Category Archives: Firearms

Firearms — Television Westerns from the 1950s

Model 1892 Pistol (Wanted: Dead or Alive) and Model 1892 Rifle (The Rifleman)

American television in the 1950s were rife with thirty-minute black-and-white Westerns.  Among the more famous and enduring: The Lone Ranger, Have Gun — Will Travel, The Deputy, and Gunsmoke (yep, originally only 30 minutes for the first six seasons).  And that’s just some of the more successful ones.  There were many, many more because they were cheap to produce, fun to watch, and in demand.  Two of the more successful such series were The Rifleman and Wanted: Dead or Alive, the latter catapulting relatively unknown actor Steve McQueen to fame.  What do these last two have in common?  The main character in both shows (Lucas McCain, The Rifleman; Josh Randall, Wanted: Dead or Alive) used unique variations of the Winchester Model 1892 rifle, although Josh Randall’s version is more accurately a “pistol”).  To see more on Winchester lever-action rifles check out Winchester Rifles — Part 1 and Winchester Rifles — Part 2:

Matched, consecutively numbered pair of Centennial Edition Winchester Model 1894 Rifles in .30-30 and .44 Magnum

The first two firearms featured above are the Rossi Ranch Hand pistol and a highly customized Rossi R92 rifle, both equipped with loop levers, and both modeled after the famed Winchester Model 1892 pistol-caliber rifle.  The two examples here are both chambered for the .38 Special/.357 Magnum, and are thus not historically correct in that regard.  The original Model 1892 was chambered for black powder pistol cartridges, such as the .44-40 and .38-40, which were in wide-spread use at the end of the 19th Century.

Upper — Rossi Ranch Hand in .38 Special/.357 Magnum; Lower — Rossi R92 by Mike DiMuzio in .38 Special/.357 Magnum

Upper — Rossi Ranch Hand in .38 Special/.357 Magnum; Lower — Rossi R92 by Mike DiMuzio in .38 Special/.357 Magnum

The Rossi Ranch Hand is not a true scale replica of the “Josh Randall Special” — also knows as a “Mare’s Leg — used in Wanted: Dead or Alive.  Both the barrel and stock are slightly longer than the one used by Steve McQueen’s character in that show.  The Rossi is also not the only Mare’s Leg on the market.  The Henry Repeating Arms company also makes a version which they sell as the Mare’s Leg Lever Action Pistol:

Henry Repeating Arms’ Mare’s Leg pistols

So what about that intriguing “Lucas McCain Special” pictured beneath the Rossi Ranch Hand; how close a replica is it?  Pretty darned close, as it turns out.  This particular weapon — also known as “The Flip Special” — was custom-made by Mike DiMuzio of North Carolina.  And if the Rossi R92 basis isn’t accurate enough for you, he’ll even customize a true, antique Winchester Model 1892 chambered in the historically accurate .44-40 cartridge depicted in The Rifleman.  He even installs that special trigger tripping set screw in the loop for rapid firing.

Rifleman trigger trip — Conversion by Mike DiMuzio at

Rifleman trigger trip — Conversion by Mike DiMuzio at

If you’re interested in owning such a weapon then visit Mike’s website and then give him a call at 704-915-2325: Mike does a good job not only reproducing the loop lever and trigger trip of the Winchester Model 1892 used in The Rifleman, he’ll also upon request add the saddle ring (additional charge) and darken the stock to match Winchesters of the era.  And if you’re really hungry for that authentic look he’ll even age the rifle to make it appear a century old.  Take a look at the stock he darkened compared to the original finish that came on the Ranch Hand:

"Rifleman" conversion includes upon request darker staining to match era Winchesters

“Rifleman” conversion includes upon request darker staining to match era Winchesters

