Colt Variations

*The following information in the description of the variations of M1911A1 pistols was obtained from "Colt .45 Service Pistols Models of 1911 and 1911A1", by Charles W. Clawson and in part from my own observations.

 

Serial Number

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Description

 

No.  700098*

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In 1924, Colt produced 10,000 pistols serial numbers 700001 to 710000 which were initially called Improved Automatic Pistols, Caliber .45, Model of 1911. The tang of the grip safety was extended, finger clearance cuts were made on each side of the receiver behind the trigger, the mainspring housing was knurled and raised, the face of the trigger was knurled and cut back, the width of the front sight was increased and 40 other minor changes were made. Note the slide marking on the right, "MODEL OF 1911. U.S. ARMY", since the pistol was not officially designated Pistol, Automatic, Caliber .45, M1911A1 until 1926. All of these pistols commonly called The Transition Model, were inspected by Captain Walter T. Gorton, "WTG". The "WTG" inspector's mark will be found within a single circle until about 702000 and within a double circle after about 702000. The pistols were issued with full checkered walnut stocks, barrels marked with a "HP" on the top of the chamber and with a "K" in front of the lug, and with a brushed blue finish.

 

No.  710017*

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1937 contract where 1580 pistols ordered by the Navy and 769 for the Army for a total of 2349 pistols. Manufactured in conformance with Colt's commercial practices: walnut, full-checkered stocks, oven-blued finish, slide serialed to receiver under firing pin stop plate, Colt's "Verified Proof" (VP) mark on upper left side of trigger guard indicating final factory inspection, top of barrel chamber bright unfinished, slide marked "MODEL OF 1911. U.S. ARMY" due to incorrect drawings, no ordnance inspector's mark, hardening of the front end of the slide to prevent wear and deformation, and starting at about 711001 the "P" stamped on the left side of the receiver above magazine catch and on top of the slide forward of the rear sight. Slide serialed under the firing pin stop plate to match the receiver serial number is found from serial number 710001 until about the 1140000-1145000 range. This pistol was shipped to the Commanding Officer, Springfield Armory on Jan. 19, 1937. Considered one of the rarest M1911A1's with the Singer and the 1938 contract pistols.

 

No.  713613*

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The Ordnance Department placed one order for service pistols in 1938 for 1,296 pistols with the drawings corrected and hence marked with the" M1911A1 U.S. ARMY" on the right side of the receiver forward of the slide stop pin, and the "MODEL OF 1911 U.S. ARMY" eliminated from the right side of the slide. The drawings called for the inspector's initials to be stamped below the slide stop on the left side of the receiver, but they were not stamped in this manner until 1940. All or most pistols starting at serial number 712350 are marked with the letter " H " on the left side of the receiver near the magazine catch indicating final Ordnance inspection by Frederick W. Hauff. Shipped to the Commanding Officer, Springfield Armory on Aug. 15, 1938. Considered to be one of the rarest M1911A1's with only a few correct examples known to be in collections.

 

No.  715124*

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1939 U.S. Navy contract for 3,636 pistols. This pistol was shipped to Naval Supply Depot, Sewalls Point, Virginia on Dec. 2, 1939. Note the shortened wide spur hammer found starting with this contract and note the "P" proof marks on top of the slide in front of the rear sight and above the magazine catch. The "P" proof marks on Colts were stamped during the manufacturing process and before the finish was applied, therefore due to periodic die changes, the "P" on the slide and receiver will not always match. Proof firing was certified by Colt's Verified Proof (VP) mark found on the front of the left side of the trigger guard. The "H" inspector's initial of Frank W. Hauff found on the left side below the magazine catch indicates final Ordnance inspection.

 

No.  719303

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The Army ordered 4,696 pistols at the end of 1939 where the "Coltrock" plastic stocks were introduced in 1940 and were found to be too brittle and are now rarely observed. As with the 1924 pistols, 1940 pistols have the Ordnance Dept. inspector's initials stamped below the slide stop, note the "CSR" stamp for Charles S. Reed, Major. Also, the "P" proof mark was moved to below the magazine catch replacing the "H" initial. This pistol was shipped to the Commanding Officer, Springfield Armory on May 11, 1940.

