Prototype Colt-Vektor: A 1911 on the Outside and a Beretta on the Inside

In the late 1990s Colt was looking for pistols it could license for sale in the United States, in the wake of the failures of both eh Double Eagle and All-American 2000. They approached CZ, and also Vektor in South Africa. Vektor was just at the end of its production of the SP1 and SP2 pistols, which were derivatives of the Beretta 92, and quite well regarded.

In 1998 or 1999, Vektor produced two prototype models of a potential Colt-licensed gun. They were fundamentally SP1s, but with the grips and slides reshaped to by more 1911-like, to fit Colt’s brand image. One was a standard 5″ barrel, and the other had a 4.25″ Commander-length barrel. A group of Colt officials visited and liked the guns, and a further 20 were made under the name “ProTec”.

These ProTec pistols were made in both lengths and in both 9mm and .40 S&W calibers, and Colt imported them into the US in 1999. However, the project went no further. It is not clear whether Colt or Vektor called off the deal, but at the same approximate time Colt cancelled its sales of the “Z40” licensed form CZ, and Vektor was in the process of shutting down its handgun production altogether.

Both the 20 ProTec pistols and the original prototypes were held by Colt for about 15 years, and then a few were sold to employees in the 20-teens.


  1. That bluing on the dust cover is righteous. I could see Ian’s reflection bobbing around as he was talking about it. Beautiful gun – do Beretta parts fit?

  2. I’ve been squirting liquid hand sanitizer in my ear, as I have some sort of swimmers ear infection I think. Which seems to do the trick incidentally. Belaraus Covid proof probably, now. Good to know.

    • I am not trying to sell you bitcoin he he; the alcohol liquid “melts” the… Anyway! Who’d Like to buy some revoluionary* ear infection curing liquid?

      Praise the Lord!

      *= Death via mastoiditis not claimed as cure.

    • I’ve read some hype (yep, it was in the daily fail…) about it going into far worse places

      For centuries, whiskey was both the prophylactic and the go to cure for cold and flu, which is sort of what the current thing is, so yeah, your cross between meths and guar gum, has plenty of precedent.

      Hope your ear feels better soon

  3. I have a bottle of TCP but I never tried it: and it is great stuff “if major stinky” but great, and a great stink… In away, a healthy way.

    But before Covid who had 80% proof alcohol lying around… Not to drink, being so cheap… Etc… Point being! When you do have it around, squirt some on your ear infection; to help squish bugs.

    Sure, with a dash of lime it could probably be the next big thing.

    No touch cocktails at 80% mutha fuckin rasberry squirted in your ears, covid secure etc. Yes. But no, I meant it is a good medication seemingly for ear infections*

    *Ear alcohol squirts are not liable for death.

  4. That is a very nice looking pistol

    The higher tensile strength aluminium alloys do tend to machine very well, but even the steel slide is machined and finished to a very high standard.

    Colt and Vektor both seemed to lose their direction during the 1990s with a series of poor pistol designs.

    Vektor had the jellybean styled gas buffered pistol that was mechanically sort of like a H&K P7, but was subject to all sorts of recalls

    And Colt seemed to have a Midas touch, just gone badly wrong. Did that even extend to Their M16 A**** and M4 production as well?

    It’s ironic that Colt, which was the American home of Browning’s designs, and of tilting barrel locking, ended up looking at using the chubby and arguably more fragile Walther P38 and Beretta locking system (albeit with a fully enclosed slide which mitigates some of the fragility but not the width ).

    What were the decision makers at Colt thinking of?

    That they could outsource popular pistols made in lower cost countries?

    Surely the fact that companies in America with far less equipment and far less brand recognition than Colt, could make 1911 pistols cheaper or better (or both cheaper and better together) than Colt could, should have been telling the directors of Colt some very important things.

    • Let’s face it, the directors had lost touch with reality by that point. But I really want to ask something else: If the Colt-Vektor had been mass-produced in America, how would it have compared (in performance and price) to the third-party 1911 clones and the Beretta 92 series? Would it be “American enough” to get anywhere amongst “super patriots”? Would it compete with the Beretta 92 for screen time in the action movies? Would Beretta sue for intellectual property theft? And there’s probably more to ask later… yes, I could have messed up here.

