Commander LW... Weak alloy?
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Thread: Commander LW... Weak alloy?

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    Commander LW... Weak alloy?

    Got my eye on a 1960's model and keep hearing the alloy is not to be trusted, expect cracking, "they weren't designed to be shot very much" etc etc but this seems to be all talk and no first hand experience... Anyone here have any problems with their Commander? Maybe there were issues early on but by the 60's everything was squared away? Thanks

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    In the 1960's the late gun writer Skeeter Skelton wrote an article addressing two popular thoughts about Colt automatics.
    One was that the Gold Cup National Match was not made to shoot full power .45 ammo and Two, that the aluminum framed Commander was too weak to do much shooting without it breaking.

    To test these ideas, Skelton and a group of volunteers fired 10,000 rounds through each gun.

    The Gold Cup fired all 10,000 with no problem. Skelton noted that the Gold Cup shipped with the same recoil spring as the standard Government Model and a lighter spring for Mid-Range target loads. If the Gold Cup was not intended for use with full power ammo, Colt would not have installed the standard recoil spring.
    Inspection showed the Gold Cup with what looked like only break-in wear.

    The Commander showed a small crack in a non critical area of the frame. They decided that it could have still been fired safely for many more rounds.

    As I recall, since then Colt has increased the strength of the aluminum alloy used in their frames.
    Everyone says the aluminum framed models are really intended to be carried more then fired, but if a 1960's model can go 10,000 rounds I doubt any normal owner would shoot anywhere near that amount, so the question is sort of moot.

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    I prefer the lightweight models above the steel versions due to the fact that I carry my guns both for work and off duty. I have never had a problem with aluminum framed 1911's and at my hourly rate... I don't expect to. If you're the kind of guy who expects to run through 500 round practice sessions every Wednesday evening and again on Saturday morning... I might suggest sticking to something with a steel frame. Then again, if you can afford to spend that much on .45 ACP ammo, you could probably afford to buy a new pistol if your lightweight frame ever breaks. I would have no problems buying a 1960's vintage lightweight Commander in good condition, with the expectation that it last me for either my lifetime, or until it got traded away for the next shiny object that catches my attention.
    skwcoltguy and RedRiverII like this.
    What in the wide, wide world of sports....

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    Thanks guys

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    Quote Originally Posted by dfariswheel View Post
    In the 1960's the late gun writer Skeeter Skelton wrote an article addressing two popular thoughts about Colt automatics.
    One was that the Gold Cup National Match was not made to shoot full power .45 ammo and Two, that the aluminum framed Commander was too weak to do much shooting without it breaking.

    To test these ideas, Skelton and a group of volunteers fired 10,000 rounds through each gun.

    The Gold Cup fired all 10,000 with no problem. Skelton noted that the Gold Cup shipped with the same recoil spring as the standard Government Model and a lighter spring for Mid-Range target loads. If the Gold Cup was not intended for use with full power ammo, Colt would not have installed the standard recoil spring.
    Inspection showed the Gold Cup with what looked like only break-in wear.

    The Commander showed a small crack in a non critical area of the frame. They decided that it could have still been fired safely for many more rounds.

    As I recall, since then Colt has increased the strength of the aluminum alloy used in their frames.
    Everyone says the aluminum framed models are really intended to be carried more then fired, but if a 1960's model can go 10,000 rounds I doubt any normal owner would shoot anywhere near that amount, so the question is sort of moot.
    What he said +1. I have a '51 Commander in .38 Super that I have put 2,500 rounds through in a little over a year that I have had it. I do not know what the previous owner put through it, but I see no visible signs of wear inside or outside other than holster wear. In the last week and a half I have put 750 rounds through a '77 Commander in .45 ACP that I just acquired. Again, I do not know what the previous owner put through it, but there are no visible signs of wear anywhere other than holster wear.
    -Craig

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    My EDC is a 1955 LW Commander, have never had one problem.

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    Had I seen this thread before dfw, I would have noted the Skelton "torture" test he notes. The crack in the frame of the Commander was above the hole where the slide stop protrudes through the frame so as to be activated by the magazine follower. Current production guns have the web above the hole eliminated entirely, so it can no longer crack after extended use.

    If the OP shoots the Commander in question enough to wear it out or break it, just buy another. I doubt that will be necessary.
    Coltsformysons likes this.

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    I saw recently where the pistol in this link had the crack. The Chairman said he continued to shoot the pistol thousands of rounds with the crack. I am still looking for that piece and hope to run across it.//////////////https://books.google.com/books?id=q4...=0CDIQ6AEwBDgK./////////// Found a similar thought with slightly different context than was given in the full article I saw before./////////If Col. Cooper did say,"carried lots and shot little" he violated his own advice. In Oct. 1978 I visited Col.Cooper at Gunsite[not as a student but as an admirer] I spent about 7 hours with him during which time he convinced me that my steel framed Combat Commander was the worst of both worlds,short sight radius with little weight savings over a Government Model. I thought the Combat Commander was the "end all be all" 'til we had that conversation.I asked what he thought about the reliability of the alloy Commander. He reached back and pulled his out of his holster cleared it and handed it to me to look over.I think it was the first "two tone" pistol I had ever held. He had polished the anodize off of the frame[so much for the arguements today about strength imparted by anodize] He said he had no idea of the rounds put through that pistol and the only damage to it was a crack on the left side of the frame at the top of the slide stop hole.He had that crack opened up slightly to smooth it out and had had no malfunctions as a result,and no further cracking. I was privelged to shoot a few mags.through that pistol and was convinced the good Col. was right.I own several pre-series 70 National Match pistols,a few Government Models,4 light weight Commanders,3 Officers Models[one in LW] an Ace and a Defender plus my WWII collection of 10 1911A1s. To this day, my most carried pieces are the XSE Commanders, the LW Officers[with Commander top end,a homemade CCO] and my Defender.My older Colts are not shot much anymore and my WWII pistols are never shot.Col. Cooper was a very persuasive and opinionated gentleman with a huge ego[well deserved] but he was RIGHT. I have never regretted going the Commander[LW] route after that visit and I have never suffered any damage to my alloy framed pistols. BTW:I was an Army Captain at the time,and he probed me about my combat experiences, otherwise he would have probably run me off! Nick
    Last edited by EXFI; 01-13-2015 at 05:22 PM.

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    Thanks everyone

  11. #10
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    If you are concerned about the recoil impact on your lightweight, just add one of the dense gel recoil pads. They are inexpensive and easy to install. They go between the frame and the recoil spring guide.


 
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