Friday, February 12, 2010

Ugly Duckling follows me home

So there I was just minding my own business--not bothering anybody--when I happened upon this poor, neglected and quite shopworn .45 automatic pistol sitting in a pawn shop.
It looked like hell. The finish was almost entirely worn off, the metal had some nicks taken out of it, the slide stop was broken in half (how did THAT even happen?) and the barrel was worn pretty smooth inside. The low price on the gun reflected the obvious view of the shop owner that this gun was a piece of old junk well past redemption, but I saw past the gun's outward appearance right off the bat when I recognized it as an Argentine-made Model 1927.
These guns had been made for the Argentine military under license from Colt Mfg., and built on machines purchased from Colt under the supervision of Colt engineers. Basically, these are Colt Model 1911s that were built in a different country, and the quality and workmanship was just as good as anything coming out of the actual Colt factory in Hartford, Connecticut. I picked it up and wiggled the slide--it was still tight. No rattling when shaken. The hammer still moved back and clicked solidly into the cock and half-cock positions with no play or slop, and the trigger pull, while muddy, was typical of a mil-spec 1911. It has a strong import mark on the left front of the slide, but behind that, the lettering was still clear: D.G.F.M.-(F.M.A.P.), short for "Direccion General de Fabricaciones Militares, Fabrica Militar de Armas Portatiles" (General Directorate of Military Factories, Argentine Government Arsenal.)As I turned it over in my hands, I could hear the line from The Six Million Dollar Man TV show in my mind. "We can rebuild it...We can make it better than it was before..." And I envisioned this pistol with a pristine new finish over a fresh polishing job, low-profile Wilson Combat sights, a tuned trigger that breaks crisply at about 4lbs, ambidextrous safety, Pachmayr grips...Yeah.

"This thing's beat," I said, beginning the negotiation process. "What kind of abuse did this thing see to break that slide stop? Damn...someone bent the front sight, too. Not much of a barrel left, either. What'd they clean it with--emory cloth?"

The gun was already priced quite fairly for what it was, but half the fun of these pawn shops is in trying to get an even better deal. I was banking on the fact that the guy behind the counter didn't really know what he had here, and over the next ten minutes or so, I played with it, feigned a lot of skepticism, pointed out every flaw that I could see or imagine, and finally I handed it back and told him I'd think about it, then pretended to walk out the door.
But as I got to the door, I stopped, turned, paused for a few seconds, and made him an offer that was about 40% less than the already reasonable asking price. He countered with 25% off and I jumped on it. MINE! He even threw in a really nice pistol case with it.

So now I'm home with my newest ugly gun. It already has a new slide stop installed and it passes all of the function tests. A bit of quick research based on serial number indiczates that it was manufactured in 1960. It's going to be my project gun and I'll restore and upgrade it as time and funds permit. When I'm done, I expect that I'll have a match or carry gun that'll serve me quite well indeed, and at a fraction of the price of a new gun.First order of business: Those pimp grips have got to go.


  1. Aw.. The grips are 'purty'!!! :):):)

  2. Yeah...perfect for pimps or people who live in San Francisco.

    But they're gone now. The pistol now sports genuine imitation walnut grips just like any good US military .45 used to.

  3. What sort of finish are you thinking of going with?

  4. Bob, I haven't decided yet. Have to see how it cleans up, and then I'll have to choose between blue, park or one of the new baked-on finishes. So many choices...

  5. Saw this item on ebay and thought that it could really come in handy for someone such as yourself.
    Seems most of your guns have a story and this would do you well.
    Of course you may already something like it...but it is still cool. Not that we don't love reading the blog details, but this seemed know like a boy's diary. ;-)

  6. Thanks. Rest assured that my guns are logged multiple times, both hard-copy and on-line off-site. Every serial number and distinctive mark is memorialized right along with their individual histories. I also keep track of who I buy them all from and if I sell them, who to. Gun owners can never take too many precautions, and I don't miss many tricks.