      • In mid ’90s any patent on the 92 had long expired. The only things still covered by a patent were the few cosmetic changes between the 92SB and the 92F/M9.

  5. I really don’t know what happened at Colt in the last two decades of the C20th, and would love to hear an informed perspective.

    The revolvers (Tec Spec, MkV/Trooper, Python) were unchanged from the 70s. The Anaconda was 25 years too late to ride the 44 Mag craze.

    The semi-autos were meh. Colt watched the rise of IPSC and the “custom” 1911, but kept churning out the same old models. Why didn’t they bring out factory guns with beaver tails, better sights, big ambi safeties?

    The Delta Elite 10mm was not a bad idea, but had no obvious mil or LE market. The Double Eagle was pretty poor. The 2000 was as Ian says truly awful, despite its glowing reviews in the gun press.

    Their entry in the 80s US military trials had at least some potential, though (IRRC) was doomed by being made of stainless. But why didn’t they develop and market it?

    It’s just pathetic that 10+ years after the Glock, Colt are reduced to seeking someone else’s design to manufacture or rebrand as their own (not that that approach hurt Springfield “Armoury” with the HS2000). Did they really both have no good designers in-house or in tap, and so misjudge the market? I guess so.

  6. In the later part of the 20th century the other gun companies in the US split up Colt’s market share.

    Ruger showed up and put an end to the Colt Woodsman, severely undercut them on single action revolvers, and made durable (if unrefined) revolvers that Colt could not compete with on cost. Meanwhile, back when police were still using revolvers, most of them had gone to S&W, and S&W also had some interesting semi-auto designs that some police and federal agencies were using.

    Colt had some high-grade revolvers like the Python, but a S&W 686 was almost as good for a lot less money–give it a good trigger job, and was there any practical difference? For a real collector revolver people could look to Manhurin or Korth.

    Colt still made the 1911 but at times their quality was so bad (personal experience) that you basically just got a project gun to take straight to a gunsmith. Kimber, then everyone else, started making good quality 1911’s just when the 1994 “crime bill” made 8 rounds of .45 look mighty interesting compared to 10 rounds of 9mm in a “wonder nine” or even that new plastic gun from Austria. Colt largely lost out on the resurgence of popularity of what they had exclusively made for decades and decades.

    Basically, Colt could not hold on to the market share it had from mid-century, much less introduce anything new. Their new products, mainly, were cheaper copies of their mainstays–not a long term strategy. On top of that they had labor problems, long strikes, etc. They also had some people in charge who did not want to sell small, concealable guns like the Mustang or Pony (similar to .380 Stars) that could have made a mint as CCW laws started spreading.

    They had the AR, but mid-1990’s, the military was down sizing. For the civilian market, out of patent protection, anyone could make an AR, and did they ever.

    It is a wonder they lasted as long as they did.

    • this is what happens when your management gets out of touch, your labor pool goes to hell, and no genius comes along to replace john browning. hard to think of a colt semi auto pistol that didn’t have browning’s stamp on it.

      btw, re: the post on the 1903 being neither fish nor fowl nor good lean meat …. it lived on in the tokarev. 1911 on the inside, 1903/1908 on the outside. imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and all that.

  7. The Colt/Vektor was a nice looking pistol, but I think if Colt had tried selling them in the USA, then Beretta would have gone legal in a big way, and rightly so. The gun is a cosmetically improved Beretta 92. It might not have been worth Beretta’s while to sue a small gunmaker in South Africa, but suing Colt in the USA would have been another matter.

    • I just asked something along those lines. Beretta would have dragged Colt into the courtroom kicking and screaming over the issue of the Colt-Vektor pistol being an unlicensed knockoff Beretta 92 merely packaged to look like the Colt M1911. Locking block, slide geometry, trigger sear…

      • In mid ’90s any patent on the 92 (and mechanically this is a 92, no “S”, “SB” or “F”) had long expired. The only things still covered by a patent were the few cosmetic changes between the 92SB and the 92F/M9, but anyone could have made even a perfect copy of a 92SB without infringing any patent.

