RIA: Colt 1907 Trials Pistol

The Colt 1907 was one of the significant developmental iterations of the design that would eventually be adopted as the Model 1911 by the US military. This pistol began as John Browning’s Model 1900 in .38 caliber, with the .45ACP cartridge being first created for the Model 1905 iteration. That 1907 was the model actually purchased for field trials in the wake of its top placement in the 1907 US pistol trials.

The 1907 differs from the Colt 1905 primarily by its inclusion of a grip safety, added at military request. The trials pistols were evaluated for several years by several Cavalry units as well as institutions like the Army School of Musketry. This period of evaluation would lead to a series of small revision to refine its performance (such as improvements to the sear durability and widening of the ejection port) but there would be one last major design change before the pistol was in its final form. Even while the 1907 was being tested, Browning was working on replacing the twin-pivot locking system with a single-pivot one which would be presented to the Army as the Model 1909.


  1. “.45ACP cartridge”
    I don’t want to start yet another war 38 vs 45, but as is know 45 was developed after Thompson-LaGarde experiment:
    I’m wondering: was it done properly? was sample statistically significant? is that table in link complete? if so why wasn’t ~.45″ jacketed tested?

      • The board choose to test only existing military calibers. There weren’t many of them between 9mm and .44 caliber. The latter was probably considered close enough to .45″ that it didn’t make much sense to test it separately. The Italian 10.4mm was actually .42″ as well, so not much smaller.

        The test itself is so problematic that not too many conclusions can be drawn from the results. The main conclusion was that bigger diameter bullet is better and expanding bullets are better than FMJ, which probably is true to a degree, especially with the much larger than man test animals used. However, to what extent the results can be applied to modern military pistols, which can’t use expanding bullets anyway, is highly controversial and in doubt. The cadaver testing is pretty bogus with its futile attempt to evaluate “oscillation”, that is momentum transfer.

    • The adaptation of the .45 ACP occurred after the T/L tests but whether or not it was a result of those tests is open to debate. Keep in mind that the .36 was, deservedly or not, in bad odor after the Philippine adventure. The ballistics of the .45 ACP are suspiciously close to those of the old black powder load of the .45 Long Colt, the “We know this works.” round. I tend to believe the Army had already decided they wanted the ballistic equivalent of the the .45 LC, but in one of them new fangled automatic loading thingies. Oh, and magazine fed too for the Cavalry, thank you very much. The only real question IMHO was exactly which one of the new fangled thingies to get. All the rest was just letting the usual suspects chatter amongst themselves. FWIW.

      Wafa Wafa, Wasara Wasara.

      • “The ballistics of the .45 ACP are suspiciously close to those of the old black powder load of the .45 Long Colt, the “We know this works.” round.”
        Similar case was Great Britain which and Webley Scott automatic pistol in .455 caliber:

        Now try to look to this from different angle: who (military users only), besides USA, adopted .45 Auto (or any ~.45 automatic pistol round) as default? I know about:
        Norway – Kongsberg Colt (license version of Colt 1911)
        Argentine – Colt modelo 1927 (also license)
        Brazil – (bought Colt Government)
        anyone else?
        Notice all above adopted .45 Auto cartridge together with Colt 1911, no-one adopted .45 Auto together with own design.

        • By European (and Japanese) thinking, the .45 ACP was a bit too much of a cartridge and the 1911 a big and heavy pistol for the use envisaged for pistols. Even WW1 did not significantly change that. The British even went for a smaller cartridge (the .38/200) between the wars. Most European armies adopted .380 ACP, 9mm Parabellum or something in between (e.g. 7.65mm Long) in power. The Soviets went for the 7.62×25mm Tokarev, which while powerful in muzzle energy, had still quite manageable recoil. And as you know, it was chosen primarily for “automatic carbine” or SMG use in mind, for which its high muzzle velocity was well suited.

        • Also Mexico, in the unusual Obregon .45 self-loader, which looks a lot like a Colt but has a rotating-barrel locking system rather like a Steyr design;


          Its rather exotically-contoured slide identifies it immediately.

          While never officially adopted by the Mexican army, it was issued to the national police, which technically was part of the army at that time.



    • The test results did not support any of the recommendations which were made – and those unsupported conclusions have been echoed as undeniable truths in dumbed down gunzines ever since.

      it seems that the myths are as eminantly recycleable as a stack of crappy waste paper gunzines.

      With pistol bullets there are simply too many variables and none of the pistol bullets is anything remotely like being a “good stopper”.