Now all this may sound like nostalgia at the cost of practicality, and in a sense it is.  I mean, after all, no one can spin cock a Winchester rifle with a 20-inch/51-centimeter barrel unless you’re 6-foot 5½ inches/197 centimeters tall like Chuck Connors, right?  Well, not quite.  I’ll demonstrate what I mean in a short video below.  But spin cocking a Model 1892 is impractical nevertheless.  Using snap caps (don’t even think of trying this highly dangerous maneuver with live ammunition; as the grownups in the classic movie A Christmas Story told Ralphie, “Kid, you’ll shoot your eye out”) I proved to myself what I’d always heard.  If you spin cock an 1892 the cartridge will be flung clear of the ejection port well before it can be chambered.  Your “bullet” then goes skittering either across your living room floor or winds up burying itself into the dusty streets of North Fork, New Mexico (fictional town of The Rifleman)

Loop comparison — Ranch Hand "small" loop vs. Rifleman large loop

Loop comparison — Ranch Hand “small” loop vs. Rifleman large loop

On the practical side, that trigger trip does work.  But you must be careful in setting the depth of the set screw and then in locking it into place with the nut.  If the trip is set too far back it won’t reach the trigger.  If it contacts the trigger too soon the hammer will trip while the rifle is still out of battery, meaning that the chamber will not be completely closed and the bullet casing fully encased.  If the hammer contacts the firing pin and the firing pin reaches the bullet primer while the rifle is out of battery there’s a potential for a burst cartridge with resulting damage to both firearm and shooter.  So, be careful!  To fire the rifle normally, just back the screw out and lock it into position with the lock nut.

"Lucas McCain Special" Loop-levered M1892 rifle with trigger trip

“Lucas McCain Special” Loop-levered M1892 rifle with trigger trip

Now let’s look at the “smaller” Ranch Hand loop:

"Josh Randall Special" — Loop-levered M1892 "pistol"

“Josh Randall Special” — Loop-levered M1892 “pistol”

The loop is still large enough to perform the spin cock maneuver made famous by Chuck Connors, although I can find no reference that Steve McQueen ever attempted this in Wanted: Dead or Alive.  Probably because it takes practice and is not an easy thing to do, especially as the front-heavy Mare’s Leg configuration throws the whole contraption terribly out of balance.  It can be done (as I’ll demonstrate later), but a dozen repetitions or so will make your bicep feel as though you just finished up with some serious weight training.  Consequently I’m trying to learn this left-handed for some upper body strength training.  No, seriously.  It’s fun exercise, or “Rifle Therapy,” as Mike DiMuzio refers to it.

Loop comparison — Ranch Hand "small" loop vs. Rifleman large loop

Loop comparison — Ranch Hand “small” loop vs. Rifleman large loop

Still, if you think twirling the Ranch Hand is fun, wait until you try a full size rifle with a 20-inch barrel.  Just don’t let your face get in the way like John Wayne purportedly did.  John Wayne was the first film actor to spin cock a Winchester.  He did it in a movie in Stagecoach way back in 1939.  He repeated that stunt in at least two other films — El Dorado (1966) and True Grit (1969).  But take a look at the rifles he’s spinning in those films.  In each case that large loop rifle has a short 16-inch/41-centimeter barrel.  Wonder why the 6-foot, 4-inch/193-centimeter actor would only spin a shortened rifle?  Reportedly it’s because when he first attempted the stunt with a full-size rifle back in 1939 the barrel struck him squarely in the jaw, knocking him out cold.

Loop comparison — Stock Ranch Hand vs. DiMuzio conversion

Loop comparison — Stock Ranch Hand vs. DiMuzio conversion

Well, heck, I’m only 5’9″ (175 centimeters).  If The Duke can’t do it with a full size rifle, then what chance have I?  Not much, right?  Well, Mike DiMuzio does it with two rifles at once, and he tells me that he’s not even my height.  So let’s see what I can do after first perfecting the maneuver with that much smaller Rossi Ranch Hand and its the 12-inch/30.5-centimeter barrel.  Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s see that trigger trip in action as well:

