This is a very rare, correct and desirable WWII Colt Commercial/Military Model 1911A1 Pistol that was originally a Commercial Government Model with the rare Swartz Safety and which was converted to an Army Model 1911A1 at the Colt plant in Hartford in late 1942. Only about 6,575 of these rare WWII Colt variants were manufactured during a very limited run from October to December 1942.
The WWII Colt Commercial/Military Model 1911A1 resulted in October 1942 from Colt’s inability to complete its Ordnance Department contracts with newly-manufactured 1911A1 components. Colt actually continued manufacture of its commercial Government Model pistols until 1942, when it suspended commercial production at serial number C215083. Colt did not resume Government Model production until October 1946, beginning at serial number C220001. Because of Colt’s military contracts, in October 1942 Colt transferred approximately 6,575 unsold commercial Government Model pistols to their existing Ordnance Department contract. This group of commercial pistols included a few National Match pistols also. The change from commercial model to the military Model 1911A1 took place under Colt Factory Order 1382. Swartz safeties were removed and the “GOVERNMENT MODEL” stamp as well as the commercial serial number were crudely peened or “bunged” and then re-stamped “UNITED STATES PROPERTY,” “M1911A1 U.S. ARMY,” and the military serial number was stamped over the old commercial serial number. In addition, the commercial serial numbers under the firing pin stop on the slide were peened and re-stamped with the military serial number.
The first of these Commercial/Military 1911A1s was serial number 860003, which was assembled on October 27, 1942, and the highest number observed is serial number 866518. There is evidence that some existing military contract-manufactured frames and slides were also interspersed into this serial number range. As noted, most, if not all, of these Commercial/Military 1911A1s were originally manufactured as commercial models with the Swartz Safety, which was a safety designed by William L. Swartz in 1937 and which locked the firing pin against any movement unless the grip safety was depressed. The Swartz Safety used a unique firing pin lock and spring and a firing pin safety actuator and these required modifications in both the slide and the frame. The Swartz-modified firing pin, extractor, stocks and commercial hammer with its mated sear were all replaced with military style parts. The Frame still shows its round hole located beside the disconnector hole, which originally contained the firing pin safety actuator. The Slide also has the square hole located beside the disconnector recess, which originally contained the firing pin lock and spring.
The Commercial/Military slides kept their original commercial Colt markings and original barrels transferred from commercial production were marked “COLT 45 AUTO,” and had either the commercial “S” stamp on the bottom of the barrel or were fitted with standard military “G” marked barrels.
Commercial Magazines were also transferred along with the commercial pistols and these were full blued magazines with riveted bases, inscribed on the bottom “COLT 45 AUTO,” and these magazines were then parkerized on the bottom to dull the highly polished base.
Once assembled as 1911A1 pistols, these Commercial/Military Model 1911A1s were proof fired and then hand stamped with a “P” proof mark on the receiver and the slide. The pistols were then parkerized and submitted to Ordnance inspectors at the Colt factory for acceptance. The Ordnance Escutcheon was then stamped on the right, rear of the frame and the inspector’s initials were stamped on the left side of the frame. The “W.B” inspector initials were used until about serial number 861000, when it was changed to the “G.H.D.” stamp of regional Ordnance head Brigadier General Guy Drewry. According to Edward Scott Meadows in his great book on Colt Military 1911s, U.S. Military Automatic Pistols, 1920-1945, Wordsworth, Publ., 2009), this Colt was shipped from the factory either on January 5, 1943, or sometime in December 1942, to Springfield Armory. Interestingly, this pistol is in the duplicate serial number range used by Ithaca for its 1911A1 production in 1943. The Receiver on this Colt 1911, sometimes referred to as the Frame, is in fine condition and retains 98% of its original parkerized finish. On the left side, on the trigger bow, is the stylized Colt “VP” verified proof in a triangle stamp below an “8” inspector stamp. Just below the slide stop cutoff is the sans serif “G.H.D.” Ordnance acceptance stamp. The hand stamped, sans serif “P” proof stamp is just below the magazine release hole. The interior of the frame retains the vast majority of its original parkerized finish. The Front Grip Strap retains 98% of its original parkerized finish with only minor wear noted. The Trigger Guard also retains the majority of its original parkerized finish with wear noted at the bend. Both the interior and exterior of the recoil spring shroud retain the majority of the original parkerized finish. All four original grip screw bushings are present and all retain the majority of their original parkerized finish.
