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Friday, September 12, 2014

Colt Gold Cup Trophy 1911, 45 acp: American Gun Review

SS Colt Gold Cup Trophy. Accuracy. Functionality. Form.
Prologue: The 1911 Snob
Before reviewing the Colt Gold Cup Trophy, please bear with me for an edifying moral tale.

I once knew a fellow who waxed authoritatively on the subject of 1911 pistols. He held forth in various webpages and discussion forums, extolling the perfect, state-of-the-art 1911, custom made from custom frames and slides of the sort used, he said, by elite FBI units. He could, he professed, never be bothered with "inaccurate" and "out-of-the-box" 1911s. Such were for lesser beings than himself. They simply wouldn't do. He had to have accuracy. The best. He was a purist of the highest standards, a 1911 snob and a name-dropper. He spoke knowledgeably about barrel bushings, rod guides, 32 lines to an inch hand cut checkering and so forth.  He sneered at the notion of anything less than a custom pistol by a big name pistol smith. What exacting standards he did set, looking down on other 1911 owners from his olympian heights! How could lesser folks even live as they did with their crude substandard weapons? A accomplished man he was, erudite in the wisdom of the gun magazines, secure in his bastion of knowledge.

It came to pass that the great man visited one day. I had a 1911 on my desk in which he took a polite interest. It was an old (1968) Clark-built match pistol having among its other desirable characteristics the ability to repeatedly place 200 grain Hensley & Gibbs #68 bullets or Federal match ammunition into the 10 and X rings of a 50 yard slow fire target, provided of course the shooter did his job of sighting, holding and trigger control. The blue was worn, the gun very much used. Like me, it was no longer pretty and had lost the blush of youth. It had begun life as a Colt-manufactured service pistol. My guest deigned to shoot it, even though the old Colt frame and sundry component parts were not really from the right sort of makers, and the gun's pedigree did not impress him.

We went out back. I suggested he shoot at my 55-gallon burn barrel, as it was convenient. At a range of about 15 yards, using match ammunition, with a powerful two-handed grip and an impressive-looking bent knee-ed combat stance/squat, he could not hit the oil drum. Not even once out of a full magazine. He flinched so badly, the worst I have ever seen, that the rounds were hitting the ground before about half way to the target. After he gave me a short lecture on gun safety he turned around such that the pistol was pointed at my ribs. He flinched again when I reverted to my native ghetto English and called him a stupid cocksucker and asked him what the fuck was wrong with him for pointing that gun at me. He seemed astonished, as if I slapped him (which was what I had intended in terms of psychological equivalence). He hasn't been back to shine any more of his wisdom on me.

So much for online gun experts. I think perhaps he could be compared the onanistic teenager who had long immersed himself in the lush abundance of online pornography, but who had never experienced interacting for real, never even kissed or been kissed. As far as I know, he went back to his online forums, unaffected by his close brush with reality, wherein he continues to this day as a high aesthete on the topic of 1911s. And as long as he stays exclusively online, he remains potent and transcendent, at the top of his game.

Colt Gold Cup Trophy, Stainless Steel
I actually wanted a blued steel Gold cup, but bought this one because someone had gotten to the gun store ahead of me. It's a pretty gun and needs no makeup. Stainless Steel is wonderful stuff.  The adjustable rear sight is flat black, as is the square front sight in its dovetail cut, so the sights pick up wonderfully. The corners of the rear sight are rounded off, sensibly, and the back face horizontally serrated. The sights are marked "Colt." They function well.

The Trophy has, I think, a more developed grip safety than the standard 1911, a bit of a beavertail, which is something I like as long as it isn't too extreme in the way of protuberances. I would prefer a plain grip safety that would make it legal to shoot in a hardball, DCM type match. Nevertheless I do not plan on changing it.  The manual safety on the left side is the old standard sized Browning design. The same with the magazine release. I see no reason for "oversize" safeties and magazine releases except in the case of pistols that are intended for use in so-called practical pistol competitions in which they are carried in holsters and not used or carried loaded on the street. In real life I don't see such additions as all that practical. They are too easy to push in or off and thus invite accidental releases. The Trophy has no ambidextrous safety, which is also fine with me, for the same reason. Such things seem to me like dangerous clutter. I'm sure our big time gun expert above would disagree. But he is safely ensconced with his imagination. My imagination is more limited: quite simply I don't want to shoot my butt off, nor anyone else's. A friend of mine who served many years with a state police agency reports that he knows of three instances wherein troopers accidentally shot themselves in the rear end or leg with 1911 .45 a.c.p. pistols. I don't know enough details to speak authoritatively about these instances, but it seems like these accidents were related in part to carrying the pistol in the back pocket, belt or holster, apparently cocked and locked, and somehow grabbing the gun while pulling the trigger. I wouldn't call 1911s treacherous, but they are totally unforgiving, and require a heedful type of mindset to carry safely. I would never carry a 1911 cocked and locked in my rear pocket or just stuck in my belt. Beware.

