This is a fine condition WWI Colt Model 1911 Pistol from 1917. The serial number on this Colt is 203424, which places the production of this pistol in late 1917. This particular pistol was shipped from the Colt factory to Springfield Armory on December 14, 1917 as part of a shipment of 1800 pistols serial numbered 202001-203800. At the time this pistol was shipped to the government, the American Expeditionary Force was still beginning to arrive in France in numbers.
There are no records available to indicate when the pistols arrived in France or to which units these pistols were issued. It is entirely reasonable to presume, however, that all of Colt's 1911 production from the summer of 1917 until the Armistice on November 11, 1918 was shipped as soon as was practicable from Colt's factory to the AEF in France since General Pershing and the rest of the Allies thought the war would continue well into 1919 until the Imperial German Army suddenly and desperately sought armistice talks when the political situation in Germany began to collapse in early November. Therefore, it is likely that this pistol, as a new Colt Model 1911, was sent to France shortly after it arrived at Springfield Armory in December 1917.
The Receiver on this Colt 1911, sometimes referred to as the Frame, has “square-shaped” lightening cutouts on both sides. The receiver is in fine condition, retaining the vast majority of the original Colt blued finish, to include the areas under the grip panels and in other protected areas. Wear is noted on the sharp edges of the bushing shroud and there is some light thinning of the front grip strap. There are some isolated scratches on the receiver, particularly around the thumb safety hole. The interior portions of the Receiver retain the vast majority of the original bluing and the interior walls as well as the inside of the Recoil Spring Shroud retains 98% of this original, dark finish. All four grip panel screw bushings are present, and all retain virtually all of the original blue finish.
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 correct polished blued finish. The left side of the Catch Housing has the correct six full diamond checkering across the widest point. There is only moderate flattening and wear on only one row of the checkering. The Magazine Catch Spring is still strong and the catch works perfectly.
The left side of the Receiver has the crisp, sans serif "UNITED STATES PROPERTY" roll stamp with letters .06" tall. Just above the Magazine Catch on the left side is the final Ordnance Department acceptance stamp, which is the circle with stylized and interlocked “GHS” stamp of Army Ordnance Inspector Major Gilbert H. Stewart, who inspected Colt Model 1911 pistols from serial number 101,500 in 1915 to 230,000 in 1918. The top of the Receiver adjacent to the disconnector hole has the correct U.S. Government Contract "G" stamp at the 6 o’clock position and the sans serif Ordnance Provisional Inspection Mark "H" at the 12 o'clock position for Inspector Frank Hosmer. There is also a serif “Z” stamp at the 2 o’clock position. The right rail has an “8” assembly stamp. The right side of the Receiver is the serial number "No [underline "o"] 203424," in numbers .06" high.
The Hammer is the correct Colt 3rd Type with long beavertail and rounded spur with clean border line 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 no wear. The Hammer Strut and Pin retain virtually all of their original blued finish. The original Hammer Pin retains all of its original blued finish.
The Grip Safety is the correct Colt 1st Type with the short tang that retains 98% plus of the original blued finish throughout. The Mainspring Housing is the correct Colt Type 1 with the smooth, straight profile and lanyard ring on the bottom and bevel at the lower edge. The Mainspring Housing retains the 95% of the original blue finish in the protected areas with the outer, flat surface exhibiting a pewter patina. The Mainspring Pin is the correct second type with rounded and concave ends. The original Sear Spring retains 90% of its blued finish with wear noted on the bend where it contacts the interior surface of the mainspring housing.
The Trigger is the correct long Colt Type 2 with smooth trigger face. The Trigger retains the majority of its original blued finish on the sides with wear noted from friction with the Receiver on the upper portion. The Trigger face retains the majority of the original blued finish. The original two-tone heat treatment line on the back portion of the bow is still sharp.
