How low will they go?

$360 dollar AR15 for sale here.

Prices on guns are at an amazingly low price.  I know that gunshops I have talked to are hurting for sales.  Now is really the best time to buy if there is something you want, and a terrible time to be selling.

To paraphrase a quote, “The problem with being in a golden age is that you don’t know it is a golden age when you are in it.”  Take advantage of this time while it lasts.

101 Uses For Ammocan

The online surplus website Old Grouch’s Surplus  sent out an email with a neat list of ideas if you are like me and have more of these than you know what to currently do with.

1- Make a portable wood stove
2- Lockable center console for your Jeep or UTV
3- Tool Box
4- Waterproof storage in your boat
5-Computer case
6- Pistol Storage
7- Field Toilet (line with a plastic bag to dispose of, don’t ruin your can!)
8- Waterproof and airtight seed storage
9- Flammable storage (paint cans, sprays)
10- Cache
11- Waterproof document storage
12- Seat around the campsite
13- Nut and bolt storage in the garage
14- Waterproof first aid kit
15- Ham Radio go-box
16- Foot Stool
17- Live trap, rigging the lid like a deadfall
18- Spare gun parts storage
19- Parts washer you can shut and store the fluid in
20- Store pistols
21- Store spare parts for guns, machines etc
22- Store fire starting equipment dry and safe
23- Planter
24- Faraday cage
25- Store and sort fired brass
26- Store gunpowder
27- Store magazines
28- Make a lockbox for your game cameras to keep the them secure
29- Store tire chains
30- Store emergency supplies in your car
31- Make custom motorcycle saddlebags
32- Oil drop pan
33- Store oils and grease in the car or truck to avoid leaks
34- Mount speakers inside in your Jeep
35- Make a Geocache
36- Store chain to keep it from getting everything dirty
37- Store receipts in your car until you can file them
38- Fill with chain or concrete to make weights for tractor or mower
39- Cigar humidor
40- Solar power system with battery inside and panel on top
41- Urn for a veterans ashes
42- Storage for kids toys
43- Storage for paint, markers and art supplies
44- Hide the stuff you don’t want your wife to find in an ammo box mixed with all the boxes of ammo
45- Store family pictures
46- Make a radio with speakers mounted in it
47- Transport power tools and batteries to jobsites dry and secure
48- Lunch box
49- Waterproof case for electronic game calls
50- Mailbox
51- Mount on trailer to hold straps, tarps & chains when not in use
52- Dog bowl when camping- store food in the can and open to serve
53- Mount to spare tire rack on a Jeep or SUV for extra storage space
54- Nesting box for chickens
55- Gun cleaning supply storage
56- Full with sand to use as exercise weights
57- Add foam padding for transporting sensitive electronics
58- ATV gear storage- mount to the racks for Waterproof storage for straps, emergency supplies, etc
59- Quench tank for blacksmiths
60- Battery box for deep cycle batteries
61- Camp food storage to keep critters big and small out
62- Ice chest, line the sides with Styrofoam for insulation
63- Soak your feet after a long day on the trail
64- Pack grab and go survival kits in them and give them as gifts
65- Bolt under the hood of a Jeep to store tools that won’t get stolen when you run topless
66- Store plumbing and electrical fittings at home or in a service truck
67- Store loose change
68- Mount one on your tractor to hold tools and one to hold chains and pins
69- Mount electric fence charger inside to protect from weather and damage
70- Boot scraper
71- Keep shoe polish and gear stored airtight
72- Stack like Legos to make furniture like chairs and benches
73- Ballot box
74- Essential oil storage
75- Shadow box with one side replaced with glass
76- Store poker chips & cards
77- Herb garden mounted on the wall
78- Store coffee and supplies on camping trips
79- Birdhouse
80- Giant emergency candle case that shuts for storage
81- Gift box for groomsmen
82- Store liquor bottles camping
83- Ash can for fireplace or wood stove
84- Knife storage
85- Keep spare computer cables, phone chargers stored neatly.
86- Mount as toolbox under truck flat bed or utility bed
87- Store pet grooming supplies
88- Keep pesticides and weed killers locked where kids and pets can’t get them
89- Keep weed trimmer string organized instead of all over the place
90- Wheel chock
91- Hunting Scent Storage
92- Cash box
93- After hours drop box for keys, money etc
94- Rocket stove
95- Case for Rasberry Pi projects
96- Hidden storage up under desk
97- Flotation device (when empty, don’t try this full of ammo!)
98- Keep your welding rods dry
99- Wash basin
100- Burn Box for documents
101- Keep your ammo in, of course!

