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Thoughts on the 1911 of today.

Discussion in '1911 Forums' started by countrygun, May 2, 2012.

  1. countrygun


    Mar 9, 2012
    My wife made the unilateral decision that we "needed" a very nice full sized .45 on the 1911 platform. She came home from a days shopping trip with a blue box that held a used, blued steel Springfield "Trophy Match". Understand that each of us have a "carry Kimber". Mine and older Compact Stainless, hers, and" Utra Raptor II Custom shop" (She just loves saying the whole thing as written). She had learned the joys of the 1911 based .45 from me and had probably gotten tired of hearing about my first Colt series 70 purchased in my youth. It may seem strange to some but we owned no full sized 1911s until the day she bought the Springfield. They just didn't fit into our needs really. We have other .45 acps and our Kimbers for carry and other full szed service pistols in other calibers. I had just rid myself of a full sized frame I was going to build up "someday" but a purpose never really arose. My wife, on the other hand, was really curious about exactly how accurate a full sized could be and wanted something with a similar "OS" to her Kimber to practice with. Well, the Springfield followed her home and I told her that we could keep it, ain't I a nice guy?


    So, this sent me down memory lane. Explaining to her the differences between my earlier gun and this one, and what I did and had done to my first 1911, got me to thinking. It became a challenge to me to try and remember all of the details and, more important, the money I finally had wrapped up in the pistol I bought, when in high school all the way back in 1976/77. (I can't remember if I bought it just before or after New Years Day). At any rate, I decided to dredge my brain and pull up some memories so I could help folks put today's offerings in some kind of perspective by comparing what we went through 35 years ago.

    I will work my way from the "butt" up.

    The stock Colt Series 70 was $195

    No extended "chutes" were available. One 'smith was messing with "Flaring the frame" but most of us settled for a bevel job either DIY or done by a 'smith for $15

    The joys of the flat mainspring housing had been rediscovered. Mil surps were available if you looked hard for about $8

    There were no factory Beavertail grip safeties. You had yours re-shaped and built up and it wasn't cheap $65

    Of course you had to have a Commander hammer to go with the new grip safety $19

    Only Armand Swenson had a pre-made extended thumb safety, your 'smith would weld one up but the Swenson was a bargain at $45

    The factory grips of that era stunk on ice. No checkering and just ugly. Herrets" Shooting Stars" $18

    Front and rear sights were "rudimentary" by our standards and replacements were "limited" to be generous. you could go with a National Match but is was cheaper to go with a higher profile fixed set. It took a 'smith to attach the front since they were all staked back then, no dovetails except on the rear. $80

    You had to have the ejection port lowered of course $15

    You simply had to get rid of the "collet barrel bushing". They did break and really tie up the gun, just often enough to make you concerned. A NM bushing $19

    Why bother unless you were going to upgrade the barrel at about $60

    There were a couple of aftermarket triggers at the time, plus GI surplus in different lengths, or factory NM. The cool kids went with the NM or a top aftermarket $30

    All of the safety work and the trigger engendered a "trigger job" and the "smith would throw the parts in, fit them and "do" the trigger, for $45

    Throating and feed ramp $20

    Now you had a gun that looked like Dr. Frankenstein's scrap pile, but I won't even go into re finishing.

    $439 or so are the damages on top of the $195. It would be years before "Guide rods" or checkering the frontstrap would be options.

    So a young man working a part-time job, (no "self serve" stations in my State) as a "Petroleum distribution facilitator" (pump jockey) was making minimum wage. $2.60/hr. If he worked hard he might have it all together in one summer. Of course he then ran into a stark fact. Back in 1977 nobody was shooting anything like IPSC within hundreds of miles. To add injury to expense, no one was going to let a bunch of high school kids start their own IPSC chapter.

    My first 1911 stayed with me until I was 24 and there was still no IPSC in the area, I was married, had other things to do and got a chance to swap off and end up with a "National Matched" M-1. M-1s of any kind were hard to find during those years(I still have THAT gun)

    I look at this Springfield, and I am convinced that THESE may well be "The good old days"
    Last edited: May 3, 2012
  2. deadite

    deadite Groovy.

    Looks like a great 1911! Good story, too!


  3. bac1023


    Sep 26, 2004
    Very cool indeed :cool:
  4. NeverMore1701

    NeverMore1701 Fear no Evil Platinum Member

    Jun 25, 2004
    Amarillo, Tx
  5. fnfalman

    fnfalman Chicks Dig It

    Oct 23, 2000
    California & New Mexico, US
    Don't forget the funky SW adjustable rear sight option.
  6. countrygun


    Mar 9, 2012

    The trade off is that back then nobody EVER thought about "Front Slide Serrations".:supergrin:
    which makes me wonder something. Since the Springfield has a "chamber window, why does it need the serrations?
    Last edited: May 2, 2012
  7. fnfalman

    fnfalman Chicks Dig It

    Oct 23, 2000
    California & New Mexico, US
    I asked about the usefulness of front slide serration and I was told that I would know it if I were "professionally trained". So, I'm leaving that feature for the experts to utilize.

