M1911 and 1911A1 
Markings and parts identification

The links below provide detailed information and images of typical parts of the M1911 and M1911A1. The purpose of this section is to provide a reference that will help evaluate a M1911/1911A1 as to whether or not it is in its original configuration and it has the proper parts for its serial number range.  With 1911/1911A1 pistols, the serial number determines the date of shipment.  The only surviving records are of shipments of serial numbers; dates of manufacture can only be inferred from the shipping records.

Select a category below

Arsenal Rebuild




Grip Safety



Mag Release

MS Housing

Recoil Guide
Serial Numbers
SN Placement Sights
Slide Stop

Thumb Safety

Additional notes and
resources for collectors
GVMT Model
Function Check
NOTE: During years when pistols were made in high volume, pistols were assembled by pulling parts out of assembly line parts bins.  As the inevitable manufacturing changes were approved and phased in,  there would sometimes be old and new parts mixed in the bins.  If the inventory control people were conscientious, by purging and rotating stock, a clean changeover point of old/new might be achieved.  However this sort of diligence and attention to detail was probably the exception rather than the rule.  Overlap of old/new features usually happened to some extent.  During years of relatively low production, parts might have been allowed to “run out,” before new type parts were added, and of course the diligence of the workmen would vary between manufacturers.  For example when Colt changed from checkered to serrated thumb safeties in 1945, there is observed overlap over a range of serial numbers.   Some pistols would have the checkered, then the serrated, and then the checkered could be found again on later examples.

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