A Short History of Chrome Bores

Again this week we have a post from our friend Kevin O’Brien, owner and author of weaponsman.com.  Kevin AKA Hognose, passed away earlier this year and in a back up effort we will be running  “The Best of weaponsman”  which could be every technical article he  wrote. 

 

For some 500 years it’s been known that rifling would impart spin and therefore stabilization to a ball or bullet. Spiral grooves probably evolved from straight grooves only intended to trap powder fouling; by 1500 gunsmiths in Augsburg, Germany, were rifling their arquebuses. This gave rise to an early attempt at gun control, according to W.S. Curtis in Long Range Shooting, An Historical Perspective: 

In the early 16th Century there are references to banning grooved barrels because they were unfair. Students of the duel will recognize this problem arising three hundred years later.

Curtis, 2001. Curtis notes that why rifling was twisted is unknown, and that it may have been incompletely understood. He has quite a few interesting historical references, including one to a philosopher who explained that if you spun the ball fast enough, the demon (who dwelt in gunpowder, which was surely Satan’s own substance) couldn’t stay on and guide your ball astray. (Curtis’s work is worth beginning at the beginning, which is here).

By the mid-19th Century, the Newtonian physics of the rifled bore had been sorted out, the Minié and similar balls made rifled muskets as quick-loading as smoothbores, and the scientific method allowed engineers to test hypotheses systematically by experimentation. So smoothbores were gone for quite a while (they would return in the 20th Century in pursuit of extreme velocities, as in tank guns).

Rifling had several effects beyond greater accuracy. It did decrease muzzle velocity slightly, and it did increase waste heat in the barrel. The first of these was no big deal, and the latter was easily handled, at first, by improved metallurgy. But rifling also helps retain highly corrosive combustion by-products in the bore; and corrosion was extremely damaging to rifling. Pitted rifling itself might not have too much of an effect on accuracy (surprisingly), but the fouling that collected in the pits did. Corrosion also weakened the material of barrels, but most military barrels had such great reserves of strength that this was immaterial, also.

Fouling and pitting have been the bête noire of rifles from 1498 in Augsburg to, frankly, today. A badly pitted barrel can only be restored by relining the barrel, a job for a skilled gunsmith with, at least, first-class measuring tools and a precision lathe with a long bed. Relining has never been accepted, to the best of our knowledge, by any military worldwide.

Chrome Plating is Invented: 1911-1924

One approach has been to use corrosion-resistant materials for barrels, but that has been late in coming (late 20th Century) because it is, of course, metallurgy-dependent. Early in the 20th Century, though, American scientists and engineers developed a new technology — electroplating. George Sargent, of UNH and Cornell, worked with chromium as early as 1911, and Columbia scientists developed a commercially practical process of using electrodes to deposit chromium by 1924. Meanwhile a New Jersey professor worked with a German process.

The two groups of professors formed start-ups, the Chemical Treatment Company and the Chromium Products Corporation. At this point, chrome plating has not been applied to firearms. Electroplating had been used for guns for decades, of course, but that was nickel plating — eye-pleasing, but soft and prone to flaking, not suitable for bores, and not remotely as corrosion-resistant as chromium.

(This article is rather long, so it is continued after the #More link below. We next take up the application of this process to rifle bores).

Chrome comes to bores in the lab: 1925-32

One thing that had held chrome plating back was lack of a practical quality control method. George Dubpernell discovered a practical test almost by accident: chrome would adhere to copper, but copper would not adhere to chrome. This was later supplanted by NDT methods, but it was essential to the growth of chrome in industry.

Olin’s and Schuricht’s patent of 1932 (not 1935, a rare error in Emerson),  US Patent 1,886,218, applied chrome plating to small arms and sporting weapons’ bores. They applied for the patent in 1927, and note, as is now well known, that bores must be made slightly oversized to account for the dimensional changes from chrome deposition. They also, interestingly, saw chrome plating as a way to restore worn rifling and eroded barrels. We’re unaware of any such use being brought into practice in the intervening decades.

Meanwhile, in 1937, T.K. Vincent noted that:

Chromium plating of small arms barrels results in longer accuracy life. However, the cost of plating is excessive compared to the results obtained.

