I have this old pistol: Colt Commercial Model 1911


Over the years, countless articles have been written announcing the many attributes of the American model pistol of 1911. But the main focus has been on the military versions of this flat-sided warhorse. There was also a civilian counterpart to the M1911, and, although less produced, it represents a significant variation. In fact, just over 336,000 were made before the advent of the 70 Series (compared to 2.7 million M1911s made for Uncle Sam).

Both referred to as the “commercial model” – or in Colt’s catalogs as the “government model” – the civilian version of the M1911 was introduced in 1912 with a series of 1,899 guns. By 1916, the annual production of commercial models had jumped to 47,400, a clear indication of the pistol’s non-military popularity for home defense and recreational shooting. The business model has also found favor with various law enforcement agencies, including the Texas Rangers and the US Border Patrol.

Unlike the coarser bluing of the military M1911s (changed to Parkerizing during WWII), the civilian versions sported a highly polished brilliant blue. Of course, when the M1911A1 introduced new features in 1924, those changes migrated to the business model as well. In addition, until 1950, around serial number 240,000, serial numbers for civilian models had a “C” prefix. In 1950, around serial number 240288, the “C” became a suffix until 1970 when it was completely discontinued, with the start of “70 series” 1911A1.

There was no “United States Property” stamped on commercial weapons, which were initially stamped “Government Model” on the right side of the frame above the serial number. After 1938, this stamping was moved to the slide. By comparison, military guns were stamped “US Army Model 1911” on the right side of the slide. Commercial guns simply had “Colt Automatic, Caliber 45” in this area. The left side of the slide on early military and civilian versions was stamped with a patent date on two lines.

During World War I, a number of commercial models were purchased by officers and NCOs of the American Expeditionary Force to make up for shortages of M1911 military personnel. In addition, during this period, approximately 5,000 commercial guns were shipped to Canada. Production of commercial models was halted from 1943 to 1945 due to World War II, but it is interesting to note that a number of commercial models were re-stamped with military markings to help meet army handgun needs.

This commercial model was one of 50 pistols shipped to Baker, Hamilton & Pacific Co. in San Francisco, California, in 1917. Although it does not have its original diamond stocks, it retains its two-tone magazine, the marks are crisp and, in 75 percent condition, it’s worth $ 2,000 to $ 2,250.

Firearm: Business model
Maker: Colt’s Mfg. Co.
Bedroom : .45 ACP
Serial number.: C93XXX
Manufactured: 1917
State: NRA Very Good (Modern Firearms Standards)
Value: $ 2,000 to $ 2,250

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