Colt "two-tone" magazines and "breech flame bleaching"

Discussion in 'The 1911 Forum' started by JudgeColt, Nov 25, 2004.

  1. JudgeColt

    JudgeColt New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2004
    Messages:
    21
    The claim that Colt two-tone magazines are that way because of "breech filame" from certain ammunition is one of the most shocking claims I have ever heard. I am surprised the thread was closed without allowing full discrediting of such a wild claim. Such misinformation should not be allowed to stand or be spread.

    Every reference book on Colt firearms, including the scarce and expensive Clawson books, that discusses the manufacure of Colt magazines mentions the two-tone effect created by the cyanide bath tempering process. John Browning never "dipped" magazines in cyanide (no human could stand to be near the deadly process), but Colt did. (John Browning only designed guns, he did not manufacture them.) The reason is that the gas bluing of the magazine body tubes took out some of the temper in the steel and the three-minute 1475 degree Fahrenheit cyanide bath restored it to the critical feed lip area. When the use of tank blueing replaced gas bluing and a different type of steel was used for the magazine bodies in the late 1930s, the cyanide heat treat was no longer necessary.

    If the one who believes the two-tone effect is caused by "breech flame," what is the explanation for that effect on .22 Woodsman, .22 Ace, .22 Service Ace, .25ACP, .32ACP, .380ACP and .38 Super Colt two-tone magazines? Does a .22 rimfire generate enough "breech flame" to change the color of metal? Is not it strange how every two-tone magazine seems to have about the same amout of "breech flame" color removal, even those in unfired, new-in-the-box collector's items? (Maybe Colt had a bunch of that special "bleaching" ammunition in all chamberings it used for factory test firings well into the late 1930s?) If "blow back" pistols are the worst offenders, why is it that use of "one-tone" magazines in such pistols with the old "bleaching" ammunition does not now "bleach" the "one-tone" magazines into a "two-tone" magazines? If such ammunition "bleaches" metal with only one shot, how come the cylinder faces and top straps of Colt New Service and Smith & Wesson Models of 1917 do not "bleach" out when fired with the same ammunition since the cylinder gap really lets a lot of flame escape? Wow, the mind boggles at the prospect of turning cheap "one-tone" magazines into valuable "two-tone" collectors items in just one shot with the correct ammunition! I may be able to retire earlier than I thought!

    I knew a foolish fellow who, in the 1970s, found a bunch of Frankford Arsenal World War I .45ACP ammunition that he shot up in various .45ACP pistols and it never "bleached" any of the full-blue magazines he used. I wonder why not?

    Does it not also seem strange that if one heats "white" steel hot enough, it turns blue, not "white," yet the hot "breech flame" removes the bluing instead? If the "breech flame" is so hot as to change the color of steel on the magazines in just one shot, why does it not set off the next cartridge in the magazine? Why does it not "bleach" the ejection port area?

    If I knew how to post pictures on these boards, I could scan several of the references to the cyanide process, including the one in the Colt "Century of Progress" factory publication of 1936 where the process is described in detail. (I could also include Clawson's description.) There is just NO truth the the wild claim that firing a certain type of ammunition "bleaches" the magazines to make them "two-tone." Colt and others made them that way.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2004
  2. CountryGunsmith

    CountryGunsmith New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2003
    Messages:
    5,115
    Location:
    Deep Piney Woods of East Texas
    I locked the thread because it was a downward spiral and I am not going to have two members engaging in a flame war - whether it removes bluing or not. ;) I had intended to post a short synopsis of how the two-tone mags were manufactured, but you beat me to it with your excellent post.

    The two-tone process that Colt (and others) used is well-documented and understood. Judge Colt describes it above, and it was described in the other thread although that description may have been lost amid all the other hoohaw.
  3. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2001
    Messages:
    9,141
    Location:
    Minn-eeee-sota, ya, sure, you bet!
    The claim that "breech flame" from firing unblued all of those pre-1940 magazines is, of course, absolute rubbish.

    I have two brand-new, "still in the wrapper" pre-'40 1911 magazines (one "plain", the other a "lanyard loop") and both are half-blued.

    BTW....Silver (if you read this)....I never knew that Raymond Engineering made 1911 mags. I worked there in '60s. In the Middletown plant in the White Room (clean room) making safety arming devices for nuclear warheads, and in the Durham plant making bomb fuse timers.
  4. Silver72

    Silver72 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2005
    Messages:
    550
    Location:
    Central Texas
    Xracer, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

    Yes, Clawsons book lists Raymond Engineering as a manufacture of mags, but I've not seen one. I have a collection of mags, must be about 20, but no General Shaver, Keyhole or Raynond. Do you have any of Clawsons's books? I can scann stuff if you want anything in particular.

    Don't eat to much Turkey!
  5. JudgeColt

    JudgeColt New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2004
    Messages:
    21
    I am glad to see so many who know there is no such thing as "breech flame bleaching" of Colt magazines. I wonder what people think when they hear that description given at a gun show or the like? I wonder how many neophytes have believed the story? Anyone who stops to think about it would know it is impossible, but some neophytes may think a "gray beard" has to know what he is talking about, and might actually believe it.

    However, I do need to correct one thing in my post. I have not looked at one of my Colt "Century of Progress" books for years, but recalled that the gas bluing process was described in them. I would have sworn the cyanide bath process was also described there as well, but, I checked a copy today, and nothing is said about the cyanide bath for magazines in the "Century of Progress" 1936 Colt Centennial publication. The mind dims with age, and when it is not too bright at the start, that can lead to faulty memory as the years pass! Sorry for that error.

