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  #1  
Old 05-06-2012, 08:15 PM
Peter M. Eick Peter M. Eick is offline
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1918 1911 range report




I took my 1918 original 1911 out to the range today to see what it could do. This is (as best I can tell) an original 1918 "black" colt. The only obvious difference is the hammer is some sort of cropped spur unit. It may be an original Springfield possibly. I have the original hammer and put it in after I cleaned the gun tonight. Looking at my Clawson mini-book (no I have not sprung for the big one yet) I have all of the right proofs, pin pricks and letters in the right places to say that this is an original 1918.

First the gun.



I have 3 mags now for it. 2 are period and one is some sort of give me mag so I will use it with it. Here is the gun in its glory afer I have cleaned it and lubed it prior to packing it away in storage. The small parts are still reasonably well blued. I do like the nice checking that was put on the guns back then and I really like the smooth frame. No checking or serrations to confuse you.

The sights are small though!



One of the things that impressed me was the fit of the gun. Colt sure knew how to fit it well back then. This shows how well the rear of the slide is fit to the frame. There is very little movement or give anywhere. Frankly Les Baer would be proud with the marriage of the frame to the slide.



If you are interested, here is the slide roll marks on one side of the slide.



And here is the name of the gun.



The slide is already pretty peened up which is partly why I am willing to shoot this one. You can see the metal has been raised and overall the gun has been used and is worn so it is not a perfect piece. The slide to barrel it of the lugs are good and there is plenty of engagement so I am pleased and figured it would make a great occasional (rare that is) shooter. The problem I am told about the original 1918's is they are soft. If you shoot them much you can beat them apart so I will keep it to a minimum.

I did not get a good shot of the barrel but frankly it is in poor shape. It is pitted for the first 3 or so inches and the rfifling is light.

So on to shooting. I used 4.1 grns of Bullseye and a 230 grn lead LRN. This is a very light load but enough recoil to operate the gun.



Here is 50 shots at 15 yrds offhand.



Here is another 50 shot pattern at 15 yrds off hand. The bullets tended to rip the paper on this one so it looks a lot better in the picture then when I shot it.

So, the gun fires, I had a lot of fun, no damage seen and it all worked. Will I shoot it much more? No. Just occasionally. The sights are terrible, the trigger is excellent, I like the ergos of the frame without the A1 series improvements but the accuracy is poor. Also the gun has a bad habit of tossing your brass every which way and as a reloader I cannot tolerate this.

I bought the gun to remember my grandfather by. He served in WW1 and while he has passed now, I do remember some mention of him carrying a colt 1911. I was thinking of him when I was shooting thinking could you have made it with this gun? The answer is yes but not at far ranges.

While cleaning the gun, I saw that the barrel is very frosty and pretty worn. Other than replacing it, is there anything that can be done to improve the accuracy?
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Old 05-06-2012, 08:35 PM
rox15636215 rox15636215 is offline
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Old 05-06-2012, 11:46 PM
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dsk dsk is offline
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Back before prices went out of sight (and I stopped shooting my GI pistols for good) I would fire at least a couple of mags out of each one I had just to verify function and accuracy. My pistols were all 90% or better condition, and they all grouped as well as any current commercial (non-accurized) 1911 could. The stories of horribly inaccurate .45s can be attributed to the following:

1. Lack of proper training, resulting in most recruits having difficulty hitting anything with a large semi-automatic pistol that they had little opportunity to become familiar with.

2. Horrible trigger pulls. Some of my pistols had trigger pulls approaching 9 pounds, which wasn't in the design but often the result of hurried mass production.

3. Mixmasters and rebuilds becoming the prevalent issue pistols, with many being re-issued despite showing signs of heavy use. By the end of its service career being issued a clean, hardly-used M1911A1 was definitely the exception rather than the rule.
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Try not to fall into the common trap of wanting to replace everything on your new 1911 just to make it "better". Know what you're changing out, and why. You may spend a lot of money fixing things that weren't broken to begin with. Shoot it for at least 500 rounds, then decide what you don't like and want improved. Vintage 1911's should NEVER be refinished or modified because it ruins any value they had as a collectible firearm.
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  #4  
Old 05-07-2012, 09:00 AM
1saxman 1saxman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter M. Eick View Post
I took my 1918 original 1911 out to the range today to see what it could do. This is (as best I can tell) an original 1918 "black" colt. The only obvious difference is the hammer is some sort of cropped spur unit. It may be an original Springfield possibly. I have the original hammer and put it in after I cleaned the gun tonight. Looking at my Clawson mini-book (no I have not sprung for the big one yet) I have all of the right proofs, pin pricks and letters in the right places to say that this is an original 1918.

First the gun.
I have 3 mags now for it. 2 are period and one is some sort of give me mag so I will use it with it. Here is the gun in its glory afer I have cleaned it and lubed it prior to packing it away in storage. The small parts are still reasonably well blued. I do like the nice checking that was put on the guns back then and I really like the smooth frame. No checking or serrations to confuse you.

