Identifying a early Colt magazine

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by woodsrunner, Nov 14, 2004.

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  1. woodsrunner

    woodsrunner New Member

    May 12, 2004
    Hamlin, NY
    Some of you know about the 1911 I used to have. A nice shooter grade prewar gun that someone had buggered up the serial number on, then restamped it. I sold it to a parts dealer who stripped it and destroyed the frame.

    I did keep the magazine that came with it. Even though the blue is very worn and faded you can see the two tone line. But, there is no markings on it at all. Were the genuine Colt magazines unmarked?

    I've decided that my next 1911 style gun will be a long wanted Detonics. I'm selling odds and ends to clean house and get money together for the new gun.

    If it's the real deal what is a fair price to put on it?

    My camera is recharging, I'll post pictures later.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2004
  2. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

    Hi woodsrunner:

    This outta answer your question (from The Sight website.... ):

    "In response to repeated requests for clarification on the types and makers of M1911 series magazines during the World Wars and post-War, here is a brief outline:

    "Two-tone" magazines. These are the type that were made up until just before WWII. They are called "two tone" because only the bottom half of the magazine was blued, while the upper half was left "in the white." Most were made without lanyard loops. These sell for $30 to $70, depending on condition. Those with lanyard loops are much more scarce and therefore sell for $50 to $150, again depending on condition. There were several makers of two-tone magazines including:

    Remington-UMC. Made by Remington during WWI to fill a large military contract. This is the most numerous type of two-tone you will find. These are unmarked, but can be identified by the short length of the floor plate tab that extends from the front of the bottom of the magazine. The tab is rounded, but much more steeply curved than that of the Colt made magazine described below.

    Colt Mfg. Made by Colt before, during, and after WWI for both commercial sales and to fill military contracts. These too are unmarked, but can be identified by a longer and more smoothly rounded (a longer, less severe curve) floor plate tab than on the Remington contract magazines.

    American Pin Company. Can be identified by a small letter A stamped on the TOP of the floor plate tab. Very Scarce.

    Raymond Engineering. Can be identified by a small letter R stamped on the BOTTOM of the floor plate. Very Scarce.

    World War II blued (a.k.a. "One-Tone") magazines. Made in large quantities during WWII by a variety of contractors. Entire magazine body was blued. To my knowledge, none of the WWII types had lanyard loops. Prices range from $10 to $50, depending on maker and condition. Here is partial list of military contractors:

    Colt. Can be identified by a small letter C stamped on the top of the floor plate tab, or "C-S" on the BOTTOM of the floor plate. There is some debate as to whether or not "C-S" stands for Colt-Scoville, i.e. a subcontract by Scoville for Colt.

    General Shaver. Can be identified by a small letter G stamped on the top of the floor plate tab.

    Little. Can be identified by a small letter L stamped on the top of the floor plate tab.

    Risdon. Can be identified by a small letter R stamped on the TOP of the floor plate tab. Don't confuse these with Raymond Engineering contract magazines, which have the letter R stamped on the BOTTOM of the floor plate.

    Scoville. Can be identified by a small letter S stamped on the top of the floor plate tab.

    Variants of Risdon and Scoville are marked respectively: "C-R" or "C-S" on t he BOTTOM of the floor plate. I have seen one reference that indicated that these magazines were made under subcontract to Colt, to put in Colt's WWII production M1911 pistols. Presumably, the markings stand for "Colt-Risdon" and "Colt-Scoville."

    A Special Note on WWII magazines: Many gun shop owners and gun show dealers are relatively ignorant about the "top of the floor plate tab" markings on WWII magazines. Most of course know the significance of two-tone magazines. However, they often have a box of magazines that they have accumulated over the years that they *assume* are all after-market. If you take the time to sort through them and look for markings on the *tops* of the floor plate tabs, you can go home with some original WWI magazines at a bargain price.

    Post-WWII M1911 series .45 magazines:

    Commercial Colt (pre-1970). Marked "Colt .45 Auto" on the bottom of the floor plate. Beware! Many of the after-market copies carry the same marking. However, the "counter" holes in the side of the magazine body are generally over-sized. The other dead give-away is the typeface ("font") used in the marking. It is not the same style font used by Colt, and the number "45" is usually not preceded by a decimal point.

    Post WWII military contract. Most of these were made during the Vietnam "conflict". They can be identified by a lengthy military part number and manufacturer's contract number on the floor plate. These markings fill up most of the bottom of the floor plate.

    Commercial Colt (post-1970.) Marked Colt .45 Auto on the bottom of the floor plate. A rampant stallion (a.k.a. "prancing pony") marking was added around 1970. Still in production. For many years the magazine bodies have been produced under subcontract by the Metalform Company for Colt. Shooting Star Company now produces some of the magazine followers for Colt--most notably these followers are used in the 8 round stainless steel model that was first produced for the now discontinued Double Eagle, but is now standard for all full sized Colt .45 autos.