      The best “stopper” in terms of chest shots during that wittless test, was .30 luger, and it is forever being decried for its lack of “stopping power”.

      • Well put, Keith. The problem was that the guys worked using “black powder” logic. If you really wanted to “stop” someone instantly, you would probably want a bullet which would literally EXPLODE inside the victim (rather than use hollow points, I mean using fulminating projectiles filled with HE and detonated AFTER penetrating human flesh). Yes, I know that type of projectile is forbidden per the St. Petersburg declaration, but has anybody really been killed by exploding small-arms rounds?

        SAY SOMETHING!!!!!!

        • “but has anybody really been killed by exploding small-arms rounds”
          B-Geschoss was allegedly used by German snipers during WWII, but I don’t know whatever this is true or not. Anyone can deny or prove it?

        • It happened a few times in the American Civil War, with .58 Minie’ bullets with a hollow tip loaded with black powder and a flat percussion cap stuck in the front.

          There was also the Gardiner type that was cast with a hollow core, apparently by a lost-wax procedure, that was filled with mercury fulminate in powder form from the rear and had a black-powder time train that, once ignited by the propellant charge, would detonate the round in about 1.75 seconds whether it hit anything or not. This came in two sizes, a 451 grain .58 and a 363 grain .54.

          These projectiles were normally issued to the better shots and specialized snipers for “materiel’ destruction”. Among other things, the Gardiner could penetrate the wooden side of an artillery limber and detonate inside with the powder, shell, fuzes, etc., with the effect you would expect.

          According to contemporary accounts quoted in the Civil War Collector’s Encyclopedia by Francis A. Lord (Castle Books, 1965), the U.S. Army Medical Department listed 130 confirmed cases of men wounded or killed by explosive bullets during the war.

          Army Ordnance records show that 33,350 cal. 58 Minie'”musket shells” were issued to the troops in FY 1863. Approximately 10,000 rounds were left on sidings, etc., due to lack of transport, and may have been “expropriated” by the Confederates, thereby accounting for at least some of the 130 casualties attributed to same. Note that some wounds by purely conventional .58 Minie’ bullets may have been mistakenly attributed to explosive rounds, as the .58 and .577in rifle-musket bullets were noted for their horrendous effects on flesh and bone.

          In June 1863 the 2nd New Hampshire Infantry were issued .58 explosive Minie’ bullets for their rifle-muskets. The regimental history states;

          Forty rounds of (paper) cartridges per man were distributed this morning. The balls were called musket shells- an explosive bullet- and woe to the Johnny (Reb) that stops one!

          The regiment continued on to Gettysburg and came under artillery fire. Several cartridge boxes were hit and exploded. Lord relates;

          A shell struck and burst on the box of a corporal of Company C. The cartridges were driven into his body and exploded, and for 30 seconds the “musket shells” were exploding in his quivering form. Death was mercifully swift.

          The next moment a fragment of shell exploded the cartridge box of a sergeant. He instantly tore off the box hanging by his side, thus escaping with only a severe wound.

          The 2nd New Hampshire had its first experience with explosive bullets at Glendale on the Peninsula, when their opponents used them. The regiment was in line of battle about dusk when enemy pickets began firing at the men.

          “For a time the men were a good bit puzzled to account for sharp reports which were heard in every direction- to the rear, overhead- everywhere. In connection with the deepening gloom, the manifestation was decidedly uncanny.

          “The mystery was solved, however, when a bullet, cutting across the breast of Captain Sayles, suddenly exploded, inflicting a painful lacerated wound.”

          -Lord, op. cit., pp.15-16.

          It would appear that the American Civil War saw the only even fairly extensive combat use of actual “explosive bullets” with explosive charges in them.

          Other than the Hague Accords and etc., the most obvious drawback to bullets with explosive charges today is that modern military rifle bullets are of such small caliber, and have such restricted internal volume, that there just isn’t enough room for a practical HE charge, detonator, etc., even with modern microelectronics.

          And even if you could get it to work, it’s unlikely to cause any worse fragmentation than a round like the 55-grain M193 ball is capable of without any such assistance.

          Keep in mind that the development of the NATO standard 70-grain bullet like the SS-109 was intended to reduce> the 5.56 x 45mm bullet’s tendency to behave like a large-caliber hollow-point upon entering the body cavity.

          Considering that it was originally developed from a high-velocity, small-caliber <emvarmint cartridge, the .22 Remington/.22 Rem. Magnum, I’ve always wondered why they didn’t figure it out “up front”.

