In 1927 you could pick any new Government Model off the shelf, and reliability simply wouldn't be questioned. Same in 1937, 1947, 1957, and even 1967. Let's hope for a return to those kinds of days ASAP. Because since 1977, 1987, and especially 1997, it's been a crapshoot. By 2007 we should see 100% perfect Colts out of the box everytime, regarding both cosmetics and performance. By then Kimber's Series XVII guns will be discontinued and the company will fold, Springfield will start making cheap Kel-Tec clones, SIG will stop making guns and market men's cologne instead, and for us Colt fans nirvana will finally be at hand.
If it was a new Colt Government model, I'd say it would be HIGHLY unlikely that you'd have any functional problems at all.
But from my limited experience, I'd say there is a SLIGHTly lower likelihood of perfect reliability right out of the box with a Commander than with a Government model. Still, the new Colt Commander is quite likely to run flawlessly right out of the box.
In my experience, the Commander's shorter slide requires a slightly more carefully selected recoil spring weight and magazine spring weight. I've found that Colt has shipped some guns with slightly under-weight recoil springs. And when shooting full charge defense loads, a light recoil spring in a Commander can mess with the timing enough to cause a malfunction. This happened with two of my three Commanders anyway. Of course, YMMV.
Not to dissagree with anyone, but my experience with commanders has been good. It is the sub 4 inch tubes I have had bad luck with. I had not had a commander in a few years and just bought one (blued NRM) and it is a dream. Accurate, and very reliable, even with flying ashtrays. Colt has done and new throating on the barrel. Looks strange but it works.
FreeAmerican... I'd like to have one of the new blue 1991 Commanders myself... they are definitely cool guns. My only blue Commander is an older Series 70 lightened version that Ned Christiansen recently finished customizing for me. I have a weakness for blued carbon steel.
A while back I started looking for a gentlemans CCW gun. Not exactly a pimp gun (no gold plating) but a nice, classy weapon. That is what I ended up with. NRM, added a beavertail, kept the round hammer, did some trigger work, flashy set of grips. It is a work in progress.
It's good to see that most people are happy with Colt's Shooting Star mags (I haven't been in the past). I was thinking that I'd toss the mags that come with my NRM Colt, but looks like I'll give them a shot!
What happened with my Commander was that slide was cycling a bit ahead of the magazine in timing and the breech face was returning just before the next round was quite fully presented by the magazine. This happened typically on the last round when mag spring tension is least. What happened was there would be a last round "ride over" where the breech face contacted the side of the case just ahead of the rim, causing the round to be turned vertical and jamming the gun.
By going to a 20# recoil spring (rather than the standard 18#) and by upping the mag spring to an 11# "extra power" spring, the cycling timed perfectly and the gun became beautifully reliable.
It seems that Commanders (and especially the sub-4" 1911's) can be a tad bit more susceptible to variations in spring tensions than the Government models are. Not to say that Commanders are not reliable and in all likelihood, yours will probably run just fine right out of the box.
Interestingly, several new Colt Government models I have purchased in the past couple of years were supplied with recoil springs of 15, even 14#. (Factory standard is 16#). I'm not talking about the target spring that comes with the Gold Cup, which is supposed to be 14# and to be used with light target loads.
With full power defense loads it has been my experience that using a 17# recoil spring in a Government model and a 20# recoil spring in a Commander seems to contribute to better reliability. Of course, YMMV.
Perhaps I have been lucky. In 40+ years of shooting, I have yet to get a Colt 1911 nib that did not run 100% out of the box with hardball. That is not to say that there weren"t trigger, fit, finish or other issues. Each one functioned reliably with 230 grain ball. That is my experience.
If it's like my Gunsite or my wife's Combat Special Gov, You won't know how to spell MALFUNCTION cuz they don't exist. Over 5000 rds between the 2 and have a total of 10 malfunctions-ALL were my poor reloads that I could prove were the ammo and not the gun. Tracy
P.S. And they're the MOST accurate guns in the house!
My stainless 1991 commander worked perfectly right out of the box with ball (and also H&G 68/ 5 gr. bullseye). I bet yours will, too. Well, actually, I took it home and gave it a quick clean and lube first before I shot it, but I didn't adjust anything. I doubt if I'll need to.
Plot this data point:
NRM Blued M1991A1 Full Size
DOB: ~Spring 2002
Out of box: no extractor tension (as if someone just totally forgot to do it!) and a loose plunger tube
Now: absolute perfection (and factory mags work great)