Turnbull Restoration of a 1911–Step by Step

The goal of this Turnbull restoration was to make the gun look exactly like it did the day it left the factory.

The goal of this Turnbull restoration was to make the gun look exactly like it did the day it left the factory.

Read more at Turnbull: http://www.turnbullmfg.com/

Buy one on GunsAmerica:https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=turnbull

Follow Turnbull on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/TurnbullMfg/

Dedicated GunsAmerica readers know we have something of a fixation with the restoration work provided by Turnbull. The company specializes in resurrecting relics. If you have an old gun with condition issues, Turnbull can work their magic and make it look like it just left the factory.

The Original Colt 1911

The review gun that was made in 1913.

The review gun that was made in 1913.

Read our original write up of the 1913 Colt 1911 here: https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/shooting-history1913-production-colt-1911-old-gun-review/

The Rivadavia.  If you look really really closely you can see the review pistol.

The Argentinian Navy’s Rivadavia. If you look really really closely you can see my 1911 in the holster of a sailor on deck.

This gun has an interesting history. It is an actual Colt, made in Hartford in 1913. It was produced for the Argentinean Navy, and bound for a life of  hard service in South America. Only God and the ghost of John Browning know what was done to this pistol by the Argentinean armorers.

But the Saint of Single-Actions was looking out for this one. Despite the long service life. When I found it, the humble pistol was sitting on a pawn shop shelf in Reno, Nevada.

After a bit of research, I figured out that it was an American made Colt, and not one of the later contract production models that were built in Argentina (they’re almost indistinguishable, if you don’t pay attention to serial numbers).

So I sold what I could, borrowed money from a friend, and ponied up. If I remember correctly, I paid $700 for it. That was 10 years ago. Even then, I knew it was a gun I’d never carry. And my friend and I have traded custody of the gun off and on for years. We still can’t decide who owns it.

Turnbull Colt Letter01

As this letter would indicate, we’re doing some archival work with Colt. Beverly Hayes, who has been so ably assisting our efforts, knows her old Colts. What we found in the letter confirmed what we’d surmised from our basic web search several years ago.

The Colt Archive services aren’t free. They charge a fee for the research they do, and the letter they provide. But it is well worth it. Even when the document doesn’t add much to your own knowledge, it is good to have–if only for insurance valuation.

And sometimes, the letters can make or break historical claims. I’m dealing with two guns now, both reported to have belonged to Billy the Kid. One, I’m sad to say, clearly didn’t. The gun wasn’t manufactured until after his death. The other has a better chance, as it was shipped in 1881, while the Kid was still kicking. But more on those two later.

The right side in full-sun.

The right side in full-sun.

I had the opportunity to talk to Aaron Frank at Turnbull. Our conversation is below.

Do you ever get guns in for restoration that shouldn’t be restored for one reason or another?

AF: Once we get the gun in for a quote, if there is a decent amount of original finish remaining on the gun, we will recommend no restoration.  However, we will call the customer to recommend the gun not be a candidate for restoration.  If the customer still wants it restored, it will be their decision at that point.

This gun had been in service with the Argentinian Navy, and had been parkerized. There was no original finish left.

This gun had been in service with the Argentinian Navy, and had been parkerized. There was no original finish left.

So an important aspect of valuing an original is its original condition. Can restoration ever hurt the value of a firearm?

AF: Depending on the serial # and rarity of the gun, it can be worth more in its original condition.  We will discuss this with the customer ahead of time to ensure they know what they are getting into.

The parts, though, were in good condition, making a great candidate for the Turnbull treatment.

The parts, though, were in good condition, making a great candidate for the Turnbull treatment.

When does restoration actually increase value?

AF: When a gun has been abused over the years, restoring will add value.  The concept is this; we take a gun without life or luster and bring life back into it.  The goal is to restore the firearm to its original factory  condition, in most cases.

