1911Forum banner

A Sign of the [Sad] Times at Colt's

7638 Views 72 Replies 40 Participants Last post by  hiker
As the proud owner of two Colt products, a 1973-purchased Series 70 Government Model (since worked on by Jim Stroh of Alpha Precision) and a Ted Yost Signature Grade LW Commander, I have great affection and reverence for the guns of the rampant stallion. Come to think of it, I have an LE6920 carbine, too, but I digress....

While attending the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army in Washington, DC, this morning, I wandered into the Colt exhibit. Their booth was, as you might expect, heavy on long arms, but they also had a couple of displays of pistols, including a lovely nickel-plated SAA, and six or eight 1911s.

I was handling the CCO Gunsite pistol, a design I've always admired, and looked at the tag that had been printed, laminated, and attached to it, with key features, suggested retail price, etc.

To my dismay, it proclaimed the model I was holding to be the "Gunsight" model. :( The fact that the pistol was pretty roughly put together with a clunky trigger didn't do much for my morale, either.

OK, it's a small thing, but you know, to me it speaks volumes about Colt's lack of engagement in the marketplace. I wish like hell that Colt's would return the brand to what many of us would like to think of as its rightful place in the market, which it long ago ceded to Kimber, Springfield, et. al.

That would be something we could all be happy about.
21 - 40 of 73 Posts
gpo1956 said:
Just curious. Is it actually documented anywhere that JMB designed the 1911 with loose tolerances? Its kind of strange that it usually Colt afficianados who seem to quote this.
Parts of the 1911 are designed to fit tightly and some are designed to have a little slop in them to promote reliability. Most military guns are not designed to be made to razor thin specs. They might have to fire hundreds upon hundreds of rounds before cleaning, many civilian guns could never do this without problems. It is not just the 1911 design, BTW, it is most military arms.Reliability is the #1 concern, accuracy takes a second rung in most cases.

That said, I have several older 1911s in nice shape, both GI and Civi, there is SOME clearance and wiggle in all the frame and slides, but not horrible and not much more or less then a new Colt. And, they are still reliable after all these years. Maybe the Govt and the the older makers were on to something. I daresay many of the new 1911s, tho more accurate then the one's of yore, would never make it past round one of a govt military test.
If someone asked you to quickly name a semi-auto pistol brand which is noted for superb reliability, what would you say? Glock? Ever noticed that the tolerances in a Glock allow for just a bit of slack? There's good reason not to fit a 1911 too tightly... they are more reliable with a wide variety of ammo and magazines and after shooting a box or two or three when they are fitted with some clearance. For a competition gun where extreme bullseye accuracy is #1 and defending your life is not on the line... a tight, super accurate 1911 is fine, but if it's a gun you might have to defend your life with when the SHTF... I'd prefer a Colt over any other 1911 brand... they're fitted "just right" to keep on runnin' reliably, round after round.
The original dimensional tolerances are shown in Jerry Kuhnhausen's Volume II of his Colt .45 Auto Shop Manual series. Colt is one of the few makers still abiding by these tolerances, although they are also prone to occasionally stray unintentionally. One Colt I had with an excessively large slide ID was a prime example.
Bulldog Six said:
To my dismay, it proclaimed the model I was holding to be the "Gunsight" model.
At least they didn't have a glossy, professionally produced catalog that pictured a pistol with a spare magazine that had its cartridges loaded in BACKWARDS like Heckler & Koch did at the last Shot Show.

I have a scan of the front of the catalog somewhere..everyone thought it was a joke, until actual copies turned up from attendees.

You want a company that is disengaged from the marketplace? The name is HK. FN is eating them for lunch, at least as far as "marketing cool stuff for civilians" is concerned.

At least Colt does the "wink wink" routine for the LEO model rifles. :biglaugh: Some HK 416 uppers got out to the unwashed masses for nearly $2500 each, and HK demanded them back claiming they were "illegal." :rolleyes:
Every manufacturer puts out some turds, but to say this is a sign of the sad times at Colt, is far fetched. One minute we are hailing Colt for putting out the best guns in a long time, the next we are groaning becasue we can't get a factory tour, or handled a gun with a gritty trigger. I am just glad we are not reading of the reliability problems like you see with posts about brand K and S. Most complaints about Colts comes from aesthetics (sp?). Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't Colt use more hand finishing than the other makers, this would account for variations, but is not an excuse for the qc line to let bad ones slip through. Overall, I think Colt is doing a pretty good job, they just need to do some tweaking.
Again, I'm just being curious here. Could someone please quote some of these dimensional tolerances for built in "just right" looseness from Kuhnhausen and compare them with the published tolerances of some of the other "not right " brands?
pyunker45 said:
What puzzles me more is how much a typo can upset someone to the point of starting this thread. :p
Pyunker 45 and fellow Colt fans:

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.

Best regards,

See less See more
I have four Colts. They were purchased within the last two years. Gunsite Govt. and CCO, Commanders LW and steel blue. They all are flawless, accurate and have never hiccupped anfet at least 700 rounds through each. If this is slipping, I'd hate to see what excellence is. I'vr owned two Kimbers, my forst and last. The link got twisted and jammed so hard it was immoveable. Two Springfields, and they are neat. But they are not Colts.

I own 35+ Colt's, I have purchased several over the last few years. And I must say they have been the best produced and best functioning 1911's I have owned. I in the past have owned Kimber's, Springfield's and Etc. With the exception of my Custom Wilson CQB, The Colt's have been better machined and appear to have a better finish than the rest. All the Kimbers I have owned have had issues. Failure to extract. etc:scratch:

I don't think it's a sad time at Colt. It is my opinion that Colt is producing the finest 1911's they have made in many years. And things are good. I see Colt's at all the local store's I go to. And they are available from many of the various distributor's. :)
I am not defending nor bashing Colt. Just want to post my experiences with problem guns I have purchased in recent years (all purchased new).

