SOLD FOR: $12126
Serial Number: 3905
Year of Manufacture: June, 1912
Caliber: .45 A.C.P.
Action Type: Single Action Semi-Auto with Removable Magazine
Markings: The left side of the slide is marked “PATENTED APR.20.1897 / SEPT.9,1902. DEC.19,1905. FEB.14,1911” and “COLT’S PT. F.A. MFG. CO. / HARTFORD, CT. U.S.A.”, with a circled Rampant Colt logo at the rear of the slide. The right side of the slide is marked “MODEL OF 1911. U. S. ARMY”. The right side of the frame is marked “No. 3905”. The left side of the frame is marked “UNITED STATES PROPERTY” and behind the trigger with a circled “WGP” (Major Walter G. Penfield, Colt1911 Pistols 1909-1914). The underside of the barrel in front of the lug is marked with “3” and the rear face of the barrel hood is marked “H” (horizontal, with serifs). The top rear face of the slide is marked “H” (horizontal, with serifs). The flat on the top rear of the frame is marked “H” (with serifs) and “5”. The flat on the underside of the slide is marked “Z” at the front and “2” at the rear.
Barrel Length: 5”
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a short-rounded blade. The rear sight is a round-top “U”-notch dovetailed into the slide.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are checkered walnut with smooth diamonds around the grip screws. The grips have fairly even light handling wear, more notable toward the bottom of each panel. There is a patch of compressed checkers on the left panel in front of the top diamond. The left panel has a very minor loss at the bottom-front corner. The checkering is generally well defined. There are no cracks. The grips rate in about Very Good condition.
Type of Finish: Blued
Finish Originality: Original
Bore Condition: The lands are mostly bright, the grooves are gray. The rifling is strong. There is light-moderate erosion scattered through the grooves with infrequent minor pitting along their edges. In this writer’s opinion, the bore rates about 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.
Overall Condition: This pistol retains about 65% of its metal finish. The finish is thinning at all edges. The most notable finish loss is in the handling areas, with the frontstrap showing aggressive cleaning surrounding some surface erosion. There is wear along the left of the slide above the flat and on the top of the slide in front of the ejection port. There is finish wear on each side of the dust cover and each side of the plunger housing on the slide. There are scattered small nicks and scratches including a very light “idiot mark” under the slide stop on the left of the frame. There is some minor surface oxidation, including on the sides of the frame under the grips. The action shows operational wear. The screw heads range from sharp to tool marked with serviceable slots. The markings are clear. Overall, this pistol rates in about Very Good condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The slide has minor play to the frame at the rear, a little more at the front. The trigger is crisp. We have not fired 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, a brown leather Model 1912 flap-holster, brown leather Model 1912 magazine pocket (pouch), a brown leather sword belt, and a Model 1902 Army Officer’s Sword.
The magazine is an early-style two-tone, exposed floorplate, with lanyard ring. As was common with this model, the right-rear feed lip is cracked. The magazine otherwise shows standard operational wear and some minor surface oxidation.
The holster is marked “R.I.A. / 1912 / T.C.C” on the rear of the swivel. The holster shows scattered light-moderate wear, most notable on the swivel where the metal hanger is installed, there are some broken stitches at the hanger and where the swivel meets the body of the holster. The leg-strap shows slightly less wear and stronger color than the holster.
The magazine pocket is an early-style without a rim on its American Eagle snap, marked “ROCK ISLAND / ARSENAL / 1913. / T.C.C.” on the back of the belt-loop. The top of the flap has been hand-carved with “B. 6. P. A.”, going through in some spots. The pocket shows light-moderate wear, a few broken stitches and verdigris at the metal components.
The belt is marked “RICHARD KINGDOM / MAKER / NEWARK, N.J.” next to the buckle on the exterior, the interior has what appears to be the same signature hand-written twice. The metal hanger for the sword is marked “THE PETTIBONE BROS. / MFG. CO. / CIN’TI.O”. The belt shows similar wear to the other leather items, with intact stitching and some verdigris at metal parts.
The sword is marked “RIDABOCK / & CO. / NEW YORK / N.Y.” on the left ricasso. The sides of the blade have decorative etching with an American Eagle on the right and “U.S.” on the left. The back of the grip is engraved “A Token of Appreciation From Service Battery 156 F. A.”. Included with the sword is a metal scabbard and leather lanyard.
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 design was the end-result of a series of developments by famous gun designer John Browning, starting with the Model 1900. The advances made by Browning were revolutionary at the time, and were so successful that they are considered commonplace today. Browning not only developed first a pivoting and then a tilting barrel to allow for a locked system, he developed the concept of “the slide”, which is now synonymous with semi-automatic handguns.
This is a Colt Model 1911 that was made in the first year of production, 1912, part of a 200 gun shipment June 17, 1912 to Springfield Armory. Collectors take note, this pistol has a raft of early features. The guide-rod is the early “long-leg” style, the recoil spring plunger does not have a punch-hole, slide and barrel both have the early horizontal “H” mark with serifs, the mainspring housing pin is convex on each end, even the magazine is the early style with an exposed floorplate. The magazine catch lock began life as a dimpled lock, but has a slot cut in it, which would be proper for early-mid 1912 production. The pistol is in Very Good condition with 65% of its blue metal finish remaining, the bore is in pretty darned good shape for a 111 year old service pistol and the mechanics are still strong.
Perhaps as exciting are the accessories included with the pistol. A 1912 dated M1912 holster and 1913 dated M1912 magazine pouch, both produced by Rock Island Arsenal, as well as a Ridabock M1902 officer’s sword, scabbard and period belt. The sword itself has been inscribed as a gift from Service Battery 156 of the Field Artillery. Even without these accouterments, this would be a fantastic early 1911 to add to any collection. That you will be able to display with holster, pouch and sword only makes it more desirable. This pistol is destined for a high-end Colt or U.S. small arms collection. Please see our photos and good luck!
Please forgive any typos, I was educated in California. -Bud