When people hear the word “restoration”, they immediately think negative.  However, they do not realize you can take a non-functioning gun and make it look and work like it did when it originally left the factory.  In many ways it is very similar to restoring vintage cars.  The trick in all restoration is maintaining historical value.  All of our finishes are done in the same manner as the time period the gun was originally manufactured, essentially, maintaining its historical value.

Luster? Not here.

Luster? Not here.

When looking at a piece like this old 1911, are there any special historical considerations that need to be taken into account?

AF: Yes and no.  Historical considerations do not come into play when restoring a gun.  However, historical value will come into play when deciding whether or not the gun is a candidate for restoration and when assessing or reassessing the value of the gun.

Turnbull breaks the guns all the way down to judge the condition of all of the parts.

Turnbull breaks the guns all the way down to judge the condition of all of the parts.

What do you do to the gun to prepare it for the work?

AF: After a quote is agreed upon by both parties, the gun will be put in line for scheduled work.  If new parts are needed, they will be ordered before restoration work starts, so that all parts are in order before we start the project.

The markings on a gun are crucial, and help establish value. In this case, the Argentinian markings hurt the value, but they are important to the gun's history.

The markings on a gun are crucial, and help establish value.

In this case, the Argentinian markings hurt the value, but they are important to the gun's history.

In this case, the Argentinian markings hurt the value, but they are important to the gun’s history.

What work was done to this particular piece?

AF: We disassembled all parts, then polished and inspect each part for functionality.  Once that was done, we restored all markings on the gun.  After that we applied the time-period correct finishes.  Finally we reassembled the gun and inspected it.

How long does the actual restoration take (as in man hours)?

AF: 40 to 80+ hours per gun, depending on condition and upgrade options.  There have been cases where guns can take upwards of 150 hours. Turnbull does 200 to 275 of these restorations per year.

How many guns does Turnbull make for the Turnbull brand?

AF: It is hard to average since we are relatively new to the market.  However, we do about 150 to 225 per year give or take 25 guns.

What kind of OEM work is done for Turnbull, and what does Turnbull do for others? 

AF: We spend several months working with our outside vendors to perfect the machining they are providing before we will begin to use their products in our processes.

For other companies, we will provide finish work and other services upon request.  However, due to company confidentiality, we cannot disclose which companies we hold contracts with.

Back on the range

We all like pretty guns, but I personally wouldn’t own a gun I can’t shoot. Call me crazy, but it just feels wrong. And this 1911 has, for as long as I’ve owned it, delivered incredible results.

So how well does it run after the overhaul? Almost as well as it did before? Better? Is it the same? The only noticable difference I can find is in the trigger. There’s just a touch of grit there. My thought is that the extensive cleaning may have left the trigger a bit less lubricated than it was before, and that I can smooth it out with proper care.

Otherwise, the sights are still aligned and the gun still drops lead right on target. Check out the shooting images below.

Doesn't get any better than this.

Doesn’t get any better than this.

The recoil is harder to control with the slick blue on the grip.

The recoil is harder to control with the slick blue on the grip.

And you better watch that hammer. The original 1911 has a design flaw that the big fat beaver-tails fixed nicely.

And you better watch that hammer. The original 1911 has a design flaw that the big fat beaver-tails fixed nicely.

This is my handiwork from 15 yards. Not the greatest display of marksmanship, but the target was bouncing on its cables because of the stiff wind.

This is my handiwork from 15 yards. Not the greatest display of marksmanship, but the target was bouncing on its cables because of the stiff wind.

This is Sam Trisler's shooting. Even with the bouncing, he's better with this gun than I will ever be.

This is Sam Trisler’s shooting. Even with the bouncing, he’s better with this gun than I will ever be.

The action on this is as smooth as you would imagine. Shooting it gives you an appreciation for what was possible more than 100 years ago.

The action on this is as smooth as you would imagine. Shooting it gives you an appreciation for what was possible more than 100 years ago.

