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A 1923 Colt Commercial

1923 Colt Commercial
1923 Colt Commercial

Freeze’s 1923 Commercial Colt

We were out with some friends and family earlier this year. It was a casual fun-day. Some of the more experienced shooters were showing the new guys some tips and tricks of the trade. Basically a low-key, safe, show-and-tell day.

First time he's ever held a 1911.
First time he’s ever held a 1911.

The most interesting pistol that made an appearance was Freeze’s 1923 Production Colt Commercial. As I recall, he has had this pistol since at least the early 1980’s when he started hitting the local match scene. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of rounds have been put through this old Colt. And that’s just him! I don’t recall what his actual round count is, but I’m positive it’s easily 6 figures.

Yes, you read that right. Over 100,000 rounds. And who knows how many before hand?

When you shoot that much, one thing the old time competitors used to do was buy GI surplus 1911 parts at gun shows. Barrels, bushings, sears, slides, triggers: you name it. So when he shot out a barrel, he just fit a new one. Sometimes if a barrel was still “good” but no-longer “good enough” for competition, he chucked it and fit a new one. And all the replacement parts were, “Colt”. Or made on Colt machinery. In the racing game, it’s about fixing parts and getting her back out on the track.

The rear sight on top of the dovetail was something that used to be popular back in the day since you could install it at home but not permanently alter the slide. Keep in mind, this IS a Colt. The hack-jobs were typically done on the Argentine Sistemas!

Boy how things have changed! These days, Sistema’s are prized as collectables and priced accordingly! Looking at gunbroker, I am seeing them typically in the $900 range with some topping $1700! Norincos are no exception. What was once a affordable alternative to a Colt quickly became, “un-obtainium” when the government shut their importation down. But back then, Sistema’s were the Kimber’s of their day. Always a class below even if they beat the the big dogs.

1923 Colt Commercial
Freeze uses standard GI Magazines. No issues for him.

But things were different then. You either had a Colt or an “Argentine copy” and both typically needed work. There was no thought about OEM or “original” collectability. Everything needed fitting which was done on your kitchen table. Or on your buddy’s kitchen table. That’s how guys like Ed Brown, Bill Wilson, Austin Behlert, Armand Swensen, Richard Heinie, Jim Clark, Paul Liebenberg actually got their start. Even later on, when these guys started selling their own “guns”, they were just rebuilt Colt frames and slides.

1923 Colt Commercial
Note the compensated bushing.

Rarely if ever does Freeze carry his old Colt Commercial, which is why he leaves it in it’s 1980’s competition format. For modern 1911’s, he really favor’s the SIG C3. But…if you ever walk into his office, you will see that old Colt, loaded with HP ammo, ready to spit justice and hate out of the old school compensator/bushing.

It’s really very cool. Just don’t tell him I said so. His head is big enough already.
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