Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers

ARGENTINE COLTS

Q: I saw ads selling Argentine “Model 1914 Colt Government Models” and another pistol called the “Modelo 1927.'” I ordered two Model 1927s and, much to my surprise, one of the ’27s was made by Colt and the other by a company named D.G.FM. – (FM.A.P.). Who was this other maker and can you tell something about the history of Colt and that South American country?

A: According to William H.D. Goddard in The Colt Government Models, Argentina began purchasing Colt Government Models as early as 1914, with quantities purchased for the Argentine Naval Commission rollmarked with “Marinara Argentina” on the right side of the frame. These were commercial guns bought from agents acting on behalf of the Argentines.

The Argentine Army also adopted the Government Model around 1916 and dubbed it the Pistola Automatica Sistema Colt, Calibre 11,25 mm, Modelo 1916. Examples examined have an Argentine crest between the ejection port and rear sight on the slide’s top.

The Model 191 lAI supplanted the Model 1911 here in the U.S. in 1925, and when an order from the Argentine Army was received in 1927, the 1911Al was the only version available. The result was the Pistola Automatic Sistema Colt Calibre 11,25 mm, Modelo 1927. These pistols were produced by Colt’s and marked “EJERCITO ARGENTINO COLT CAL.45 MOD. 1927” on the right side of the slide forward of an Argentine crest. The left side bore commercial markings and a Colt’s logo on the rearmost portion of the pistol’s slide.

Donald B. Bady, in Colt Automatic Pistols, stated that Colt’s was unable to supply a large order placed by the Argentines in the early 1930s and agreed to let them build the pistols domestically, under license. Fabrica Militar de Armas Portatiles “Domingo Matheu,” in Rosario, Argentina was set up to produce the Model 1927.

Pistols produced there are noted as having the slide’s right marked “EJERCITO ARGENTINO SIST. COLT CAL. 11.25mm. MOD.1927,” with an Argentine crest to the rear of the abovementioned markings. The left sides were marked “D.G.F.M. – (F.M.A.P.).”

Argentina went on to produce an unlicensed Colt copy with some modifications, the Ballester-Rigaud or BallesterMolina (January, 1992 p. 48).-M.A.K.

M1911 CYCLE OF OPERATION

Q: I run a gun shop, and I often get questions about how guns function, especially the M1911 pistol, which is popular in my area for Action Pistol and other practical shooting competitions. It’s hard to try to explain in words what some of the parts do. Is there any pictorial reference that would make MI 911 functioning easier to visualize?

A: For years, gun schools and gunsmith shops have taught firearm functioning using cutaway guns having strategically-placed windows that allow observation of the parts during cycling. This is impractical for most individual gun owners, who would be understandably loath to subject one of their pistols to the Swiss-cheese treatment.

More recently, there has been a spate of books and instructional videos detailing the functioning, care and maintenance of various firearms. Bill Wilson’s The Combat Auto, Ken Hallock’s Hallock’s .45 Auto Handbook, and Layne Simpson’s The Custom Government Model Pistol (all available from Brownells, Inc., Dept. AR, 200 South Front Street, Montezuma, IA 50171-1000) are three of the better books on M1911 operation, and the instructional videos from American Gunsmithing Institute and Wilson Combat (also available from Brownells) also cover the subject thoroughly.

A new product may be the easiest way yet to explain the M1911 cycle of operation. Heritage-VSP Books (Dept. AR, P.O. Drawer 887, McCall, ID 83638), publishers of the comprehensive and well-illustrated series of gun reference books by Jerry Kuhnhausen, has recently introduced a wall chart to serve as a companion to its volume, The Colt .45 AutomaticA Shop Manual. The chart illustrates each phase of operation and shows the action of each involved part. The functioning of the M191 l’s thumb and grip safeties, as well as its disconnector, are also detailed in separate closeup drawings. Also included is an exploded parts diagram, which includes the Series 80 firing pin safety subassembly. This chart, which comes in two different sizes, should answer virtually any question about the M1911 cycle of operation.-S.L.W.

TO “RESTORE” ANTIQUES OR NOT

Q: Vintage automobiles are worth far less in original, unrestored condition, than when restored to original condition. Why is the opposite true with vintage firearms? I have read time and time again that one should not re-blue or otherwise restore an old collectible gun, as it will reduce the collector value and interest. Why is this?

