1951 Commander LW 38 Super Nickel ??
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Thread: 1951 Commander LW 38 Super Nickel ??

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    Art
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    1951 Commander LW 38 Super Nickel ??

    Spotted this today, In the book as a 1951 Commander LW, But what is the finish??
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    Likely a hard chrome slide and no finish on the frame besides a 1000 grit bead blast. If that is correct..the gun has obviously been worked over...with grip safety, trigger and sights changed....then the anodizing is gone and the early frames were pretty soft. Softer yet with no anodizing on them.

    At best with no ramp insert it is a gun I would only shoot ball ammo in. Even the best modern finishes aren't going to do anything for the feed ramp to keep it from getting total beat up with HPS of any sort. When the ramp gets bad enough from HPS being fed or the follower wacking the ramp the gun will fail to feed even ball ammo. You can clean it up but eventually that will change the angle of the ramp and the frame will be unusable without a insert.
    Last edited by Cozmo; 07-10-2019 at 04:15 PM.

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    This frame was made out of the same 7075 Alloy as current production. There is no need for any steel insert. HP anmo that is designed to feed in an autoloading pistol will work just fine.
    webley455 likes this.
    Ken
    "I like Colts and will die that way"

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    Art
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    Well all I can say is who ever refinished it did a real nice job..
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    Well all I can say is who ever refinished it did a real nice job..

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    That one would make good place holder 'till a better one comes along.
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    Having worked with aluminum for many years this frame seems to have been plated. Basic modifications, Pachamyr grips, trigger, and an updated grip safety, appears to be a nice Commander.
    Ken
    "I like Colts and will die that way"

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    Anyone around here would probably prefer it as it was, but it looks pretty good for what it is.

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    This frame was made out of the same 7075 Alloy as current production. There is no need for any steel insert. HP anmo that is designed to feed in an autoloading pistol will work just fine.

    Uh hu. In the last 40 years I can't tell you how many LWT Colt Commanders I have rebuilt from first year guns to modern Colt "enhanced" guns. Or how many nice old 2nd hand Colt LWTs that I have passed on when I jack the slide open and see a bright, white, polished feed ramp.

    Cut the anodizing off the feed ramp and your comment on what will "work just fine" is not my experience. Caspian aluminum frames come with nothing on them..and why they offer ramp inserts. Kimber guns? They are anodized. As are Rugers (Ruger uses ramped barrels or inserts). But not all anodizing is the same, not all forgings are the same even if built from 7075 aluminum.


    From what I have seen the worst thing you can do to a Colt aluminum frame is take the hard anodizing off them. Reason that is a bad idea is there isn't anything hard to go back on them easily. Most anodizing isn't Level III mil spec but II at best that is used mostly for color/cosmetics.

    "
    Coatings of moderate thickness 1.8 μm to 25 μm (0.00007" to 0.001")
    are known as Type II in North America, as named by MIL-A-8625, while coatings thicker than 25 μm (0.001") are known as Type III, hardcoat, hard anodizing, or engineered anodizing. Very thin coatings similar to those produced by chromic anodizing are known as Type IIB."

    Plated? Likely a 1980's rebuild. What was it plated with?

    Typically guns that have had their anodizing removed are simply clear coated with spray paint. Or at best with a modern polymer finish (read paint). Still neither are good/hard enough to run any modern hollow point on the feed ramp of an aluminum 1911 frame long term. As I said HP ammo and original Colt steel mag followers will chew up the ramp. Robar's NP3 (nickel plate) is the best option I found for refinishing a Colt aluminum frame. And it isn't hard enough or thick enough to solve the ramp problem on a aluminum Commander. Plus it is expensive for $ and wait time. It also has a telling yellow cast/color to it. Most durable finish for a Colt aluminum is the original Level III industrial anodizing. Ramp inserts are the answer to the problem we are discussing. Ruger's new LWT Commander 45 comes with a ramp insert. Full ramped barrels are another way to solve the same problem but less reliable than the original Browning design.

    OP's photo shows a nice gun that was rebuilt in a tasteful manner. He asked what the finish was. Having done a few I'd say brushed hard chrome on the slide and a bead blasted frame with no clear coat. Very typical of the date that gun was rebuilt by the parts used...likely a Vedecki trigger, Pachmayr grips. early '80's sights. Colt grip safety. If that is a chip on the chrome back, top, right side of the slide, the chrome shop wasn't very skilled.

    Most have found that using ball ammo in a 1911 works just fine for any social occasion. Clint Smith has been advocating ball ammo in LWT Commanders as long as I can remember. I use to bristle over that some. I don't now. Any time you go outside the original 1911 design in a steel gun there are issues. Thankfully with a little common sense most can be over come simply by choice of the right ammo and mags.

    It is a nice old Commander rebuilt in a tasteful manner. Not saying it is a bad gun just trying to answer the question on what the likely finish is and the ramifications of that finish. The LWT Commander shown below was done in a similar manner around 1999.



    Last edited by Cozmo; 07-11-2019 at 10:41 AM.

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    IMO the frame appears to be electroless finished as does the slide. The slide is obviously plated and the frame could be bare aluminum, and you are correct about the bead blast.

    The magazines that caused problems were the Devel/McCormick and they could nick the feed ramp, but below where the bullet feeds. I could be wrong but believe this was only an issue with the .45 magazines as the side ribs in a Super mag would prevent the follower from tipping forward. I don't have a McCormick 38 Super magazine, but the black frame pictured looks like it has a nick from something, but not a factory type magazine follower.

    What HP bullets are available for the .38 Super. the old Winchester HP load was the same lead tipped bullet used in the 38 Spl & .357. Silvertips, Hornady XTPs. The old Remington HP was nothing but a MC bullet with a hole in it.

    Both frames have had HP bullets shot in them, granted most of my shooting is with MC, but feed ramps look fine to me. The XSE frame is in fact electroless, the other an early 1970's.

    HPIM4339 (2).JPGHPIM4340.JPGHPIM4341.JPG
    Ken
    "I like Colts and will die that way"


 
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