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Old 09-26-2010, 14:14   #27
bac1023
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: PA
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Now I’d like to discuss some 1911s that are no longer available and haven’t been for some time. These are guns at various price points that can be found on the used market, albeit a couple may be a bit difficult to find. I have a strong attraction to rare and/or hard to find 1911s and, due to that, did not want to leave these completely out of the guide.





Colt Gold Cup National Match

I’ll start by talking about a true classic from yesteryear. This is a pre series 70 Colt Gold Cup National Match. In its day, it was probably the best 1911 you could buy. Its got the old royal blue finish, which is one of my favorite finishes of all time. The gun itself is void of the “Gold Cup” marking and is only labeled as such on the box. These guns were produced from 1957 to 1970, with mine being born in 1967. In 1970, the Series 70 Gold Cups were introduced. Its difficult to report on this Colt, because it hasn’t been shot since it put rounds through the test target six years before I was born. Still, I felt it prudent to bring it up because I have shot old Gold Cup National Match 1911s in the past and can say that they’re a real pleasure to shoot. There’s just something classic and nostalgic about them and they fire with utmost accuracy. This is and always will be a safe queen for me, but wouldn’t hesitate to buy another in “shooting” condition. In typical Gold Cup National Match fashion, it has a GI style thumb safety, hammer, and grips safety, with a wide adjustable trigger. The rear sights are Elliason adjustable target sights and give a great picture. The top of the slide is raised, flattened, and serrated and the ejection port is lowered and flared. Up front, you’ll find a standard GI setup and a unique inward angled recoil plug, which I always thought looked great. The front strap and mainspring housing are vertically serrated and the grips are classic checkered walnut with gold Colt medallions. I think the old Gold Cups were some of the most beautiful 1911s ever built.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 37.4oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $2000


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AMT Hardballer

Next we will discuss a 1911 that was questionable in terms of quality, but somewhat iconic, in my opinion. That would be the AMT Hardballer. I bought this gun simply to have an example of the first full stainless steel 1911 built. Modeled after the Colt Gold Cup, the Hardballer shares its appearance, but certainly not its quality. Like the Gold Cup National Match, this gun has a GI style hammer and grip safety, a wide adjustable trigger, a raised, flattened, and serrated slide top, and vertical serrations on the front strap and mainspring housing. The ejection port is lowered, but not flared, unlike the Gold Cup. The grips are fully checkered walnut and the sights are adjustable. Strangely, the slide serrations are vertical, while the Gold Cup’s are angled. I find that odd since the Hardballer is really the only Gold Cup clone ever produced. You would think the serrations would match. As far as quality issues are concerned, the Hardballer suffered from serious galling problems, due to the softness of the stainless steel used for guns in the early 1980’s. Shoddy slide to frame fitting probably made the galling even worse. In addition, Hardballers were known for their heavy triggers and its not uncommon for them to be 8 to 10lbs in weight. As far as my gun is concerned, I don’t shoot it. Its an early model that’s only been shot at the factory. I’d like to keep it pristine and, more to the point, I really have no desire to bring it to the range. It’s a nice looking 1911 and that’s about it. I paid $600, if I recall correctly.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 37.0oz

Slide: Cast stainless steel

Frame: Cast stainless steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $500-$600


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Valtro 1998A1

Next up is a rather special 1911 in the Valtro 1998A1. These guns were introduced in 1998 and built on a limited basis until 2004 or so. The Valtro was the brainchild of master 1911 smith John Jardine. They were produced in Italy and inspected and “tweaked” by John during importation. Jardine also built some full house customs using a Valtro for a base. Its hard to classify the Valtro in stock form. The website, which has been frozen in time since 2003, calls them “near custom” production guns. I personally would rank them, from a quality standpoint, just a half notch below the popular semi custom guns built today, such as a Wilson CQB. Prices were between $1200-$1500 in 1998, which wasn’t cheap for the time. Today, due to the rarity, you’re going to pay about $5000 to get a pristine one. In fact, one sold in Gunbroker last year for over $4500, I believe. That’s if you can find one, I haven’t seen one for sale anywhere since then. Not many have them in the first place, and those that do, don’t sell. As far as the gun itself is concerned, its decked out with all the modern options you see today, including an ambi safety, a 30lpi checkered front strap and mainspring housing, a flattened and serrated slide top, a very high hand frame cut, and a full length guide rod. The finish is a high luster bluing and the gun features an attractive French border around the slide and a recessed slide stop. The Valtro also has a slight “melt job” on the sharp corners, which gives it a unique look. The grips are classic looking double diamond checkered walnut with Valtro medallions and the sights are adjustable target style. Slide markings are well done and my gun has the smaller text, done on the later guns compared to the model pictured on the website. I like the smaller markings better. Specifically, the left side simply states “1998 A1”, with the Valtro logo before it. The right side states “Custom 45ACP”. Overall, I feel this is a beautiful 1911 with a certain exotic flair. Its not one you really ever see. In fact, this is the first and only Valtro I’ve seen in person. I bought it still unfired from a fellow GT member for $4500 earlier this year. I have not had it to the range yet, but plan to some day. Value on these keeps increasing.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 39.6oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: Italy