All told, I couldn’t be happier with the revision. Turnbull has taken what was a simple conversation piece and turned it into a showpiece.

How much would a restoration like this cost? It isn’t cheap. Each gun requires a separate evaluation. Turnbull works with you , directly, to establish a price quote. How much you decide to do will have a correlation to the price. This isn’t something you’ll decide to do on a whim. WWI era 1911 overhauls start at $2,000.

From my perspective, I consider the Turnbull treatment to be a commitment to historical preservation. Others may see it as an investment in a family heirloom. Either way, you get what you pay for. The work is phenomenal.

Read more at Turnbull: http://www.turnbullmfg.com/

Buy one on GunsAmerica:https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=turnbull

Follow Turnbull on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/TurnbullMfg/

Turnbull 1911 42

Sanding out the old parkerized finish requires a lot of hand-work.

Turnbull 1911 40

The curves and concave parts of the slide are the hardest.

Turnbull 1911 43

The slide, sight removed, in process.

Turnbull 1911 50

Edges may need to be cleaned up, and lettering in the stamps may need more clear depth.

Turnbull 1911 49

The same treatment is applied to the frame.

Turnbull 1911 45

All of the small parts get cleaned up, too. Sometimes that means light sanding.


Turnbull 1911 48

Some of the details require even more work to bring back the texture. In this case, a file redresses the checkering.

Turnbull 1911 30

The parts, in process.

Turnbull 1911 52

The refinished mag, and a new set of grips.


Turnbull 1911 54

Checking fit after the refinishing.

Turnbull 1911 1

All of the parts, ready to be put back together.

Turnbull 1911 53

The finished product.


Turnbull 1911 51

Left side.

Testing out the original mag again.

Testing out the original mag again.

The new grips.

The new grips.

Loops on the bottom of the mag and the gun for leashing.

Loops on the bottom of the mag and the gun for leashing.

Shiny but slick.

Shiny but slick.

The stamps are now crystal clear.

The stamps are now crystal clear.

Even the subtle marks.

Even the subtle marks.

Guns going in and out of the country get stamped. A lot.

Guns going in and out of the country get stamped. A lot.

The back end, hammer cocked.

The back end, hammer cocked.

Turnbull won't take a production gun and return something fitted like a modern custom pistol, but it will look as good as it can.

Turnbull won’t take a production gun and return something fitted like a modern custom pistol, but it will look as good as it can.

This gun changes colors in different lights.

This gun changes colors in different lights.

And it shows fingerprints, too. Unavoidable at the range.

And it shows fingerprints, too. Unavoidable at the range.

The pony.

The pony.

The historical legacy of this gun is important, and shines through in the refinished piece.

The historical legacy of this gun is important, and shines through in the refinished piece.

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{ 45 comments… add one }
  • ejharb April 16, 2016, 1:03 pm

    Lovely work,all Turnbull stuff I’ve seen is lovely,a man should have at least one gun like this you take out and enjoy now and then. Prime cannidate for a barbecue gun.

  • Penrod March 1, 2016, 2:49 pm

    If we are concerned with history, I wonder why removing a significant amount of the gun’s history is applauded.

    Assuming the parkerizing was an Argentine military arsenal job, that was part of its military history. So was the wear on the original grips, and to the markings. Before restoration, everything was real: As last used by the Argentine military.

    Now everything is false: The markings, described as “important” are no longer real. They have been recut. The grips are no longer original: they are new to the gun. The genuine military finish is no longer present, and the current restoration merely mimics the original.

    What was real is gone and can never be put back. All evidence of the gun’s actual history has been wiped off in favor of pretending it never had a history.

    This is similar to re-converting flintlock rifles which were converted to percussion: They have flintlocks again which were never on them, and the percussion systems which were entirely legitimate in-use modifications have been destroyed. The genuine history has been damaged.

    Your gun, your call. I think it was a very, very bad call, though. Stripping it of all evidence of its history certainly was not in respect of its history: it was denying its history.

