Originally ordered in 1916 and 1917, the Russian Contract Colt Government Model pistols were ordered by the Imperial Russian government from Colt. When placing the order, the government of Great Britain acted as an intermediary, using a line of credit established by the Russians and backed by hard gold reserves held in Britain to cover the bill. Britain's role as go-between is the source of the signature marking on the left side of the frame, "ANGL. ZAKAZIE"(transliterated) for "English Order". The Russian Contract pistols as-issued otherwise bore only standard Colt markings like this example. By 1916, the situation on the Eastern Front was already getting well out of hand for Russia, and in 1917 they went through the February and October Revolutions, which brought about both the fall of the Imperial government and the successor Provisional Government, which led to the rise of the Soviet Union. Additionally, some reports of the final assassination of Tsar Nicholas II and his family put a pair of Colt .45 ACP pistols among the weapons used by the Bolshevik party, in particular one used by Yakov Yurovsky, leader of the squad who is noted as having fired the opening shot directly into the Tsar's chest. Russian Contract Government Model Colts are very rare on the American market in any condition, as they saw hard use through multiple conflicts and virtually none were ever exported by the Soviet Union. The left side of the slide has the two-line, two-block address and patent dates with the Rampant Colt behind the serrations and the caliber marking on the right side. The barrel is a later production replacement marked "P" on the bottom. The left side of the frame is marked with the aforementioned contract marking and "VP" and "b" on the trigger guard, with the model marking and serial number on the right. It is fitted with the standard blade and notch sights, long smooth trigger, wide checkered hammer, short grip safety, smooth mainspring housing, diamond pattern checkered grips, lanyard loop, and an unmarked two-tone magazine with lanyard loop base. The included factory letter confirms the current configuration (grips not listed) as well as shipment to the government of Russia on 3 August 1916 in a 5,000 gun shipment. Provenance: The Dr. Robert Azar Collection
Fine, retains 60% of the original high polish blue finish with the balance having thinned to mostly a smooth grey patina, primarily on edges, the grip straps, and in the form of the some spotting on the left of the frame and slide. The grips are very good with some scattered minor dings and scratches, and otherwise crisp checkering. Mechanically excellent.