The longer accuracy life results from taming the bugbear of bore erosion. By 1942, in a thorough study of bore erosion of guns large and small (from 3″ naval guns to small arms),  Burlew noted a report by Russell that considered chrome plate a “bad” material from a bore-erosion standpoint, except “when made very adherent”; in that case it was an “excellent” material, roughly five to nine times better than ordinary plating. Chrome-plated steel barely edged out bare steel, and all beat exotic metals like Inconel and Monel; the least erosion was found in the chrome-plated barrels with the thinnest chrome plating (0.0005″), although all these tests were of a 12″ naval gun, and their applicability to small arms might not be direct or proportional.

The technology of chrome plating continued to advance, even as weapons designers struggled to bring the technology’s benefits to bear on practical small arms.

Adoption of chrome by the world’s militaries — early adopters

The Empire of Japan was the earliest nation to chrome the bores of its rifles. The Japanese had different reasons, perhaps, than other nations. In Japan, supply of high-quality steel was insufficient to wartime requirements. This is especially true after 1940, when the United States imposed sanctions on the island nation, which depended on imports for almost all resouces; and even more true as unrestricted submarine warfare, which was ordered implemented even as the Pearl Harbor strike force was recovering on their carriers, began to strangle the home islands.

Casting about for a way to work with the second-rate steels they had, the engineers at Sagami Arsenal, which was used for ammunition storage and for war production (Japan’s only 100-ton tank was built here; it was too heavy to move to the seaport for deployment) set upon a 1937 patent. They concluded that chrome-plated mild steel could substitute for some high-speed and high-carbon steels, and from 1940 that’s what Japanese engineers did. The history of a Japanese firm explains:

The Japan Science Council reported then Government to recommend the policy to apply hard chrome plating on the low grade steel as the alternative to high grade one, such as special steel or high-speed steel, under the difficult external trade conditions to get them, the invention, Patent No.131175 (1937), “the method to deposit hard and thick metal chrome plating” by Minoru Araki, the former president of Company, being as the technical foundation. It was followed by the request to establish a specialized company of hard chrome plating (industrial chrome plating) from National Headquarters of Aviation, Sagami Arsenal, and customers.

As a result, the next rifle adopted by Japan, the Type 99 Arisaka 7.7mm rifle, had a chrome-plated bore. As David Petzal writes for Field and Stream, they were “the first military barrels ever to have this feature.”

The industrial and materials-science reasoning behind Japanese chroming is missing from most US sources. Gordon Rottman (a fellow SF veteran) writes that , “the Japanese had the foresight to produce the type 99 with a chrome-plated board to prolong barrel life, ease cleaning, and protect it from tropical rust.”

In addition to the Type 99s, all of which were intended to be made with chrome-lined bores, all Type 100 submachine guns, some late Type 38 6.5mm Arisakas, and some late Type 14 “Nambu” pistols had chrome-lined bores. By late in the war, ever more serious materials shortages meant that chrome bores were one of the features deleted from late production guns (like such Type 99 features as a monopod).

The United States initially chromed only large-caliber artillery bores. From Navweaps.com:

In the 1930s, the USN started to chrome plate the bores of most guns to a depth of 0.0005 inches (0.013 mm). This was “hard chrome,” which is not the kind that you find on your father’s Oldsmobile. This plating increased barrel life by as much as 25%. The plating generally extended over the length of the rifling and shot seating. Chrome plating has also been found to reduce copper deposits.

All along, as a large body of scientific papers at DTIC reveals, US small arms developers continued to work on chrome for small arms. US engineers were aided in this by their very great extent to which chrome was being used in the automotive industry. Springfield Armory developers would have had access to many papers being produced at the same time by the SAE, and Springfield of course worked closely with the developers, themselves, of chrome industrial processes.

But chrome was not standardized for US small arms bores until after World War II — in fact, not until the mid-1950s, well after Japanese and Russian adoption of the technology. As we’ve recounted here before, the first US weapon to be manufactured new with a chrome bore was the M14 rifle. Around the same time, chrome bores were used in developing a 7.62 mm NATO conversion kit for the Browning light machine guns, and replacement barrels that were manufactured for Legacy weapons like the M1 rifle, started to be manufactured with chrome bores as well.

Because chrome bores lost some definition in the rifling, and therefore some accuracy, National Match rifles continue to be produced with standard bores. But the advantages of chrome in the field could not be overlooked.

