Skip to main content

Colt M1911A1 World War II Parts Gun

Saving a mysterious World War II vintage parts gun.

Colt M1911A1 World War II Parts Gun

Many years ago, I bought an old Colt M1911A1 from friend and gunwriter, Tom Beckstrand. On the right side of the frame, it wears serial number “1729XXX” in a scripted font with “UNITED STATES PROPERTY” roll-­stamped above it and “M1911A1 U.S. ARMY” to the right of the protruding slide-­lock lever pin. There’s a “7” stamped at the front and atop the triggerguard and the number “131” is stamped at the bottom and to the rear of the triggerguard on the left side of the frame. The slide is particularly unique as I cannot find another with the same roll stamp. It reads, “COLT’S PT.F.A.MFG.CO. HARTFORD, CT. U.S.A.” The second line reads, “PAT’D APR. 20,1897. SEPT.9.1902. DEC.19,1905. FEB.14,1911. AUG.19,1913.” And “CAL. 45 AUTOMATIC” reads the third line. Colt’s rampant pony logo is almost gone, but you can still make out the two front legs holding a spear, the head biting another spear, and its cocked hind legs and tail. What’s unusual is that the logo is at the far-­right of the roll stamp, just in front of the slide serrations.

Could the slide be a commercial model used during a rebuild? I’m not certain because the parkerized finish has worn similarly to the frame’s. However, there’s clear evidence that this M1911A1 was a parts gun. It features commercially blued and incorrect parts such as the barrel, barrel bushing, slide-­lock lever, thumb safety and three grip screws. Interesting to me, it does include the stamped, checkered short trigger shoe, checkered magazine release and World War II-­era plastic checkered grip panels.

The serial number indicates that the frame was manufactured sometime around January 1945, early enough that it could have seen use before World War II ended. Random scratches cover its surface and there is slight pitting towards the muzzle end of the left slide slab.

I sent the pistol to Turnbull Restoration Company (turnbullrestoration.com) with some spare, period-­correct parts hoping that Doug Turnbull’s craftsmen could make it as it was originally. Days later, I received a call informing me that it wasn’t a candidate for restoration. It’s hard to see, but the bottom of the grip frame was cut at a 45-­degree angle and replaced with another grip frame that was brazed. Perhaps the grip had been crushed or rolled over at some point, cut and replaced by an armorer. The service was effective, and it still functions properly. To add to the mystery, Turnbull was unfamiliar with the slide’s roll stamp, but said he thought it was a Colt marking. Having seen his collection of roll stamps on a wall, this statement surprised me.


I’ve reached out to Garry James who is looking into the markings and asked Beckstrand to see if he could learn more of its history. Beckstrand told me that he bought it from a U.S. Army Special Forces team sergeant he served with at a fire ­base in Afghanistan. I’ll have to wait patiently to see what becomes of those queries.


In the meantime, I’m wondering what to do with this old Colt. Though it can’t be restored to its former glory, it could be rebuilt again. For example, Wilson Combat has been gunsmithing on Colt Model 1911s since 1977, and he currently offers custom work by his team of master gunsmiths. Other gunsmiths such as Jim Garthwaite (garthwaite.com), Bill Laughridge (cylinder-­slide.com), Wayne Novak (novaksinc.com) and Mark Stone (nighthawkcustom.com) also offer custom services for 1911 pistols. So, I turn the direction of this project over to Guns & Ammo’s readers. Email me at gaeditor@outdoorsg.com and help this Colt gallop again. 




Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Guns & Ammo TV: Cameras Don

Guns & Ammo TV: Cameras Don't Lie: 9mm vs .45 ACP

The age-old question, 9mm vs .45 ACP. For some, this has been asked and answered already. For others, the debate goes on. In this segment of “Cameras Don't Lie,” competitive shooters Patrick Sweeney and Jim Tarr head to the range to put the vaunted loads on record, and then consider the footage.

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight – Perfect for Optics-Ready Concealed-Carry Pistols

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight – Perfect for Optics-Ready Concealed-Carry Pistols

The people asked and Trijicon answered. Introducing the RMRcc miniature red-dot sight for compact, concealed-carry pistols. Trijicon's new RMRcc features the durability and reliable controls that have made the RMR so successful, but its reduced dimensions make the “Concealed Carry” model better suited for the popular small-frame pistols designed for discreet carry and personal defense.

