Manufactured in 1902, the first year of production, this pistol was in the first shipment of 100 Military Model of 1902 pistols sent by Colt to Springfield Armory on 15 July 1902. This pistol was one of the first 200 pistols ordered by the Ordnance Department for testing in their continued efforts to find an automatic pistol suitable for military adoption. They incorporated many of the recommendations from officers in the field that were submitted during testing of the Model 1900, including very similar slide checkering to the sketch submitted by Lieutenant Odus C. Horney, which is pictured on p. 34 of "U.S. Military Automatic Pistols 1894-1920" by Meadows. The purchase of these pistols had been approved by the Board of Ordnance and Fortification on 11 January 1902, after a sample pistol had been tested in December of the previous year. After receiving and inspecting these 200 pistols at the armory, they were sent to troops at Forts Riley and Leavenworth in Kansas, as well as Jefferson Barracks in Missouri for field trials. Again, the feedback given from the field trials was mostly negative and they were deemed "...not as satisfactory a pistol as the revolver." In 1909, 62 of these pistols that were deemed serviceable were sold off as surplus alongside some of the older Model 1900 pistols. A few Model 1902 pistols were retained for Ordnance Department historical collections. This example is marked with the two-line Browning's patent and Colt address markings on the left of the slide arranged in two blocks, with a circled Rampant Colt at the rear. The right side is marked "MODEL 1902" and with the two-line caliber marking. The right side of the frame and trigger guard have the "R.A.C." inspection mark of Rinaldo A. Carr and the "J.T.T." acceptance mark of Captain John T. Thompson. The left side of the frame and trigger guard have the serial number and "U.S." marking. The slide has the forward checkering on each side, and blade and notch sights. It is fitted with a rounded checkered hammer, checkered hard rubber grips with "COLT" banners and Rampant Colts, the lanyard loop on the left of the grip frame, and a correct nickeled magazine with "PAT'D SEPT.9.1884" on the base. Provenance: The Dr. Robert Azar Collection
Fine, retains 60% plus of the bright original high polish blue finish, 70% of the original case colors on the hammer, and 50% plus of the original nitre blue with the balance having thinned to a smooth grey patina, most noticeably on the grip straps and upper edges of the slide. The faded grips are also fine with a few scattered very light handling marks and crisp checkering. Mechanically excellent.
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