View Full Version : Fired my Grandfathers WW2 sidearm Colt 1911 for first time in 40+ years today!

Andrew LB
03-08-2007, 1:18 AM
Though i'm brand new to this forum, i wanted to share an experience I had today at the range. Recently I inherited a Colt Model 1911 US NAVY from my grandfather. I've posted about it on a few 1911 forums to get opinions and while many collectors said to clean it up and keep it safe, today I took my Grandfathers personal sidearm from World War 2 which also saw World War 1 considering it has a sub 40k serial and is stamped MODEL OF 1911 US NAVY down to Sharp Shooters and had Fred and my buddy Ryan who both work there give the pre-World War 1 Colt 1911 .45 ACP a good thorough look, some much needed cleaning and oiling, and to make sure everything was in proper working order.

After they deemed that the internals were more than adequate, I bought a box of .45 ACP 230gr ball ammunition and took it and my Springfield XD 9mm 4" (the work horse) into the range, loaded up a magazine and fired the first bullet through the beautiful US NAVY issue 1911 in 40+ years. The first shot was about an inch low of the bullseye @ 20 feet and after some corrections, ended up firing 50 rounds through the pistol. The first target was a little messy but the second target which saw 21 impacts had the whole 5" diameter black center cut out of it and was hanging by a few strands of paper.

When the last round was spent, Ryan carefully field stripped it again and gave it a cleaning with hoppes using nylon brushes and soft patches rather than a metal based brush and a good oiling down since It probably wont see the range again for many years to come.... if ever.

It felt great shooting a pistol that is not only a great piece of Colt 1911 history, but my grandfathers sidearm in the second World War... as well as the soldier who carried it during the first world war. I'm sure there would be some amazing stories to be heard if this piece of history could speak.

When I left the range today, it was the most awesome feeling. Now I'm craving to buy a 1911 that I can shoot on a regular basis. Perhaps a Springfield TRP. :)


03-08-2007, 7:12 AM
Thanks for sharing. I have yet to fire my Grandfathers 1911 (year 1918). He bought this is 1970 for $50. Not as good of story with mine. I don't know the prior history before that.


03-08-2007, 7:48 AM
Thanks for sharing the story and the pic with us. Its nice to know a pistol like that is in the hands of someone who doesn't merely own it as a collectible or as an investment.

Andrew LB
03-08-2007, 8:05 AM
Thanks for sharing. I have yet to fire my Grandfathers 1911 (year 1918). He bought this is 1970 for $50. Not as good of story with mine. I don't know the prior history before that.

The serial number on the pistol when looked up on the following link will give you a decent picture of when exactly it was made and where it was initially sent.

If you field strip the pistol (very easy with a 1911), you may find an occasional letter stamped into the steel on parts like the barrel assembly, slide assembly, ejector, etc. These are usually made by various armories signifying the work they did to the pistol. My barrel has two letters stamped into it which showed it was a springfield barrel and not the original colt which was most likely replaced after the first world war.

Here is an example:


Just whatever you do, don't take it to get "reblued" or refinished, etc. The value and beauty of these old 1911's is in their unique individuality and the stories behind them. www.m1911.org is a great place to get information regarding your pistol. If the serial number shows it's a 1917 production piece and the slide is stamped with "MODEL OF 1911 US NAVY (or ARMY)" and most components are original, by the looks of the finish you may have a pistol worth a conservative $6-8k.

My opinon..... Don't sell it!!!! :)

03-08-2007, 8:56 AM
I appreciate your story..Thanks...

03-08-2007, 10:47 AM
wow.. now that's a True 1911 !!!

Thanks for the story!

M. Sage
03-08-2007, 5:29 PM
That's a great story!

That pistol's worth more than just money because of its history. I'm glad you had a chance to enjoy it before it goes into the safe only to be trotted out for special occaisions. :D

03-08-2007, 6:00 PM
that's awesome man, congrats on that! keep it save, it's not only history, it's history that your grandpa personally gone through. maybe some day you can pass it down to your kids.

03-08-2007, 7:03 PM
That's great. I envy you as my grandfather also served with a 1911 in WWII. He too was able to keep it after his service. I don't know what happened to it but I sure do wish I could have kept it.

Andrew LB
03-09-2007, 10:37 AM
That's great. I envy you as my grandfather also served with a 1911 in WWII. He too was able to keep it after his service. I don't know what happened to it but I sure do wish I could have kept it.

Nobody really knew what happened to this pistol either until it was found in a box in my grandmothers attic about 10 years ago.

A pistol that is somewhere lost in our family is a German Lugar which my other grandfather took off an "SS" officer he killed in WW2. Nobody knows where it went. When my father was a kid he had seen it. It had the SS on it as well as the swazi. If it ever turns up, it would make a perfect compliment to my 1911.

03-09-2007, 3:11 PM
Wow thats awesome! I wish my grandpa had one of those laying around

03-09-2007, 4:54 PM
About a month ago I saw someone turn a pistol of similar history to the police for destruction. I stood there amazed and saddened. The police officer didn't even look it over twice. He tagged it for the destruction box.
So sad.

03-09-2007, 7:26 PM
Wow... a US Navy, and it appears to be in excellent condition (for a Navy).

Don't refinish or alter the firearm in any way. Keep it lightly oiled and wipe any fingerprints off after you handle it.

Easy $5000-$6000.... while I think $8k may be pushing it, these pistols don't grow on trees, so someone wanting a 60%+ condition Navy may be willing to pay top $$$$$

Oh, and for your information, most of the Navys saw a LOT of use in very harsh environments, and finding one in the condition of yours that hasn't been refinished is pretty damned rare. 80%+ condition is very rare, and anything close to minty.... well, they're more likely to be very well done restorations or fakes than original.

Oh, that would be a nice gun to get a Factory Letter for:

Andrew LB
03-09-2007, 8:20 PM
^^ Thank you for that link! I'm going to be definitely looking into this. While this pistol will NEVER be sold to anyone, I'd like to get the archival information regarding the first half of the pistols life before it was re-issued to my grandfather in WW2.

As for value... the $8k number was an original estimate by a 1911 collector but reduced it's estimated value when he found out the barrel had been changed to a Springfield replacement after the first world war.

03-09-2007, 8:46 PM
Simply a beautiful piece of history...

03-10-2007, 4:10 PM
wooooooooooooooooow, all i can say