The Thumb Safety Lever is the correct Colt Type 2 with the milling cut on the bottom of the thumb piece and with checkering on both sides of the Thumb Piece. The Thumb Piece retains 98% of the original Colt blued finish. The Slide Catch is the correct Colt 1st Type with checkering on the Thumb Piece that runs parallel with the top edge of the Catch and with the milled-out section under the Thumb Piece. The Slide Catch retains 95% of the original Colt polished blued finish with wear noted on the bottom edge of the thumb piece and around the front sharp edge.
The original Sear retains 98% 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 98% of the original blued finish that is polished on the disconnector end and on the beveled lower edge. The original Sear/Disconnector Pin retains considerable original blued finish.
The Slide is the correct Colt Slide for the serial number on the Receiver. The left side of the Slide has the correct sans serif two-line Colt Patent data and two-line Colt Address information with the Rampant Colt correctly in the middle. All of the stampings on the left side are very crisp. The right side of the Slide has the correct serif "MODEL OF 1911. U.S. ARMY" roll stamp in letters .09" tall, which was used from the start of production until approximately serial number 180,000. The Slide retains 95% plus of the original blued finish on both sides and 95% plus of the original blued finish on the interior portions of the slide. Wear is noted is on the front of the slide, which exhibits a mixed pewter “salt and pepper” patina throughout, probably from holster wear.
The Breech Face of the Slide is very clean and retains considerable original blued finish. The forward interior portions of the Slide retain the majority of the original Colt blued finish to include the slide locking lugs. Just above the Firing Pin Retaining Plate is a sans serif, vertically stamped Ordnance Provisional Inspection Stamp "H" for Frank Hosmer. 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. The Rear Sight retains the majority of its original blued finish with wear noted on the top edge, again probably from holster wear. The Front Sight shows wear on the top, rounded edge with original finish remaining on the sides. The center slide rail has a government contract “G” stamp, and “4” and “5” assembly stamps.
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 2nd Type with the steep radius profile that retains 80% of the original blued finish. The Firing Pin and Firing Pin Spring remain in the white.
The Barrel on the Pistol is the original and correct Colt Type that retains 95% of its original blued finish. The Lug and Link retains 95% of the original blued finish. The top of the chamber exhibits minor wear with most of the original, though slightly faded, original blued finish remains. It has the correct vertically stamped “H” and “P” stamps. There are no other markings on the barrel. The rifling in the barrel is still sharp and shiny with very minor frosting in the grooves. The Barrel Bushing is the correct 1st Type, 1st Variation that has a polished face and it retains 95% of the original blued 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 98% of the original blued finish with only slight wear to the checkering on the face. The Recoil Spring Guide is the correct 2nd Type with the short legs.
The Grip Panels are the correct Colt WWI-era truncated diamond pattern, black walnut panels in fine condition. There are no cracks or chips noted. Both panels exhibit minimal wear and flattening to the checkering. Both Panels have the 14 rows of diamonds between the larger diamond points. There are 20 diamonds across at the widest point of both panels. The top diamonds are both approximately 1.3" long and .61" wide. The bottom diamonds are 1.26" long and .63" wide. The distance between the points of the two larger diamonds on both panels is approximately 1.38”. The backs of both panels have the correct “ghost image” of the “rectangular” lightening cuts from the receiver. All four Grip Screws are single-slot with domed head and they all retain the virtually all of their original blue finish with slightly marred slots.
The Magazine is an original World War I 1911 Type 3 two-tone contract Magazine without the lanyard loop, which is slightly later than the date of the pistol as it was introduced to replace the lanyard loop magazines in the summer of 1918. This particular magazine was manufactured by the Risdon Tool & Machine Company as indicated by the sans serif “R” stamp on the top lip of the floor plate. Both rivets on either side are visible and are smooth. The magazine retains the majority of its original blued finish on the sides, floor plate and follower. The magazine works perfectly.
This is a beautiful, original, and correct WWI Colt Model 1911 that was manufactured late in the first year of the war for the United States and which was undoubtedly shipped to France at some point after it was shipped from Colt to Springfield Armory.
This pistol still functions perfectly.