The M16 rifle was initially produced without a chrome bore. There are two reasons for this: first, the M16 was a product of a private industry initiative, and not the usual Army development system. The disastrous fielding of the M-16, with the bare bore combined with very poor maintenance practices and some units, led to the Army adding a chrome chamber, and then finally a chrome bore to the weapon.

Another assembly of the M-16 was chromed, and this led to a lot of problems. The part in question was the entire bolt carrier group. Early on, a number of the bolts and bolt carriers failed. This turned out to be due to metallurgical problems, specifically with heat treating (that will sound familiar to anyone who has followed the M14 history), the deficiencies of which were masked by the plating, and also with hydrogen embrittlement of the steel carrier during the chroming process. The specification was changed to require the bolt to be Parkerized, except for its internal expansion chamber, and the inside of the bolt carrier key, which are still chromed (chroming only a single surface of a part does not risk hydrogen embrittlement).

Early chrome BCGs that were properly heat-treated and passed testing were allowed to remain in M16A1s by the Army, but they were not allowed to be deployed OCONUS. The reason given (in the M16 maintenance manual, TM9-1005-319-23&P) is simply to prevent glare off a chrome bolt carrier from exposing soldiers’ positions.

The USSR‘s reasons for introducing chrome plating (whether for corrosion control, ease of cleaning, or metallurgy) are unknown to us, but extensive collector interest makes it clear when the feature was added: 1950. No known 1949 SKS or AK rifles have chrome bores, some 1950 models do, and almost all 1951 and subsequent guns do. Chinese AK and SKS rifles were produced with chrome bores from their introduction in 1956. Some satellites’ bores were not chromed, notably Yugoslavia’s pre-1970s. (Yugoslavia was technically not a “satellite,” but it was a Eurasian communist country).

For practical purposes, this means that all Soviet and Chinese spec AKs will have chrome bores. In addition, gas pistons are also chromed. This greatly facilitates cleaning, and prevents corrosion in a highly corrosion-prone part of the system.

Russian small arms of larger caliber, including the 37mm tube of the RPG-7V, are also chromed.

Adoption of chrome by the world’s militaries – later adopters

Belgium, a small country that looms large in world firearms exports thanks to FN, was not an early adopter of chrome bores. The entire production of the FN-49, including all ABL, SAFN, and AFN rifles, left the FN factory with conventional steel bores. Much later, metric pattern FALs received, first, chrome chambers, and later chrome bores. What makes FN interesting enough to comment on here is their  use of chrome extended to the internal parts of their MGs and the insides of their receivers, making MAGs and Minimis very easy to clean.

US variants of these FN guns don’t have these parts chromed. The initial MAGs and Minimis purchased using using special funding vehicles by select US special operations units, had these features. In subsequent US production, the chroming was eliminated, and those parts of the M240 and M249 are Parkerized. We don’t know if this was done to save money, because the Army simply preferred the Parkerized coating, or because of the Army’s bad experience with chromed bolts on the M16A1.

Britain adopted chrome bores well after World War II, including some retrofits like the L4 Bren Gun from at least the L4A4 version to the final L4A9. As noted above, Britain’s inch-pattern FALs did not receive chrome bores.

Chrome chamber vs Chrome bore

Industrially speaking, each of these had its own pros and cons. Chroming the whole barrel was more expensive, increased demands for both manufacturing and inspection precision, required the rifling to be cut slightly oversize (to allow for the chromium deposition), and led to much greater waste. Chroming the chamber was a compromise that enhanced extraction — a sticky problem with many automatic arms — without the costs and problems associated with full-length bore chroming.

But the US experience showed that half a loaf (chroming the chamber only) didn’t get the job done. While the chamber became very resistant to corrosion, GI’s inspection of the bore often stopped with a glance in the chamber area, and if the chamber was gleaming, they’d assume the rifle was good to go — eveb as combustion byproducts and deposits ate away at the rifling.

Meanwhile, chrome bores let the manufacturers do things that were difficult or even impossible with conventional manufacturing processes. As noted above, the Japanese were able to use chromium plating to substitute for lack of chromoly steel. In the USA, Springfield Armory discovered that by slowly withdrawing the barrel, chamber first, from the chromium bath they could create a squeeze-bore effect due to the higher deposition of chrome on the parts of the barrel that were in the chrome bath longer. (Methods of altering the depth of chrome depositions produced at least two patents, 2,425,349 and 2,687,591; the second is Springfield’s process).