    I remembered all the funky stuff in the late 1970s/early 1980s when I was in my teen years and crazy about guns. The squared off trigger guard, squared off slides, not to mention the race gun craze of the 1990s.
  8. countrygun


    Mar 9, 2012

    It's going to take a lot of training to convince me that the best way to check to see if the chamber is loaded involves putting my hand near the muzzle. THAT kind of "professionalism" is above my pay grade. It's a wonder that I never thought of doing that even as a "know it all teenager":upeyes: Good thing I never had an accident because I didn't know putting my mitt up there was part of the "safety procedure"
  9. Camu Mahubah

    Camu Mahubah 9=Fine

    Nov 11, 2010
    Awesome story! That my how you post! You reminded me of hearing my dad talk about muscle cars from the '60s...

    Researching the collet bushing drove me mad! Apparently Colt got rid of it a long time ago...I was trying to figure out the difference between the original and the 70 and 80...turns out the 70 is the same as the original after Colt dropped the collet and the 80 has a fancy schmancy firing pin safety that A WHOLE BUNCH of manufacturers use today...
  10. steve1911


    Jul 12, 2004

  11. Folsom_Prison

    Folsom_Prison Brew Crew

    May 2, 2010
    Awesome! Your wife rocks for bringing that home.
  12. fnfalman

    fnfalman Chicks Dig It

    Oct 23, 2000
    California & New Mexico, US
    The collet bushing may not have much on reliability, but it does help with accuracy. It could be one of those individual gun flukes, but the used vintage early 1970s Colt Government Model Series 70s that I just picked up is a tack driver. Maybe it's one of those guns that just came out right, or maybe it's the collet bushing. Who knows, but that mutha shoots sweet.
  13. cyrsequipment

    cyrsequipment Angry

    Aug 8, 2004
    Does your wife have a sister?
  14. countrygun


    Mar 9, 2012

    I tend to think it was a "barrel harmonics crapshoot". Back then, most folks found that the best way to go was a fitted NM bushing, and a "loose" standard was the worst with the collets being all over the board in between, on an individual basis. If you ever have one of the collet fingers break off in the "worst scenario" manner, you won't be quick to forget it.
  15. fnfalman

    fnfalman Chicks Dig It

    Oct 23, 2000
    California & New Mexico, US
    I don't think that I'm going to use this 1970s pistol for any "serious" stuff. I have about sixty other handguns to use before that has to happen.
  16. countrygun


    Mar 9, 2012

    It isn't nice no matter what circumstances it happens in. Very few I knew of broke, all of them in competition or at the range.
  17. 2Dogs


    May 9, 2012
    Xlent story man!
  18. rock185


    Dec 5, 2001
    countrygun, enjoyed your story, and being older than you, can relate to how it was with us 1911 shooters back then. Replacing Collet bushings,lowering ejection ports, better sights,throating, etc,etc. sure sounds familiar. I found that the collet bushings did as they were desiged to do, accuracy wise. But, as you mentioned, they failed just often enough to be of concern.

    I sgree with you, for 1911 shooters, these are "the good old days"...

    ps, I guess every once in a while Colt got the collet bushing/barrel/slide interface just right. My old mid '70s Gold Cup still has the original collet bushing and is still a totally reliable tack driver, as accurate as any Baer,Wilson, Heine, etc. I have ever owned.
  19. countrygun


    Mar 9, 2012

    Thank you.

    To tell the truth, I was having an "old timers" moment ehn the wife brought the Springfield home. I started out on the, "you know what we used to get a 1911 for....." road.

    I counted to ten, sat down and started to write the OP as a "Why are we paying so much for something that used to cost.." Then I started adding it up. Had a revelation. I still think some of it is a bit overpriced given that many of the "special features" are pretty standard. It is harder to find a 1911 with the "old fashioned" safety and no beavertail, than it is to find one with the improvements (yes I know the companies that offer them, but look at the numbers). I mean it doesn't cost a company, who makes the slides, 10 cents more to cut the election port larger or to make an "extended" thumb safety...and on and on.

    All totaled, it is why I got rid of the 1911 frame I had. Other than the hand fitted aspect of lugs, barrel hood, link and the trigger, You actually can't do it cheaper than the entry level, and slightly above entry level, offerings today.
    Even with my experience and a frame in hand I was going to have a heck of a time turning out anything like the Springfield for the same money.

    Besides, there is a little side story. My frame went to a "kid" who just turned 21 and wants to learn all about the 1911 and was already doing his first build and I get to give him advice and watch another generation of 1911 guys come up:supergrin:
  20. CAcop


    Jul 21, 2002
    I looked it up online. The $195 you paid in 1976 would be $738.40 today.