WWII Colt National Match
The Colt Government
Model was introduced in 1912 and was quite successful. When WWI ended
there were many veterans who were comfortable with the big .45 Auto and
N.R.A. sponsored shooting matches became quite popular. However, shooting
bulls eye targets at fixed ranges demanded a level of accuracy that was
often missing from the standard Government Model. Early 1911 gunsmiths
like Pachmayr and Buchanan would fit better sights and barrels to improve
performance, and Colt’s offered specially
selected “Match Barrels” that were
marked with a circled MB on the left lug. A survey of the Colt shipping
records of the 1920’s show many special order guns with tweaked trigger
pulls, match barrels, and wider sights to improve functionality.
Military Prewar National Match Pistols
The National Match proved to be popular with military shooting teams as well as civilians. Several batches were known to have been purchased for competitive use. The Coast Guard bought seven pistols (C162997 – C163003) in 1932 and another batch of six in 1940. Also in 1940 the Marine Corps bought 15 (C201076 – C201090). Individual officers sometimes purchased Government Models or National Match pistols privately. At least two were shipped to CCC Camps in the 1930’s and one is known to have gone to an officer in the Panama Canal Zone.
The Postwar National Match
In 1957, Colt reintroduced a "National Match" pistol that had adjustable sights and trigger, and slanted slide serrations. It was officially designated the "Colt Gold Cup National Match," although "Gold Cup" wasn't added to the slide until 1970. These pistols are serial numbered 26-NM to 37025-NM.
|Pre-WWII Government Models|
Colt started assembling M1911 pistols for the Ordnance Department in December 1911 and by March 1912 they were also producing the “Colt Government Model Automatic Pistol, Calibre .45.” It was a huge success and was manufactured exactly like the Model 1911 pistols except for markings, hammers and bluing. The early mirror-like finish and fire-blue small parts of the early commercial pistols are incredible.
The pistols evolved with the M1911 service model but commercial pistols were not manufactured or shipped in numerical sequence. This fact, coupled with overlap of old practices and transition periods, leads to confusion about when changes to small parts, finish, markings and other features were actually implemented.
the very beginning, other countries were as interested in the big Colt as
the U.S. military was and many countries bought Government Models for
their own troops and officers. Some, such as Norway and Argentina,
purchased licenses to manufacture their 1911 pistols. Great Britain
commissioned a version of the pistol in its standard calibre—.455 Webley.
A surprising fact that isn’t appreciated by many collectors is that more
Government Models were shipped overseas than stayed in the U.S. From 1912
to 1919 there were 110,696 Government Models produced and 80,978, or 73%,
were shipped to other countries. Another 26,532 were manufactured between
1919 and 1924, of which 3,648 went overseas. In the period of February
1924 to May 1942 foreign sales accounted for 49,033 pistols and 6,575 were
transferred to U.S. contracts, leaving only 48,779 for commercial sales in
the U.S. So, in total, about 133,000 pistols went to fill foreign
contracts out of a total of 238,000 made before June 1942.
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Text provided by Kevin