So, what’s the trick?  Well, it isn’t easy, but it’s also not impossibly difficult.  On the upside the full size rifle is much better balanced than the Rossi Ranch Hand pistol, as the longer butt stock helps offset the fore stock and barrel despite the barrel’s longer length.  But, still, twenty-inches of cold, hard steel swinging back toward your head?  At a pretty good clip with a lot of inertia?  This is where full arm extension becomes an absolute must.  You’ll note very little bend in my elbow — just enough to snap down the loop lever and start the rifle along it’s arc, at which point the elbow is straightened out even further to increase distance.  Even so, the tip of the barrel clears me by somewhere around an inch or so.  Yes, I hit myself in the chest a couple of times, but not the face!  Take that, Duke.  By the way, if that long barrel scares you then Mike will make your replica using a shorter 16-inch/41-centimeter barrel.

At some point I’ll be firing both these rifles and offering up an actual shooting review.  But first I have to await one part that was missing on the Rifleman conversion when it arrived.  I went down to my local gun store, Collector’s Gun Exchange, to complete the required federal transfer paperwork after the rifle arrived from North Carolina.  My friends behind the counter were impressed, but a bit perplexed. When I strolled into the store the first question Eddie asked was, “Is it supposed to come without a front sight?” “Uh, I don’t think so,” I replied.

Eddie retrieved the nice foam-lined, hard-shell Plano case in which Mike DiMuzio had shipped the rifle.  I opened it up and, sure enough, no front sight.  We lifted out the foam lining and checked around the inside of the case, but to no avail.  I called Mike and asked if the rifle was supposed to have a front sight.  Yes, it is.  Somehow it escaped Mike’s attention that the rifle came from Rossi with the sight missing, but he has it on back order and hopefully I’ll have it in a few weeks.

Hope you enjoyed this post, as it was an absolute blast producing it as well as producing for it my first blog video clip.  I’ve created my own YouTube channel just to create video links such as the one in today’s post, so watch for more video’s in the future.  Meanwhile, I’m going to leave you with two more video links, neither of which I made.  The first is Mike DiMuzio demonstrating his prowess with his own creations, performing two simultaneous spin cocks and two simultaneous swing cocks as well as demonstrating rapid fire marksmanship.  The second is a brief history of Hollywood-style spin cocking in both the movies as well as television, including the king of spin cocking Chuck Connors.


Filed under Firearms, R. Doug Wicker, Television

A 1911 by Any Other Name Would Be . . . an M1991A1 — Shooting Review

Colt M1991A1 Government Model

Colt M1991A1 Government Model

A word for the shooting enthusiast:  This review is geared toward novices in general and writers of fiction in particular.  If you’re a shooter or a fan of the M1911 you’ll still enjoy it, but please bear with some of the more extraneous background stuff.  For someone looking for a review of the M1991A1 with a purchase in mind, read through to the end for a detailed look at the fit, finish, and other particulars for this model.

Last Monday we took a look at John Browning’s handgun masterpiece — the Colt Model 1911 — and later advancements made to his original design by the company that commissioned him to develop it.  Today we’ll take a look at what it’s like to operate and actually fire a modern version of this century-old design.  But before we do, let’s make a size comparison of the M1911 with another favorite of mine, the Walther PPK/S.  The PP-series of pistols are much smaller, and they are straight blow-backs designed for smaller calibers such as the .32 ACP/7.65mm and .380 ACP/9mm kurz.

Two Pieces of History — Colt M1911 and Walther PP-series

Two Pieces of History — Colt M1911 and Walther PP-series

That “ACP” designation in .45 ACP, .32 ACP, and .380 ACP stands for Automatic Colt Pistol, and all ACP cartridges were designed for either Fabrique Nationale de Herstal (FNH) of Belgium or the U.S. Colt’s Manufacturing Company by one man — again, John Browning.  Other Browning designed ACP cartridges are the .25 ACP and the all but discontinued.38 ACP.

