Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1481: Colt Model 1909 "Straight Handle" Semi-Automatic Pistol

Auction Date: May 15, 2021

Outstanding and Rare Documented Colt Model 1909 "Straight Handle" Semi-Automatic Pistol as Featured in "The Government Models" by Goddard and "U.S. Military Automatic Pistols 1894-1920" by Meadows

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $95,000 - $160,000

Outstanding and Rare Documented Colt Model 1909 "Straight Handle" Semi-Automatic Pistol as Featured in "The Government Models" by Goddard and "U.S. Military Automatic Pistols 1894-1920" by Meadows

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1909
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 45 ACP
Barrel: 5 inch round
Finish: blue
Grip: walnut
Item Views: 1587
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 327
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun

Manufactured in 1909, this is an outstanding example of a Colt Model 1909 "Straight Handle" semi-automatic pistol which was an extremely important step along the evolutionary path to the legendary Colt Model 1911 Pistol. Only 23 of these pistols were manufactured by Colt for testing with various ordnance boards in an attempt to secure a contract with the U.S. military. These pistols were never adopted by the United States but lead directly to the eventual adoption of the Model 1911 which would go on to serve the U.S. military with distinction, with some variations of it still in service to this day. The Model 1909 was a totally new design by John Browning, in an attempt to improve upon the shortcomings of the previously tested Model 1907. These pistols are one of the first Browning designs that truly start to show the distinctive look and features that would later be adopted by the Model 1911. These features included the single link locking system, simplified disassembly, magazine release on the left of the frame, redesigned grip safety, redesigned ejector and ejector port, new method for retaining the firing pin, loaded indicator eliminated, and the slide lock/release being made an integral part of the link pin. The Model 1909 was first tested at Springfield Armory on 23 August 1909 with favorable results, leading to Colt manufacturing a further 23 pistols shortly after which were serial numbered 0 through 22. In February of 1910, pistol number 13 was put through further tests at Springfield Armory with John Browning present, where the only issue was a small piece of the half cock notch of the hammer breaking off and becoming lodged in the sear. This temporary issue was explained by Browning as being due to the use of less than ideal steel for the hammers on these early production pistols, and was quickly remedied by him to resume testing. Having fired a total of 2,874 rounds in this test with very minimal issues it was recommended that the remaining pistols be distributed between the Infantry, Cavalry, and Field Artillery Boards, School of Musketry, and both Springfield Armory and Rock Island Arsenal for further testing. This specific pistol, along with numbers 5, 7, and 19, were assigned to Colonel John T. Thompson of the Ordnance Department to be studied at Springfield Armory. It is believed that these four pistols were not submitted to the same rigorous tests as the others, which the condition of this example indicates. This pistol, serial number 21, is pictured on p. 106-107 of "The Government Models: The Development of the Colt Model of 1911" by Goddard and on p. 84 of "U.S. Military Automatic Pistols 1894-1920" by Meadows. This pistol, along with its 22 counterparts, are discussed on those pages and the following pages as well as on p. 45-52 of "Colt .45 Service Pistols: Models of 1911 and 1911A1" by Clawson. According to the book by Meadows, the locations of only eight of these pistols are known, two of which being in the collections of museums, making these Model 1909's incredibly scarce. The left side of the slide on this pistol has the two-line two-block patent dates ending with 1905 and Colt address, while the right side of the slide has the caliber designation. The right side of the frame is marked with the serial number "21" while the trigger guard has the "VP" proof on the left. The slide is fitted with a period modified blade front sight that was slightly ground down, a rounded top notch rear sight, and the ejection port directly on top. The checkered slide stop, smooth trigger, and pins/screws are all finished in bright nitre blue. The checkered hammer and smooth flat mainspring housing are casehardened. The pistol is fitted with diamond pattern checkered walnut grips and an unmarked full blue magazine. Provenance: The Dr. Robert Azar Collection

Rating Definition:

Excellent, retains 95% plus of the bright, original, high polish blue finish, 80% of the original case colors, and 95% of the original nitre blue with the balance having thinned to a smooth grey patina, primarily on leading edges, and some light handling marks scattered throughout. The grips are also excellent with a few scattered light handling marks and crisp checkering. Mechanically excellent.

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