    My Clawson book is in the safe at my office, so if someone has access to a copy and can scan the cyanide bath description, perhaps that will convince our mistaken friend. I have a copy of Douglas Sheldon's wonderful book on the Colt .38 Super at hand, and it likewise describes the cyanide bath process. (I think the Sheldon book on the .38 Super is about the most informative firearm book I have ever seen. It includes every tiny detail, including boxes, packing materials, included literature, advertising copy, catalog copy, etc.. The Clawson books also have as much or more detail, but not on boxes and packing materials with appropriate color pictures.)

    I need the Clawson book on commercial Colt Governmemt Models. Does anyone know of one for sale?
  6. Silver72

    Silver72 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2005
    Messages:
    550
    Location:
    Central Texas
    I have a copy, but it is not for sale. They pop up on ebay every now and then. You could do a search there and choose it as one of your "favorite searches". Then when you sign in just click on it. I have a signed and numbered copy of Clawsons "Collector's Guide to Colt .45 Service Pistols. Models of 1911 and 1911A1" Enlarged and Revised Edition that I am considering placing on auction. This is the condensed version being the 130 page version.

    If there is any certain info from the Commercial book that you need, maybe I can help.

    P.S. you might check with Amozon .com and Barnes and Noble for a copy.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2004
  7. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2001
    Messages:
    9,141
    Location:
    Minn-eeee-sota, ya, sure, you bet!
  8. Silver72

    Silver72 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2005
    Messages:
    550
    Location:
    Central Texas
    Which one did you get? The link came up to the 130 page revised edition of the 1911 and 1911A1 military guns. If you got the commercial model book you did extremely well.

    I found one commercial at $895, and one orignial 429 page military at $695.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2004
  9. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2001
    Messages:
    9,141
    Location:
    Minn-eeee-sota, ya, sure, you bet!
    It's the smaller "Collector's Guide" one.

    On the Raymond Engineering mags.....did they make them during both WWI and WWII, or just WWI?

    Also...during WWII, one of our neighbors (in East Hartford, CT) owned a small metal stamping and machine shop (McKenzie or MacKenzie Machine) in Glastonbury, CT. I went down there one day, and they had all sorts of subcontracts for all sorts of companies. Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, Grey Electric, Chandler-Evans, Underwood, etc. One of the things the were stamping out was the bottom plates for .45 magazines......don't remember who they were for. Any ideas????
  10. Silver72

    Silver72 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2005
    Messages:
    550
    Location:
    Central Texas
    I can't find any McKenzie or MacKenzie Machine listed as a subcontractor for small parts. There was a Hartford Screw Machine in Hartford. Could they have changed their name, or merged?

    Raymond Engineering produced mags only in W.W.I.

    The book you got is perfect for carry to the shows. You can check all the parts and markings on a perspective purchase for correctness.
    Congrat!
  11. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2001
    Messages:
    9,141
    Location:
    Minn-eeee-sota, ya, sure, you bet!
    Thanks for the info Silver.

    Yeah, I know about Hartford Screw Machine.....no, McKenzie was a much smaller outfit.

    During WWII a lot of work by major manufacturers was subcontracted out. In turn, the subcontractors often subcontracted some of that stuff out.

    I think that this might have been the case that Colt subbed their magazines out, and that subcontractor subbed out some of the parts for the mags. As far as I know, McKenzie was just punching out the base plates.....but I don't know for whom. I thought it might possibly be for Raymond since they were nearby, in Middletown. Guess not.
  12. JudgeColt

    JudgeColt New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2004
    Messages:
    21
    Silver72, thank you for your offer of information from your Clawson book on the commercial Government Models. I am seeking box style and production information on "Post-War/Post-U-Serial-Numbered" .22 Conversion Units. I have what I believe to be a very early Post-War Conversion Unit packaged in the black Pre-War style of box, and the slide markings are on opposite sides from the several others I have of later vintage.

    I also have another black Conversion Unit box only that is slightly different in size, and has a slightly different interior and slightly different instructions printed in the lid. It has no labels on it, but is oil-soaked (REALLY oil soaked - it looks like it was dipped in oil!) so the labels could have come off due to the oil. I am wondering which style is older.

    I am wondering if Clawson covered these obscure variations. Having never seen the commercial edition, I do not know. There is brief mention of Covnersion Units in the military Clawson book, but not enough to help.
  13. Silver72

    Silver72 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2005
    Messages:
    550
    Location:
    Central Texas
    Judge, check your PM.
  14. Pistolsmith

    Pistolsmith New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2004
    Messages:
    185
    I know that I'm a rat for doing it, but I was just checking to se if anyone was alive on this forum. Everything I said was what I overheard at the last gun show.
    And, if you want the shock of your life, research the REASON Colt left the magazine tops in the white. (We all know that they DID, but WHY? Clue: it was for the same reason Lugers were sent out with the muzzle in the white.)
    Please, no off the cuff opinions and responses this time. RESEARCH the question.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2004
  15. inplanotx

    inplanotx New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2002
    Messages:
    8,889
    Location:
    Texas
    If you have the answer, then give us the information. No need to research if you can give us the correct info on it. Do not see a need to research it further unless a legitimate concern can be given and proved. Inquiring minds would like to share your info! Like it or not! This is not a game, it is an info search, please give us the references.

    I know of Judge Colt from several boards and Silver72 from a long time standing in this board. Please give us the facts! We do not need pointers to other questions. Just the facts, please!
Similar Threads
Forum Title Date
The 1911 Forum Colt Combat Commander vs Ruger SR1911 Jul 7, 2014
The 1911 Forum found 1964 Colt NM Mar 7, 2014
The 1911 Forum Colt National Match Finally Done! Nov 25, 2013
The 1911 Forum My Son is Loves his Colt Mar 17, 2013
The 1911 Forum Colt .22 Disassembly Mar 12, 2013

Share This Page