Home - Volume 3 (2008) - Issue 4 (Fall '08) - Pistol Review: Colt Combat Elite

The Combat Elite Revisited

A Gun Test by Hunter Lee Elliott (Hunter, )

My first handgun was a Colt enhanced Combat Elite; I bought it at the Post Exchange on Camp Lejeune shortly after I turned 21. Now I have picked up the new Colt Combat Elite test pistol, almost 14 years to the day of picking up my first Colt of the same name.

When Harwood, (Hawkmoon from M1911.org) Jamie (another member of M1911.org and a close friend of mine) and I were touring the Colt plant a few months ago we saw the first run of these pistols being assembled. The new Combat Elite is based on the Colt XSE (a tried and true pistol), but without the ambidextrous thumb safety and with an added, upswept grip safety. I spoke with Rich at Colt about testing one of these new pistols and he was good enough to make it happen for me.

I picked up the new Combat Elite from Jim's Guns in Raleigh on a cool Thursday afternoon. The first thing I noticed was the slide to receiver fit was tight, real tight. The current Combat Elite receivers are being built on the new Colt CNC machinery. This may be part of the reason for the consistency. For me, the jury is still out on Colt's using CNC machinery. I understand it has to be like this, but that don't mean I have to like it. I decided to be open minded about this new fangled computer machined Colt.

Normally I would have waited until the weekend to try out a new test pistol but there were enough reasons for me not to wait. I went to a place in the country closer than the range just to put a few magazines through the Colt and see how it acted. I stepped off about twenty five feet and satisfied my curiosity. After a few flawless magazines of Armscor 230gr ball rounds the sun was going down and it was suppertime.

A Closer look of the Combat Elite

The hammer is a combat style.

The rear Novak sight provided great visibility.

The trigger is an aluminum three-hole style with an overtravel adjuster.

The muzzle showing the full-length guide rod setup.

The magazine well is slightly beveled.

The barrel hood denoting the National Match barrel in .45 Automatic.

The dovetailed front sight.

The checkered magazine release provided a good purchase when dropping the magazine.

The front cocking serrations added an option on hand position for racking the slide.

The front strap was smooth and showing the cut under the trigger guard on the Enhanced receiver.

An upswept grip safety provided protection form hammer/slide bite.

Original style Combat Elite rollmarks (I was glad to see these on the pistol).

The serrated nylon mainspring housing.

A close-up of the feed ramp and barrel throat.

A close-up of the breechface and ejector.

Lowered ejection port.

The disconnector rail and Series 80 plunger.

The new style stocks. I really like the looks of these.

Slide locked to the rear, showing the barrel and full-length guide rod.

Detail Strip

The new Colt Combat Elite comes standard with a full length guide rod, so detail/field stripping is a little different than a standard Government Model with a short guide rod I found it easiest to remove the slide as an assembly. Then remove the barrel bushing the same way as a standard Government Model, pull the recoil spring plug and recoil spring out from the muzzle. Then the full-length guide rod can be removed by pulling it up and back toward the lower barrel lugs. After that, detail strip is as any other Government Model.

Initial Range Trip

I am not going to count the first range trip really because it was just a basic test of function of the pistol. That is my excuse for not waiting to try out the new Colt.

I started the Combat Elite at the twenty five yard line to get a feel for the pistol and get the velocities of the test rounds. I ran a magazine of each test round with no failures then backed to the twenty five yard line for accuracy. Once the work portion of the test was over, Clint (a close friend of mine) and I began to wring out the new Colt and see how it would do.

For magazines I used the supplied eight-rounders, as well as Check-Mate seven and eight-round magazines with the dimpled follower and hybrid feed lips.

We took turns changing ammunition and magazines (even mixing lead semi-wadcutters, jacketed hollow points, and full metal jackets in the same magazine) and after approximately 200 rounds there were no failures. Clint commented on the visibility of the sights. As for myself, so far I liked the new Colt all the way around.

Second Range Trip

I took my mother out on a pretty Sunday morning to continue the test on the Combat Elite and to get her some more practice with a Government Model. I ran into Gary (a member of the range where I shoot) and asked him to try out the new Colt. He ran some of his rounds through the Colt and had no troubles. He told me he thought the fit and trigger on this model was better than some of the older Colts he has tried.

He was then good enough to donate some of his reloads for me to try through the Colt. His reload consisted of a Mt Baldy 215gr LSWC with a large meplat loaded with 6.1gr of Unique in a CCI case with a CCI primer.

