The world of prior service Marines and 1911 collectors was turned on its head a couple of week ago when “decommissioned” USMC M45A1 pistols went up for sale on gunbroker.com. Actual USMC pistols for sale to the general public. It was hard to believe at first, but it turned out to be true.
While the full and complete story isn’t available at this time (including the total number of pistols that will be available), what I have learned from contacts at Colt was the USMC returned the pistols because the Cerakote finish was wearing off too quickly for the Marines. The guns were decommissioned by laser engraving an “X” over the USMC roll mark and then sold them to a third party who in turn listed them on gun broker (these guns are now sometimes referred to as “X” marked). Colt was then replacing the USMC M45A1s with guns that had an Ion Bond finish (one they had also changed on the commercial M45A1 variant).
A look at some of the pictures of the guns floating around the net show excessive wear of the finish. If you were ever in the service, you realize the wear on the weapons is extreme. I would guess the majority of the guns I saw in use were beat up at best. In fairness to Colt, my issue M9 looked worse than the gun in the image above. That said, it shows a wear pattern familiar to those who have Cerakoted pistols and run them in polymer holsters. The Cerakote, being a surface coating, does in fact wear off. Because of this, I only run my Cerakote pistols in leather or leather lined holsters for this reason.
I’ve been spraying and applying Cerakote since it came onto the firearms market years ago and have noticed this on hard-use pistols that I’ve coated.
Does this mean we should lose our faith in Cerakote? No, I don’t think it does. Cerakote’s big strength is corrosion resistance. The level of protection from the finish is remarkable. In the days before Cerakote, if you cased a wet rifle that wasn’t stainless steel it would rust faster than you can imagine. Now I head to the range with one of my rain covered Cerakote rifles, a Spuhr mount (stainless hardware), and Nightforce scope and don’t have to worry about drying every bit of water off.
Pro Tip- if you like your pretty guns, don’t throw your Cerakoted pistol in a Kydex holster.
If anyone from Cerakote would like to comment, feel free to contact me and I’ll post your response.