Sold For: $8033.88
Make: Rock Island Arsenal
Model: M15, General Officer’s Pistol
Serial Number: GO 53
Year of Manufacture: Ca. 1973
Caliber: .45 ACP
Action Type: Single Action Semi-Auto with Removable Magazine
Markings: The left side of the slide is marked “General Officer model / RIA”. The right of the frame is marked “No. GO 53”. The inside of the dust cover is marked with a flaming bomb, the right of the trigger guard has “5”, the top of the slide is marked “P” between the rear sight and ejection port. The barrel’s left link-lug is mraked “M” and “P”, the right is marked “C” in box.
Barrel Length: 4 1/4”
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a serrated, ramped blade fixed to the front of the slide. The rear sight is a National Match-style square notch dovetailed to the rear of the slide.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are two-piece checkered walnut. Rock Island Arsenal started with standard Herrett’s stocks, but the left was inlet for a metal plate (should the General wish to have their name marked on the gun, this example is un-marked) and the right was inlet for a Rock Island Arsenal escutcheon. The frontstrap was also checkered by Rock Island Arsenal in the National Match style for additional grip. The top of the right panel was relieved by Rock Island Arsenal so that it would not obscure the serial marking. The grips have minor handling wear, mostly at edges. The checkering is well defined. There are no chips or cracks. Overall, the grips are in about Fine-plus condition.
Type of Finish: Blued, Nickel trigger and barrel.
Finish Originality: Original to assembly by Rock Island Arsenal
Bore Condition: The bore is bright and the rifling is sharp. There is no erosion in the bore.
Overall Condition: This pistol retains about 95% of its metal finish. Most finish loss is on the slide flats toward the front, more notable on the left side. There are a few nciks and scratches including a scratch under the slide stop. The action shows minor operational wear. The screw heads are sharp. The markings are clear. Overall, this pistol is in about Fine-plus condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. It has both a manual and grip safety and the trigger pull is crisp. The slide has nominal play to the frame. We did not fire this pistol. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: This pistol comes with a single 7-round magazine, the uniform of Brigadier General Donald W. Hansen, a letter from the Department of the Army stating that this pistol was issued to General Hansen in 1986 and purchased when he retired in 1991 and a brief biography of Brigadier General Ogbourne Duke “O.D.” Butler, Jr., to whom this pistol was originally issued (“U.S. General Officer Pistols: A Collector’s Guide”, Williams & Brunner, p112). The magazine shows minor operational wear, intact feed lips and a strong spring, in about Fine-plus condition. The uniform has a tear on the inside of the lining in the center, nothing that will show if displayed properly, otherwise showing minor wear, in about Fine condition.
Our Assessment: While Colt 1903 and 1908 models were used as General Officer pistols from 1944 until 1972, both models were discontinued by Colt in the 1940s and the Army’s inventory eventually ran out. Rock Island Arsenal tested some commercial models, including the Walther P38 and Smith & Wesson 39, but eventually decided to produce their own GO pistol by customizing 1911A1 model pistols. Gunsmiths at the Arsenal were already very familiar with this sort of work after producing many National Match competition pistols. The result of their work was the M15. First introduced in 1972, the M15 has a 3/4″ shorter slide, a single locking lug for the barrel, National Match sights, National Match trigger, proprietary guide-rod assembly, recoil spring plug and bushing, and the barrel is nickel plated. The frame was modified with National Match style checkering on the frontstrap, six horizontal serrations on the mainspring housing and Herrett’s grips customized with a name plate and Rock Island Arsenal escutcheon. Only 1,004 were produced before the model was discontinued due to cost concerns. This example, GO 53, was first issued to Brigadier General Ogbourne Douglas. General Douglas was a native of Orange, Texas who served during WWII and after the war rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the Army Reserve, commanding the 420th Engineer Brigade. His service started after the attack on Pearl Harbor and Douglas would go on to land as a Captin with the 12th Artillery Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division on D-plus One. He would go on to be in combat for 9 months, which would have included the 2nd and 99th Divisions’ stubborn defense of Elsenborn Ridge, the only sector of the American front line in the Battle of the Bulge which saw no significant advance by the Germans. After his active duty service, Doublas returned to his alma mater Texas A&M where he would rise to Associate Vice-Chancellor for Agriculture and distinguish himself through contributions to animal sciences. It seems that General Douglas elected not to purchase his issued sidearm when he retired, as the pistol was later issued to Brigadier General Donald W. Hansen in 1986. General Hansen served as Commander of the US Army Legal Services Agency and Chief Judge of the U.S. Army Court of Military Review starting in 1981 and retired in 1991 when he purchased this pistol. General Hansen’s uniform jacket is also included with the pistol. This pistol will make a wonderful addition to a collection of military firearms, especially with its rich history. Please see our photos and good luck!