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  #1  
Old 09-17-2019, 07:12 AM
Vettepartz Vettepartz is offline
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Start of the "Black Army" Finish

I have read about this somewhere before, but can't find it in my references.

Does anyone have info on the time frame when Colt started using the process of less prep before bluing which resulted in the finish appearing dull and referred to by collectors as "Black Army"? I think it was sometime in 1918, but not sure of which months. Also looking for serial numbers affected by this change. This seemed to be that time frame when they were being shipped randomly by serial number rather than sequentially.
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  #2  
Old 09-17-2019, 07:47 AM
denstoe denstoe is offline
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My understanding is it was around May of 1918. One of a couple of manufacturing shortcuts. Others can probably add more info.
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Old 09-17-2019, 01:43 PM
Sergio Natali Sergio Natali is offline
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FWIK "Black Army" is a term used to refer to a rough and rather crude appearance to the blue finish of COLT M1911 pistols made during and immediately after WWI, if I'm not wrong those made and shipped between May 1918 and March 1919.
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  #4  
Old 09-17-2019, 09:19 PM
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I believe they started somewhere in the 320000 range. It's hard to say for sure because the finish was already starting to get a bit rough even before then and with well-worn pistols it's very hard to discern the actual finishing process used. But I've seen quite a few pistols made below 300000 where the finish was pretty rough even though they weren't quite as dull and black as the so-called Black Army pistols.
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Avoid the temptation to replace everything on your brand-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 at least 500 rounds through it first, then decide what you don't like and want to improve. Regarding vintage 1911s, pre-1970 pistols are highly collectible in original, unaltered condition and should NEVER be refinished or modified as it completely ruins their monetary value.
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:27 PM
Vettepartz Vettepartz is offline
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Thanks for the info. The reason I asked is because I just picked up a M1911 that is serial 377XXX and it is not the black army color or finish. It is exactly the same as my 1917 models. This is a little late for that finish, but I think they were shipping them out of sequence by then. I have looked at pictures of the 'big boys' collections, and none seem to have anything close to that serial number. They go from about 327XXX to about 420XXX. Strange.
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:13 PM
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#370XXX definitely has the Black Army finish, or at least what's left of it. Given that Colt was building these things at a rate of over 2,000 a day I'd say yours was made within a week of mine. Pistols may have been shipped out of numerical sequence but the production rate was too high for there to still be old components lying around waiting to be assembled into pistols.





Something to keep in mind however is that the sanding and polishing was done by hand, and even during the Black Army period a worker might have managed to get a smoother finish on one slide than on the next one he did. I've seen some Black Army models that were finished so rough they rivaled the guns Nazi Germany hurriedly slapped together in the closing days of World War Two.
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Avoid the temptation to replace everything on your brand-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 at least 500 rounds through it first, then decide what you don't like and want to improve. Regarding vintage 1911s, pre-1970 pistols are highly collectible in original, unaltered condition and should NEVER be refinished or modified as it completely ruins their monetary value.
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Old 09-18-2019, 03:01 AM
stan2 stan2 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vettepartz View Post
I have read about this somewhere before, but can't find it in my references.

Does anyone have info on the time frame when Colt started using the process of less prep before bluing which resulted in the finish appearing dull and referred to by collectors as "Black Army"? I think it was sometime in 1918, but not sure of which months. Also looking for serial numbers affected by this change. This seemed to be that time frame when they were being shipped randomly by serial number rather than sequentially.
Vettepartz,

Here's some more on the "Black Army".
https://forums.1911forum.com/showthread.php?t=997918

Best Regards,

P.S. So, could the 1918 COLT Pistols assembled around this time (303XXX +/-) have mismatched Receiver/Slide finish?
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Old 09-18-2019, 02:29 PM
Vettepartz Vettepartz is offline
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My big concern with this gun is if it has been reblued. If someone did do it, they did a great job of matching the brush blue finish that was used in prior years.