If you compare the size of the M1911 to something considerably more concealable you’ll find that the M1911 is by no means a small pistol.  It is in fact quite large and very heavy.  The PPK/S you see below weighs in at around 22.4 ounces/635 grams, including an empty magazine.  The M1911 on the other hand tips the scales at almost 2½ pounds — 39 ounces/1.1 kilograms with an empty magazine for the original government model.  The modern M1991A1 in standard configuration beats that, but just barely at 37.78 ounces/1071 grams according to my kitchen scales.

Size comparison with a Walther PPK/S

Size comparison with a Walther PPK/S

Does that make the standard M1911 impractical for concealed carry?  Not at all.  I know several people who conceal the full-size version, and others who pack smaller versions.  Despite it’s 8.6-inch/217mm length the M1911 is particularly well suited for inside-the-waistband carry because it is relatively narrow — around 1.34 inches/34mm at the grip and an almost unbelievably narrow .91 inches/23mm at the slide.  The only real downside to concealed carry would have to be a hefty weight which requires a very good belt.

Surprisingly Thin

Surprisingly Thin

The M1911 is normally carried in the cocked-and-locked configuration (also called “condition one).  Cocked-and-locked means that there is a live round in the chamber and the hammer is fully cocked and ready to fire.  A thumb-operable external safety is engaged in condition one to prevent accidental discharge.



So, should you consider adding an M1911 to your collection?  Absolutely.  It’s the iconic U.S. semiautomatic, and has been since, well, 1911 (see: Historical Firearms — The Colt Model 1911).  It’s simply a wonderful range toy even if you opt to carry something more modern — intuitive to aim, fun to shoot, easily controlled despite being chambered in .45 ACP, and it’s one of the most accurate handguns ever devised.

Cocked and ready to fire — Safety off

Cocked and ready to fire — Safety off

Which brings us to some of the features incorporated into the M1911.  In addition to the external thumb safety there is an additional safety built into the grip.  If the grip is not properly held and the grip safety depressed, the weapon will not fire.  In what has become a familiar standard here in the U.S., the magazine is released via manipulation of the magazine release button located on the frame just aft of the trigger.  Internally, at least since 1983 on Colt Series 80 pistols such as the M1991A1 depicted here, there is also a firing pin block that only disengages when the trigger is pulled, which in turn can only occur if the external safety is disengaged and the grip safety is squeezed into the grip.

Standard M1911 controls

Standard M1911 controls

That last Series 80 feature is a bit controversial.  Some claim that it unnecessarily complicated the original design, degraded the trigger by making it stiffer and adding an almost imperceptible (in my view) amount of trigger creep before the hammer trips, and gunsmiths complained that the new design is more difficult to tune to competition standards.  My personal opinion?  It’s still one of the best triggers out there, and according to my research any gunsmith worthy of the title will be able to tune your trigger with just a bit more effort.  But even out of the box, I’d be hard pressed to understand why anyone would think this weapon needs any tuning whatsoever.  If the shooter can’t hold this weapon on target, then it’s the shooter who has a problem rather than the trigger and firing system on this weapon.

Range review:  I’ve fired other M1911 models in the past, including a Series 70 Gold Cup with National Match barrel.  And while it’s been awhile since then, I have no complaints concerning the current M1991A1 Series 80.  Trigger take-up is in the neighborhood of ⅛ inch/3mm.  The aforementioned trigger “creep” is less than even that.  As such, the hammer trip is very clean and exceedingly crisp, especially when compared to most modern trigger designs.  Trigger reset is equally short with a very positive tactile feedback and audible “click.”  Reliability is superb with the two ammo types I fed through it — full metal jacket and jacketed hollow points.  As for accuracy, this pistol without any modification whatsoever is capable of better accuracy than most any shooter who will fire one, and you can’t ask for better than that.  Indeed, take a look at this demonstration video from one of my favorite handgun reviewers, Hickok45:

