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Hello, newbie here. I have been wanting a 1911 for some time and I keep coming back to a Colt, probably because a Colt was my first pistol, a Peacemaker 22mag revolver given to me by my dad. I am sure this question has been posted but I am having no luck finding this info, probably not wording my question right in the search function.

What should I look for if buying a used Colt 1911? I am looking for an original Colt not a parts gun or mix and match of 1911 components, if that makes any sense?

I am looking at a Colt Combat Commander w/ a 7 round mag for about $700. I just want to make sure I am getting a good deal on an original gun.

Sorry if this question has been beat to death but any help or advice or links to help me with my question would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
 

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the easiest and safest way is to bring someone with you that knows Colt 1911s. try for 'new in box', or close to it. don't be too concerned about 'getting that good deal'. in reality, you can never pay too much for a real Colt, sometimes you just buy too early.
 

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Long article, but I couldn't find the original URL....

Buying a Used Semi-Automatic Pistol

by Patrick Sweeney

Buying a used pistol for defense is not difficult. It just takes some persistence and a bit of work.

There are two easy ways to stay safe: shop at a store you know with a good reputation, and buy a model you are familiar with. Buying from someone you met at a gun show can net you a deal. Or a bench queen. Also, if you have no familiarity with a model (Glocks, Sigs, 1911s) then you have to do your homework before buying one. Otherwise you risk finding later you’ve bought something that seemed like a deal but wasn’t.

First, open it to make sure it is unloaded, then give it a look-over to see if it has been abused. I call this the “hammer marks and tire tracks” test. Literal hammer marks, file marks, etc. should be automatic cause for rejection. (Unless what you’re looking for is a gunsmithing project, in which case it may be perfect.) Are all the external parts on it factory, or have some been replaced with aftermarket ones? Open the action and lock it open. Is there daylight coming down the bore? (I kid you not, check for this.) Does the bore look clean and shiny? If not, ask for a brush or patched rod to clean it. If the seller assures you “It will clean up fine” ask again. If he has none, put it down and walk away.

If you’ve gotten this far, ask if dry-firing is OK. If not, again, walk on. Any pistol you are considering for defense is one that will be up to the challenge of being dry-fired. If it isn’t you shouldn’t be looking at it. If the seller is against dry-firing, take a hike. If he truly believes it is bad, you won’t change his mind. If he’s trying to hide something, he’ll never agree that dry-firing that particular model is OK. If at this point you get the impression that I do a lot of walking at gun shops, gun shows, and dealer get-togethers, you’re right. Not only does it reduce the odds I’ll pick a lemon, it improves my negotiating position. As many gun shows now either insist or encourage the use of cable ties to keep actions closed, you’ll have to get the seller to cut the tie off. In gun shops, that won’t be a problem. If the seller tells you that you cannot cut the tie until after you buy, walk not just from the table but out of the show. Tell the ticket-taker on your way out why you’re leaving, and that you won’t be back.

Try the trigger. Do the full drill: ease the slide forward, press the trigger until it drops the action, hold the trigger, cycle the slide, release the trigger to re-set, and dry-fire again. Do it at least a couple of times, and as many times as you need to, to satisfy yourself that the trigger is what it should be. And what would that be? That the trigger pull feels the same every time. That it is within the acceptable parameters for the action. That the re-set distance is the same each time.

Now you’re to the sticking point. To tell more you have to take the slide off. Again, ask. To some dealers you have now become an official pain in the butt. Too bad. We assume that you’ve done your homework and know how. (You should have learned how before getting to this point.) What you’re looking for is evidence of gunsmithing (which may not be bad) and to get a sense of the round count. Look to the feed ramp area. Polished or not? If polished, have the angles been changed? On a 1911, you look to see that the top edge of the ramp in the frame hasn’t been rounded-over.

On pistols with integral ramps, look for the same, and look to see if the bottom edge and sides have been ham-handedly polished. Look at the breechface. There should be burnishing, where the case heads have hammered the finish off in a circular pattern. The area around the firing pin hole should be smooth. If it is pitted in a circular pattern the diameter of a primer, the pistol has seen an impressive amount of ammo, or a lot of high-pressure (+P or +P+) or reloaded rounds. You’re seeing the results of gas leaks around the primers, eroding the breechface. If the seller asserts “It has had a couple of boxes of ammo through it” while you’re looking at erosion around the firing pin hole, you have a collision between observed reality and sales PR. If I’m feeling particularly cruel, I’ll ask the seller “How much did the guy before you shoot it?” Answer A) “I don’t know” has me bargaining for a high-mileage pistol. Answer B) “I’m the only owner” has me putting it down before walking off.

Look at the trigger parts for evidence of disassembly, polishing, replacement parts, etc. If you see any, ask. As with the round count, the answers you get determine your continued participation.

OK, what you’re looking at has all original parts, hasn’t been messed with, has a bright, clean bore, and is in the caliber and configuration you want. This is where shopping where you know works for you: Does the seller offer any kind of a warranty? Will they fix it there, or send it back to the factory? Is the agreement in writing? What shops can and cannot offer depends on the particular State you live in, and the manufacturer of the product in question. Some States require that any warranty be a full one, and thus no one offers you any help. They can’t. While all manufacturers will fix obvious defects in craftsmanship or materials, some will be more pleasant than others, and some will only do the absolute minimum. Does it come with the factory box? Paperwork? Lock?

If you need a holster, magazines, etc. for your pistol, the time to get them is at this sale. You will be able to drive a better bargain now, rather than coming in a week later. “Hey, I got that Sig last week, and now I need some magazines. Can you knock a couple of bucks off the price?” You’re more likely to get those magazines at “a buck off” while buying the gun.

Immediately go out and test-fire your pistol. (Not in the parking lot, but at the closest range, as soon as possible.) Again, a 30-day warranty means 30 days from the sale, not 30 days after you finally get around to shooting it and finding out that it bites your hands worse than a manic puppy. If something untoward happens, document it. Use your cell-phone camera if you have to, write detailed notes as well. Don’t diagnose, simply observe what happens, or doesn’t happen. Take it back right away.

If everything works just fine, be sure to mention that. Building a relationship with an established gun shop can go a long way to eliminating the chances of buying a lemon.

__________

About the author:
Patrick Sweeney is author of a number of authoritative gunsmithing books, published by Krause Books, and covering topics ranging from handguns to rifles and shotguns. For a list of titles by this author, check Collector Guides & Books: Coins, Knives, Cars, Antiques | Krause Books
 

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If you already have a gun picked out...such as the Commander you mention. Find out the year of Manf from the serial number and try to find a picture of a similar year on the internet to confirm what the gun is supposed to look like when it was new. There are many examples of unmolested guns on the internet. Another good resource is reference books. Charles Clawson has a book on Commercial Colts but it only covers guns up through 1970. Other than the function aspects covered in detail in a previous post...make sure the finish is original and that the parts have not been changed out for aftermarket parts. Some of this knowledge can only be obtained through experience....
 
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