The Trophy's trigger breaks at maybe about 4 pounds, crisply, it's face vertically serrated. The hammer is bobbed, and is not the old spur hammer. Serrations are all sharply and cleanly cut, adding grip and handling characteristics.  It is a well-appointed pistol.

I sighted the pistol in at 25 yards after lubricating the slide rails, shrouds and barrel/bushing with a few drops of lightweight Mobil synthetic motor oil. I also added a slight drop on the elevation and windage screws for the adjustable sight (an often overlooked matter, which generally pays off in years of fault free operation, lubrication being a good thing!). I will not bother to show photos because I am getting tired of looking at gun articles that show photo after photo of impressive groups. These photos take up space effectively, yes, but how come we never see anyone post photos of of the bad groups, just the good ones?  Anyway, this pistol shoots fine groups. After some adjustments to the rear sight, the groups were in the black, actually ten-ring, on the standard NRA 25 yard timed and rapid fire target.  

The next week, perhaps prematurely considering how little I had fired the pistol, I tried it in a match beginning at the 50 yard slowfire stage. I had to crank the sights round a bit to find my zero at that range, but with Federal match 185 grain SWCs the Trophy would keep all rounds in the ten ring of the NRA slowfire target, within the limits of my ability to hold and control the trigger. If I jerked the trigger, the bullet was out, but if I did my job, the gun would do its job. I was favorably impressed. My Clark 1911, with its full length Bomar rib and sights and 6 inch barrel, has more weight, and seems to print tighter groups at 50 yards, and I can control it better, but I am also very much used to my Clark, having fired thousands of rounds through it. The Trophy, out of the box, as they say, is competition ready for Bullseye /Conventional Outdoor Pistol. This style of shooting is in my opinion the most exacting and demanding type of competition pistol shooting. The Colt engineers and workers know what they are about. I compliment them for this high quality product.

The Trophy also functioned reliably. I kept it lubricated during the match, and experienced no failures. This was with the magazines (two) that came with the gun. Incidentally, I am very skeptical of aftermarket magazines, finding that they often do not work well, and sometimes not at all. And merely paying $40 for a magazine is no guarantee of flawless function. Make sure you test them well before relying on them. Buying magazines from a bin at the gun show is a recipe for disaster. I have used Wilson magazines in matches however to very good effect.

This week at 25 yards, in practice, I fired a 5-shot group with the Trophy in which all shots were in the X ring.

I can't shoot any better than this with any pistol. Regarding the Trophy Cold Cup, if you can do it, it will do it.

Additional Matters
You may have noticed that in the photo of the Trophy above, the front-strap and back-strap of the frame appear black. I confess that I slightly modified the grip by removing the nicely checkered wooden grips and adding some of the self adhesive abrasive-faced tape sold in hardware stores for use on stair treads. Then I simply replaced the grips over the tape. This makes for a fabulous positive grip, the like of which I have never experienced elsewhere. A plus is that it in nowise permanently alters or mars the pistol in any way. Should you attempt this, and it is easy, you must however take great care not to interfere with the operation of any of the gun's safety mechanisms or the magazine release. But again, this simple adaptation makes for one of the finest grips that I have ever encountered.  I don't know how well this technique would work on guns other than 1911s, but it is effective and inexpensive and seems to last. For a few dollars you could do a score of 1911s. This is all the better for me because I prefer one-handed 1911 operation. In the sort of competition I do, this type of hold is mandated.

Also, speaking generally, they call these things handguns, not handsguns.  You may need your other hand for something else, like holding off zombies. If you can't shoot a handgun reasonably well with one hand, perhaps you don't really know how to operate it as well as you think you do.

A last word. With a suitable holster, one that doesn't catch the front sight and which covers the trigger, I would use this gun for social carry. It's reliable and accurate. Although I would like to shoot it a few hundred more times before making a final decision in this matter.

Thank you, Dear Reader, for your attention.


7 comments:

30yearProf said...

You can say the same for the Colt Delta Elite in 10mm. It's about 4 oz heavier in order to tame the more powerful cartridge.

David Loeffler said...

Well done, sir. I enjoyed this article and your description of arm chair, or word processor, experts is spot on. Also, excellent on a technical level, i.e., not tacticool.

Kevin said...

I KNEW there was a reason I liked you!!