  • Robert February 29, 2016, 10:39 pm

    Best comment:
    Many folks don’t get it when we speak of these old warhorses. These are not firearms, they are old veterans that have been around the world, been owned by numerous folks, and been a part of history. Once you own an old piece like this, you will understand. It’s like hearing your history teacher talk about the Titanic, and then speaking to an actual survivor. You get a sense of awe and you wonder about its mysteries that may never be unlocked. Has it seen any action? Has it taught countless men the proper use of a 1911, or has it even saved the owner’s life? When these treasures look like they just left the factory, with a top quality blueing, it’ s like giving a vet the medal of honor. I don’t care for the worn out looks of the original is what I think I am getting at. And you can’t compare it to buying a new gun at a fraction of the price with no history behind it.
    Reply Link

    I carried one, El Salvador, “training missions.” Mine, was a parkerized, M 1911 Auto Ordinance. Fucking great, salvation, I saved many lives with that pistol. Only thing, to forget…….is…”Why do we have to DO this shit.” But glad to have a nice .45 at side.

  • RICK NEMEC February 29, 2016, 9:03 pm

    JUST WONDERING WHAT THE ESTIMATED VALUE OF THE PIECE IS NOW AFTER THE RESTORATION.

  • Thomas M. Skaggs February 29, 2016, 8:25 pm

    To end up with a Turnbull thing of absolute beauty, WOW! I spend hours looking at their work and I’m convinced that there is no one on the planet doing better restoration work. You made the right decision and your piece is magnificent!

  • Gary February 29, 2016, 7:43 pm

    Wow. $2000? I just bought a broomhandle mauser already restored. It does not have matching numbers, so i thought i paid above the real value price ( note that i didnt say “too much”). But now i see i got a real bargain with that cost thrown in. You made my day. And yes, i do shoot it a bit with careful ammo selection.

  • Tony February 29, 2016, 6:20 pm

    I’d like to know more about those guns you said may have been used by Billy the Kid. Anything on them?

  • joe February 29, 2016, 5:03 pm

    Great article. Turnbull does great work. I have my restorations done by Victory Arms in Burlington NC. They do the same stuff and it is unbelievable when you get it back. Like a work of art. Hope more places start doing it.

  • perlcat February 29, 2016, 3:49 pm

    Phenomenal work. I wouldn’t use this on just any gun, but I am very impressed that Turnbull does make an effort to preserve the historical significance when it can be saved. It shows a love for the work that not every restoration outfit has — for some, it’s just about getting paid. Clearly, the best advertisement for them is their previous work.

  • Duane Bessette February 29, 2016, 3:16 pm

    People who collect guns; be they collectors of the single action army or vintage 1911, reckon value differently than your average shooter. Even the original parts of these weapons sell at premium prices. It’s one of those things you either get or don’t.

  • BUURGA February 29, 2016, 2:30 pm

    Did have one other thought. Maybe I missed it in the article, but is there some reason they are trying to sand off the parkerized parts rather than chemically stripping them, and THEN sanding? Is there a benefit to doing it as the author described?

  • BUURGA February 29, 2016, 1:42 pm

    Beautiful gun, as all the 1911s are. But for $2000+ there seems to be a good deal of pitting left- I know you can only go so deep, but still.

    • Duane Bessette February 29, 2016, 3:22 pm

      You are correct. You can only go so deep before you compromise structural integrity or create uneven “wows”.

    • Cleophus March 2, 2016, 10:26 am

      If you can see anything on this finished firearm that could remotely be called a “pit,” then you have better eyes than I have. I can see nothing but an exquisitely executed finish.

