Colt Gold Cup

1911   •    Semi-Automatic    •    1993
The Colt Gold Cup 1911 .45 ACP handgun holds a special place in the annals of Firearms History

Greg | 31 December 2023

Revered for its precision, craftsmanship, and undeniable influence on competitive shooting, this iconic pistol has left an indelible mark since its inception in the early 20th century. In this article, we will delve into the rich history of the Colt Gold Cup 1911, tracing its origins, design innovations, notable variants, and its enduring legacy in the world of firearms.

The story of the Colt Gold Cup begins with its progenitor, the Colt M1911. In 1905, the U.S. Army recognized the need for a new semi-automatic pistol to replace the aging .38 caliber revolvers in its inventory. The legendary firearms designer John Browning took up the challenge and, in 1911, delivered a revolutionary design that would become the M1911. This new pistol featured a single-stack magazine, a slide-operated semi-automatic action, and fired the .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) cartridge.

The M1911 quickly gained a reputation for its stopping power, reliability, and durability. It saw service in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and various conflicts throughout the 20th century. Its use continued well into the 21st century, attesting to its enduring design and effectiveness.
Greg retrieving the Colt Gold Cup National Match pistol from the display case

In the realm of competitive shooting, the M1911 pistol's accuracy and versatility made it a favorite among shooters. Recognizing its potential, Colt's Manufacturing Company introduced the National Match M1911 in the 1930s. This pistol was designed to meet the needs of competitive shooters who demanded superior accuracy and performance. The National Match M1911 set the stage for the birth of the Colt Gold Cup.

The first Colt Gold Cup pistol, officially known as the "Colt Gold Cup National Match," was introduced in 1957. This pistol was designed to take competitive shooting to the next level, providing unmatched accuracy and precision for bullseye target shooting. It featured a number of enhancements over the standard M1911, including a lighter trigger pull, an adjustable rear sight, and a match-grade barrel. These modifications made it a favorite among competitive shooters, and it quickly gained a reputation as one of the most accurate handguns in the world.

Greg inspecting the Colt Gold Cup
Innovations and Variants

Over the years, the Colt Gold Cup underwent several changes and iterations to stay at the forefront of competitive shooting. Some notable variants and innovations include:

  • Series 70: In 1970, Colt introduced the Series 70 Gold Cup, which featured the iconic Series 70 firing system. This refinement improved trigger pull and reset, enhancing accuracy and precision. The Series 70 Gold Cup continued to be a favorite among shooters and collectors alike.
  • Series 80: In 1983, Colt introduced the Series 80 Gold Cup, which featured a passive firing pin safety. This safety system added an extra layer of security to the pistol, making it more appealing to law enforcement agencies.
  • Custom Shop Editions: Colt's Custom Shop has produced limited-edition Gold Cup pistols such as my Presentation model with premium features and finishes, catering to the discerning tastes of collectors and competitive shooters.

The Colt Gold Cup's impact on competitive shooting cannot be overstated. The pistol has been instrumental in the success of countless marksmen and markswomen, helping them achieve remarkable feats in various shooting disciplines. The National Rifle Association (NRA) recognized the Gold Cup's significance by incorporating it into its National Matches, solidifying its reputation as the gold standard for precision shooting.

Notable competitive shooters like Doug Koenig and Brian Zins have used the Colt Gold Cup to win numerous championships and set records. Its exceptional accuracy, reliability, and adjustable sights have consistently given shooters the edge they need to excel in bullseye, IPSC, USPSA, and other competitive shooting sports.

The Colt Gold Cup has not only made its mark on the shooting sports but also in the world of firearms collectibility. Vintage Gold Cup pistols, especially the early models, are highly sought after by collectors. Their limited production numbers, unique features, and historical significance make them prized possessions for those who appreciate fine firearms.

Furthermore, the Colt Gold Cup has influenced the design of countless custom 1911-style pistols, with many gunsmiths and manufacturers adopting its features and enhancements to create high-end firearms tailored to the needs of competitive shooters and discerning enthusiasts.

My Favorite Semi-Automatic Handgun is the Colt Model 1911...

There's nothing I could say about these guns that hasn't been extensively covered over the last 110 years. To me, this particular gun is hard to beat. Military tried to replace it with 9mm (mistake). Law Enforcement tried to replace it with the .40 S&W (never understood that). I don't own a 9mm or .40 caliber gun.

There is likely one more Colt .45 ACP in my future. I scour the three major auction sites and two other outlets routinely. When I find it, I will share it with you here. You can still order a custom made 1911 from the Colt Custom Shop to your specifications, however, they only produce the guns in two finishes, blue or stainless.

I've always been partial to nickel, and the gun I would like to acquire will hopefully be a nickel gun.

Old fashioned? Outdated? Now before you go firing off emails or comments on the Facebook page, I understand that everyone has favorites of their own. Just accept that the .45 ACP and particularly the Colt 1911 are my favorites. Always have been, at least since my Army days and I don't see that ever changing.

The Colt Gold Cup 1911 .45 ACP handgun is a testament to the enduring legacy of the M1911 design.

From its humble origins as a military sidearm, it evolved into a pinnacle of precision and performance in competitive shooting. Its innovations, variants, and influence on the world of firearms have left an indelible mark, and it continues to be a symbol of excellence in the world of handguns.

Colt Archive Letter
close-up of Gold Cup
Colt Gold Cup
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