The original Colt Mark IV/Series 70 Government Model, .45 Automatic Caliber pistol represented a major change in its use of a collet-style bushing mated to a barrel that was slightly enlarged at the muzzle. This arrangement effectively cured the problem of sloppy barrel to bushing fit that had plagued the Government Model's accuracy. The fit and finish of those guns was quite good, and as an added bonus, Colt was still polishing the flats to a mirror-like sheen that is rarely seen today on current production pistols. During that period of time, I owned two Series 70 1911 types, a Detective Special, and a six inch Python, all of which represented the epitome of Colt's commitment to quality.
The passage of time has seen a drastic change in the civilian market. Several companies have sprung up, and these have catered to that changing taste in 1911 type pistols, by offering features that were only provided by custom gunsmiths in the early to mid 1970s. Colt, by and large, did not follow suit, and lost their commanding market share. There were also quality issues that, true or not, undermined the general public's perception of Colt handguns.
The coming of the 21st century has seen Colt roaring back with a number of models (particularly their XSE line) that fulfill the needs and wants of the 1911 shooting population. Particular attention has focused on the Colt Custom Shop, and their offering of reproductions of World War I, World War II, and Series 70 pistols.
The subject of this review is a brand new Colt Mark IV/Series 70 Government Model in stainless steel.
These pistols come from the factory enclosed in a white box, which covers a very attractive blue box with the Rampant Colt, in gold, on the box top. Inside, the pistol rests with an extra magazine (both magazines hold 7 rounds and have "dimpled" followers), the obligatory cable lock, owner's manual, and safety instructions. The grips are of rosewood, supplied by Chip McCormick, and are very attractive. I prefer the ones with Colt medallions (I have a set on my blue Series 70).
Whenever I purchase a new semi-automatic pistol, I like to field strip it to remove the factory coating of grease. I then lubricate the weapon with Gun Butter, work the action vigorously several times, and re-field strip and clean the gun again. After that, I re-lubricate the pistol and take it outdoors to my range for test firing.
Colt is using a standard barrel bushing instead of the collet-style, which was found on the original Series 70 weapons. Supposedly, there were instances where the fingers on the collet bushing would break. With the re-introduction of these new pistols, Colt went back to the standard barrel bushing. Thus far, I have seen no indication of an adverse affect on accuracy.
The re-issue Series 70 does not have the Series 80 firing pin safety. It is my understanding that some of the Series 80 parts are used in the firing system (for company uniformity, if nothing else), but these are not connected to the trigger, and have no consequence on the pull weight.
The barrel, at the throat, has a "dimple" that is present on all of Colt's current 1911 type, .45 caliber handguns. This dimple is engineered to facilitate the reliable feeding of hollow-point ammunition, and it has functioned, as intended, for me.
My pistol has had over 500 rounds of various types of ammunition fired through it with no malfunctions of any type. This ammo has consisted of Winchester White Box 230 gr. FMJ, Winchester 230 gr. JHP, Federal American Eagle 230 gr. FMJ, Federal 165 gr. EFMJ, Federal 230 gr. Hydra-Shok, Speer Gold Dot 185 gr. GDHP, and Remington 230 gr. JHP.
Accuracy has been quite good with each and every type of ammunition tried, with the best results coming from Federal's EFMJ and Hydra-Shok. These rounds will consistently fire into 1 inch at 10 yards, using a two-handed hold. Twenty-five yard drills will put all of my shots into the K-ZONE of an FBI silhouette target, and within 5 to 6 inches out to 30 yards. That might not be "tack-driving" accuracy to the "bulls-eye boys", but these days a lot of my practice is taking place in low light (twilight, dusk).
(July 1, 2006)
A modified bench rest was utilized to conduct this test of the intrinsic accuracy of the Colt Series 70 pistol. I say "modified" because the "bench" is actually a relatively light wooden table, not permanently affixed to the ground.
Distance was 20 yards (60 feet). Ambient air temperature was 92 degrees Fahrenheit, with an inconsequential breeze of 12 miles per hour, blowing from left to right.
Federal American Eagle 230 gr. FMJ was fired from the Colt, and I recorded the second group fired, of two 5 round groups.
The trigger exhibited the barest amount of creep before breaking, which was the first time that I had noticed this. All of my previous range time has been from a standing, two-handed hold. The pistol was fired from a padded rest, using a two-handed hold.
On the NRA Slow Fire, 25 yard pistol target, horizontal dispersion was measured at 1.25 inches. Vertical dispersion checked out at 1.50 inches. I aimed for dead center of the target.
I don't believe that the new, re-issued version of the Series 70 suffers from the lack of a collet-style barrel bushing. The accuracy was more than acceptable to me, and I think that, in more competent hands, the gun would display even greater bench rest accuracy.
The sights on the new Series 70 are much larger than the G.I. sights on the original gun. These larger sights are easily acquired, and provide a good sight picture downrange.
I have no way to compare the accuracy of my new pistol with an original collet-equipped Series 70, but, insofar as my personal marksmanship has improved over the years, I am not disappointed with the accuracy displayed by the newer gun.
Finally, the only things on the new Series 70 stainless that a magnet won't stick to are the grips and the aluminum trigger. I have tested this on both of my new Series 70 pistols, and found this to be true on both examples. In this polymer-age, that is quite a welcomed change indeed.
So, is the new stainless Mark IV/Series 70 superior to the blue original? In some ways, yes! While the stainless version appeals to some folks, others feel better about carbon steel guns with blued finishes. I have both examples of the newest models, and prefer the "feel" of the blue gun to the stainless one. Functionally, both of my pistols have thus far been perfect. I prefer the sights on the newer weapons to those that were factory supplied on the original guns.
There is, however, that intangible something that the original Series 70 had. Granted, I might be viewing that gun through "rose-colored" glasses from a distance of 30 years, but I loved that pistol and lament not having it now. The new ones help that affliction, though!
Overall, this is one of the best 1911s that I've ever bought. It will remain in my collection as a valuable reminder of those two original Series 70 pistols from so long ago.