The Double Eagle was Colt’s foray into the DA/SA pistol market in the 1990s. It was effectively just a standard 1911 with a Seecamp-type double action trigger mechanism and a modernized (for the time) trigger guard profile. Available in .45ACP, 10mm, 9mm, .40 S&W, and .38 Super, it never did sell well and was discontinued in 1997 (having been introduced in 1990).
I started in law enforcement in 1991. Like many agencies back in those days, we provided our own handguns and I carried a Smith 686 and felt that I was reasonably well armed. A year or two later our sheriff allowed our reserve division to carry semi autos. Since we all like shiny new stuff I went looking for a service automatic. It had to be a DA/SA design to comply wth the training we’d received on our revolvers. I became interested in the .40 as the equivalent to the .357 I was carrying. I checked out a Smith 4006 which was big, a little heavy, and somewhat clumsy. The guy AR the range suggested that I try the “new” Colt Double Eagle. It seemed to be bigger, heavier, and more clumsy to operate. The trigger action was terrible and it held fewer rounds – and I was a Smith and Wesson guy. I carried the 4006 for a couple of years and finally traded it to a guy for a 1911. That’s another story. I still have my 686.
Having also tested the Double Eagle when it first came out, I noted that it had;
1. A worse trigger pull than a late-WW2 P.38.
2. A grip form that forced the muzzle up, exacerbating the unconscious tendency to “push” the sidearm at the target, resulting in shooting high.
3. A DA drawbar assembly on the right side that was held in only by the top forward extension of the right grip panel- which often began to crack after only 50 to 100 rounds.
4. A tendency to excessive muzzle upflip due the combination of the poor grip design and the powerful Norma 10mm Auto loads.
There would probably have been problems with excessive slide velocity resulting in peening of the locking lugs and possible frame or slide cracking over time, but I no longer had enough interest in it to pursue it further.
Compared to my S&W 645, there was just no contest.
Like the Colt “All American” 2000 9mm, the Double Eagle mainly showed that Colt no longer had much interest in any business other than selling M16s to the military.
It was just one more of the many wrongheaded business decisions they’ve made for the last three decades.
When the Double Eagle came out I was already carrying Colt Commanders in 38 Super and 45 ACP. The Double Eagle looked good, there was no place for it in my stable.
It doesn’t sound good, but no one expected anything worthwhile from Colt.
And some people sawed similar conversions of 1911 for DA in their garage.
If we talk about a serious weapons factory, they could do something less ugly.
To really appreciate the Double Eagle, you have to:
1) hold it; however awkward that right side grip panel looks, it feels even worse, and
2) compare it side-by-side to an actual Seecamp system gun.
It always baffle me why Colt didn’t just take the Seecamp design (Lueder Seecamp’s patent expired in 1990), add a slide-mounted decocker like the Radom Vis 35, and call if good.
They should have just phoned Bernardelli to ask if they could manufacture a more rounded “1911 lookalike” version of the P018, market it as “Colt 1991” and call it a day. The gun already had almost all Colt wanted, (DA/SA, all steel frame, Browning action, 1911 style safety… the last versions already had a built-in decocker too) and the manufacturer was obscure enough to not make anyone say that Colt “copied” a competitor (like in the Colt-Vector-Beretta affair).
Ian…”there are a lot of guns that aren’t quite Colt’s greatest hits”…
Colt also made officer’s sized versions with both steel and aluminum frames, which are more rare of a find. On the aluminum framed versions, they offered a simulated “blued” finish (frame anodized). The smaller officer’s version is a more appealing gun ergonomically and more pleasant to shoot.
Started as an LEO in 1974. The Colt Double Eagle was tried by some, disliked by most.
A meaningless effort from Colt to ruin the Browning design.
I’ve seen double action 1911 custom conversions from the’80s that kept the thumb safety, allowing cocked-and-locked carry for those who wanted while still offering the double action. Instead Colt did this, which inescapably brings out the thought “Like a Sig 220, but without any of the good parts”.
Truly it is said, ‘If you want to understand an organization, simply imagine that it is being run by a cabal of its worst enemies”.
“This was not a terrible gun” says Ian. Compared to a Type 94 (Shiki Kenju)…maybe. I have never held one, much less shot one but the degree of cheekiness or stupidity required to kluge those trigger bits onto the outside of the frame and cover them in asymmetrical back plastic panels, that beggars the imagination. That they thought the FBI or anyone else would consider adopting the monstrosity, that is beyond my powers.
You only have to sell to an agency *once*. The you just have to fill a lump order.
Selling to private individuals, you have to market to each and every one of them. Even if you’re hiring lobbyists for the Federal sales, it’s cheaper than the advertising needed for singleton sales.
From the MBA-economics viewpoint, the big sales are the way to go. But the downside it you might only make *one* sale. The same gun design can sell steadily for decades. Colt introduced the 1911 more han a century ago, and some of their revolvers were on the market longer than that.
21 years as a LEO, carried a Colt .357 Trooper for most of them. When Colt came out with the DE in the late 80’s I looked at getting one in 45 acp. Then the S&W 40 caliber came out, was the in thing as far as a caliber, I called Colt and asked if they were coming out with the DE in SW 40. Advised yes, but to be patient. Then Colt had their big labor issue, DE guns became scarce and by the time Colt was producing them again, I was out of LE. I did buy a full size Gov’t 5″ DE around 2016 and a Officer Model around 2018, both in 45 acp. Love them both, accurate dependable, never a jam, misfire, or any other problems. I carry the Officer Model most of the time as a concealed defense gun. Have complete faith in it after xxxx’s of rounds. Ifin I were to go back into LE, I would have no problem in carrying either DE Model. Gets a bad rap I think due to 1911 purists, bad magazine write-ups, and those who think the striker fired Glock types are the only and the Bees-Knees. Detest Glock, always have. Those who have never carried and fired a Colt Double Eagle don’t know what they are missing. Great pistol, could have gone far I believe if Colt had been better managed along the lines Smith and Ruger were.