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Discussion Starter #1
Good afternoon folks,
I am confused about exactly what kind of commander I have. It has the CLW prefix and I'm pretty sure it was made after 1970. It's got that deep Colt blueing and hasn't been used much at all. I am told the frames changed in the commanders from the colt aluminum to a steel after 1970? Is this a series 70? Also, what would the value of the pistol be in 99 percent condition? Thank you for your time.

John
 

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Well, John, I'm not this forum's expert but I think I can ad to the confusion! Colt made the first, "Commander's," in, I think, '49, with the alloy frame and steel slide. This was their first attempt at a reduced-weight service pistol. Soon, the Cobra and Agent appeared in the revolver line, using the light weight frames. In the early 70's, (?), Colt put out the, "Combat Commander." It was the shortie slide, rounded hammer, short grip safety tang like the LW Commander but with an all steel frame. There had been some stink about then in the magazines over alloy frames, ala Cobra/Agent/Commander. To my knowledge, Series 70 pistols only apply to full-size Government models using the, then new, finger collet barrel bushing, which has since been scrapped altogether. To my experience, theLWCommanders are always sought after - more than the Combat Comamnders that seem to be very common. The LW's usually are seen with the brown, plastic grips. Jeff Cooper calls them a, "carry much - shoot seldom, pistol." I know I'd come up with some bucks fast if I cam across one. Hope this helps. Pretty sure about my info, but one of the Colt reference books would serve you better than I can. But I am happy to try!
Good afternoon folks,
I am confused about exactly what kind of commander I have. It has the CLW prefix and I'm pretty sure it was made after 1970. It's got that deep Colt blueing and hasn't been used much at all. I am told the frames changed in the commanders from the colt aluminum to a steel after 1970? Is this a series 70? Also, what would the value of the pistol be in 99 percent condition? Thank you for your time.

John
[/QUOTE]
 

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rcwambold has it right on the nose. I will add that there never was a "70 series" commander, all commanders were "pre-70 series" and then went right to the "80 series". The very early Commanders did have a problems with frame cracking but this was corrected quickly, I have a LW commander made in 74 which has served me well for years. The LW commander models don't seem to come up much for sale these days, I check the gun auction and gun sale sites on a regular basis and steel frame commanders are seen on the sites much more often.

45automaticman
 

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Discussion Starter #4
rcwambold and 45automatic man,

Thank you for replying. From your comments I am assuming I have a pre-70 series light weight commander. I also looked around on the web and couldn't really find any of these for sale either. Why do you think that is? I think it's either because there weren't many made or people like these pistols and aren't selling them. I have to admit that it rides pretty nice on the hip and the construction is first rate all the way. Firing it at the range, however, can be a sobering experience compared to my other handguns. Thanks again.

John
 

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You're welcome. I'm gonna' say the LW Commander is the most hard to get of all the Colt autos. Period. Combat Commanders are nice pistols, but there's lots of them - I think from people that didn't realize that they're still a .45 and they've got a major, "boom and buck," factor to be reckoned with. Making it smaller INcreases this - not DEcreases. The gov't .45's are like the poor - "They're with us always." (Ha!)Great guns, but not for everyone, either. I just love Gold Cups, but they get a bad rap from a lot of people who are dissapointed that they don't group as well as some custom jobs. Besides, the sights get in the way for other-than-range use. There never has been much action about Colt .25's, .32's nor .380's. That leaves the LW Commander. I know I'll buy one if I get the chance! <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by johnlindly:
rcwambold and 45automatic man,

Thank you for replying. From your comments I am assuming I have a pre-70 series light weight commander. I also looked around on the web and couldn't really find any of these for sale either. Why do you think that is? I think it's either because there weren't many made or people like these pistols and aren't selling them. I have to admit that it rides pretty nice on the hip and the construction is first rate all the way. Firing it at the range, however, can be a sobering experience compared to my other handguns. Thanks again.

John
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
 

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rcwambold has it about right. The term "Series 70/Mark IV" was created when the collett bushing was introduced in full-size Colt autos in 1970, and was used ONLY on pistols with the collett bushing. The short-barreled pistols (Commanders and Comabt Commanders) and the .38 Super never got the collett bushing, so were never designated as "Series 70." Since there were no "Series 70" Commanders or .38 Supers, there can be no "Pre-Series 70" Commanders or .38 Supers. Therefore, any reference to a "Pre-Series 70" Commander is in error because there were no "Series 70" Commanders.

When the firing pin safety was introduced, all pistols were designated "Series 80," including Commanders and Combat Commanders. That adds to the confusion of some, who assume if all O-frame pistols were newly designated as "Series 80," all of the previous series pistols must have been designated as "Series 70." Not so. The Blue Book makes this error repeatedly, which unfortunately helps perpetuate it.

Some of the confusion comes because a "70" serial number prefix was introduced in 1970 and was used on all O-frame pistols, but that had nothing to do with the collett bushing and the designation "Series 70."

