Home - Volume 2 (2007) - Issue 3 (Summer '07) - Pistol Review: Colt Special Combat Government Super .38

Colt Special Combat Government Super .38

A Gun Test by Hunter Lee Elliott (Hunter, )

With the help of some friends at Colt I was able to find what in my opinion is one of the finest examples of a tuned Government Model today, the Colt Special Combat Government. I have a 1991 Colt Government Model in Super .38 and that is a fine pistol but variety is the spice of life so I opted to have another Super .38.

On Friday May 25th I took delivery of my Special Combat Government. I chose the caliber Super .38 in hard chromed model number 02570CM. I wanted a target pistol in that caliber for me to exploit the fast velocity and flat trajectory of the Super .38.

First Impression

It is no secret that I am a big fan of all things Colt. While that is true I give you my word that I will be objective, as I do not wish to tarnish any of my creditability at the expense of my pride. With that said the Special Combat Government is a really nice pistol. The hard chrome is a beautiful finish and is nicely done. I fell in love with my new Colt just after I opened the Custom Shop's blue box. As always though a range trip would have to be the deciding factor.

I have had the chance to examine the one owned by another M1911.ORG forum member, Larry Starling (his being a bi tone in the same caliber as mine). Quality in both pistols is exemplary.

When I got the Colt home I went over it and my initial impression was positive. The barrel bushing was snug to the slide and well fitted, but not so tight that a barrel bushing wrench was needed for disassembly.

The Smith and Alexander magazine well looked as if it grew from the frame; the mainspring housing was a part of the magazine well and was nicely checkered at twenty lines per inch.

Also on the Special Government Model is a Swenson style ambidextrous safety, rear dovetailed Bo-Mar sights adjustable for windage and elevation

and a dovetailed Heinie front blade sight.

The trigger is a match grade aluminum, 3-hole design with overtravel adjustment.

Out of the box it broke clean at four pounds four ounces with very little overtravel using my Lyman mechanical trigger pull gauge. I am reminded of the proverbial glass rod. Also, the Smith and Alexander grip safety was well fitted and disengaged positively.

The double diamond stocks reminded me of the stocks that came with the original Colt 1911s and I thought that was a nice touch.

The slide was well fitted to the receiver.

Detail Strip

The Colt Special Combat Government field and detail strips as any other Series 80 Colt Government Model with the exception of the ambidextrous safety. The right side of the safety is held in place by the right stock. Removing the right stock will allow removal of the right side of the safety. I was glad to see a standard guide rod in this pistol.

Here is the pistol stripped to its parts.

Special Combat Government compared to a Colt 1991

Here are just a few pictures comparing the Colt Special Combat Government to the Colt 1991, both pistols chambered in Super .38. The 1991 is considered Colt's entry level and the Special Combat Government is the flagship pistol. That is not to take away from the 1991, as it is a fine pistol that had worked flawless for me for some years now, but to show you where the extra money goes in the Custom Shop built Government Model.

Initial Range Trip

Monday was Memorial Day so I figured I would take advantage of a day off and see how my new Colt would act in public. I began with shooting my own reloads that work in my 1991 Colt. They consist of 147gr Hornady JHP loaded with 4.7gr of Unique with Federal brass and Winchester primers. I wanted to see if this Colt would feed jacketed hollow points right out of the box. I shot 100 rounds of that load without a failure. Next were 25 rounds of factory Remington 130gr +P full metal jacket. They also ran without a hitch.

The only trouble I had was with the Metalform magazine which came with the Special Combat Government. The base plate broke loose from the magazine body about half way through the range trip. I called Cindy at Colt Tuesday morning and she apologized for the trouble and sent me a replacement right away. I understand that the magazine is produced for Colt by Metalform but I was glad Colt took responsibility. I believe this is the very reason an initial range trip is a good idea to wring out any issues.

Again my shooting buddy Clint was there to run some rounds through the Colt. When he was done he handed me back the Colt and said with a smile "nice pistol Hunter, I want one." We wrapped it up with 125 total rounds fired without a pistol failure.

When I got home, I detail stripped and cleaned up the Colt. I paid close attention as I disassembled the pistol. I was equally impressed with the internal fitting as I was the exterior appearance and function.

When I completed assembly I applied a light coat of CLP where it counts. Function check showed I managed to get it back together correctly.

Second Range Trip

My second outing with my new Special Combat Government was Sunday June 17. I started out the day by setting up my CED chronograph and getting the numbers. With the muzzle about ten feet from the sky screens I began putting rounds down range.

Once I had finished measuring the velocities it was back to the seventy five foot mark to shoot for accuracy using a supported position. I used one nine round magazine for the chronograph per manufacture and the same for the seventy five foot and twenty one foot mark. The results of the velocities at ten feet from the muzzle and the groups at seventy five feet are listed in the chart below.

