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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Can anyone tell me exactly what pieces should be included in a complete boxed Colt .22/45 conversion kit in the brown wood grained box with the yellow end label? The slide is marked " CONVERSION / UNIT" "COLT" "AUTOMATIC / CAL. 22 LR".

Thanks!
Bob Best
 

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This is from memory, so no guarantees.

The slide.
Barrel with the floating chamber.
The special ejector.
Recoil spring.
Magazine.
Instruction pamphlet.
 

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...and

#2 slide stop.

I'm pretty sure you also get a barrel bushing and a recoil spring plug.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi Dr D and Blokey,
Thanks for the replies... You both hit on my problem... Did all the kits contain the same parts when you consider the timespan of production and specifically, should the kit have the slide stop? I've had several kits over the years. Some were bought new and others used. I acquired two used kits in the brown wood grained box recently and neither kit had the same parts. Also, neither kit had a slide stop. That was why I was trying to figure out what went in that vintage of kit. The early serial numbered kits in the old maroon box I know has the slide stop... Thanks for your Help!

Does anyone have a kit they bought new with a slide stop in it???? Thanks! Bob Best
 

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I know the slide stop was part of the kit because the "cog" on the #1 slide stop that comes on a .45 is different and may not properly engage with the conversion kit's .22 LR magazine follower to hold the slide open when the gun's empty.

I should add that in a couple of my Colt catalogs, all of the above items are pictured in the conversion kit.
 

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While your first question was about a specific vintage of Unit, the thread has raised some questions about "all kits" (They are "Units," not "Kits," according to Colt nomemclature) that can be clarified.

"All Kits" would include those from the earliest to the last, which would begin with the 1937 introduciton of the first serial-numbered Units and end with the Ace II Units of the late 1990s.

Pre-War serial-numbered Units have the following parts as listed inside the lid of their black hinged-lid box: (1) Slide Assembly consisting of fixed front sight, adjustable rear sight, extractor, firing pin, firing pin spring and firing pin stop; (2) Barrel; (3) Floating Chamber; (4) Ejector; (5) Bushing; (6) Recoil Spring, Recoil Spring Guide and Recoil Spring Plug; (7) Magazine; (8) Slide Stop. The actual Units contained an instruction sheet folded so as to fit in the narrow box as well.

Early Post-War (still in the narrow black box, hinged-lid style boxes) contained the following: (1) Slide Assembly consisting of fixed front sight, adjustable rear sight, extractor, firing pin, firing pin spring and firing pin stop; (2) Barrel; (3) Floating Chamber; (4) Ejector; (5) Recoil Spring; (6) Magazine; (7) Slide Stop. The actual Units also contained an instruction sheet as well.

Note that the later Units do not have the Bushing (barrel bushing) or recoil spring guide and plug. It was intended that the original, identical centerfire pistol parts be used instead.

All of the Units that followed up until the Ace II units contained the Post-War items in boxes that varied with the box style being used at the time of production. Internal box partitions were dropped with the end of the hinged-lid era. It should be noted that the slide stop was not numbered (Number "2") until much later into production. I am not sure just when, but I believe maybe the late 1960s or early 1970s. I do not have any Units from the 1960s so cannot comment from direct knowledge. I know my early 1970s Unit does have the numbered stop, and my early 1950s Units do not. I believe my Series 80 Unit does have the numbered slide stop, but would have to dig it out to be sure. The Series 80 Units are shipped in a natural color cardboard box with an end label.

