Developed in the early 1990s, the Colt Offensive Handgun was Hartford's response to a United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) solicitation for a pistol that could meet the needs of their operators. While the Beretta's M9 was becoming the default for America's armed forces, USSOCOM found the pistol unsuitable for their purposes, particularly in regards to striking power (9 mm versus 45 caliber, an argument that dates clear back to the 1900's) and durability (Navy SEALs were shooting M9's to the point of physical destruction due to their heavy training requirements). While they were at it, SOCOM included a laundry list of other features, including a 10-round minimum capacity, integral slide lock and silencer installation options, and others. Though Colt's offering is an impressive piece of hardware, Heckler & Koch's Mark 23 (aka the SOCOM Pistol) won the day and the Colt Offensive Pistol became a footnote in history. According to the included factory letter, this pistol was retained by the Colt Archives to serve as a reference for the Custom Shop, Engineering and Historical Departments. The U.S. Government is notorious for destroying demonstration models supplied by contract contenders, and being held by Colt may be the only thing that saved this one. The sights are not installed, with a slot for a pin-in front sight on the novel quick-detach frame mounted muzzle brake/silencer mount and a conventional dovetail cut for a rear sight on the slide, which is serrated front and rear and cut through in two places on the upper rear to reduce weight. The barrel is an All-American style with rotary locking, and the frame draws many elements from the Colt Double Eagle, with the addition of a proprietary grooved mounting rail on the full length dust cover, ambidextrous manual safety, and a blackened steel takedown bar which doubles as the slide lock. The grips and mainspring housing are both checkered plastic, and the front strap is serrated; all three have been factory lengthened to accommodate the single stack 10-round magazine, which is fitted with a Shooting Star brand anti-tilt follower and marked with the Rampant Colt, "G/S" and "COLT/45 AUTO/10-RD" on the base.
Very fine. The pistol, as noted in the letter, is unfinished stainless steel, showing a few light handling marks overall and an even gray color. Evidence of the pistol's use as a prototype is prominent, especially in the grip strap area and where the dust cover meets the rest of the frame; though no particular details are included in the letter, this pistol may have served as a "proof of theory" model hand-assembled by one of Colt's designers before committing company resources and employees to producing at scale. Grips are fair as cracked in middle, with some scuffing and dings, and the mainspring housing has been ground down slightly to fit the frame, and is showing some cracking at the thin portion missing rear sight. Mechanically excellent, though please note that the letter comes with a strongly worded caveat to never load or fire the pistol. An important piece in the history of 20th century American firearms development, and one of the scarcest Colt semi-automatic firearms imaginable.
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