Should I use an heirloom gun? Or not?

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    1. #1
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      Should I use an heirloom gun? Or not?

      I have a Remington M1911 given to me by my father before he died. It's a military-issue (has "Property of U.S. Government") stamped on it. It's parkerized (I think that's the term) and in very good condition---not "mint," but very good. I looked up the serial number a while ago and though I can't remember the exact year it was made, it was somewhere between 1948 and 1951.

      I recently had the pistol cleaned and checked at a local gun shop, and the guys at the shop were clearly impressed with it, jokingly asking if I'd sell it to them. I think it's value may be around $1000, but I'm not sure.

      Here's my dilemma: I recently got into pistol shooting and want to get into IDPA and go to some matches. I've been using a friend's 1911 at the range, because I can't afford a new 1911 of my own right now.

      So I started wondering if I should just use my dad's 1911?

      To me, it's a bit of a philosophical question. Many people would say "No way! It's an heirloom---protect and preserve it, but don't shoot it!" That makes sense, except...

      ...to me, guns were made to be used, not stored in a box forever. And a part of me feels the highest tribute I could pay to both my father and that gun would be to actually use it.

      If I used the gun, I'd obviously take very good care of it and clean it often. (I know it's in perfectly good firing condition--the guys at the shop said they wouldn't hesitate to take it to the range and shoot it right then and there.)

      So I'd be interested to hear anyone else's opinions---do you think I'd be crazy to use this gun on a regular basis? Should I store it in mothballs or hang it over the mantle and never touch it?

      Or should I take it to the range, load it up and start using it?

      Thanks,
      Scott

    2. #2
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      VAMarine's Avatar
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      IDPA is not your standard trip the range, guns get dropped, guns get banged into things etc. While your gun may be in good condition now, the amount of draws in IDPA over a couple months will increase finish wear. While it's a solid gun, guns do and will break. Do you want to break your heirloom and have to replace parts taking away from it's authenticity?

      I would not shoot it @ matches. I have a 1944 Ithaca 1911A1 (Cousin to your Remington Rand) and while I shoot it occasionally, I would not use it for IDPA or hard use.

    3. #3
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      Thanks VAMarine.

      I guess one thing I'm wondering is...assuming I only used the gun at the local range for practice—and never dropped it, banged it into anything, etc—does the simple act of firing a gun repeatedly cause significant wear on a gun?

      In other words...would the value of a gun like this disappear to nothing after firing 1,000 rounds from it? Or is that the kind of ordinary use it could handle with no problem and a good cleaning would leave it in fine shape?

      Scott

    4. #4
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      Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
      Thanks VAMarine.

      I guess one thing I'm wondering is...assuming I only used the gun at the local range for practice—and never dropped it, banged it into anything, etc—does the simple act of firing a gun repeatedly cause significant wear on a gun?

      In other words...would the value of a gun like this disappear to nothing after firing 1,000 rounds from it? Or is that the kind of ordinary use it could handle with no problem and a good cleaning would leave it in fine shape?

      Scott
      It depends on what happens to that gun during those 1000 rounds. Is one of those thousand a double charge that blows the gun? Does the aged metal in the slide and parts start to wear prematurely? Does the extractor give on round 999?

      1000 rounds isn't that much really, but it's no small number either, especially for an heirloom. It could break during the first mag, or not at all. That's the risk you take with an heirloom. Any other gun you send out to the smith and have this and that replaced/repaired. A spring change is no big deal, but what if the frame cracks? What if during that 1000 rounds you decide to tighten the grip screws/bushings and you strip something? Or that while cleaning you end up in a rush and put on the old "idiot scratch" (if it doesn't have one all ready, you should see the arc on my Ithaca from the WWII vet to whom it was issued) on it?

      You can either treat it like an heirloom, or like any other gun. Would a mag or two here and there hurt the gun? Probably not, but you just don't know. I would rather let it sit in the safe than risk damaging an heirloom, my Ithaca isn't even a family piece and I would be loathe to have something happen to it.

    5. #5
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      Okay—I guess you've convinced me to leave it in the safe. Now I've just got to save up to buy a "beater" gun, LOL.

      Thanks,
      Scott

    6. #6
      TOF
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      Senior Member TOF's Avatar
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      I will be leaving some guns to my children and grand children in the not to distant future.
      I certainly hope that they are used. If they wear out and break beyond repair that is the time to place them on the shelf as a memory. There is no difference between a functional vs. non functional gun if it is setting on the shelf gathering dust.IMHO

      If you are guarding it in hopes of increased value it is not being saved in memory of your father.