I ran another 200 rounds through the Combat Elite with no issues with the pistol. As a matter of fact, the only trouble I had was after the review I wanted to teach my mom how to clear a misfeed. I intentionally mixed a spent case in the magazine hoping to induce a failure. I would then be able to show her how to clear it. Instead, I had to show her how to clear a dud round, as the Colt always fed the spent case.

The test rounds were staggered as before, mixing in jacketed hollow points and lead semi-wadcutters with the full metal jackets and, as before, it seemed the Colt did not care what round I used (including empty cases). It feed everything smooth as glass.

With just over 400 rounds through the tube without cleaning or lubricating, I was satisfied on how the pistol ran.

My reloads consisted of my home-cast 200gr LSWC loaded with 5.3gr of Unique.

The mold used was the Lyman mold 452630. Brinell hardness was 19.3 from water quenched wheel weights and lubed with Lyman Alox lube.

Cases were Winchester, Federal, Armscor, and CCI using Winchester primers.

The test was done without cleaning or lubricating to see how the new Colt would fair with a small amount of neglect. The lead bullets with a soft lube and Unique powder tend to accumulate around the feed ramp and chamber after a number of rounds.

Ammo donated by:

Sellier & Bellot




There has been some discussion of the slide rubbing on the dust cover of some of the new Combat Elites. I looked over the test pistol and noticed just a hint of contact.

I took a small file and removed about .010" of metal from the right side of the dust cover and cold blued the small wear mark. This did not pose an issue to the function but in keeping the pistol looking brand new I took care of it.

The new Colt did its job and did its job well.

I tried to get several opinions from dealers as well as friends on this pistol and, of those that checked it out and/or shot it, everybody agreed Colt did a good job overall building this pistol.

This test brought back some memories for me of when I shot my first very own Colt. I have collected a small number of Colt pistols since my first one and have been happy with all of them (though some get shot much more than others). With this being the latest Colt I have shot, and being built in a somewhat different way, I can still say I liked it. It is no secret I am a Colt man through and through, but I give you my word I was objective on this test. In my mind it would be doing the reader and Colt a disservice to pad the review or ignore any problems.

If something was to cause a problem let's make the consumer aware before they buy a problem pistol and hold that against Colt. With the same idea, let's make Colt aware so they can correct it so as to not upset the consumer. I believe it is in all of our best interest to be honest and objectionable.

All in all I was really happy with the way this Colt functioned. I fear for my checking account as this test draws to a close.


Model Colt Combat Elite
Weight: 2 pounds
Barrel length: 5"
Trigger pull: 5 pounds
Magazine capacity: 8
Twist: 1 turn in 16 inches.
MSRP: $983


Colt's Manufacturing Company LLC
Sellier & Bellot
Tom Beliveau gunsmith
My shooting partner Clint
My mother
Gary from the range.

You may discuss about this pistol, ask questions or in general discuss about this review, in this thread in our Forums Site:




Colt's Manufacturing Company LLC
P.O. Box 1868
Hartford, CT, 06144-1868

Phone: (860) 236-6311
Customer Service: 1-800-962-COLT
Fax: (860) 244-1449

Web site: http://www.coltsmfg.com


Sellier & Bellot, U.S.A.
P.O. Box 7307
Shawnee Mission, KS 66207

Phone: (913) 664-5933
Fax: (913) 664-5938

Email: ceg@sb-usa.com
Web Site: http://www.sb-usa.com/
Web Site: http://www.sellier-bellot.cz/

Armscor Ammo

Advanced Tactical Firearms
150 N. Smart Way
Pahrump, NV 89060

Phone: 775-537-1444
Fax: 775-537-1446
Web Site: http://www.advancedtactical.com

Hornady Ammo

Hornady Mfg. Co
P.O. Box 1848,
Grand Island, NE 68802-1848

Phone: 1-800-338-3220
Fax: (1) 308-382-5761

Email: webmaster@hornady.comm
Web site: http://www.hornady.com


Competitive Edge Dynamics USA
P.O. Box 486,
Orefield, PA 18069-0486

Orders: (1) 888-628-3233
Phone: (1) 610-366-9752
Fax: (1) 610-366-9680

Email: info@CEDhk.com
Web site: http://www.CEDhk.com

Home - Volume 3 (2008) - Issue 4 (Fall '08) - Pistol Review: Colt Combat Elite