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Thread: Early 1911

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    RB60 is offline Junior Member
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    Early 1911

    My father gave me a service model 1911 he purchased from the Navy during WWII a number of years ago. It is a Colt and in very good appearance and operating condition. The serial #6902 and "Property of U.S. Government" is clearly stamped on it. Now, according to Colt's database, this model could be
    (a) 1912 MODEL 1911 MILITARY COLT USN
    (c) 1932 OFFICERS MODEL
    (b) 1918 MODEL 1911 MILITARY REMINGTON USMC (it's NOT a Remington unless they used Colt's stamp)
    (d) 1942 COMMANDO (I highly doubt it, but possible)
    I was wondering if any one here might have any idea what it is worth. I will try to get a few pictures of it by the end of the weekend.It would help to know what angles to take pics to help determine what it is.
    Also, I have a Colt 1873 Buntline Special SA (made in the late '40s, I think) #13293 SA. Some info on this would also be appreciated. Thanks.

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    VAMarine's Avatar
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    The 1932 Officers Model and the Commando are not 1911s. The Remington UMC (Not USMC) would have different roll marks, that leaves "A" which makes sense given the history of the gun.

    The gun could be worth any where from $1K to $3K depending on condition.

    Looking forward to the pictures.

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    RB60 is offline Junior Member
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    So Sorry it took so long to post these pics, it took too long, but I didn't forget.
    1911 Photos by rogerb60 | Photobucket
    Any info will be greatly appreciated, Thanks

    A little history on the .45LC Buntline. My mother bought this for my father in (I believe) 1950 new. It was my father's favorite handgun. It is not in perfect cosmetic condition, but is in perfect working condition. It has been fired, a lot! My cousin's husband told me my father shot a hole in a tree, put a nickle in the hole, and from over 20 yards, shot the nickle, and he still has it. I remember, as a kid, my father would load wax bullets and shoot cans in the basement, "fanning" from the hip and hitting more often than not, at least 5 of 6 times. He could shoot this Buntline as well as anyone at our gun club could shoot their own handguns. My father, a proud WWII Navy veteran, died just over a week after I first posted. For some time, it has been difficult shooting the guns he left me, I am starting to shoot them more often now.
    Last edited by RB60; 06-28-2013 at 09:00 PM. Reason: add some history to the Buntline

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    VAMarine's Avatar
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    That M1911 is in really good condition. Some better pictures of the markings would be nice, on the left side near the trigger guard there should be an inspectors mark. The gun does not appear to be all original as the hammer spur is of the narrow variety and I think the grips appear to be the wrong type for it's age. The gun "may" have been refinished.

    Either way, for being a 100 year old gun it's in fantastic shape and worth a pretty penny.

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    RB60 is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by VAMarine View Post
    That M1911 is in really good condition. Some better pictures of the markings would be nice, on the left side near the trigger guard there should be an inspectors mark. The gun does not appear to be all original as the hammer spur is of the narrow variety and I think the grips appear to be the wrong type for it's age. The gun "may" have been refinished.

    Either way, for being a 100 year old gun it's in fantastic shape and worth a pretty penny.
    Thank you sir. I have done some research and you are correct. I believe it is an arsenal rebuild, possibly also with a 1911A slide, but not positive. I remember my father saying he paid $19.50 from the Navy for it when he was discharged. Neither he nor I shot it very often, it's tight and smooth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RB60 View Post
    Thank you sir. I have done some research and you are correct. I believe it is an arsenal rebuild, possibly also with a 1911A slide, but not positive. I remember my father saying he paid $19.50 from the Navy for it when he was discharged. Neither he nor I shot it very often, it's tight and smooth.
    Look at the patent dates on the slide, if there's any past the date of the serial number it's a later slide.

    A lot of M1911s were updated with 1911A1 features, you can read more about Arsenal Rebuilds etc. here:

    M1911 Arsenal Rebuilds

    Lots of other good articles on that site, enjoy.

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    RB60 is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by VAMarine View Post
    Look at the patent dates on the slide, if there's any past the date of the serial number it's a later slide.