Another laymember of the Church of the 1911! (The High Priests are so often poseurs.)

tr7fan said...

i have had a colt combat commander in 38 super for years
with a quality sholder hoster rig
i could walk around all day with it
on .i found out in short order you can safely carry the pistold cocked and lock as the the leather strap that holds the gun in the holster
seems to be made to go between the hammer and the firing pin and snaps
to hold the gun in place.
i didnt just get all this stuff and rack slide put the safety on and put the gun in the holster
i first tried putting the gun in the bianchi rig hammer down and snap the leather strap to hold it
it didnt fit quite right when i tried this so i cocked the gun
after using an abundance of caution to make sure the gun was not loaded. so i slide the gun into the holster and find lo and behold when you put the gun in the holster cocked and put the strap between the hammer and firing pin it fit just as it should and snapped perfectly without having to be pulled on
i have a couple of different holsters i use depending what im doing
i do have a tremendous amount of respect carrying the gun this way
you pop off the snamp and flip off the safety youre ready to take care of busines.
i paid about 76 dollars or more for the bianchi rig over twenty years ago / the bianchi scorpion was the name of the right
quality in every detail.
i have other holsters i wouldnt even think of cocked and locked
the belt slide holster i bought for the trophy i deemed unsafe.
so i got another holster which
i s good holster that deals with the wieght of the trophy in what i consider a safe manner. this primarliy for hiking
after fending off 3 attackers in what i call an attempted home invasion before they even made up the name for it back in 1980
if have been extremely safety concious. that was 34 years ago.
the attackers severely under estimated their target.the one i got ahold of got pistol whipped up side the head till my arm ran out of strength and i left him laying on my lawn when i got up and went inside my house. i really thought the law would arrive soon with all the noise but they never did .
i feel like i was targeted since i normally lived alone and was atthe time
now i have s steel security screen front and back with deadbolts and another door with deadbolts
i guess he got over his need to come tangle to me as ive only seen him 3-4 times in the 28 years ive lived here since

Arne said...

An excellent article on the Colt Gold Cup Trophy!
I used to be the proud owner of a Colt Gold Cup Series 70 until my house was burglarized and the safe was busted into. I was looking for a replacement and ended buying the Cold Gold Cup Trophy but have not fired it yet. I am also the proud owner of a 1911 Wilson, 1911 Kimber Stainless Ultra Carry II, 1911 Colt Defender, and a 1911 Colt Commander, all .45s. So far the Kimber is as accurate as the Wilson. I carried a 1911 Colt .45 for over 22 years as my duty weapon, plain clothes … locked and cocked, and have never had an issue with that mode of carry, but not in the back pocket but sometimes I did not use a holster. I look forward to shooting the Trophy after reading your review.

Arne said...

An excellent article on the Colt Gold Cup Trophy!
I used to be the proud owner of a Colt Gold Cup Series 70 until my house was burglarized and the safe was busted into. I was looking for a replacement and ended buying the Cold Gold Cup Trophy but have not fired it yet. I am also the proud owner of a 1911 Wilson, 1911 Kimber Stainless Ultra Carry II, 1911 Colt Defender, and a 1911 Colt Commander, all .45s. So far the Kimber is as accurate as the Wilson. I carried a 1911 Colt .45 for over 22 years as my duty weapon, plain clothes … locked and cocked, and have never had an issue with that mode of carry, but not in the back pocket but sometimes I did not use a holster. I look forward to shooting the Trophy after reading your review.

GunNut said...

I was looking on line for reviews on the Colt GCT as I just purchased one and wanted to see what others thought about the gun. That search brought me here. And I am glad it did. Colt has had some ups and downs since the 1970s because of bad business decisions and some poor quality products. But the Colt name still holds a lot of sway in certain arenas, especially the 1911 A1. This model in particular really caught my eye. I was originally looking to purchase a 1911 1991. Lots of really good reviews on that model. Well, that led me to the GCT, and there was no looking back. Now, unlike our esteemed author of this review, I did nothing to the gun prior to my trip to the range. I picked the gun up on Friday, and on Sunday took it shooting. No pre-cleaning or pre-oiling. I bought cheap Federal 230g ball ammo. I took the gun from the case, loaded both mags, and began to shoot. I put the 50 rounds from the box down the tube. I experienced 3 failures; 2 FTLoad and 1 FTE. I realize some of you might say' "oh, that's bad". I don't think it is. Check Kimber's owners manual. It says straight up to use ball ammo for the first 300 rounds and to expect multiple failures in that time (break in). Why? Because the gun is built to such tight tolerances and until the break in period is over this is normal. Now why should it be any different for this Colt? I suppose I could have cleaned and oiled it first. And I suppose I could have used some better ammo. But I wanted to see what it would do out of the box. Oh, by the way, while I did experience a few failures, I also grouped those 50 rounds literally shooting the middle out of the target at 25 yards. Every shot was a "kill". I am not bragging. I am simply stating that the weapon out of the box is that good.

A couple notes for our esteemed author: Thanks for the great article and for this web site. I do appreciate someone from academia who shows a like appreciation for things that go bang rather than hold to an anti-gun view, even though this site is dedicated to the anti view of things. How ironic and amusing. I will enjoy reading future posts. There is one area, however, that I must express some disagreement on: for 23 years in the military I was trained to fire a handgun with 2 hands, facing my target . Up until the 1960s law enforcement and military were trained to shoot one handed standing sideways to their target. The switch to two handed came about because they found it made for better accuracy for the majority of people. That said, someone like yourself who competes is in another category from those who enjoy going to the range on the weekend. So, for the weekend target shooter I still advocate the two handed approach.