Chrome’s cost rises

In the 1970s, the chost of chromium suddenly went through the roof: the two greatest producers, Rhodesia and the USSR (ironically, two defunct nations, today) were locked out of the US market, the former by sanctions and the latter by international politics. (Note that around 1974 the styles of American cars began to use less chrome plate and more body-colored and black molding. This fashion was driven in part by costs).

Today, the biggest driver of rising plating costs is new environmental regulations. Chromium, like most metals, is something you really don’t want to breathe in.

Quality chrome plating is still expensive, and cheap plating produces a lot of waste. Some gun parts makers have chosen to, essentially, ignore the waste and ship products with poor (or zero!) nondestructive testing and inspection, sacrificial sample examination, or other valid QC.

Chrome plating today & tomorrow

Plating has to fight to maintain its place vis-a-vis other anticorrosion technologies, including noncorrosive metals (i.e. stainless steel) and superior steel coatings like Melonite, but it has a very strong position as an erosion fighter, particularly in barrels subject to high temperatures (think automatic fire).

Some scientists are working on electroplating as a means of additive manufacturing. Laugh if you like, but the plating industry of today was entirely based upon laboratory discoveries.

And gun engineers continue to apply new kinds of chromium treatment to bores. A recent patent application by Rheinmettal covers depositing a different thickness of chrome in the lands and the grooves of a rifled barrel.

One of the biggest changes is that a chrome-plated bore, if made with sufficient care, may be as accurate or more accurate than a bare bore. (For example, SAK manufacture M16 replacement barrels seem to outshoot many target barrels). But this may not be as big a change as you think. According to Emerson, in 1962 Springfield Armory made a small quantity of chromed National Match barrels. They discontinued the practice not because the barrels were bad, but because they were much more expensive to make than bare barrels, and they were not any better. But they were atdid fully comply with national match standards at the time.

Chrome-lined barrels are currently the standard in military small arms. This will change if and when something better comes down the pike – and not before.

References

Burlew, John S. The Erosion of Guns, Part One: Fundamentals of Ordnance Relating to Gun Erosion. Report No. A-90 Progress Report. Washington: National Defense Research Committee, 8 Sep 42. Retrieved from: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a422462.pdf

Burlew, John S. The Erosion of Guns, Part Two: The Characteristics of Gun Erosion. Report No. A-91 Progress Report. Washington: National Defense Research Committee, 31 Oct 42. Retrieved from: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/b280242.pdf

Curtis, W.S. Long Range Shooting, An Historical Perspective. Research Press, 2001. Retrieved from: http://www.researchpress.co.uk/longrange/lrhistory.htm

Dubpernell, George. History of Chromium Plating. Products Finishing magazine, 13 Nov 12. Reprint of Plating & Surface Finishing from 1984. Retrieved from: http://www.pfonline.com/articles/history-of-chromium-plating

Emerson, Lee. M14 Rifle History and Development. Online Edition, 2007. 

GlobalSecurity.org. Sagami Depot, Japan. n.d. Retrieved from: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/sagami-depot.htm

Koka Chrome Industry Ltd., Company History. n.d. (2011 or later). Retrieved from: http://www.koka-chrome.co.jp/en/company/history.html

Olin, John, and Schuricht, Alfons. Gun barrel and process of finishing the same. Washington, 1932: US Patent No. 1,886,218. Retrieved from: http://www.google.com/patents/US1886218.

Rottman, Gordon. Japanese Army in World War II: the South Pacific and New Guinea, 1942–43. 2005: Osprey Publishing. (p. 36).

US Army, Technical Manual: Unit and Direct Support Maintenance Manual (Including Repair Parts and Special Tools List): Rifle, 5.56mm M16A2; Carbine, 5.56mm M4; Carbine, 5.56mm M4A1. Washington, DC, 9 Apr 97

Vincent, T.K. Development of Chrome Plating of Guns. Abstract only (have been unable to find the full text). Aberdeen Proving Ground: Ballistics Research Labs, 1937. Retrieved from: http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?&verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=AD0701179

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

 

Colt’s New Lightweight Commander Part 1

The   of Colt light weight Commander  has been  around for a long time.    It was the first major variant of the M1911 that colt brought out to the market and while a lot of the big names associated with handgun use and training and gun writers  at the time considered  close to perfect for carry, it did not take off in popularity at the time.

