SOLD FOR: $4320
Make: Union Switch & Signal Co.
Serial Number: 1084591
Year of Manufacture: 1943
Caliber: .45 ACP
Action Type: Single Action Semi-Auto with Removable Magazine
Markings: The left side of the slide is marked with a “USS” monogram logo and “U.S. & S. CO. / SWISSVALE, PA. U.S.A.”. The left of the frame below the magazine release is marked with a “P” acceptance proof, there is another “P” on the top of the slide in front of the rear sight. The left side of the frame above the magazine release is marked with circled “R.C.D.”. The right side of the frame is marked “UNITED STATES PROPERTY / No 1084591”, “M 1911 A1 U.S. ARMY”. The left link-lug of the barrel is marked “P”, the right is marked “HS”. The top of the floorplate toe is marked “L”.
Barrel Length: 5”
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a short blade with a serrated, ramped rear face fixed to the slide. The rear sight is a square notch dovetailed into the slide.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are two-piece checkered brown Keyes Fibre panels with reinforcement ribs on the inside but without reinforcement rings around the screws (early-style). The grips have no notable wear or damage, only light handling marks. The checkering is well defined. There are no chips or cracks. Overall, the grips are in Excellent condition.
Please note: The bottom-left grip screw is seized in its bushing, turning the screw turns the bushing in the frame. The bushing and frame threads are intact.
Type of Finish: Du Lite
Finish Originality: Original
Bore Condition: The bore is gray with sharp rifling. There is light erosion scattered through the bore with infrequent minor pitting in the grooves. In this writer’s opinion, the bore rates 5 or 6 out of 10.
Overall Condition: This pistol retains about 70% of its metal finish. The finish is thinning at all edges. There is scattered light finish wear on the slide and handling wear in the grip areas. There is scattered minor surface oxidation, infrequent minor erosion, and some voids in the finish where it appears that previous oxidation was scrubbed out. There is some light wear and oxidation covered by the grip panels. There are some scattered minor nicks and scratches with an “idiot mark” under the slide stop on the left of the frame. The action shows operational wear. The screw heads range from sharp to tool marked with usable slots. As noted above, the bottom-left grip screw is seized in its bushing. The markings are clear. Overall, this pistol is in about Very Good condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The trigger pull is crisp. There is very minor play between the slide and frame. This pistol has manual and grip safeties. 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 MS Little magazine, a brown leather M1916 holster, cased Bronze Star medal and ribbon, Good Conduct lapel pin, cased Purple Heart medal and ribbon, and a notarized letter of provenance from the widow of its previous owner.
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. As in the Great War, production demands of WWII required many manufacturers to produce military equipment for the war effort. While much of the small arms production was performed by arms manufacturers, there were also contracts that went out to other firms.
As the name suggests, Union Switch & Signal Co. produced switches and signaling equipment for railroads. They received a contract to produce 200,000 1911-A1 pistols, though the contract would be shortened with only 55,000 delivered to the government. This makes the US&S 1911-A1s the second rarest of all the manufacturers, behind only Singer who developed the educational material to allow non-firearms manufacturers to swiftly tool up to produce 1911 pistols. It is believed that when the drawings were originally delivered to US&S, the “P” proof mark on the slide was not included, leading to the early production US&S pistols not having the mark at all. When this was discovered, Ordnance requested that the marking be added to the pistol, but it appears that the location was not clear, with interim production guns, such as this one, having the marking notably left of center. The later production pistols had the marking in the same location as other makers.
This example is a wonderful find for collectors not only for having its original DuLite finish and proper parts, but also due to the included letter of provenance. According to Zada Miller-Tear, this pistol was brought back from WWII by her husband, Corporal Thomas Harry Tear. Son of Harry Tear and Maude Winchester Tear (yes, those Winchesters), Thomas was drafted into the Army and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. During his service he earned two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart, with two of these medals included in their cases. Born in Rockford, Illinois, Thomas Tear moved to Washington, DC after the war working for the Clerk of the Court in the House of Representatives. After retiring he moved to Virginia and he was laid to rest in the Culpeper National Cemetery in Culpeper, Virginia. Corporal Tear’s Union Switch & Signal 1911A1 shows honest wear consistent with his service and will display well with his medals. This pistol should garner a lot of interest from the collectors of WWI and WWII pistols, and 1911s in particular. Please see our photos and good luck!
Please forgive any typos, I was educated in California. -Bud