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Frame life of Ltwt Commander

1301 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  dsk
I just bought a Lightweight Commander at my local gunshop. The ser. number is CLW024xxx( 1976 mnf.?). The thing is like new. It appears to have had a box of shells through it, but no more than that. I shot it at our range and it functions flawlessly( it will, however, bite you if you don't hold it right). It is wonderfully accurate and I'm totally taken by this thing. I paid $550 for it and I thought I was getting a "steal". One of the local guncranks saw it and said it was real nice but that they wear out so fast it was a waste of money. I asked him how fast it would wear out and he said it was meant to be carried and not shot. So after I picked up my bruised ego from the floor, I thought I'd ask the "real" experts on this forum. So...What wears out? How many rounds of factory hardball can I expect to put through this gun before it's terminal? Now I'm not sure I should shoot it at all!!( I have other 1911's I can shoot) Help!!! Did I get "stuck"?
Montana Cop
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Congratulations, your ego has just been suckered by an idiot. The guy was full of it, and either didn't know what he was talking about or was trying to get you to sell it to him for a good price!

Obviously, an alloy frame will not last the same number of rounds as a steel frame. I'm sure you know that already. However, given reasonable care that frame will last at LEAST 10-15,000 rounds, which is a helluva lot of ammo to run through one pistol in your lifetime. By "reasonable" I mean not abusing it with +++P loads and cleaning and lubing it every once in awhile. If in the end you're still not convinced, e-mail me privately and we'll discuss, uh, "recouping" your expenses on that gun.

As for the hammer bite, you can either install one of the many drop-in beavertails on the market, or else just take a Gov't Model grip safety and cut a relief notch in it for the hammer.
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I have a retired friend that has a Lightweight Commander that he bought around 1970. He faithfully qualified with it every quarter for 25 years while still working and continues to qualify with it on a quarterly basis even now that he is retired. We also go out to the range quite frequently where I guess he will put 100 or so rounds through it. I figure that there are at least 7000 rounds through the gun by now.

In all that time he's had to replace a grip panel that cracked, an extractor, the recoil spring plug and recoil spring. I'm not sure that the spring or plug actually had to be replaced; I think he did so as a matter of general maintenance.

I have fired this gun and it seems tight to me and I know that it is still very accurate. I wouldn’t want an aluminum frame on a gun that I was going to fire competitively day in and day out, but I sure as heck have no problem with them for occasional shooting and defense. I carry a Kimber with an aluminum frame as an off duty piece. I have to qualify with it every quarter at 250 rounds a pop. I figure this gun will outlive me, and the Commanders will outlive you and my friend.
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Montana Cop,,,Take it from a Texas Cop, dont worry about it, I still shoot my 1951 Colt Commander Lightweight and even carry it on duty. I have suffered no rips, rags, runs or snags with it. Its like that damn battery rabbit, it just keeps going and going. I have changed the recoil spring, replaced the old real low profile sights with higher profile ones and added much needed genuine ivory grips.

Magazines are the only real issue, the follower on some will bang the lower part of the feed ramp, take the time to watch for this and correct the offending magazine or change the followers to the ones from Metalform that do not allow the follower to dip forward. Mine has been dinged for 40 years and I just ignore it now, sort of like my midriff bulge and receeding hair line.
Thanks Guys! I bought this new pony with the idea of using it as a lighter, off-duty weapon( I've most recently been carrying a Kimber SLE, which is a nice piece, but no lightweight!). Sounds like my plan is still on track. I've certainly heard lots of rumors about frames cracking and just "wearing out", but never worried about it till now. I find it hard to believe that a company as old as Colt would intentionally produce a "bad product over a 30 odd year production time! I know from having worked in the firearms manufacturing field for 15 years that if a company has a 1% defect rate, it will be THAT 1% which will get the most discussion on the street. I'll not worry about this particular item again!(But, I'll keep an eye open for the follower prob.), and I'll rotate this piece in at our next qualification. Thanks again!
Montana Cop
NOPE, its gonna explode on the next round, You MUST sell it to me so i can put it up

In reality, ive inspected a LW Commander that had 10,000+ rounds without a shock buff, no visible problems.

In this case, i would recomend a good shock buff for practice.
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Maybe 25 years ago or so, the late, great Skeeter Skelton did one of those 10,000 round tests thru a LW Commander and it suffered only some minor damage. Skeeter was impressed and so was I. I went out and bought one 20 years later.
After Skeeter's test the slide had cracked. The frame was still fine, believe it or not.
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