Don’t Fear the Recoil:  Many people unfairly in my view criticize the .45 ACP cartridge as being “uncontrollable,” and thus fairly inaccurate especially on followup shots.  A lot of that is not born out by the physics, however.  The original .45 ACP design called for a 230-grain/.526-ounce/14.9-gram bullet traveling subsonically at around 830 feet/253 meters per second.  That works out to around 352 foot-pounds/477 Joules of force.  Compare that to the original specifications of the “much more controllable” 9mm Parabellum.  That cartridge was designed around a 115-grain/.263-ounce/7.45-gram bullet traveling at the supersonic velocity of 1,300 feet/390 meters per second.  Total energy from that round is 420 foot-pounds/570 Joules.  Bear in mind that 9mm weapons are for the most part considerably lighter than the M1911, yet as you can see they transmit more recoil force back through the weapon and ultimately to the shooter’s hand.  In my opinion the 9mm has a sharper, quicker recoil whereas the .45 ACP imparts a steady, even, thrust-like reaction.  Recoil management is thus easy to accomplish and target reacquisition is very quick.

A little side story on that slower .45 ACP velocity.  Back in my younger uncorrected vision days I could actually follow with my eye a .45 ACP bullet heading downrange, especially when shooting in bright sunlight at long ranges against a light-colored backdrop.  It was a truly bizarre experience, and I cannot recall being able to do that with any other bullet I’ve ever fired.

But back to what it’s like to fire an M1911 in .45 ACP (fiction writers in particular take note):  The noise from a .45 ACP is unlike most smaller caliber handguns such as the 9mm in that it imparts a slightly deeper, almost cannon-like “boom” rather than a sharp “bang.”  That’s not to say the .45 ACP is louder.  It isn’t.  What I’m describing is just a slightly deeper, lower frequency with less “crack,” probably as a result of comparing a subsonic round (.45 ACP) to one that will emit the “crack” of a sonic boom (9mm).  Recoil is surprisingly light.  Muzzle flip is negligible, especially with a proper grip.  Target reacquisition is quick and efficient, and followup shots are easily managed.

Now a look at the current fit-and-finish of the “New Roll Mark” post-2001 version of the Colt M1991A1:  If you’re considering adding an M1911 variant to your collection you can do a lot worse than this particular version.  This is first and foremost a real Colt and not a pretender.  Slide-to-frame fit is extremely tight with almost no perceptible play.  Barrel-to-bushing tolerance is so tight that I cannot induce any wobble at all in my example.

As for finish, the satin bluing is one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen in recent years, and light-years beyond the Parkerized finish of the original “Old Roll Mark” version of the M1991A1:

Satin Blue Finish

Satin Blue Finish

The grips that come with the Colt M1991A1 are nicely textured, beautifully stained, semi-gloss rosewood:

Textured Rosewood Grips

Textured Rosewood Grips


  • Length: 8.54 inches/217mm
  • Barrel Length: 5.03 inches/128mm
  • Slide Width: .91 inches/23mm
  • Maximum Width: 1.34 inches/34mm
  • Weight with empty magazine: 37.78 ounces/1,071 grams
  • Capacity: 7+1

Pricing:  This particular Colt M1991A1 with blued finish and rosewood grips is Colt model number O1991.  The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) is $974, but you can find them available for under $900 and Bud’s Gun Shop is listing one at $834 as of this writing.

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Filed under Firearms, R. Doug Wicker

Historical Firearms — The Colt Model 1911

Colt M1991A1 — The "Modern" Model 1911 with Series 80 firing system

Colt M1991A1 — The “Modern” Model 1911 with Series 80 firing system

Next Monday I’ll be presenting a review of the firearm pictured here, but today I want to devote this blog to one of the most iconic and historically important handguns ever produced — John Moses Browning’s superlatively designed, stunningly beautiful achievement the Colt Model 1911 designed for the potent .45 ACP cartridge.

You’ve seen the 1911 before, by the way.  In fact, whether you know it or not, you’ve seen it literally thousands of times over the years.  And, as a purveyor of fiction, I simply must note that you’ve seen it mentioned in countless novels as well — Even agent 007 used it in Ian Fleming‘s novel Moonraker and in the short story From a View to a Kill in the For Your Eyes Only collection of works.  You simply cannot escape it’s ubiquitous presence in television, movies, literature, and any serious history on the U.S. military over the past 100+ years.

