What's a WWI 1911 Worth?

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by Blimp Edwards, Nov 10, 2012.

  1. Double D

    Double D Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Blimp, its pretty common to find these old jewels that have been rebuilt and are not original and are considered "parts guns". My 1918 colt qualifys. While the frame and the slide and many parts are from the correct era, many guns were rebuilt and sent back into duty. They still have the history and are still worth owning but the value is not nearly the same as an original. Alot of people end up buying what the think is an original only to find out later its not. If your looking to own the correct specimen, you do need to educate yourself prior to shopping. If its the history that lures you, a parts gun may satisfy you and be much easier on your wallet. As already stated, many of these parts guns can be had for well under a grand.
  2. Jackman

    Jackman New Member

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    No doubt shooting a piece of history is nice but what if something goes wrong , my 1913 issue 1911 has fired about 800 rds in the last two years while its a blast to shoot I want a modern 1911 so as to preserve the old war dog. I have heard that the forward sight on the early 1911 have been known to fall out :eek: I am always checking the sights ......

    and no I am not up on the differences of the 1911A1 please pass on the info
  3. Double D

    Double D Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Yea, I shoot mine too but not that much. I shoot my newer ones much more.
  4. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I suggest splurging on a copy of Clawson "Collector's Guide to Colt ,45 Service Pistols...."

    Get the Third edition if possible, but either the 1st or 2nd will do. And study them, lincluding the pictures. Then go to gun shows if possible and look at as many pistols as you can, regardless of the era. It might be a good idea to take along someone knowledgeable to help and guide you. Go easy and just look at first until you know what you are looking at.

    There are a lot of fakes out there, some good, but most so atrocious they would fool only the most naive novice. Yet, they apparently sell. I was at a fairly recent show with a friend who wanted to buy a 1911 and found what he thought was a good one. I was able to point out that 1) the slide was from a Colt 1911, while the frame looked like a 1911A1, but 2) the serial number and marking on the frame were bogus with some of the marking put on by individual letter stamping and the rest missing, while 3) the parts were a combination of wrong era and repro parts. It took literally one look to dismiss the gun as junk and point my friend at another genuine gun for not much more money,

    But knowing the things that were wrong did not come by magic; I own a number of those guns, have worked on many more as a GI armorer and gunsmith, have seen and studied hundreds, and have books for reference if necessary.

    Jim
  5. Blimp Edwards

    Blimp Edwards New Member

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    Thanks for the book reference. Sounds like a must-have.

    The "parts gun" sounds very intriguing, especially at under a grand. Though if they were gone through and recommisioned for service, does that mean they're more like a 1911A1 at this point? I'd really like one that still has the original 1911 characteristics.

    Jackman, I'm sure I'm the last person to answer this question, but there are a few differences between the original 1911 and the 1911A1, which came out in the mid-20s. The most notable to my eye is that the 1911 has a larger trigger, like yours. Compare yours to most other 1911s, which are generally A1s. The "diamond" grips are also generally typical of the original 1911. There are a handful of other, less obvious changes as well, like a slightly different hammer and a bigger ejection port.

    Dan
  6. Blimp Edwards

    Blimp Edwards New Member

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    Anyway, I'm generally a sucker for old things. Even when I buy a book, I usually search online for a 1st Edition. Just how I am I guess. I restore vintage cars for a living, so it's part of every day life for me. A WWI pistol would be more a collectible than a weapon used for self-defense or target practice. I've got a couple others for those purposes (even though I'm very new to the handgun scene overall). My finances don't allow it much, but I'm a collector at heart and it's always the older the better for me.

    Dan
  7. Blimp Edwards

    Blimp Edwards New Member

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    So these "parts guns" that may have started life as an original WWI era M1911, are they usually advertized as such or do I just need to know what I'm looking at?

    Dan
  8. bobkk

    bobkk Member

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    When I was in Germany if we had orders to go stateside. We could go to Frankfurt and buy a 45 from the Army and bring it home. I didn't buy one. Dumb on my part. That was 50 some years ago.
  9. Double D

    Double D Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You need to know what your looking at. Many times, just having serial numbers will help. You may come across a colt slide and a frame thats marked us property and run the numbers to find the frame is a remington rand. Its actually very common. Sometimes people dont know and sometimes they arent saying....
  10. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Hi, Blimp, the Colt 1900, based on a Browning 1897 patent was the first auto pistol to use a slide, which was Browning's idea, but the FN 1899/1900 pictured is a different gun and does not use a slide. It was a clever design but, AFAIK, a dead end.

    Jim
  11. Blimp Edwards

    Blimp Edwards New Member

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  12. ozo

    ozo Well-Known Member

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    "I'm trying to get a feel for what I need to save up. I know that I can find them online for asking prices in the $1500-$2500 "---Blimp Edwards

    You already know the answer....
    Do you want one for nostalgia reasons,
    a collection, ..etc?
    If not, I suggest a more modern arms.....

    edit:
    Phillippines made 1911's are clones, but awesome shooters.
    Today, 1911's are abundant.....and priced from OK
    to WTF......
    only one way to know.....buy a s**tload of them....
    ask Dan....
    If you only want one....take Dan's advice in choosing.
    He is our resident 1911 freak...er, I mean aficianado.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2012
  13. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Hi, Blimp,

    My bad. I should have said the FN 1900 does not use the type of slide used on other Browning pistols that is an inverted "U" shape coming down over the whole top of the gun. The 1900 slide is partly inside the frame and uses a separate breechblock held in by screws, unlike the one piece slide/breechblock use on other Browning guns.

    I do note on one site the old myth that a Model 1900 was used to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand, starting WWI. Not true. The pistols used by the assassins were Model 1910 Brownings in .380 caliber.

    Jim
  14. Blimp Edwards

    Blimp Edwards New Member

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    Gotchya.

    So is there a good resource besides Clawson's Collector's Guide to Colt .45 Service Pistols? When you said splurge, I didn't think you meant to the tune of $250. Why is this book so expensive?

    So if I were to show you this gun, what stands out to you? Granted you only have these pictures to work with. http://www.gunsamerica.com/997094428/This_US_ARMY_1911_COL.htm#

    Dan
  15. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Wow! I knew the so-called "big book" was into fancy prices, but if the small (146 pages) book is up that high, I am really astonished.

    That gun pictured looks good to me. My only reservation would be on the grips which look too good and are the wrong color. The barrel seems to have been filed or sanded in some way I have not seen before, partly obliterating the P and H marks, though some at that time were pretty rough.

    Jim
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