  • Gary February 29, 2016, 1:26 pm

    Many folks don’t get it when we speak of these old warhorses. These are not firearms, they are old veterans that have been around the world, been owned by numerous folks, and been a part of history. Once you own an old piece like this, you will understand. It’s like hearing your history teacher talk about the Titanic, and then speaking to an actual survivor. You get a sense of awe and you wonder about its mysteries that may never be unlocked. Has it seen any action? Has it taught countless men the proper use of a 1911, or has it even saved the owner’s life? When these treasures look like they just left the factory, with a top quality blueing, it’ s like giving a vet the medal of honor. I don’t care for the worn out looks of the original is what I think I am getting at. And you can’t compare it to buying a new gun at a fraction of the price with no history behind it.

    • William C. "Bill" Barkdull March 8, 2016, 7:14 am

      I totally agree with you, if guns could talk! I think you took a piece of history, a legend and gave it some new luster it deserved, preserved it for future admirers to enjoy and lifted it up to stand tall for many more years to come, take its place of honor that it enjoys. Most copied semi-automatic pistol and (ammunition 45APC) ever made, and no doubt should be awarded the “Medal of Honor” if any one pistol should. Are there any of these Colt 1911 in captivity on display from Pearl Harbor attack, WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam or any other place of American history and past wars that can be authenticated?

  • Joseph Pikal February 29, 2016, 1:24 pm

    The cost of the restoration will differ from pistol to pistol depending on its condition. The poorer the condition the more work has to be done to bring it back to original condition. Forty to Eighty hours on average he stated. Labor for a gunsmith is any where from thirty-five to sixty dollars depending on skill level, perhaps higher for those with name recognition.

    So lets figure sixty hours of prep work at fifty dollars an hour equals $3000.00. Hopefully that $3000 included any touch up of the markings on the pistol. If not add another $200. Say another $350.00 for the Charcoal blue, then another two hours to put it all back together equals another $100.00. So about $3450.00 to 3650.00 is my best SWAG at the price.

    Was it worth it? To have a historic 1911 with the correct finish that looks brand new, and shoots well? That is a question each must answer according to what they place value in. Does the pistols value warrant the spending of that much money to bring it to its present state? Perhaps not, but was it worth it? I say yes.

    It is a beautiful historic firearm that would give anyone pride to display and shoot on range day. Well done.

    • jerry March 1, 2016, 7:33 pm

      My opimion on the value and was it worth it; since it is already over 100 years old and still in good working condition, by restoring it to original condition, Turnbull may have added another 100 years to its life span. That, in my opinion, makes it worth the money invested and the author will have a piece that he can leave to his heirs. If past history is any indication,they can expect the Colt to apprciate in value and I don’t believe shooting it will harm the value. Only time will tell.
      I have a 1903 Colt .32 automatic that I have been considering sending to Turnbull to have restored. I bought the pistol from my brother in 1974 and the finish is long gone (so is my brother) but the barrel is still in good condition. Even though the pistol is all original, I don’t think it is worth what I will have to pay to have it redone but, in this case, the history is more valuable than the money. My only hope is Turnbull can do as well on my Colt as they did on this one.

  • Rocket February 29, 2016, 1:07 pm

    Great restore job, Anyone want my super clean 1913 ?
    I cant fathom spending that kind of cash to restore with that kind of pricing
    Not taking anything away from the actual process, but for spending I am assuming over $5K
    You can stock up one some nice Kimbers, and few others to the toy store
    Hell you can buy a Match grade and ammo for the next 5 Years
    But I am guessing 95% of us just dont have the coin to do so….
    But not to worry all, Hillary will fix it for us

  • Chas February 29, 2016, 12:39 pm

    Several years ago, I had RGS restore two old Hartford Argies: one from the First Argentine Army Contract (1916, SN C20001-C21000); the other, one of 10,000 from the 1927 Argentine Army Contract. Total investment for both, purchase and restoration, about $4,500. Result? They look like they left Colt’s factory yesterday. What are they worth? I couldn’t care less. And since they’re firearms, and not Hummel’s, I run a couple magazines through each of them about twice a year, lovingly clean them, and put them back in the safe. I couldn’t imagine parting with them. They’ll go to my grandkids.

