First Colt .45 Automatic Wasn't A 1911 - Shooting Sports Forum

1911 Talk (formerly Colt Government Talk) Everything about 1911 model pistols and their derivatives and knock-offs! Get advice about the Colt Government pistols, post items about your experience with these pistols and accessories for these pistols.

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 05-08-2011, 19:43   #1
Full Member
bmcgilvray's Avatar
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 1,342
First Colt .45 Automatic Wasn't A 1911

For any who are mildly interested in offbeat firearms of old.

I'm always interested in the "molded oldies" so here's one that introduced the popular .45 ACP cartridge to the world and that predates the grand ol' 1911 by a few years. It's a Colt Model 1905. A fairly scarce model, only 6100 were made, trickled out of the Colt factory in the years before before the "new and improved" 1911 hit the scene.

My Model 1905 is far from perfect. It is complete, original, has the proper magazine, and is in good order, but the blue has turned to a soft brown patina except in a few protected areas. The original finely checkered walnut grip panels are so worn that most of the checkering is completely gone.

When I was employed with a small-town bank in Texas a Mexican lady was a customer of mine and also cleaned the bank. After her brother had died she spoke of a Colt .45 automatic she had around the house that had been her brother's gun. She said it had previously been her grandfather's pistol and that he'd brought it with him when he came up from Mexico. I love old guns and envisioned an old beater of a U. S. Army .45 so asked her to bring it by sometime. She said she would and that in fact she'd thought of selling it as she was concerned about having it about the house with her grandchildren. I didn't much think I'd want it as I have some decent military .45's.

One day she brought it by my office wrapped in a rag inside a paper sack. I'm sure my chin hit the desk when I unwrapped it to find a Colt Model 1905. Of course I was interested in purchasing it and told her so. She was hesitant as it was a family heirloom. I said: "that's ok, I don't blame you for wanting to hang on to it. Why don't you let me clean it up for you so it may be better preserved?" So I cleaned it, oiled it, and gave it a thin coating of RIG. I returned it to her and didn't think any more about it.

Several years later and after I'd left that bank, I ran into her and she asked me if I still wanted to buy her .45. Well of course I did so I took possession of the old pistol.

I've read that the early Colt automatics with the dual link "parallel slide rule" design were unsafe to fire. The design doesn't share many of the later 1911's attributes. After examining the design closely I determined that if the slide velocity wasn't too high the gun should be fine to fire.

In bygone years folks fired their Model 1905s with the standard 230 grain ball ammunition but I go easy on this one. The .45 ACP as it was introduced in 1905 featured a 200 grain bullet so I prepared some 200 grain lead SWC handloads with moderate charges of Unique and Bullseye. I worked up from the minimum listed charge weights to a middle-of-the-road charge which gave good function. The old gun is as accurate as my other military .45s and has never jammed. It has a really decent trigger and, though the grip angle is a bit more abrupt than that on the 1911, it is surprisingly pleasant to shoot and recoil is easily tolerated. I wouldn't subject it to a lot of use but am willing to take it out for occasional exercise.

I've never indulged in naming my firearms with the exception of this one which I call Pancho Villa. It just has to be one of his original guns. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I keep intending to spring the hundred bucks for a Colt factory letter but haven't gotten around to it.

As may be seen, it's missing a couple of grip screws. I'm certain that the same sized screw fits several early Colt semi-auto pistols but how often does one stumble across any such pistols or screws? If anyone has a suggestion for a source I'd be grateful to know it.

bmcgilvray is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-10-2011, 11:06   #2
Full Member
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 108
no thumb safety, and it's fragile, the 2 link system of lowering the barrel out of battery with the slide is unnecessary and weak. Many people had input into developing the 1911 out of the 1905, and John Browning was not much involved in it at all.
tap is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-10-2011, 14:32   #3
Full Member
bmcgilvray's Avatar
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 1,342
Thanks tap.

I've just now thrown the old, piece-of-junk Colt into the trash bin along with a couple of reference books that had been on the shelf here: Donald B. Bady's "Colt Automatic Pistols: 1896 - 1955" and John Potocki's "The Colt Model 1905 Automatic Pistol."

You know so much more about the design and the designer(s) than the reference works can show and besides; before you commented, I was taking this particular design seriously as a front line SHTF handgun. Thanks for saving me from myself.
bmcgilvray is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2011, 19:41   #4
Super Member
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 6,122
Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
Thanks tap.

I've just now thrown the old, piece-of-junk Colt into the trash bin along with a couple of reference books that had been on the shelf here: Donald B. Bady's "Colt Automatic Pistols: 1896 - 1955" and John Potocki's "The Colt Model 1905 Automatic Pistol."
If you insist toss it my way. And if you have an old S&W 1917 give it toss my way too. Beautiful piece of history, fantastic gun that help lead to perhaps the greatest handgun ever designed. Congrats on having such a fine firearm, Ol' Pancho himself would be proud to see how well his sidearm has survived over 100 years.
"I have no issues with people of all types being here, I do have a problem with the more extreme ends of any spectrum trying to dominate and push out moderates and opposites." Bill Plein
gossman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-20-2011, 15:24   #5
Full Member
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Old New England
Posts: 58
Thanks for sharing your fantastic piece of history. You are a lucky guy!

What I'd like about it if it was mine is that it is worn enough not to be too collectible to shoot...and I'd for sure shoot it just for fun.

Enjoy that Colt, bmc. And again, thanks for sharing.

Oh, and don't worry about tap...being new to this planet he's just a bit confused, as the John Browning on the far-flung planet he's from is just an uneducated part-time janitor at the local kwik-e-mart (and not a very good one at that), and that John Browning only knows a few things more than tap. Which, of course, is no mark of distinction at all, as on this planet that IQ ranks somewhere between amoeba and reindeer moss.

Can't say it enough - enjoy that Colt & thanks for sharing!

Moxie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-20-2011, 16:13   #6
Full Member
bmcgilvray's Avatar
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 1,342
Thanks for the kind words guys!

I hadn't returned to this thread until today so didn't see them.

Y'all gave me the courage to fish the ol' Colt out of the trash can before the truck comes by next Monday, despite it's obviously deep flaws that tap so knowledgeably pointed out.

And yeah, ol' wretched, worthless, M1917 revolvers are kept around here, both a Colt and a Smith & Wesson. They just wouldn't do for any serious shooting purpose though. You see, the .45 ACP suddenly becomes weak as water and ineffective when fired through these old government supplied stop-gap revolvers. It's a wonder that American Doughboys managed to make any contribution at all to World War I with such junk.

If old, obsolete, poorly designed, and junky is your thing in the gun world then I'm your guy.
bmcgilvray is offline   Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 04:58.
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1
All information is copyright by unless already under copyright.