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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello I'm new, this is my first post. Here are some pictures of an original Colt 1911, SN 18,XXX. I believe that it was manufactured sometime in 1913. My delima is this. I purchased this handgun about five years ago for approx. $750, I have been shooting it for nearly the whole time I have had it. I have been toying with the idea of sending it in to Doug Turnbull for a complete restoration, I really love the way these look after he has redone them. I would appreciate it if you could look at the pictures and tell me if you think that the handgun is too valuable to have restored. Here is some background that I know of, the trigger, hammer, and magazine were not with the gun when I purchased it. I hunted for these parts for around a year, so they are definitely not original to the gun, but I believe they correct for the serial number that is posseses. The barrel was also not with the gun when I recieved it, it has the H and P stamps on the area visible through the ejection port. I believe that this barrel while old is not entirely correct for this serial number. So knowing all this, is this firearm collectable? I'm going to try one picture and see if it will post. Thank you for your time.

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Welcome to the forum. I think it is great in it's present condition. I would not refinish it. GI collectors will accept period correct parts even if not original. From a collector's view, refinish equals zero finish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
gunfish, thank you for taking time to look and answer. That seems to be the general consensus, I took it to a local gunshop to have it sent to Turnbull around a year and a half ago. I sent it to them to get an appraisal on a restoration, they inspected the gun and quoted $2,200 which seemed pretty expensive. At the time it had the wrong trigger, hammer, magazine, recoil spring guide,barrel and slide stop. They were going to replace the parts with the correct ones as part of the $2,200. It took a while but I managed to find all of the correct parts (per Clawson's book) minus the barrel. It now has the short hammer, long milled trigger, type II keyhole magazine ($300 ouch!), older style recoil spring guide with pointed feet (hardest part to find), and correct Colt slide stop. I believe it is suppose to have the barrel with just a non-serifed "H" vertically on the barrel hood, at least that is what Clawson's book says. Anyone have a ballpark value on this 1911? I've probably got around $1,440 or so into it now, hopefully it's at least worth that much.
 

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I'm with 'gunfish' on this one, I too would leave it. There are "plenty" of Colt collectors out there who would take it "as is".
I showed one here not long ago , in the 54,000 range and was told and shown it should be the "H" and "P" markings on the hood. I could not tell by your picture, but is there a 'circle' around the horse on the left side of the slide? That may be later.(84,000 range)
Anyway ANY 1911 , that low of a number I would NOT even "think' of 'restoring' ( and I used to do this for a living!!) Leave it be and I feel it's worth what you have into it , and more. Just my .02 cents..........

Not knocking 'Turnbulls' restoration as they are one of THE best, but you would end up having a "restoration" of GREAT expense and if you were trying to pull off a "hoax" or scam some-one, I would NOT put my reputation on the line. Yes, we see this all too often and it's "sad".

As for shooting it, it is at the age (beyond) where the metal can become "work hardened" and with heavy , ball loads you may 'crack the slide, we have seen this happen and was told "why". A 'shock' buff and using reduced loads, occasionally, may help, but I for one would "retire" it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
dant, yes there is a circle around the horse on the slide. The circle on the slide ran fron SN 1-20,000. Also, the latest patent date on the slide is Feb, 14 1911. So I believe that the slide could very well be original to the frame as the frame dates from January of 1913. Another indication is the rear sight, it is the earliest type that is round shaped on top which ran fron SN 1-60,000. As far as the barrel is concerned, this is a direct quote from coolgunsite.com "Early Colts from about serial #7500 to about serial #19600 will have barrels with a Gothic “H” (No serifs) on the rear of the barrel hood." I have not been able to locate this barrel, they seem to be very rare.
 

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NO, NO NO! Do not refinish this gun! Also, if you want a shooter, I will trade you a newer, better shooter even up!

In my opinion, spending $2,200 to "restore" this gun will reduce the value of a gun presently worth about that much or more to about $1,000 or so, although there are some buyers who want "pretty" over originality, or do not know the difference, and who would give you your restoration money back.

If you "paid the price" for a keyhole magazine, then you obvioulsy want a correct, original gun, and a "restoration" will not be original.

