EXTREMELY RARE NORTH AMERICAN 1911 SEMI AUTO PISTOL.
Cal. 45 ACP
North American Arms of Quebec, Canada was awarded a contract with the US Ordnance Department to produce 500,000 model 1911 pistols for the US military during WWI on July 1, 1918.
The pistols were to be manufactured in the former Ross Rifle factory that was leased by North American Arms Company for an 18-month period starting September 1, 1918. The US agreed to provide raw materials for the production of the pistols to North American Arms. The expectation set forth by the contract was to deduct the expense for raw materials from the invoices of the completed pistols.
The US also contracted with North American to produce spare parts for the pistols. There was concern from the Ordnance Departments engineers regarding the capabilities of the company to produce the quite complicated pistol due to the rather dated methods and machinery utilized by the Canadian manufacturing plant. These complications proved to be a rather difficult hurdle for the company, and the requirement set forth for 100% interchangeability of the pistols’ parts with other manufacturers products, was one that the company was never able to achieve.
On Dec. 4, 1918, the contract for North American Arms to produce the pistols was suspended, ending the production of the pistols before any deliveries were made. There were only about 100 pistols that were completed during the time that the company was tooling up for production or, as some believe, from parts that the company competed that the firm assembled after the contract was suspended.
When the cancelled contract was settled between the US government and North American Arms, a small amount of partially finished parts was reclaimed by the Ordnance Salvage Board and later destroyed.
As Charles Clawson states in his publication, “Colt .45 Service Pistols – Models of 1911 and 1911A1” pg. 204, “The pistols are a bit crude, showing some hand fitting, but are good functioning weapons” There are some distinct differences between a pre-production toolroom North American pistol and a production Colt 1911. The North American pistols, such as this example, have a wide, long spur uncheckered hammer, an ejection port cut out that terminates on the flat facet of the slide, a “rounded” barrel bushing, and a serial/assembly number that is found on the slide, frame, & trigger. North American pistols were also produced with a main spring housing that has no provisions for a lanyard loop; however, this example has a Colt main spring housing that has a provision for a lanyard ring. The barrel is unmarked.
Consignor notes that some Colt parts were possibly used by North American to finish pistols. These pistols were never submitted for inspection and carry no proof markings. The pistol is fitted with 13-line, double diamond walnut grips. The slide stop is serrated and the safety lock is checkered. MAGS: (1) unmarked, two tone 7 rd.