The Commander has always had an alloy frame from its introduction in 1950, and the Combat Commander has always had a steel frame from its introduction in 1971 (not sure of the year without checking, but that is close). The term "Lightweight Commander" did not originate officially until recently (not sure of when without some research, but probably in the 1990s), and it is now stamped on the slides of Commanders with the alloy frame.


I do not agree that Commanders are often seen with brown plastic stocks. Such pistols have to be before the change to wood stocks was made in the early 1970s, and they are seldom seen now, since they were only produced for about 20 years with plastic stocks, and Commanders have now been produced for over 30 years with non-plastic stocks. I have an early 1950 Commander with Coltwood stocks, instead of the later brown plastic used up until the change was made to wood.

The Commander is one of my favorite O-frame pistols, and I prize my early boxed Commander greatly.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'm not the brightest bulb on the string, but any Commander with a CLW prefix is a lightweight commander, even if it says Combat Commander on the slide? The difference is the composition of the frame, i.e., lightweight alloy vs. steel? Thanks!

John
 

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If a Commander with a "CLW" prefix has "Combat Commander" on the slide, the slide has been replaced. (The "CLW" prefix was used only on alloy-framed Commanders.) A Commander has only the alloy frame, and a Combat Commander has only a steel frame. The frames (frame material I assume you mean) never changed. As I stated above, the alloy-framed Commander was introduced in 1950, and was the only Commander until the early 1970s, when the steel-framed Combat Commander was introduced as an additional model, NOT as a replacement for the Commander. Sometime in the 1990s, the word "Lightweight" was added to the slide legand of the Commander, apparently to try to eliminate the confusion illustrated by this thread.
 

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Here's a Commander with a LW suffix circa 1967









[This message has been edited by Flusher (edited 04-19-2004).]

[This message has been edited by Flusher (edited 04-19-2004).]
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I bought this Colt new and, unless the gun shop changed it, the slide and frame have been together since I bought it in the early to mid '70s - this is weird!

John
 

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Well, this gets mysterioser all the time. You could write one of those letters to Colt, where, for a substantial fee, for a service they-only-in-the-world can provide, they'll tell you about when your gun was new and shipped where. I don't know a thing about the serial numbers - never needed to inquire. It sounds like you've fired the gun and experienced the, "whip and boom," of the .45? The lightweights will make it more so - just like a Cobra 2" vs. a Detective Special all-steel frame, snub revolver. The alloy frame is recognizable because it's always a slightly different shade of blue than the steel. That picture from Flusher is great - that's the LW Commander. I'd know it anywhere from staring at pictures and wishing, like the Sears Christmas catalogue! Say, JL, if you really DON'T LIKE your LWC, drop me a line ... maybe be can do bizness?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
rcwambold,

I didn't say I didn't like it. I like it a alot and it was the first firearm I bought as an adult (and even if I didn't like it I would keep it just as a milestone). It will be my other carry gun when the Sig P239 in 357sig is resting. I just wondered why it had conflicting information on it. It definitely has a LW frame - looks and feels different from the slide.

I got another post going with the 50,000+ strong cowboy action folks on this topic and one of them has a pistol just like this one - same set-up LW frame and Combat Commander slide bought mid-70s. I'm beginning to think Colt made them this way. I'm not sure I need a letter that bad. Thanks for the help.

John
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Well, maybe I do need a letter. The cowboy action guy who said he had a Combat Commander like mine, looked at it again and it has "Commander" only on the slide! Back to square 1.

John
 

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johnlindly, you may have a factory mistake. It does not seem at all unlikely that a alloy-frame was mated with a Combat Commander-marked slide by accident at the factory when both were being produced at the same time. The later slides are identical except for the markings. (Early Commander slides have more metal removed inside around the barrel area than later slides, either Commander or Combat Commander.)

I have a Targetsman with fixed sights, apparently a factory mistake. It letters as a Targetsman and the mistake cannot be verified. I doubt that your mistake could be verified either, because had Colt known of the mistake, it would have been corrected before shipping. Since it was not, your gun will surely letter as a Commander, not as a Combat Commander.

Most will argue that the variation is the result of a swapped slide, and may be right. For example, the slides could have been swapped at the original gun shop for any number of reasons, such as disassembling both at once and accidently reassembling them with the slides swapped. It could have been done for "fun" by a disgruntled employee. A customer for a Combat Commander could have requested the Commander slide and the gun shop did it. The gun shop could have accidentally damaged the Commander slide and by accident ordered a replacement for a Combat Commander. You can think of lots of other reasons, none of which can be verified now.

Enjoy the difference and expalin it any way you like. No one can dispute you, but no one has to believe you either.

[This message has been edited by JudgeColt (edited 10-24-2003).]
 

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Discussion Starter #15
judgecolt,

You're right, it doesn't matter. I'm not selling the gun and I like that it has the LW frame for easier carrying. The only way a letter from Colt would be useful is if they did a few of these at the factory and sent them out to dealers before they realized their mistake, but chances are the letter won't be helpful.

I'd like to thank everyone who replied to this post!

John
 
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