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Colt Gold Cup
Length overall Barrel Length Weight  Caliber Action Type Magazine Capacity
8 ½ Inches 5 Inches 38 oz. .45 A.C.P. Recoil Semi 7+1
            This is the most accurate production .45 made, and it may be the most accurate production handgun. Essentially it is a Colt Government model, which is meticulously hand fitted and features a target barrel, target sights, target trigger, and a flat milled, sandblasted slide top. In this gun, Colt has made the same modifications, which many competitive shooters had for years been paying gunsmiths to do to stock .45's. The gun is tight. Pick one up and shake it, if you listen very closely you may hear something rattle, but more likely not.
    With target loads, I can shoot 1 to 1 ½ inch groups with this gun. Incidentally, target loads are what should be used as the gun is very lightly sprung (10 – 11 pounds), and will not hold up well under the constant pounding of full loads. This gun was for years the master of the range, and still holds it's own, although it is now being challenged from many quarters. This is not really a service or combat gun, though with proper care it will serve well. The same tightly dimensioned parts which mesh so closely and give the gun it's great accuracy, choke very easily on the dirt, grime and mud that seem to have no effect on the standard model.
    This gun also needs to be kept clean and well lubricated. The old joke, or rule of thumb, was that if you picked the gun up, pointed the muzzle at the ground, and no oil dripped out, it was not properly lubricated. Times have changed, and today's lubricants are far better than anything of thirty years ago, permitting a bit less extravagant saturation. Still, the tightly dimensioned parts are a bit less forgiving than the more generous tolerances on the service gun.
     This series of handguns was an answer to some of the shortcomings of the original models, when stacked up against the target revolvers of the day. The original M1911, and M1911A1 handguns were, and continue to be, superb fighting tools; but they were not perfect. This was a new design, a whole new concept, in handguns, and it would take some time for the model to reach it's full potential. In particular, the stock guns had some real problems, when being used against target revolvers in competition. Where the barrel of a revolver is set, unmoving, in the frame, that of a semi auto moves. In addition, the sights of a semi auto are mounted on a slide, which also moves. With all of these surfaces moving during firing, there is considerable latitude for the type of inconsistency that causes inaccuracy.
     The only way to really fix this problem, is to greatly tighten the tolerances of the gun. This requires a level of precision which did not lend itself to turn of the century mass production. A tightly dimensioned gun also introduces problems of reduced reliability, and increased cleaning and maintenance. Even so, to make these guns even remotely competitive with the revolvers of the day, many target shooters demanded that the factory do something. This is not to say that the guns were dangerously inaccurate. An M1911, which might shoot into six inches at fifty yards, was more than good enough for a man in the trenches; but was far from satisfactory in a match, were a half an inch might be the difference between first and last place. Less than solid  slide to frame fit is cured by the simple expedient of extra care taken in the factory to hand match individual slides to frames and to polish and hone their fitting.
    Sloppy barrel to bushing fit, which was the cause of most of the accuracy problems with earlier solid bushing service grade Government Models, was fixed by custom fitting oversized match barrels to bushings, and slides. A permanent design fix was attempted in the Series 70 redesign, by the introduction of the collet  bushing which“ grips” the specially configured barrel with spring tension “fingers” that ensure there is no slack between the barrel and the bushing at the muzzle. These were dropped with the introduction of the series 80 models, due to concern about possible breakage of the collet.

    Colt began to produce hand fitted pistols for match shooters, in 1933, calling them the Colt National Match models. These were made until the beginning of W.W.II, when production of civilian firearms halted, due to military priorities. These guns were outgrowths of custom pistols which colt had been turning out, by request, for individuals since 1919. The model went back into production, in changed form, as the Gold Cup, in 1957. The new model had high profile, adjustable target sights (Colt-Elliason), a wide trigger with a trigger stop, a relieved ejection port, a flat main spring housing, and a match grade barrel. The Gold Cup barrel has a narrower hood, than a standard barrel, and the slides are hand fitted. On the original versions, these slides had cut outs to make them lighter. This model was produced until it was replaced by the MKIV in 1970.
    The MKIV Series 70, which is the version shown here, was very similar to the preceding model, but had a flat milled sighting plane, a target hammer, and no longer had the lightened slide. The new series featured the Accurizor barrel and bushing, which used a spring steel, finger collet. The fingers of the collet were sprung, and were designed to flex in order to tightly grasp the end of the barrel.  This was done as an alternative to producing ever tighter tolerances in barrel/bushing units. The tighter tolerances gave great accuracy; but they tended to make the guns more susceptible to jamming, and made constant cleaning, and lubrication critical to the functioning of the gun. These guns were made until 1983, to be replaced by the Series 80. The new guns did away with the collet bushing, and utilized a new trigger safety system.
    I prefer to think of this gun as a Ferrari, very high performing, but touchy, requiring much care. The standard .45 Government, on the other hand, is an army jeep; a little rough around the edges, not a great performer, compared to the Ferrari, but try taking that Ferrari off road some day, and you will have to send the old jeep in to go and pull it out. My gun is a series 70, which means it has been spared the lawyer inspired firing pin safety burdening the newer series 80 guns. These series 70 guns are in a certain amount of demand, as they are no longer made, and have a much better trigger pull than the series 80.

