This one left the Colt plant in October of 1917 after being inspected by Col. Gilbert H. Stewart. Whether or not it made it over to France I cannot say. Like most original 1911s that stayed in military service, it's not still completely as it left the factory. The grips and the arched housing are two of the changes made sometime during its life with the U. S. Army. Unusually, it appears to have never had an arsenal rebuild as most 1911s did. I base this on the fact that there are no arsenal rebuild marks anywhere on the gun and that the pistol has not been parkerized as almost all rebuilds were.
In the mid-20's when Colt began the A1 changeover there were quite a few exterior cosmetic changes but virtually no internal modifications as far as I can tell. The quick-clue that this is a 1911 and not a 1911A1 is the absence of finger-cuts in the frame behind the trigger. There's no mistaking the fact that this is an old war horse.
I was given this pistol by a mentor. I mentioned to him once that I "needed" a .45 and he reached into his desk drawer, rummaged around under some papers and stale cigars, and came up with this pistol. He tossed it onto his desk and said "Like this?" Yes, exactly like that. How much did he want for it? "Take it," he said. "I got others." Having asked for it I could hardly now take it as an outright gift. I finally convinced him that honor demanded he accept some kind of payment. He wouldn't take more than $20. As a pauperish college student it seemed a princely sum at that time but one that I was happy to part with. This was my first big-bore autoloader and it came complete with one magazine and seven rounds of 1942 steel-case hardball.
Last fired about twenty-five years ago, it lives in my safe now. I take her out now and then and wish she could tell me where she has been and what she has seen.