Trijicon

Trijicon's New Specialized Reflex Optics (SRO)

The Trijicon SRO is specifically designed for pistol use. The wide field of view and clean, crisp dot makes it easy for users to find and track the dot in both target and competitive shooting applications.

Guns & Ammo TV: Springfield Armory XD-M 10mm

Guns & Ammo TV: Springfield Armory XD-M 10mm

In this “At The Range” segment, Guns & Ammo Editor Eric Poole and Senior Field Editor Craig Boddington look over the features of the XD-M.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

In this segment of “At The Range,” Handgunning Editor Jeremy Stafford and contributor Patrick Sweeney compare the visibility of red and green lasers in outdoor, sunny conditions. Red vs. Green Lasers: Visibility in Bright Light Accessories

Red vs. Green Lasers: Visibility in Bright Light

Guns & Ammo Staff - August 24, 2020

In this segment of “At The Range,” Handgunning Editor Jeremy Stafford and contributor Patrick...

From milled slides to optics-included packages, these pistol options are all red-dot sight ready.14 Red Dot Ready Pistols You Must See Handguns

14 Red Dot Ready Pistols You Must See

James Tarr - December 20, 2018

From milled slides to optics-included packages, these pistol options are all red-dot sight...

Springfield Armory's SAINT Edge Pistol may be the best AR pistol on the market.Springfield Armory SAINT Edge Pistol Review Handguns

Springfield Armory SAINT Edge Pistol Review

James Tarr - April 17, 2019

Springfield Armory's SAINT Edge Pistol may be the best AR pistol on the market.

A guide on how to pair .223 and 5.56 NATO rifle barrel twist rates with bullet weights. Conventional wisdom says slower twist rates wouldn't properly-stabilize a heavy bullet. On the other hand, faster rates could over-stabilize lighter bullets. This is correct in theory, however, modern ballisticians have all but debunked the over-stabilization theory. All things being equal, it is better to have too much twist than not enough.Pairing Barrel Twist Rates with Bullets for .223 and 5.56 NATO How-To

Pairing Barrel Twist Rates with Bullets for .223 and 5.56 NATO

Keith Wood - November 17, 2018

A guide on how to pair .223 and 5.56 NATO rifle barrel twist rates with bullet weights....

See More Trending Articles

More Handguns

The Hi-Point 995 TS carbine has low recoil, is chambered in a readily available cartridge, and is more accurate than many would expect when shot using loads it likes. It is a good choice for anyone in search of an inexpensive recreational firearm, or one for self-defense.Hi-Point Firearms 995 TS Camo WC Review Reviews

Hi-Point Firearms 995 TS Camo WC Review

Proofhouse - August 03, 2020

The Hi-Point 995 TS carbine has low recoil, is chambered in a readily available cartridge, and...

Though the KelTec P17 is not perfect, it does offer great value potential. And while its plastic styling and plethora of Allen screws could be a hang-up for some, if you're still reading this, you're probably not one of them.KelTec P17 Review Reviews

KelTec P17 Review

Brad Fitzpatrick - August 25, 2020

Though the KelTec P17 is not perfect, it does offer great value potential. And while its...

The surplus gun scene is constantly changing. I procrastinated and missed the opportunity to purchase a police trade-in P226 and P229 in .40 S&W for $379.95 because I thought they might come available in 9mm. Friends, the lesson I learned is that if you think you might want it, don't wait too long. Surplus Guns Handguns

Surplus Guns

Keith Wood - September 17, 2020

The surplus gun scene is constantly changing. I procrastinated and missed the opportunity to...

The WCP320 is the next big thing in striker fired guns. This one is where striker-­fired reliability meets custom-­gun performance, and it doesn't get any better than this. Wilson Combat WCP320 Review Reviews

Wilson Combat WCP320 Review

Jeremy Stafford - July 21, 2020

The WCP320 is the next big thing in striker fired guns. This one is where striker-­fired...

See More Handguns

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now