Experts | Shooting Iron |

By Mike “Duke” Venturino

Bling” seems to be a modern catchword in American slang. I think it refers to fancy doodads. For my entire life I’ve avoided bling. In the horseback days of my youth, my handmade, custom-built saddle had no tooling or carving. It was just plain leather. The most bling I had with leather holsters were my initials carved on them. When buying custom grips for many of the hundreds of handguns owned starting in 1966, what I desired most was walnut. To me even rosewood was fancy. Never have I worn jewelry. My wedding ring was on my finger only on that special day in 1978.

Now in my Medicare years, from just out of the blue the need for some bling has struck. Driving down the road one afternoon the thought just popped into my mind I needed a nickel-plated Colt 1911. And it had to be .38 Super.

But having one must have been my destiny because within 24 hours of that strange thought I walked into a well-stocked gun store and beheld the shiniest Colt 1911 I’ve ever seen. It was a .38 Super. I am nothing if not impetuous and quickly counted out the bucks for it.

Obviously, this particular 1911 wasn’t your stock Government Model. It did have the usual 5″ barrel but not only were its sights taller than normal but they were white-dot types. Also it had no arched mainspring housing, which has been standard on Colt Government Models since the 1920’s, and its grip panels were checkered rosewood. Its serial number had the peculiar prefix of “ELCEN” and it carried the words “COLT CUSTOM” rather large on the slide’s left side.


Now in his Medicare years Duke feels the need for bling! The perfect
match for his shiny Colt 1911 .38 Super is a fullycarved holster from
El Paso Saddlery.


Neither was it nickel-plated as I thought at purchase. Upon getting back to my computer my searching revealed this pistol was made of stainless steel. Instead of matte stainless steel as usual on handguns, it was polished to a high luster. That was even better to my mind. It definitely has bling, but I’ll have no worry about the nickel peeling.

From the rather meager information gleaned from research, it seems the “ELCEN” prefix meant this 1911 was part of a run especially made by Colt for a large distributor who pedaled them south of the border. Thus the .38 Super chambering. Military calibers such as .45 ACP and 9mm are proscribed by law in Mexico. Each run had its own name such as “EL” this or “EL” that. Evidently Colt had some overruns in the “ELCEN” batch, finished them up with the “COLT CUSTOM” marking and sold them in the United States. Mechanically they are said to be the Series 80.

To say my friends understand my sudden need for bling would be incorrect. Those who I have shown my new 1911 to have had reactions ranging from wide eyes to laughter. One even said I would have to hold it sideways for firing like the “gangstas” of movies. My own dear Yvonne’s eyes showed perplexity when I proudly whipped it out of its pistol rug upon bringing it home. At least she just said, “It’s pretty, Duke.”


In his youth Duke wanted plainness. His custom-made saddle
had no carving, nor did its saddle bags. He at least allowed
his initials to be carved on custom-made holsters.

Duke’s Happy Blinged-Out

None of their reactions bother me in the least. This .38 Super puts bullets where its sights are pointed at 25 yards. That’s with 130-gr. FMJ Remington +P factory loads. At deadline time I’ve not had the opportunity to feed it handloads, but reloading dies and proper bullets are on hand. Factory ammo has functioned flawlessly so far. My main concern with it is whether I will have it fitted with ivory or mother of pearl grip panels. A fully carved El Paso Saddlery holster fits it perfectly.

When sitting and holding this “pretty” Colt 1911, I can’t help but feel sorry for all those handgunners out there who own black guns. They have no bling at all.

Who ever thought I’d be saying this?

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