    • mj April 24, 2016, 10:34 am

      Too bad the grand kids will just sell them for drug money.

  • Captainn Bob February 29, 2016, 11:37 am

    I agree that investing money to owning a valuable collector’s item compared to just buying a brand new gun for a lot less is like comparing apples to oranges. If all you want is a nice new gun that shoots well, buy it and save money. But, if you appreciate a collector’s item (and I agree that it still should be shot a bit) then you will be happier with a more expensive old gun.
    I do wish, as others have said, that he would have simply said, “The gun cost me $700 and the Turnbull restoration cost me $X,XXX.” “Expensive” and “Not cheap” are givens. We all know that. But PLEASE just tell us the cost.

    • Turnbull Restoration February 29, 2016, 1:09 pm

      To answer your question of restoration cost. A ballpark number as far as cost to restore a WWI 1911 is roughly $2000. Price depending of course on the condition the gun starts off in, and if any parts are needed to be replaced.

    • Turnbull Restoration February 29, 2016, 1:54 pm

      The cost of restoring a WWI 1911 is roughly $2000. This is all dependent on the condition the firearm arrives to us in, and what parts (if any) need to be replaced.

  • John February 29, 2016, 11:24 am

    Dear Dave Higginbotham, I understand all Turnbull’s work is custom and individual. But you could have mentioned what YOUR cost was to give the interested reader a ballpark of what can be done for what you paid. Turnbull’s reputation is irreproachable, and positively fabulous, no question. But seeing your before and after Colt with a price tag attached would have spoken directly to your motivation and devotion to that fine weapon. Now all you have done is posted some pretty pictures and left questions in the mind of the reader.
    Consider doing a more complete review next time, please?

  • Russ February 29, 2016, 9:45 am

    I was surprised that the original grips weren’t restored as well! I would think that would be mandatory to maintain it’s value.

  • john creveling February 29, 2016, 9:34 am

    I think it is obliviously up to the individual weather to invest the money to do this kind of restoration but the results on this 1911 are stunning.One thing did bother me though is the comment the trigger was gritty and he could “smooth it out with proper care”. For the kind of money spent the trigger pull(arguably the most important part of any firearm) should be smooth as glass or at least as good as it was before the restoration. John

  • Kirby February 29, 2016, 9:22 am

    We’ll done for this restoration! Beautiful!
    I just hope turnbull were as good as doing their 1911 WW1 which there are some small details which are not that accurate as compared to an M1911 WW1.

    • Jerry February 29, 2016, 7:53 pm

      HUH??

      • Kirby March 1, 2016, 9:52 pm

        Their 1911 WW1 version is nowhere near to Colt’s WW1 repro.

  • Steve Herbert February 29, 2016, 8:03 am

    Holy Cow!! No doubt Turnbull does great work. Since the cost was never mentioned, we assume it was crazy expensive. You turned a $700 gun into a $4000 gun worth $1000. I wonder if they could work on my barn find 57 Chevrolet? Oh no, never mind, some things just aren’t right! Just my opinion.

  • bison1913 February 29, 2016, 7:47 am

    Just a beautiful piece of history. What an amazing transformation.

  • roger mason February 29, 2016, 7:40 am

    you were too embarassed to give the price.
    this gun was a money pit. now you’ve spent
    far too much on one gun, when you could have
    gone out and bought a brand new gun for
    less.

    • bison1913 February 29, 2016, 8:04 am

      I believe you may have missed the point of the restoration. You cannot compare the purchase of a new firearm to the restoring of this 1911 or any other significant pistol. That is like saying you just bought a fully restored 1962 Ferrari GTO for $32,000,000 yes million… when you could have just bought a new Ford for about $25,000. You have to compare apples to apples, even if they have to be grown in different fields.

      • Vanns40 February 29, 2016, 9:07 am

        You got it exactly and roger mason missed it completely.

