Working On The FI-Model D With CPA Serial Numbers

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I first encountered the FI-Model D with a CPA serial number a couple of months ago when a client brought it in for function problems.  Being unfamiliar with the history of this .380 pistol I approached it like any other gun with feeding and jamming problems.  I first checked the extractor, feed ramps, and chamber of the barrel like any other gunsmith would probably do.  I slightly ramped and chamfered the chamber, and polished the chamber of the barrel.  After that I went to the extractor which I knew was bad, and unrepairable.  So I ordered one from Numrich three times if that tells you anything.  While waiting for the right extractor to come in the owner and I started to heavily research this pistol.  We found out that these FI-Model D’s with CPA in the serial number were built for Colt, and they were intended to be the Colt Pony.  The design and parts were rejected by Colt, and then Irving Johnson bought the design and existing parts from Colt.  At that time a huge red flag should have stopped the project in its tracks, but being hard-headed I refused to give up this pistol was going to function.  Then I was also hit with there are only at the most maybe 100 CPA pistols out there.  That meant Mr. Johnson built all the guns rejected by Colt and then redesigned the pistol, because the Colt Pony didn’t function properly out of the box.  Back to getting it to function properly, I had to make an extractor using the original specs. since there were no spare parts out there.  Once that was done I looked for any other problems and found that the slide stop was pushing on the ammo while it was jumping to the feed ramps.  I took about ten thousandths of an inch off the slide stop pad and problem solved.  Then I inspected the magazine and realized the original mags can only hold regular ball ammo, or FMJ’s.  With all that done the pistol was cleaned up and we were off to the range.

The first mag ran through the pistol went through flawlessly until the last round, which I just took for a mag defect.  That went on for a couple more mags and then out of no where every other round would jam.  Putting so much free time into this project I swear it was going to be an anchor next summer at the lake.  Deep inside I knew what the problem was and I had known it for awhile.  This pistol shoots .380 ACP has a double lug linked locking system and a tight recoil spring on a guide rod.  Sound familiar, well it should because God( John Moses Browning) used a similar design called the 1911.  The 1911 was designed for .45 ACP and then latter altered for smaller calibers, and that was the problem.  The FI-Model D with CPA serial numbers are over designed and as it gets hot and dirty the design is to bulky for the .380ACP cartridge.  The .380 cartridge is way under powered to move two lugs on the barrel and a bulky recoil spring as the tolerances get tighter with heat and carbon.  Thats why Mr. Johnson changed the design after he sold his 100 bottles of snake oil.

Solution to the FI-Model D CPA is to have a singled lug barrel with a different recoil spring along with all the things I did prior.  Problem is that there are only maybe 100 of these guns and they were initially designed by Colt, which may equal jack-pot some day.  Right now they sell for $300 but ten years from now a magazine runs a story about these guns and next thing you know every odd gun collector has to have one.  Collectors do not want to pay for an altered FI CPA they want it original and it has to be in great shape.  That day will come some day and if it doesn’t I will be surprised.

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71 responses to “Working On The FI-Model D With CPA Serial Numbers

  1. Hope I get areply ! I also just picked one up and it is in really good shape.Shoots okay e xcept for what you say happens in your photos. Shoots better with ball ammo than HPs. I think it needs aa new recoil spring. Where can I get one? Thanks.

    • Danny,
      Yes it will shoot better with ball ammo than HP and some other types. On the recoil spring yes that is something I wanted to change but with a different spring system. You are on the right track but the double lug on the barrel will not change. The double lug and guide rod are still designed for a more powerful cartrigde. That’s why the design was changed after the 100-150 were made. Danny don’t change anything because you want to keep the gun as original as possible. Numrich gun parts will have parts for the redesigned FI, so if you want to experiment with recoil springs you will have to make them or substitute. I hate to tell you that you may have been taken on your purchase, and hopefully you did not pay more than bluebook. Also if you want to talk about this call me at the shop 10am-8pm EST (5130248-1843 if I don’t answer leave a message and I will get back with you, because I stink at typing. Don’t start changing things because the changes have been made http://www.gunpartscorp.com/catalog/Products.aspx?catid=2126

      • Thank you for your reply. Actually, the gun is in great shape except maybe for the rear sight. I think it has been changed. Looks like it was changed. I paid $200.00 for it If not for the rear sight, gun looks almost new, specially the bluing. Just so hard and expensive to get another mag. The main problem is that it does not fully close at time, so I thought a new recoil spring might help. I might just hold on to it and get a new rear sight to keep it original. What do you think??