    A lot of M1911s were updated with 1911A1 features, you can read more about Arsenal Rebuilds etc. here:

    M1911 Arsenal Rebuilds

    Lots of other good articles on that site, enjoy.
    Thank you again, sir. After looking, the last date on the slide is Aug. 19, 1913 so it may be original to the frame. There is also a P stamped on the top of the slide about 3/4 inch forward of the rear sight.
    Right below the slide lock it is stamped E.E.C (right side)
    Right above the clip release it is very lightly stamped E12 with what looks like an eagle outline above it.
    And yes, there is some good reading on the link you posted.

  8. #8
    rex
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    Proofhouse has a lot of info about parts and their production differences,that will help tell you which parts may have been swapped in a rebuild.The hammer and trigger are not from that early a model but I can't tell on the slide stop.Nice piece though,I would not touch anything unless you run into original parts to restore it to original.

    If you chose to shoot it,use light target ammo for it since it's round count is really unknown.The reason I say it is because these originals weren't heat treated well and it is common for the slides and dust covers to crack when pushed too far.How far I don't know,but I have an old 1918 converted to a bullseye gun back before adjustable triggers were made.I'm sure it was shot quite a bit but with lighter bullseye loads.The gun was ruined in the conversion but more so after recovering from a theft-they trashed the hammer so I had to buy a repro from either EGW or Cylender and Slide (can't remember who now).A new bushing,full rib,maybe the barrel and modifying the grip safety for a trigger stop is all that was done to the original,all other parts appered correct originals.Kind of sucks but it is what it is.Yours is definately a nicer piece of history and worth something beyond the sentimental value.If it doesn't become an heirloom it will only appreciate in value if you need some cash one day.

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    RB60 is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by rex View Post
    Proofhouse has a lot of info about parts and their production differences,that will help tell you which parts may have been swapped in a rebuild.The hammer and trigger are not from that early a model but I can't tell on the slide stop.Nice piece though,I would not touch anything unless you run into original parts to restore it to original.

    If you chose to shoot it,use light target ammo for it since it's round count is really unknown.The reason I say it is because these originals weren't heat treated well and it is common for the slides and dust covers to crack when pushed too far.How far I don't know,but I have an old 1918 converted to a bullseye gun back before adjustable triggers were made.I'm sure it was shot quite a bit but with lighter bullseye loads.The gun was ruined in the conversion but more so after recovering from a theft-they trashed the hammer so I had to buy a repro from either EGW or Cylender and Slide (can't remember who now).A new bushing,full rib,maybe the barrel and modifying the grip safety for a trigger stop is all that was done to the original,all other parts appered correct originals.Kind of sucks but it is what it is.Yours is definately a nicer piece of history and worth something beyond the sentimental value.If it doesn't become an heirloom it will only appreciate in value if you need some cash one day.
    Thank you sir for the advice on shooting it. I have some lighter ACP loads I loaded for my Ruger Blackhawk .45LC/..45ACP convertible I use for target and plinking that should be safe. I did think that the trigger was also replaced along with the grips.
    Question. Would it be worth restoring it back using original parts (if I can find them) or best just leaving it as is? I probably will hang on to it for a while, so increasing it's value isn't all that concerning right now.

  10. #10
    rex
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    Personally I would leave it as is because a real resto can be quite expensive,George Turnbull is one of the most notable restorers and he ain't cheap.

    If I had the thought of maybe returning it to original I would print out the pics from Proofhouse of the parts I needed with the info and buy those parts if I ever ran into them.I'd probably check online a little but gunshows and the old timer's gunshop parts bin would be where I'd scrounge if I was there.

    Your hammer should be the wide spur but I believe there were 2 knurling/checkering patterns in that era.Your trigger has the correct knurling from what I can tell but it should be the long shoe instead of the short 1924 on style.Your slide stop looks newer also from what I can see,it has deep fairly sharp serrations.It should have a fine knurlling similar to the orinal hammer's knurling.If yours is an arsenal rebuild I don't really know how much those 3 parts would affect value,some but I don't think it would be huge.The trigger and slide stop should just swap out,the hammer probably but may need tweaking.

    A problem that may pop up when swapping the hammer is if the full cock hook base is not exactly the same as the present one,it can affect the thumb safety's ability to block the sear fully.If you only lose a thousandth or 2 of full engagement it isn't right but would pose no safety threat if the sear has not been cut to newer specs as opposed to original,the original has plenty of engagement.Original hammer hooks were .025-.028" and the sear had a full primary cut,giving you the full .025+ engagement.Newer specs run about .020" hammer hooks but the sear has a secondary escape cut.This second cut pulls 1/3-1/2 of the bearing surface from touching the hammer,so after .010-.014" of sear movement the hammer hook tips hit the secondary cut and kick the sear out of the way,dropping the hammer with less movement of the trigger/sear.It isn't uncommon for an older spec gun to have a slight touch of play between the safety and sear (I mean SLIGHT),but in the newer spec or old National Match guns that safety needs to block the sear from any movement at all.

