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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello... this is my first post here. I have always wanted a USGI .45 and yesterday I bought one at a gun show from a private seller whom I trust (we are in a shooting association together). Anyway, I am curious if you all can shed some light on the value and correctness of this pistol.

First, he told me that it is an 1943 Ithaca production pistol. The serial number confirms it with the serial number being #1,214,XXX. However, it has a Remington Rand Inc. Syracuse. N.Y. U.S.A. slide. The finish matches and is in good shape with light wear. The barrel is blued and its finish is in good shape too. On the frame under the slide stop there is a "FJ" mark and there is a "P" next to the magazine release. I guess the final clue to the puzzle would be that there is a small "RIA" under the serial number which I think means Rock Island Arsenal (or Armory... I can't remember). Does that mean it is a rebuild?

Finally, I paid $500 for the pistol and magazine that came with it.

Thanks for the help,
Skilter
 

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Hi Skilter,

It sounds like a typical US arsenal rebuild. When any firearms were brought in for rebuilding it was common to strip them all down, and throw all the slides in one bin, frames in another, hammers in yet another, etc. That's why most rifles (M1 Garand, etc.) are mixmasters these days since there were large rebuilding programs for those. In the case of your pistol, when it was reassembled the Ithaca frame was mated to a Remington Rand slide (the FJ should actually be FJA, for Ordnance inspector Frank J. Atwood). The RIA is indeed Rock Island Arsenal. I'd leave the gun as-is since it is in a historically correct, though mismatched condition. Otherwise, if you just HAVE to have it all one brand Ithaca slides can be found with regularity at many gun shows and online auctions. The price you paid isn't bad, although a completely correct pistol (RR or Ithaca) can usually be found in excellent shape for just a couple hundred dollars more.

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D. Kamm
USGI M1911/M1911A1 Pistols Website
http://www.geocities.com/M1911_M1911A1

[This message has been edited by dsk (edited 09-23-2001).]
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply dsk. It seems you are the resident guru here.


Actually, if I look REAL hard I can see the "A" of the FJA. It is just real worn. I would have never noticed it had you not pointed it out.

Can you tell me more about the rebuild process and when it may have occured? I was told that this pistol was brought back from the oversaes by a GI who kept if for 40 years and his widow sold it to my associate about 5 years ago. Would that mean that RIA refurbed it after WWII and then re-issued to GI's going to Korea?

If I was to replace the slide with an Ithaca slide would it increase the value? I would imagine not since it still has "RIA" stamped on the frame showing it to be a rebuild but am curios as to your opinion.

I guess this would be a good "shooter" for a traditional 1911 A1 and then look for a collectors one for display. By the way, your website is full of great information.

Thanks again,
Skilter
 

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Since there was no rebuild program initiated for pistols they were rebuilt only as necessary. Your pistol was likely one of many that got knocked around a bit during WW2, and was handed over to RIA and other arsenals to be "freshened up" just prior to the Korean War (a huge number of old WW1 1911s were rebuilt during this time as well). As you surmised, given that the gun is already marked RIA it would be best to leave it as is. A sharp-eyed collector would be able to tell if you swapped the slide for an Ithaca, as he'd be able to look at the wear to the finish and determine how long the slide and frame had been rubbing together. You might want to do the same.

Check these areas: first, visually inspect the RIA marking to see if it was stamped before or after refinishing. If you can see traces of bare metal or burnishing inside the leters, then the finish is authentic as far as the repair arsenal is concerned. If the RIA stamp is noticeably sandblasted or finished over, then the parkerizing was likely re-done by a gun shop after it had left the military. Also, look at the wear to the finish on each part closely. for example, if there is a bright rub mark on the hammer, there should also be a bright rub mark on whatever part it rubbed against. If you look at the frame rails, the finish wear there should coincide with the rub marks on the slide rails. This is all part knowledge, part experience, but it will help you get an idea as to just how authentic your arsenal rebuild really is. What you are trying to do is prove to yourself that it is really an arsenal rebuild, and not somebody's garage concoction using parts bought at a gun show.

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D. Kamm
USGI M1911/M1911A1 Pistols Website
http://www.geocities.com/M1911_M1911A1
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks again for your informative response. I field stripped it today and looked, as you said, at all the parts and how it has "worn". It looks like it is a true rebuild. It has consistent wear marks and the RIA mark is as you described with very minute traces of metal in the letters. Although the finish is still quite good, there is nothing I can find that would indicate a re-finishing process.

Sounds like everything to this story jives and I got a decent value for a good quality USGI rebuild that has not been "jacked with" over the years. Now, I cant wait to go shoot it and take care of it for another 50 years.


Thanks for all your help...

Skilter
 

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my dad has one of those pistols,bought it thru the N.R.A. from the D.C.M. lots of years ago,$ 15.00.I spent a couple of hours with Mr. Computer chasing it down.frame is a Colt,built between Oct.24th.1918 and April 16th 1919.has a Remington Rand slide with a Augusta Arsnal rebuild stamp. slides marked Remington Rand were date specific ,don't remember what they were,but dad's pistol is a WW1 Colt mod.1911,with a WW2 slide and probably barrel/bushing. still shoots great. enjoy your's. jwr
 
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