  2. I just came across one of these “CPA” serial number FI model D pistols. It appears to be in great shape. Is it safe to shoot these? About when were they made?

    • Hello,
      I forget the actual manufacturing dates but it is pre Colt Pony. It is safe to fire but it may not cycle properly. That could be an indicator of why it is in such good shape. I can not fully say it is safe with out inspecting it as well. If you have any further questions please feel free to contact me again.

      Thank You,
      Matt

  3. Here are a couple of pictures. It would be nice to know exactly which model it is so I know what to look for when trying to find parts, or a magazine, or even a holster that might fit. 🙂 There are no model numbers on the butt of the gun where the magazine goes in. There is a #62 engraved on the inside of the slide just above where the hammer hits the firing pin. Its also engraved on the inside of the frame just above where the top of the magazine feeds
    This is a neat little gun and I’d like to use it as a concealed carry Any more insight on identifying what exact model it is would really be helpful. Thanks in advance!
    Reece

    • Reece,
      If it says FI Model D with CPA in the serial numbers there are less than 300 total pistols. That means there are no parts avaiable and I am not sure if it will except similar pistols magazines. The one that I worked on before I researched it I had to machine the parts to repair it. Numrich says that they have parts for it but they do not because from my experience the FI Model D is different from the FI Model D with CPA serial numbers. The CPA stands for Colt these parts were made for Colt by Star and they found out the design does not work well, so they scrapped the project. Iver Johnson bought these parts and assembeled the FI Model D with CPA serial# which only came to a couple hundred pistols. They also found that this design didn’t work so they developed the FI Model D without CPA serial #’s. It has been a while since I worked on this project so some of my numbers may be off on how many were built but there are no more than 300.

      Before you look for a holster and mags I would make sure yours will even operate without failure escecially if you are going to carry it. If you would like to discuss this matter please call me at the shop 513-248-1843 I might be able to explain things to you a little bit more clearly. My intial post on this pistol was more of a warning not to purchase this weapon but if you do have this pistol it has an interesting history which could be some what of a colectable item some day.
      Thank You,
      Matt

      • Matt, Your production information is totally flawed as is your estimation of reliability. The Model D is steel framed Star DK, one of the first pocket pistols made and noted for reliability. In 1968 importation was stopped and the importer Firearms Int. Industries made investment cast frames (slightly different than the Star) with Star DK parts kits. They tried to interest Colt in production but to no avail, FI scrubbed Colt from the slides and continued to use the CPA prefix until at least CPA039,000 (serial numbers began as CPA 001000) Garcia bought FI but the pistol continued as a FI model D and later Iver Johnson bought production rights. The steel frame pistols can have function problems as you encountered but perserverence in correcting difficulties will produce a fun shooting pistol. I currently have 16 DK and Mod. D pistols and each functions reliably, but a couple D’s did require tinkering when first obtained. This information is from personal experience and publications like “Star Firearms” by Dr. L Antaris and is not intended to be a complete history just info for those interested. Mike

      • Mr. Schamun
        Thank you for the input and actually if I am wrong so are many other sources including the Thirty-Second Edition Blue Book. The information we put out was also to fish for other answers and to see if anybody else knew anything about them because there is limited information and conflicting published facts.

  4. No, I didn’t purchase it. I inherited it after a death in the family, and unfortunately no one knows anything about it. Being that parts are not available, sounds like I may just need to make a safe baby out of it unfortunately. About how much would these be worth now?
    Thanks so much for your time and advice. You have been very very helpful.
    Reece

    • Reece,
      My mistake it was not the Colt Pony it was the Colt Mustang that the FI MD was going to be. FI sold less than 100 of these which means there are more but no more than probably 200 in the world. I was a little rusty on the topic so I had to go through my notes again. They are rare but that doesn’t mean they are valueable the going rate is $150-$300. Someday they could be collectable but what hurts this model is that they don’t work very well or don’t work at all. That is why Fi changed the design as well and Colt did not except it. If I was you I would test fire your pistol using Remington ball ammunition to see if it even works. Remington seemed to function better than others with this model. No matter if it works or not clean it and put it up. Enjoy and be safe and again if you need further info please contact me again.