After what I would consider the work portion of the test was over it was time to get the Colt hot and dirty. Again my litmus test was the home cast 120gr truncated cone bullet cast in the Lyman mold 356402. For the record, the bullet weight averaged 126gr after being swaged to .355" and lubricated with Lyman Moly lube. Brinnell hardness was 28.5 using the Lee hardness tester. The load was 5.3gr of Unique powder, with Winchester small pistol primers and Federal +P nickel cases.

By now I was at round count 228 and so far so good. I then proceeded to the forty foot mark and poured it on. I had my shooting buddy Clint keeping my magazines topped off as I went at it. After twelve magazines totaling 108 rounds as fast as I could go, she was starting to warm up a bit. It was time to police up some brass and let my Colt cool off.

Then again I handed off my pistol to Clint for a few magazines. I mixed in my reloads with factory ammunition to see how the pistol would cycle different round profiles with different powder charges. He run through them and maintained his opinion. Clint helped me by keeping the magazines loaded, the brass policed, and shooting the pistol when I needed a break. I expect him to show up one day soon with one in .45 ACP.

I had 137 rounds left to round out this test. So with the same idea we went back at it with the finish line in sight. Close to the end the receiver began to warm up enough I could feel the heat through the stocks. The Colt was plenty hot and dry so if a failure was going to happen it was imminent.

Once round count 500 was reached I was satisfied this Colt was going to win so I quit, not to mention I was getting pretty tired .

I used two different Metalfrom magazines for the test, the two that came with the SCG and the two that came with my Colt 1991.

I am sure you all are familiar with the term boringly reliable but this is the first time ever I said out loud I am tired of shooting this dang pistol. Accuracy was in my opinion excellent as was function through jacketed hollow points to lead semi wad cutters. The round on the far right the truncated cone, middle is the Hornady 147gr jacketed hollow point, and far left is the Armscor 125gr full metal jacket.

I would also like to point out this pistol was brand new in the box with no "break in" period and no pistol failures in 500 rounds.

I want to point out Ivan Walcott's help. John Caradimas, the owner of The M1911 Pistols Organization and the publisher of this E-zine, requested us to test these pistols mostly with commercially available ammunition (which makes sense). I was only able to locate factory rounds in Remington and Federal locally. Since Armscor donates quality .45 ACP rounds for testing reviewed pistols I e-mailed Ivan asking if he would sell me some Super .38 ammunition to finish my test. I explained to him that John had asked me if I would review my newest Colt since it is a relativity new model and to my knowledge has not been reviewed yet. He e-mailed me back requesting my address. The box arrived a few days after I sent my address but there was no invoice and several boxes more than I needed. I called Ivan and learned he had donated these rounds, so a big thank you to Ivan at Armscor (Advanced Tactical). This test would have been much more costly to me without his help.

The Federal and Remington rounds were +P and I noticed the Armscor was not. All functioned well but the Armscor had noticeably less recoil.

Here are four examples nine shot groups shot at twenty one feet.

Another target picture of 27 rounds of 125gr LSWC shot as 21 feet.

Here is the table summarizing our firing tests.

Ammo donated by:


I am confident in saying this model Colt is worth a look to anyone who is interested in a range, IDPA, IPSC, or target pistol. Though it has performed flawlessly, I would not recommend it is a carry pistol. In my opinion the amenities such as the ambidextrous safety, Bomar rear sights and magazine well that make it an excellent range pistol would take away from its concealability.

The pistol unholstered well and had a natural point of aim. The rear Bo-Mar sights would be a little large for a carry pistol but were easy to find and index on the front sight blade for target work.

This pistol dispels the internet rhetoric that Colt no longer produces a quality pistol or the myth a tuned Government Model requires a break in period to be reliable. I am proud to call this Special Combat Government my own. Though I was tempted to have it as a safe queen, after my test I have changed my mind and will put her in heavy rotation for range use and the occasional match.


Model 02570CM (Hard chrome Super .38)
Weight: 2 pounds 8 ounces.
Overall Length: 8"
Barrel length: 5"
Width of slide: .914"
Width of grip (including stocks at magazine well): 1.32"
Trigger pull: 4 pounds 4 ounces
Magazine capacity (Super .38): 9 rounds.
Twist: 1 turn in 16 inches.
MSRP: $1543


I want to send a special thank you to Mark Roberts, Richard Churchill, and Cindy LaPointe. Without the help from these good folks from Colt this test would have been much more difficult.
Tom Beliveau, Gunsmith in Wendell North Carolina.
Ivan Walcott, Armscor industry representative.
Johnny (aka 1911Tuner).
Clint Riley.

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: 1-800-962-2658
Fax: (860) 244-1449

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


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


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 2 (2007) - Issue 3 (Summer '07) - Pistol Review: Colt Special Combat Government