This is a very fine condition WWII Colt Model 1911A1 Pistol, manufactured in the late summer of 1944. This particular pistol was subsequently shipped to Great Britain as part of the WWII Lend-Lease program.
From the US Government’s adoption of the Colt Model 1911 Pistol in 1911 and assembly of the first forty pistols on December 28, 1911, until after WWI, the basic design of the Model 1911 remained unchanged. During WWI, however, soldiers in the field reported numerous minor problems with the original design. For example, the hammer spur was considered too long, which frequently resulted in the hammer pinching the firer’s hand against the grip safety during recoil and cycling. The flat mainspring housing was also found to be an awkward and uncomfortable grip for many firers. In addition, the trigger was set to far forward in the frame for many soldiers with smaller hands to obtain a proper firing grip. There were other, smaller complaints about the original design such as the width of the slide stop thumb release and the length of the frame, which permitted dirt and debris into the recoil spring housing that also needed to be addressed.
These issues were first addressed on September 15, 1920, when the Ordinance Department proposed shortening the hammer spur and reducing the trigger length. These initial recommended changes led to additional modifications, which included lengthening the grip safety tang, milling finger clearance cuts on the frame at the rear of the trigger opening, and creating an arched mainspring housing. Several of these proposed changes were finally approved on April 20, 1923. The new design was officially designated the “Improved Model of 1911.” These weapons are now more commonly referred to as Transition Models.
Springfield Armory awarded Colt a contract to manufacture 10,000 “Improved Automatic Pistols, Caliber .45, Model of 1911,” on June 12, 1923. Springfield Armory assigned these pistols with serial numbers 700001-710000. In addition to the design changes specified by the Ordinance Department, Colt requested permission to make additional changes to accommodate their current manufacturing practices. Colt’s changes included a wider front site and corresponding rear site, a wider slide stop, changes to the wood stock “grip” design, as well as other minor dimensional changes. These changes were approved by the Ordinance Department and Colt began production in late 1923. The first “Improved Model of 1911,” was delivered to the US Government on January 23, 1924. By April 1924, Colt had completed production of half of the contract, 5,000 pistols, all of which passed initial testing. After a change to increase the diameter of the mainspring, Colt completed production of the remaining 5,000 pistols in the contract. The final pistols in the 10,000-pistol contract were delivered from Colt to Springfield Armory on July 25, 1924.
This format of the new Model 1911A1 remained basically the same for the next 18 years. Colt did not begin manufacturing military contract pistols again until 1937, but military production numbers remained relatively small. Colt manufactured only 2,349 Model 1911A1 pistols in 1937, 1,295 pistols in 1938, 3,636 pistols in 1939, 4,695 pistols in 1940 and then increased production to 34,756 pistols in 1941. All of these pistols were finished in Colt’s brushed blue finish, which was the same basic finish Colt used during WWI. In 1942, Colt continued Model 1911A1 production beginning at serial number 756,734, and continued to use the brushed blue finish up until about serial number 780,000, at which point Colt began to parkerized their Model 1911A1 pistols.
This particular pistol is serial number 1639565 and has Colt’s parkerized finish. This particular pistol, as noted previously, was manufactured in either July or August 1944.
The right side of the frame has the correct “UNITED STATES PROPERTY,” stamp in sans serif type, with letters 0.06” tall, and is positioned to the rear of the slide stop hole. Below the U.S. Property stamping is the serial number, which has the “No [“o” is underlined], in sans serif type face, forward slant, followed by the serial number “1639565,” with serifs. Forward of the slide stop hole is the sans serif “M1911A1 U.S. ARMY” stamp. To the top, rear of the frame is the Ordnance Escutcheon stamp. Below and to the left of the Ordnance stamp is the British crown over entwined “CP,” which is the London Proof House stamp. The upper right side of the trigger guard has the assembler’s mark “65.”