      • yes i have an fi model d with a cpa serial # that i purchased in 1997 for $150 the gun has never failed to feed or fire any and all types of ammo, and is incredibly accurate…. i have put about 450 rounds thru it and it was my primary carry gun for many years

  5. Pingback: Fi de la COLT GDL

  6. I have this same weapon but I am missing the clip for mine dose anyone know where I could get one? Or if there is a clip from another weapon that would work? Any Info I can get would be great Thank you for the help. Martin

    • Martin,
      We have a bunch of new information to help people with correcting this weapon but the current political climate has us extremely backed up.
      SIG 938 Magazine Springs can be used in the Mod D magazine.
      You can try Numrich and Jack’s First for mags.
      Hopefully we will have time to update and correct this post in the future.
      If you need further assistance please call the shop 513-248-1843

    • Try triplek.com/products/id/grp/412/prd/729/

      if it has a lanyard loop on the bottom, its an early model.
      no loop is a late model
      make sure you order the right mag

  7. Ahoy,
    I’ve recently aquired one of these little beauties. It has a lanyard loop, one magazine and is in about 95% condition w/ original stocks and a bit of wear on the blueing on the sharper corners. I’m kinda confused about the production numbers, tho. You say they started at CPA001000. Mine is serial # CPA0084XX. How does that figger with a production run of only some 200? I’ve run about 30 rounds of Atlanta Arms FMJ reloads thru it with flawless operation. I tell people I’ve shown it to that I put it in the dryer after cleaning it and this is what came out! All in all a neat little gun. BTW, I paid $200 out the door.
    Thx

    • Ron,
      The Serial#’s listed were the ones that were intended for COLT. The pistol you have is most likely slightly different from the one discussed. This post needs to be updated with a lot of NEW INFORMATION which will go over the different variants of this pistol. They look similar but they are different we have even found a Nikel version that uses a different extractor. Yours most likely has a different ejection port and different extractor. I plan on getting all the new information out soon we are just swamped right now due to the political climate.

      Thank You,
      Matt

    • Thought I would add that I have one of these with a serial # CPA0084XX with a lanyard loop. A gift from my Dad 25 yrs ago, The gun is excellent with no wear except on the magazine. I have never fired the gun but I am now enthused to do so.

  8. I think the 100 to 200 production figures referred to are for the ones that were actually marked COLT PONY. I have personally seen two of these. There were many more than that which were marked FI Mod.D. Known serial numbers seem to indicate that at least a couple thousand were made with the CPA S/N prefix. The ones marked IVER JOHNSON PONY, while of the same basic design, have several subtle differences and seem to be of a somewhat lesser degree of fit and finish. They can all be made into dependable pistols, however, many of them do require varying degrees of “tinkering” to achieve this goal. This statement is the result of my personal experiences and does not come out of anyone’s book.

    • All the comments on reliability led me to run more ammo thru mine. Blasted thru 6 mags as fast as I could load and shoot and had zero problems running Atlanta Arms reloads w/ 100 gr FMJ bullets. I have no qualms carrying it for protectrion. Muzt’ve got a good one.

  9. I have a FI Mod. D cal. 380 marked on the right side of the slide. The left side is
    marked FI IND WASH. DC. S/N CPA 0334xx. Bought new in San Bernardino,
    CA. I still have the box, and price tag on the box for $149.99. Code no.3003381, with maybe another number under the price sticker, and also the warranty. Also it has the lanyard loop. No date as to when I purchased.

  10. i have a fi 380….cpa sereal number….it functions flawlessly….im sure there r bad ones out there…but i have one and i also know 2 other people that have them…and they function flawlessly also….the only problem i have had is if u load the mag full and also have one in the chamber…it will jam….if u load the mag and jack one in from the mag…it shoots perfect…fast as u can pull the trigger….i love it….