For instance it was Thomas Sullivan Magnum’s favorite weapon.

 Image from Internet Movie Firearms Database (

Tom Magnum on the case with his trusty Series 70 M1911— Image from Internet Movie Firearms Database (

Mike Hammer called his 1911 “Betsy.”

Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer (Stacy Keach) with “Betsy”

And even John Shaft used one.

John Shaft’s M1911 — For those times when his Colt Detective Special just wasn’t enough firepower

Indeed, you’ll see an M1911 used by either the hero or a bad guy in almost any film or television show in which firearms play a prominent roll in the storyline.  In real life the M1911 was used by various law enforcement agencies (and still in use by some, including certain FBI units), mobsters, gangsters, and spies.

M1911 "Government Model"

M1911 “Government Model”

But the Model 1911 (M1911 for short) gained its fame on the battlefields of World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Korea, etc., etc., etc.  Indeed the M1911 was first adopted by the U.S. Army in early 1911 — hence the name — and was the primary sidearm of the U.S. military until it was replaced by the vastly inferior 9mm Beretta M9 (military version of the Beretta 92) in 1985.

9mm Beretta M9 — The Army’s idea of a “replacement” for the M1911

The M1911’s story with the U.S. military did not end there, however.  It continues in service to this day with  U.S. Marine Expeditionary Units under its new designation as the M45 MEU(SOC) pistol.  More recently the USMC has acquired directly from Colt a railed version of the 1911 designated the M45A1 CQBP — Close Quarter Battle Pistol — for use by both the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC).

M45A1 CQBP — Made by Colt and equipped with an accessory rail

Between the original M1911 and the M1911A1 version  that succeeded it in 1924, the U.S. military acquired an astounding 2.7 million copies made by Colt, Springfield Armory (the former U.S. government arsenal, and not the current company using that name), Remington, North American Arms, Ithaca Gun Company (known for shotguns), Remington Rand (the typewriter/computer company), Singer (another typewriter manufacturer), and even a maker of railroad signalling gear — Union Switch & Signal.

M1911 "Government Model"

M1911 “Government Model”

After World War II the U.S. military had enough M1911s on hand to last until their ultimate replacement some forty years later by the aforementioned M9 Beretta.  These M1911s were refurbished as needed at the Rock Island Arsenal (not to be confused with Armscor’s Rock Island Armory brand name), the U.S. Government Springfield Armory, and other military depots and arsenals.

In other words, if you’ve seen a war movie involving U.S. troops set in time from 1911 until at least 1986, chances are you saw an M1911 in the picture.  And if you’ve watched a movie concerning the U.S. Marine Corps after 1985, there’s still a good chance you’ve seen a version of the M1911.

Today everybody and his fourth cousin twice removed make some version of the M1911 — Colt (the true original), Springfield Armory (the company, not the original U.S. government armory), SIG, Kimber, Wilson Combat, Ruger, Smith & Wesson, Remington, Para Ordinance, Taurus (Brazil), Rock Island Armory (the Armscor Filipino subsidiary), and even a .22 version marked under the Walther banner but made in Turkey for parent company Umarex. That’s just a partial list, by the way.  Past and present there have been well over 100 companies that have made versions of the M1911 in some form or another, and in calibers ranging from the original .45 ACP to at least ten other calibers from the diminutive (.22) to the ridiculous (.460 Rowland).