    After-market copies. Too numerous to list here. Most are total junk, and not worth buying. (You can expect horrible feeding problems.) In particular, beware of fake "Colt made" magazines!

    Three points to look for to determine if they aren't the genuine Colt-made item:

    1) The fake magazines are marked "Colt 45 AUTO" but without a decimal before the "45". They may say "Colt" but they aren't made by Colt!

    2) The typeface (font) is not the same as that used on genuine Colt magazines, and is much more deeply stamped.

    3) The "counter" holes in the side of the magazine are often much larger than originals. Keep in mind that the lack of a "pony" doesn't necessarily mean that a magazine isn't a genuine Colt. The pony marking didn't begin until around 1970. The best evidence of originality is the type font used in the marking. (Compare side-by-side with a *known* Colt-made magazine until you learn to identify the original type font at a glance.)

    Some exceptions to the "don't ever buy after-market" rule are .45 magazines made by Metalform, Shooting Star, and Wilson-Rogers. These are some of the *few* after-market brands that my customers report work well. There may be a few others that work, but why take the risk? In general, unless you want to buy grief, only buy original Colt made magazines, or original U.S. G.I. military contract magazines.

    I hope that you find this information useful."

  3. woodsrunner

    woodsrunner New Member

    May 12, 2004
    Hamlin, NY
    Thanks for your help. I'm sure this magazine is at the low end of the price range. Like I said the blue is somewhat faded and it was in regular use until about 2 months ago. I just didn't want to sell something for $10.00 that was worth $40.00 or $50.00.

    Thanks again.
  4. Pistolsmith

    Pistolsmith New Member

    Feb 14, 2004
    Part of that is somewhat true, and some of it is by a "collector" (not you, X-Racer, I refer to the writer of the data you quoted) trying to sound very profound. All of it is from factory records. You have to follow the pistols onto the battlefields of the world to get the true picture.
    Personally, I would pitch every "used" WW-II and Korean era magazine into the dumpster if it shows abnormalities in fit or function. I was in the Ordnance Corps (in armament and ammo) during Korea, and my unit issued only "refurbished" (i.e. wire brushed) steel cased WW-II pistol ammo from 50 to 53. These steel cases contributed to rapid magazine damage in several ways: Steel cases had a tendency to dent the inner surfaces of the magazine tube due to recoil...especially if the recoil spring was original (weak). Servicemen were taught to slam the base of a loaded magazine hard against the palm of the hand before loading; this was very hard on the feed lips, causing bending, embrittlement or fractures) and also sometimes produced internal dents, which could result in feeding problems.
    Commercial magazines were often salt (tank) blued, then immersed part way into a phosphateizing tank for the "two tone" effect.
    Early Colt magazines (WW-I and into the 30's were most often blued in a charcoal atmosphere furnace and the blue was very fragile. Often, if the chamber was oversized, flash would bypass the case and it removed the blueing part way down the magazine tube. This is most often found on pocket pistol magazines, because the action begins to open sooner than in the 1911 pistol. I've known it to happen on the first and only shot fired from a new pistol.
    Magazines were ALWAYS considered expendable (even those with a lanyard loop), and nobody but a collector would covet and hoard used 1911 magazines, especially if one trusts one's life to the weapon. All of my 1911's are fitted with new Wilson magazines and are rotated every few months.
    Most of the surplus (and stolen) WW-II pistols were refurbished at least once by Ordnance, and the original frame and slide were separated, all parts gauged, then, re-assembed with ad-lib parts (at Ord Depots like Tokyo Engineering Works, Ordnance Shops and Mount Rainier Ordnance Depot), and in the 50's, they were fitted with aftermarket magazines, as noted above by another poster. Colt has used aftermarket magaznes for over 30 years, though they do own the subsidiary company turning them out.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2004
  5. Silver72

    Silver72 Member

    Nov 5, 2005
    Central Texas
    World War I magazines:

    Unmarked, Colt.
    Unmarked, Springfield Armory flanges foled over the base.
    Unmarked, REM-UMC identified by the short lip on the base, abt. 1/16" shorter than Colt.
    American Pin Co. "A" marked on top of the base.
    Barnes & Kobert Mfg. Co. "B" on top of the base.
    M.S. Little Co. "L" on top of base.
    Risdon Tool & Machine Co. "R" on top of base.
    Raymond Engneering Corp. "R" bottom of base.