1. NAA 32 - I bought one of the early ones and it would not feed. Had to send in for warrtany work after which it functioned fine.

2. S&W 629 Mountain Gun - The gun was so far out of time it chewed up the cylinder. Had to send back to S&W. They corrected the timing problem and replaced the cylinder.

3. S&W SW1911 - I sent it back to S&W because the front site looked like it had been installed with a sledge hammer. They fixed it but shortly after I got it back it was recalled for a grip safety problem - back to S&W.

4. Glock 34 - I bought one of the fameous "E" series guns that was recalled for a frame "upgrade".

5. Glock 17 - Sames as above.

6. Kahr PM9 - Recalled for a problem with the barrel.

7. Kimber - I had one of the 3" guns that simply wouldn't feed and run right. After three trips back to Kimber the best I got from them was "our 3" guns are not as forgiving as our 5" guns.

I guess I am trying to say that I feel the gun industry could and should do a better job with quality control in general.

As a point of interest my four most recent gun acquitisions have been Colts (WWI Reproduction, SS 70 Series Reissue, SS Gunsite, Gunsite CCO). I have been extremely pleased with these four guns. Fit and finish is excellent and all are accurate and reliable.

Just my two cents, thanks for listening. Happy shooting!
See less See more
Going with Colt

I traded for a new manufacture 1991 Government Model last year and it works fine, no problems or issues. This year I bought an XSE Commander (damn good looking gun). I lost one grip screw at my first range trip (Loctite fixed that), later the rear sight set screw started to work loose (more Loctite) and the gun shoots good groups, but 2" left of POA. The sights will need to be adjusted, which will require a gunsmith (I don't have the tools or the confidence to tackle it myself). Minor issues in the big scheme of things, but I expect more from Colt. I've got a Gunsite Government Model on order and I expect great things from that gun. All that being said, I own three Kimbers (one internal, two external extractors) and they all shoot beautifully. Colt and Kimber, don't need the rest (although a Rock River Arms might be nice....:) )
It's a bit difficult for me to be able to say how many defective handguns I've had in the past, because usually I'm able to fix it myself. The bad extractor in my latest Colt is an example. Examples of guns I had that I couldn't fix include a Beretta 950BS .25 auto with pins that walked out as I shot it, a Marlin .22 rifle with peculiar feeding problems, and a Star FireStar with a bad barrel. Unfortunately, it seems anybody who buys enough guns is going to end up with a bad one eventually. Considering that most handguns are bought for protection I think it's a pretty bad sign of the times for gun owners.
larry starling said:
I don't think it's a sad time at Colt. It is my opinion that Colt is producing the finest 1911's they have made in many years. And things are good. I see Colt's at all the local store's I go to. And they are available from many of the various distributor's. :)
Where the heck can I go in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area to view a Colt Gunsite Pistol? I've been to about 4 different shops and no one has colt 1911's.

Sorry for the deviation :), but I REALLY want to see and hold a CGP in person, preferably 4.25" barrel. Or if anyone here lives in HR, owns one and wants to hook up at a range that'd be even better :rock:
I don't know much about Colt and they could use some marketing for the civilian shooters market, but if they ever make a 70 series type Colt Combat Commander again they will have a serious increase in sales, I almost guarantee. A beautiful and simple blued Colt Commander like the old ones would move out of dealer's cases no doubt as long as the price is right
It is really interesting on how the 1911 market has turned out over the past 10 years.The amount of choices is staggering compared to what it used to be,also the availability of options.I feel that for awhile Colt simply got outpaced by other companies marketing pistols with more options/bells and whistles quicker that Colt was willing to change.I find myself going back to Colt after many years of shooting and carrying other brands on a daily basis.Im slowly rebuilding my Colt collection and very happy to be doing so.I also had a very good experiance recently with thier customer service dept.I needed some parts for my Anaconda and things worked out well. Sincerly George JR.
I made an attempt to buy a Gunsite Pistol about 18 months ago. No one in my local area stocked Colt's anymore. They were a special order only item.

Sorry, I want to handle a gun before I buy.

I went to a gun show last week and did not see any new Colt 1911's (and only a couple of new emasculated Colt AR's.

BTW, one dealer refused to even order one ( when in a moment of weakness I considered this option). He said something about his reputation being on the line, blah, blah.
SKSFreak said:
A beautiful and simple blued Colt Commander like the old ones would move out of dealer's cases no doubt as long as the price is right
Therein lies the real issue.
So, what's the right price? I would pay as much for a NRM Commander as Kimber is charging for the Custom Classic (what's "custom", or "classic" about it, anyway?), and that's about where it's priced, isn't it? $700?
Going with Colt...ummmm

My local gun shop owner and I decided to go with new blued Colt Gold Gups as our starter bullseye guns. I guess it was was a moment of weakness. Both guns are going back to Davidson's for replacement (although we are trying to get refunds). My gun had a disturbing habit of the hammer following the slide forward, the other gun was "machined crooked" according to my friend. If we get refunds, we're talking about customizing existing guns (likely both basic Colts). That's a poor showing on Colt's part. My Gunsite Government is still on order, but I'm having second thoughts. I shouldn't have to wonder and worry about a gun's quality.
dalpra... that sure sucks. Really makes you wonder what's going on at Colt... some samples are so wonderful and some so not. Personally, I think the Special Combat Government makes a MUCH nicer bullseye gun than the Gold Cup... just my 2 cents worth.
21 - 40 of 73 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.