The left side of the frame, just behind and above the trigger clearance cut, is the Ordinance Department final inspection mark, which is “G.H.D.” stamped parallel to the magazine well. This is the final inspection stamp of then Colonel Guy H. Drewry, graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, who was the head of the Springfield Ordnance District beginning in 1943. The correct sans serif “P” proof stamp is present just below the magazine release. On the front of the trigger guard on the left side is an “P” assembly stamp above the Colt triangle intertwined “VP” verified proof stamp. The original type one ejector, with angled nose, is present and retains virtually all of its original parkerized finish. The plunger tube retains 99% of its original finish.
The frame retains 99% plus of the original parkerized finish with only very light storage wear on some of the high points and a few very small dings. Even the front grip strap retains virtually all of its original parkerized finish. There is minor wear noted on the inside friction points. Both the front and rear walls of the magazine well retain 98% of the original parkerized finish. The back, interior mainspring housing portion of the frame also retains 98% of the original parkerized finish. The interior portion of the recoil spring housing retains virtually all of its original parkerized finish. The bullet ramp is correctly polished to the white.
The Hammer is the correct Colt flat side type with rounded rear edge of the spur that was introduced at Colt just prior to the manufacture of this pistol. The upper portion of the hammer, to include the top checkered portion of the spur, retains all of its original parkerized finish and it correctly has no border around the checkering. Very minor wear is noted principally towards the lower portion and on the impact face. The strut retains virtually all of its original parkerized finish as does the strut pin.
The Disconnector retains 95% of the original blued finish with polished bevel. The Sear retains 99% of its original parkerized finish with polished sear hook face and inside cam surface. The disconnector pin retains 99% of its original parkerized finish along the pin shaft and sides and it retains its polished rounded end and trigger interface. The Sear Pin retains all of its original parkerized finish as does the Hammer Pin.
The safety lock is the correct Colt Type without the milled shelf below the thumb piece with checkered thumb piece top and bottom. The front portion of the safety retains 98% of the original parkerized finish with wear noted on the back edge. The backside of the safety also retains virtually all of its original parkerized finish to include the sear stop surface and integral pin.
The sear spring is the correct 2nd Type with right angle bend on the sear leaf. The sear spring retains the majority of its original oil heat treatment finish. The grip safety is the correct Colt 4th Type with long tang (this modification was first seen on the Transition Model as one of the design improvements to prevent the hammer from pinching the wearer’s hand). The grip safety retains 95% of its original parkerized finish with very minor wear noted on the left and right sides from friction with the frame and it exhibits small scratches and thinning on the lower, grip portion.
The mainspring housing is the correct Colt 4th Type with seven ribs on the back. The housing retains 98% of its original parkerized finish. The rounded end of the main spring cap pin retains all of its original parkerized finish. The outer surfaces of the lanyard ring exhibit wear on the very bottom. The mainspring housing pin retains approximately 95% of its original parkerized finish along the shaft with the majority of the original finish remaining on both ends. The Mainspring Housing Pin retains virtually all of its original finish.
The Trigger is the correct short Colt 4th Type, which was introduced about one year before the time this pistol was manufactured and was stamped steel. The trigger bow retains the majority of its original parkerized finish on both the interior and exterior surfaces and still retains a relatively clear delineation from the rear most portion, which was hardened using the cyanide heat treatment process. The face of the trigger retains all of its original parkerized finish over the deep milled diamond checkering.
The magazine catch housing is the correct Colt 3rd Type that retains 99% of the original parkerized finish. There are, correctly, 6 diamonds across at the widest point on the button release. The magazine catch lock is the correct Type 3 with unmarred single slot. The magazine catch spring remains in the white.
The matching slide retains 98% plus of the original parkerized finish and is marked on the left side with the correct and very crisp, roll-marked two-line patent and address block with sans serif type face that is 0.06" in height. The Rampant Colt, which is centered between the patent and address lines, is the correct Colt Type 9 logo that was used from 1943 until the end of US military production. The stampings and logo are very crisp.
The right slide of the Slide is correctly unmarked except for the crown over intertwined “CP,” which is the London Proof House stamp. The top of the Slide correctly has the sans serif "P" firing proof mark forward of the rear sight, which began at serial number 711,000. The bottom of the Slide, to the left of the center slide rail, is the correct "G" stamp in serif type face, indicating a government contract, and as well as a “X” and “R” stamp.