    World War II magazines:

    Unmarked, Colt.
    M.S. Little Co. "L" on top of base.
    M.S. Little Co. "L" on top of base, C-L on the bottom, subcontract for Colt.
    Risdon Mfg. Co. "R" top of base.
    Risdon Mfg. Co. "R" on top of base, C-R on bottom, subcontract for Colt.
    Scovill Mfg. Co. "S" on top of base. C-S on bottom, subcontract for Colt
    (Scovill aquired American Pin Co. in 1923)
    General Shaver Div. of Remington Rand "G" on top of base, spot weld down the back.

    Except for the first issue in 1912, all magazines were two tone until 1940. New type (full blue) mags werre approved in Sept. 1940, after a series of test in the field. These full blued mags were issued with new pistols beginning at abt. serial #719753, but old style two tone mags remained in service until mid-1943. Mags manufactured during W.W.II were full blued by the Du-Lite or Pentrate process.

    About 750,000 of each subcontract maker mags were produced in W.W.II.
    The two tone mags were heat treated to 1500-1550 degrees following the bluing process. This tempering process caused the top portion to appear as if not finished.

    W.W.I and W.W.II mags had a pinned base until M.S. Little developed a surface welding process for attaching the base.

    I don't think I am the "profound" collector you refered to but I may be mistaken.

    Here's a two tone mag with a beautifull rainbow from the tempering process.

    Here is an example of the folded base for the Springfield Armory W.W.I guns.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2004
  6. Silver72

    Silver72 Member

    Nov 5, 2005
    Central Texas
  7. Pistolsmith

    Pistolsmith New Member

    Feb 14, 2004
    Where to begin?
    The "beautiful rainbow" you mention is NOT from "tempering" done at the factory; it is damage done from firing the old type ammunition.
    In 1950, when I was called up for the Korean war, I bought an unfired Colt 1911 that was made in 1917 and issued to a Colonel I knew who prefered to carry his commercial 1911 in two wars. It (the magazine) had the lanyard loop as shown, and it was a beautiful, UNIFORM heat blue from the floorplate to the feed lips. I never used that magazine, so it was still pristine when I sold the pistol in the late '80's. Your magazine shows extensive damage from feedway flash.
    Nobody, including General Hatcher, could ever tell me exactly what chemical and physical forces were responsible for blue removal from feedway flash, but you can see for yourself. Obtain a few Frankford Arsenal rounds dated 1917 or 1918. Have soneone fire the pistol in total darkness as you observe from the ejection port side. Quite a flash for a "locked breech", isn't it? There is still considerable back presure as the action unlocks and opens. After watching this fireworks show, you may agree with me that the 1911 is a delayed blowback, not a locked breech weapon. If you bring your Garand tot he range with the pistol, have him fire it, using WW-II era ball ammo and observe the cases ejecting with fire still shooting out the case mouth.
    Heating to red heat, as the temperature mentioned above will produce is not "tempering." It heats to beyond decolescence. Sheet metal is heat treated after forming to relieve stresses and work hardening caused by forming.
    The Colt .32 and .380 were more effected by discoloration of the magazine from feedway flash than the 1911. I took one shot with a new .380 and discolored the magazine 1/2" down on the right side. Only a collector would claim that the damage was done at the factory on purpose. (Rule 1 at gun shows: Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.)
    All I can say is: If you use that pistol for self-defense, don't use that damaged magazine. And, thank heaven for stainless steel magazines, especially those with an extra round capacity.
    Note: You can read about the heat treating that COlt did in their 1936 catalog "A Century of Progress" Col. Askins Sr. did not ask about the fabrication of magazines and their heat treatment, nor did Colt choose to show anything of the process, while they freely showed everything else about the process of making a pistol. Nothing about it in the Haven & Bekden Colt collecting book, either.
    Oh, and Silver, a right hand grip screw did all of the denting and scraping damage shown. Shorten it slightly.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2004
  8. Silver72

    Silver72 Member

    Nov 5, 2005
    Central Texas
    The facts that I stated are exactly true. Taken from the best, and most sought after book, by Charles W. Clawson and years of collecting. For your information, I have a new, unissued, unfired and in the wrap mag that is better than the 1926 Colt pictured.

    Magazines were the weakest component of the Model 1911 pistols and were the source of continuing problems for many years. Complaints pertained to the lips not being strong enough, the thin metal being easily dented, and loosening of the mag base. At one time it was suggested that mags be made of a thicker material, but it was not approved because it would cause a change in the receiver.

