There is no question used is sometimes an incredible value.
I bought the one pictured below cheaply a few years ago when it was covered with greasy dirt for about $300. It is a 1915. It sits in a serial # range that went off to France in early WWI. With a little effort I backtracked it. Navy Arms imported it from Argentina before someone bought it and in 2005 later sold it to the man I bought it from. I soaked it in Hoppes in an ultra sound tank and replaced some worn springs and today it shoots just fine. The issue of how it survived WWs I & II then found its way to Argentina and who the previous owners were is perhaps a story humans will never know. [It'd probably make a great movie though.]
With any 1911 clone your primary issue is not who makes it, or how much it costs, but rather instead did the maker follow the blueprints faithfully? Between J.M. Browning and the US Army (who released the blueprints to the US Archives) a lot of thought went into designing something reliable. Issues sometimes crop up with well made Clones made of inferior steels which are then fired and fired and fired until finally something wears out, but this is usually thousands of shots away from when new. Most people seeking a piece for comfort have no intention of needing such comfort thousands of times. Once or twice a lifetime is usually more than enough for most of humanity. Sadly, what we run into in Clones, and what keeps the prices down in many, is inconsistent quality control during manufacture. Often when the company is new, quality control of that first shipment is very high. Then a few weeks later the master machinist is laid off and replaced with some kid who thinks he knows what he is doing but works much cheaper, then they run out of the correct steels, so they improvise by buying cheaper steels, someone else decides a few bucks can be saved by skipping this step, or adding a decimal point to a tolerance, or using cheaper lathes and mills, etc. Enough complaints come in, the sales slip and one of two things usually happen. The company closes its doors, OR, steps are taken to regain consumer confidence. The primary stockholder's nephew is moved out of the machinist section and a real machinist is again hired, or a decision is made to follow the blueprint specs, or go back to Bridgeport Mills, etc., and quality moves up again. If the company lasts, it becomes a cycle. If it gets large enough to get a Board of Directors, then either it becomes purchased by another company, or the Board gets serious about quality being part of their name. Eventually they retire or move on and it all begins all over again.
For us buyers we must acknowledge that 5 years ago this or that company was King, but this year, avoid their product and buy brand Z instead, but next year's Z will be junk and brand Q will be the way to go.
Last edited by superc; 01-22-2011 at 04:36 PM.
Reason: fixed picture size