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Reworking the Venerable
Colt Officer's Model

1911 Colt Officer's Model Modified to better Holster in a Inside-the-Pants-Rig

Chop nearly two-inches off the barrel and an inch off the frame of a Colt 1911-A1 and what do you end up with? A highly effective, eminently concealable yet still accurate Colt officer's model.

By Joe Gorman

Studio shot of a Colt 1911 officer's model handgun

Is it good enough to take a brand new 1911 Colt Officer's model out of its box and immediately holster it in a inside-the-pants-rig and forget your troubles? Doubtful. Don't get me wrong. The Colt Officer's model is excellent in terms of reliability and accuracy. But it can be improved upon. And us pistoleros are known for tinkering.

It's no secret pistoleros are fickle perfectionists. Most of us spend hundreds of dollars customizing a pistol just the way we want it only to trade it off for some virgin canvas of a new handgun in a moment of melancholy. I confess to said transgression. I've let pistols go that I still kick myself for today. And if you've done similar trading, it's no secret that custom gun work doesn't pay at the dealers show room when you go to trade it in. So what if we could make a decision as to what had to be changed about the Officer's to make it perfect for the mission planned for it and still maintain afford ability? That involves planning and assessment and finding a likely candidate for modifying.

My candidate for Officer's Custom School is a blue steel Colt MKIV Officer's enhanced. (In Genesis God decreed that handguns shall be blue!) Right out of the box this weapon's beavertail safety, lowered and scalloped ejection port and undercut trigger guard have taken care of a lot of customizing chores. Even so I chose to lose the wimpy stock barrel bushing and the reverse recoil plug, replacing them with a OFI bushing and an Ed Brown full length recoil guide rod. I then replaced the stock hammer, sear and trigger with an Cylinder and Slide hammer and sear and a Videcki speed trigger. I replaced the stock rubber grips with a beautiful set of Melvin Tyler Ivorex medallion grips that look very much like aged ivory. I also replaced the stock plastic mainspring housing with a steel, checkered, Smith and Alexander flat mainspring housing. And last but not least, I chose to rig out with a no-nonsense holster.

Aficionados of the Officer's already know the stock barrel-bushing is a weak sister. Because of the short barrel length, the bushing must allow the barrel to dip a long way off axis and yet keep the tolerances tight enough to ensure an accurate pistol. The stock bushing handles this job reasonably well, but it is only .060 of an inch thick and therefore prone to breakage. This is one of those unspoken gems of knowledge that Officer's devotees (my usual euphemism for nuts) just assume is instinctive and passed along between generations via genes. I replaced the stock bushing with an OFI that measures .120 thick and much more durable due to the extra heft.

The reverse recoil plug, that retains the dual recoil springs, complicates disassembly tremendously and is also known for premature failure. I got rid of both those negatives with the installation of an Ed Brown full-length, recoil-spring, guide-rod. Installation required filling away metal from the under side of the slide, at the rear of the recoil plug housing. But once installed, the action was smoothed beyond what one would expect from a mere $30.00 part. Incredible! Disassembly was somewhat simpler yet still no cake walk. Stoning stock hammers and sears usually produces less than perfect results.