    To overcome this defect the upper portion (about one inch) of the mags was hardened in a cyanide bath and tempered in oil after bluing to retain the proper heat treatment and resultant spring tension. This procedure was later standardized to extend below the magazine catch slot. The cyanide was heated, the top of the mag was dipped into the cyinade for three minutes to a depth sufficient to cover the mag catch slot and then quenched in oil, washed in soda, rinshed in clean water and dipped into an antirust solution. The cyinade removed the bluing from the treated area which resulted in a two tone appearance. It was determined that the intence heat of the bluing peocess nullified the heat treatment and destroyed the spring tension. All other magazine manufactures except Springfield Armory followed the same procedure of bluing first and then tempering.

    And yes, the early .32 and .380 Colts were issued, and sold, with two tone mags.

    Two tone mags were issued with Colt pistols through the transistion model of 1924 (the 1911A1) on into early W.W.II production.

    These are the facts taken from Colt, and Ordnance records.

    Please get the facts before you flame another poster.
  9. Pistolsmith

    Pistolsmith New Member

    Feb 14, 2004
    Don't you consider it strange that the above poster refuses to give the name of the book, the publisher, the year of publication and the page in question?
    If you do that, readers can read and decide for themselves.
    I assume that the refered to book has illustrations of the cyanideing process, (which was used to harden low carbon steel.)
    Without references, it is merely hot air. Sure, there are no flames in hot air.
    Also, please give the reference to the Ordnance manual that states what you quoted.

    If you are a collector:
    You have Compulsive Obcessive Disorder.
    :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D
  10. SouthernMoss

    SouthernMoss *Admin Tech Staff*

    Jan 1, 2003
    SW MS
    Easy, fellas. Let's not get carried away. :)
  11. Silver72

    Silver72 Member

    Nov 5, 2005
    Central Texas
    Colt .45 Service Pistol , 429 pages, authored by Charles W. Clawson.
    Models of 1911 amd 1911A1.
    Complete military history, development and production 1900 through 1945.

    Copywrite 1991. Libary of Congress Catolog Number 92-90443.
    ISBN 0-9633071-0-9. pps. 89-92, 337-338.

    Among the Credits and Acknowedgments:
    Mary Huber, Kathy Hoyt, and Beverly Rhodes, Historical Department Colt's Manufacturing Company, Hartford, Connecticut.

    Ron Wagner, Past Historian of Colt's.

    Richard Boylan, Steve Bern, and the staff of the Washington Nat'l Records Center at Suitland, Maryland.

    The Staff of the Nat'l Archives, Washington, D.C.

    Stu Vogt, Past Curator of the Springfield Armory Museum at Springfield, Mass.
    and many others I want list.

    There are plenty of copies of correspondence between Colt and the Ordnance Dept. pertaining to all the refinements and changes.

    If you can find a copy for sale expect to pay $450-$600.

    Now give us your references, author and page numbers.

    "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."-George Bernard Shaw

    Last edited: Nov 24, 2004
  12. Pistolsmith

    Pistolsmith New Member

    Feb 14, 2004
    I already cited my provenance. You are the one who made the counter claims, so the burden of proof is on you.
    I suggest that you look up all of the correspondence between Colts and the Ord Corps and re-read that part about cyanide hardening. Maybe you could write a book about heat treatment of sheet metal. Many machinists and gunsmiths await this information eagerly, since cyanide hardening embrittles (case hardens) the surface of low carbon steel and would make it brittle all the way through on the fragile feed lips. Perhaps you have blundered into one of the experiments that failed miserably.
    At any rate, fellahs, don't give a "colletor" a dime for a junk magazine. Buy a good stainless steel magazine from Wilson, etc. and you will insure functioning.
    Colt and most other firearms producers have made "improvements" to their guns that have proved a disaster. Most of the Army's problems stemmed from the fact that instructors were "appointed" when they had no particular talent for teaching and little or no background in engineering.
    And, while you are at it, show me a photo of John Browning dipping a magazine in cyanide. Or making a "two tone" magazine.
    Common sense would tell you that hardening and drawing (what you call "tempering") would have to be done BEFORE the final blueing process.
    Your magazines are still heat damaged and all the rhetoric in the world will not change that.
    A "two tone" magazine is commercial. The magazine is first tank (salt) blued and then the very bottom part is dipped in phosphatizing. An example is the magazines supplied with Series 70 pistols.
    Haven and Belden wrote the best and most definitive book on Colt pistols and revolvers. Published in 1940, it is available at much less than six hundred bucks.
    If Ray Riling Firearms Books finds me a copy of the book you cite, and if I DON'T find all of the things you said.......................................................
    p.s.: Geprge Bernard Shaw was a sonofabitchin' Socialistic one worlder. why are you quoting that rat bastid?
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2004
  13. Pistolsmith

    Pistolsmith New Member

    Feb 14, 2004
    Wrong again, Silver! Ray Riling wants $789.96 plus shipping.
    It's too close to Christmas to squander that much money on a book that will be referenced just once. But, then, you counted on that.
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