Colt’s .45 ACP Lightweight

A Full-Sized Feather-Light Fun-Gun!

Sometimes, although not as often as it should, progress actually works in our favor. When it comes to firearms, progress has been very good to us and these are definitely the best of times. On the downside, I miss the old classics, especially those from the middle of the 20th century. However, on the great upside we have an almost unbelievable proliferation of firearms to choose from. Not only do we have these almost unbelievable choices facing us, they are, for the most part, very easy to find, relatively cheaper and definitely of stronger materials and tighter tolerances than in decades past.

Zephyr Commander?

Most of the firearms listed in my 60-year-old Gun Digest are no longer available. One that is, the Colt Government Model, was available in two versions in 1952, both blue, and in .45 ACP or .38 Super. Another semi-automatic Colt had just arrived and at the time it was called the “The New Lightning Colt — The Zephyr Commander” — and when was the last time we heard it called that? This then brand new shorter and lighter Colt was offered in the two standard chamberings as well as in 9mm. That was it, and not only was that “it,” it was rare to ever find them.

By the time I started seriously shooting, after high school, most of us had Government Models, however they were not one of these newer production versions but military surplus from the two World Wars. That’s all you could get. I just checked the Colt’s website and found 26 different iterations of the Government Model available. That is definitely positive progress.

The latest from Colt is the Lightweight. While I was still in grade school Colt came out with their first Lightweight .45 ACP, cutting the barrel and slide length of the standard Government Model by just under 1″, going with an alloy frame, resulting in the Commander.

However, this latest Lightweight is not a version of the Commander but rather a full-sized Government Model with the standard 5″ barrel. I could be wrong, but I don’t recall Colt ever offering such a version in the past. I’m sure some have mated up Commander alloy frames with standard Government Model slides and barrels to come up with a custom full-size Lightweight. But in my memory this is the first time Colt has cataloged this most welcome version. Other companies have offered Lightweight 1911s — and I have one I have been shooting for a couple of decades — however, this is my first such 1911 with the name “Colt” on the slide.
By John Taffin

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American Handgunner Jan/Feb 2013

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8 thoughts on “Colt’s .45 ACP Lightweight

  1. David Mueller

    In the photos in your “Colt’s .45 ACP Lightmweight” test, American Handgunner Jan/Feb 2013, you show a wood handled folding knife. Please provide the info on this knife and where it can be purchased.

    Thank you,


  2. chris

    just saw the cover story on the colt. What a beautiful gun. Who was the photographer? Do you guys have him on staff or just freelance?

  3. Dr Bob

    I too am interested in finding this knife that is photographed with the “Colt .45 ACP Lightweight”. No mention of it in the article. I’ve tried to describe it and search images, I’ve tried to write to the editor, next I’m going to contact the photographer. Any assistance would be appreciated

  4. SoonerBrad

    I recently purchased my first 1911 and love the holster with the backstrap featured with this gun. Where can I find one?

  5. Hey Joe

    send me your email and I’ll send you pixs of my Factory lettered from1950, .45acp. Colt Commander LW w/ full length slide.

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