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Old 09-17-2005, 12:52 PM   #1
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1911 Colt with Essex Frame

I just got back from the gun store today and they had what looked to be a old 1911 possible WWII era. It was a Essex frame with a Colt slide on it with about 60% of the park finish still on it. I asked them about and was told that all they knew was that it was pretty old and that they wanted $500. for it. I did manage to get the s/n of the frame and it was 27168. What are your thoughts on this?
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Old 09-17-2005, 03:57 PM   #2
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DON'T.

Essex is a commercial maker of 1911 frames and slides.
Essex was one of the first makers of cast steel 1911 frames back in the mid-1970's.

Back then the quality was BAD.
Frames were porous, were usually way out of spec with pin holes mis-located, and often had "slumped" areas where the mould failed to fill out properly.

Essex is still in business, and according to late reports now make a fair, cheap cast frame, but I would NOT risk an older one, since it's a crap shoot as to quality.

Plus $500.00 is WAAAYYYYY to high.
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Old 09-17-2005, 05:24 PM   #3
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What dfariswheel said, while I had very good luck with an Essex frame 145,000 rds before it cracked. $500 is way to much money. $300 would be more like it.
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Old 09-17-2005, 06:44 PM   #4
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Thanks. That is what I thought. I guess I will just buy springfield's WWII 1911.
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Old 09-18-2005, 02:04 PM   #5
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Did it look like this?

[img]http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid187/p959f27a0a38ee5e9f3a47c0408850e9b/f23fe382.jpg[/img]

[img]http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid187/paaa668b29067b1d00e09424873de561a/f23fe370.jpg[/img]

I got mine from a buddy who drove up to the factory years ago, when they first opened up, and bought this frame. Serial number is in the 4700 range. He put an old Colt slide on it and the rest of it was mish mash of parts. It had a terrible trigger on it when I got it and I dont know how he shot it. He said he shot the crap out of it, but I doubt its got the above 145,000 through it. I had a trigger job done on it(the only 1911 I ever had to) and also added some decent sights. I have shot the crap out of it too, with no ill effects and its a good shooting pistol. I didnt pay $500 for it though.
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Old 09-19-2005, 05:33 AM   #6
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The only Essex frames I would recommend are the forged SS frames. Wilson Combat rates them as Class A frames, same as a Colt or a SA.
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Old 09-19-2005, 08:35 AM   #7
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I will disagree with most of what dfariswheel said...

Essex has been making frames for decades and it's true they were one of the first makers of cast frames. Then, and to a much lesser degree even now, you will see some minor flaws in the casting process, but I've never seen it in an area that was anything but cosmetic.

I have built countless of M-1911's with Essex frames and I've never had a problem with them in ANY way. Back in the late '70's and early '80's, Essex was one of the only makers of M1911 frams worth working with. While pin holes being out of spec was the most common problem with other makers, Essex tended to get it right most of the time. Remember, back then "spec" was a vague term and no one could agree on who's spec.

These days, Essex benefits from the same CNC technology that everyone else uses. Essex frames are never real pretty, but they're good functional frames and I'll use one any time.

Now- Specific to your gun, and here's where dfariswheel and I agree. That's a lot to spend on a non OEM M1911. In essence, it's a parts gun and although it may be a good or even excellent gun, it has absolutely no collectors value whatsoever. At that price range, you can get a brand new Mil-Spec Springfield, or shave $100.00 and you can get a Rock Island gun.
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Old 09-19-2005, 09:24 AM   #8
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I'll back Geek up on this one.

I've built four guns on Essex frames and have never had any troubles or issues with any of them.

And I'll agree with everyone else: Five pigs is just WAY too much to pay for this. For what you've described, I'd say three would be about top dollar. And I'd rather pay $250 for it.
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Old 09-19-2005, 04:58 PM   #9
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Essex frames

Back in the '80's I started refusing to work on Essex frames. One of the problems they had at the time (besides pin locations) was the web where the disconnect goes through. It was not uncommon for this web to need to be machined so the sear would release.

Supposedly, Essex was the source of the frames for the Auto-Ordance .45's Those showed no frame problems-but the small parts were trash.
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Old 09-19-2005, 05:45 PM   #10
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Ya gotta call it as ya see it.

Back then, the only non-GI and non-Colt frames were by early casters like Crown City, Vega, and Essex.
If you wanted a new frame, especially in stainless, they were the only game around.

AMT didn't sell raw frames as I remember.

I finally stopped working with all three due to the problems.
I saw too many with porous castings, voids, slumped and unfilled areas, rails that were mis-aligned or high on one side, pin holes out of spec, and critical areas mis-located or malformed.

As I said, my understanding is, the current Essex slides and frames are supposed to be good.

I only know for sure the older parts I saw way back then, and that's what I based my opinion on.

Other's results may well have varied.
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Old 09-19-2005, 06:48 PM   #11
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One of my frames is from the early 70s, two from the mid 70s, and one from the mid 80s. I never had any pin alignment or any other problems with any of them. My sole complaint was that the last one came through in an ugly purplish-brown color.

I agree with the guts of the Auto-Ords being junk. Cheapest cast parts available.
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Old 09-20-2005, 04:47 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfariswheel
Back then, the only non-GI and non-Colt frames were by early casters like Crown City, Vega, and Essex.
Eeeek...Don't say that word, nasty flashbacks.
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Old 09-20-2005, 05:26 AM   #13
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The absolute worst 1911 type parts I've ever seen were from ODI.

The first slide they sent me had the firing pin hole misdrilled and it struck primers right on the edge. It always set them off but I considered it unacceptable and returned it for replacement. The replacement had another minor flaw of some sort but at least the firing pin was closer to center so I kept it. Then I stupidly bought another one that looked okay but I didn't get around to using it until long after ODI (and Randco, which sold off their parts) was out of business. This one was so badly machined in the locking lug area that it would not reliably function at all, and I had to replace it with something else entirely.

Many of the ODI small parts were obviouslly castings of very low quality.

My ODI frame ended up with a Ciener .22 kit more or less permanently attached, and is one of my kid's favorite guns.
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Old 09-20-2005, 09:18 AM   #14
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As far as price is concerned, if that slide is pre70-series, it's worth $250.00 by itself.
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