1924 Colt M1911
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withdrawn; the specification reverted to the previous wire diameter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
(Suspect "K" stamp)
(Proper "K" stamp)
|Courtesy of the
Michael Chop Collection