      Your father gave it to you for your enjoyment so enjoy it however you choose.IMHO

    7. #7
      Member tropicmaster's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by TOF View Post
      I will be leaving some guns to my children and grand children in the not to distant future.
      I certainly hope that they are used. If they wear out and break beyond repair that is the time to place them on the shelf as a memory. There is no difference between a functional vs. non functional gun if it is setting on the shelf gathering dust.IMHO

      If you are guarding it in hopes of increased value it is not being saved in memory of your father.

      Your father gave it to you for your enjoyment so enjoy it however you choose.IMHO

      + 10

    8. #8
      Member AirForceShooter's Avatar
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      Use it but sparingly.
      Get something else for IDPA

      AFS

    9. #9
      Senior Member Baldy's Avatar
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      Thumbs up

      I would get something else to use for a match gun, but you can bet your bippy that I would get that old 1911 of Dads out once in awhile. Guns are made to shoot and enjoy, pictures are made to look at. Good luck with it.

    10. #10
      Senior Member tony pasley's Avatar
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      I have and once a year shoot a 198 year old rifle. Yes shoot it from time to time but the family histtory is just as if not more important.

    11. #11
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      Your dad's 1911a1

      Congrats to you for having a dad with good enough sense to own a 1911a1 pistol. Many years ago, i did the following work on a 4-digit second year production made in 1912. The pistol belonged to my godson's father-in-law. Here is what i did to this well used old warhorse:

      1. Detail strip & ultrasonic clean all parts, slide, & frame.
      2. Visually inspected all parts for damage----had to replace the extractor
      3. Installed a complete set of new wolff springs & a shok-buff pad on the recoil spring guide rod.
      4. Lubed everything well with break-frre clp, then headed to the club shooting range.

      Results: Set up an idpa humanoid target @ 25 ft. Fired one shot to see where the sights were regulated. Fired the next six rounds from an 85 year old pitted barrel & the original magazine. Cut one ragged hole about 1.25" square in the middle of the chest.

      Moral of the story: Shoot the pistol with standard velocity ammo. Keep it properly maintained & lubricated. Replace the springs when they are worn. Carry your dad on your hip every opportunity you can---he will always be at your side.

      My father, a ww2 navy vet, died 8 years ago & i have several rifles, pistols, & shotguns which belonged to him. Many are over 50 years in age, but still look awesome & function flawlessly.

    12. #12
      Junior Member johnfritz's Avatar
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      Please have fun with your 1911 at the range. Keep it cleaned up when you're done with it, I'm sure you will. I think your dad would be happiest if knew you were enjoying that gun instead of letting it languish in a safe.

      My family (not me) is real big about putting away items they've inherited from older family members over the years. Like they're artifacts or something... My mom had (I have it now) a beautiful Browning over/under that belonged to her dad. She kept it locked in a friend's safe for years. When she finally let me add it to to my collection she remarked that maybe she should've given it to me sooner. Now, years later, she flat out says she made a mistake.

      It did no one any good letting that sweet shotgun sit in a box for fifteen years. Don't do that with your nice gun.

    13. #13
      Junior Member crazy charlie's Avatar
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      Thumbs up

      Quote Originally Posted by Baldy View Post
      I would get something else to use for a match gun, but you can bet your bippy that I would get that old 1911 of Dads out once in awhile. Guns are made to shoot and enjoy, pictures are made to look at. Good luck with it.
      +1 to what Baldy says.

    14. #14
      Member Overkill0084's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
      Okay—I guess you've convinced me to leave it in the safe. Now I've just got to save up to buy a "beater" gun, LOL.

      Thanks,
      Scott
      I wouldn't park it the safe and forget about it. For a relaxed day at the range your probably fine. Rapid fire pistol competition is another issue. Sunday drive vs. Drag racing...
      Used: Check out the local for sale ads. Used 1911s aren't terribly rare, find a decent one and make that a comp gun.
      New: Check out Rock Island Armory, I have no direct experience with them, but it seems they are decent for the money. It's no Les Baer, but it might work as a starting point. Springfield Armory might be worth a look as well (I don't know your budget), the less exotic models are pretty reasonable. I'm sure there are others that I can't think of right now.

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