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Thread: Colt pistols by Western Arms - a multiple-guns project

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    29th May 2004
    Athens, Greece, Earth
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    Blog Entries

    Colt pistols by Western Arms - a multiple-guns project

    Some months ago, I published a review of a Tokyo Marui (TM) 1911A1, which I had converted to a Colt Delta Elite (DE) pistol, using a full-metal frame/slide kit. That pistol had two things that bothered me. First I didn't have any real DE grips (with the red Δ in the medallion) and second the thumb safety used was a strange extended one, I wanted the standard tear-drop safety on that pistol.

    Fast forward to a month or so ago, when I had contacted my friend Mike of Elite Shooting Center for a Western Arms (WA) Colt Government Series 80 Collectors Edition pistol. While talking to Mike, I thought that I might order a WA DE pistol and use its grips on the TM one.

    Of course, buying a new pistol just to get its grips off and use them on another pistol doesn't make much sense, but the WA DE had some other parts that I could use in some other projects, so I decided to order it.

    At the same time, while I was checking what other offerings were available from WA, and since I am allowed to import up to three airguns from an EU country, I asked Mike to order this WA model for me.

    This is the WA Colt Series 80 CQB model and I thought it would make a good base for a semi-custom Series 80 Government model. It already comes with a Commander round hammer and scalloped grip safety, an extended thumb safety etc, so I thought I could use some of the DE parts to make a good gun out of it. So Mike got an order for three pistols, and I was left poorer by a significant amount.

    Pretty soon, a parcel arrived at my door, with the pistols. As soon as I got some free time (next morning, when the kids went to school), I took apart both the CQB and the DE, each one in a box, so that I don't loose any part.

    Colt Delta Elite by TM

    Easy things first. I got the WA DE grips and tried to put them on the TM one. No go!!!!! I discovered that the TM grip bushings were too tall and didn't allow the grips to sit flush on the frame. Well, nothing a little work with the dremel and a file wouldn't solve. Pretty soon, I had the bushings down enough to allow the DE grips to be perfectly fitted. OK, but why did the slide lock up at the rear, with no empty mag in the frame?

    Well, the front edge of the left grip panel was preventing the slide stop from coming all the way down, and it locked the slide back. Again, a little work on that corner of the grips, got the problem solved and I had the right grips on the pistol.

    OK, one thing taken care of, but I still had the thumb safety bugging me, I wanted a tear-drop safety and it looks as if no one is making such a safety for the TM pistol. While examining the existing thumb safety though, it came to me that I could modify it to become a decent tear-drop shaped one. With some more dremel work and filing, I had the safety I wanted.

    With that, the Delta Elite project was finalized and the pistol was returned in my airsoft collection display case.

    Colt Government Series 80 Mk IV customized

    It was then, the WA CQB turn to be ... customized. I wanted to use this pistol to create a lightly customized Colt Government model.

    What I first noticed was that the slide finish of the CQB was not matching the frame finish of the pistol. The frame is a little polished while the slide is matte. The DE frame however was a perfect match, finish-wise. OK, so first thing is to use the DE frame for the CQB.

    As you can see from its picture above, the rear sight this pistol came with, is an ugly, old Wilson Combat design. I hate it, but thank God the Delta Elite rear sight could be used to replace the ugly original one.

    With that transplant, the CQB slide looked much better, but the front sight had a problem. Being a dovetailed sight, its base was not contoured to match the curvature of the slide. That's something I hate, so off came the front sight and after some filing, it was re-installed on the pistol.

    OK, that took care of the slide. The frame was OK so the second Government model was ready. Here are some pictures of the finalized, lightly customized Government model.

    Left side view.

    Right side view.

    Nice wooden grips with golden Colt medallions.

    Pachmayr rubber base pad on the magazine (a 21 round one).

    Lower, flared ejection port, with black chamber with the proper markings.

    Despite the fact that the Delta Elite frame was an SCW while the slide was SCW3, there was no problem with the transplant operation and the pistol worked just great.

    That completed the second pistol and I placed it in my airsoft collection display (which is rapidly overfloating, I will soon need another one).

    One problem remained. I had a whole box of spare parts (or actually two half boxes), and I also had a significant issue. The kids who had noticed the three new guns in the display (the DE with its new grips, the Colt Government Series 80 Collectors Edition and the customized Government model) were asking to shoot them. I was not going to allow them to touch these, since I wasn't even planning to shoot these a lot myself either, so I needed a gun for a beater, a Government model that I could shoot at my heart's content, and which I could also allow the kids to use without worrying too much about it.

    Colt Government beater

    Well, this was a typical parts-gun. I used the frame that came originally with the CQB (SCW3), the slide of the Delta Elite (SCW), and internals left over from these two guns. However, I wanted to make this a spur hammer gun. Thank God, I had asked Mike to send me some spare parts too, which included a spur hammer, a spur grip safety etc.

    I assembled all these together, and here are the results.

    Left side view.

    Right side view.

    Three dots sights (with the ugly rear sight of the CQB), spur hammer and grip safety, tear-drop thumb safety and Pachmayr grips.

    The rear sight may be ugly, but it provides a good sight picture. I'll stick with it until Mike can find me a high profile Colt sight.

    Well, here is my beater Government model. Hopefully, Mike will also be able to find me a high-profile rear sight, so that I can get rid of that ugly one.

    Some notes

    The above pistols were of different WA families. For example, the CQB was an SCW3 pistol, while the DE was an SCW one. However, I was lucky to have already the spare SCW3 spur hammer from Mike, so the whole job could be accomplished easily. Still, even though my hammer was supposed to be SCW3, and it had the small hole in which the small spring and ball go, it was not completely machined as an SCW3 hammer should be. I solved the problem by machining the slot for the firing pin (for those who do not know that, the firing pin of an SCW3 pistol is an integral part of the hammer!) with the dremel. So it was not a painless conversion at all, but I enjoyed it to the max.


    Well, I think that I made the best possible use of my latest purchase.

    The Colt Government Series 80 Collectors Edition will remain as it came from the factory in my display.

    I wish I could change its sights with the high profile ones, but this pistol is too beautiful to risk destroying it just to change its sights. You can read my review of this pistol here: http://forum.m1911.org/showthread.php?t=57847

    The CQB has become a very nice, lightly customized Government model.

    The Delta Elite is now completed looking just like the real one.

    And I also got a beater I can play with, and allow the kids to shoot too.

    I have also plenty of spare parts left.

    All I need now is a new display shelf, this one doesn't have enough space for the pistols I have now, and I am still awaiting for three more to come.

    As a teaser....

    A Colt Python 3" revolver (with Pachmayr grips though).

    A Browning High Power (with wooden grips though).

    And a CZ-75B.

    God I can hardly wait for them.
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    Last edited by John; 22nd December 2008 at 05:37.

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