          Any varmint hunter could have told them what a .222 Remington, regular or Magnum, does to a woodchuck’s innards at 250 yards, if they’d bothered to ask.



  2. I probably should already know this, but what was the issue with twin-links? It looks like it could potentially make for a more precise and stronger action. Though I can see how it would require a bit more precision to make and could be a bit more finicky is muck got into the gun.

  3. I really loved my 1905 made delivered in 1909 to a Gun Shop in Fort Worth, Texas. Its one of those guns I could hang onto and regret not having it. Very compact, a little two compact in truth for the cartridge, but it was comfortable but still too large and heavy for belt carry, very much a civilian pistol you could pull out of the desk drawer and slip into the pocket if you felt you needed to go somewhere to possibly deal with an unsavory situation.
    A pistol for a discriminating gentleman.

  4. Are the documents recording the results of the post trials field testing available online? Anybody have a link?

  5. The thing I find most fascinating about this pistol’s development is that it went through so many iterations without being rejected. The military certainly liked the idea and was willing to work through several unsuccessful versions before they got something acceptable to put into full production.

    In defense of its adoption, what other company could have been this responsive to requests for modifications and redesigns than Colt with Browning and all of their in house designers? They also had the manufacturing capacity to crank out arms once they were adopted, and the design seems to be well adapted to ease of manufacture, even today.

  6. I think the Army knew what it wanted, they just wanted Colt to get it right and Colt wanted to do the minimum to get it there. What pushed Colt’s development was the competition and I think Luger figured out that his pistol was being used to get Colt there. The Army was not in a hurry (which bit them when they were not ready for WWI on all levels), of course, funds were short so taking a long time to develope the pistol was pretty much the status quo. The three great automatic pistols, 1911, Luger, and C96 where all peacetime developed weapons which went through a protracted refinement period.

    • “The three great automatic pistols, 1911, Luger, and C96 where all peacetime developed weapons which went through a protracted refinement period.”
      If you are interested in Red Army weaponry during Great Patriotic War you probably know TT automatic pistol, but do you know designs preceding it? see photos here:
      (also contain later automatic pistol design by Tokarev)

    • Pistols are not important enough for armies to waste much resources on during wartime. If more pistols were needed during a war, off-the-shelf solutions were chosen over developing new models. Good examples are the various .32 ACP pistols used by the French and German armies during WW1 and in the latter case, also during WW2. The US Army and also the British Army could rely on the well-developed revolver industry in the US, which supplied a large number of revolvers chambered for .45 ACP, .455 Webley and .38 S&W aka .38/200 during WW1 and WW2 (.38/200 of course only during WW2). During WW2 the Germans also sourced about every pistol chambered in 9mm Parabellum from the occupied countries they could, and even converted some Steyr Hahns to 9×19mm.

      • “German armies during WW1”
        Walther also developed blow-back 9×19 automatic pistol – Model 6
        see photos here: http://historypistols.ru/blog/pistolety-pod-unitarnyj-patron-avtomaticheskie/pistolet-valter-model-6-walther-model-6/
        as Walther has earlier experience with blow-back pistol this principle was used, but this pistol proved be unsuccessful.

        “WW2 the Germans also sourced about every pistol chambered in 9mm Parabellum from the occupied countries they could, and even converted some Steyr Hahns to 9×19mm.”
        And also bought 9×19 automatic pistols from then (officially) neutral Spain – for example Astra 600.

        In fact, Soviet Union produced Nagant revolvers until 1945(!) by Tula Plant and Izhevsk Plant.

        • I have always wondered why the Soviets did not convert those production lines for TT-33 already in the late 1930s. They had plenty of time to do so. It is much more understandable that they didn’t want to mess with production after the start of the GPW, but the Nagant was clearly obsolescent by 1930s, so there appears to have been little reason to keep on making them for so long.

          • At the time they were involved in developing several new self-loading pistols to replace both the Nagant revolver and the Tokarev.

            And except for one, all the potential replacements had a profile very like the German P.08 or later P.38 9mm pistols, for one very practical reason; to allow the barrel to fit a “pistol port” in a tank’s turret.

            A pistol port is necessary to clear enemy infantry off a tank’s engine deck, etc., even if you have a dedicated MG in the back of the turret for the job, like the KV-1 or IS-2. But if the port is too big, those enemy soldiers can shot inside the tank’s turret through it as soon as you open it if they’re on the ball.

            A port big enough to admit the slide of a Browning-type autopistol like the Tokarev is the very definition of “too big”.

            Most pistol ports had a small “peephole” with armored glass right over them, so you didn’t need the port to be big enough to see through. Again, that would be too big to be safe.

