Series 70 vs 80, the difference is more than you think.

Series 70 vs 80, the difference is more than you think.

I see a lot of use and misuse of the terms Series 70 and Series 80 when talking about Government Model and Commander pistols so I thought I would lay it out for you all. Once again I am not trying to upset anyone but just providing some correct information for you to do as you will.

In 1970 Colt changed a few things on their Government Model (five inch barrel) denoting it as Series 70 by adding a collet barrel bushing and accursizer barrel. The theory behind that was to improve accuracy with a tighter fit barrel bushing to the barrel’s muzzle without having to hand fit a standard solid barrel bushing. Now this worked pretty well but on occasion one of the fingers of the collet barrel bushing could bend or break.

In 1983 Colt introduced the Series 80 pistol going back with solid barrel bushing and a new firing pin safety.  The Series 80 firing pin safety is actuated by pressing the trigger. This is not to be confused with the Swartz safety, which was designed by a Colt employee and actuated when the grip safety was depressed. Colt dropped the Swartz safety, due to unreliability,  in the 1940s. The Series 80 consists of two added levers that, when the trigger is depressed, the levers push in a plunger in the slide moving it out of the way allowing the firing pin to move forward. The reason behind any firing pin safety is to prevent accidental discharge in the event the pistol is dropped on it’s muzzle from a height.

Another change with the Series 80 was to the hammer. Initially the 1911 had a half cock feature that incorporated hooks on the hammer, in case the hammer is being thumbed cocked and grip is lost the half cock hooks would stop the hammer from falling to the firing pin and discharging. The Series 80 hammer uses more of a quarter cock ledge, the thoughts on the hammer hooks is they could fracture and the ledge would not. If you have the hammer on the Series 80 quarter cock ledge and pull the trigger, the hammer will fall but with no where near enough force to discharge the pistol. From about 1983 to 1988 some of the Series 80 Government Models came from the factory with the collet barrel bushing but are still considered Series 80

As for Commanders and OACP pistols, they have always used solid barrel bushings so there is no such thing as a Series 70 Commander or OACP. They have been offered with the Series 80 firing pin safety so you have the option of Pre-Series 70 (no firing pin safety) or Series 80.

Colt did reintroduce the Series 70 pistol in 2001 and in 2002 introduced a stainless steel version, now original Series 70 Colts were never built with stainless steel and these new Series 70 reissue also incorporated a solid barrel bushing.  Bear in mind these are not exact copies of the Series 70 but a reissue.

As far as trigger pull on the Series 80, it can be equally as good as a Series 70 above about four pounds and anyone who tells you different is uneducated on the matter or is lying to you.

So, there you go.

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22 Responses to Series 70 vs 80, the difference is more than you think.

  1. Michael Mezzanotte September 20, 2015 at 9:23 pm #

    Mr. Elliott,

    Thanks! Appreciate the information…just starting to get into and appreciate the true 1911 and have plans to own my first one this year. I have been a staunch Heckler & Koch guy for years but have decided to broaden my U.S.A, carry experiences so my first step is to educate myself. I thank you for your take on the two variations (70 & 80 series) of Colt 1911’s and the fact that you are doing it in a video format, as it is easier for me to follow along when you demonstrate, use graphics and verbally reinforce what it is that I am seeing. I can and do read the books but tend learn better by watching an explanation.

    Thanks again,
    Michael

    • Hunter Elliott September 21, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

      Thank you very much for the kind words Michael, and please call me Hunter. I am glad the format is working for you man, I put a lot of time into the reviews and I am glad you appreciate them.

      • Michael Mezzanotte September 21, 2015 at 5:40 pm #

        Keep up the great work!

  2. Rich D'Auria September 20, 2015 at 9:30 pm #

    Informative and well-written article on one of my favorite Colt 1911’s, the original Series 70. I was lucky to obtain one in excellent condition several years ago. It is the most accurate 1911 that I own.

  3. Jim July 1, 2016 at 8:25 am #

    I have a 1943 all original Colt and series 80 ss. Both are equally as good. I would not mess with the series 80s since I can not find any place on the web that shows this being a problem. Its only in some ones mind.

  4. Alessandro December 11, 2016 at 6:57 am #

    Thanks for the useful information.

    There is another big difference between the Series 70 and Series 80 pistols, but nobody talks about.
    The series 70 (and pre series 70) pistol’s barrel, are not compatible with the series 80 pistol’s barrel.
    In Series 80 the ejection port is not only lowered and beveled, but also moved to right (approximately 1 mm).
    Consequently the barrel hood now is more tight.
    Today there are barrels with large and tight barrel hood. The new Colt’s pistols have tight barrel Hood, other manufacturers’ pistols also large barrel hood.

    Sorry for my bad english. I hope you understand me.
    Greetings.

  5. Hank March 4, 2017 at 5:02 pm #

    Thanks Hunter great info. I have been trying to get a new Colt 70 series without luck for some time now. According to the Colt representative at the Harrisburg PA sports show, only a couple of thousand are made each year. Also Colt has found itself on hard times, I understand there are going to be considerable cut backs and layoffs. Too bad, I guess I will have to consider another manufacture.

  6. RON April 24, 2017 at 9:19 pm #

    I WATCHED A VIDEO RE: CARRYING ONE IN THE CHAMBER WITH HAMMER DOWN. SERIES 70 AS YOU SAID HAS NO FIRING PIN SAFETY. THE 80 DOES. THE VIDEO STATED WITH BOTH THE HAMMER COULD SLIP FROM ONE’S FINGERS AND FIRE A ROUND. HE USED A LASER CARTRIDGE TO PROVE IT PRINTS ON A WALL.

