the extractor in the 66. Of course since Colt introduced the Series 80 mechanical firing pin block in 83, the slide of the 88 has the plunger associated with that.
And how light were the early slides. The slide with extractor, firing pin, etc, but no barrel or recoil sping assembly weighs 11.89 oz in the 66 and 13.54 oz for the 79. The 88 weighs the same as the 79.
One major change to Gold Cups was stainless steel (SS). Colt introduced SS in 84, but the earliest GCNM in SS I am aware of is 86. Below is my blue 88 with a SS also made in 88. The SS came with rubber wrap around grips which I replaced for some wood stocks from the old Ajax Co.
These both still use the collet or finger barrel bushing which Colt introduced in 1970 in their MkIV Government and Gold Cup pistols. I think the last year for it was 88-89. A picture of the barrel and bushing from the 66 on the left then the barrel and bushing to the a 79 then the barrel and bushing to a 2012. The 66 also had a special tapered plug that went with the bushing. From 1970 on a regular recoil spring plug was used.
In the early 90s things started to change for the Gold Cup. Below a 96, 2010, and a 2012. These all came with rubber wrap grips witch I replaced with wood stocks I ordered off the Colt website, back when Colt sold them on their website.
The first one of interest is the 1996 Gold Cup National Match Mark IV Series 80 Enhanced. The Enhanced versions were introduced in 92-93 I think. The cocking serrations were moved back, the trigger guard was undercut and a different hammer and grip safety was used. Here what is often called a "duck bill" grip safety. The grooves on the front of the frame were gone. In the picture below I replaced the rubber wrap around grips with some wood stocks from Raasco. Also 96 was the last year for the steel trigger and the last time GCNM would be on a Colt for some time.
Then in 1997 the Gold Cup Trophy was introduced. Know them by the wide Aluminum trigger. They also maintained a couple features of the enhanced version, like the hammer and grip safety. Again, rubber wrap around grips replaced by some off the Colt website. For a couple years the SS and blued ones both had flat tops, but then the SS went to the rounded top and Bomar style rear sight which remains till this day. Over time the SS one got a "duckbill" grip safety. The blue one carried on. Below my 2010 and Colt made this into 2011 or even maybe 2012 when the new GCNM was introduced.
Then in 2012 thek GCNM was back, looking pretty much like a GCT but blued with a different hammer and grip safety. They also came with rubber wrap around grips which I replaced for some in Cherrywood from the old Ajax Co. in this picture.
Now GCNMs did come back in a couple of Talo/Colt limited editions, but 2012 was the first year for main production. Of course about 2013 Colt started grooving the front of the frame again and putting on wood grips. This year of course they introduced the new Series 70 GCNM with a slightly flat top, but I don't have one of those yet.
Colt also had what I like to call sub species and special editions of the Gold Cups. Talo has done a couple special edition limited runs and is doing a couple now.
Colt still makes the 10mm Delta Elite, but years ago they made the Delta Gold Cup. They started in 1987 I think and lasted into 96 to 97? with models after about 92 being Enhanced versions. Mine was made in 1990 and I changed out the rubber wrap around grips for some wood stocks from Raasco. Colt was still grooving the front of the frame back then.
By the way they did make this for one year in blue, which was 1987. I think.
In the 1990s Colt seemed to make a million and one special editions and limited runs and some were Gold Cups. One I have is a Gold Cup Commander which Colt says was made in 91 or 92. I am in the process of having it lettered by Colt. Even with these there were several different variants of them. There were also full size in 38 Super and 9mm Gold Cups and on and on.
One interesting thing was the return of the Accro rear sight. Colt had stopped using it in 1965 on Gold Cups, but brought it back on all the Delta Gold Cups, or at least all I have seen. Below is a picture I took for another thread. Ignore the pistol on the left. It is an old AMT Hardballer. The one in the middle is a 1988 GCNM with an Elliason and the one on the right is the 1990 Delta Gold Cup with an Accro or very close copy of one.