The right side of the frame has the crisply stamped Ordnance Escutcheon stamp, indicating this retains its original factory finish and has never been re-finished. Just to the rear of the slide stop hole on the right side is the peened-out areas where it was originally stamped “GOVERNMENT MODEL” above the commercial serial number. Now it has the sans serif “UNITED STATES PROPERTY” over “No[underlined] 865574.” Forward of the slide stop hole is the sans serif “M1911A1 U.S.ARMY” stamp. On the right side of the trigger guard is a “73” stamp. The bullet ramp is correctly polished. Adjacent to the disconnector hole is the Swartz Safety hole, which is just above the correct “S” stamp, indicating the slide was originally for commercial production.
The Magazine Catch and Housing are the correct Colt 3rd Type and the right side of the Catch and single-slot screw retain 98% of the parkerized finish. The left side of the Catch Housing has the correct six full diamond checkering across the widest point. The latch spring remains in the white.
The Hammer is the correct Colt short beavertail type with rounded spur with no border on the outside of the checkering on the thumb piece. The Hammer retains 95% of the original Colt blued finish with wear noted on the top right side of the Hammer near the face. The checkering is still very sharp with almost no wear. The Hammer Strut and Pin retain virtually all of their original blued finish. The Hammer Pin retains 90% plus of the original blued finish.
The Grip Safety is the correct Colt long tang type that retains the majority of the original parkerized with wear on the friction points of the sides. The Mainspring Housing is the correct Colt Type 2 with 27 diamonds long and 4 diamonds across. The Mainspring Housing retains 95% of the original parkerized finish with minor wear on the surface of the diamonds. The Mainspring Pin is the correct second type with rounded and concave ends and its retains the majority of its original blued finish.
The Trigger is the correct short Colt Type 2, 1st Variation, which is milled from a single piece of steel. The Trigger face has the deep checkering that exhibits almost no wear. The Trigger retains 98% of its original parkerized finish.
The Thumb Safety Lever is the correct Colt Type 3 without the milling cut on the bottom of the thumb piece and with checkering on both sides of the Thumb Piece. The Thumb Safety retains 98% of the original parkerized finish with wear noted on the outside edge of the thumb portion. The Slide Catch is the correct Colt 2nd Type with checkering on the Thumb Piece that runs parallel with the top edge of the Catch and without the milled-out section under the Thumb Piece. The Slide Catch retains 95% of the original Colt blued finish with wear noted on the bottom edge of the thumb piece and around the top sharp edge.
The original Sear retains 95% of the original blued finish with wear noted on the sides and is correctly polished on the bottom legs and on the beveled edge. The Disconnector also retains 95% of the original blued finish that is polished on the disconnector end and on the beveled lower edge. The Sear Pin retains 95% of its original blued finish. The Sear Spring retains 95% plus of its original blued finish.
The Slide on this pistol is the original Colt Commercial Model Slide that was later transferred to the US Government contract side at Hartford for production of a US Army Model 1911A1. The left side of the Slide has the correct commercial markings of sans serif two-line Colt address and patent data roll stamp, which is “COLT’S P.T. F.A. MFG. CO. HARTFORD C.T. U.S.A. / PAT’D APR. 20.1897. SEPT. 9. 1902. DEC 19.1905. FEB. 14.1911. AUG. 19. 1913.” The right side of the Slide has the original Colt Commercial Model stamp, which is the large “COLT” with two line “AUTOMATIC / CALIBRE .45” stamp followed by the Rampant Colt logo. AUTOMATIC / CALIBRE 45.”