        • Even with the patent expiring, you’d still have to give Beretta credit for the original design. If Colt claimed that the Colt-Vektor pistol was “100% original Colt-designed” without any outside help (assuming that Vektor was bought out by Colt), Beretta might throw a fit.

          • Yeah, but why should they have said that? It’s like STI saying that the 2011 is “100% original STI-designed”. They are fine saying it’s an improvement over the 1911.
            Colt could have even said “we took Beretta’s design and perfected it” (being Colt, it would have been bullshit, but it would have worked) or “We took advantage of Vector’s decade-long experience in improving Beretta’s design”.

    • “(…)small gunmaker in South Africa(…)”
      Wait… was not Vektor part of Denel Land Systems which I definitely would not call small?

      “(…)cosmetically improved Beretta 92(…)”
      Ok, but note Beretta 92 did not appeared from thin air and show some similarity mechanics-wise with earlier Beretta automatic pistol, namely TARIQ automatic pistol:
      which itself was designed around half of 20th century.

  8. Why…why…why…
    You are looking at the consequences.
    And the reason is simple, but it is a different, more complex level of simplicity. 😉
    This is a systemic phenomenon.
    The laws of physics in general, and thermodynamics in particular, are universal and applicable to almost any phenomenon.
    Any system cannot exist at rest.
    Any system either progresses or degrades.
    Progress requires all kinds of costs (and most importantly, striving), and degeneration is spontaneous and self-sufficient. Because Chaos does not need to be controlled.

    The process is not fast and lasts not for years but for generations.
    Taking the example of arms production (omitting details), this is expressed in the fact that the enterprise is gradually switching from the manufacturer of weapons (which can be sold for money) to the production of money immediately. And weapons are a by-product.
    For some time, production is still rolling by inertia, due to the developments and reputation mined and gained by its predecessors.
    But the process is completely inevitable, since it is natural.
    And gradually, such an enterprise moves from the list of favorites, first to the bottom lines, and then to the list of bankrupts.
    And at the very end, in dictionaries, opposite the word “shortsightedness”.

    All that has been said, practically without significant corrections and additions, applies to absolutely any system.
    And the larger and more complex the system, the slower everything happens (although not always, since the increasing complexity of the system increases its predisposition to a cascading effect), but this is more inevitable, since more costs are required to fix it.

    P.S. Shortsightedness is a politically correct synonym for idiotic.

  9. I like appearance and features of this pistol more than 1911 and M92 combined. Actually, having looked inside of the latter, I was not impressed; not good combination of aluminum and steel. Sure, it serves, but it would not be my choice.

    • Just as Harley Davidson used to be

      Except in both cases, when either,
      Their customers run out of money
      Lesbian’so whimsical fashions move on to something else

      Then the creditors lose their shirts (not that there was ever anyone there who’d iron them).

      It’s a telling example,

      How could the company that was synonymous with both the revolver and the Browning designed pistols, including the 1911, with the head start in manufacturing and worldwide brand recognition

      End up being out competed on quality and price and price and quality?

      It’s actually a healthy and reassuring thing, when I stop to think about it.

      How many other behemoth have reached that stage, and it only needs a Glock, an AMT, a Ruger or something Chinese or Brazilian, to reveal that underlying truth?

    • They came out of bankruptcy a while back and are selling revolvers and pistols once more. Looking through their catalog, they are not selling anything that was not in their catalog in the 1970’s or so, other than some variations of 1911’s. I think they have a lot to do to live down their old 1911 jam-o-matic reputation. Anyway, for $600 more than the list price of a S&W 686 or a stainless steel Ruger GP100, one can by a Colt Python once again. They did get a big military M4 contract a little while back which will keep them going for a while.

      Colt revolvers are OK, but personally I think that the lockwork of S&W revolvers is better. Their single action revolvers are actually pretty good–I think they may be the only ones still using forged frames, but they are not cost competitive.

  10. The S&W revolvers WERE good, until these “smart guys” began to trick the mechanism, trying to fit it to new safety requirements.
    Well, while the old masters were still capable, who manually licked each part, achieving perfect interaction.
    With each successive “improvement” of technology, in order to reduce production costs, the properties of the trigger group became more and more advanced from model to model.
    Until it reached the current level, it seems that only the Russian Nagant of a military issue is worse than that.

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