Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 558: Colt Model 1910 Semi-Automatic Pistol Serial Number 7

Auction Date: December 3, 2021

Extremely Rare and Historic Documented Colt Model 1910 Semi-Automatic Pistol Serial Number 7

Estimated Price: $100,000 - $160,000

Extremely Rare and Historic Documented Colt Model 1910 Semi-Automatic Pistol Serial Number 7

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1910
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 45 ACP
Barrel: 5 inch round
Finish: blue
Grip: checkered walnut
Stock:
Item Views: 1557
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 325
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun
Description:

Originally manufactured in 1910, this is an example of the extremely rare Colt Model 1910 pistol, an extremely important evolutionary piece in the story of the eventual adoption of the Model 1911 by the U.S. military. There were reportedly 12 Model 1910 pistols manufactured, making them incredibly rare and often a missing piece in U.S. military Colt automatic pistol collections. These pistols were initially manufactured to be an improvement upon the "straight-gripped" Model 1909. They were initially submitted for testing on 9 February 1910, when Captain Walter G. Penfield described the "improved model" as having a more simple mainspring cap, smaller, and attached to the spring, extractor inside the breech, ejector made square, angle of the grip changed, the sear, trigger, and grip safety springs made in one piece, butt of the grip sharply angled instead of rounded, barrel slightly lowered, and the ejection port slightly enlarged. Even with all of these "improvements", the pistol failed it's initial test fairly miserably, jamming seven times in the first 157 shots, and John Browning withdrawing it from the test to try to improve the design. The second test occurred five days later, with the pistol operating much better this time, only having one misfire in 1,000 shots. It still wasn't perfect however, as Browning had to straighten the recoil spring retaining piece multiple times, and it eventually broke completely. Browning believed this was due to the piece being made too thin and of inferior steel, an issue that could easily be remedied. In July of 1910, a special grip was requested by the ordnance department, the main feature of which being a smooth right panel which slightly swelled into the palm. The special grip was tested by the School of Musketry, who did not favor the "improved" grip over the original checkered grips. In August of 1910, a few Model 1910 pistols were fitted with thumb safeties, this example being one of them, which the Ordnance Department found favorable, especially for use with mounted troops. On 10 November 1910, the Ordnance Board met to pit the Model 1910 Colt and Savage pistols against each other for the second to last time, with the main feature of this trial being an endurance test, with 6,000 rounds fired through each. After this trial the Board's assessment was "That neither automatic pistol in its present design is believed to be satisfactory for adoption in the service because of insufficient strength of parts...The Colt automatic pistol is believed to be much the more satisfactory of the two." One of the issues with the Colt pistol which was found during this specific trial, was that the grip screws continually worked themselves loose when subjected to sustained fire. After the issues with both of these pistols in the final test of 1910, the Chief of Ordnance decreed that another series of tests would be held on 15 March 1911. To this test, Colt submitted the Model 1911 Special Army, a design which was approved for adoption by the U.S. military on 29 March 1911. These pistols are discussed on p. 114-115 of "The Government Models: The Development of the Colt Model of 1911" by Goddard and this specific example is pictured on p. 108 of "U.S. Military Automatic Pistols 1894-1920" by Meadows. The left side of the matching numbered slide on this pistol is marked with the two-line two-block patent dates (ending with 1905) and Colt address while the right side has the two-line caliber marking. The left side of the frame has the single digit serial number "7". It is fitted with blade and rounded top notch rear sights, a long smooth trigger, checkered slide stop, a short grip safety, and a straight smooth mainspring housing with the lanyard ring staple on the base. It is factory fitted with the Model 1911 "Special Army" pattern thumb safety that was later also adopted on the Model 1911 accepted by the U.S. military. The replacement Model 1911 pattern blued barrel is marked "N" on the bottom. It is also fitted with the correct small diamond pattern checkered grips also seen on the Special Army. This pistol is furnished with an unmarked two-tone pinned exposed base magazine with a lanyard ring on the base. The previously mentioned book by Goddard on p. 234 lists this pistol as shipped to A. Johnson, likely a Colt salesman, on a loan account on 10 June 1911. This pistol is also listed on p. 115 of the previously mentioned book by Meadows as being shipped to General William Crozier, the Chief of Ordnance, on 21 June 1911. This information is confirmed on p. 115 of the previously mentioned book by Goddard. Includes a Colt envelope marked to this pistol and a hanging tag marked "692". Provenance: The Dr. Robert Azar Collection

Rating Definition:

Excellent, retains 95% plus of the bright original high polish blue finish, traces of original case colors on the grip safety and mainspring housing, and 75% of the original niter blue with the balance having thinned to a smooth grey patina, primarily on edges and the grip straps, some scattered light scratches, and a light takedown mark. The grips are also excellent with a few scattered light handling marks and crisp checkering. Mechanically excellent. This is an incredibly scarce piece of the evolutionary history of the Colt Model 1911 that would instantly become the centerpiece of even the most extensive Colt or U.S. military automatic collections!



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