You can look up serial number ranges for various makers which will tell you which branch received what ranges. And there are some 'on again/off again' minutia that you will find in collectors books, etc. Mainly about what roll stamps were used when... and for what branch. But there is no definitive "USMC" stamp on every Marine gun or similar. It comes down to some very arcane markings and serial number ranges.
One distinguishing characteristic is that if a gun was rebuilt by the Sedgley Company... it was a Marine gun. Apparently, the USMC received a large allotment of 'used, worn-out and otherwise disreputable" 1911's from the Army during the 1930's. Being Marines... they got whatever was leftover a lot of times. So they sent them all out to Sedgley Co. which completely refurbished them to new. And those were issued in WW2 and beyond. I understand they are rare and expensive. But they definitely have Marine Corps Provenance.
Since you are not in a rush... I'd start looking for one on the private market that was a bringback or has some provenance from the guy who had it. Maybe advertise in local paper? Something that will reach an older target audience! There are still a lot of them in sock drawers! The provenance of a direct purchase is your friend here.
I find it interesting about these old exchanges. How much could the Marines have gotten for them if they were sold on the street, or even as scrap? I know the Army would probably be sayin', "We're not going to give you our junk if you're just going to sell it." But, the Marines, like you said, were always the last to get anything.
Which brings to mind, how did Sedgely refurb them? Re-weld frames and/or slides and re-machine them? Replacing pins would be a must, I would think.
It was the depression... Doubt they could have gotten anything on the street! Even after the War, 1911's sold for nothing. Here is a c. 1941 (before Pearl Harbor) ad for 1911's from Stoeger. Now think what a ragged out one would cost? Even with inflation... A ragged out 1911 dated from 1914 - 1918 period... a couple of bucks? Heck, you could buy Army Surplus U.S. Marked Single Action Army's at the time from Bannermans... for $5. And they had barrels of them! Today... one is worth a minimum of $20,000 for a U.S. marked, provenanced early SAA.
Last, here is a link to an auction description that goes into some detail about Sedgley. They appear to have been set up near the main Marine supply depot at Philadelphia. And acted as sort of an 'outsource' armorer. The article says that Sedgley-marked guns are the only definitive way to know a gun was a Marine Corps 1911. I know there are a few others. But they are pretty arcane and may not be 100 percent reliable...
I wonder how many PTRS 41's made it in the country. I've only ever seen one in person, very impressive, the scale doesn't hit you until you're there.
I looked up a few Sedgley pistols on gunbroker. Might be a bit out of my budget. I may just have to get some serial # ranges familiarized or just take what I get. Really just window shopping at this point but it doesn't cost anything to keep an eye out.
Yes, but only for the first 7 years of shipments, circa 1912 to 1918. As noted in books by Clawson, Poyer, etc, the USMC received small shipments of known serials ranges of Colt 911 pistols, which are:
1912: 3501-3800 (300 total)
1913: 36401-37650 (1250 total)
1914: 83901-84400 (500 total)
1916: 151187-151986 (800 total)
1917: 209587- 210386 (800 total)
1917: 215387-216186 (800 total)
1918: 216987-217386 (400 total, and as noted by Poyer "Last direct shipment to USMC").
Total: 4850 Colt 1911s shipped directly to the USMC
All of the slides had the standard marking: "MODEL OF 1911 US ARMY" - so the serial #s are only way you can you tell if these pre-WWI and WWI era pistols went to the USMC. After 1918 the pistols were shipped to the US Army, US Navy or in WWII to "General Stores" - none were documented as going directly to the USMC
So, that's less than 5k pistols in the early years, and given the attrition rate of WWI and WWII, Korea and Vietnam, they are very rare. Most have probably landed in advanced collections over the past few decades, and presumably sell for a large premium over a similar era 1911 (I think I saw a worn specimen at a gunshow many years ago for $7500. The tag said it was in the USMC serial range, but too much $$ for me so I didn't study it).
FWIW, there is an old 2112 in NC who is building clones of the USMC MEUSOC pistols, while not historic, but they can be used and enjoyed - unlike a 100 year old 1911 with a lot of collector value and an ever-increasing price tag... https://kcskustomcreations.com/meu-s...nd-price-list/
I don't collect 1911s, but I did gather up the right parts and had two PWS-built 1911s made by 2112s. (One is an early MEUSOC with a 1943 Colt frame as configured by USMC/RTE in the late 1980s, and other is the final variant of the USMC M45 with the Springfield Operator slide as made by PWS in 2012-2013). I have not shot either one as I consider them collector's items and I have other 1911s for shooting. (see attached)
Even though I was at one time a firm believer that the Cirlce S marked pistols might be Sedgley rebuilds and therefore Marine. I'm in the camp anymore, that it is probably more likely that the circle S means something else. Or if it does mean Sedgley, they might not be Marine.