The Ace II Units are far different in that they do not have the floating chamber and instead have an alloy slide to reduce weight so as to function without the floating chamber to produce enough recoil energy to move the steel slide. The Ace II Units have the slide assembly (internal parts and sights not listed separately but they are there of course), barrel, barrel bushing, recoil spring, magazine and reduced power main spring housing. Note they do NOT have a slide stop at all, special or not. I always assumed the Ace II Units were made by Ciner (sp?) but now I am not so sure after having compared them to the Ciner "kits" (I think Ciner calls them kits, but am not sure). The Ciner kits use a far different magazine than the Ace II units, which use a metal magazine nearly identical to the late Colt style magazines, and Ciner kits do not use the reduced power main spring housing. Ace II Units come in a plastic box with foam liner and partitions. The instuction booklet appears to be a photocopy, and the toner will stick to the clear plastic wrapper! Ace II Units will work with Series 80 pistols with the firing pin lock.

Other than the rare Series 80 Units, I THINK the Units shipped in the narrow dark brown hinged-lid style boxes with the period gold end label may be the rarest box style. I have only seen one in my time collecting Colts. Does anyone have such a Unit in that style box? I have such a box, but not Unit inside, which surely will be the same as the Units of the same era.

I should mention that Post-War Units can be "aged" by their box styles and whether they are stamped "Colt Manufacturing Company" or "Colt's Pt. F. A. Mfg. Co." The former was used from about 1948 through 1955, and the latter before and after that period. The 1950s instruction sheets usually have a date code as well.

A rare variation is the fixed-sight Model O3151 Unit offered in the 1980s.

There was also a 9mm Conversion Unit intended to convert a .45 ACP pistol to 9mm, but that is a different story.

That is all I know about Conversion Units off the top of my head. I have always loved the idea of these Units, and wish Colt still made them, especially in stainless, which was never done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Judge that's Great and exactly the information I was looking for! I do appreciate you taking the time to dig out your conversion units and telling us about them .... This conversion unit that I have came with a number of "extra" parts, but no Slide Stop. The slide is marked "Colt Pt. F.A. Mfg. Co." Thanks! :)Bob Best
 

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It was late when I answered above, and I realize now that I THINK I know some more about the Conversion Units that I did not mention.

The most important feature not mentioned is the rear sight styles that vary with vintage. The early Pre-war Units with serial-numbered slides have the Stevens rear sight, as do the immediately following identical Units without the serial-numbered slides. These Units also have the machined ejector, and the slides are still stamped Colt's Pt. F. A. Mfg. Co..

Since I have one, there were apparently a small number of Units with the Stevens rear sights and MACHINED ejectors marked Colt Manufacturing Company, which is a Post-1946 marking. To completely confuse the issue, I also have a Unit with the Stevens rear sight and STAMPED ejector with the slide stamped Colt's Pt. F. A. Mfg. Co.. Both are in the narrow black hinged-lid boxes. I assume Colt found some Pre-War parts to assemble the CMC-marked Units with the machined ejector and Stevens rear sight.

The next style used the Coltmaster rear sight and was packed in the rare, narrow dark brown pebble grain hinged-lid box with the dull gold end label, which quickly gave way to the beautiful brown leatherette hinged-lid box. During that box style run, the rear sight was changed to the Accro rear sight in about 1953. The Colt Manufacturing Company name was changed back to Colt's Pt. F. A. Mfg. Co. in 1955, so that represents the next style. About that time, the woodgrain telescoping box with the yellow end label and the green inside came into use. Since I do not have one, I can only try to recall the next style, which I believe to be the more "woody" darker, less shiney woodgrain box with the black interior and yellow end label. That was succeeded by the foam liner woodgrain sleeve box. I assume without knowing that as the sleeve style changed on firearms, it also changed on the Conversion Unit boxes until the Conversion Units were discontinued when the Series 80 pistols with the firing pin lock were introduced. The Series 80 Units were introduced in about 1995 and were immediately discontinued again, to be followed by the Ace II Units of the late 1990s that were discontinued in 1999, along with most of the Colt line.

There are end label variations as well, but, without doing some research to verify my failing memory, I shall pass on commenting on those variations. I think the information I have provided is accurate, but stand to be corrected by anyone with conflicting information.

