Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1475: Colt Model 1910 Prototype Semi-Automatic Pistol

Auction Date: June 6, 2020

Monumental and Fresh, Extremely Rare, Historic, and Well-Documented Colt Model 1910 Prototype Semi-Automatic Pistol Serial Number "2" with Factory Letter

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $85,000 - $130,000

Monumental and Fresh, Extremely Rare, Historic, and Well-Documented Colt Model 1910 Prototype Semi-Automatic Pistol Serial Number "2" with Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1910
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 45 ACP
Barrel: 5 inch round
Finish: blue
Grip: checkered walnut
Stock:
Item Views: 3387
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 328
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun
Description:

This is a fine example of an extremely rare Colt Model 1910 Prototype Semi-Automatic Pistol. This model is the highly pivotal "Missing Link" in the overall design/development and adoption of the U.S. Colt Model 1911 Colt pistol. This is partially due to the fact that it is some what misunderstood and the fact that so few ere ever manufactured and or survived! This specific pistol is accompanied by a Colt factory letter dated Sept 2002 where it is listed as a "1" gun shipment charged to the "Loan Account" at Colt. Then on page 98 in the excellent reference book "U.S. Military Automatic Pistols 1894-1920" by Meadows and Ellis, it is documented as being shipped on July 28, 1910. Subsequently, it was sent to the President of the Ordnance Board, General William Crozier on August 17th 1911, and within a month, Sept 1911, it was delivered to Albert Foster Jr. President of Colt for Thomas McManus. The history of this Model of 1910 actually starts as a redesign of the original Model 1909. One of the key/major recommendations at that time was that the grip angle be changed from 84 degrees to 74 degrees. This single change was recorded in Colt's ledgers as the "New Style Grip" or "Slanted Angle" frame. This small configuration/design change forever established the standard frame configuration for all future Model 1911/1911A1 pistols for the next 90+ years. Additional changes made from the Model 1909 to this Model of 1910 included the following which eventually led to the final culmination of the Model 1911. These changes are: 1) a new stronger main spring cap, 2) extractor placed inside the breech cover, held in place by the firing pin plate, 3) ejector was made square instead of a rounded front end, 4) the sear, trigger and grip safety spring was made in one piece, 5) the lower rear area of the butt was made square, 6) the ejection port was enlarged 7) the axis of the barrel was lowered to make the pistol more compact. In November 1910, this new design termed the Colt "Special Army" pistol was again submitted for testing along side the Savage Model 1907 pistol. At the conclusion of those tests, both pistols again showed deficiencies, so the Ordnance Dept. informed both companies that a follow-on test would be conducted in March 1911. Colt used this time to redesign the pistol to eliminate those additional weaknesses. Some of the noted changes includes 1) the depth of the grooves between the barrel lugs was made shallower to prevent cracking, 2) only the "top two" locking lugs were machined into the barrel, eliminating the underside lugs which dramatically strengthened the barrel, 3) the hammer and sear pins were inserted from the left with an enlarged safety plate made to cover the heads of the pins, eliminating the previous design with the enlarged plate on the right (this specific pistol does not have that modification), 4) the stocks were lengthened with the top portion partially covering the plunger tube, 5) the stock screw escutcheons and screws were made larger. In early March 1911, the Ordnance Board again submitted both pistols to a series of endurance tests to include a new requirement to fire high pressure test rounds. At the completion of those tests Colt was notified on 29 March 1911 that their design successfully passed and was approved by the Secretary of War. The new designation was called "Automatic Pistol Caliber 45 Model of 1911". This specific pistol exhibits some later part configuration changes. The left side of the original slide has the two line, two block markings of "PATENTED/APR.20.1897.SEPT.9.1902.DEC.19.1905" followed by "COLT'S PT. F.A.MFG. CO./HARTFORD,CT. U.S.A.". The right side is roll-stamped: "AUTOMATIC COLT/CALIBRE 45 RIMLESS SMOKELESS" in two lines. It correctly does not have the later Rampant Colt logo behind the serrations. It has the later production replacement wide spur hammer with bordered knurling. It has the Model 1911 thumb safety on the left side and also still retains the earlier Model of 1910 enlarged plate on the right side of the frame. It has a replacement 1911 all blued barrel with the top of the chamber area stamped "H and P" which are inline with the axis of the barrel. The barrel is stamped with only a number "5" on the underside. The pistol frame is externally serial numbered "2" on the left side in two places; one under the area of the slide stop and number (same shape, size and style) slightly in front of the pin hole. The right side of the forward trigger guard is marked with a "K", indicating factory return/rework/parts upgrade. The Colt Model 1910 Automatic pistol is a key piece in the evolution of the Colt Model 1911 pistol; it established the basic configuration for the successful Model 1911 adopted by the U.S. Army. Originally this example would have had a Colt high-polish commercial blue finish with casehardened hammer, grip safety and main spring housing. It is fitted with the later checkered, walnut stocks with the slightly oval tops with fine checkering and the large diamonds surrounding the larger stock screws. There are several references detailing this rare model prototype test pistol that include the noted reference above and also the book "Colt .45 Service Pistols, Model of 1911 and 1911A1" on pages 53-66 Clawson and "The Government Model of 1911" on pages 108-120 by Goddard.

Rating Definition:

Fine with 40% of the factory high polish blue finish overall with the majority of the blue visible on the frame and underside of the recoil spring housing. The remaining metal surfaces have a gray/brown patina finish overall with some very minor, very fine erosion on top of the slide from actual use, handling and test firing during the noted selection process. The later production replacement grips are very good and a nice matching dark tone overall with clear distinct checking showing light wear overall mixed with a few light handling marks. The magazine is an early style 1911 replacement. (Other upgrades are noted in the above text). A very rare and crucial historic link in the development of the U.S. Model 1911 pistol. This is truly a unique opportunity to own both an extremely rare and historic Colt 1910 Semi-Automatic Pistol, in many cases a once in a lifetime opportunity.



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