Something else, Meadows' big book says that this could have been in any one of 5 shipments that went out. Two of the shipments were quite large, 10000 and 15000, and went to Bush terminal for the A.E.F. And then there was a small shipment of 27 that went to the Small Arms Proving Grounds in Springfield. I guess a letter would tell, but I don't have the patience to wait for 6 months to a year on it.
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  #9  
Old 09-18-2019, 03:31 PM
denstoe denstoe is offline
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Do you have photos? They would be a big help.
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Old 09-18-2019, 06:25 PM
Vettepartz Vettepartz is offline
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I was looking for a date and serial range, but you want pictures. OK
Attached Thumbnails
377024 A.jpg   377024 D.jpg  
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  #11  
Old 09-18-2019, 07:11 PM
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Vettepartz, I believe that one has been refinished. The finish appears too smooth and I'm not seeing the vertical sanding marks on the grip portion of the frame that are supposed to run into the horizontal marks on the rest of the frame. If you remove the grips you'll be able to tell for sure.
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Avoid the temptation to replace everything on your brand-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 at least 500 rounds through it first, then decide what you don't like and want to improve. Regarding vintage 1911s, pre-1970 pistols are highly collectible in original, unaltered condition and should NEVER be refinished or modified as it completely ruins their monetary value.
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Old 09-18-2019, 09:10 PM
Vettepartz Vettepartz is offline
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dsk, that was one of the first things that I looked at. The vertical marks are there, but faint with some pitting that has no bluing in it. Also, if you can tell by my poor photos, there is no rounding at the pins holes or the magazine catch on the frame, and the frame edges are still semi-sharp where they are not worn. So I am still wondering on this one. I did call Turnbull, and they have no record of this serial number.
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  #13  
Old 09-18-2019, 09:28 PM
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In the old days gunsmiths were actually gunsmiths, not merely AR-15 builders. They knew how to hand-polish steel and avoided an electric buffer at all costs unless the gun was already in poor condition. Refinishing a Black Army became quite common as the finish was crappy and flaked or wore off easily. If you look at mine the metal itself is in perfect condition with nearly no wear. It's just that the bluing itself is mostly gone or turned brown. A decent refinisher could easily clean it up with little more than a wire brush and reblue it and make it look nearly new again.
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Avoid the temptation to replace everything on your brand-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 at least 500 rounds through it first, then decide what you don't like and want to improve. Regarding vintage 1911s, pre-1970 pistols are highly collectible in original, unaltered condition and should NEVER be refinished or modified as it completely ruins their monetary value.
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  #14  
Old 09-20-2019, 08:32 AM
denstoe denstoe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsk View Post
In the old days gunsmiths were actually gunsmiths, not merely AR-15 builders. They knew how to hand-polish steel and avoided an electric buffer at all costs unless the gun was already in poor condition. Refinishing a Black Army became quite common as the finish was crappy and flaked or wore off easily. If you look at mine the metal itself is in perfect condition with nearly no wear. It's just that the bluing itself is mostly gone or turned brown. A decent refinisher could easily clean it up with little more than a wire brush and reblue it and make it look nearly new again.
Not sure about the refinish. It is very smooth.
There is an old time guy in Long Beach California who can do exactly that. A dying art.
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Old 09-24-2019, 06:48 PM
KLW1911 KLW1911 is offline
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I have a black army with a ser,number 328xxx its strange but it has a slide that the wear matches inside and out but has the pony on the rear.
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  #16  
Old 09-24-2019, 09:16 PM
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The slide has most certainly been replaced, but it probably happened 100 years ago which is why the finish and wear areas match. At no point in the 1911s service history did anyone take pains to keep all the original parts together when maintaining or servicing batches of pistols.
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Avoid the temptation to replace everything on your brand-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 at least 500 rounds through it first, then decide what you don't like and want to improve. Regarding vintage 1911s, pre-1970 pistols are highly collectible in original, unaltered condition and should NEVER be refinished or modified as it completely ruins their monetary value.
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  #17  
Old 09-24-2019, 10:38 PM
gonetocamp gonetocamp is offline
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I love pictures of beautiful guns!
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