The original Commander with the ally frame  lead to  the Combat Commander with the steel frame.  The all steel frame commander is  a fine gun. It handles superbly and  some people, lie my brother, find they can shoot the combat commander better than a full size 1911.   I have owned both and love both but I have come to prefer the original commander over the CC. The reason for that is that if I am going to be carrying a smaller gun, I may as well have a smaller and lighter gun.  For all of my adult life I always preferred the full size M1911 for carry and I still do. But with the  Commander ( I will refer to the alloy frame as what it originally was , the commander and the steel frame later model as the CC , for Combat Commander )I get a M1911 a little shorter and considerable weight savings.  While the Colt Defender is a sub compact, it  doesn’t give the sight radius or full grip of the commander.  The subcompacts also require careful accounting of how often you replace springs.  Of course that isnt’t a deal breaker or a negative, it’s just the trade off for having such a compact gun.  Just like rotating tires and changing oil.

With all that in mind, when Colt brought a Commander back out in specs that are much like my beloved XSE models, I bought one as quickly as I could.

Like all Colt handguns it came with two Colt factory mags in the same finish as the gun.  They are of course full sized mags because the commander has a full sized grip.  Both mags are the 8 round type sure to give an upset tummy to the 7 round mag purists I have no doubt.

 

A very nice touch on this new model is the grips.  This is a big upgrade Colt has been adding to its current pistol line up because they are the  very tough VZ grips.  As you can see the grips are made with the Colt logo made into the checkering and it is very attractive to my eyes.  I like checkered wood grips on CCW guns and these look and feel the same as wood checkering and are a lot tougher.  Unlike wood checkering these won’t wear down and smooth out like wood, keeping the gripping texture the same.

The commander comes with the an  extended combat safety.  I am not 100 percent but I am pretty sure it is a wilson combat model.  I still prefer the STI safeties that came on the XSE series, but I have no complaints with this one and I doubt I will ever change it out.  The temptation to go ambi is strong though. I have a hard time understanding why anyone for not want a safety they could deactivate with either hand when it comes to a gun they think some day they may have to fight with.   That said, it is not a must and I will leave this one as is.

You can see the current commander comes with the hammer type that was introduced when the original commanders came to market.  A lot of people really like the look of this “rowel ” style hammer and will add one to their guns.  For a long time I was indifferent about this but in recent years it has grown on me.  It is however slightly heavier than the rounded hammer that is more common, so it does have an advantage beyond classic good looks.

You can also of course see the now standard S&A grip safety.  I am pleased to say this is something colt has started doing since 09 and it was long awaited by me.  There are a lot of grip safeties out there but this one is the one I always opt for when I have a choice.

The commander also comes with the standard sights for Colt’s combat and carry pistols.  Those of course are the Novaks. I know there is a move towards rear sights that can be used for cycling the gun by hand if wounded in one arm but I find that there are plenty of other edges on a 1911 that  can be used for this.  The front sights, the edges on the ejection port are a couple of examples.   I love the look and lines of the novak sights. I also like the non snag lower profile.  It’s been around forever and more than 2 million have been sold.  There is a reason for that.

Another very welcome touch is the front strap.  Like the Colt Gold Cup target pistols, the commander has the front strap cut for gripping grooves. With the VZ grips, and the matching MSH, this makes for  a very solid and sure grip.

And of course the scalloping cut where the trigger guard meets the front strap is there.  This little bit of detail makes a big difference for me.  The way I grip the guns benefits a lot from that little bit of metal being removed.  I know it makes no difference for some people’s grip, but it does for me and its a very nice touch that used to be a custom gun only detail.

Like every pistol Colt has made for carry use since 2009, the commander has the edges dulled for carry and comfort.   The front sight can be seen and its the Novak front.

The commander also uses the standard, original recoil spring guide and plug.  No full length guide rod. I can remember a time when the standard  JMB system was good enough, then it wasn’t and we all had to have guide rods, and now we are back to the USGI original parts being the preferred and wise choice.  I agree for what it’s worth but it’s funny how things go back and forth.   Of course the commander uses its own parts for this as its shorter than the government model.

On the topic of recoil springs, the commander uses the now standard dual recoil spring system.   The original 10mm delta elite came with a dual recoil spring system and it was brought back when that gun was resurrected.   The next gun to get that treatment was the  M45A1 made for MARSOC.  This  dampened recoil and wear and tear on parts so much it was made standard on a lot of the new models.   It does help,  I noticed the recoil of the new delta to be tamed greatly and it makes a big difference with this light alloy framed commander.    I have no doubt it will eventually be the recoil spring set up in every colt gun in the near future.  It adds not complication in taking the gun apart nor does it hurt function.  It does soften recoil.   I am considering changing over to  dual springs on my guns that are already comfortable to shoot like my full size government models in 45 ACP.

