Pyunker 45 and fellow Colt fans:
What puzzles me more is how much a typo can upset someone to the point of starting this thread.
Actually, "wistful" is probably a better description of my reaction. I'm not in the least upset, and my post was the result of more than the incorrect model name on the tag (more below on that, though).
Like several others who have posted thoughtfully on this subject, I'm old enough to remember when a quality production 1911 meant one brand - Colt's.
I learned to handle and shoot them in the Army in 1972 (although my best training has come in civilian life, many years later), and have carried one 1911 variation or other ever since, often a Colt. As a lifelong Colt fan, it's hard for me to say, but it was Colt's lapses that led to companies like Kimber, Springfield Armory and others filling the 1911 production void.
I recall reading Massad Ayoob's review of the new XS Series pistols years ago, and thinking, "Yes! Someone in Hartford finally connected the dots!" But finding the less-featured XSEs was easy - finding the more desirable XS models was not. The optimism that many of us had faded over time.
As several of my brethren above point out, Colt's is making some very high quality pistols that shoot reliably and well out of the box, which is exactly what we'd expect. But when I talk about market leadership, I'm talking about about being a pathfinder when it comes to offering the features that many of its customers plainly want to see offered (an upswept beavertail is but one example). K and SA saw this need and responded to it, and while we may feel like they each have a dizzying array of too many models, it's pretty easy to find the features you want, whether front strap checkering, upswept beavertail, or whatever.
Re: the display gun. I freely admit that I may be more aware of things like this because it touches on what I do for a living, but at one of the most important trade shows of the year, attended by tens of thousands of soldiers, operators and US & allied military leaders and decision makers, I would expect every company on the exhibit floor to put its best foot forward.
That's particularly true for companies I respect and admire, even have affection for, such as Colt's. The Colt/Gunsite connection has tremendous marketing and sales potential, far beyond the Gunsite model pistols. It's a special relationship that no other company can claim, and as a Colt fan, it was disheartening for me to see that opportunity diluted with sloppy preparation and execution. To my eye, it showed the detail level of a company that was present in the market, but content to be somewhere in the pack (even to the front), but not the leader.
Finally, please note something important: I've been an unabashed Colt fan, user and owner, for over thirty years. There are doubtless more Colt 1911s in my future, and I'm genuinely happy for those who are pefectly happy with their Colt products. I'd just like to see the company return to its former greatness, even dominance, in the market, which I believe is within its reach, but not yet within its grasp.