    • I have an early model and have found the same issue when stacking a mag with one in the pipe. I also have had jambs using lower quality FMJ ammo, it seems to like hotter rounds of good ammo. I also have run about 2-3 mags of the original Winchester Black Talons from 1992 through it and it runs smooth and is my carry weapon and ammo. The bummer part is getting parts and mags. My toy is an older model and has the lanyard loop. Serial number is CPA 039451. It has a stamp on the frame in front of the hammer of 93. Kind of a scratch number done by hand with an engraver. Love my F.I. .380!

  11. I recently aquired one of these with serial # CPA 22**, so I know it is a very early model. Could someone with some knowledge of the fixes for these guns help me out. It appears to be in great condition but every shot I have a FTE. I would love to get this gun running. Thanks

    • Mark,

      Yes I can fix it. It sounds like your main problem is the ejection port. The “Early Models” and just the early model the ejection port is to small along with bad extractors sometimes. The ejection port needs opened up. I have pictures that I have been meaning to post for sometime so I will try to do that today or tomorrow. These pictures will show the different slide types.

      I also got your voice mail, I will be in the shop all day so if you want give me a call back when you can.

      Matt

  12. Hello I have one of these guns in absolutely beautiful shape just wanted to know if you had any other information about or know where I can purchase mags.for it…as far as the shooting issues you have mentioned I’ve had zero problems…the.first time I shot it I put 50 or 60 rounds in it mag after mag no issues and hopefully none down the.road…any info on it would be awesome!!

    • Also in regards to my FI model D my serial number starts CPA 01**** what does that mean in terms of this gun? It seems to be this is a rare gun to come across and I don’t know much about them

      • Chris,

        There are actually several models. I am working with someone who has every model. He is putting something together for me so I can hopefully post every model and what parts can be used with each model including magazines. The history of this pistol has ended up being a lot more complex than I even realized.

        Most likely you do not have one of the pistols I was talking about because they do not work with out modification. Stay tuned in and hopefully I can get more info to you.

        Matt

  13. I have a FI model D with serial #CPA039185. Is this one of the early models? Gun shots good but jams with aftermarket mag. Original mag works flawless.

    • John,

      At the time the original post was written there was only one model listed with the CPA#’s. Since that time the main source for this information discovered there were 3 different FI Model D pistols. Since yours works with the original magazine it is most likely the 2nd or 3rd model. If it is the 1st model then someone has altered it. There are pictures in past post showing the differences between the 1st and 2nd model.
      The aftermarket magazines you have ordered for your pistol are most likely not for your pistol!
      Let me know if you have further questions but I will tell you parts for these can be trivial!!

      Matt

    • John,

      At the time the original post was written there was only one model listed with the CPA#’s. Since that time the main source for this information discovered there were 3 different FI Model D pistols. Since yours works with the original magazine it is most likely the 2nd or 3rd model. If it is the 1st model then someone has altered it. There are pictures in past post showing the differences between the 1st and 2nd model.
      The aftermarket magazines you have ordered for your pistol are most likely not for your pistol!
      Let me know if you have further questions but I will tell you parts for these can be trivial!!

      Matt

  14. I got one. Its marked with the #32 on slide and frame do anybody know what this #32 means??also mine look like it been worked on alot.

  15. I have a CPA low number FI Model D in good condition and am looking for spar mags. Any information on where or substitutes would be most helpful.

    • Sorry but there are not magazines or parts readily available. If you see magazines or parts listed online(Numerich) they will be for another model so please do not order. The best place to find magazines would be Flea Markets & Gun shows. If you live in a gun friendly state make sure you take your CPA with you while MAG hunting & GOOD LUCK!

      Matt

  16. I have a fi model D 380. After I picked this up I began to compare with other examples. It would appear to be one of the earliest examples of this little gun.some things I found different are the fact that it has only the name stamped on the slide, not the logo. I have never found an example of one of these without the logo. Also on the inside of the frame and slide has been scratched by an awl the number 47. Knowing a little about the history of this gun might this mean that it is one of the first 50 made? The serial number is CPA002321.

    • Mike,
      I have no idea what the 47 means sorry! This post is pretty active so hopefully someone will shed some light on the number inside the slide. If I come across one or figure it out I will let you know.