A: I agree with your observation that restored or refinished antique firearms are worth less than those in untouched original condition, even if that condition is far from pristine. I am not sure I can answer the “why” of this, but I will make some observations. While, as you note, restoration is an acceptable and possibly desirable practice for vintage automobiles, there are other collectible fields where, as with guns, restoration is not accepted. While I don’t know much about numismatics, I understand that it is not acceptable to polish collectible coins to restore their original luster. Also, with many types of antiques, a “patina” that gives evidence of the true age of the piece is far preferred to a fresh coat of paint that obscures the historical authenticity of the item.

Much of the romance of arms concerns the possible circumstance of their usage, and perhaps the single most used phrase by gun collectors is: “If only this gun could talk.” The phrase is usually applied to pieces that appear to have seen more than the inside of a bureau drawer for the past century. With automobiles, the phrase is probably closer to “it looks like it just rolled off the showroom floor.” Perhaps collectible automobiles evoke more a sense of a general era rather than specific events.

Another difference may be that some on-going level of maintenance and restoration is necessary to keep autos functional, and hence they must be continually slightly altered from their original components to maintain their usability. Firearms generally do not wear out their components as quickly, and minor internal mechanical repair to keep the piece functioning seems to be more acceptable than cosmetic enhancement of the exterior.

Finally, I would note that restored and refinished arms have become more acceptable to some firearms enthusiasts as the high-original-condition guns become less affordable. While some collectors would prefer a no-finish gun, there seems to be an emerging contingent that likes an old gun that looks like new. While I would say they are still a small minority of the collecting fraternity, their numbers are growing.-J.S.

CROSS DOMINANCE

Q: A recent visit to an optometrist revealed that my left eye is “dominant.” I shoot right-handed and have a habit of closing my left eye when sighting. I am concerned that this is causing problems with obtaining a proper sight picture. The optometrist (a nonshooter) had a simple suggestion: “Shoot left-handed.” The mechanics may be difficult after shooting right-handedformore than 30 years and may really foul up my high power rifle scores.

I tried sighting with both eyes open in air rifle matches. Instead of using an occluder I placed a piece of translucent scotch tape on the left lens of my glasses. It seemed to help reduce the strain of keeping my left eye closed. I also imagine that more than one occluder would be necessary when shooting three position. Does the use of occluders on one or both eyes help when the eye used for sighting is not the “dominant” eye? Will they help regardless of the “dominant” eye?

A: A surprising number of shooters are “cross-dominant”-that is, right-handed and left eye dominant. If it presents a problem, and it usually does, there are two approaches to solving it. One is to shoot via the left side of the body. This may not be a very good solution, as shooting right-handed is often deeply ingrained and is a habit not easily broken. The other approach (and it may be better for you) is to shoot as accustomed, right side, but use the less-dominant right eye by occluding the left eye-assuming that the acuity of the right eye is good.

Also to be considered is whether or not the left eye is strongly dominant. If so, it complicates things a bit. If not, then using the right eye is not too difficult. Your translucent tape is a good approach, if it blocks the left eye sufficiently. Otherwise, go to a solid dark (brown or black) full opaque occluder. The pinhole of the occluder clears the sight picture, regardless of the eye over which it is used.

Do not try to change eye dominanceit could lead to some very undesirable visual problems. You also have a good point in using different occluders for different shooting positions. The occluder should not distort your shooting head/eye/body posture factors, so adapt them to your shooting position.

How the occluders work with a pinhole over the shooting eye, but solid for the dominant but non-shooting eye, depends in good part on the nature of your visual/perceptual patten. Don’t worry, you do not spend enough time in this artificial visual situation to cause any harm, if you are a typical shooter. Occluders help, as I said above, regardless of which eye is used for aiming. The time you want both eyes open is when you are shotgunning-pointing and not aiming the gun. With just one eye, you will badly judge where the “bird” is in space and where it is going.-R.B.P.

WHAT’S ANODIZING?

Q: I keep reading in “Dope Bag” reports that pistol frames or shotgun receivers are made of anodized aluminum. What is anodizing?

A: Anodizing is one of the most economical and practical finishes for aluminum parts. It is an electrochemical process in which the part to be treated is the positive electrode. A thick, even layer of hard aluminum oxide is built up on the surface of the part. This is initially gray or colorless, and is actually dyed to produce the desired color. This can be black, silver or almost any other shade. In the 1950s, a variety of wild color schemes were tried, but were poorly received by most gun buyers.

Anodizing is fairly durable, but cannot be touched up as easily as blued steel. Many gunsmiths use black marking pens to cover scratches, but the best solution is stripping and reanodizing. Two sources for this are Bob Parker, Dept. AR, RR 4, Strawberry Plains, TN 27871 and C.G. Industries, Dept. AR, 1189 Santiam Blvd., Albany, OR 97321.

Copyright National Rifle Association of America Jul 1997

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