If the parts are all correct now, the fact that they are not original to this particualr gun will mean almost nothing. Someday, the correct barrel may also show up on eBay so keep looking and be ready to pay the price, since there are many looking for such barrels.

If you want to "restore" a gun to "like new," get a real junker to spend your money on, and sell this one to a collector. As an alternative to that, and less expensive, why not just buy a Colt WWI reproduction, which would be even better than a "restoration" since it would still be "factory original."
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hello JudgeColt, I have decided to follow everyones advice and not shoot it as well as not have it refinished. I also will continue to look for the last piece it needs to make it complete. I just figured that since the parts did not come from the factory with the gun that it was just an old shooter gun. I thought that only factory original guns were collectible.

If I had an old 1911 that was in the condition that I would like I would not shoot it, so I figured that a restored old gun would be the ticket. I have to admit that I have shot this particular gun 1000's of times, it works great. I did not know that it was worth anything, was told it was an old junker when I bought it.

I paid $300 for the keyhole magazine at an antique gun show, did I get ripped off? A gunsmith told me that he see's them for $100 on ebay all of the time, I never have!

As far as the WWI Replica goes, I have one. But I'm actually thinking about selling it. It is a decent copy, but I have noticed things are just not right about it. The slide is not cut right, it looks like a modern slide not a 1911 slide. It's actually at Colt's right now getting the thumb safety replace (I hope), and they have already replaced the slide stop on it. It is still unfired so I should be able to get my money back on it.

I think I'm going to look for an old 1911 from around 1912-1917 that is completely silver to have restored. I know here in town I've seen a lot of old 1911's in gunshops for about $700-$900. Here are some better images, lets see if they work.



 

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I personally would not "restore" any early M1911 or Government Model that was not a total junker. Even an original gun with no finish is becoming valuable as the price of the better ones continues to go up.

The last key hole magazine I recall selling on eBay brought over $300 as I recall. They are not making any more of these, and, as the guns that need them go up, the magazines are dragged along. I would question anything the gunsmith says if he or she thinks they are on eBay for $100 all the time. Don't we wish?!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
JudgeColt,

What type of 1911 should I look for to do a restoration on? Beyond no finish, I wouldn't think that it could be made to look like new. I just can't get passed fakes, repros, knock-offs...I like the real thing. I like the serifed lettering on the old guns, and the new guns have metal piled up around the rollmarks where they did not even polish the slide after rollmarking. I've handled several of Doug Turnbull's restored 1911's at an antique gun show and they are awesome, exactly what I imagine my gun would have looked like in 1913. The reason that I picked the dates 1912-1917 was because in 1918 they went to the "black army" finish, I prefer the finish on the older guns and I want to do an accurate restoration. How bad would a gun have to be to not hurt its value by restoring it? How about a gun that someone already reblued? Would that be a good canidate?
 

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You may do as you please of course, but I love originality so much that a somewhat rusty or no-finish original appeals more to me than a reblued gun. Your idea of selecting an already ruined (refinished) gun is a good one, and I could not disagree with that choice. While I do not understand your desire to spend several thousand for a Turnbull refinish, if that is what you want to do, then an already non-original gun is the perfect candidate.

I know you have said no reproductions, but have you considered one of the new US Firearms Models 1911? They are of the early pattern and are perfect like all US Firearms guns.

Another thought is to sell your present gun and put the money you would pay for the refinish with it and buy a nice original.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hello JudgeColt, I also love originality. I actually picked up my current gun because it looked like an "antique", and that appealed to me. I bought the gun to shoot, as I am not a true collector. I enjoy shooting and handling my firearms, so to pay big bucks for something that I can't touch or enjoy seems silly. I too feel that Turnbull's prices are on the steep side, but his work is impeccable and does seem to hold some value in the firearms community. I can't think of anyone else that I would let touch my 92 year old Colt, although I've heard good things about Bill Adair.

I have noticed the US Firearms 1910 and 1911 models, they have the nice serifed rollmarks and older style bluing. They are pretty pricey though ($1,600 or so).

While I would love to have a 95%+ original, it would be too valuable to shoot.
 
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