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This 80 series Colt in 45 ACP was bought and built by Rich Stoddard (lead gunsmith at Colt Custom shop for over 30 years) as his personal gun. I have Rich’s purchase order from Colt where he purchased the gun from his employer. This pistol was purchased from his estate after he died in 2018. The gun was originally built in 1991 and featured hand checkering, Barsto barrel, Ed Brown hammer and thumb safety, lowered and flared port, S&A grip safety, reliability tune, deluxe trigger job, and hand filed magwell opening. One of the best gunsmith in the country made it for himself. That pretty much says everything. When I bought her, she had a pedestrian parkerized finish, so to honor the man, I sent it to Florida for full hard chrome. Mr. Stoddard entered the military out of high school and quickly found himself in Southeast Asia. After his service to our country he successfully graduated from the Colorado School of Trades. After which, he worked at Colt from 1974-2012 as a master gunsmith. He was responsible for making special order guns, primarily the O frame 1911’s. He also built many prototypes and show guns. He was fortunate to learn a great deal from the “old school” gunsmiths, many of which had worked at Colt from the 1950’s.
In the early 30’s, Frank Pachmayr left his father’s rifle business and opened his own shop. He quickly became interested in accurizing 1911’s for bullseye shooting. Frank spent a lot of time figuring out what made 1911’s innacurrate and how to accurize them. All the research was put into the Signature System. Standard Pachmayr bullseye Guns were guaranteed to shoot 3” at 50 yards. Frank wanted 3/4” at 25yds out of the Signature System. The Signature had a nosepiece with Messerschmitt barrel ring and a slide tightener—a yoke that curves up and around the receiver in front of the trigger guard. The problem was that when you wrenched the slide tightener to improve accuracy, it dragged on the slide causing reliability problems. You could loosen it to get total reliability, but at the expense of accuracy.
A true paradox that frustrated Frank. Along comes a machinist named of Thomas Dornaus—yes the Bren Ten guy. He was hired to fix the Signature models that came back into the shop. In his free time, unknown to Frank, Dornaus built a prototype 1911 that could shoot 1-1 1/4” groups, without all the complicated Signature Model features. This was the Combat Special, and we all know the ending—it become a blockbuster commercial success. Frank was disquieted by all of it. He had spent countless time and money trying to perfect the Signature, but everyone wanted a Combat Special. When Ray Chapman chose the CS as his prize for winning the first IPSC Championship, Frank couldn’t understand why he didn’t want a Signature. Craig Wetstein built the majority of PCS (assisted by Larocca) and when he left to open Autoshop, Paul Liebenberg came in to finish the run that spanned 10 years. So this is it. This is the gun that started it all. I searched high and low for this gun and finally sourced this mint condition (seldom fired) gem. Yea —it lacks front strap checkering and a beavertail, but someone burned “Combat Special” into the slide in bronze, so I’ll take the fucker.
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