Copyright 2002-2007, by James Wesley, Rawles
In response to repeated requests for
on the types and makers of M1911 series
magazines during the World Wars and post-War, here is a brief outline:
"Two-tone" magazines. These are the type
that were made up until just
before WWII. They are called "two tone" because only the bottom half of
the magazine was blued, while the upper half was left "in the white."
Most were made without lanyard loops. These sell for $30 to $70, depending on condition.
Those with lanyard loops are much more scarce and therefore sell for $50 to $150, again
depending on condition. There were several makers of two-tone magazines including:
Remington-UMC. Made by Remington
WWI to fill a large military
contract. This is the most numerous type of two-tone you will find. These are unmarked,
but can be identified by the short length of the floorplate tab that extends from the front of
the bottom of the magazine. The tab is rounded, but much more steeply curved than that of
the Colt made magazine described below.
Colt Mfg. Made by Colt before, during,
after WWI for both commercial
sales and to fill military contracts. These too are unmarked, but can be
identified by a longer and more smoothly rounded (a longer, less severe curve) floorplate
tab than on the Remington contract magazines.
American Pin Company. Can be identified by a
letter A stamped on the TOP of the
floorplate tab. Very Scarce.
Raymond Engineering. Can be identified by a
letter R stamped on the
BOTTOM of the floorplate. Very Scarce.
World War II blued (a.k.a. "One-Tone")
Made in large
quantities during WWII by a variety of contractors. Entire magazine body
was blued or parkerized. (Varied from amker to maker and year to year.) To my knowledge, none of the WWII types had lanyard loops.
Prices range from $10 to $50, depending on
and condition. Here is
partial list of military contractors:
Colt. Can be identified by a small letter C
on the top of the
floorplate tab, or "C-S" on the BOTTOM of the floorplate. There is some
debate as to whether or not "C-S" stands for Colt-Scoville, i.e. a
subcontract by Scoville for Colt.
Barnes & Kolbert? There is some debate as to whether or not a B stamped on the top of the floorplate tab stands for "Bridgeport" (and hence Colt) or Barnes & Kolbert Company of New Britain, Conn.
General Shaver. Can be identified by a small
G stamped on the top
of the floorplate tab, and their distinctive offset magazine seam running up the back.
M. S. Little Co. of Hartford, Conn. Can be identified by a small letter L stamped on the top of the floorplate tab. The bottom of the floorplate on *some* of these also have a faint marking "C-L", which would indicate that they were made for Colt by Little.
Risdon. Can be identified by a small letter R
stamped on the TOP of the
floorplate tab. Don't confuse these with Raymond Engineering contract
magazines, which have the letter R stamped on the BOTTOM of the floorplate.
Scoville. Can be identified by a small letter
S stamped on the top of the
Variants of Risdon and Scoville are marked
"C-R" or "C-S" on the BOTTOM
of the floorplate. I have seen one reference that indicated that these magazines were made
under subcontract to Colt, to put in Colt's WWII production M1911 pistols. Presumably,
the markings stand for "Colt-Risdon" and "Colt-Scoville."
A Special Note on WWII magazines: Many
shop owners and gun show
dealers are relatively ignorant about the "top of the floorplate tab" markings
on WWII magazines. Most of course know the significance of two-tone
magazines. However, they often have a box of magazines that they have
accumulated over the years that they *assume* are all after-market. If you
take the time to sort through them and look for markings on the *tops* of
the floorplate tabs, you can go home with some original WWII magazines at a bargain
Post-WWII M1911 series .45 magazines:
Commercial Colt (pre-1970). Marked "Colt .45 Auto" on the bottom of the
floorplate, with no rampant stallion. Beware! Many of the after-market copies
carry similar markings. However, the "counter" holes in the side of the magazine body
are generally over-sized. The other dead give-away is the typeface
("font") used--it is not the same style font used by Colt.
Post WWII military contract. Most of these
made during the Vietnam "conflict".
They can be identified by a lengthy military part number and manufacturer's contract
number on the floorplate. These markings fill up most of the bottom of the floorplate.
Commercial Colt (post-1970.) Marked Colt .45
on the bottom of the
floorplate. A rampant stallion (a.k.a. "prancing pony") marking was added
around 1970. Still in production. For many years the magazine bodies
have been produced under subcontract by the Metalform Company for Colt.
Shooting Star Company now produces some of the magazine followers for
Colt--most notably these followers are used in the 8 round stainless steel
model that was first produced for the now discontinued Double Eagle, but
is now standard for all full sized Colt .45 autos. Soon after the 8 round magazine became standard for the full-size M1911, a 7 round magazine became available for the short-framed Colt Officer's Model. (Which previously used 6 round magazines.)
Most of he 10 round M1911 magazines on the market are not worth buying. The only exceptions are those made by Colt, Metalform, and Wilson-Rogers.
After-market copies. Too numerous to list
Most are total junk, and
not worth buying. (You can expect horrible feeding problems.) In particular, beware of
fake "Colt made" magazines! Three points to look for to determine if they aren't the
genuine Colt-made item: 1) The fake magazines are marked "Colt 45 AUTO" but without a
decimal before the "45". They may say "Colt" but they aren't made by Colt! 2) The
typeface (font) is not the same as that used on genuine Colt magazines, and is much more
deeply stamped. 3) The "counter" holes in the side of the magazine are often much larger
than originals. Keep in mind that the lack of a "pony" doesn't necessarily mean that a
magazine isn't a genuine Colt. The pony marking didn't begin until around 1970. The best
evidence of originality is the type font used in the marking. (Compare side-by-side with a
*known* Colt-made magazine until you learn to identify the original type font at a glance.)
There are some exceptions to the "don't ever
after-market" rule. The ones with acceptable quality are made by:
These are some of the *few* after-market brands that my customers report work well. There may be a few others that work, but why take the risk? In general, unless you want to buy grief, only buy original Colt made magazines, or original U.S. G.I. military contract magazines.
I hope that you find this information useful.
James Wesley, Rawles <><
I'm the author of numerous firearms FAQS on topics including:
AR-15 magazines, M1 Carbine magazines, M14/M1A magazines, FN/FALs and
L1A1s, Mauser rifles, pre-1899 cartridge guns, and European Ammo Box
Markings Translations. These FAQs are available at my web site:
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