Approximate 2010 street price: $5000

http://valtrousa.com/photogallery/ticevaltro1.html


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Unertl Ordnance DLX


Unertl Ordnance’s bread and butter was the high end firearm optics business and they supplied military branches with top notch rifle scopes for many years. They also built three top tier 1911 models, before folding and going out of business completely. These models were the UCCP, DLX, and MEU-SOC. The UCCP or Unertl Concealed Carry Pistol, was a commander model. The MEU-SOC or Marine Corps Expeditionary Unit, Special Operations Capable was a railed full size government model. The DLX or Deluxe is basically the MEU-SOC without the rail, and that’s the model I have. Unfortunately, I don’t know a whole lot about the Unertl line, other than they’re top quality 1911s in every way. This gun has all the bells and whistles, including 24lpi checkering on the front strap and mainspring housing, an ambi safety, a magwell, a lanyard loop, and a high frame cut. The bull barrel setup of this gun gives it the tightest front-end lockup of any 1911 I own, equaled only by my Infinity. The frame to slide fitting is also rock solid with no movement whatsoever. Grips are a hard black rubber, which I don’t care for aesthetically, but give a nice firm grip. The extractor is the external type, with a heavy-duty look to it. The combat style night sights are unique to Unertl and give a terrific sight picture and it comes with my favorite trigger type, the short solid aluminum. The frame is Caspian, but I heard they were forged. This 1911 is certainly one of the best shooters I own and I’ve taken it to the range dozens of times now. Its one of my favorites and it’s a real shame they aren’t available anymore. Its also very difficult to find them on the used market, but if you do find one, I highly recommend you give it serious consideration. For the most part, prices are $2000-$2500, depending on condition. I haven’t seen one for sale in quite a while now, to be honest.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 41.4oz

Slide: Forged carbon steel

Frame: Forged carbon steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $2000-$2500


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Detonics ServiceMaster

The last 1911 I want to look at in this guide is another older model, in the stainless Detonics ServiceMaster. Detonics has changed ownership a couple of times and has been in and out of business. What they did mange to do throughout all that was build quality 1911s. This pistol was state of the art back in the day and built for carry when there really wasn’t a whole lot of choices in a commander sized 1911. I find this gun a great shooter and very reliable. The ejection port is cut lower than most on the Detonics. This 1911 utilizes a bull barrel setup that locks up well and possesses a tight frame to slide fit. The barrel itself is step-crowned for a unique look. The single sided safety is GI style and the magwell is nicely beveled. The top of the slide is flattened, but not serrated and the rear of the slide is scalloped. This was done to make the hammer easy to cock during the days when it was more common to carry with the hammer down on a loaded chamber. The steel mainspring housing is checkered, but the front strap is smooth. There is a high cut radius under the trigger guard and between it and the beavertail; my grip on the ServiceMaster is comfortable. The sights are simple GI style, though slightly larger for a decent sight picture. I love the vertical serrations and the handsome rosewood grips with the Detonics logo. The slide roll markings are extremely well done with “Detonics USA ServiceMaster” on the left side and nothing on the right. The short solid aluminum trigger (my favorite style) tops off what I consider to be a beautiful commander. A Detonics ServiceMaster in like-new condition, such as this one, will run about $1000.

This 1911 uses no firing pin safety.

Unloaded weight: 38.8oz

Slide: Forged stainless steel

Frame: Cast stainless steel

Country of origin: United States

Approximate 2010 street price: $1000


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Conclusion


First I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to read this guide, whether it be in full or in part. I'm hoping that all of you found it and will continue to find it useful for basic information about the 1911s you may be considering. I will continue to update this guide as I finish off my 1911 collection in the future, as I do plan to purchase a very select few additional models in 2011 and beyond.

I'll also add that, as basic as the information is, I'll be happy to add further detail about any particular model in question if asked. I had to limit the initial entries in order to keep the size of this guide in check. Therefore, if you need extra info or have a question either post it in this guide or send me a PM.

Having said that, there are limits to this report and those limits are based on my collection. I mentioned this in the introduction. As you may or may not have noticed, you didn't see any railed models listed here. I’m not a person that cares for or has use for a railed 1911. Due to personal preference, you also don't see calibers other than 45ACP or frames smaller than full size. For this reason among others, and as I also mentioned in the intro, this guide is meant to be interactive. I would really like and appreciate some entries from our many experienced members. Following my format is certainly not a requirement. In fact, someone else may have a better system for posting information of this type. The bottom line is that I don't want this to be Brian's 1911 Buyer's Guide; I want it to be Glocktalk's 1911 Buyer's Guide. Several opinions are certainly far superior to one.

Finally, here are some thoughts on the 1911 "food chain" as a whole. While everyone is capable of building a lemon, the saying "You get what you pay for" holds a great deal of weight in the 1911 world. The difference in craftsmanship, fit and finish, and durability, as you climb the scale is vast. However, the price of admission does not need to be high. If you want a good range 1911 for the price of a Glock, the entry level enhanced category is the place to start looking. If you want something classic and authentic looking, pick out a GI replica. If you want to one-up your buddy at the range, check out the high-end production guns. If you want a state of the art, top tier model, figure out which semi-custom is for you and order it to your liking. If you want one of the best money can buy, talk to a top smith like the individuals mentioned here and get on the waiting list.

The point is that there's something for everybody in the 1911 world and I encourage those without one to give it a try. You won’t know how you feel about the platform until you get some extensive trigger time. I'm plenty confident you'll be happy you did.

Below you’ll find a family picture of all my 1911s. There’s no need for a legend because they’re lined up in the exact order they appear in this guide, starting with the top left corner and working left to right, top to bottom. Enjoy.

Thanks for your time.

Brian


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