And who came up with this still popular design?  Why, John Moses Browning, of course.  You’ll recall that name from my series on Winchester lever-action rifles (see: Winchester Rifles — Part 1;  and Winchester Rifles — Part 2), another iconic series of historic firearms.  But to make a semiautomatic pistol that was still somewhat compact and relatively light, yet would stand up to the power of the .45 ACP cartridge, John Browning would have to invent an entirely new recoil mechanism.  Existing locked breech mechanisms of the era were complex, costly to manufacture, and unreliable.  So, what Browning came up with was a short-recoil, tilting barrel, locked breech design.  A simplified form of that Browning invention is still used to this day in nearly every semiautomatic handgun made for powerful calibers beginning with the 9mm Parabellum.  This short-recoil locked-breech mechanism works by briefly locking the barrel and slide together as a unit after the firing of the bullet.  The slide and barrel recoil back a short distance until the barrel tilts and disengages from the “locking” mechanism affixing it to the slide.  The slide continues reward, opening the breech, at which time the spent cartridge is extracted from the chamber and ejected through the now exposed port at the top of the pistol.  The slide then reverses, strips a fresh round from the magazine, and forces it into the chamber before reengaging the barrel and returning to battery (meaning the slide and barrel seated fully forward into firing position atop the frame of the weapon).

Here’s a demonstration to put all that mumbo-jumbo together for you:

As the M1911 was originally developed by John Browning under contract to Colt, I’ll now stick specifically to Colt civilian models rather that even thinking of touching upon the 100+ other manufacturers and their variants.  The most common Colt civilian variants of the full-size M1911 (not Commander nor Officer models with reduced length barrels and slides) are:

  • Colt Government Mk. IV Series 70 (1970 to 1983) — Revised “Collet” barrel bushing that supposedly increased accuracy, but was also prone to breakage thus reducing reliability.
  • Colt Government Mk. IV Series 80 (two basic versions)
    1. 1983 to 1988 — New internal firing pin block for additional safety against accidental discharges resulting from dropping the weapon; retained the Series 70 Collet barrel bushing.
    2. 1988 to present — same internal firing pin block; return to the solid bushing pre-Series 70.
  • Colt Government Mk. IV Series 70 (2001 to present) — A return to the original design that drops the internal firing pin safety of the Series 80; earlier 70 Series Collet bushing replaced with original-style solid bushing
    Note:  The return to the Series 70 firing system without the internal firing pin block was in response to criticism that it was more difficult to perform a trigger job on the Series 80.
  • Colt GovernmentM1991A1 (two basic versions)
    1. “Old Roll Mark” (ORM) version 1991 to 2001 — Series 80 firing pin block and original, pre-Series 70 barrel bushing; plastic trigger; cheap Parkerized finish; large and, to some, ugly “COLT M1991A” roll mark on slide.
    2. “New Roll Mark” (NRM) version 2001 to present — As with ORM above except an anodized aluminum trigger; much more attractive brushed-blue finish (stainless steel version also available); smaller, more sedate “COLT’S GOVERNMENT MODEL .45 AUTOMATIC CALIBER” slide roll mark.

Here’s a link list to the current Colt models mentioned immediately above as well as other variations I’ve not mentioned (including the .380 ACP variant known as the Colt Mustang):

  • Colt M1991A1
  • Colt XSE (a high-end Series 80 derivative)
  • Colt Combat Elite (tactical version of the Series 80 also available in 10mm)
  • Colt Rail Gun (Series 80 version with Picatinny accessory rail)
  • Colt Gold Cup (Series 80 target model with match-grade barrel, adjustable sights, and other enhancements)
  • Colt Series 70
  • Colt Defender (short-barrel Series 80 version optimized for concealed carry)
  • Colt New Agent (another short-barrel Series 80 version)
  • Colt Special Combat Government (larger, long-barrel Series 80 variant for open carry, law enforcement, and home defense)
  • Colt CQBP (current railed military version of the Series 80)
  • Colt .380 Mustang (extremely compact pocket pistol chambered for the .380 ACP/9mm kurz and using a Series 80 firing system and about ⅓ the weight of a typical M1911 pistol)

Remember to return next Monday to find out what it’s like to operate an M1911 (specifically an M1991A1 version) at the range, and find out why this firearm is still so popular over 100 years after its development.



Filed under Firearms, R. Doug Wicker