Features of the Gold Cup

    Though the Gold cup is mechanically the same as the standard M1911 Government pistol, it does feature some enhancements. Some of the ways in which it differs from the standard model are enumerated below.

    The action of the Gold Cup is open, in this photo, to show the full length guide rod, sitting below the barrel. This is unique to the Gold Cup, and is generally only found on pistols modified for competition. There are a number of reasons given for it's inclusion. It is said that it prevents the recoil spring from kinking, that it helps maintain steady spring pressure, and that it may even help to keep the barrel aligned.
Some critics believe that this feature serves no real purpose, and only complicates disassembly of the gun for cleaning.

The ejection port on the Gold Cup is lowered and relieved. This is a modification that competitive shooters have been making for years. Though some claim that it may make the gun less liable to fail to eject, the most common reason given, for it's inclusion, is that this prevents the spent cartridges from becoming dinged or dented as they are ejected from the pistol. This greatly increases their lives, and eases the job of the reloader.

The trigger is wide, grooved, and adjustable for overtravel. The overtravel adjustment is something I never quite saw the need for, until I fired the Gold Cup. Set too loosely, there is no advantage over a standard non adjustable trigger. Set too tightly, the trigger will not have enough travel to release the sear Properly set, the trigger seems hardly to move at  all, and stops cleanly, and crisply as the hammer falls. Even without the overtravel stop, the trigger is light, smooth, and wonderful. Steady firing of a gun with such a trigger will make most other triggers feel crude and cumbersome, and will make the rather sloppy triggers of the double action wonder nine type pistols feel ghastly and horrible beyond description.

The Colt Ellasian rear sight is a high profile target sight, which offers an exceptionally good sight picture, and is easily and precisely adjustable. Note the gripping surface of the wide, target style, hammer, visible in this view.

This marvelous sight is mated to a flat, grooved sighting plane, which is tipped by a high profile front sight.

The collet bushing is designed to tightly grasp the end of the barrel, while at the same time, having enough spring so that a bit of dirt or grit will not cause the gun to seize up or jam. This feature was discarded on the newer series 80 models.
A view of the barrel with the collet bushing in place.

Disassembly and cleaning
Disassembly of the Gold Cup is essentially the same as for the standard 1911. Two things which might complicate things a bit are the tighter tolerances of the Gold Cup and it's use of a full length guide rod for the recoil springs.

After removing the magazine, and clearing the chamber, press in on the plug which retains the recoil spring. This plug is located directly under the muzzle. With the plug depressed, turn the barrel bushing towards the right hand side of the pistol. Keep your thumb positioned over the plug.

Gently ease the plug, along with the recoil spring, out of the pistol. The recoil spring exerts something like 10 - 20 pounds of force on the plug, so you may wish to take precautions to prevent the plug from being launched across the room. Do not completely remove the spring. Merely allow the spring pressure top be relieved.

Push the slide back, until the cut out shown, is lined up with the slide stop. The slide stop may then be removed, by simply pushing it out.

The slide stop should come out easily, as shown. You may need to start it off, by pressing it out from the other side.

Remove the slide, containing all of the top end components, from the frame, by simply sliding it forward.

The recoil spring may now be removed by pulling it out of the front of the slide. This is, incidentally, opposite of the disassembly of the standard model, in which the guide rod is removed first, before the spring.

Turning the slide upside down, will now permit removal of the recoil spring guide, by lifting it up and out of the rear of the slide. The recoil spring itself, should be removed first, because the full length guide rod will not easily clear the slide, with the spring still in place.

The barrel bushing may now be turned all the way to the left, which will permit it's removal, and allow for the removal of the barrel, by sliding it forward out of the muzzle end of the slide.

The barrel should now easily pull right out of the front of the slide. If it does not, check to see that the small pivot link is in the down position.

The Colt Gold Cup, stripped for cleaning.

Most manuals will tell you that to reassemble, simply perform the above steps in reverse. This is true, for the Gold Cup,exept for one thing After the slide is assembled, make certain that the toggle link is up, as shown. Then slide the unit onto the frame, and turn the whole gun right side up. This will allow the toggle to hang down, making it easier to fit the slide stop through. In addition, there is a spring loaded pin which holds the slide stop in place. You may use a  small screw driver to gently nudge it over, when fitting the slide stop.