On the rear of the Slide, under the firing pin retaining plate, is the matching serial number with “865” above the firing pin channel and “574” below it. The original commercial serial number was more delicately peened out before this serial number was stamped. The Slide retains 95% of the original parkerized finish with wear predominately on the high points. The front of the slide has the characteristic line that extends from the muzzle end to about half way to the ejection port. This is the additional hardness line that was instituted at Colt in 1940 and which, when parkerized, shows a slightly darker color because of the heat treatment to the steel. The Breech Face of the Slide is very clean and retains considerable original parkerized finish. The forward interior portions of the Slide retain the majority of the original parkerized finish to include the slide locking lugs.
The Rear Sight is the correct Colt Type 2 with the straight top and "U" shaped sight notch. The front portion of the Rear Sight has a witness line that lines up perfectly with a witness line on the top of the Slide. Just forward of the rear sight is the sans serif “P” proof stamp. The Rear Sight retains most of its original parkerized finish with wear noted on the top shelf. The Front Sight is the correct early Colt 2nd Type that is straight and measures .058” wide at the base and .058” wide at the top.
Just to the right of the center slide rail is the correct sans serif “S” stamp, indicating this slide was initially a commercial pistol slide, and there is also a “5” stamp on the same side. On the right rear of the rail is a sans serif “N” and “U” stamp. The characteristic Swartz Safety square hole is present just to the right of the disconnector recess.
The Extractor retains the majority of its original blued finish. Wear is noted on the Extractor claw and on the mid-point friction "knuckle." The Firing Pin Retaining Plate is the correct Colt Type with the gradual radius profile that retains 95% of the original blued finish. The Firing Pin remains in the white as a commercial pin and the Firing Pin Spring also remains in the white.
The Barrel on the Pistol is the original Colt Barrel that retains 95% of its original blued finish. The Lug and Link retains 98% of the original blued finish. The top of the chamber has minor wear. On the left side of the chamber is the “COLT 45 AUTO” stamp used in early Commercial production. On the left side of the lug is the sans serif “P” proof stamp. The bottom of the barrel has the serif “G” stamp, indicating this barrel was accepted for the government contract. The rifling in the barrel is still sharp and it has a mirror finish throughout its length. The Barrel Bushing is the correct Colt Type and it retains 95% of the original dark parkerized finish on the face with 95% remaining on the interior surfaces.
The Recoil Spring is the correct Type 1, 2nd Variation with the single crimped end with 32 coils and it remains in the white. The Recoil Spring Plug is the correct Colt 3rd Type with rounded punch tab and ten full and partial diamonds across the widest portion of the checkered face. The Recoil Spring Plug retains 75% of the original parkerized finish with only moderate wear to the checkering on the face. Most of the original parkerized finish remains in between the checkered diamonds. The Recoil Spring Guide is the correct 2nd Type with the short legs and it retains generous traces of its original finish.
The Grip Panels are the correct “COLTROCK” plastic panels with large screw hole reinforcement rings and internal ribs and they are both in fine condition. The left panel has a “6” mold number. The right panel has a “12” mold number. All four Grip Screws are single-slot with domed head and they all retain most of their original parkerized finish with slight wear on the heads.
The Magazine is a scarce and original Commercial Model that was used for the wartime production. The sides are polished and retain 95% of their original blued finish. The Follower also retains most of its original blued finish and the follower spring remains in the white. The bottom of the magazine retains its commercial markings, which is a sans serif “COLT / 45 AUTO,” and the bottom is correctly parkerized, which Colt did to break up the shiny finish on these commercial magazines before they were delivered to the Ordnance Department. Original commercial magazines with the parkerized floor plate are seldom seen today.
This is a rare WWII Colt Commercial/Military Model 1911A1 Army Pistol that was only produced during the last quarter of 1942 with only about 6,575 manufactured and this particular one remains just as it was when it was converted from commercial to a military model in 1942. This pistol functions correctly.
This pistol is C&R eligible. This pistol will also come with an historic writeup and a CD containing all of the photos in the listing. I accept Visa and MasterCard and charge NO FEES. Please let me know if you have any questions or if you would like additional photos posted.