For almost 75 years, the Colt Model 1911A1 was the workhorse of the American military. It was the sidearm carried by American servicemen through WWI, WWII and every other military operation the United States has been involved in until 1985. The markings made on the slide of the weapon will help identify if it was a military issued weapon or one made for the commercial market.
The slide of the Model 1911A1 rests along the top of the gun. It has a hole cut in it that allows the spent cartridges to allow expulsion after firing. During operation, the slide moves to the back of the gun by the force of the evolved gases in the cartridge, ejects the spent casing through the top port, then moves back forward by the expansion of the main spring, reloads a new cartridge in the chamber and leaves the hammer in the cocked position.
Markings appear on the slide during the manufacturing of the weapon. They identify the manufacturer and on some weapons, depending on manufacture date and manufacturer, the serial number of the weapon. Military issued weapons also include a marking that shows the weapon was property of the United States. These weapons fulfilled government contracts to the military.
When the weapons arrived at arsenals in fulfillment of a government contract, a symbol is stamped on the slide indicating the arsenal. The inspector's initials also appear on the slide.
Most weapons that were available to the commercial market during the years of manufacture had a serial number that began or ended with a "C". Any weapons that possessed any other letter or had no letter were military-owned weapons.
The value of your 1911A1 will depend on the condition. The verification of the authenticity of the weapon is determined by the markings on the slide. Short runs of production may make the weapon worth more. Overall, original parts and condition increase the value.
- pistol image by Nikita Mironov from Fotolia.com