2 July 1943. The U.S. was fully engaged in war on both the European and Pacific fronts. Pistols were in high demand. Colt shipped 2000 M1911A1 pistols that date to Springfield Armory in a general serial range of 950000-958000. There is no way to know which pistols were shipped on that date without a factory letter, becuase Colt had not shipped pistols in sequential order since 25 July 1942, in an effort to increase the rate of pistols being shipped. There were a lot of interesting things going on with Colt pistols at that time. Records seem to indicate there was a high rate of rejections. Records in the National Archives list several pistols in this serial range as being Unsatisfactory or Defective. A close examination of Colt pistols produced at this time shows many were factory reworked to correct problems prior to shipment. I believe there are indications tight tolerances led to problems, not only with interchangeability, but with basic function.
I know Johnny has a Colt pistol in the 952xxx serial range similar to one I have in the 948xxx range that has no Ordnance final inspection and no Ordnance Acceptance crossed cannons. Both pistols have several markings on top of the receivers which we think are probably additional factory repair/inspection marks. Johnny's pistol is interesting because it also shows external signs of factory repair beneath the original finish. My 948655 pistol is also interesting because it is documented in the National Archives as having been assigned to the USS Tisdale, a WWII Destroyer Escort that served in the Pacific. I purchased that pistol from a seller about 150 miles from where that ship was reported docked and stripped, as the ship was being decommissioned and was going to be scrapped.
I have 3 different pistols in the 950000-958000 serial range that have special factory-fitted barrels. The lugs were apprently long and had to be shortened. There are signs on some pistols where the lugs dragged along the recoil spring housing and scraped the surface before being shortened.
When I searched the SRS database a few years ago, I seem to recall finding about 30+/- pistols listed, mostly in the China, Burma, India threatre, as UNSAT or DEF. I have not had the opportunity to inspect one of the specific pistols listed in those records, and do not know anyone who has one of those original pistols to inspect. I don't even know for sure what was done with them when they were listed that way.
One of my pistols in the 957xxx serial range has what appears to be two different Crossed Cannons strikes (not a bounce). Perhaps the Ordnance Inspector wasn't satisfied with his first strike? I don't know. Or...perhaps a problem was detected prior to shipment, and the pistol was re-struck? I simply don't know.
One of the most significant things about pistols in this serial range is that I believe they led to interchangeability being achieved by the end of 1943 or beginning of 1944. Mr. Clawson, after I spoke to him about these pistols, did some research and reported back that he found in the Ordnance records (he has) where the Pistol Committee recommended relaxing the tolerances, due to a high number of rejections and problems. That recommendation was made in the first part of November 1943. It would have taken a few months to document the rejections and related problems. We know Colt stopped numbering slides about the time of the 18 November 1943 shipment, in the 1138xxx range. I believe when the tolerances were relaxed, the fit was not tight enough to require matching and numbering the slides any longer. That explains why Colt stopped numbering slides then. Therefore, interchangeability was finally achieved. Sometimes it just takes a problem growing to a point where a change is implemented to correct another related problem like the inability to interchange parts between pistols.
Anyway, here are 4 pistols that may have been shipped 69 years ago today. I don't have factory letters on these specific pistols. All oriignal pistols in this serial range are difficult to find, IMO. They are very tight, and often difficult to disassemble and reassemble, due to tolerances and things just being off a bit here and there. These pistols appear to be original and unaltered.