Here we showcase some of the Pachmayr restorations and updates we take on. Some of the work required to restore a Pachmayr pistol is relatively straight forward, but there are other projects that are more extensive in scope and could include replacing entire front straps due to damage or poor checkering, for instance. Fortunately, we are equipped to restore almost any Pachmayr pistol, including the Signature Model and other variants.
These pages will be a live portfolio, sharing the process of a pistol from start to finish, one restoration at a time. The slideshow contains progress images recording key steps through each project. Upon completion a formal studio image will replace the main photo and be made available on an archive page for future reference.
Restoration in Progress
The current Combat Special restoration on the bench is a very unique example of a 'chopped' 1911 that was quite the rage during the 1970s and early eighties. Just about every custom shop tried their hand at reducing the slide and frame length of a full size 1911. It was only in the mid 80's that Colt introduced the Officer's Model, but up to that point it was chop, weld, and braze for many gunsmiths.
This particular pistol was received as a bag of parts with many of the frame components and internals missing. The parts that were present were all usable but an original right side Swenson safety had to be located and a custom main spring housing fabricated. The overall length and cross pin location is unique to the pistol and that part was not in the bag. An original Pachmayr metal beavertail blank was incorporated to restore it to authenticity. When building legacy Combat Specials on Colt chassis we often fabricate the part, but in this instance we wanted the unit to be 100% authentic so an original rough PGW casting was fitted. However, these castings were difficult to style with hand tools, overly hard and difficult to fit, but the unique form is an important aspect of the Combat Special identity.
The design of beavertail requires a 'Commander' hammer modified to Pachmayr specs, which was historically done using an original part. We did cheat a little by using swing fixture when radiusing the tang of the frame, as back in the day gunsmiths used a manual method to generate the radius. Depending on their skill level, this could lead to a shoddy gap between the mating radius surfaces.
The grips selected are double diamond ebony which are reflective of the time. There are 'trial' grips on the piece at this time, but the pistol will be finalized with a custom set featuring silver shields commonly found on high-end Pachmayr pistols. One of the parts we don't have for Pachmayr restoration are the shields, so we roped in Rob Rowen to make the grips and inlet silver shields which were hand-made for the project by custom jewelry maker, Elizabeth Haskins. The frame on the unit is a quarter inch shorter than stock and using Pachmayr rubber grips was not an option.
As was the case back then, stock Colt magazines were shortened to match the frame length, and we did the same for this project. The pistol at this stage is ready for the frame and controls to be re-hard chromed. The top end was in good shape and was left as received.
From a historical perspective this an important piece. Many, if not most, of the 'chopped' Combat Specials we have come across are missing key Pachmayr features or markings that put doubt as to their authenticity. This pistol was obviously legitimate when it was initially built and is now a full featured, unique piece of the Pachmayr history.
This particular Combat Special restoration is now 'in the books' as it were. Thanks to Rob Rowen and Elizabeth Haskins for their individual contributions to the project. Every effort was made to restore this pistol as close to specification as possible and their help and skills certainly assured that.