Arsenal Rebuilds

“My Colt has a Remington Serial Number. What’s Going On?” It’s the most “frequently asked question” on The Sight M1911. People often suspect that there’s an error in the serialization tables or that they have stumbled onto a rare collector’s item. Neither of these is the case, however. These guns are “arsenal rebuilds.” This term refers to guns which have been extensively repaired or reconditioned by government armorers at one of the government arsenals which support the small arms of the Armed Forces.

Government armorers had one and only one concern: to get guns back into service. They didn’t care about gun collectors. One of the great assets of the M1911 pistols – total parts interchangeability – becomes a real trap for collectors of government issue pistols. A Remington Rand slide will fit on a Springfield Armory frame just fine.

When a pistol became worn or was damaged, they were repaired or refurbished at U.S. arsenals and service depots. This began in the 20’s soon after the pistols were initially issued. During WWII, large numbers of M1911 pistols produced during WWI were refinished and reconditioned. These can be easily identified because they were parkerized and given bakelite grips. There were no parkerized M1911 pistols issued. They were all blued originally and they had walnut grips. M1911A1 pistols were parkerized originally and had bakelite grips. Also, there were no M1911 or M1911A1 G.I. pistols produced with nickel finishes. So right away, if your serial number says it’s a 1918 Colt, and it has a parkerized finish, you know that you have an arsenal rebuild. If it is a G.I. pistol and has a nickel finish, it is not original and the collector value is severely diminished. The last new Colt M1911A1 pistols were purchased in 1945, but the pistols served another 37 years. Needless to say, a lot of repair and refurbishing needed to be done.

When a pistol was rebuilt at an arsenal or service depot, it was generally marked with the initials of the arsenal. Usually, when a pistol went through this process, it was inspected for serviceability by an inspector who stamped his initials on the gun once it passed muster. Consequently, much can be learned about the pistol’s history by examining the arsenal and inspector marks on the gun.

Click Here for a Graphic of Marks Normally Found on Government Issue M1911 Pistols

Arsenal Rebuild Marks:

AA = Augusta Arsenal
AN = Anniston Arsenal
BA = Benecia Arsenal
MR = Mt Rainer Ordinance Depot
OG = Ogden Arsenal
RA = Raritan Arsenal
RIA = Rock Island Arsenal
RRA = Red River Arsenal
SA = Springfield Arsenal
SAA = San Antonio Arsenal

Inspector Marks:

CSR: Charles S Reed Colt S/N 717,282-723,000
EB: Ernest Blind, RIA inspector
E.E.C: Edmund E. Chapman Remington UMC S/N 1-21676
FK: Frank Krack, RIA inspector
GHD: Guy H. Drewry Colt S/N 845,000 to 2,360,600
GHS Monogram: Gilbert H. Stewart. Found on Colt M1911s (SN 101,500 to 230,000), M1907, M1917, M1903, and M1 rifles at different periods. Stamped after finish.
JKC: Lt. Col. James K. Christmas, Singer frames (or John K. Clement?)
JMG Monogram: J.M. Gilbert found on Colt 1911s from 1917 to 1918 (SN 230,001 to 302,000). Stamped after finish
FJA: Frank J. Atwood. Found on Remington Rand and Ithaca 1911A1s. Stamped after finish.
JSB: John S. Begley (civilian), late Colt M1911A1 frames
RCD: Lt. Col. R. C. Downey, Union Switch and Signal frames
RS: Robert Sears Colt S/N 723,000 to 750,500
WB: Waldemar Broberg S/N Colt 750,500 to 861,000
WGP Monogram: Walter G. Penfield, Major Colt S/N 1-101,500
WTG: Walter T Gorton Colt S/N 700,000-710,000

Other Marks:

ANAD: Anniston Army Depot, Anniston, Alabama
H, san-serif: Frank L. Hosmer or Frederick W. Hauff
H, serif: Frank L. Hosmer, Colt inspector
P: proof mark
G: Government contract order
S: Civilian sales order, present on military parts/guns purchased by government
S: located after finish by the disconnector on top of the frame indicates field service.
United States Property: This stamp is found on the frame and slides of 1911s manufactured for and owned by the US armed forces. In most cases a gun with the property stamp will not have a “C” in the serial number.
X: Assembly inspector’s stamp, but can mean other things depending on location


X2693614-X2693665 Renumbered Raritan Arsenal
X2693666-X2693785 Renumbered RIA
X2693786-X2693885 Renumbered Ord. in Tokyo Arsenal
X2693886-X2694996 Renumbered several U.S. Arsenals
X2694997-X2694998 Renumbered RIA 1954-1955
X2694999-X2695198 Renumbered Ord. in Tokyo Arsenal 1955
X2695199-X2695201 Renumbered Raritan Arsenal 1955
X2695202-X2695210 Renumbered RIA 1955-1956
X2695211-X2695212 Renumbered Minn. Mil. Dist. Arsenal 1957 Total: 4985

One final note: just because a gun is an arsenal rebuild, doesn’t mean it isn’t collectible. These guns are rich in history. They may not have the high price tag of a pristine Remington-UMC, but they represent a moment in time when the nation was in peril and these old warhorses answered the call.

See Also:

Who Made It?

Ty Moore’s Cool Gun Site

Comments, suggestions, contributions? Let me know