1915 Springfield M1911

This very early 1915 production Springfield Armory M1911was manufactured at the Armory at Springfield Massachusetts located near the Connecticut River.  As part of the original negotiations for the Model 1911 contract, the Ordnance Department secured the right to manufacture the pistol at Springfield Armory.  The negotiations allowed the U.S. Government to manufacture one third of those pistols produced after Colts had produced an initial 50000 pistols.  Production at Springfield was, by necessity, done in batches of serial numbers as the original authorization for Springfield specified that Colts Manufacturing Company would be given contracts for 2/3 of the pistols produced and the orders for same would be given simultaneously with orders to Springfield.  Springfield prepared a set of drawings and eventually started production, and completed the first pistols in January of 1914.  Other than marking, the pistol made at Springfield had few obvious differences with the Colts made pistol.  However not only were there many subtle difference in the parts, but many of the parts will not completely interchange between a Springfield and a Colts made pistol.  It was not until WWII that proper tolerances were specified for all parts to function and interchange between manufacturers.  Parts made at Springfield can usually be identified by these subtle differences in the parts, and although many parts made at Springfield were stamped with an “S”, many were not so marked, especially in the later pistols.  Therefore unmarked parts can usually be identified if they were made at Springfield. The total official M1911 production at Springfield Armory was 25,767 pistols.

Throughout production at Springfield there were only three changes that are apparent when viewing the fully assembled pistol.  The original Springfield made hammer (used from serial #72651 to about serial #76200) was short but somewhat thicker than the short Colts made hammer.   At about serial #76200, the short spur hammer was replaced with a longer spur hammer that is also distinctively shaped and easily identifiable.  This second type hammer had a rather sharp rear edge that often pinched the hand of the shooter.  To avoid “Biting the hand that feeds it,” the sharp edge of the hammer was rounded sometime later.  (Officially the change occurred by serial #102597, however type two hammers are sometimes seen in later pistols.)  Springfield pistols use a distinctive magazine (made at Springfield) with folded over and brazed bottom lips as well as a copper plated section at the rear top of the walls and a lanyard loop on the floor plate. The magazine also has a distinctive coloring due to the brazing and heat treatment. A few Springfield magazines have been found without lanyard loops, however it is uncertain if these were ever issued with any pistol.

An unknown number of Springfield and Colts made pistols were furnished by the National Rifle Association to members from late 1914 through June 1917.  Most of these pistols are marked N.R.A. just below the serial number but a few are so marked on the same side ahead of the slide stop pin.  While the total number of original N.R.A. marked pistols is not known, most observers believe it to be less than 1000.
Reference Charles Clawsons “Colt .45 Service pistols”.

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From the collection 
of T. Moore

Springfield Production Summary
Year Quantity SN Range
1914 3,030 72,571-75,600
1915 15,359 75601-83855
1916 4,966
(Colt samples)
1917 2,412 125,587-127,998
Total 25,767
(For complete information on this subject I recommend Edward Scott Meadows book U.S. Military Automatic Pistols)

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