 

No.  724806*

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1941 contract with a brushed blue finish and was shipped to Springfield Armory on Febuary 28, 1941. Has the "R.S." in a square inspection stamp for Colonel Robert Sears. "R.S." found from about serial number 723000 to about 750500. The brushed blue finish is found in decreasing frequency starting at about 734000. Note the "Coltwood" plastic grips.

 

No. 733785

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1941 contract with a brushed blue finish and was shipped to Springfield Armory. Has the "R.S." in a square inspection stamp for Colonel Robert Sears. "R.S." found from about serial number 723000 to about 750500. The brushed blue finish is found in decreasing frequency starting at about 734000. Note the "Coltwood" plastic grips. This example is as close to mint as it gets. Grading it at 99.9% original finish. Impossible to upgrade. The finest condition blued military Colt this collector has seen.

Inspector’s Stamp

Serial Number

No.  744446

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Parkerized 1941 contract shipped to Springfield Armory on October 20, 1941. The first pistol parkerized was serial number 729993 and routine parkerizing was initiated at about 734000. Note the "R.S." inspector's mark and note the light gray color parkerizing which is found from the start of parkerizing in 1941 to about serial number 800000.

 

No. 755587*

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Parkerized late 1941 production with Coltwood grips, shipped to Springfield Armory on December 27, 1941. Note the "W.B." inspector’s mark for Colonel Waldemar Broberg. The "W.B." inspector’s mark is found from about serial number 750500 to about 845000, and also found from serial number 860003 to about 860500. Bullet ramps on receivers were machined, not polished, after being blued or parkerized showing machining marks and leaving the bullet ramp bright unfinished starting at serial number 710001.

 

No. 796791*

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Produced in a contract for the U.S. Navy in 1942, which was a contract of 3,982 pistols in the serial number range 793658-797639 all of which were shipped to the Naval Supply Depot, Oakland, California or Sewalls Point, Va. This pistol was shipped to Sewalls Point on July 24, 1942.

 

No.  839022

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Produced in 1942, is "W.B." inspected, and has the "Crossed Cannon" Ordnance Department final inspection mark on the right rear of the receiver. Found intermittently from about 830000 to 835000 then found to the end of production. This mark signified the final inspection of the pistol by the Ordnance Department. Note the Type 2 Coltwood plastic stocks.

 

No.  848761

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Produced in 1942 and inspected by Brig. General Guy H. Drewry. "G.H.D." inspector’s mark found from about serial number 845000 to about 2360600 except the serial number range 860003-860500 which were "W.B." inspected.

 

No.  860819

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This is a Commercial/Military Re-number which is a commercial pistol that has had the "GOVERNMENT MODEL" and the commercial serial number on the slide and the receiver peened off. Then stamped "UNITED STATES PROPERTY M1911A1 U.S. ARMY" on the right side of the receiver, and the slide and receiver stamped with a serial number in the military range. The pistol was then parkerized and given final inspection. There were 6,575 unsold pistols transferred to the existing military contract from commercial stores. These are found from serial number 860003 to about 8867000. Note the "W.B." inspector’s mark which is found in the "G.H.D." range from about 860003 to about 860500.

 

No.  862731

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This is a Commercial/Military Re-number inspected by Guy H. Drewry. Note the "G.H.D." inspector’s mark. All or most of these will be found to have the Swartz safety cut outs in the slide and receiver. An example of a Colt pistol with a serial number duplicated in the Ithaca Gun Co. serial number range.

 

No.  878022

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An example of early 1943 production that was shipped to the OSS and on 12/06/43 was one of twelve pistols shipped from Property Officer, Supply Division, OSS., Washington, D. C. to the team leader, Capt. Thomas Manning, Room 2141 Que Building, Office Of Strategic Services, along with field equipment to equip an OSS team. Note the thick trigger guard in this serial number range.