The crowning on the barrel of this gun is interesting.  The picture doesn’t show it well  but It has a very nice crowning job.  I don’t mean it’s just a competent job done on an assembly line, I mean it looks to me like it was given special care.  I have carefully compared it to my other Colt’s of this years vintage and it has a crowing job you would expect from a gunsmith.  I have not confirmed this is a new standard Colt has started to phase in, but I hope so, I will update this post when I learn the answer to this.

The barrel is the stainless steel Colt barrel seen on all modern guns save for the models that come with the Colt national match barrel. Of course it is shorter than the full size gov model.   The standard slide release is seen on the right side as well as the three hole competition trigger.  Unlike the XSE models or Gold cup this 3 hole trigger is  not adjustable for over travel.  This isn’t a problem because the truth is, the new triggers from Colt are excellent.  They are crisp and break clean.   That is not to imply they are 2 pounds or lighter, but they are  greatly improved from the triggers from pre 09.   I have purchased five Colt M1911s since 2014 and the triggers on these guns are all I could ask.   I have never bought into the complaints about the series 80 triggers anyway, but the factory has really upped their game on putting out fine fire control parts on their pistols.  I can only  imagine how good the new series 70 competition series 1911s  are.

The roll mark on the slide is the now standard style that is a throwback to the commercial vintage models.  It has always been my favorite version.   I’m glad to see they are sticking with this marking system for  the time being,   The right side roll marks are of course the lines that denote  the specifics of the model as always.  In this case the light weight commander.

Right side also shows  larger flared ejection port.  Another now standard feature on all models not meant to be retro.  The new style cocking serrations can be seen.  These first showed up on the MARSOC M45A1  USMC gun and it looks like they are here to stay on every gun that is made to modern styling.  A few models have the legacy serration pattern or something else but every gun that is meant for tactical/CCW use now has this pattern.   If I could change only one thing..       Not to say I hate it or have to avert my eyes, but I simply like the older style  or the serration found on the older XSE models not extinct but for the Combat Elite.    Some will rejoice that there is not forward slide serrations.   Looks-wise,  I don’t really care.  Do some models look better without them ? Yes.  Do some look fine with them ? Yes.    If I am going to have them I would rather have the older style if I had a say in the matter.  But having them, not having them or style  would not make me buy or not buy.    For the record I do think front cocking serrations are a nice thing to have on a gun that may be used for the most serious of environments and having options in emergencies are always good.   I like them on my XSEs, I like not having them on some other models.   I just like 1911s .

Just for comparison,  pictured below is classic serrations and XSE style.  I use XSE  as a expedient term not only for angle of the serrations but spacing of each cut  as well as  forward serrations. This angle of the serrations of course existed before the XSE line, but  the amount of serrated cuts and size  varied.

This is the more classic retro original style.

And below are the XSE type seen on a Combat Elite.  All styles are fine with me.   But, as I said before if it was up to me, I would have stuck with the XSE style.   I’m sure the change over came because it was easier to make some using the new system that was came about for the specs of the M45A1.   It would have been a waste to have a set up just for one model pistol that came about because of the wants of the most flaky and fickle of customers, the US Gov.

 

 

 

Not pictured because I forgot, is the standard Colt slightly beveled magazine well.   A little better than no bevel but not really enough to reach the same benefits of an extended beveled well.   I have not felt any real pressing need for an extended beveled well added since I stop competition.    For carry or fighting guns I like being able to quickly load mags that don’t have a bumper pad,   My thinking is, you never know what mag you may have to use in an emergency and I want it to lock in immediately without worrying because it doesn’t have a pad and I didn’t eve think about it because I am used to my personal mags having the extended bumper.   Without the extended well It’s not an issue for me .

As usual, part 2 will be accuracy testing.  I have been carrying this gun for about 3 months in a variety of holsters and carrying options.  The gun already has 1500 rounds through it with no problems.  Accuracy has already show to be excellent with my carry ammo so I expect it to do well with other types and brands.    Formal accuracy testing beyond what I carry has not started as of this writing but it will be coming with a few weeks,    Please come back by for Part 2.