      Matt

  17. Hi it looks like i may have finally found someone that can help me . I have a star 380 d by the markings is was made in 1942. It is in good shape overall. The only problem is i need a guide rod and spring.Also based on what i have been able to find ,the parts from a fi model d colt pony or a iver johnson x300 would also work.if you can tell me where i can find these parts .It would end my long search.just hate to see a nice gun with some history to it being used as a paper weight.

    My email is Rogerjodon@gmail.com

    Thanks

  18. Well guys very interesting reads. I have two of the little FI Model D 380 caliber, CPA 029xxx. Sweet little guns. I have had one for about 20 years. Picked up the other a month ago in an estate auction. Fun guns. Would love to find a couple of extra magazines. One home based rare gun dealer claims to have a couple for $75 each. Expensive but looks like it might be the only source, if they match up. Paid $200 twenty years ago. $350 a month ago for the guns. All my gun enthusiast friends love the little guns, but have no experience with them, including a gun smith friend. Any one finds a source for magazines I would love to know.

      • Unless something has changed the magazines at Numrich are not correct. Many of us have ordered the magazines listed under the FI Mod D and they are not correct. They will fit the later model but not the first and sometimes the second generations. Thank you for the comment and Merry Christmas

      • I ordered two extra mags besides the two I already have… they fit fine in my pistol ( cpa 025xxx ) maybe they only carry for newer models now… Good luck and Merry Christmas

        Sent from my HTC

  19. Have had seven at one time. I love mine. One is an Iver Johnson in mint condition. Gunsmith replaced the extractor and it fires fine now. Sold two and have a third for sale. Keeping the others in case people finally start deciding to collect them. Only 47 exist with the Colt logo stamped on the slide. You can e-mail me at: elsancudo@hotmail.com, if interested in the FI Industries I have for sale. Include a phone number to call. No number, no contact.

  20. Anyone know of some aftermarket sights (mainly the rear sight) like night sights that would work on the model d? Thanks

    • Measure the sights are your slide then call one of the manufactures. Like Trijicon meprolight warren Dawson etc.. If they have something that is code they’ll let you know. Another option is to have your slide milled to fit a modern dovetail cut.
      Do your own measurements because there are several Mod D pistols. Someone else may have another sight so they would have different measurements.
      The best advice I can give! Buy a modern carry gun that has those accessories available.

  21. I bought my CPA in 1981 with a very low serial number. I have never worked on it and this weapon has worked flawlessly with all types of ammo. I never knew they were built for Colt. Thanks for the history. Anything else you can offer please email me.

  22. I have A CPA with the lanyard loop also serial CPA014XXX – it chews all ammo even Hornady critical defense – I use it for my every day carry – I received it in a trade – I too ordered some spare mags and they did not fit proper either LOL

    I would be interested in selling it – if price or trade is something I like – mrteeshot@gmail.com

  23. I just found an FI 380 at an estate sale. It is the original box and unfired. The serial no. Is CPA011XXX.

  24. I had an old friend 84 years old give me his FI 380 model D with a serial number CPA 010xxx and the engraved numbers on the frame and slide are 49. I have fired several rounds thru the pistol and it fires great and is very accurate from 30 feet at which I test fired it. It seems like it would make a nice conceal carry pistol. The condition and blueing are in very nice condition.

    • Just found an FI Model D in a pawn shoppe today for $220, after a couple of hours of research I’m now heading back first thing Monday to double check serial numbers and perhaps but it, never heard if these little firearms until about three hours ago.

  25. This is one old string but I just came back from the range and fired a box of Remington FMJ and Federal HydraShok out of the factory mag and a Colt Govt 380 factory mag without a single failure to feed! Yes, the FI/Garcia with CPA prefix accepts the Colt Govt 380 factory mag and functions flawlessly. Accuracy was exceptional printing a ragged hole at 7 yards. I was offered $500, paid $150, but it’s a keeper. Put a new hammer pin in, new sear and fit both the sear and safety/hammer engagement which was rough from the factory. Shoots better than my Colt Govt 380.

  26. I purchased this gun in the 80’s, it jams if I don’t use fmj shells. I fired around 50 rounds with this gun, even let my mother use it for home protection. It’s a great little gun but never realized it was built for Colt. Paid 100 for it, sounds like its a good investment.

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