WWI 1918 British Royal Air Force Colt Government Model 1911 .455 Pistol C&R

SOLD FOR: $3333.43

LSB#: 221230SP001

Make: Colt

Model: Government Model

Serial Number: W102588

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 / W 102588”. 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”, “COLT’S PT. F.A. MFG. CO. / HARTFORD, CT. U.S.A.” and at the rear of the slide with a rampant colt and crossed pennant British proof mark. The top of the frame is marked “G” behind the disconnector and “8” to the right of the channel for the barrel’s chamber. The left of the trigger guard has “VP” in triangle and “96”. The left of the frame is marked “R.A.F.” and with British proof marks. The right of the barrel at the chamber has three British proof marks, the left link-lug has an incomplete marking. The magazine floorplate is marked “CAL. 455 / ELEY”. The additional included barrel is marked “G” on the bottom in front of the lugs.

Barrel Length: 5”

Sights / Optics: The rear sight is a “U”-notch dovetailed into the slide. The front sight is a round blade fixed to the slide.

Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are two-piece checkered walnut with smooth diamonds around the grip screws. The grips have light handling wear, most notable at the bottoms of the panels. There are some scattered light nicks, scratches and tool marks around the grip screws. 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 of the installed barrel is mostly bright with sharp rifling. There is no erosion in the bore, but there is some stubborn fouling. In this writer’s opinion, the bore rates about a 9 out of 10. This barrel is in better condition that the gun.

The additional included barrel’s bore is gray. The rifling is sharp where not interrupted by erosion. There is some scattered erosion and infrequent pitting in the bore, mostly in the grooves. In this writer’s opinion, this bore rates a 7 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 80% of its metal finish. The finish is thinning at all edges. There are some patches of finish loss on the slide, some appear to be from scrubbing oxidation/erosion. There are scattered light nicks, scuffs and scratches. There is some scattered minor surface oxidation and spots of surface erosion. The mainspring housing is mostly worn to white. The installed barrel shows little in the way of operational wear, the additional barrel shows wear more in line with that of the pistol’s action. The screw heads are tool marked with serviceable slots. The markings are clear. Overall, this pistol is in about 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. Also included is an additional .455 Self-Loading barrel as described.

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 a “W” serial prefix, indicating that it came from a British government purchase during the Great War, ca. 1918. While there were many different users of this model, 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, as the markings on this pistol indicate. It shows wear consistent with having been carried in service, but still retains about 80% of its original blue finish and strong mechanics. Two barrels chambered for .455 Self-Loading are included, one has commercial proofs while the other doesn’t, and possibly is the original barrel for this pistol. 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

WWI 1918 British Royal Air Force Colt Government Model 1911 .455 Pistol C&R
WWI 1918 British Royal Air Force Colt Government Model 1911 .455 Pistol C&R