Since all but the early serial-numberd Units have no serial numbers, I assume it would be about impossible to do much reserach at Colt on these Units and production numbers. I would love to see a well-illustrated book on these Units, but I wonder who knows enough to write it?
 

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JudgeColt,
I think your memory is pretty good! A minor detail--there are several variations on the Stevens sight that aren't well documented but Sheldon ties some of them down in his book on the Super .38's. Regarding a book--Lowell Pauli, historian for the Colt Collectors Assoc. is presently working on a book on the Ace, the Service Model Ace and the Conversion Units. He's been working on it for fifteen years and, when published, it will be the definitive source. There are an astounding number of small variation in these guns/units that aren't documented but Lowell has the knowledge to do it.
Regards,
Kevin
 

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kwill, I know about the Stevens sight variations Sheldon mentions since I have a Bullseye Match Target, a National Match and three Conversion Units with different variations of the Stevens rear sight.

I also am aware of Lowell Pauli, and have talked to him once years ago, but I could not remember how to spell his name so I did not mention it when I ended with my question.

Now for some trivia that has come to my attention since my last post on this subject.

I checked my O3151 fixed sight, round top Conversion Unit (for Series 70) and was surprised to find a bushing! The copyright date on the insturction booklet is 1980. It is packed in the woodgrain Styrofoam liner box (about the size used for Model O pistols). Something I have noticed about all the Units packed in the Styrofoam liner box is that the excess oil put on the contents when packed "melted" the Styrofoam liner causing the tan tissue paper used to wrap the metal parts to become glued to the Styrofoam and, in some places, the Styrofoam is completely dissolved from the oil, leaving a hole in the foam liner.

I then checked the O3009 9mm Conversion Unit (for Series 80) and find it also has a bushing, and the slide stop has a number "3" stamped on it. Another detail I had forgotten about the 9mm Unit is that it has the Gold Cup slide configuration with the raised rib with the tiny grooves in it. The rear sight is the Accro. The copyright date on the instruction sheet is 1983. The box is a very long Styrofoam liner box, long enough for an 8-inch Python. It has the same "melted" foam liner issues as the .22 fixed sight Unit.

I am ready to conclude that later Units have a barrel bushing, which early 1950s Units do not have.

I look forward to Mr. Pauli's book, where I hope I can finally learn some answers to the questions study of these Units has raised.
 

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I was reading one of your posts and saw that you said colt never made a nickel conversion.. I have found a guy on the internet that has what he says is a nickel conversion is that possible. I also saw a colt ace in factory nickel for 2750.00
What do you think they legit?
 

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Some say never to say never in regard to Colts. While no Conversion Units were ever cataloged in anything but blue, I suspect Colt made some in nickel. The problem is, how do you document it? A factory order invoice or the like is about the only way I could imagine. A small "NICKEL" sticker on a 1950s style Conversion Unit box would be another, but stickers can be moved from box to box so that would not be absolute proof. Looking at the quality of the nickel might be a clue, but a good plating shop probably could duplicate Colt quality. From prior discussions of nickel Colt revolvers, we know most have nickel sights, but some do not, so even that may not help to determine originality.

Absent some of these authenticating factors, I would not pay more than low shooter price for it.

Post-War Service Ace pistols are known in factory ColtGuard, and command a large premium. If the gun you mention is bright nickel, I would want to letter it before paying big bucks for it. It is maybe possible, but not probable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hi Judge,

For what its worth... I had the opportunity to buy a Nickel conversion kit about 1 to 1 1/2 years ago when I bought a couple other blue kits. It was a 60s vintage kit based on the box it was in and I feel confident that it was not a re-nickeled blue kit. It carried a $50 premium over the two blued kits ... I didn't have a Nickel .45 at the time so I didn't buy it, just the two blued ones...

I realize this doesn't prove Colt did it, but in my own mind based on my experience, I would say this one was a correct Colt nickel conversion unit. Bob
 
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