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.