Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1463: North American Arms Co. Model 1911 Semi-Automatic Pistol

Auction Date: August 27, 2022

Rare North American Arms Co. Model 1911 Semi-Automatic Pistol Serial Number 56

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $20,000 - $35,000

Rare North American Arms Co. Model 1911 Semi-Automatic Pistol Serial Number 56

Manufacturer: North American Arms
Model: 1911
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 45 ACP
Barrel: 5 inch round
Finish: blue
Grip: walnut
Item Views: 509
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 334
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun

This is a solid representative example of the exceptionally rare and iconic North American Arms Co. Model 1911 pistol, that was produced in December of 1918 in Quebec, Canada. In early July 1918, the U.S. Government issued a contract for 500,000 Model 1911 pistols to the North American Arms Co., previously the Dominion (Ross) Rifle Plant. The company leased the plant for manufacturing and as part of the contract, the U.S. Government was to supply all of the raw materials necessary for production. However, due to material shortages during the war and the time it took the plant to get tooled up for production, the Government was only able to supply enough material to produce approximately "100 sets" of initial start-up or prototype parts. Due to the armistice of November 1918, the contract was canceled in December of 1918 with no examples of completed pistols ever being accepted by the U.S. Government. As part of the contract termination settlement, the U.S. Ordnance Board did eventually accept/reclaim a large portion of the manufactured and completed parts and assemblies, most of which were later disposed of. Some however, were later assembled into completed pistols. These 100 pistols were uniquely stamped with only a controlling serial number in two locations, the left lower area of the frame under the grip panel, and the left upper rear corner of the slide, with this example numbered "56". Bady in his book "Colt Automatic Pistols", theorizes that the unique placement of the serial numbers on the known "standard" examples of the North American Model 1911s suggests that none were ever submitted for government approval, which would indicate that the pistols were assembled after the suspension of the contract. Information on these "standard" examples from North American can be found on p. 219-221 of "U.S. Military Automatic Pistols 1894-1920" by Meadows and on p. 201-204 of "Colt .45 Service Pistols: Models of 1911 and 1911A1" by Clawson. The left side of the slide is marked "MANUFACTURED BY/NORTH AMERICAN ARMS CO. LIMITED/QUEBEC, CANADA." and "56" behind the serrations and under the left grip on the frame. A "5" and partial "6" are visible on the left of the trigger. The blued barrel is unmarked with a polished chamber hood. It is fitted with a serrated slide stop, checkered thumb safety, checkered magazine catch, short grip safety, smooth hammer, a smooth straight mainspring housing, checkered diamond pattern grips, and a later replacement, unmarked, full blue magazine. Includes a Canadian firearms registration certificate which lists the pistol by serial number but incorrectly lists the manufacturer as "Colt".

Rating Definition:

Fine, retains 80% plus of the refinished blue finish with some light pitting visible beneath, a light takedown mark, and the balance having thinned to mostly a smooth grey patina, most noticeably on the mainspring housing and grip safety. The grips are very good with some light wear and scattered handling marks, and otherwise crisp checkering. Mechanically excellent.

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