The included factory letter confirms the pistol is one of six shipped to F. C. Nichols, Colt's Vice President, on February 26, 1910. It was returned by Gus Reising on March 14, 1910, and then "charged out on a Memo Account to Col. M. Beach on July 28, 1910." There is a notation in the factory records that states the pistol had a "straight handle." This is an excellent example of an extremely rare Colt Model "1909" semi-automatic military test pistol. This specific pistol is the last semi-automatic pistol made in this model, that was submitted to the U.S. Army for field testing using the new and updated design along with the 45 Smokeless-Rimless cartridge. It was the true transition/forerunner pistol between the model 1907 semi-automatic and the eventual, final design of the Model 1911 pistol design and would certainly be a center piece of any highly advanced Colt semi-automatic pistol collection. This series of pistol is described on page 84-97 in the excellent book "U.S. Military Automatic Pistols" by Scott Meadows. In there it lists this specific pistol by serial number as having been placed on loan account to Frank C. Nichols (VP Colt Firearms Co.) on Feb 1910, for testing at Springfield Armory. It was returned to Colt on March 14th 1910. In July 1910, it was given to Col. M. Beach on a memo account where it remained unaccounted for until now! As noted in the write-up there were exactly "23" of this model ever manufactured in total, (serial numbered 0 to 22) which were submitted to the US Government for testing in early 1909. This pistol was a dramatic redesign over the previous Model 1907 pistol with the following improvements: 1) it replaced the old two link barrel lock up system with a "single link" barrel system (still in use on the 1911A1 today), 2) the disassembly method was greatly improved i.e. use of the front barrel bushing and removable recoil spring/plunger assembly (still used on the 1911A1s today), 3) the magazine release button was redesigned and placed on the left side of the frame (still used today on the 1911A1s), 4) the grip safety was redesigned and improved, 5) the ejector and ejector port were also redesigned and improved, 6) a new method for retaining the firing pin was developed i.e. the firing pin stop plate (still used on the 1911A1 today), 7) the loaded cartridge indicator was eliminated and 8) the slide lock release was made an integral part of the link pin. However it still retained the long, exposed extractor on the right side of the slide, and the grip safety lock plate was still positioned on the right side of the frame. Also the barrel retained the full locking lugs on the breech end of the barrel. The left side of the slide is marked with the very early two-line/two-block markings of "PATENTED/APR. 20. 1897. SEPT. 9. 1902,DEC.19,1905" followed by "COLT'S PATENT FIRE ARMS MFG. CO./HARTFORD CT. with no Colt Rampant horse logo. The right side of the slide is marked "AUTOMATIC COLT/CALIBRE 45 RIMLESS SMOKELESS". The serial number "22" is located on the left side of the frame above the trigger guard bow and the right side is stamped with a property number of: "R-A-D1". The top of the slide has the early small, oval front sight with the early round top rear sight. It has the later style short, checkered spur hammer with the half-cock notch. The grips have the full checkering with a small diamond pattern area around the grip screws. This beautiful pistol has the early Colt high-polish blue finish with the Colt nitre blue finish on the trigger, extractor, grip screws and magazine release. It is complete with an all blue unmarked Colt magazine and a current all blue plastic Colt storage case.
Excellent with 98% plus of the original Colt factory blue finish overall with some very minor wear on the front edges of the slide, with some very minor, small scratches/dings on the front grip strap. The hammer, grip safety and mainspring housing all retain 95% of a slightly subdued case colors overall with more vivid colors on the hammer. The grips are also in excellent condition with nice distinct, vivid checkering overall with only some minor handling marks on the right side grip mixed with some minor nicks and chips. Although the checkering appears to have wear across the tops of the checkering, in actuality the checkered diamonds were never brought to a sharp raised diamond point like they are today. This is a really rare and exciting example of a beautiful Colt Model 1909 semi-automatic test pistol.
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