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Colt Post-Series 80 Government Model M1911A1: We Went to The Range to Test This Gun

Colt Mk IV Series 80 Government Model. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Recently, this writer has been on a bit of an M1911 autopistol test-firing binge, trying out a myriad of “factory custom” guns such as the Wilson CQB and Ruger SR1911, as well as more basic stock guns such as the Springfield Armory Mil-Spec. Heck, I’ve even test-fired a couple of 9mm 1911s – which will come across as heresy and an oxymoron to fans of the traditional .45 ACP chambering for the perennially popular pistol platform – such as the Staccato and the Israeli-made Bul Armory.

But after also doing an article comparing and contrasting historical variants made by the oldest and most famous name in the 1911 business, that being Colt’s Manufacturing Company, LLC, I realized that I had yet to fire any of the newer offerings – as in successors to the Series 80 line – from that time-honored gunmaker based in Hartford, Connecticut. 

Accordingly, this past weekend I tried out the latest and greatest version of the Colt Government Model at the highly impressive new XCAL Shooting Sports and Fitness in Ashburn, Virginia. I was also going to try out their Colt Defender, which is basically an updated version of the Officers ACP – the original subcompact 1911 – but as luck would have it, it was unavailable during my range trip.

Post-Series 80 (Current Edition) Colt Government Model History & Specs

If the copyright date on the owner’s manual is any indication, it was in 2003 that Colt’s beleaguered management finally came to its collective senses and decided to release its Traditional Series in an effort to win back the hearts, minds, and (especially) wallets of shooters who had gripes about the Series 80 Colts and had accordingly flocked in droves to competing manufacturers of 1911 pistols. The kvetches about the Series 80 Colts included: (1) the somewhat more fragile finger-style collet barrel bushings, which were actually a carryover from the Series 70 pistols; and (2) even more egregiously in the minds of these traditionalists, the passive firing pin block, which on the positive side prevented accidental discharges when the pistol was dropped, but on the negative side led to suboptimal trigger pulls. 

Which brings us to the current crop of Colt Government Model pistols. The Traditional Series in particular carries the full official designation “COLT GOVERNMENT .45 ACP 7RD X1 5″ STAINLESS/WOOD GRIPS O1911C-SS” and the following product description: 

“When you think of a 1911, you think of Colt. A tribute to the revered Commercial Government Model pistols of the past, the 1911 Classic features the Series 70 firing system and rollmarks, national match barrel, staked on front sights, and spurred hammer. Chambered in .45 ACP and Stainless Steel, this firearm is a pure and simple 1911, designed for you to make it your own.”

Whilst the much-maligned Series 80 firing pin lock is still there – safety liability/CYA reasons, y’know – the collet bushing has been replaced by the more durable and therefore far preferred, industry-standard solid barrel bushing. The rollmark on the slide is also a throwback to the pre-Series 70 era, the old-school galloping pony logo, which is a really nice nostalgic touch; ditto for the diamond-pattern wood grips.  

The sights are not the 3-dot system so common on most combat autopistols these days, but are big and blocky, a vast improvement over the Series 80 guns – not to mention the tiny mil-spec sights of the old GI guns from the two World Wars. Though listed on the website as having a 7-round magazine, the one that came with this particular rental gun actually held eight rounds, which is a nice bonus.

Personal Shooting Impressions

So then, as indicated at the beginning of the article, I was off to XCAL to give the newish Colt a try, using 50 rounds of PMC Bronze 230-grain full metal jacket (FMJ) “hardball.” The course of fire started with 25 rounds of head shots seven at yards –– followed by 15 rounds of center torso shots at 25 yards, and 10 rounds of groin shots at five yards. The seven- and 25-yarders were delivered from a two-handed Classic Weaver Stance, while the five-yarders were fired one-handed – divvied equally between weak hand-only and strong hand-only – using the StressFire Forward Punch technique.

At seven yards, I was reminded yet again why the basic 1911 pistol design is so enduringly popular after 102 years, as it punched out the center of the Thug 2 paper target’s face: bridge of the nose and left eye. The one-handed shots to the lower (ahem, cough cough) “head” (so to speak) at five yards produced similarly satisfying results.

At 25 yards, 11 rounds stayed in the green (primary) strike zone of the paper bad guy’s torso, two rounds strayed rightwards into the orange (secondary) zone, and two strayed farther still into the white (tertiary) zone, merely striking the Thug 2’s forearm.

So, what about that infamous firing pin block-addled trigger? It had some definite creep and grit to it, which probably accounts for the higher degree of stray rounds at 25 yards compared to all the tuned-up and slicked-up custom guns I’ve been trying out these past few months, but it still allowed for more than sufficient practical accuracy, including with the one-handed shots. 

Reliability was 100 percent. 

Want Your Own?

Current MSRP is $999.00 (hey, that’s technically under the $1K mark before taxes, right?). True Gun Value reports that “A COLT GOVERNMENT MODEL pistol is currently worth an average price of $1,080.69 new and $953.18 used. The 12-month average price is $1,135.60 new and $748.96 used.” Omaha Outdoors has a price range of $865.68 to $1,007.96, depending on finish – stainless steel vs blue – and caliber (.45 ACP vs. .38 Super).

Christian D. Orr is a Senior Defense Editor for 19FortyFive. He has 34 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.

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Written By

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).