1924 Colt M1911
"Transition"


In June 1923 Colt was awarded a contract to produce 10000 pistols to include the changes specified in OCM (Ordnance Committee Minutes) item 2890.  Serial numbers 700001 through 710000 were assigned to the order with serials 709001 through 710000 reserved for National Match use and to be stored at Springfield.  However before any pistols had been delivered, 43 additional changes that had been requested by Colts and the changes had been approved by the Ordnance office.  Delivery of the first 5000 pistols by April of 1927 to Springfield and further testing with standard ammunition, indicated that all tested satisfactory.  Subsequent assembly of National Match pistols at Colts revealed a significant number of misfires using National Match ammunition.  It was finally concluded that one of the changes requested by Colts, the reduction in the gage of the mainspring wire resulted in insufficient impact for reliable ignition.  Consequently approval for “reduction in strength of mainspring” was immediately withdrawn; the specification reverted to the previous wire diameter (0.045”).  Consequently the first 5000 pistols delivered, Serials 700001 through 705000 were assembled with mainsprings that may fail to provide reliable ignition with certain types of ammunition.  Between the wars it was possible for any military officer in active service to purchase from Springfield Armory a .45 Auto pistol.  Purchasers of pistols of record at Springfield were notified of the mainspring problem and apparently furnished with replacement springs. This pistol, serial #700798 was originally shipped with the weaker mainspring.

The 5 major approved changes to the old model (1911) included: 1. Extending the tang of the grip safety.  2.  Finger clearance cuts were added to the receiver.  3.  The mainspring housing was knurled and raised.  4.  The trigger face was knurled and cut back.  5.  The width of the front sight was increased.  On May 26, 1926 the official designation for the “New Model” pistol was changed to “Pistol, automatic, caliber .45, M1911A1” by approval of the chief of the Ordnance Technical Staff and the Ordnance Committee.  Drawings however were not approved showing the new designation until January 27th 1938.  Consequently the 2349 pistols delivered in 1937 still retained the “Old Model” slide marking of  “MODEL OF 1911 U.S. ARMY” rather than the official marking of  “M1911A1 U.S. ARMY” that had been moved to the frame for 1838 and later production, and are also “Transition” pistols.  The nomenclature “Transition” is not an official Army designation but is part of the vernacular of pistol collectors.  Hence the term is, to some extent, open to interpretation.

1924 is the year the improvements where added to the Model 1911that made it the 1911A1 but in 1924 they had not decided on the new model designation thus the “transition” pistols are marked "Model of 1911 U.S. Army" (See Figure 2).  Transition pistols generally have a barrel marked with an interlaced HP that is visible through the ejection port.  The barrels are also generally marked with a very large “K” that is often partially struck in front of the lug.  Everything about pistol 700798 that can be deduced from the photos appears to be correct and original except the barrel, which appears to have been refinished and remarked. (See Figure 4 & 5A). Figure 5B shows a proper "K" marked barrel. The serial number range on this covered from 700,000 to 710,000. The Inspectors cartouche on this pistol is the first type (with single outer circle) used under the authority of Walter T. Gorton Captain, Inspector of Ordnance, (See Figure 8) and is stamped after finish.

Reference Charles Clawsons “Colt .45 Service pistols”.
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Fig. 1
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Fig. 2
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Fig. 3
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Fig. 4
(Suspect "K" stamp)
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Fig. 5A

Fig. 5B
(Proper "K" stamp)
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Fig. 6
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Fig. 7
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Fig. 8
  Courtesy of the
Michael Chop Collection
 

Rev 1.1