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American Handgunner Jul/Aug 2011 Digital Edition - Page 42
WINNINGEDGE Dave Anderson SOLID ADVICE TO KEEP YOU AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION Parts-Gun-Rebirth This Colt .45 appears to be assembled from an original 1970s-era Series 70 frame, and a stainless steel slide from the reintroduced Series 70 style. Although parts individually show typical Colt high quality of construction and materials, it appears this slide was not originally fitted to this frame by Colt, but was assembled by a hobby gun tinkerer. Nighthawk Custom Builds Your Dream Gun! B ack in the ’70s and early ’80s it was routine to buy a new Colt Series 70 (or later on, a Springfield Armory 1911A1) and immediately send it for custom work. A pistolsmith would tighten slide/frame fit, install a matchgrade barrel, replace lockwork components and tune the trigger pull, fit a beavertail grip safety, extended/ambi manual safety, extended mag release, high-visibility sights, mag chute, and maybe a rust resistant finish. Paying for a bunch of parts, only to throw them away and replace them with other parts, seems goofy in retrospect but it was just the way we did it. Then Kimber (and some semicustom gunmakers) made the astute decision to build guns the way shooters wanted to start with, and the modern 1911 was the result. One of the best of those semi-custom makers is Nighthawk Custom. Nighthawk offers several well-designed models using their own frames/slides and other components. Sometimes we need to be reminded Nighthawk is a true custom shop. They can work on a pistol you already own, anything from a basic trigger job to a full-house custom. There are thousands of basically sound, traditional 1911style pistols which can be made more shootable with some custom work. The Nighthawk website indicates they will build on your Colt, Springfield Armory or Kimber pistol. This isn’t because other makes are deemed unworthy, but because these manufacturers made considerable numbers of pistols known to be made to close tolerances, of quality steel properly heat-treated. 70 was reintroduced by Colt. My impression is this pistol was assembled from parts by a hobby gun tinkerer (I won’t say gunsmith). The slide/ frame fit is sloppy, with lots of play in all directions. Barrel fit is likewise sloppy, I’ve never seen a 1911-style pistol which had so much play at the chamber end. The trigger appears to be an aftermarket part and breaks at over seven pounds. Both extractor and ejector stick out past the rear of the slide, which doesn’t affect function, but doesn’t look good. My criticism is of parts-fit, not of the parts themselves. Since components were made by Colt we know they are made of quality steel and properly heattreated. Although this slide doesn’t fit this frame very well both are very well made. Machining is nice and crisp, slide flats are flat, pin holes in the frame seem straight and properly located. In short it’s ideal for this project as these are Continued on page 89 ? 42 Gun in T QuesTion he Colt Series 70 .45 ACP shown here has some interesting features. The “SM” serial number prefix suggests the frame was made in the ’70s, initially intended for an Ace .22 LR “Service Match.” Other than the prefix, these frames were identical to those intended for centerfire cartridges. Some were used in .45 ACP pistols. None of the original Series 70 pistols had stainless steel components. The slide of this pistol appears to be made of stainless after the Series Note the peened edges of the slide around the ejector and around the slide rails, and the protruding ejector and extractor. Sloppy features like this make me suspect the slide and frame were assembled from parts by a gun hobbyist. I own a lot of Colts and have owned a lot more, and I am sure Colt did not let a pistol leave the factory looking like this. WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • JULY/AUGUST2011