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This Old Slabside 1911

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This Old Slabside 1911

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If you ask me what my favorite pistol is, I would undoubtedly tell you that it’s a 1911. This would probably take those who shoot with me by surprise because the majority of the time you’ll see me at the range with a Glock. If the shit hit the fan, I would probably be out the door with, you guessed it, a Glock as well. However, when I am shooting for just the pure joy of it, a 1911 is my gun of choice and you will most likely see me shooting the one you read about here.

Photo: Sight M1911

You might be curious why I feel that way. Well, in my opinion, nothing beats the ergonomics of the 1911’s grip to trigger relationship and nothing can exceed its crisp single action trigger pull. The 1911 also has a low bore axis which mitigates a lot of the recoil and makes for easy handling. There is also something about the way fine hand checkering and 44 ounces of real deal steel feel in the hand as well.

Photo: Defensive Carry

My 1911 is a genuine Colt Series 70 pistol I got in 1982 when I was 21 years old, my first pistol. This means I have owned this pistol for 32 years! I rushed to get the gun because it was the last of the original design Colts. The Series 80 was coming to market and it was rumored that the new firing pin block safety would ruin the 1911’s famous trigger pull. This would make the Series 70 a coveted item for years to come, enough so that Colt has done a limited release of the Series 70 through their custom shop recently. My pistol has been modded over the years and has gone through several iterations of modifications. It looks like modern 1911 but definitely has antique heritage.

Photo: 21st Century Mark Twain

In the days before CNC machines and precision investment casting of steel, pistols were actually pretty crude. This pistol was originally pretty loose and rough in it’s fitment and you can still see various rough unfinished crude grinding and milling marks over the whole gun. You’ll even notice hand peening marks on the rails and other parts. The workmanship is terrible by today’s standards but back then Colts were the best made of all the 1911’s! I think I paid a premium of $325 from B&B guns; a whole summer’s work at the bike shop for it.

My gun in it’s current form. It is 32 years old and has seen thousands of rounds through it. You can tell it is pretty well worn from years of use. It is a thoroughly modern 1911 in all aspects except for it’s age. I think this is a beautiful looking gun despite the holster wear. Like an old small-block Chevy or Ford built for racing, only the slide and frame are still the original parts. Everything else has been modified or replaced over the years. But if you ask me, you are better off buying a modern 1911 with all the modern features stock. It will be way better made than getting a classic Colt and building it but the 1911 is the Camaro of pistols and there are tons of aftermarket parts for them. This old gun is a prime example of classic custom 1911 gunsmithing. There are plenty of faults that compromised the reliability and accuracy of old 1911’s and this gun addresses all of them.

Here is what my gun looked like bone stock. It was a limited edition Series 70 with Pachmayr Grips and an electroless nickel finish. It would have been worth a mint if I kept it stock I bet. This gun went with me on many fun outdoor adventures and saved one of my friends from getting raped. I would have left it mostly stock except I lent it to a friend who got it all wet, didn’t clean or lube it after which caused it to rust closed. They didn’t apologize or offer to fix it either. Well, I had done a few mods to the gun by then. It had tiny hard to see sights which I replaced with Millet parts and I also hand fitted a solid bushing to the barrel because the stock collet bushing had a reputation for breaking.

The rusted stock Colt barrel was replaced with a Wilson Combat Match Barrel some years ago. The Wilson barrel is machined from a forging and held to tolerances of 0.0005″. The barrel lugs were hand fitted to the slide and an oversize barrel link was used for a perfect lock up. The slide was also hand fitted and lapped to the frame. The gun is smooth like a bank vault door! Nowadays, a modern 1911 just comes from the factory like that! I have CNC envy. One of the problems old 1911’s had at the time was chronic failures to eject and stovepipes. One of the fixes was to bevel the inside and lower the ejection port by about 0.200″. Another was to lay back and relive the back side of the ejection port. Many 1911’s come stock like this nowadays but in the old school days, this was trick stuff. This slide has it all.

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Motorsport Engineer at GFOS Concepts Inc. Publisher at TRGRiQ. Engineer for Team Dai 9. Editor in Chief at MotoIQ. President of GFOS Concepts Inc. Former Motorsport Engineer at Falken Tire. Former Quality Engineer at Nissan Motor Corp. Former Engineer at Toyota Racing Development.

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