The front sight is the correct serrated Colt 3rd Type, which replaced the rounded 2nd type in 1943 and it exhibits very minor wear on the front slope from storage wear. The rear sight is the Colt flat top type with vertical sides, rounded shoulders, and squared notch that is beveled at the front. The front slope of the rear sight has a witness mark that is aligned with the corresponding witness mark on the slide just forward of the rear sight dovetail. The breech face exhibits very minor firing wear. The barrel bushing seat retains the majority of its original finish. The interior portions of the slide, to include the slide locking lugs and slide rail, retain the vast majority of the original parkerized finish.
The extractor retains 99% of its original parkerized finish. The firing pin retainer plate is the correct 2nd Type with more gradual taper to the bottom edge. The front (rear facing) side of the plate retains 95% of the original parkerized finish. The back (forward facing) side of the plate retains 70% of the original parkerized finish. The firing pin is in fine condition and remains in the white. The firing pin spring has 38 coils and remains in the white.
The Barrel is the correct Colt sixth Type barrel and it is in very fine condition. The top of the chamber retains 95% of its original blued finish with slight thinning and browning in small areas. Both lugs retain the majority of the original blued finish with wear noted only on the rear friction points. The left side of the lug has the correct sans serif “P” proof stamp at the 2 o’clock position to the link pin hole. Above the lug, on the lower left side of the barrel is the correct sans serif “COLT 45 AUTO” stamp.
The bottom of the barrel just forward of the lug has the correct small sans serif “G” stamp, which is the correct stamp for barrels in this serial number range. The top left of the hood has the British London Proof House barrel markings with the arm over “NP” Nitro Proof, along with “.45” .900 / 7 TONS,” stamp. The barrel is beautiful retaining 95% of its original bluing throughout with only minor friction wear points. The bore is also in mint, unissued condition, with strong rifling and a mirror finish throughout its length. The Link and Link Pin both retain 95% plus of the original blued finish.
The Barrel Bushing is the correct Colt 1st Type that retains 98% of the original parkerized finish throughout. The Recoil Spring Plug is the correct 3rd Type with rounded tab. The body of the Plug retains 90% plus of the original but thinning parkerized finish. The front, checkered portion of the Recoil Spring Plug retains most of the original parkerized finish in the recessed area of the checkering with several tops of the checkered diamonds worn to the white. There are 10 diamonds across the face of the Plug at the widest point. The Recoil Spring Guide is the correct 2nd Type with short "legs" at the front. The guide retains considerable original blued finish with wear on the barrel from the spring. The Recoil Spring is the correct 2nd Type with 30 coils that remains in the white. The 30-coil Type 2 replaced the 33 coil Type 1 at around serial number 710,000.
The Slide Stop is the correct Colt 2nd Type that retains 99% of the original parkerized finish on the front face, to include the checkered thumb piece. The checkering correctly does not align parallel with the top edge of the Slide Stop, which was a change that began with Transition Model production. There are 15 diamonds on the bottom row and 17 diamonds on the topmost, uninterrupted row. The back of the Slide Stop retains 99% of its original finish.
All four single-slot Grip or Stock Screws are present. All of the screws retain the vast majority of the original parkerized finish on the domed heads and on the threaded portions. All four screws have unmarred single slots. Both original second type, and fine condition Colt “COLTWOOD” brown plastic grip panels are present. These panels have the concave back with reinforcing ribs and wide escutcheon rings. The left panel has mold number “4” and the right panel has mold number “7.” Both panels are in very fine condition with no cracks or chips noted.
This Pistol comes with an original and correct WWII Model 1911A1 Magazine manufactured by Colt. This type Magazine incorporated a pinned base with no seam. The Magazine retains the vast majority of the original blued finish, to include the base plates and the follower. The top of the lip is unmarked, indicating it was manufactured by Colt.
This is a beautiful and mint condition Colt Model 1911A1 Pistol from mid-1945 that was shipped to Great Britain in 1944 as part of the Lend Lease Program for the British armed forces. There are no import marks on this pistol. This pistol still functions perfectly.