 

No.  932630

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Right

A few extra commercial slides were fitted and serial numbered to standard military receivers and then parkerized. The cut-outs for the Swartz safety can be found on the underside of the slide. Note the Colt commercial markings on the right hand side of the slide and the British commercial proof marks on the right side of the slide and receiver. On the left, note the "C-broad arrow" Canadian Government ownership mark on the rear of the slide and just above the magazine release button of the receiver. There were only 1515 M1911 and M1911A1's shipped to Canada for lend-lease during W.W. II. An example of a Colt pistol with a serial number duplicated in the Remington Rand serial number range.

 

No. 1090834*

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An example of a Colt pistol produced in 1943 with a duplicate serial number in the Union Switch & Signal range. Colt duplicated serial numbers in the Ithaca range 856405-916404, the Remington Rand range 916405-958100, and the U. S. & S. range 1088726- 1092896. Therefore two pistols a Colt and one of the other three manufacturers could have the same serial number.

 

No. 1142706*

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1944 production with serial number no longer behind the firing pin stop plate on the slide. Slide with matching serial number to the receiver was discontinued after about serial number 1140000 to about 1145000.

 

No. 1738876

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1944 production with narrow spur hammer, serrated slide stop and serrated mainspring housing. Changed from checked to serrated small parts and to narrow hammer to save time in the production of the pistol at about serial number 1670000. Colt pistols are found with only serrated slide stops and mainspring housings. The hammers and thumb lock safeties remained checkered. Bullet ramp on this pistol is parkerized and not machined; Colt bullet ramps were not machined after being parkerized starting at roughly 1670000 to the end of production.

 

No. 2252084

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1945 production with receiver parkerized and the slide with a Parko-lubrite finish. The slide is smoother to the touch and has a finer almost a-granular structure to the finish. Found from about serial number 2240000 to about 2300000.

 

No. 2341140

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1945 production with the Gothic style serial number which changed from Italic at about serial number 2270000. Also note the smooth Parko-lubrite finish on the slide and the receiver which can be found after about the 2300000 serial number range.

 

No. 2360622

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Made near the end of production in 1945 and inspected by John S. Begley "J.S.B.". "J.S.B." inspector's mark found from about serial number 2360600 to the end of production. The last Colt pistol accepted by the government was 2368781. Colt produced approximately 605331 pistols from 1941-45. Re-worked at Springfield Armory, Note the "SA" marking on the right side of the receiver forward of the slide stop. Very rare variation with the "J.S.B." inspector's mark. Only about a dozen known in collections.

 

Barrel Markings

1937-1945

"COLT 45 AUTO" marked on left side of barrel lug found from 1937 through 1945 with "P" proof mark on left also. "C" in a square authorized to replace "P" proof mark in mid-1945, but both marks are usually present. Barrels with the "C" in the square are found with and without the "COLT 45 AUTO" on the left side of the barrel. Barrels with "COLT 45 AUTO" on top of the chamber are post W.W. II production.

 

intermixed in 1945

 

GRIPS

Walnut

Coltrock

Full checkered walnut stocks (28 rows + 1 between screw holes) found from 700001 and gradually phased out by roughly 730000. Coltrock plastic (fiber impregnated and reddish brown color without mold numbers) saw limited use in the serial range from about 718000 through 719752, and a few above 725000. Coltwood plastic (no visible fiber and drab brown color with mold numbers) starting at about 725000. Type 2 Coltwood plastic (drab brown color, with strengthening ribs, with wide rings around screw holes, with mold numbers) adopted in mid-1942 in the serial range from about 795000 to the end of production.

 

Coltwood

Type 2

 

Magazines

WWI

WWII

World War I two-tone mags used from 1924 until mid-1943. World War II Colt mag with full blued tube, pinned base and no markings. Colt commercial mags transferred to military contract with full blued tube, the bottom of tube and base parkerized, has pinned base, and base marked "COLT 45 AUTO." . Colt sub-contract mags with full blued tube, spot welded base, and bottom of lip of base marked: "C-L" - M.S. Little Mfg. Co.; "C-R" - Risdon Mfg. Co.; "C-S" Scovill Mfg. Co. Colt pistols were only issued with Colt magazines.

 

Commercial

Sub- contracts