Colt 1911, circa 1914: modify or not?


kevin mosley

New member
For over 20 years, I've owned a Colt Goverment Model 1911 with a 4-digit commercial serial #. My research indicates that it left the factory in the spring of 1914. The bad news is, someone more inept than me refinished this gun (nickel plate) sometime before I bought it; this gun also had some mild pitting on top of the slide prior to refinishing. This is the best shooting handgun that I have ever owned, no exceptions. Completely reliable function; it eats anything except crappy reloads with lead SWCs.

I'm contemplating putting some real sights and an ambi safety (I'm a lefty) on this gun, maybe putting it into weekly carry use. The safety's reversible, but the original sights will be destroyed. Am I about to make a mistake? Is this gun still historically collectible?

I'm a shooter, not a collector. Please share your knowledge with me.:help:
 

I think you are asking the right question.. I just don't know the answer.. If you don't get an expert opinion here, I would definitely inquire with someone who knows what the value of the gun is in it's present condition and whether the mods will further devalue the fine pistol yo own.
 
The value is already damaged by the plating

This Gun would have been an extremely valuable piece until it was plated. That pretty much killed the value. If you could get it fully restored by Colt it would be a good investment as such. Anything short of that and it is just a very cool carry gun. Putting an ambi-safety will not hurt it as long as you do not have to modify anything and can return it to 100% original...same with the sights.

If you were doing this to the original gun/original finish...I would pistol whip you with it for wrecking a historical piece. But since it is already altered...unless you can find that it was factory plated at the time of manufacture it is already reduced in value greatly and should be treated as such

One word of caution...It is old...really old...How much do you trust the metallurgy? I would not put +, +p or +p+ loads down it!!!!!!!!

Enjoy a great shooter! They don't make them like that anymore.
 
Double check your serial number at this site below. If it has been plated, it knocked a big hole in the collectors value of the gun. Especially if you can see the pitting through the finish, because that shows it was done as a refinish and was not done at Colt. You might check around and see what kind of offers you get at the next gun show. If no real interest or people offer you low bucks, then you might as well hang onto it for the sake of just having a cool 1911.

Colt Pistols - Colt Automatic Pistol Home Page - 13 years of Service to Colt Firearms Collectors


As I type this, a very old US Property 1911 Colt, made in 1913, sits by my side on the desk, full of Hornady 230 gr. FMJ Flat Points. It was my Great Granfathers and he left it to me many years ago. He was a World War I veteran in trench warfare. He had many scars on his body from that war. Over the years, I grew to know him as a man among men. He always told me that a man should never be without 3 particular guns. A 1903 or 03A3 Springfield Rifle (his combat rifle) a Browning A-5 Auto shotgun, and a Colt 1911 45 Auto Pistol. He said the only other thing he could think of would be a good bolt action 22 Rifle. He told me that men had done amazing things with those guns over the years, and that they could get me through just about anything I was going through. He was a fan of any John Browning design, and felt if Browning designed it, it must be good. I still have those guns today. Personally, I've been offered about 1800 bucks for the pistol, but there's no way I could part with it. If the SHTF one day, the 45 will be with me, even if it's a back up to something else I'm carrying.
 
This Gun would have been an extremely valuable piece until it was plated. That pretty much killed the value. If you could get it fully restored by Colt it would be a good investment as such. Anything short of that and it is just a very cool carry gun. Putting an ambi-safety will not hurt it as long as you do not have to modify anything and can return it to 100% original...same with the sights.

If you were doing this to the original gun/original finish...I would pistol whip you with it for wrecking a historical piece. But since it is already altered...unless you can find that it was factory plated at the time of manufacture it is already reduced in value greatly and should be treated as such

One word of caution...It is old...really old...How much do you trust the metallurgy? I would not put +, +p or +p+ loads down it!!!!!!!!

Enjoy a great shooter! They don't make them like that anymore.

Plating over poor preparation practically eliminates any real high end collector value. However, if its your favorite shooter I say shoot it and enjoy it wigh whatever modifications you like. Its also true that if you truly restore the gun to its original condition you still might salvage some real collector value. But thats a matter of choice and your pocketbook.
 
For over 20 years, I've owned a Colt Goverment Model 1911 with a 4-digit commercial serial #. My research indicates that it left the factory in the spring of 1914. The bad news is, someone more inept than me refinished this gun (nickel plate) sometime before I bought it; this gun also had some mild pitting on top of the slide prior to refinishing. This is the best shooting handgun that I have ever owned, no exceptions. Completely reliable function; it eats anything except crappy reloads with lead SWCs.

I'm contemplating putting some real sights and an ambi safety (I'm a lefty) on this gun, maybe putting it into weekly carry use. The safety's reversible, but the original sights will be destroyed. Am I about to make a mistake? Is this gun still historically collectible?

I'm a shooter, not a collector. Please share your knowledge with me.:help:

Not sure about your budget, but you may want to consider getting it restored to original condition. Otherwise, enjoy it as is.

This is one of the best restoration operations in the business Doug Turnbull Restoration - antique and classic handgun restoration, rifle restoration, shotgun restoration, & custom gunsmith service.

Here is a 1911 circa 1914: Link Removed

Take a look at the price he's getting on the restored 1911's he's selling on his site. Might be worth looking into.
 
I think your 1911 is completely ruined..
Since I'm such a nice guy, I'll take it off your hands for $300 :sarcastic: ..

That way you will get something out of it!!! :laugh:
 
Keep in mind that heat treating was done in a completely different way back then. Spot heat treating was the common approach. Be careful how you mod. Personally, I would carry any gun if it was all I had. If it has collector value at all, more than a new gun, sell it and buy a more appropriate gun. Heck even $300 will get you a good gun on the used market if you look hard and are careful with your purchase.
 

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