        • Paul Roberts February 29, 2016, 10:40 am

          Amen my Brother

  • Jim Spear February 29, 2016, 7:26 am

    I have the 1916, 1919, the 1927 , and the slide for the 1914 all Colt made in Hartford and matched ,barrel, slide , & frame with the 1914 exception… Can the commerical frame between c6200 & c11,600 be found? Jim 251-981-5788

  • Tom Reeder February 29, 2016, 5:52 am

    What a great article, well written, full of step by step photographs, one great web site. Can’t wait for the next installment, “Enhanced Micro Pistol from Springfield”.

    • Mr.James February 29, 2016, 10:14 pm

      I’ll second that comment. I too find this a unique place to visit. The Colt looks as purposeful as was it’s intentions. Looks better in the Hand smoking.

  • Jim February 29, 2016, 4:38 am

    So did I miss what the cost of this project was?

    • bison1913 February 29, 2016, 7:54 am

      He mentioned he paid $700 for the 1911… My venture to guess, is he paid around $4,000.-$7,000. for this complete restoration. Some may even say much more… is/was it worth it? Yes, every penny!

  • Jon February 29, 2016, 3:59 am

    Why did you say that the “Argentinian markings hurt the value, but they are important to the gun’s history”? If the markings are important to the guns history, how does that devalued the gun?
    Having lived in Argentina for several years and having had contact with their arms factory, their armorers are a good as any that I have seen. Their individual maintenance may be poor, but the Argentine guns built under license guns that I have in my collection are equal in quality to Colts. They followed Colt,s manufacturing directions to a tee.

    An example of their ability. In the entry hall To the arms factory are two M1919 Browning machine guns with brass furniture.
    when asked where they got them they explained that during WWII they could not get guns or parts, so they reverse engineered
    the guns. The parts to an Argentine M1919 are completely interchangeable with U.S. made guns and parts.

    • morris February 29, 2016, 8:57 am

      The author’s statement concerning the lower value with the Argentine markings is not a knock against Argentina. It’s merely the collector industry. An original US military Colt 1911 is going to be worth more than a foreign military Colt 1911, not sure about the Norwegian Colt. To me, it’s still a US made Colt 1911, just destined for another military, with a different, yet interesting, history. The Sistema is a very nice Colt licensed 1911. The Ballester is also a nicely re-engineered version of the 1911. They both have a valuable history, but the collector market demands are different at this time. Part of it is awareness, or lack thereof, concerning the history of the 1911.

    • Matt February 29, 2016, 11:46 am

      I think the apparent paradox of the Argentina marking hurting value yet being important, is simply that if it had been and pistol used with the U.S. Military the value would likely be higher with all other factors held constant.

    • Sean February 29, 2016, 12:14 pm

      I, too, lived in Rosario Argentina for a couple of years (where the Sistema Colt factory is located).

      Years later, I bought a 1911 Sistema Colt (Marina Argentina) purely for nostalgic reasons. Before doing so, I researched the heck out of it. There’s lots of information out there on the history. But to make a long story short, the Argentine government ordered thousands of 1911’s from Colt. Colt was having difficulty keeping up with the demand, both domestic and abroad. so the Argentine government wanted Colt to build a factory in Argentina. Colt declined. So Colt and Argentina negotiated a deal where Argentina purchased Colt’s 1911 existing manufacturing equipment. Colt bought new equipment and re-tooled ints US operations. Colt shipped its equipment to Argentina and set it up for Argentina in its armory in Rosario. Colt sent its engineers and craftsmen to Argentina to train the argentines on the Colt equipment, and actually supervised Argentina’s manufacture of the 1911’s (under license purchased from Colt) for a period of time. The Sistema 1911’s are quality pistols. Mine shoots great.

      I have thought of having Turnbull restore mine, as well. But maybe after the kids are out of college . . . 🙂

      Sean

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