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John in AR 01-17-2019 07:34 AM

Rejuvenatint an old 1911
(Stupid fumble-finger on my part - should be 'rejuvenating'...)

Recently refurbished/rejuvenated an old workhorse and figured I’d show it off some; an old ww2 milsurp 1911A1, that I acquired in a sad way. My wife's father passed away unexpectedly right before christmas, and while helping my mother-in-law with organizing and such, she asked me to take their guns out of the house and handle doling them out "to the grandsons". (Once I get a plan together, I intend to include the granddaughters as well.)

Among them was an old milsurp 1911 that had been bought used sometime in the late 50's or early 60's, and when I offered to buy it from her she just gave it to me. I’ve fired it very little (probably 300-400 rounds) over the last 33 years, but even that small amount represents probably 95% of the use it’s gotten in that time; it mostly spent the last 30-40 years just sitting around, wrapped in a rag.

The "before" pics:

The slide is marked Remington-Rand, but when I did a serial number lookup it turned out to be a kludge-together of a 1943 Ithaca lower and a remington-rand upper. The serial number is one that was used by both Ithaca and Colt (Colt stepped on numerous other mfr’s serial number ranges during that period), but one of the proof marks on the trigger guard confirm it’s an Ithaca frame. (Triangular proof mark on trigger guard is an Ithaca marking that Colt didn’t use.) Remington-marked slide, Ithaca proof mark on trigger guard, and damaged slide stop:

Probably 15-20 years ago I’d replaced the extractor on it, and I also knew it needed a new slide stop & a couple grip bushings, so I ordered those plus a spring kit as well. (When removing the grips for detail cleaning, the bushings were corroded to the screws and came out with the grips. Could have possibly cleaned up the threads enough to re-install them after fighting to get them separated from the grip screws and panels, but they’re cheap so I just replaced them instead.)

Detail-stripped it and cleaned it real well, including two runs in the ultrasonic cleaner, and when re-installing the grip panels, one of them broke. They’re an inexpensive Franzite brand, which for some reason had a tendency to shrink, and having shrunk around a sixteenth of an inch, just didn’t survive me trying to re-use them on the new bushings.

John in AR 01-17-2019 07:42 AM

The “after” pics:

Trying to keep it pretty much ‘as is’, I found a set of old Franzite grips on Ebay, but the seller admitted in the description that his were shrunken up as well ( [url][/url] ); so had to come up with another option. There are several similar styles out there, but I figured if I have to change them, may as well change them to something I’d like. Ended up ordering some old-looking fake stag grip panels; definitely more old-school than tacticool:

New slide stop from Wilson is actually a little difficult to drop from slide-lock, but will smooth with some use:

I've replaced the springs with a Wilson 316G kit; all except the main spring. It's still plenty stout and I'm thinking the old mainspring may help offset the extra-power 18.5lb recoil spring. We'll see - if necessary I'll replace the mainspring as well.

Don’t plan to use this a ton, but I want it to be fully functional and trustworthy, even if just with fmj ammo. I’m not planning to do any more upgrades; not going to have the ejection port lowered, and am even going to stick with the tiny stock sights, in the spirit of keeping it an old school gun. Maybe some day one of my sons will clean it up again and keep it alive & in the family for another generation or two…

Garand 01-17-2019 10:08 AM


Back around 2009, I was collecting Colt "Canadian Contract" Commercial Models. Canada brought 5,000 for the Canadian Army in late 1914. I eventually had 7 in my collection. This one was "bubbed" by a young "20 something" looking for a cheap IPSC pistol. He managed to have the slide carved out so he could mount something like a Bo Mar or Wichita sight. He sawed off the lanyard loop and reblued the pistol.

I manage to find a "new" pre 1919 slide with all the correct markings, the pistol had a burnt out WW2 barrel and I replaced it with a Wilson Match barrel, the hammer had been changed so I had to find a repro hammer and a repro flat mainspring housing & original grips. I sent it off to a gunsmith as the frame was too tight to mount to the frame. It came back as a very accurate hand gun, and while not authentic, it still gives an excellent representation of the original pistol. I used it in an action pistol match on 09 April 2017, exactly 100 years to the day it went over the top in the hands of a Canadian soldier at Vimy Ridge on 09 April 1917 on the Western Front. It functioned flawlessly. It gets shot only about twice a year, in 1914 the metal work was softer and I don't want to abuse it.


John in AR 01-17-2019 10:47 AM

That's sharp. I've never owned one that old.

I was hugely glad that I was able to keep this one from being pawned by an idiot cousin or something. I don't have any display cases, at our home or shop either one; in my business I see them all too often serving primarily as burglar bait. So my stuff is all just in safes or other locking storage. But if I had a display case, this gun would be in it. I'm extremely happy with it now, even if it turns out to not like anything but hardball.

Garand 01-17-2019 04:15 PM

Of the 7 Colt "Canadian Contract" Commercial Models I had, 1 was manufactured in 1913 and 6 were manufactured in 1914.

boati 04-01-2019 09:26 AM

I can barely stand to look at a GI gun, wouldn't even pick one up, much less shoot it. The modern improvements make the gun 2-3x more effective/fun to use. Also greatly prefer the alloy commander in 9mm. Wilson claims that if you want a 9mm 1911 that's truly reliable, it has to have a fully supported barrel. I"ve not found that to be the case, even with the 90 gr jhp's, as long as you stuff the mags one rd short of a full load. The heavier bullets are marginal for expansion in flesh, Maybe the lighter slide of the commander accounts for it, or the one I had in CO, I just got lucky.

John in AR 04-01-2019 10:03 AM

[QUOTE=boati;291299]I...The heavier bullets are marginal for expansion in flesh, Maybe the lighter slide of the commander accounts for it, or the one I had in CO, I just got lucky.[/QUOTE]
You lost me - the lighter slide of the commander accounts for varying performance of different bullet weights..?

On the old-school GI-gun thing, I prefer a more modern gun myself. But it is what it is, and it was a gift; so I'm keeping it old school mostly for nostalgic reasons. I do prefer lighter weight and a better trigger, safety, etc, but it's still completely capable & reliable as-is. While it's not the most modern or whiz-bang of guns, a reliable, functional 1911 isn't something to dismiss by any means.

Garand 04-05-2019 02:46 PM

I collected "Canadian Contract" Colts because they were part of my countries heritage.

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