The sights are small though!
One of the things that impressed me was the fit of the gun. Colt sure knew how to fit it well back then. This shows how well the rear of the slide is fit to the frame. There is very little movement or give anywhere. Frankly Les Baer would be proud with the marriage of the frame to the slide.
If you are interested, here is the slide roll marks on one side of the slide.
And here is the name of the gun.
The slide is already pretty peened up which is partly why I am willing to shoot this one. You can see the metal has been raised and overall the gun has been used and is worn so it is not a perfect piece. The slide to barrel it of the lugs are good and there is plenty of engagement so I am pleased and figured it would make a great occasional (rare that is) shooter. The problem I am told about the original 1918's is they are soft. If you shoot them much you can beat them apart so I will keep it to a minimum.

I did not get a good shot of the barrel but frankly it is in poor shape. It is pitted for the first 3 or so inches and the rfifling is light.

So on to shooting. I used 4.1 grns of Bullseye and a 230 grn lead LRN. This is a very light load but enough recoil to operate the gun.
Here is 50 shots at 15 yrds offhand.
Here is another 50 shot pattern at 15 yrds off hand. The bullets tended to rip the paper on this one so it looks a lot better in the picture then when I shot it.

So, the gun fires, I had a lot of fun, no damage seen and it all worked. Will I shoot it much more? No. Just occasionally. The sights are terrible, the trigger is excellent, I like the ergos of the frame without the A1 series improvements but the accuracy is poor. Also the gun has a bad habit of tossing your brass every which way and as a reloader I cannot tolerate this.

I bought the gun to remember my grandfather by. He served in WW1 and while he has passed now, I do remember some mention of him carrying a colt 1911. I was thinking of him when I was shooting thinking could you have made it with this gun? The answer is yes but not at far ranges.

While cleaning the gun, I saw that the barrel is very frosty and pretty worn. Other than replacing it, is there anything that can be done to improve the accuracy?
The fit of the slide and the other parts plus the smoothness of feel and operation is what struck me right away with my 1918 too. There's a world of difference between a nice M1911 and ANY of today's pistols. Mine also has a pitted barrel but shoots fine. I fired five rounds just to verify function in case I ever wanted to certify that to someone. You probably should stop shooting yours, but if you don't, at least put in a new 16# recoil spring and a new firing pin spring. Too bad about the U.S. Property being ground off - that's pretty much a killer for collector value.

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Old 05-07-2012, 09:10 AM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is offline
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There is a lot of myth about the "loose tolerances" of the 1911.
While I understand that tolerances were relaxed to ensure interchangeability of contractor and subcontractor parts in wartime, a peacetime Colt is a well fitted gun.

Even the war years guns aren't as bad as they are made out to be. My 1918 Colt, even though an AA rework, does not rattle (if you hold the grip safety.) It has no more "play" in the assembly than any other production line pistol. And a friend has a cosmetically enhanced but not accurized Remington Rand that is as good a gun as about any I have seen, short of major custom or boutique maker.
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Old 05-07-2012, 03:27 PM
Peter M. Eick Peter M. Eick is offline
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Interesting. Mine says US Property right above the serial number on the right hand side of the gun. On the left hand side where the pictures show it above, it looks all original.

Mine looks identical to the hear shaped openings shown in the mini-clawson on pg 19. It has the same font and serial number range also.

Does this make it not a "black army"?

Sounds like I will have to buy one of the big Clawson books.
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Old 05-07-2012, 04:58 PM
daven59 daven59 is offline
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Black army started around ser#375000 so if yours is a 1918 above that number then I guess it would be a black army 1911? And it sounds like it is since they moved the U.S.property mark between ser#500000-510000. So is yours between 500000 and 594000?
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Old 05-07-2012, 06:45 PM
1saxman 1saxman is offline
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If only you had shown the whole RH side with serial number, I wouldn't look like a moron now. Thanks! I hate it when you have to ask for a ^*^&% serial number!
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Old 05-07-2012, 07:06 PM
Peter M. Eick Peter M. Eick is offline
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Yes it is right in the early part of that serial number range. Seems like it is all original now that I put the original hammer back in. All of the proof marks are there etc.

I did look up a full copy of the Clawson book. $899. Not cheap. I will have to think about it since That is about half the price of another 1918 shooter.
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Last edited by Peter M. Eick; 05-08-2012 at 05:53 PM. Reason: spelling...
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Old 05-08-2012, 12:02 AM
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dsk dsk is offline
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Double the $899 wouldn't buy you a shooter. It would buy you a collectible. I personally would never pay more than a grand for any GI 1911 I planned on beating up at the range.
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Try not to fall into the common trap of wanting to replace everything on your new 1911 just to make it "better". Know what you're changing out, and why. You may spend a lot of money fixing things that weren't broken to begin with. Shoot it for at least 500 rounds, then decide what you don't like and want improved. Vintage 1911's should NEVER be refinished or modified because it ruins any value they had as a collectible firearm.
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Old 05-12-2012, 10:41 AM
VetPsychWars VetPsychWars is offline
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My 1918 Colt is fit a little bit looser than yours in the slide to frame fit... it wobbles a bit from side to side.

