Welcome to the lastest installment in The Continuing Adventures of Bubba the Gunsmith ™. Please keep your hands, feet, and metal-cutting tools inside the ride at all times.
OK. We understand that there was a time when a 1911 was just a gun, they were two-for-a-case-of-beer-and-you-can-owe-me-the-beer, and all that. Still, every once in a while you see a weapon so violated and mutilated that its metal soul cries out for release. Like the puppies in ASPCA videos, it begs you to give it a forever home — even in a Bessemer Converter. Just to put it out of John M. Browning’s misery.
There’s an auction up on GB with a gun like that. It was someone’s brain-dead idea of a target gun. He started with a rare Colt M1911 (not A1), a gun produced only from 1911 to 1918, and then in small numbers until 1926. Then he added an el-cheapo, crudely machined aftermarket “Triangle” brand rear sight, a large front sight, and a tighter-fitting aftermarket barrel bushing. Someone — maybe Bubba, maybe one of the GIs or other owners whose clumsy hands it may have passed through over the last ninety-odd years — apparently used everything but the right size screwdriver (no kidding, Bubba, screwdrivers are not one-size-fits-all) to remove the grips.
If he was done then, any actual gunsmith could have restored the 1911 to its original pre-Bubba configuration. But no, the .45’s grip frame needed that new, ultramodern “stippling” treatment. Which Bubba that applied with a chisel, an ice pick, or some other steel tool. In the sort of straight lines that he walks when Officer Friendly is making him do the sidewalk Olympics after he’s been hitting the ‘shine a little too hard. It’s like gun acne, but that’s a bad analogy, because acne is temporary. It’s more like Bubba has given this poor old .45 gun smallpox.
Smallpox, of course, is marked by its high mortality rate. Q.E.D.
It seeems highly likely that before he started that stipple job, Bubba proclaimed, “Y’all hold my beer, and watch this!”
The guys who are selling this firearm know what they have, and they’ve priced it accordingly: rock bottom for a genuine 1911. But it’s really a gunsmith special — for a gunsmith comfortable with welding, we’d think. Not that we want to give Bubba any ideas.
Oh yeah. One more thing. That Bubbafied “target” front sight? Might be the perspective in the image, but it looks to us like it isn’t exactly square. Suggesting it might have been silver-soldered on after alignment by Mark I Eyeball, Bubba, One Each.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. At least, not in the messed-up, tossed-up, never-come-down world of Bubba The Gunsmith™.
That’s “tiger claw” on the frontstrap. It’s an old-timey bullseye thing. When Jimmy Clark did it, it looked like this: http://cdn2.armslist.com/sites/armslist/uploads/posts/2012/09/19/570496_03_two_clark_bullseye_pistols_640.jpg
Live and learn. It does look like Clark put it on straight, however.
Yup. And with remarkable consistency considering it was basically just whacking a punch with a hammer.
Of all the frontstrap treatments, it’s the easiest one to do badly, as the perpetrator of the atrocity in your post proves.
FWIW: The HEG Triangle rear sight was a sibling of what we now know as the BoMar. The various service Marksmanship Units used them on their National Match pistols during the 1960s. BoMar continued to offer the configuration into the 1970s. Trivia time: George Elliason designed the Colt-Elliason (Gold Cup), HEG Triangle, BoMar, and Kensight rear sights. What Bob and Mary Korzeniewski (BoMar) originally brought to the party was Bob’s sight rib design.
The only thing that would be hard to fix is the bad tiger tooth stipple job. Otherwise it is a typical example of a 1960s-vintage custom match pistol.
Like I said to Tam, I learn something new every day, and I guess part of my lesson for the day is “tiger tooth” or “tiger claw”. The machining on the Triangle looks beastly.
On anything that’s a collectors’ item, heavy customization is throwing money away (because you’ll never recover what you spend, and because you’ll diminish the value of the car/gun/guitar/whatever). But in the 1960s, nobody thought of 1911s as collectors’ items.
But still… this gun may have been typical around the time when the Beatles were still touring, but it was always fugly. It’s ugly now and it was ugly then. Bullseye is all about performance, but how many smiths don’t take great care with the appearance of their work?
There is no guarantee that the owner didn’t add the stippling after the fact. If you merely added full coverage stippling to the front strap, it would look almost like a vintage AMU build. The official Springfield Armory National Match builds from 1963-65 used a Triangle rear with a taller base and different front sight. They also had front strap checkering.
My dad, sometime after leaving the USN post WWII/Korean war and before having us kids wiped out his spare change and spare time… Got a DCM 1911 (I ran the numbers, frame is from the first batch of 1911s the USN ever got, ore WWI). Cost him all of $21.00 from the receipt I found.
He added trigger shoe, an adjustable rear and target front sight, changed springs and shot matches at the armory range until work and parenting ate up his time and cash for such things. I’ve got a silver NRA spoon he won, apparently he wasn’t good enough to take the whole set.
Back then, the world was awash in milsurps and everyone from Bubbas to genius level artisans had at ’em with gay abandon. And I’m still shooting the pistol, dad did OK work.
But thank God he never got the time to lay tools on (or even SHOOT!) the freshly re-arsenaled 1903 Springfield with Elmer Keith’s WWII Ogden UT inspection cartouche on the stock I got out of the back of his closet after he passed… That’s certainly not an $18.00 DCM item anymore.
As I understand it, a Navy 1911 is worth more than an Army one, to collectors. Not that it matters when it was your Dad’s gun, I know.
Dad told me he was allowed to sit and take apart/mix and match the parts he wanted from whatever 1911 and 1911A1 pistols were available from the DCM that day. It’s a mix master, but it belonged to dad and still shoots nice 101 years after the frame left the Colt factory.
Too bad the auction had ended. I would have bid $200 on it.
Ah, you’re a good welder? Lemme check on the auction… ah. Relisted!
Minimum bid is $1150 though… my guess is, you bid that, you own it. That is a gun that would probably be worth more with a professional restoration (Turnbull or the like), but I doubt Turnbull would touch it. Funny thing — some day the vintage target mods may have their own following, as 1950s rat rods do now in the car world. I would think not, but what do I know? The market is a fickle beast.