Ordnance Research SSP-91, aka the Lone Eagle

This pistol is coming up for sale here.

Designed by John Foote (of MAC/Cobray fame), the SSP-91 is a single shot rifle-caliber pistol intended for silhouette competition shooting and handgun hunting. It was introduced by Foote and Ordnance Technology of Stetson, Maine in 1986 as the SSP-86. He made some improvements to the design in 1990, resulting in the improved SSP-91 model available form 1991 until 1993. In 1994, the rights were purchased by Magnum Research, who renamed is the Lone Eagle (to fit their eagle-themed catalog – Desert Eagle, Baby Eagle, etc).
The SSP and Lone Eagle were available in a wide variety of calibers, from .22 Hornet and .223 up to behemoths like .444 Marlin, .358 Winchester, and .30-06. Caliber conversion kits were available, but since they consisted of a whole new barrel and breechblock, the kits cosy about 75% as much as a complete new gun. Production ran until about the year 2000, when Magnum Research discontinued the pistol for poor sales.
One interesting side note is that one of Foote’s subcontractors for SSP part manufacturing, a man named Stratiff, decided to produce his own imported version in 1988. Since nothing on the SSP was patented (the breech system was long since in the public domain), Straitiff build what was basically a copy of the SSP but with an automated cocking system integrated into the breechblock, so that the separate cocking lever was not needed. He marketed this as the “Competitor” pistol, and these can also be found today.

9 Comments

  1. Is plastic body the only part with serial number on this pistol?
    Does it mean, the barrel and breach assembly can be bought without paperwork in US?

  2. The SSP-1991’s tube-shaped upper receiver recalls the shape of the Margolin MCM pistol used by the late Carrie Fisher in SW4’s opening scene where Darth Vader’s troops raid the Tantive-4 to retrieve the doomsday weapon plans stolen by Jyn Erso’s Skyhook team in Rogue-1.

  3. Great site! From my understanding, I don’t believe all the info on the Competitor pistol is completely accurate – I have some updated information if you’d like.

  4. Al Straitiff’s initial involvement was as a contractor to machine parts for Ordnance Technology’s SSP-86. He saw several areas for improvement, and took these ideas to the ownership. His ideas, as well as some other upgrades, were adopted and became the SSP-91. As stated above, Magnum Research bought the rights to the SSP-91 and renamed it “Lone Eagle”. When they discontinued it, Straitiff bought the rights to the gun. He made several more improvements, such as upgrading it from a manual-cocking action to one that cocks on closing, a sliding safety on the breech as well as a Glock-style trigger safety, and converted it to a quick-change system where the barrel could swapped to change calibers rather than replacing both barrel and breech as in the Lone Eagle. The new pistol was called the Competitor. He leased some unused floor space at Harrington & Richardson to build the new pistol, which is probably why some references incorrectly state the H&R owned the Competitor, and others say H&R built it. The Competitor was available with either a laminated wood or synthetic stock and could be had in over 400 calibers, including things like .416 and .458 mag. There were several choices of barrel length and also options such as iron sights, scope mounts, and muzzle brakes.

  5. The history lesson seems accurate as I understand it as well. There has usually been a steady complaint of the cocking lever in many articles. I am of the SSP-* vintage. The cocking lever was also useful as a decocking lever. This allows the weapon to be placed in a more “neutral” position. If memory serves me well, dry fire was discouraged. I have not experienced the Competitor. I do not know if there is a “neutral” position other than firing. Or a method of decocking.

  6. Mr. Simpson is quite correct. Al Straitiff and his son Richard seemed to have been the main force behind the gun. Their manufacturing facility seems to have moved around quite a bit, as barrels are labelled West Groton (MA), after that in New Ipswich (NH) and finally in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. The company seems to have been defunct for several years now and the website has been down the same period of time. What happened with the remaining inventory is anyone’s guess. The senior member of the family is a rather irascible fellow and I had quite an interchange with him many years ago. The pistol seems to have been much more popular in the eastern US, even though its capabilities would lend themselves to western handgun hunting.

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