Here are the latest news items and commentary on current economics news, market trends, stocks, investing opportunities, and the precious metals markets. We also cover hedges, derivatives, and obscura. And it bears mention that most of these items are from the “tangibles heavy” contrarian perspective of SurvivalBlog’s Founder and Senior Editor, JWR. Today, in a special issue of this column I’m foregoing the regular news column items to look at investing in rare modern Colt 1911 variants.
Tangibles Investing (Rare Modern Colt 1911 Variants):
Today I’m focusing my attention on the fairly arcane specialty of investing in fairly rare modern Colt 1911 variants. These are limited production original Colts–not to be confused with “Commemorative Editions” and “Tribute Editions” produced by third parties, using re-worked Colts. The variant models I’m discussing here are/were actually produced in small numbers by Colt’s Custom Shop.
The serious Colt collectors only buy these in unfired condition–or at least “minty” condition–with their original boxes and paperwork.
Some of these had special cases or zippered logo pouches inscribed with the special model name.
Full details on current production and the more recently-discontinued variants can found at the Colt factory’s Pistols web page. Once there, you will need to “drill down” through the menus to find the limited editions.
A side note: Colt’s recently announced M1903 pocket pistol “re-issue” series is actually produced by US Armament Corp, under licensed. So I have my doubts about their long term collector’s interest.
There have been several dozen types of modern Colt 1911 variants produced, so I won’t be able to detail all of them here today. You will need to do your own research! But just as examples, consider these;
- Colt Delta Elite 10mm 2-Tone. (Model number O2020XE-TT)
- Colt Defender Gray 9mm (only 400 made)
- Colt Defender Green .45 ACP (only 400 made)
- Competition Titanium
- Colt Model of 1911 World War I replica. (I think that is great that Colt shipped these in Kraft Paper boxes, very much like the originals.)
- Colt 1911 New Agent Pistol .45 ACP (Model number O7810D)
- Wiley Clapp (WC) Government 1911. I’ve heard that these are still available.
Coincidentally, one of my good friends recently mentioned in an e-mail:
“I just bought a pretty rare Colt, a Colt Match 10mm. It’s a limited edition 10mm, but not [roll] marked as a Delta Elite. I liked it because the slide is a lot cleaner looking than the [more common] Delta Elite model. They have a GI style slide, Millett sights, and a Gold Cup frame. I have found a Colt letter stating that they only made 400 of them.”
I have had several limited edition Colt 1911s pass through my hands, over the years. But there is only one that I have strong regrets about re-selling: For a couple of years in the early 1990s, I owned a Colt Officer Match Set. This was a 1988 special edition hybrid of the stainless steel Colt Gold Cup and the stainless Steel Colt Officer’s Model. It was shipped from the Colt Custom Shop in a special oversize black plastic case and came with two-barrel/slide sets–all serialized alike. (One Officer’s length barrel and slide and one 5″ Gold Cup length barrel and slide.) The pistol’s frame had smooth rosewood grips with special oversize Colt logos. I’ve read that there were only 350 Officer’s Match sets produced. So I’ll probably never find another one at a reasonable price. I’m still kicking myself for selling it. But at least the proceeds went to a good cause: Buying our second ranch in Idaho.
One the most currently sought-after modern 1911 variants is the USMC M45A1. These can be found two ways: Original ex-issue guns with the original USMC roll mark X-ed out with laser engraving, and the more recent commercial production. (Model number 098289042644.) Of course the original ex-USMC issue ones are worth much more, even if they have a worn finish.
One model that deserves a detailed mention is the Colt Custom Shop 1911 Commander .45 Rail (Model number O4012RGZ.) I found these details on-line:
“…a special edition distributor exclusive pistol, only 100 made, it is new and un-fired since being tested at the factory. It’s the commander size version of the full-size Government model O1070RGZ that was made a couple of years ago. That pistol was also limited to only 100 pieces, and has widely been regarded as the finest performance pistol that Colt’s Custom shop has ever produced. This shorter version has the same features in a more compact size.
Colt originally intended to make 100 of these with a standard barrel, and 100 with an extended, threaded barrel in a suppressor-ready configuration. For some reason they decided at the last minute to scrap the threaded barrel model, only a few were ever delivered with the threads intact while the rest were chopped down. In order to maintain the integrity of the original “run of 100”, they made a minor tweak to half of them: 100 have a fixed Novak rear sight, the other 100 have an adjustable Novak rear sight. Not a huge difference, but that’s what they went with. Serial numbers range from -001 to -210, the extra ten frames were used for custom one-off project guns.”
So if you can find one of the few of those that were released with a factory threaded barrel, then you’d have a serious “keeper.”
One good place to find limited production Colt variants is at GunBroker.com.
From a practical standpoint, as a survivalist I must mention that in my opinion it is probably best to concentrate on variants that were made in all stainless steel. Those are built to last for generations. It is nice to have confidence that they might someday be owned by my great-great-great-great grandchildren.
I also must consider that even though I’m buying many of these “new in box” Colts as tangible investments, there may come that Very Bad Day(TM) when some or all of these will need to be pressed into service for genuine family survival, or to arm a local militia. (Invasion, anyone?) So I always keep that factor in the back of my mind. This means that I’ve mainly bought the “practical and tactical” models, chambered in .45 ACP. That is my approach, but of course your mileage may vary.
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