    I'm rambling again,sorry.Anyway,those light loads will be just fine.Basically anything less than the original 230gr at 830fps will be easy on it.Cheap added insurance would be to replace the recoil spring with a new Wolff 16lb one which will come with an extra power firing pin return spring.Swap them out and keep the present ones in that bag for poops and giggles if you ever do sell it.Enjoy it,you have a nice old piece there.

  11. #11
    RB60 is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by rex View Post
    Personally I would leave it as is because a real resto can be quite expensive,George Turnbull is one of the most notable restorers and he ain't cheap.

    If I had the thought of maybe returning it to original I would print out the pics from Proofhouse of the parts I needed with the info and buy those parts if I ever ran into them.I'd probably check online a little but gunshows and the old timer's gunshop parts bin would be where I'd scrounge if I was there.

    Your hammer should be the wide spur but I believe there were 2 knurling/checkering patterns in that era.Your trigger has the correct knurling from what I can tell but it should be the long shoe instead of the short 1924 on style.Your slide stop looks newer also from what I can see,it has deep fairly sharp serrations.It should have a fine knurlling similar to the orinal hammer's knurling.If yours is an arsenal rebuild I don't really know how much those 3 parts would affect value,some but I don't think it would be huge.The trigger and slide stop should just swap out,the hammer probably but may need tweaking.

    A problem that may pop up when swapping the hammer is if the full cock hook base is not exactly the same as the present one,it can affect the thumb safety's ability to block the sear fully.If you only lose a thousandth or 2 of full engagement it isn't right but would pose no safety threat if the sear has not been cut to newer specs as opposed to original,the original has plenty of engagement.Original hammer hooks were .025-.028" and the sear had a full primary cut,giving you the full .025+ engagement.Newer specs run about .020" hammer hooks but the sear has a secondary escape cut.This second cut pulls 1/3-1/2 of the bearing surface from touching the hammer,so after .010-.014" of sear movement the hammer hook tips hit the secondary cut and kick the sear out of the way,dropping the hammer with less movement of the trigger/sear.It isn't uncommon for an older spec gun to have a slight touch of play between the safety and sear (I mean SLIGHT),but in the newer spec or old National Match guns that safety needs to block the sear from any movement at all.

    I'm rambling again,sorry.Anyway,those light loads will be just fine.Basically anything less than the original 230gr at 830fps will be easy on it.Cheap added insurance would be to replace the recoil spring with a new Wolff 16lb one which will come with an extra power firing pin return spring.Swap them out and keep the present ones in that bag for poops and giggles if you ever do sell it.Enjoy it,you have a nice old piece there.
    Thank you sir for your advice. I think I'll take it and just leave it alone since it has no issues that I know of. My cousin and I will be going to the range in a few days, I'll take it along and shoot it to make sure there aren't any (it has been 20+ yrs. since I fired it!). I will go from there.
    One more question. IF I would want to restore it, would I need to do any machining to get the full .025 engagement (I assume I would have to have the original prints and match those specs.) By the way, you may ramble all you want (I am a machinist by trade), I have learned much from both you and VA Marine these last few days, it is greatly appreciated.

  12. #12
    rex
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    I would suspect that the present hammer has full hooks on it unless somebody cut them down when putting it in.If you pull the hammer out just lay a feeler guage on the flat hook base to measure the height.The sear's mating surface should have one flat cut also if original,if the tip that burries into the hammer's hook and base has a different angle cut into it it was changed also.

    I was kind of vuage about the old (or original spec) and new.The deep .025" hook and only a primary (single) cut on the sear is the original design spec.When the National Match guns came about they started stoning the hammer hooks down to a .020" height and eventually put the secondary cut on the sear.Then Colt made the Gold Cup hammer with a redesigned geometry to take some of the mainspring pressure off the hooks and sear.They lowered the hammer strut hole,which sounds counter-productive,but it puts the strut pin real close to the rollover point and works.On some guns with the right hammer and grip safety specs if you overcock the hammer until it hits the grip safety it will stay there because it did roll over the apex.After that aftermarket manufacturers of hammers like Wilson,Brown,etc started making their hammers with the lowered strut hole and finished the hooks off at .020" because evryone cut theirs down anyway.So when I say new style I'm refering to original modified or the aftermarket style.

