Commercial Notes

Commercial Production Notes:
First Post War Commercial M1911-A1 Production: 

Colt re-started commercial production in October 1946 with serial Number C220,001. These rare pistols have very interesting and unique characteristics. This pistol has approximately 98% original Finish.

About this Colt Variation:
The first approximately 2000 commercial pistols made after the war ended were actually military pistols in various stages of manufacture at wars end and were completed with commercial serial numbers in 1946 as commercial pistols.  The slides of these pistols had the rampant Colt symbol marked on both sides of the slide.  The right slide had the normal wartime marking with patent dates near the front and the Colts address to the rear of the rampant Colt symbol.  The right side was marked “COLT AUTOMATIC CALIBRE .45”.    All of the external surfaces except the top of the slide were polished to a bit less than a mirror finish.  The top of the slide was finished in a dull non reflective matte.  The complete pistol was finished with a chemical bluing process.  Many of the small parts were military leftovers, such as slide stops, and triggers.   Due to the fact that they are what was left after military production halted, its basically a GI 1911A1 with a commercial finish. These pistols are a record of the transition from military production to post war commercial production. After WWI the government reclaimed all unfinished parts and pistols, while Colts had maintained commercial production throughout WWI.   During WWII Colts had suspended commercial production for the duration of the war.  After WWII the government did not reclaim the parts on the production line and Colts created this variation to use them. Clawson  details these early post war guns.

1946 Transition 1911A1

  • Some early post war commercials have a Rampant Colt on both sides of the slide. Such is the case for the example shown on the commercial gun page. Only a few hundred such examples were made with the twin rampant Colts, making these transition pistols rare and desirable to collectors. During the refinish process the military rampant colt was sometimes buffed out and the later marking would be applied.

  • Some Parts are military, and some are new commercial manufacture. The top of the slide has a military proof mark that appears to be stamped before finish. 

  • The slide stop is serrated, not checkered. Serrated parts started to appear in October 1945 on Colt Military 1911A1s. Clawsons shows two photos of 1911A1s with  the serrated slide locks on late military Colts pistols.

  • The stocks are leftover military parts, and are a reddish-brown color military style plastic.

Colts made for commercial sale have a "C" prefix before the serial number until 1949 (240288-C) after which they changed the "C" prefix to a “C” suffix, (following the serial number.) In 1970 they dropped the "C" with production of the 70 series.

Most of Colts commercial sales of Government Models went to foreign Governments.  These will generally have C prefixed serial numbers and are without any special markings.   Some sales specified special markings to be applied by Colts and these are usually recorded in Colts shipping ledgers.  One sales contract of Colts, the 1927 contract with Argentina, specified special markings as well as a special serial number range.  Only purchasing a Colts letter will provide specific information on a commercial pistol. Colts historical department lists prices for letters.  “The  Government Models” by William Goddard lists quite a few commercial serial numbers.  The book is still in print and available.  The rest of the book is of questionable value, but there are a number of decent pictures.

Commercial guns will also have the VP make on the left side trigger guard web as well as military pistols that where manufactured post 1936 (started VP on USGI in 1937). If you see a pre 1930s military with this stamp it could mean the gun was shipped back to the factory for repair or refurbishment.

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