    MY QUESTION HERE IS; IF THE 80 SERIES HAS A FIRING PIN SAFETY THEN HOW COULD IT GO OFF? THE THREE SAFETIES PREVENT A LOCKED AND COCKED PISTOL FROM INADVERTENTLY GOING OFF.??

  7. Devin Long December 21, 2017 at 9:20 pm #

    Hunter,

    Thank you for taking the time to break this down for all of us viewers. Here’s my deal: Not a picky shooter, and am used to shooting whatever the Army issues me. But–found a good deal on a Colt 1911 1991 Model 80 and ordered it; but the supplier discovered their inventory count was jacked up, it wasn’t actually in stock when I purchased, and are giving me a refund. Bummer.

    My question to you is this: If you were just starting down the path to 1911’ville, would your first one be a (modern production) Model 70 or a Model 80? Thanks again, man!

    • Hunter Elliott December 23, 2017 at 12:29 am #

      Devin, my friend, there is nothing wrong with the Colt 1991, that is a fine pistol. My question to you is what is your budget and tell me exactly what you are looking for. I would for sure get into the 1911 game today with a modern 1911.

      • Andrew December 24, 2017 at 9:18 pm #

        Hunter, I have a blue series 80 I’ve been thinking about getting work done to. New trigger/hammer, sights, and maybe a few other things… Do you have any suggestions?

        • Hunter Elliott December 24, 2017 at 11:47 pm #

          What do you use the pistol for? Sights are always a great place to start when upgrading. Swapping out the stocks is also a easy and quick was to improve the look and feel of a pistol.

  8. Ron December 25, 2017 at 11:10 am #

    I LEFT A COMMENT APRIL 24, 2017 REGARDING MY COLT NEW AGENT WITH A SERIES 80 TRIGGER, QUARTER COCK. I saw a video on You Tube by a retired law enforcement gent who demonstrated carrying trigger down and one in the chamber is dangerous. He demonstrated with some sort of laser cartridge, when firing pin is pressed with some sort of pointed device, it shows hot; i.e. lights up .

    My question is how can this configuration go off as it is said to have three safety’s and told over the years that there have been no or minimal discharges from dropping the handgun from the likes of a parking garage locked and loaded, and did not go off.

    I looked at my manual and found nothing on this. I realize the 1911 is designed to carry locked and loaded and is deemed safe. I keep mine in bed with me and had been keeping one in the chamber with hammer down thinking it was safe.

    Please comment on my question. Please comment on the Colt New Agent.

  9. Andrew December 25, 2017 at 4:46 pm #

    I use it as a target gun and home defense. It’s already a great gun, I just don’t like the trigger and the sights are terrible. So im really just looking to make it an easier gun to shoot. It has sentimental value also so I really just want to make it a unique gun. Thanks for your help!

  10. Frank Garza December 30, 2017 at 12:34 am #

    Semper Fi…:) Thanks for great information. I didn’t know much about series 70’s or 80’s, just that a 1911 fits my hand like no other handgun and that I am able to shoot pretty accurately.

    I had a motorcycle accident a couple of years ago so I wasn’t able to rack the slide on almost any semi-auto for awhile, but I kept working out and pushing myself (the way we were taught in the Marine Corps…:)) and now I’m almost back to “normal”…:) And a 1911 is what I prefer to have around to protect the family.

    Keep up the great work and I’m looking forward to reading more of your articles.

    • Hunter Elliott December 30, 2017 at 8:18 pm #

      Thank you very much Frank. I am sorry to hear about your motorcycle accident but I am glad you are getting squared away. Semper Fi brother and thank you for your service.

  11. Ron December 30, 2017 at 8:56 pm #

    LEAVE TO A GOOD OLD BOY, MARINE, SHOOTER, AND MUCH MORE TO MAKE IT SIMPLE SWEET. TOO MANY ON HEAR LIKE TO HEAR THEMSELVES TALK. THANKS TO ALL CONTRIBUTING, BUT IT’S MUCH LIKE COMPARING A POLITICIAN’S BULL SHIT VS AVERAGE JOE. YOU DEMONSTRATED EXACTLY WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR. ONE IN THE CHAMBER, QUARTER COCKED, IT CAN NOT ACCIDENTALLY DISCHARGE.!!!I HAVE AN 80 SERIES COLT NEW AGENT. THERE IS NOTHING IN THE MANUAL ABOUT THE USE OF QUARTER COCKED.

    THANKS AGAIN

  12. Lou Broder March 1, 2018 at 7:40 pm #

    I have a colt SS series 80. The dual recoil springs make it tough to manually rack the slide, the gun fires and cycles perfectly. Is possible for this gun to work acceptably with only one recoil spring?

    • Hunter Elliott March 1, 2018 at 11:55 pm #

      If you go to a single recoil spring set up for your Delta, you need to get one specifically set up for the Delta Elite. Look at Wolff Springs for starters.

  13. Steve Gilley July 9, 2018 at 7:27 am #

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  2. Convert pt1911 to 80 series - April 23, 2017

    […] A pretty good article on the differences. To the casual shooter, you'll never know the difference. There are a number of 1911 style guns which have proprietary actions and purport to be "the same as a series 70." I have a Kimber which has a firing pin shroud rather than the block. I have a tough time telling the difference between the 70 and 80 series guns in terms of trigger. I do see a degree difference between manufacturers, however. It's all a matter of individual needs and tastes, as far as I'm concerned.Series 70 vs 80, the difference is more than you think. […]

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