I put a brand-new Colt barrel and barrel bushing on (I shoot and carry mine because the UNITED STATES PROPERTY mark is also missing) and the accuracy is VERY good. Unfortunate that all Colt sells online is the stainless barrel, but it's a darn good shooter.

Maybe I'll contact Colt and see if they'll sell me a blued barrel that they made for their repros.

Tom
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Old 05-12-2012, 10:56 AM
CIB CIB is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VetPsychWars View Post
My 1918 Colt is fit a little bit looser than yours in the slide to frame fit... it wobbles a bit from side to side.

I put a brand-new Colt barrel and barrel bushing on (I shoot and carry mine because the UNITED STATES PROPERTY mark is also missing) and the accuracy is VERY good. Unfortunate that all Colt sells online is the stainless barrel, but it's a darn good shooter.

Maybe I'll contact Colt and see if they'll sell me a blued barrel that they made for their repros.

Tom
Just order one from Midway or Brownell's.
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Old 05-12-2012, 06:04 PM
VetPsychWars VetPsychWars is offline
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Just order one from Midway or Brownell's.
I checked those; neither has a Colt barrel that's all blue. Midway shows a blued Colt barrel but the hood is in the white.

I could get another manufacturer's barrel but this Colt barrel fits like it was made for it... which it was. :-)

If I were really gung ho about it, I'd buy the reproduction from Cylinder and Slide. But this Colt barrel fits and shoots so well....

Tom

Last edited by VetPsychWars; 05-12-2012 at 06:14 PM.
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Old 05-12-2012, 06:20 PM
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Nobody makes a fully blued barrel that I'm aware of. Virtually all 1911 barrels made these days are either stainless steel or blued and polished in the commercial fashion.
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Try not to fall into the common trap of wanting to replace everything on your new 1911 just to make it "better". Know what you're changing out, and why. You may spend a lot of money fixing things that weren't broken to begin with. Shoot it for at least 500 rounds, then decide what you don't like and want improved. Vintage 1911's should NEVER be refinished or modified because it ruins any value they had as a collectible firearm.
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Old 05-13-2012, 12:01 PM
Peter M. Eick Peter M. Eick is offline
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So I could drop in an aftermarket barrel and bushing and shoot mine a bit more accurately? Obviously I would keep the load mild in light of the lack of heat treating of the frame.
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  #16  
Old 05-13-2012, 12:19 PM
VetPsychWars VetPsychWars is offline
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Originally Posted by Peter M. Eick View Post
So I could drop in an aftermarket barrel and bushing and shoot mine a bit more accurately? Obviously I would keep the load mild in light of the lack of heat treating of the frame.
That's what I did. Replaced all of the pins, springs, disconnector, sear, barrel, bushing, firing pin, mainspring housing internals... and my pistol shoots like new. I shoot factory loads, but then again I am not terrified of cracking the slide. If it cracks, it cracks. For every piece of advice I've read online that it'll break any minute, I've had people I trust, in person, tell me to just shut up and shoot the thing. When I take it apart to clean it, I perform a visual inspection with magnification and bright lighting and I have yet to see a problem.

I bought the disconnector, sear, and pins from Wilson Combat, the "bulletproof" parts. I bought everything else from Colt.

Trigger pull is crisp, and feel like it's about 5lbs (compared to the 4.5lb competition trigger on my M1 Garand). Dead reliable with 80s GI magazines made by Checkmate.

You might be tempted to use a Wilson Combat Shok-Buf. When I did my pistol did not cycle correctly and started flaring the front of the slide stop notch.

Good advice I got was to measure the slide stop's pin. I actually bought a new reproduction slide stop from Cylinder and Slide, but I am not currently using it because the pin on the original is larger! But if the pin on yours is sufficiently worn, you'll want to replace it.

Obviously only you can decide whether and how much to shoot an old pistol. Some of them very clearly did break in military service, but they didn't have access to the same parts we did and you can change recoil springs every thousand rounds, where the military did not!

Mine was defaced when I bought it and refinished once. It was made to shoot, and I am shooting it. If the slide breaks, I'll be a little sad... and then I'll find another one. I didn't spend all that money to look at the gun sitting around unfired, I bought it to shoot!

If you do go the route I did, save your old parts. I didn't save all mine, because at the time I didn't care... but you might want to return all of the original parts for when you do decide to stop shooting it.

Oh, one final thing... Hogue's walnut double diamond grips are a pretty good copy of the originals, and they're not covered in plastic, either. They feel good. I replaced those too and sold the originals to someone whose pistol was collectable.

Tom
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