            The Nagant revolver stayed in production and service as long as it did because it was cheaper than a Tokarev, simpler than a Tokarev, very rugged and reliable, would certainly kill a man if it hit him in a vital spot, would hurt him badly if it hit him most anywhere else, and its reedy little barrel fit neatly in a safely small pistol port.

            As a bonus, being a gas-seal revolver, it didn’t bother the crew with powder gases, or ejected cases bouncing off things and rolling around on the floor, either.

            As for “stopping power” (there’s that bit again), the Red Army’s ordnance bureau once calculated that it takes about 250 FPE or 340J of energy to inflict a dangerous (crippling or killing) wound on an adult human male, assuming you hit him in the torso. I.e., about the energy level of a typical .38 Special police service load of days gone by.

            The 7.62 x 39mm round was intended to retain that much energy at 400 meters, which they considered adequate for any reasonable battle shooting. If you set the rear sight slider on an AK or SKS to the “reversed capital D”, that’s the battle sight setting.

            Aim center chest on a standing man anywhere out to 300 meters on that setting, and the bullet will hit him somewhere on a vertical line between his Adam’s apple and his belt buckle.

            The slug will either kill him or at least hurt him badly enough to take him out of the fight.

            The 7.62 x 25mm round delivers about 350 FPE at the muzzle. the 7.62 Nagant revolver round is good for about 290 FPE with the standard Russian service load (108gr FMJ @ 1100 F/S).

            At close range, either one will get the job done, assuming that you hold up your end of the detail, and actually hit the enemy somewhere that will hurt.



          • “7.62 Nagant revolver round”
            6,7-7,0g bullet @ 270-290 m/s according to Альбом конструкций патронов стрелкового оружия.

            “all the potential replacements had a profile very like the German P.08 or later P.38 9mm pistols, for one very practical reason; to allow the barrel to fit a “pistol port” in a tank’s turret.”
            Voyevodin automatic pistol entered production although in limited numbers (1000-1500 were produced)

            “At close range, either one will get the job done, assuming that you hold up your end of the detail, and actually hit the enemy somewhere that will hurt.”
            After end of Great Patriotic War Red Army adopted Makarov automatic pistol firing 9×18 cartridge – it was considered that after avtomat was adopted, sub-machine gun role will dwindle and thus flat-shooting is not first requirement anymore.

          • I am aware of the tank pistol port requirement, but that alone would not have been sufficient rationale to keep the Nagant in production; by mid-1930s the Soviets probably had enough Nagants for every tank crewmember and still many to spare, although of course only the commander and/or loader would actually use the pistol port (in most Soviet tanks of the period they were the same person).

            Simplicity and low cost were good reasons to keep making the Nagant during the war, but not really before that. Like I wrote, they had about seven years to convert those production lines.

            By the way, in practice pistol ports proved to be nearly useless. The visibility through the tiny window was poor and a pistol didn’t offer enough firepower for “spray and pray”, which the tank hull MG gunners often resorted to with their equally bad visibility. The actually working methods to keep enemy infantry at bay was to have enough supporting infantry, or failing that (very bad), shoot an SMG from the turret hatches, where even a quick peep would reveal more than squinting through tiny pistol port windows. Thus the PPS-43, and later the AK became standard equipment for Soviet tanks.

  7. The complaint about requiring two hands to reload it seems strange to me. As far as I’m aware all guns require the use of two hands to reload, and revolvers always seem a lot more clumsy to reload than a magazine fed auto.

  8. As always an enjoyable amount of great information! Those old horse troopers probably weren’t excited with such a great leap forward technologically, how dare those pencil pushers in Washington push this new fangled contraption on them! Just over 30 years from Custer’s encounter with the Sioux in Montana here is this automatic pistol, no stopping progress I suppose.

    • On reflection, most of these horse troopers were not that old and didn’t even have the benefit of watching many movies (except some early silent flicks) to see what the old, old West was all about. They were a generation reading and experiencing automobiles, motorcycles, airplanes,machine guns and monster dreadnought steel battleships, industrialization was barreling along and these folks in the 1900 era were very much caught up in the excitement of the present. They had a victorious and romantic war just fought in 1898 with the new pride of being a world power with the fighting and occupation in the Phillipines. The romance of the old West was probably not much in their minds. So, it is quite possible that new weapons were highly desired and embraced. They had tested 1,000 M1900 test Luger pistols already, as well as a batch of Colt 1902 .38’s, many probably had personal small automatics in addition to large bore double action pistols.

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