SOLD FOR: $4051
Model: Government Model
Serial Number: W101739
Year of Manufacture: Ca. 1918, shipping of these models was not sequential and the first serial range including this serial number shipped to England was in June, 1918 (“The Government Models”, William Goddard)
Caliber: .455 Webley Self-Loading (Eley)
Action Type: Single Action Semi-Auto with Removable Magazine
Markings: The right of the frame is marked “GOVERNMENT MODEL / W101739”. The right side of the slide is marked “COLT AUTOMATIC / CALIBRE 455”. The left side of the slide is marked “PATENTED APR.20,1897. SEPT.9,1902 / DEC.19,1905. FEB.14,1911. AUG. 19, 1913” and “COLT’S PT. F.A. MFG. CO. / HARTFORD, CT. U.S.A.” and at the rear of the slide with a British crossed-pennants mark. The bottom of the slide is marked “E” and “Q”. The top of the frame is marked “E” behind the disconnector. The left of the trigger guard has “VP” in triangle and “7”. The left of the frame has broad arrow over crossed-pennants and a crown over “G2 / A” marking. The bottom of the barrel is marked “W” and “P” in front of the link-lugs. The magazine floorplate is marked “CAL. 455 / ELEY” and with a broad arrow.
Barrel Length: 5”
Sights / Optics: The pistol is mounted with a “U”-notched rear sight dovetailed into the slide and a short rounded blade front sight fixed to the slide.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are two-piece checkered walnut with smooth diamonds around the grip screw escutcheons. The grips have light handling wear with a few notable dings and some scattered light nicks, scuffs and scratches. There are some tool marks around the bottom-right screw in the diamond. The checkering is generally well defined. There are no chips or cracks. Overall, the grips are in about Very Good condition.
Type of Finish: Blued
Finish Originality: Original
Bore Condition: The bore is light gray. The rifling is sharp where not interrupted by erosion. There is minor erosion scattered through the bore as well as some minor pitting. In this writer’s opinion, this bore rates a 6 out of 10.
Many military and C&R eligible weapons have bores that will show erosion. This is not only due to age but to the fact that corrosive primers were commonly used in ammunition worldwide. For example, the U.S. used corrosive ammunition throughout WWII. The U.S. military did not begin to phase out corrosive-primed ammunition until the 1950’s.
Overall Condition: This pistol retains about 85% of its metal finish. The finish is thinning at all edges. Most notable finish loss is handling wear in the grip areas and some finish on each side of the slide at the front. Much of the finish loss appears to be from oxidation which was scrubbed out. There are scattered light nicks and scratches. The actions shows operational wear. The screw heads range from sharp to tool marked with strong slots. The markings are clear. Overall, this pistol is in Very Good 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 with a lanyard ring on the floorplate and the top portion left in the white. The magazine has some surface oxidation, operational wear, intact feed lips and a strong spring.
Our Assessment: The 1911 and 1911-A1 pistols served the military of the United States from 1911 to 1985, through two World Wars and the Korean and Vietnam wars. They gained a reputation as a reliable handgun with plenty of stopping power, and are held in high regard by those who have used them. The quality of the pistol was not lost on those from foreign countries, and there have been examples used all around the world. Demand was high enough that Colt chambered their Government model for the British self-loading service cartridge, .455 Webley. There were some government contracts and also many were purchased by British officers who frequently purchased their own service sidearms.
This example has an “E” contract marking on the top of the frame, indicating that it came from a British government purchase during the Great War, ca. 1918. While they are most associated with the Royal Flying Corps and nearly all would end up in the service of the re-named Royal Air Force, this example appears to be one purchased personally by an officer or for another branch of service. It shows quite light wear considering its age and service, retaining about 75% of its original blue finish, a decent bore and strong mechanics. This will be a great pistol to add to a WWI, British, or Colt collection. If you have a good source of .455 Webley Self-Loading ammo, it could also be a fun shooter. Please see our photos and good luck!
Please forgive any typos, I was educated in California -Bud