    There are still some original spec hammers being made but the only ones that possibly come to mind is EGW or Cylender & Slide.Masen or Massen does but they are junk,anything from them or what is marketed now as Swenson is poor quality.The wide spur I got was from EGW or C&S and is a good repro of the original,but it won't pass as original.

    Now,you could lower the deck of the hooks to regain the full height,and it was done,but it poses 2 problems.

    The first is it will cause the sear to have to roll into the hammer further,which will require welding and refitting or replacement of the thumb safety.

    The second is something I forgot to mention earlier about the "new" style.The original spec of the hooks were not 90degrees from the deck,it was 89.Everyone recut them to 90 which helped get lighter pulls,but also pushes the line on hammer follow,so working the sear face to get a light pull without follow but a nice neutral release (the hammer doesn't overcock as the sear escapes) was very exacting.To keep the 89degree angle you would need to set up a jig to keep that angle on the hooks,but the deck would be reangled square to the hooks.It doesn't affect anything reangling the deck,but it's a bit of work most just didn't mess with and it was easier to replace the hammer.Of course you could do it easier on a mill,but most reworked these things by hand with fine files and stones in a jig.

    Jerry Kunhausen wrote 2 books on the 1911 that is the standard of older gunsmithing.It shows original specs and how to rebuild to that,but also gets into enhanced performance covering mods like the "new" hammer setups.While alot has remained the same,there are improvements recently in trigger work.

    Having said all that,if you run across a good original hammer,I would suspect that someone that is into these old pieces would not be selling an unservicable or molested hammer for the added price they will go for.I never priced one but I would guess a nice one would go 2-3 times the price of a new one now at $35-50.So,one could be cleaned up to replicate the original angle and hook height,but in lowering the deck it is now out of spec which will cause the thumb safety and sear adjusted accordingly,which is now out of original spec.I think your idea of leaving it alone is good unless you can find an original in spec hammer.

    Take care and enjoy it.

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    RB60 is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by rex View Post
    I would suspect that the present hammer has full hooks on it unless somebody cut them down when putting it in.If you pull the hammer out just lay a feeler guage on the flat hook base to measure the height.The sear's mating surface should have one flat cut also if original,if the tip that burries into the hammer's hook and base has a different angle cut into it it was changed also.

    I was kind of vuage about the old (or original spec) and new.The deep .025" hook and only a primary (single) cut on the sear is the original design spec.When the National Match guns came about they started stoning the hammer hooks down to a .020" height and eventually put the secondary cut on the sear.Then Colt made the Gold Cup hammer with a redesigned geometry to take some of the mainspring pressure off the hooks and sear.They lowered the hammer strut hole,which sounds counter-productive,but it puts the strut pin real close to the rollover point and works.On some guns with the right hammer and grip safety specs if you overcock the hammer until it hits the grip safety it will stay there because it did roll over the apex.After that aftermarket manufacturers of hammers like Wilson,Brown,etc started making their hammers with the lowered strut hole and finished the hooks off at .020" because evryone cut theirs down anyway.So when I say new style I'm refering to original modified or the aftermarket style.

    There are still some original spec hammers being made but the only ones that possibly come to mind is EGW or Cylender & Slide.Masen or Massen does but they are junk,anything from them or what is marketed now as Swenson is poor quality.The wide spur I got was from EGW or C&S and is a good repro of the original,but it won't pass as original.

    Now,you could lower the deck of the hooks to regain the full height,and it was done,but it poses 2 problems.

    The first is it will cause the sear to have to roll into the hammer further,which will require welding and refitting or replacement of the thumb safety.

    The second is something I forgot to mention earlier about the "new" style.The original spec of the hooks were not 90degrees from the deck,it was 89.Everyone recut them to 90 which helped get lighter pulls,but also pushes the line on hammer follow,so working the sear face to get a light pull without follow but a nice neutral release (the hammer doesn't overcock as the sear escapes) was very exacting.To keep the 89degree angle you would need to set up a jig to keep that angle on the hooks,but the deck would be reangled square to the hooks.It doesn't affect anything reangling the deck,but it's a bit of work most just didn't mess with and it was easier to replace the hammer.Of course you could do it easier on a mill,but most reworked these things by hand with fine files and stones in a jig.