I have been doing case studies of them for nearly 20 years now, and just too many things don't add up with the Marine Connection. And what really bothers me is, we have been hitting the archives for years pulling unpublished Marine Documents, and we have so much correspondence between Sedlgey and the Marines. And there is just never one mention of Sedgley and M1911's.
As many documents as we have from Sedgley and no mention of the 1911's, I just am becoming very doubtful that a USMC-Sedgley M1911 connection exists. And I believe now that the Circle S means something else.
Personally I have one of the Circle S pistols, just in case someday I am wrong. But as far as paying any premium over any other rebuild, I would highly advise you didn't. Because I think someday we will find the true meaning of that cirlce S and it probably won't be Marine. Or it won't be exclusive to the Marines I should say.
The only other marking we have found that could possibly be Marine is we have found (2) M1911's with the 0-68 Rebuild mark. Marine Corps Garands have the 0-65 to 0-67 Rebuild mark. So we can only assume that a 0-68 1911 mark could be Marine. But these are extremely rare. We only know of two. But with the release of the new 1911's from the CMP, maybe there are more in there.
This is one of the two 0-68's we know of.
But when it comes down to it, if you are really going to shell out some money and want one guaranteed, you have to find one like this, that Random Guy mentioned above. It's the only way to know 100% for sure it was Marine. Unless you got really lucky and had a hit from the SRS. Which you have better luck probably winning the lottery.
Very cool.... and I agree that the letter is about the only way to be sure... with the serial number.
But I am curious as to why the Sedgley Mark (traditionally thought to be the circle S) is something else?
Not doubting you here. You have done more research than I. But has there been any definitive indication as to what Is and Isn't Sedgley? Or what that particular mark may signify other than Sedgley? Or who has posited the idea that it's not?
Again... looking to learn here!
Beautiful 1911's in their own right, sir! Thanks for sharing!
It's sort of a long story. But no one really knows where the story of the circle S being Sedgley even comes from. Chuck Clawson lived about 20 minutes from me and we spoke on it many times. He was also suspicious on the story being true, but there really is no proof one way or another. And he wasn't even sure where the story originated from.
I sort of now believe what happened is someone back in the day saw the circle S, and said that looks like the S on the Sedgley USMC barrels, and therefore it has to be a Sedgley stamp. And because Sedgley is most famous for the the USMC M1903 barrels. That must mean these are USMC M1911's.
But Sedgley was just as involved with the US Army as the Marines, so even if you could somehow prove for sure the Circle S was Sedgley. It would be just as likely that Sedgley would have done them for the US Army. We found that the Army bought a lot off Sedgley in the Documents from the Archives. But today history has forgotten that Sedgley was just as involved with the US Army. And every one believes that Sedgley was only Marine, which isn't correct.
Also for almost 20 years, I kept logs of every "Sedgley" rebuild that surfaced. I tracked them heavily till about 2 years ago when I finally started to loose faith in them as Marine. As far as I know, unless one has recently surfaced, none have ever shown up stamped on a Genuine USMC serial numbered M1911. Also many show several rebuild marks on them. Which are the US Army rebuild marks of AA and RIA.
The biggest thing is. We have now pulled tens of thousand of unpublished Marine Corps documents. Including all the Quartermaster docs at College park, and even though we did find a lot of correspondence between Sedgley and the US Marines. It was always about buying parts for M1903's. There is never one mention of the M1911.
Honestly just with the sheer amount of unpublished Marine docs we have now, and as much correspondence we have from Sedgley. If it did happen, I just feel we would have found it a long time ago.
LIke for instance the Marines bought like 30,000 or 35,000 front sight blades off Sedgley in the 1930's, and I bet I have 50 pages of documents on just that one order. You see so much correspondence anytime anything happened, and there is just absolutely nothing on Sedgley and M1911's. It just makes it's it seem very unlikely.
I just have a feeling that someday when we do discover what that circle S stands for, I just have a hunch it won't be US Marines related. In the end maybe I will be wrong. Or it's always possible it wasn't archived, but it just seems really unlikely at this point.
I mean the mark does look like the Sedgley stamp on the barrels. But it also looks like the stamp you see on what they call the AJ Savage Slides. You also see the circle S on other commercial rifles as well.
I think I could argue it about 50 different ways and there is absolutely not one ounce of proof to prove any of it. lol
Which I admit stinks. Because one of the first Marine items I ever researched were these Sedgley pistols, and the first thing I was hoping to find the documentation on at the archives and prove, was this. lol But there is just nothing in the Marine docs, and it just seems so unlikely now.
I have one I know is USMC. It was purchased from the 96 year old Marine who "carried it in his shoulder holster for 3 1/2 years in the Pacific."
Except at night. Said it spent every night in his hand, not his holster.
I ask him how he got it home. He replied, " I was an officer, I carried it onboard in the shoulder holster." Guess that settled it.