    Jerry Kunhausen wrote 2 books on the 1911 that is the standard of older gunsmithing.It shows original specs and how to rebuild to that,but also gets into enhanced performance covering mods like the "new" hammer setups.While alot has remained the same,there are improvements recently in trigger work.

    Having said all that,if you run across a good original hammer,I would suspect that someone that is into these old pieces would not be selling an unservicable or molested hammer for the added price they will go for.I never priced one but I would guess a nice one would go 2-3 times the price of a new one now at $35-50.So,one could be cleaned up to replicate the original angle and hook height,but in lowering the deck it is now out of spec which will cause the thumb safety and sear adjusted accordingly,which is now out of original spec.I think your idea of leaving it alone is good unless you can find an original in spec hammer.

    Take care and enjoy it.
    Thank you again. I guess it comes down to the old "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" saying, especially if was an armory rebuild and it shoots good. I may look around for a original hammer, but before I do, I will read up on it to get a better understanding of what I'm in for if I want to restore it. Again, I have learned something today, it is greatly appreciated.

  14. #14
    rex
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    Glad we were of help to you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RB60 View Post
    My father, a proud WWII Navy veteran, died just over a week after I first posted. For some time, it has been difficult shooting the guns he left me, I am starting to shoot them more often now.
    My father died in Novemebr 2012 as well, leaving me 40+ guns and...well, everything else a father leaves his son when he passes on. My condolences, sir. I don't have anything to add on the 1911 front, other than I really want one now that I have whittled down the collection to a few manageable pieces.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gruesome View Post
    My father died in Novemebr 2012 as well, leaving me 40+ guns and...well, everything else a father leaves his son when he passes on. My condolences, sir. I don't have anything to add on the 1911 front, other than I really want one now that I have whittled down the collection to a few manageable pieces.
    My condolences to you, sir, as well. My father left 7 guns to me, but gave me a few before he passed over the years. The 3 I treasure the most are (1) Pre '64 Model 70 .220 swift, (2) a.50 cal. black powder long rifle he built himself with a Don Getz barrel and (3) the Colt .45 Buntline Special. The 1911 falls about 5th. or 6th.

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    rex
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    Sorry about both your losses,I missed that part earlier.

    RB,last I remembered that 220 Swift was getting into the upper price range for pre '64s,I have an '06 but that was probably the most common caliber.The Savage 250 (or 250-3000) had unreal prices on them because of rarity.If your Dad didn't shoot it enough to burn the barrel out it could be up there in collector grade also.The Swift and 6mm were known to burn out a barrel in a few thousand rounds if you didn't slow them down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rex View Post
    Sorry about both your losses,I missed that part earlier.

    RB,last I remembered that 220 Swift was getting into the upper price range for pre '64s,I have an '06 but that was probably the most common caliber.The Savage 250 (or 250-3000) had unreal prices on them because of rarity.If your Dad didn't shoot it enough to burn the barrel out it could be up there in collector grade also.The Swift and 6mm were known to burn out a barrel in a few thousand rounds if you didn't slow them down.
    The Swift was my 12th. birthday present from my father. It is quite accurate and in excellent condition (it has the 26" SS barrel) and topped with a 6.5-20X Leupold (my pride and joy!). It has taken many, many groundhogs and a deer in the last 40 yrs. I have had it. My father and I have kept the velocities at around 3750 to 3800 so as not to "shoot it out" and with 55 grain bullets, that seems to be the best. I've often said that when I die, I want buried with it!!

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    rex
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    I know what you mean,those pre 64s are just some of the nicest rifle actions around.Mine's a bit knocked around from years in the woods.I had an old Weaver D4 on mine and threw it on a 22 for a while,lo and behold one of the kids dropped it and wasted the scope-bummer.Haven't shot the rifle since because it's a little overkill for anything in S FL,workable but there's nothing here I couldn't use a smaller and lighter gun on.But,I'm more of a handgun person for the last few decades.If I can I'll be burried on my Harley with a Colt 1911 strapped on.

    Until next time...........

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